Dedication: To GinnyW for whom this fic was conceived and lovingly grown and crafted. Thanks for being you, mei-mei.

A/N: This is not beta'ed. Cuz it really does seem wrong that this is a GIFT for my beta. LOL

Life on the ranch was hard work. Living off a land weren't always forgiving wasn't an easy life by any stretch of the imagination.

Still, though so many days found Edward dragging his weary behind into his home - his home - long after night fell, he couldn't say it wasn't worth it.


Despite how tired he was, Edward's step picked up as he came in the house. He held his arms open wide, stooping a little to scoop up his three year old son as Jace came barreling toward him like a shot out of a gun. He hardly noticed his aching muscles as he tossed the boy high in the air and caught him again before bringing him close for a cuddle.

Jace giggled and clung to his neck as Edward squatted down, setting him back on the floor. Edward's smile spread when he looked up, seeing his beautiful wife watching him. He winked at her, but turned back to their boy, putting on a stern expression.

"You mind your Momma while I was away?" he asked pointedly.

The boy had inherited Edward's charming grin and weren't afraid to use it when necessary. "Yes, Papa. I's very good." He nodded, his little face serious.

Edward chuckled. "Well, that's good. I got something for you then."

Jace near about bounced right out of his skin as Edward retrieved the satchel he'd left by the door. The toddler's eyes went wide when his father pulled out a Jace-sized hat were just like his own. He grabbed at it happily. The little boy had been trying to wear Edward's hat since he could crawl. Actually, Jace was fascinated with just about everything about his Papa, which made his Papa a little nervous, truth be told.

"What do you say to your Papa, Jace?" Bella prompted him gently.

Rather than thank him, Jace ran at Edward and threw his arms around his neck, hugging him fiercely.

"I'll take that," Edward murmured, holding the boy close for a moment before he wiggled free, eager to play with his prize.

Pushing himself to his feet, Edward finally reached for his wife. "Heya, chickabiddy," he said as he wrapped his arm around her waist, pulling her to him. She smiled, tilting her head up as he swooped down, kissing her soundly. He meant it only to be little more than a peck, but when Bella was in his arms, he tended to get a little carried away. It was all the worse because he'd been gone for five days to get what he needed.

How he'd gone from her for months at a time, Edward purely didn't remember. He'd been so lonely just those few days, if it weren't for his son being nearby, he might have pinned Bella right up against the wall and hiked up that skirt of hers.

Reluctantly he let her go, kissing her cheek chastely before he pulled back a bit. He took her in whole, his eyes raking her body. He moved his free hand to the swell of her belly he'd have swore wasn't there before. "Well, lookie here," he murmured, stroking her wonderingly. "What have you been up to while I was out providing, hmm?"

"It's noticeable now, ain't it?" she asked with a little sigh.

"It is." He kissed her again softly, resting his forehead against hers. "Carlisle and Esme are fixin' to visit in a couple weeks time. Esme will be pleased."

"I'd imagine so," Bella agreed. She stood on her tiptoes to kiss his chin before unwinding herself from his arms. "Come on now. Set down and have some supper and tell me about your trip. How is everyone?"

When Jace was born, Edward had refused Carlisle's offer to help him buy the Whitlock's land. Privately, Edward 'spected everyone had been relieved when he decided to stay with the family. Maybe the house was a bit crowded, but no one seemed to mind. Emmett and Alice loved having their uncle home.

'Sides, though Edward hadn't said it in the moment, but he'd be lying if he'd said he was ready to live on his own. He had no idea how to be the husband Bella deserved, no idea how to farm the land. And Bella was still only just a girl herself. It helped having Esme around to help with the baby at first.

Was only a year back Carlisle finally gave up the pretense there weren't enough work in town. He gave up ranching for doctoring and tried to leave his brother the house straight out. Edward wouldn't have it and gave over most of what he'd saved.

It was still a good deal he got. Both brothers knew it.

The years had done much to repair the relationship between Carlisle and Edward. The elder Cullen brother needed the chance to set right what had gone wrong, to atone for choosing his wife over his brother. He'd never meant to be gone so long, but now Edward had given him the time to do for him as he'd been trying to all those years ago.

For Edward - it took awhile to get it in his head he was loved and deservedly so. But now, he was sure he was where he was meant to be.

"Alice is looking more like a little lady every time I see her," he said fondly as he sat. "Amazing how they grow."

Bella snorted, setting a plate in front of him and sitting across him at the table. "Ain't that the way of it? Jace were just a helpless little thing just yesterday, remember? Now look at him," she nodded to where their son was playing on the floor, hopping around, pretending he was a proper cowboy with his new hat.

Edward laid his hand palm up on the table, smiling when she put her hand in his. "Whatsay you make this one a little girl, hmm?"

Bella chuckled, looking on him adoringly. "I'll see what I can do."

"Anyhow." He looked down, studying his plate because he weren't sure at all she was going to like this next part. "Carlisle and I got it in our heads might be good to swap Jace for Emmett come the spring." He looked up. Sure enough, Bella's face had gone carefully blank. "Just for a couple of months. Might could get him some proper schooling with Alice."

The air was uncomfortably silent for a moment, but then Bella blew out a slow breath. "I see. And what are we going to do with Emmett?"

At that, Edward couldn't help but snort. "See, Emmett's got it in his head he's going to grow up to marry Miss Rosalie Hale. Carlisle told him if he were going to marry a girl with such fancy tastes, he best start saving now." He shrugged. "We'll need some help come spring, and he's a strong boy."

"It makes sense," Bella allowed. She didn't look pleased at the idea of letting her baby out of her sight for that long, but they'd discussed this. They wanted their children to have every opportunity to do as they wanted in life. She sipped at her water with a far off look.

Edward squeezed her hand, knowing she needed time to process. They'd been at this marriage business long enough, he knew better than to push her. She'd likely have it out with him later, once she'd had the time to think on it.

So Edward filled the silence telling her about the rest of his journey. "Got you a passel of new books from town," he mentioned slyly.

That brought the smile he loved to her face.

After he had some supper in him, Edward collected Jace from where the boy had fallen asleep on the floor. The boy whimpered until Edward went back for his new hat.

"He won't take it off for a month, I 'spect," Bella said quietly as Edward laid him in his bed.

Edward just smiled, running his fingers through the toddler's long hair. He was beautiful, their boy. It'd never cease to amaze him, looking at the youngin', to see his own features, his own eyes staring back at him.

"He's in such a rush to be just like me," he said, his tone strained.

"Course he is." Bella's hand was soft on his back. "His daddy's a good man."

Edward huffed a little but bent down, kissing his son goodnight before he let Bella take him by the hand.

Just outside their room, she turned to him, walking backward, pulling at his shirt, beginning to undo his buttons.

"Woman, you start pulling at me like that, I might get it in my head you want me," he said lowly, watching her.

She looked up from under her eyelashes, grinning as she undid his belt buckle. "That what you think, is it?"

Edward tilted his head down, kissing her sweet before he came back for more. "I reckon that might be your aim."

"Well, you're a smart man." She slid his suspenders down and his shirt off his shoulders. "See, my husband's been away."

"I see." He began unbuttoning her shirt. "You looking for me to fulfill his husbandly duties, are you?"

"I'd be much obliged."

Edward wound his hands up into her hair, pulling her head to him so he could kiss her proper.

"I did miss you," he rumbled as he laid back on the bed.

She straddled his waist, taking him in her hands. Edward moaned, his eyes rolling back in his head. "You were only gone five days," she reminded him.

"Was near about a lifetime," he muttered back, his hands roaming up her body, cupping her breasts.

When she slid down on him, taking him inside her, Edward knew he was home. He caressed her pretty features, ran his thumb over her lips.

She weren't the same girl he'd woken up beside those years back. She was the very embodiment of the woman who'd saved him, who'd brought him back to where he should be. She was gorgeous and confident in the way she loved him.

But she still blushed when he closed his fingers around her nipples.

She drove him wild, this woman.

When they were both spent and she was curled in his arms, Edward breathed her in, entirely content. He kept one hand splayed low on her belly, wondering at the new life they would soon welcome to their brood.

Bella put her hands over his. "You really wanting a girl this time 'round?"

"Yeah. With your eyes, your hair if you can swing it."

She laughed, her body jostling against his. "I'll see what I can do."

"That's my girl." He kissed her forehead.

They were silent for a few minutes. Edward thought she must have fallen asleep until she spoke again. "I'm glad you're home."

"Yeah, chickabiddy. I am, too."

A/N: Short but sweet, right?

Question... if Edward was a cowboy all covered with dirt and sweat, would you still lick him?

Anyway. Thank you to my girls, as usual. Thank you to all of you. Your reaction and your enjoyment make writing such a pleasure.

Until next time, my lovelies. Kisses and hugs.