Have you ever noticed that in life, little moments can turn out to have monumental effects? They can be the things that make life wonderful.
Over the past year, he had come to see the beauty in small things.
It was the beautiful things like the warm smell of his young daughter on his chest, or her smile at trying new foods.
It was the silent cups of coffees he shared with the woman he cared about it the morning. It was his dad telling him he was proud of him.
It was his brother and him smiling about something of their childhood.
These things were the things he had come to live for.
And she had everything to do with that.
"Alright, stakes are high. I want nothing but your best out there! Do you hear me? Nothing but your best! I want to see commitment on this field! I want to see passion and I want us to see glory! We will win because we have the hearts of champions, and our hearts beat as one! Now! Who's with me?"
Edward looked around the circle of the group of people he had chosen to lead him to victory on this the day of his 29th birthday.
"All right, hands in!"
Bella, Jasper, Lily, Carlisle and Peter all put their hands on top of his, allowing him his fun.
"Win on three! One, two three!"
The group broke apart and began to sling their helmets on, protecting their heads as the padded vests protected their chests. They did this because, damn, paintballs could sting.
For Edward's 29th birthday, Bella had brought some of their closer friends and family up to her family cabin for a weekend of well-deserved fun. On that Saturday afternoon, Bella had booked the paintball field for their party, surprising Edward.
The goal of the game of paintball was essentially capture the flag. On the field were dozens of blown up shapes to take cover behind. On each side of the field was a flag, guarded by each respective team. To eliminate those of the opposite team, paint balls were used. Once you were hit three times, the referee watching in the stand would blow the whistle and call you out.
In summary, it was a bad ass game, and everyone was really freaking excited.
"I don't care if it's your birthday bro, we're kicking your ass!" Emmett, the other team captain, shouted. He grinned at Edward before putting on his helmet and holding up his paintball gun warningly.
"You just think you'll win because you have mom. I may have a problem hitting her, but Bella doesn't!" Edward called back, nodding at Bella who glared at him for the implication of her lacking of morals.
Esme placated Bella with a shout. "Don't feel guilty dear, I'm coming for you!"
Bella laughed. "Oh good, Esme!"
Emmett's team consisted of Alice, Esme, Lily's husband John, Peter's wife Charlotte, and Landon.
Edward and Landon had actually become good friends over the winter when Bella refused to go the NBA basketball games, and sent Landon to go with Edward, who had grudgingly allowed it. She didn't like basketball, and those two did, so it had worked out well from there. They had gotten along shockingly well. It had been somewhat awkward for everyone at first, but things were good.
Rosalie couldn't participate because of her pregnancy, and instead was with Molly, watching the field from the protected stand with the ref.
"Are you ready for this, lieutenant?" Edward asked, turning to Bella with a smile.
She smirked at him. "How did I get that position, captain?"
Edward glanced over at Jasper and then pretended to lower his voice, "Between you and me, he's all talk."
"Screw you, Cullen. Just because I don't want to shoot at your mom doesn't mean I suck!"
"So, I'm second in command because of my willingness to take down older women?" she asked.
"We both know you and I will be the last ones on this field," he responded, slipping on his helmet.
Bella grinned before following suit.
Edward held out his fist.
"You got my back, Swan?"
Bella bumped hers against his.
Playing paintball is something Edward would recommend to everyone on the planet Earth.
It was so much fucking fun.
It took the fun of capture the flag and multiplied it by ten by adding paintball guns. Shooting them was so fun and made you feel like the coolest person in the world.
It was clear Emmett's team had a strategy. They moved in on one person of the opposite team, all ganging up on that person while John stayed back to guard the flag.
This strategy worked brilliantly the first time. It was clear Bella had tipped Emmett off on what their activity would be, and he had prepared accordingly. They got to Carlisle in the first ten minutes, easily hitting him three times.
"Damn it, Son!" Carlisle complained as the ref called him off the field.
Edward called a timeout, and was surprised when the ref granted him one.
Apparently there were timeouts in paintball.
Edward huddled his team together. "Alright, one of you needs to go as bait. They'll surround as they did before, but we'll surround them. Get as many shots as you can on them. Any volunteers?"
Everyone looked around and down at the suddenly fascinating ground.
"Lily it is!"
Lily glared at her boss.
"Fine. But you're getting the coffee next week."
Their return ambush worked like a charm. Lily, flawless actress as ever, convincingly snuck through the field and allowed Emmett's team to surround her. Edward's team surrounded them, and when the Emmett's team began to fire at Lily, all hell broke loose.
Bella got two shots on Alice before she ducked, while Jasper and Peter tag teamed Landon. Edward effectively got two shots on Charlotte, as well as one on an unsuspecting Emmett.
The ref called Landon out, as he had been hit about nine times. Lily also went out, having been sacrificed. Peter and Jasper went off on Alice's trail while everyone else scrambled to re-position themselves behind barriers.
"Bella! Look out!"
Bella who had been standing, whipped her head to the side, recognizing Edward's voice.
Before she could figure out what was happening, or simply duck, a hard force slammed into her and sent her tumbling to the ground. But she didn't hit the hard grass, and instead landed on something softer.
"Damn it!" Emmett yelled, letting Bella know that she had been his target.
Bella turned down to look at Edward who had wrapped his arms around her and gotten her behind the cover a barrier, sending himself down as well. He had positioned himself to land on the ground, protecting her fall.
"Thanks," she breathed, their helmets resting against one another.
"I gotta watch out for my girl," Edward replied, and she could see his grin.
Bella smiled wide enough for him to see.
Edward rolled over from his back, taking her with him. Bella ended up pressed against the ground and Edward, as he hovered above her. She raised a teasing eyebrow, but he didn't see as he examined around them.
"Jasper and Peter seemed to have partnered up," he commented.
"You know, if you wanted to be my partner, you didn't have to pin me to the ground to do it," she replied, smirking.
Edward didn't even have seemed to notice that he had done just that. He gave her a sheepish grin.
"Alright then, partner, let's take down Charlotte," he said.
"You're going to have to get off me in order to do so," she reminded him.
Edward was briefly confused. "Huh…? Oh! Yeah."
Bella laughed as Edward rolled off of her and grabbed his gun. Bella got off the ground and peered over the inflatable barrier, Edward next to her.
"She's going for the flag," Bella whispered, watching as Charlotte crept through the field to their unguarded flag.
Edward and Bella scrambled from where they were, darting through the barriers to reach Charlotte before she could get to the flag. Edward fired the first shot, missing her side while Bella tried to position herself better. Charlotte started to dart away, causing Edward to curse and chase after her.
"I got your flank!" Bella shouted after him as she moved.
"My what?" he hollered back, still chasing Charlotte who was trying to fire on him.
"Your flank!" she repeated, scanning around to see if anyone was approaching.
"You mean my ass?" he called back while he fired once more at Charlotte, missing as she darted behind a barrier.
"I suppose you could call it that!" she said, making sure to keep her back to him, as he was on the other side of the half height barrier.
"She's just checking out your ass, bro!" Emmett hollered, popping out from behind one of the barriers.
Bella felt the impact of the paintball hitting her chest before she could duck. Fuck.
"You okay, Bella?" Edward shouted from somewhere.
"Yeah! But you gotta watch your own flank now!" she yelled, peering around the barrier in order to see Emmett.
The occupants of the field heard the ref call out, "Player 5 of Team B, you're out!"
"Yes!" Celebratory cheers rang across the field from Team A, or Team Edward.
"Don't worry about my flank!" Edward called over to Bella, "I'll get Emmett! Go find my mom!"
"You know, if you two could stop focusing so much attention on Edward's flank, or ass, or whatever the hell it is, we're struggling down here!" Jasper complained with a yell.
Bella started to crawl quickly around the barriers, careful to watch for Emmett as she rushed to get to the other side.
"You know, yelling is a pretty good way of letting people know where you are, right?!" Emmett yelled.
From the sound of his voice, Bella knew she was a safe distance away from him. Oh, irony. She smirked to herself as she stood up to run. Thank you, Emmett.
"Player 2 of Team B, you're out!" the ref yelled.
Bella knew that was her one and only sister, Alice. She laughed, knowing Jasper and Peter had done their jobs.
"Player 4 of Team A, you're also out!" the ref yelled once more.
Bella popped up from behind a barrier to see Alice crossing the field, looking pissed as she headed out of bounds. Peter stood up only a small distance away from Bella. He was covered in red paint, obviously having been nailed. He followed Alice's path, glancing around him as he did so.
"Timeout!" Edward shouted.
"You don't get another timeout!" the ref hollered back.
Emmett's laughter rang across the area.
"Worth a shot!" Edward yelled back.
Out of corner of her eye, Bella saw a flash of blonde hair, covering behind a barrier a few away from her. She crawled on the ground quickly and reached Jasper who very nearly shot at her before identifying that she was on his team.
"How's it going over here?"
"Alice got me once, and then Esme got me a second time, while she positively killed Peter. John is still guarding the flag, but he has two shots," Jasper informed her.
Jasper snorted. "Perfectly clean."
"Emmett got me once, which is fair as I got him once before. Edward didn't have any last time I checked."
"I'll take John, you find Esme?" Jasper asked.
Bella high fived him.
"Let's find glory!" she grinned, roughly quoting Edward's speech.
"Is it just me or are you full of adrenalin?" Jasper asked as they peered over the barrier.
Bella laughed. "I'm so full of it I don't even think I'll sleep tonight!"
A flash of caramel hair was visible from a few barriers away, and Bella took off running. Jasper did the same, neither needing the cover, as the teams were evenly matched at the moment.
John finished off Jasper with one well-placed shot while Bella got two shots on Esme. She opted to go for John as Team Edward was out numbered. John joined Jasper and the others on the sideline.
Esme got a shot on Bella, but Bella fired and ducked, not seeing if she hit her target or not. She crouched down, resting her back against the inflatable as she tried to catch her breath.
"Player 6 of Team B, that's three shots!"
Bella smiled to herself. It was just her, Edward and Emmett left. They outnumbered him.
"How many shots are you at?" Edward yelled from a distance, clearly remaining by their flag.
"Two! You?" Bella called, standing up in the open. She couldn't see Emmett or Edward, but guessed they were near each other.
"Bella! Get the freaking flag and run like hell!" Jasper hollered, cupping his hands around his mouth from the sidelines.
"Finish him, Edward!" Bella yelled as she took off running.
Bella quickly weaved through the barriers and sprinted to Emmett's flag. She grabbed it, smiling to herself before turning and running across the field as Emmett and Edward shot at each other.
"Captain of Team A, you're out!"
"Fuck," Bella swore loudly, halting her run and ducking behind the closest barrier. It was just her and Emmett left.
"May I remind all remaining players that in order to win a player with the flag must make their way to the end of the field, where the barriers end."
"You got it Bella!"
"Kick his ass!"
"Get your shit together, Emmett!"
Bella grinned. It was apparent they now had cheerleaders. Vulgar ones.
"Cross the barriers, Swan! See how it works out for you!" Emmett challenged.
Bella popped up from the barrier and saw that Emmett was standing in the open with his arms in the air, his back to her.
She didn't know if Edward had gotten any shots on him or not, but she knew he had at least one. If there were two paintballs splattered on his chest, she just needed to hit his back to win. If there was only one and she shot him and ran, he could get her and win the game, as she had two.
Take a chance, Bella, she urged herself.
Seeing that Emmett was starting to turn, she made up her mind and fired at him and ran, not checking if she hit her target or not. She dropped her gun to the ground and sprinted across the field and through the remaining barriers before reaching the end of them.
"Captain of Team B, you're out! Congratulations to Team A!"
Bella turned and took off her helmet before holding her hands in the air, the flag clutched in her right fist. Emmett was gapping at her in shock from a short distance away. Everyone on the sidelines was making some type of noise as they crashed the field.
Bella laughed as Edward reached her in a run. She was surprised when he picked her up around the waist and twirled her around, but laughed at his exuberance.
"This is why you were the first pick of draft!" Edward laughed as he set her on her feet once again, giving her a squeeze before releasing her. The rest of their team was quickly approaching, whooping for joy.
Bella kept her arms loosely around his neck as she smiled.
"Couldn't have done it without you," she replied.
"Any of it," he said, smiling softly as they both knew they were no longer talking about the game.
"Any of it."
After everyone got cleaned up from the paintball war and Molly gave high fives to everybody on the winning team, the gang headed back to the Swan cabin for an afternoon on the lake.
There were Jet Ski races across the lake, providing another competitive outlet for the adrenaline filled group. Carlisle and Esme were the only ones who did not participate in that, as they were content to sit on the beach before going to make dinner for everyone, just another present to their son.
A few various people wanted to go tubing, including Alice and Bella, as it was tradition to them. Landon and Jasper went on for a while as well as Edward and Emmett. The two brothers quickly decided that while it was a really fun time, they had each had a kid, -whether currently or on the way- and they were too old for that shit.
They played football in the shallows, and also set up a volleyball net to play. It was a fun afternoon with a group of people that really meshed well together and fed off one another's energy.
By the time they got sunburnt, people were nearly ready for dinner. They trudged up the 10 wooden stairs to get to the cabin, changing out of their swimsuits and in to clothes. Then of course, Boche Ball was broken out and they were entertained until dinner.
Esme and Carlisle had outdone themselves when it came to dinner. Carlisle had grilled six different types of meats while Esme had made three pasta salads, brownies, cookies and a cake, along with perfectly cut fruit and fabulous chip selections. Bella was pretty sure she had gained at least five pounds after she had finished eating.
Once dinner was over, Emmett and Jasper went into the woods, looking for big logs to contribute to the bonfire they were planning to have on the sandy beach that evening. Lily and John had to make the drive home, as did Charlotte and Peter, as Charlotte had to work that Sunday.
After dinner, Edward rocked with Molly on the hammock, listening to her innocent babble with a smile, his lips never far from her head. He had the sweetest kid in the world, and God did he love her. She was a never failing light in his life, and just hearing her giggle could melt his heart.
Simba cuddled with them too.
"Daddy, Simba s'inks!" she said, wrinkling up her nose as the puppy dozed off on Edward's lap next to her.
"I know, baby girl, wet puppies don't always smell too good," he chuckled. Simba had been just as delighted in the water as Molly had been.
"Where's Simba's daddy?" she wondered curiously.
"I'm not sure, honey."
"What abou' his mama?"
"She's at the farm where we got Simba from," he replied.
Molly settled back against his chest. Edward looked down at her with a raised eyebrow, incredulous that she was silent, even momentarily.
"Where's Mama?" she asked, making Edward smirk. Nine seconds was an impressive record for her.
Edward glanced around, seeing several people milling around, but no Bella. When he turned his gaze towards the lake, his eyes settled on a small figure at the end of the dock.
"She's over there," he told Molly, pointing in her direction.
"Oh. Is she sad, Daddy?" Molly asked, eyebrows furrowed.
Edward frowned, unknowingly mirroring his daughter's look. "I don't think so, sweetie."
"You should go as' her, Daddy," she told him with a serious nod.
"Do you want to go with Grandpa while I do that?" he asked.
Molly bobbed her head up and down, looking around for Carlisle already. Edward couldn't help but wonder if he had been played by his two year old.
Once Molly was with Carlisle and Simba with Alice, Edward headed down the stairs and to the end of the dock. Bella glanced over her shoulder when she heard him coming and gave him a soft smile.
He sat down next to her, slipping his feet over the edge and into the water.
"Molly wanted me to come and ask if you were sad," he said with a grin.
Bella laughed quietly. "And where did she get that from?"
Edward shook his head. "If I knew where that kid got half the things in her mind from."
They shared a smile before looking back out at the lake. The sun was just beginning its descent over the horizon and water was beginning to calm. It was beautiful, and the time that Bella had fallen in love with as a kid.
"What are you doing down here?" he wondered.
Bella shrugged, continuing to twirl her feet in the water. "Something about this time of day always draws me here."
"I can see why. It's a spot where everything…just makes sense."
Bella nodded, and glanced at him briefly with a smile before looking down again, not quite meeting his eyes.
"Well almost everything. There's still something I can't quite figure out," she admitted softly.
"What's that?" he wondered, looking at her closely.
Her cheeks were red from the sun, and freckles were appearing on her nose. Her hair was windblown and wild. His breath was taken away as realized how utterly beautiful she was.
She looked up and met his eyes.
Edward raised his eyebrows.
"Me?" he asked.
"You're the one thing that I haven't quite figured out."
A stray of hair fell loose from behind her ear as he watched her. Without a conscious thought, he lifted his hand to brush the hair off of her soft cheek and back behind her ear.
"What's there to figure out?" he whispered.
Bella turned to him, as they inched closer to one another. Once their lips were just inches apart, hers parted and she breathed, "This."
Edward closed the distance between them as Bella leaned toward him. He pressed his lips against hers, tentatively at first. His body instantly remembered the kiss from six months ago, and the way it had lit him on fire.
Bella lifted her hand up to weave her fingers through his hair, bringing him closer against her as she returned the kiss. Their lips moved against each other, igniting sparks in their body that neither had experienced with a chaste, by many standards, kiss.
Edward let his tongue slide against her bottom lip and nearly moaned when she granted him access and he could taste a hint of chocolate from the cake they had eaten. When Bella pulled harder against his hair, he did let out a small moan which was almost instantly echoed by a tiny whimper from Bella.
Minutes later when they broke apart, each was gasping for breath, shocked that this kiss not only rivaled the previous, but had surpassed it.
Bella let her head fall against his shoulder as they waited for their heart rates to drop back to a normal level. Edward entwined his fingers with hers, resting their joined hands on his leg.
With her regaining of oxygen, Bella found the words that she had been needing to say for a while.
"Edward, I need to figure out if we can do that. I need to know if you're okay with it, and if I'm okay with it," she said, lifting her head off his shoulder to meet his gaze. "We've been tiptoeing around it because neither of us were ready...but, things have changed.
"That kiss was…well, it was literally breathtaking. The way you make me feel is something I would have never imagined and damn it if I didn't have a crush on you Edward Cullen."
"I'm in London in a few days, and I'll be there for a week. I think, well I hope, that should give us time to figure things out."
Edward opened his mouth, to protest, Bella presumed.
"Please don't decide anything yet. I know it's hard to think clearly when I'm around you, and I'll be mildly insulted if you have a perfectly clear head in return."
Edward laughed and leaned in to kiss her temple.
"Well, just so you know, I have a crush on you too, Bella Swan."
When life leaves you high and dry
I'll be at your door tonight
If you need help, if you need help
I'll shut down the city lights,
I'll lie, cheat, I'll beg and bribe
To make you well, to make you well
When enemies are at your door
I'll carry you away from war
If you need help, if you need help
Your hope dangling by a string
I'll share in your suffering
To make you well, to make you well
Give me reasons to believe
That you would do the same for me
Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips
AN: Awww...Edward is happy! Remember where he was a year ago? Literally too wrapped up in grief to even acknowledge a birthday.
I think right now, these two are at an incredibly important stage. "I like you, you like me, but can we really work? Because my heart isn't ready for another break." Next chapter, we'll have the answer! You might be able to guess...(:
Make sure to send me your thoughts on this chapter! I think it's one of my favorite, because it's just so much lighter...and that kiss!