At long last, the next chapter! I'm SO sorry it's taken me so long to update! Terrible writer's block has plagued me and real life has been a bit hectic. I hope I'm past it. Thanks to Pates Greeneyes for pre reading and my awesome beta, RE Hargrave. I love you both!
Last chapter: the proposal. Let's see what our kids are up to, shall we? See you below.
Chapter Fifty Five
"Bella, just work with me here, please!" Ali motions me to turn in place with her index finger.
I spin in front of the three-way mirror to appease her, but I already know this poufy monstrosity isn't the dress. "I am, Ali, but I will be making the final decision here; this gown has to be me."
"I love you, Alice, but Bella is right and this gown isn't her at all." Rose raises an eyebrow at Ali, her message clear.
Have I mentioned that I love my best friend?
We're at Kleinfelds. Of course it was Ali's idea, but I have to admit to feeling like a princess here. Liz and Suzanne were thrilled when I invited them along, and insisted we stay the weekend in New York City; with Ed Sr. volunteering to foot the bill.
Edward had volunteered to sub for Jamie at the hospital this weekend and had kissed me with wild abandon when I was preparing to head out the door. His lips against my ear sent shivers up my spine.
"Have fun, baby, and if I may make one simple request? Slip away to some fancy boutique and buy yourself something sexy. I'm sure you and Rose can manage it, and I know Emmet won't mind. When you get home Sunday night you're all mine." The way his eyebrows wiggle, signaling he has something naughty on his mind, is intoxicating.
"Hmm, is this 'something sexy' for me, Edward, or you?" I cover his face with soft kisses.
I love my man.
"We have a few of our own ideas, dearest."
Suzanne's voice brings me out of my daydream, but all I can see is a pile of lace and satin coming at me at a steady pace.
I pray these dresses are more me because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings; also, I don't care to try on hundreds of dresses today. My style is classic and timeless, not over dramatic or outlandish. I'm more like my mom in that respect, and I'm feeling the void without her here. If you were to put Renee and I on opposite ends of the store, we would have ultimately picked the same dress; we were that in tune to each other.
Liz's face peeks around a hanger and her look is priceless. "Ummm, Bella? No offense, dear, but you look like a Disney princess, and not in a good way. Cinderella just called and she wants her ball gown back!"
"Thank goodness for that, Liz. Let Cindarelli have her gown back – I'm not partial to glass slippers anyway." When I glare over at Ali she wastes no time coming up behind me to unfasten the forty satin covered buttons which will set me free from this over inflated ball gown.
Two hours and twenty dresses later I still haven't found the one.
I'm about ready to give up for the day in favor of finding a lingerie shop when out of the corner of my eye I see a prospective bride modeling a dress on the platform outside my fitting room. The dress is classy and somewhat familiar; but I'm not sure if it's right on her and I think she may agree. She frowns as the stylist primps, pulls, and tucks while her friends watch. All I can think is that she better get my dress off as quick as possible.
Wow, Bella, possessive all of a sudden?
Ali catches me glaring and winks at me in approval. She walks over to me and calmly whispers "Oscar de la Renta. Think the first 'Sex and the City' movie and the wedding photo shoot Carrie Bradshaw did for Vogue. She didn't end up choosing that dress, but..."
"Of course, that's it! I knew I've seen it before. It's perfect, Ali, and so – me!"
All of us try to be discreet and inch closer to the dress.
Okay, so we're really stalking the bride; I'm sure we are an intimidating bunch, but we press on. Once we reach the platform we just stand there and remain silent. The bride tilts her head after catching us approaching in the mirror and turns to address us, "Well then, this is just not my dress at all. Let's get this off of me and onto you as quick as possible. You just know when you've found the one, and this is clearly your 'one'."
And just like that, Oscar de la Renta's silk embroidered gown kicked Cinderella's poufy ass.
My twelve hour shift is finally over and I stop to check my messages and texts before heading home. Dad called and wants to meet for a burger at Flanigan's at 7:00 p.m. A glance at my watch lets me figure I have just enough time to go home and shower before meeting him at the pub so I send him a text confirming that I'll see him shortly. The girl's plane won't land until 9:00 p.m. so that gives Dad and I enough time to grab a bite and catch up.
Continuing to scroll through my incoming texts, nothing seems too important; until I see an incoming picture mail from Bella. I click on it in haste, wondering if she sent me a picture of herself in her wedding dress, which would be taboo for everyone except my Bella. What I see is far from what I had imagined; a close up of one of Bella's legs in a sheer black, seamed stocking and a killer, black, patent-leather pump.
Her text with the picture is simple: A preview of what is to come...
Kill me now.
"Edward, son, it's been a while. You're looking..." Dad stands when I enter Flanigan's and pulls me into a hug.
"Yeah, I know, tired, right? I've been getting that a lot lately."
He pulls back and gives me a slow once over. "I'm guessing Ali is keeping you and Bella immersed in a heaping pile of bridal magazines?"
Isn't that the truth. "Do you have any idea how much one of those things weigh?"
Dad chuckles and slaps me on the back. We have a seat at the bar and order the pub special, a bacon cheeseburger and a Guiness Draught. "Ah, to be a young groom again. Just go with it, son, and when I say that, I really mean it. Just smile and be agreeable to everything. It'll go much smoother if you don't immerse yourself in all the little details."
"That's the thing, Dad. I want to be involved, to get it right this time around. Thinking back, my first wedding made me feel as if the groom were another man and I was merely a witness. Bella deserves more than that." Suddenly the thought of a second failed marriage hits me. That simply can't happen; Bella is my life now. Our food arrives, but as Dad digs into his burger, I've lost my appetite. It could just be wedding jitters, but knowing what's at stake here hits me hard. I push my plate aside and grab my napkin.
"Edward, you and Bella have come a long way together. You deserve this second chance at love, but she deserves you at your best. That means letting the girls do their thing. Your job? Be there in your tux with the wedding band tucked safely in your vest pocket. Until then, relax and take care of yourself. Trust me, son." His eyes are fixed on mine, his tone is firm yet loving.
I look at my napkin which is pretty much torn into shreds and toss it aside. "Those are some very wise words, Dad, I'll take them under advisement. Relaxing is not always easy when I'm part of a very busy practice. You get that, I know."
"Edward, your job is one thing, I do get that. Agree to leave the rest to the experts. You'll thank me later. Now, you have a burger to eat and I'd like to have another Guinness."
I take a deep breath and ponder my father's words. Damn if he isn't just what I needed tonight. You can do this, Masen. You will make everyone proud. Taking a bite of my burger, I flag the waitress for another round.
It turns out taking my dad's advice was wise. I just wish I'd talked to him sooner; my evening after picking Bella up from the airport was a bit of a bomb. Okay, a total bomb.
Seeing her standing there in those black stockings with those killer pumps should have done it for me.
The black garter and matching black lace bra should have turned me into a feral animal ready to ravage my mate. She was so damn beautiful and confident before me. I could have been the luckiest bastard that night . . . and absolutely nothing happened.
Hell, just remembering how nothing did it is enough to make my stomach turn all over again.
Rose and Bella are out for dinner while Emm and I are hanging out in his living room watching a Big Bang Theory marathon. As embarrassed as I am to discuss what happened, or didn't happen, with Bella, I know I can trust Emmett. Over some Chex Mix and a few beers I tell him about the night Bella returned from New York City. He listens and doesn't crack a joke. To be honest, I kind of expect some ribbing at some point; after all, Emmett is Emmett.
"Hmm, well Bella might be right, it could have been stress. On top of working at the practice all week, you had just come off a long weekend subbing at the hospital. And, you know, with the wedding plans and all–"
I cut him off before he finishes. "Work is no busier than usual, Emm, and the wedding plans are pretty much handled. My dad made me realize I have to ease up in the wedding plan department. Mom, Grandma, Bella, and the girls are taking care of everything." I find myself getting agitated; I can't believe I'm talking to him about this.
"Look, Edward, I'm no expert, but I don't really think this is that uncommon. I think it happened to me...once." Emm wiggles his eyebrows and I shoot him my best 'shut the fuck up' glare. Cue the ribbing. "Oh, c'mon, E, relax. Has this happened before?"
I grab my beer and take a long pull, needing a little liquid courage. "It happened occasionally when I was with Kate. I always figured it was because we weren't always on the same page sexually."
"What does that even mean, E? She seemed liked quite a wild one...just saying." Emm smirks at me and starts picking through the Chex Mix.
"Kate was more into instant gratification, and I wanted more; seduction, passion, you know, the whole build up. Kate pushed sometimes, most of the time. She was never into foreplay; she just wanted to get the main event over with."
Emm triumphantly shows me a pile of pumpernickel bagel chips he's retrieved from the bowl. "And with Bella?"
"I don't know, Bella and I just click in the bedroom; and out of it for that matter. I can't even compare what we have to what I had with Kate. And for the record, this has never happened with Bella before. It embarrassed me."
"Honestly, Edward, I think you may be over-thinking this. In my opinion, you and Kate weren't compatible in most areas, not just the bedroom, so don't dwell on the past. As far as this happening with Bella, I'm sure she's already forgotten about it. I still think it has to do with stress and the everyday pressures of planning a wedding. You can't tell me that Ali isn't blowing up your phone at all hours trying to get your opinion on this or that. I was in your shoes not so long ago, remember?"
"I suppose so, but–"
"Look, E, so you didn't get it up once with Bella, so what? That's hardly a big deal in my opinion." He shrugs his shoulders and waves me off like a pesky fly.
"It's not just that, Emm. There's more, too." I may as well spill it all. "It's not just what happened, or didn't happen with Bella. I'm also tired all the time, my appetite is pretty much nonexistent, and when I do eat, I often get terrible indigestion."
"Look, Edward, I'm standing by my theory that all of this is just wedding jitters. But if the all knowing Dr. Masen is that concerned, get it checked out. Then you can breathe easy when you're told it's nothing. You do have medical insurance, right?"
"Very funny, Emm. I guess you're right, it wouldn't hurt to have it checked out. I'll look at my schedule next week and make an appointment for a physical."
"Atta boy. Now stop dwelling on it, bro. That'll just make it worse. Mind over matter and all that. Just relax and let things take their natural course. Don't put pressure on yourself to perform. You'll be yourself in no time, trust me."
"Thanks, Emm, I hope you're right. After all, I have a honeymoon coming up."
"Indeed you do. And speaking of honeymoon, spill it. I want details."
"No way, it's top secret! Not even my parents are privy to the location, and it's going to stay that way. All I can say is that I hope Bella will be blown away."
Needing a diversion from this topic, I stand and head to the kitchen with our empty beer bottles. "Want another?"
"Sure, E, and don't think I don't know what you're up to. I'm not letting this go."
"Didn't figure you would, but you'll get nothing from me. Maybe I'll text you a picture once we get there."
"Hmmm, that could work. I'm picturing a nude beach as we speak. Lots of, you know, bazingas!"
I roll my eyes at him, of course Emm would go there. I'd expect nothing less.
Thoughts? I know you have them! The next chapter (the wedding!) will be a LONG one. I've decided to write a special 'guest' point of view, perhaps even two. I'd like to get your input...who would you like to hear from? Emmett? Ali? Anyone at all. Let me know!
I wish you all the very best for the rest of the year and into 2014. If you celebrate stay safe and be kind. I love you all and thank you for your continued support. See you soon.