Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I am just using the names that she created for her wonderful story.
X-NessieCullen-X has preread and beta'd for me but life is kind of nuts for both of us. All mistakes are entirely my own. If you find any, I do apologize. xx
Edward had sat on that couch for almost two hours as the TV droned on in the background. He couldn't tell you what was on, though. Isabella Swan was gripping his t-shirt in her hand and her head was resting against his chest. He watched her sleep, took the time to rub the exposed skin of her arm, and once in a while snuck kisses on her forehead. She was really there with him and from the way they were both talking, this was it. Edward Cullen was in a relationship. It was a steady, committed relationship. If it wasn't for who the girl was, he'd be fucking terrified. He wasn't though. For once in his life, he finally felt like this was where he was supposed to be. Right there, on the couch, with his Bella.
While he was worried that Lanie would come out of her room for a snack or to watch TV, or even to visit with her favorite teacher, he absolutely could not bring himself to wake up the sleeping girl who was now practically on his lap. They weren't doing anything inappropriate and Lanie had told him that she was okay with them being together. Hell, she'd encouraged it. It was not a surprise to him that Bella slept this long, he couldn't get over how haggard she looked earlier at Jasper's apartment. The second he'd opened the door, her tired eyes shook him to his core.
It didn't help that he'd been completely caught off guard and should have realized that this could have happened. Bella and Rosalie were becoming fast, good friends with Alice and it shouldn't surprise him that they'd show up at Jasper's apartment looking for her. Alice had practically been living there for a few weeks now and he suspected she would be moving in permanently soon. He was grateful that Alice had formed friendships with the two girls, he'd always been worried about her-ever since the morning after they first met.
If he was completely honest with himself, he'd thought Jasper had completely lost his fucking mind when it first happened. They were at the club one night, playing up their bachelorhood on a rare night that Lanie was at a friend's house. Jasper, back then, was just as much a lover of one-night stands as Edward was. It wasn't like they brought girls back to the apartment and shared or anything like that, but they definitely acted as each other's wing man.
On this particular night, there were two girls who claimed to be 'best friends' and had actually approached them. This was a good sign. When a girl would make herself known, it usually meant she would be willing to go home with you without you doing much work to convince her it was what she wanted. Edward took the blonde. All he could remember was that she was tall and loud-slightly overbearing. Jasper went for the shier, brunet. They were just on their way out the door when the little spit-fire who is Mary Alice Brandon came bouncing into their lives. Literally.
Jasper was leading his girl out the door when suddenly, Edward saw a tiny girl come bouncing down the stairs that led up to the second story, obviously having tripped. He yelled to Jazz to look out but it was too late and the next thing he knew, the strange, dark-haired girl ended up in his best friend's arms. The redhead didn't take very kindly to it, even though it was obvious that Alice never meant to go flying down the stairs and end up where she did.
Edward figured Jasper would let the odd girl go, tell his girl of the night not to worry about it, and keep walking. Instead, he held onto the unsteady stranger and told the redhead that it wasn't Alice's fault. Pissed, red walked out the door and her blonde friend pulled away from Edward to go after her. It was already after one thirty and the place was shutting down soon. They had just lost their opportunity for taking anyone home and yet Jasper was still grasping this girl who looked like she could be broken in two if you looked at her hard enough.
"Jazz, come on, man. What are you doing? The girls are leaving..."
His best friend completely ignored him, now staring down at the girl. "Are you okay? What happened?"
Then, as if Edward needed another reason to want to get rid of this girl, she just burst into tears. He was never good with criers and took a couple steps back like it was contagious. "Did someone hurt you?" Jasper demanded, pushing the hair out of her face.
"No...I'm sorry...I just moved here and...this is literally the nicest anyone has been to me in weeks."
"Are you here with friends?"
"No. I don't really know anyone. I thought if I came some place like this I'd meet some new people but the guys have all been...horrible..."
"Look, I'm not trying to be weird or anything but why don't you come back to my place tonight? My friend here and I were just leaving. You can crash on my couch..." he added on as an afterthought.
Edward rolled his eyes, there was no way this girl was going to go home with them. There was no reason for it. She had a place of her own, which he assumed was probably not that far from where they were. At first, it seemed as if the girl was going to say no but then she frowned and let out a loud sigh. "I don't want to put you out... I know there were other girls with you..."
"They weren't girlfriends...just...friends."
"Mine was going to be a little more than a friend," Edward muttered, knowing that he was pouting like a little kid.
Her face bunched up in thought, she gave them a signal that she'd be right back, and then skipped out the door. Edward could see why she fell down the other stairs; her movements were quick and hyper. She reminded him of a baby deer. Before Edward and Jasper could finish their discussion on what the hell Jasper was trying to pull, Alice joined them with the blonde in tow. Edward's jaw dropped and he raised his eyebrows. "He's an awesome guy!" Alice had reassured the girl who was not taking Edward's hand. Then looking to the guys she asked, "So, we ready to go?"
Jasper and Edward shared the same look of shock but they both nodded and she looped her arm with the blondes. "I'm Mary Alice Brandon, but everyone just calls me Alice. It's nice to meet you."
The next morning as the blonde stumbled out the door, Edward looked over at the tiny girl curled up on the old couch he and Jazz had found outside waiting to be picked up by a garbage truck. Jasper had been true to his word, letting the distraught Alice sleep on his couch. To Edward's dismay, Jasper was already out of bed and cooking eggs and bacon. Jasper never cooked. He lived off of delivery pizza and Chinese takeout. The eggs were only there because Edward had bought them.
When she finally woke up and joined them for breakfast, she chatted away and Edward learned of the struggle she had been going through with her parents. It struck a chord with him. He had known this girl for less than twelve hours and he already completely understood his friend's need to protect her, even though the night before he'd just wanted to get the hell home and fuck the strange blonde. Many nights after that, when he would see Alice and Jasper together, he wondered how many times he'd passed up his own Alice as he was trying to get into some other girl's pants. Before Bella, though, he hadn't cared enough to quit his lifestyle of one-night stands and depression. It took until Bella came into his life to realize what his friends had been trying to tell him all along. He really had been using Lanie as an excuse.
Of all the girls he'd slept with, the main characteristics included them being blonde and blatant. He didn't want a shy girl who wouldn't give him what he wanted. He wanted the wild girl who took what she craved. His type consisted of girls who were an easy lay and wanted nothing to do with him after the fact...or after the act if he was being honest.
Looking down at Bella, he knew he'd found his Ally. Sure enough, she had been there, right in front of him, for months now and he'd missed it because of his stupid inner-battle with his own mind. She was a petite, dark-haired school teacher slash bookworm with a huge heart. She may have known what she was doing in bed that night but he doubted she was anyone remotely easy.
The best part about her, about this moment, was that she was entirely his. He prayed to God his bad boy ways would keep out of it and let him keep his promise of commitment to her, seeing her face when she came face to face with the girl he was with the night before made his chest feel like it was cracking open, his heart falling to the floor.
He never wanted to be the reason for that devastation again. He knew there was a lot about himself that he needed to change and he also realized over the past week that giving Lanie an example of a good relationship was what she needed. All she'd ever seen of a relationship was people fighting, she didn't need her brother refusing to hold a steady, healthy relationship on top of that. Jazz was right, she was getting older and would know something wasn't right.
Bella was pure. Bella, from what he knew of her, had lived a pretty safe, cushioned life. She had two wonderful parents, a beautiful, safe home, and her world was full of opportunity. For a while now, he could argue that he wasn't good for her, that he would stain her pure world with his harsh one, but that had long ago been given up. It was a losing battle.
From a little boy who never missed a day of school because his parents didn't want to deal with him and made sure to send him, to a teenage boy who realized school was his only escape-and probably his only shot at a hot meal each day, to the adult man who used women to cope with the abuse he'd been through throughout his life, he now had Bella. He never had new clothes, never a totally clean coat, or even a good hair cut that wasn't done by his mother when she managed to put away the liquor and pretend she loved him. Now, he was given the heart of someone beautiful and full of light. It was the most precious thing he'd ever been given and the best thing that was ever his.
Realizing that he really needed to go check on Lanie and that Bella's parents might be wondering where she was, it was now after lunchtime, he reluctantly decided to wake Bella up. She came awake with a start as he gently nudged her, her big doe eyes falling on him as she pushed herself up in surprise. She looked a little confused and kind of disoriented. "What..."
"You fell asleep...about two hours ago. You looked comfortable and I didn't want to wake you."
Bella cringed. "I'm sorry. You must think I'm such boring company."
"Not at all. You're rather...fun to watch while you sleep. I liked having you here."
"Liked, huh?" Bella laughed now, pulling herself completely to sit up and rest her elbows on her legs. "I suppose I should be going. I really didn't mean to come here and fall asleep for that long. You probably have things you need to do."
"Actually, I only woke you because I need to check on Alana and get her some lunch. Do you want to stay and join us? It's nothing fancy, just lunch meat sandwiches and maybe some macaroni and cheese. You're always welcome here. I like having you, no matter how long it's for."
"Hm...I should probably just head home. My parents went to visit with my aunt and uncle today and Luca is kennel trained so he's in there when we're not home. I need to let him out and take him for a walk."
"Oh. Alright. Well, did you get the invite for Emmett's 'Friendsgiving' tonight?"
Bella laughed loudly and nodded. "I think it was Rosalie's idea, actually. Do you...um...maybe want to go...together?"
Edward reached out to run his fingers over her hand that she was currently leaning on. "Yeah. That would be great. Lanie's coming, though."
"So? She knows about us now for the most part and I'm pretty sure I can fit twenty Lanie's in my backseat. It's no problem."
She stood and he followed her to the door where she put on her shoes and hoodie. Just as she was about to grab the handle, Bella hesitated and then turned to face him. He swallowed hard, his blood pumping, sure he was going to get a goodbye kiss. So, when she said, "I...um...need a ride home," he was completely caught off guard and stood with his mouth open like a total idiot.
"No, actually, I have an idea," she continued on. "We have tons of turkey left over from Thanksgiving. Why don't you two come with me, we'll grab some cold turkey sandwiches and then we can let Lanie play with Luca for a while. She always says about wanting a pet..."
"Bella, please don't encourage her about that..."
"I'm not. At least let her play with someone else's pet..." Bella pressed.
"I'd rather not eat all your food, either..."
"Fine," she smirked. "We stay here and eat and then go to my place and play with Luca."
Edward smiled and shook his head. As she stood there and bit down on her bottom lip, he began to suspect that maybe his innocent, little bookworm was a little more manipulative than he first thought. Returning hers with a smirk of his own, he gave in. It would be something Lanie enjoyed. "Alright. Let's go make sure Lanie wants to go. I'm telling you, I can't pull her out of those books with even the promise of Disney World."
In the eyes of Alana May Cullen, apparently Luca was more exciting than Disney World. Edward and Bella had gone back to her room, only to knock on her door and receive silence. "I'm opening the door, Lanie," he called in, wanting to give her fair warning before invading her personal space. Of course, slight fear went through him as he remembered the last time she ignored people calling to her through her bedroom door-she had taken off on her own for the local park and it had taken Bella to get her home. When he opened the door, she was entranced by the book in her hand and looked up in confusion, as if she hadn't heard the knocking or the warning.
"What?" she asked, slightly annoyed. Then, seeing Bella, she gave a small smile.
"Wanna help me make some mac and cheese? We can show Bella how it's done..." Edward teased.
"You're staying for lunch?" she asked excitedly, the question now directed at Bella.
"Yup. Then, if you're up for it, we can go over to my place and play with Luca. I bet he'd like to play with someone other than me for a change."
"Yeah! Can we go now?" Lanie asked, quickly shutting the book and pushing it aside.
"Nope," Edward put in firmly. "I need to get you and Bella both some food. I'm betting you guys are hungry. Then we can go see the dog. Make sure you put your glasses in the case. I don't want them broken..."
Bella's heart warmed from the way he included her in getting them both something eat. He sounded sweet and...concerned for her well-being. They wouldn't have a whole lot of time as she promised to bring a big salad to Emmett's and it was not yet made. They were going with a spaghetti dinner since everyone was sick of turkey by now. She wondered what everyone would say when they walked in together. Now that she was a little more rested, all she needed was some nicer clothes and makeup.
When they got to her house, she invited them in and found Lanie looking around with big, wide eyes. "Miss Swan, your house is huge!"
Bella gave a small, kind of shy smile, and nodded. "Thanks, Lanie. If you ask me, though, it's a little too big. My parents just wanted to live somewhere nice and my dad is police chief so he makes pretty good money. Come on, I'll take you down to see Luca. He's in the basement."
The 'basement' was actually two rooms. Half of it was a cement room with the furnace and wood piles along with tools, a workbench, and a lot of paint cans as her mom loved to paint. The other room was separated from it by a door and it was much more liveable. It was a room used a lot when she was younger and would have friends over, though it was rare as she wasn't exactly the most social person. Still, it had a big screen TV, a little bar area, pool table, and comfy couches. Edward had a faraway look on his face and it didn't sit well with her. "Can I get you guys something to drink? There's juice over there...or Edward, I can make you something stronger if you want..."
"Um, no, that's not a good idea. Lanie, do you want some juice?"
"No. Can I let Luca out?" she asked excitedly, going to stand beside his large kennel that took up most of the floor on that half of the room.
Bella let out a loud laugh and shook her head. The big beast was actually on his back and turned a little sideways so that his four paws were up in the air but resting against the kennel wall. His tongue was sticking out of the side of his mouth and he was watching them with wide eyes as his tail swished back and forth. "Luca, what are you doing?"
Unlatching the door, they watched as the dog took a second to flip himself around and then walk out slowly, stretching as he went and then bolting up the stairs to go out to the bathroom. Lanie chased him and Edward yelled for her to be careful and to let Bella get him. "He's not dangerous. Edward, I promise you, he's never bit a kid. He's been around them a lot."
His response surprised her. Lanie was already back upstairs and as they headed upstairs, he grabbed her hand to stop her from going up completely. "I don't drink whiskey in front of Lanie. Beer, occasionally-like probably tonight at Em's, yeah. Whiskey or anything from a bottle like it, no."
"I'm sorry. I didn't realize..."
"Does it bother her?"
His face softened and he shook his head. "It bothers me. Come on, before she unleashes Luca on the neighborhood."
They played fetch, tug of war, and just ran around for a little while until Bella started to become cold. "Hey, Lanie, I have some hot chocolate in the house if you want some! I have to start cutting up veggies to take to Emmett's tonight."
"You're going, too?" Lanie asked excitedly, throwing a big rubber tire for Luca to fetch.
"Yeah. Miss Rose will be there as well. I'll pick you up in the Jeep later at your place."
"Edward, you're still going, too. Right?" She made it sound like a you-will-if-you-know-what's-good-for-you request.
"Yes, Lanie, the three of us are going together."
Bella watched as the girl froze, despite Luca's attempts to get her to throw his toy again. She looked at her brother with a strange, questioning expression and then her face lit up. She jumped over to Bella and threw her arms around her. "Are you Edward's girlfriend now?" she asked in a rush.
It was Bella's turn to freeze, perhaps Edward might want to talk to his sister about all of this in private. Clearing his throat, he stepped over to where Lanie had her arms around Bella and took Bella's hand in his. "Would that be something that you're okay with?"
"Yes! Yes. Yes. Yes!"
The three of them laughed and Bella led them inside to work on the salad and hot chocolate. While she buzzed around the kitchen, opening cupboards and drawers, Edward grabbed the bags of vegetables she set out and began to peel and cut them. With Edward and Bella peeling and Lanie cutting them into little squares, the task was finished much more quickly than had Bella decided to do it all herself. She was happy and Lanie couldn't stop smiling. Even Luca seemed to be in good spirits as he rolled around happily on the floor of the living room. Edward was the only one who seemed a little off but she'd seen the excitement and happiness in his eyes when he told Lanie that he and Bella were together. He wanted this. That was what mattered. She promised to talk to him later about what seemed to be bothering him.
About an hour later, the Cullen's headed home and Bella went upstairs to change and get ready. She went with her usual conservative look, a lace, high collared, white shirt, a pair of gray dress pants, and her comfy, worn in, black flats. A long gold necklace with a golden, metal leaf finished it off. Her hair was uncontainable unless she showered again so she just smoothed out the bun. She looked a little sophisticated and perfect for a small gathering with friends. Picking up her book, she smiled and realized she had a half hour to read it before having to leave to get Edward and Lanie. Best. Day. Ever.
While Edward carried the massive salad and assortment of dressings, Bella and Lanie chatted happily about books and they all headed into Emmett's townhouse. Edward had just made a joke about something and the three of them entered the house a little louder than was necessary. They realized that it was strangely quiet in the small place and looked up towards the kitchen slash living room area where everyone was standing. Immediately feeling like something wasn't right, the three of them quieted down and looked to their friends questionably. Emmett was looking at them with one raised eyebrow in a questioning expression.
"Um, sorry we're a little late, guys," Edward spoke up, thinking that they might be upset that they were about fifteen past due. "Bells was on time to get us but Lanie forgot her glasses and wanted to bring some books to read..."
"Bells, huh?" Emmett asked.
They were making him nervous and for whatever reason, he actually pushed in front of the girls to stand in front of them. He soon realized Bella was peaking out from behind him at everyone and Lanie looked on edge. "Dude, relax!" Jazz called over to him. "Em's just messing with you."
"So, what's going on with you guys?" Alice asked excitedly. She glanced over at Lanie and Edward realized she was wondering how much Lanie was supposed to know.
"Go ahead, Lanie. I know you want to break the news," he laughed, stepping back again to put an arm around Bella-it wasn't easy because of the stuff he was carrying.
"Edward has a girlfriend! He's dating Miss Swan! She even said when we're not at school that I can call her Bella!"
"Man, that's great," Jasper smiled, coming over to pat him on the back and help Lanie out of her coat.
Alice came bouncing over to take the salad from him and he saw Rosalie standing behind her with a cunning smile on her face. While the girls followed Alice back to the kitchen, Jasper nudged his arm. "I'm glad you finally came around, man. Do you see how happy Alana is? Even you seem...lighter."
Both guys turned to look over at the girls who were gathered in the kitchen and laughing as Rosalie pulled Bella in for a hug and kissed her cheek. She said something to her best friend but Edward couldn't hear and Bella blushed. She was too fucking cute. "I'm good, Jazz," Edward said as cooly as he possibly could, even though he wanted to brag up his new relationship more than Lanie wanted to announce it to the world.
"Do you know what else I noticed when you guys walked in? You looked like a family."
Dinner was chaotic and loud, consisting of people yelling over each other to be heard and a lot of laughter. If Bella's face showed the epitome of devastation this morning, it was the epitome of happiness now. Her eyes sparkled as her face reflected the candles Rosalie had no doubt talked Emmett into placing on the table. As friends passed around food and old stories, he looked around at everyone and realized that he never felt as complete in his life. This was his support system. These people, the ones he'd been with his whole life and the new ones they were welcoming, were it. This group around the table was his family, blood ties be damned.
Finally, a calm chapter! Don't worry, things will get...fun...in the next chapter. Leave me some love...I'm off to edit Chapter 16 :) Letzy xx