Creative Original or Derivative Fiction: Derivative
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Prompt: Word Prompt: Family
Plot Generator—Idea Completion: Merry Christmas!
Edward drove home that night feeling lighter than he had in as long as he could remember. He could have remained standing at Bella's door, kissing her for hours until they were both breathless, but they wanted to take their time and not rush anything that was happening between them. The evening with her had been absolutely perfect from the moment she stepped into the restaurant, instantly demolishing his irrational fear that she wouldn't show. They had agreed to move forward, after all. What had he been so worried about?
Bella had changed her mind so dramatically in the time between their conversation on his couch and the dance at the party. Caution had fallen to the wayside almost completely and everything she said made perfect sense, and she was right. No matter what they did or how they proceeded, there was no way to fully avoid the talk. So was there really a point in denying themselves of what they truly desired?
Edward was exceedingly glad that they'd agreed there wasn't, but what if she'd had second thoughts again? The answer to that was simple enough—he'd wait, as it was more than partially his fault that they were in that position in the first place.
He was just about to reach into his pocket for his phone to text her, at least to make sure she was all right, when he spotted her coming toward him in that sexy, deep green dress. His attention was drawn to her legs as she walked, which caused the skirt to billow around her thighs with the movement, until she was barely a few feet away and he stood to greet her. She was absolutely breathtaking, and relief flowed through him at her presence.
Yet, standing at her door and feeling her in his arms following their kiss, he was beyond content, until he heard her return his sentiment as she held him. Then, he found it difficult to summon the will to leave her.
He'd never experienced the power that those three simple words held before, when delivered in such a way and by whom they were spoken. He could feel the sincerity in them and it nearly knocked him off his feet, and in that moment, he was sure that she would be the woman he would love for the rest of his life.
Edward had barely reached his driveway when he felt the need to have a connection with her again. He already missed her and had no idea how he was going to wait until Monday to see her.
Sweet dreams, Bella xoxo, he texted her and made his way inside to prepare for his early morning. He wasn't exactly looking forward to church the next day, since the likelihood of seeing Kate was high. And with the way she'd been acting, he wasn't sure he wanted to.
The temporary drain on his mood was alleviated moments later when his phone chimed on the nightstand as he was unbuttoning his shirt, and he looked down to find a reply from Bella.
Definitely. You too xoxo
Edward decided to push aside any thoughts of what the next day might bring and concentrate on the memory of his evening with her. He could smell the faint trace of her perfume lingering on the fabric of his shirt from holding her as he allowed it to fall from his shoulders. He even swore he could still taste her lip gloss from their kiss. She surrounded him even when she wasn't physically there, and it relaxed him as he settled into his bed and closed his eyes, falling asleep with her face in his mind and in his dreams.
Sitting on the pew between his parents the next morning, Edward stared aimlessly at the wooden back of the one in front of him, prompting his mother to nudge his elbow with hers more than once. He'd noticed Kate's absence from service and the looks he'd received from her family was more than a little disconcerting.
The sermon dragged on for what felt like an eternity before they could finally rise and make their way to the doors in the back. Edward felt almost suffocated and drew in several deep breaths of the damp, bitter air the instant he was outside, until his mother came to his side and laced her arm through his.
"How long have you known, sweetheart?" Esme asked gently and Edward's head spun toward her with widened eyes. "About Kate. Her family isn't taking the news very well."
Edward lowered his gaze to the ground with her clarification and slid his free hand into his pocket. "A while. I wasn't aware that she'd said anything."
"So, before the engagement?" she inquired and he drew in a deep breath, nodding in response. "Oh, Edward. Then why? Why would you do that?"
"It's a long story, Mom. And not one that I even fully understand now, so explaining it would be difficult," Edward replied as he rolled his neck against the building tension there. "It was a mistake, and one that almost cost me dearly in so many ways."
Esme studied his expression as he spoke and gently squeezed his bicep with her fingers. "Come to the house for lunch and we can talk."
Edward sighed and nodded, relenting to his mother's request and walking her to their car, waiting for Carlisle to join them before moving over to his own. He could hear the line of questioning that was bound to come his way, and he wasn't sure how he would respond to any of it. His parents had never been ones to be judgmental, with their son or anyone else, but with the situation he'd presented them with, he couldn't be entirely sure of what their full reaction would be.
When he pulled into the driveway behind them, Carlisle never said a word and immediately walked into the house, disappearing quickly into his office.
"Great. So now Dad is angry?" Edward groaned, rubbing his hands roughly over his face after removing his coat just inside the door.
"No, he's not angry, Edward. Not at all," Esme replied and ran her hand over his back before leading him to the kitchen. "He doesn't understand why you did this, nor do I, but neither of us are angry with you, honey. And you know how your father is. Whenever he doesn't know exactly what to do or say about any given situation, he locks himself in that office until he can figure it out. Like father, like son."
Edward settled onto a stool at the breakfast bar and shook his head defensively with a raised eyebrow. "I don't have an office, Mom. And I don't do that."
"Perhaps not in the same manner, but you aren't exactly forthcoming with your feelings, either. You hide from anything that you don't know how to handle, and you bury it all in your writing. You always have, ever since you were a boy," Esme said as she set the coffee pot to brew and checked on the slow cooker. The aroma of her pot roast filled the kitchen and caused Edward's stomach to clench—God, he missed his mother's cooking. "Your father and I love you very much and we will always be proud of you, no matter what. I just want you to be honest with me, baby. Were you marrying Kate because you were… do you have something to tell us as well?"
Edward's eyes widened for a moment, but relaxed just as quickly as he watched his mother's heart breaking right before him. He knew exactly how much his parents loved him, and unconditionally as well. Nothing ever would or could change that, even if he were to tell her exactly what she was anticipating, he had no doubt about that. But he'd always been able to tell them anything, even if it took him a while to come around to it, and that he might have felt the need to hide something so important from them was devastating his mother. He reached across the counter to where she stood and took hold of her hand, feel her brace herself for his response. "No, Mom. I'm not gay."
A gust of air left her in a rush and she lowered her forehead to the back of his hand, squeezing his fingers gently with hers. "Are you sure? You know you'd never have to lie to us about that, right? Nothing could ever make you less my son than you have been since the moment you were born."
"Yes, I'm sure, Mom. I wouldn't lie about that, and I think my girlfriend would notice if I was, as well," Edward replied and watched as Esme's head rose sharply to gaze at him.
"Girlfriend? You have a girlfriend?" she asked, tilting her head with a creased brow.
"Sort of. I think. I mean, I want to believe so. We just had our first date last night, so I don't know if we're exactly labeling it yet," Edward stammered nervously as Esme came around the car to sit beside him, instantly reclaiming his hand in hers. "But I am so crazy about her."
Edward spent the next several minutes trying to describe Bella to his mother, without making her sound too otherworldly, as she seemed to him at times. Her dark brown eyes that still appeared to hold so much light within them, the way her smile and laugh had such a tranquil effect on him, and how he already couldn't imagine his world without her after one night, one date, one kiss.
"I think I need to meet this woman," Esme said as he finished, drawing his attention back to her again, and he shook his head with pleading eyes. "Edward, in the twenty-seven years of your life, I have never seen you talk about anyone the way you just spoke of this young woman. I'm your mother and I love you, and I would like to meet her. I think you should invite her over for Christmas dinner."
"Mom, she has family, too. I can't just drop this on her at the last minute. It's only next week," Edward replied, gazing at his mother in disbelief.
"Unless there's some nefarious reason why I shouldn't meet her?" Esme asked challengingly.
Edward shook his head, even though she'd already kissed his cheek before he could reply, as if she knew the answer. "But it is still extremely short notice."
"It wouldn't hurt to ask," Esme replied, pouring them both a cup of coffee. "And if she has plans already, we can figure something else out. But I do want to meet this woman who has had this kind of effect on my baby."
Just by the sound of her voice over the phone that night, there was no denying that Bella was nervous. She was more than a little surprised when he informed her about Kate, but it was the last thing on her mind the moment he told her that his mother wanted her to come over to meet the family. Edward tried to assure her that she had nothing to worry about, however, he knew that Esme Cullen could be a force to be reckoned with when it came to her only child, no matter what age he might have been. And of course, how overwhelming his family could be.
Bella surprisingly agreed to come over to meet them and made her best effort to appear calm throughout the entire week leading up to it.
The morning of Christmas, Edward found himself anxious, praying that all would go smoothly as he awaited her phone call to tell him that she was on her way. It came just after one o'clock, and then he couldn't stop pacing by the front door. Would they see the same amazing woman he did in Bella? And if they did, would his mother welcome her or bring the mamabear out? He hoped for the first, since Esme was an inherently kind woman and wouldn't be outwardly cruel, but that knowledge in the back of his mind of how protective she was of him reared up again.
The instant Edward heard Bella's car pull up, he swung the door open and walked out to greet her. He wanted to have a moment alone with her before bringing her inside, as there was no telling when the next opportunity might be for either of them. She smiled at him nervously as she stood and his eyes ran over her. She was dressed casually in a pair of dark wash jeans and a black turtleneck sweater, and the heels of her boots clicked against the pavement as she made her way toward him.
"I didn't want to look like I was trying too hard by getting all dressed up, but now, I'm feeling a bit overly dressed down," Bella said as she gazed at him in his shirt and tie.
"I had church this morning," Edward answered her with a chuckle, resting his hands on her waist and brushing a soft kiss on her lips. "You're perfect. Merry Christmas."
Bella relaxed at his touch and her smile grew more genuine. "Merry Christmas."
"Bella! We're so glad you could make it," Esme's voice came from the doorway, and they both turned to find her coming down the steps toward them. "It's so wonderful to meet you."
"It's nice to meet you, too, Mrs. Cullen," Bella replied, shaking his mother's extended hand.
"Please, come in. Carlisle will be down shortly, once he's finished with his family phone calls," Esme said, gesturing to the house and walking on the other side of Edward. "She's cute."
Edward chuckled softly and wrapped his arm around Bella's shoulders as she lowered her chin in embarrassment. He felt her tense again once they stepped inside and were met with the commotion of conversation echoing from the living room.
Before Edward could even turn his head toward the screeching voice, a little girl with curly blond hair collided with his leg, wrapping her arms tightly around it. "Hey, munchkin. What's up? You just saw me two minutes ago."
"I know, but Josh won't let me play! Go beat him up!" she ordered, pointing toward the next room.
Edward was visibly restraining laughter as he lifted her off the floor and into his arms. "Is it his toy?"
"Yes, but Mommy always says we need to share!" she replied matter-of-factly, pursing her tiny lips.
"Okay, let's go see what's going on," Edward spoke softly to her, kissing her forehead.
"I thought you were an only child," Bella whispered curiously, gazing at the little girl and then to Edward.
"I am. Brianna here is my cousin, Rosalie's, daughter," Edward explained quietly as they moved toward the living room. "'Uncle' is just a little less confusing for them."
Bella gave a small nod of understanding but then sucked in a sharp breath at the sight of a room full of people. "Wow, this isn't your whole family?"
"Not quite. Mostly just the ones on this coast, or on this continent," Edward replied, settling Brianna on his hip and sliding his free arm around Bella's waist. "Just relax. You'll be fine."
"Tattle tale!" Joshua exclaimed from the floor and Brianna stuck her tongue out at him.
The room silenced and all eyes turned toward Edward and Bella, and he felt her shift into his side. There was close to twenty people surrounding them, uncles and aunts, cousins and their children. He guided her slowly through the crowd of people and the volume in the room gradually increased once again as he made introductions, ending in the kitchen.
A pair of piercing blue eyes met them as they entered, and the statuesque blond owner began walking toward them. "What trouble are my children rousing now?"
"Mommy, Josh is being mean to me!" Brianna exclaimed with large alligator tears forming in her eyes as she reached out for her mother. "Daddy and Uncle Edward, too!"
"I know, boys are so mean, aren't they?" the woman teased and hugged the child to her, but her gaze remained on Bella.
"Rosalie, I'd like you to meet my girlfriend, Bella," Edward said, giving Bella's side a gentle, reassuring squeeze.
"Oh good, we need more females around here," Rosalie replied with a laugh, her smile growing warm and kind, much like Esme's. She secured her hold on the little girl with one arm and extended her hand to Bella. "It's nice to meet you. Please excuse my daughter, she's a bit theatrical."
"Nothing like her mother at all," Edward whispered sarcastically in Bella's ear, laughing when Rosalie released Bella's hand and lightly swatted the side of his head. "Only speaking the truth, Rosie."
"Aunt Esme, do something about your child!" Rosalie called across the kitchen and Esme only laughed with a shaking head. "Some help, you are. See, we need more sane women around here, Bella."
Bella chuckled softly and glanced around the room, closing her eyes as Edward pressed his lips to her temple.
"You, out. Man-free zone in here. But I'm keeping your girlfriend," Rosalie said, linking her arm with Bella's and nodding toward the kitchen doorway with her gaze locked on Edward. The movement of Bella's hand taking his caught her attention and she caught the nervous, wide-eyed expression on the woman's face. "Don't worry, Bella. We don't bite."
"I'll be back to save you in a half hour," Edward whispered as he kissed Bella's cheek.
"A lot can happen in thirty minutes," Bella rasped, attempting to pull him close to her again.
Rosalie laughed and Edward felt Bella's face bury into his shoulder. "That is very true. This one was conceived in far less than thirty minutes."
"Rose!" Esme called from across the kitchen, but Rosalie appeared unfazed as she bounced the child on her hip. "There are little ears in the room, and you are my niece and I love you, but some things, your aunt doesn't need to know, either."
"Or your cousin, for that matter," Edward added with a mock shudder, and straightened to look at Rosalie. "Don't traumatize her."
Rosalie scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Please. I already like her more than I like you."
Edward jokingly sneered at her before his smile returned, his gaze moving back to Bella. "I'm just going to change and find my dad, that's all."
Bella took a deep breath and nodded, hesitantly releasing his hand. "Okay."
Edward hastened his steps the moment he was out of the kitchen, anxious to do just that so he could return to Bella. After witnessing his family's response to her, he felt confident that his mother and Rosalie would have her feeling more comfortable in no time. However, his family could even be overwhelming for him at times, and he didn't want to leave her alone any longer than he absolutely had to.