I leaned against the doorway in Esme's living room, sipping at my wine. It was almost déjà vu of the Christmas I met Edward, but now there were two five-year-old girls running around like maniacs.
Jasper and Alice weren't all over each other like the last time, either. Lilly glared at them, really not liking her father at all. Summers were difficult and before the previous one, she'd told him she wasn't going. She was ten and she wanted to stay home.
She was a daddy's girl, but only with Edward. She'd tag along with him on shopping trips. The twins would throw things in the cart, so we tried not to take them on very many grocery store experiences.
"Mommy?" Halston said, cocking her head much like her father.
"What, baby?" I asked, bending my knees to crouch to her level.
Jade ran over and blurted Halston's question before she could speak. "Why can't Santa be here now?" she asked with a pout, again another Edward trait.
"He can only get in the chimney when you're sleeping. It's like magic!" I said, all faux excited.
Esme chuckled while Carlisle let out a snort.
"Oh, magic," the twins said in unison, quite dreamily.
Lilly rolled her eyes, but walked over to me. She was over the magic and wonder of jolly old Saint Nick. She'd asked Edward and me, and we'd decided to come clean about the whole ruse. She then asked who the Santa was I kissed so long ago. I'd pointed to Edward and she'd giggled.
"When's Dad going to get here?" Lilly asked me quietly.
She wrapped her arm around my shoulder, giving me a squeeze.
"He had surgery and the Christmas party in the children's wing, remember? He'll be with us all day tomorrow," I explained.
"And we're going to Pap's tomorrow, right?"
"Correct. Aunt Leah and Uncle Jake are going to be there with their kids." I confirmed.
Tomorrow we'd be dealing withthe chaos of six kids running around my dad's house. Emmett's parents had moved to Florida so Rose and her crew were now on the beach. I missed her and the kids. It was their son, Austin's first Christmas and I loved that little nugget.
"Can we go in the kitchen?" Lil asked, in a whisper.
I nodded and stood. She grabbed my hand, tugging me into the kitchen. Lilly had a fire in her—when she was little she was well behaved and observant, and those traits helped her figure out a lot.
"So you wanted to talk?" I asked, taking a seat on a stool at the counter.
Jade had followed us in and climbed up to sit next to me. Lilly glared at her, but didn't tell her to leave. Jade was nosey and would remain quiet as she absorbed every word from the conversation. She'd most likely report back to Edward. Jade told him absolutely everything.
"Jasper keeps staring at me," Lilly huffed out.
"Jasper?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
She looked at me, trying to test me.
"Mr. Jasper is your daddy. Yous apposed to call him Daddy," Jade told her as she looped her arm through mine.
"That is right, little miss," I said, giving her head a kiss. "You will respect your father by calling him Dad."
"My father is at the hospital," she gritted out.
I scooped Jade up, taking her to the kitchen door. "Esme, can you please take her?" I asked, peeking into the living room.
"Sure, sweetie. Is everything okay?" she asked, taking Jade.
"Nana, sissy is not being nice to Mommy," Jade explained.
"That's not really factual, my little tattletale," I said, tugging on one of her wild auburn curls.
"Okay, Bella. I'll keep them in here," Esme said with a smile.
Alice was watching us with a frown. She had been quiet since the girls and I had arrived. Edward said they were having issues again, but this time it was because of Alice's job. Her company wanted to send her to their Paris office. Jasper was being difficult about it though. His thoughts circled around the fact that he hardly saw his child while living in the same country. If they moved to Paris, he'd never see her.
Alice though, was a pick-up-and-move kind of gal. If she had an opportunity in front of her, she took it and ran without looking back. Edward called her ambitious but scatterbrained. He also said there was no way we'd send Lilly to Paris.
I walked back into the kitchen, giving Lilly my mom look. She was full of attitude, ready to unleash it on the world.
"Okay, what is going on with you?" I asked her.
"I'm sick of this," she started. "I am always forced to see him."
"Well, considering he is your dad, and married to Alice, you're going to see him the rest of your life."
"He doesn't even like kids!"
"He loves you," I argued.
"Edward loves me," she snapped. "He's my dad."
I blinked, not expecting this to happen now. I thought this would start when she was older, but this kid was beyond her years.
"I know that Edward could adopt me… I Googled it. He could and he hasn't."
"Edward can't adopt you because you have a father," I said softly.
I saw her lip start to tremble, but she was holding strong. She looked so much like Rose had when we were younger, with her light blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Her sisters were amazed, saying she looked like Elsa from Frozen. She got her height all from me though. She was the smallest in her class and heading to junior high next year.
"What is this about?"
"He brought up Paris," she said. "I'm not going to a place where I don't know the language. It's too far."
My phone in my pocket started to buzz. I sighed, looking at her before digging it out. Edward's name and face flashed on the screen. His picture was from our vacation to Turks and Caicos and he was lounging in the sand with the twins laying on him. Best picture ever.
"You want to get this?" I asked her, handing her my phone.
"Hi," she said shyly. "Mom told me to answer and she'll probably tell you I'm being unreasonable."
I narrowed my eyes at her. That mouth.
"They want me to go to Paris. I think that's my Christmas gift-... No, I don't like him, Dad… Okay," she mumbled, handing the phone back to me.
I watched her slump out of the room.
"She's not even eleven yet," I said first.
"You need to talk to Jasper about structure. I mean, she's old enough to be having her own thoughts on things. He disregards her feelings, Bell. It kills me that he can make her this miserable," he murmured.
"I'm going to have to talk to him at some point—just not tonight or tomorrow. Christmas is ours," I declared.
"It is, babe. Are the girls going nuts?" he asked with a laugh.
"Your mom gave them so many sugar cookies, it's ridiculous," I said with a snort. "What are you doing?"
"Getting ready to head into the children's ward," he sighed. "I know I should be home, but these kids have had a pretty crappy year."
"Hey, I love that you're there helping. I'll see you later and the girls will have you all day tomorrow," I reassured him.
"Okay," he said, puffing out a breath. "I just wanted to check in. Love you."
"Love you too. Bye." I was kind of wishing he were here.
I let out my sigh; I'd missed him all day today. He'd loved me, then left this morning for work and I brought the girls here.
I walked back into the living room to be ambushed by my babies pulling me to sit with them on the loveseat.
"Mommy, that boy stuck his tongue on that flag pole," Halston informed me as we watched A Christmas Story.
"He did, and don't you two ever try doing it," I said, pointing at both of them.
With each little girl beside me leaning into me, Lilly sat on my lap, leaning against my chest. Jade started to get antsy and went to sit in between her Nana and Grandpa. I caught Jasper's gaze and nodded down at Lilly.
He took my cue.
"How's school been, Lilly?" he asked.
"Good. My dad got me into his old private school," she said with a nonchalance that made me want to put her into time out. "You went there too, right, Ali?"
Alice nodded, but remained quiet.
"Lillian Rose," I warned.
Halston gasped at my tone, snuggling further into me. Jade moved forward in her seat to watch the show her older sister was about to put on.
"My dad pays my tuition and helps me with my homework even when he works a two-day shift at the hospital. He takes my sisters and me on vacation… He hangs out with us and buys us presents when he goes to conferences. My dad tucks me in and kisses my head before saying good night and he tells me how much he loves me," she roared, standing in front of Jasper.
He just sat there, stunned, while I scooped Halston up and wordlessly gave her to Carlisle. Esme followed him upstairs with Jade. And when the going got tough, well, Alice got going, leaving just the three of us in the living room.
"I send your mother checks for you," Jasper said, finally finding his voice.
"I explained those are in her college fund," I said calmly.
"Along with your mom's guilt money," he snapped at me. "She isn't Edward's responsibility—his kids with you are."
"Mom is a mom. I don't even know you!" Lilly yelled as she ranted. "Mommy never leaves, but you try to make me leave her. You make me leave my home!"
"You are my kid too," Jasper bellowed.
They looked too much alike in the moment.
"I think we all need to calm down. It's Christmas Eve and you both chased everyone away," I mumbled. "We are guests in the Cullens' home. We don't behave like this."
"You're holding off because your boyfriend isn't here," Jasper argued.
"You hate my dad because you're jealous," Lilly spat.
I felt like I should pull my phone out and record the insanity that was my kid at the moment. She had never acted like this.
Jasper snorted humorlessly.
"You're a child and you have no idea what you're talking about," he hissed.
I wrapped an arm around Lilly, pulling her to me. "You are not going to speak to her like this, just like she isn't going to speak to you like this. Lil, we're going up to bed and you are done at the moment," I told her, leading her to the stairs.
"I want to tell him how I feel," she protested.
"And you will, but all that yelling and anger won't continue tonight," I told her. "I'm sending Edward in to talk to you in the morning."
"He's my dad."
We were in front of the room she was sharing with the twins. The door was closed so they couldn't hear us. I kneeled in front of her, taking her hands in mine.
"I'm not sure what you remember, but Jasper was there for you when you were a baby. Some kids don't get to have that. We were too young and had our struggles, but he never abandoned you," I said firmly because she needed to have more respect regardless of how big of a jerk Jasper may be. "As for Edward, you disrespect him when trying to pin him against your dad. He loves you, but by you picking at Jasper's insecurities, you are making your dad not like Edward."
She started to cry and leaned into me. I held her and rubbed her back. The tension was rolling off her body in waves. She was hurting because of Jasper, yet again. I felt like a failure for not being able to get her out of this situation. Jasper and I had made a stupid decision and Lilly seemed to be suffering, but I would never regret her. Not ever.
"Talk to me, baby," I whispered in her ear.
"I'm so mad, Mama!" she cried.
My eyes widened, but I didn't let her see. I just held her tighter. "You are so loved," I murmured. "You hear me? Do not let what your dad does tear you down, baby girl."
"He's so distant. When I'd go to New York, I felt alone until Edward came. He'd actually take me places all over the city. We'd have so much fun and then he'd leave and I was stuck with a nanny," she said shakily.
I knew about the nanny—they'd given her time off when Edward would come for a week to check in.
Lilly wrapped her arms around my neck. "I don't want Paris! I want home. I want my crazy sisters. I just want you and Dad!" she cried.
I rubbed her back and didn't say the things I wanted to. If I made promises I couldn't keep, she'd lose faith in me.
"I will always fight in your corner, kiddo," I told her, squeezing her tighter.
The door opened and Esme and Carlisle walked out, giving us sympathetic smiles.
"Goodnight, girls," Esme said giving us both a kiss on the head.
Carlisle squeezed my shoulder as he passed and I watched them go into their room. Lilly pulled away with a shaky sigh.
"They kick," she said with a frown as she started into the room.
I heard the giggles as I followed Lilly. She crawled into the bed between them. I had two pairs of green eyes and a blue pair on me.
"You know the rules, chicas. No leaving this bed or Santa skips over the house," I said quite seriously.
Lilly rolled her eyes and the twins' eyes were bugging out.
"Now, goodnight, my little love doves. Daddy will probably stop in for kisses," I informed them, before getting kisses for myself.
"Night-night, Mommy!" they said in unison.
I laughed, blowing them kisses as I backed out of the room. Halston and Jade curled into Lilly and my heart became mush. As I slowly closed their door, I caught Jasper out of the corner of my eye walking past me.
"Are we going to talk about this?" I asked.
"What is there to talk about? She says she won't come to Paris and I have to follow my wife. I took vows," he said haughtily.
I gave him my best look of disgust.
"You know what? You'll have to face the consequences of your actions one day," I told him.
"What do you want me to do? It's obvious she hates me," he said somberly.
"Maybe you and Alice should think of an alternative plan for Lilly," I suggested.
"Maybe you come out every few months to see her. You still will have family here and you can see everyone. Alice is close to her parents—I doubt she'd leave and never return," I said, throwing the truth out there.
He blinked and sighed in defeat.
"Lilly thinks Edward hung the moon," he said quietly. "I almost think it's a lost cause trying to get her to like me… he's an honorable man."
Now it was my turn to sigh.
"There is a different dynamic with Edward," I admitted. "I mean, she's with him all the time and she has sisters who climb all over him. You have to understand that she's in a very family-oriented household. We include her in everything that we do."
He looked thoughtful— as if a lot of our issues had sunk in. I could see the regret in those blue eyes.
"Do you think she'll let me try to build a relationship with her?"
"If you're serious about it and don't hurt her, I don't see why not," I said honestly.
He nodded at that before heading in the direction of his room. I shook my head, going into the room I was sharing with Edward. I changed my clothes, opting for a tank top and shorts. I wrapped the throw blanket on the end of the bed around me and went downstairs.
I lay down on the couch with my blanket wrapped around me. As I lay there, a million thoughts passed through my mind. It wasn't long until my eyes closed.
I felt my hand being held and heard curses being muttered lowly. Blinking awake, I saw Santa sitting beside me, putting a ring on my finger.
"What the fuck are you doing?" I asked sleepily.
Santa sighed, giving me my hand back. I glanced at the ring. It had a huge rock in the middle that would look like an engagement ring, but the girls' birthstones surrounded it. The ring looked like a kid designed it—if it wasn't for the serious rock blinding me.
"What is this?" I asked, confused.
"Merry Christmas. Will you marry me... or at least be engaged to me?" Edward asked, really unsure, but super cute.
"Explain this and maybe I'll give you an answer," I told him.
"Our daughters helped me design it; I mean, they really had a field day and I gave them the creative freedom with it. The actual diamond was my part," he explained.
He looked so ridiculous in the Santa suit and beard. I looked down at the ring, really inspecting it. I could see how much love had gone into this and knew I'd be an idiot not to marry him now. After six years of cohabiting, parenting and being everything to each other… I needed to grow a pair and get over my fear of marriage, or at least the part of failing at it.
"Okay, I have an answer," I said, turning a little into him.
"And what is it?" he asked as his knee bounced anxiously.
"I'll absolutely marry you, Santa," I said, kissing his hand.
He hummed and I pulled him down by his fuzzy collar, planting a heated kiss to his lips. Edward fumbled, kicking off his boots as I tugged my shorts down. He hurried, pulling his pants down and I grabbed the blanket, throwing it over Santa's bare ass.
I moaned as he teased me.
"Is this a good idea?" I asked before he entered me.
"Absolutely," he grunted.
"Mommy is wrestling with Santa like she does with Daddy." I heard a little voice whisper loudly.
"Daddy will be so mad," the other voice said back.
Edward went soft instantly, slipping out of me, and I felt mortified. "Get up," I whispered.
"Christ, we're going to have to handle this," he said against my neck.
"I'd rather be known as Santa's whore than have them thinking Santa isn't real," I said determined.
Edward lifted slightly so I could pull my shorts up. "Stay like this, big boy, until I get them settled."
"I'll be up to say good night," he said, giving me a quick kiss.
I rolled out from under him and stood. The girls were further up on the stairs. It was a good thing these two were too chicken to come all the way down. They had to have just seen enough to know he was on top of me.
I placed my hands on my hips looking up at them. "What did I tell you?" I asked them, while I climbed the stairs.
"We heard talking and we were curious," Jade said.
"Mommy, was Santa giving you kisses?" Halston asked innocently.
I wrapped my arms around them, guiding them back to their room.
"No, he was telling me a secret. I only kiss Daddy," I explained.
"'Cause you love Daddy," Jade said matter-of-factly.
"Exactly. Daddy is the only boy I'll ever kiss for forever!" I said before helping them back into the bed.
Lilly was out cold and I sighed.
"Daddy!" The twins yelled in unison. I turned my head as Edward strolled in wearing his boxers and a t-shirt. His face was super-flushed, but his bright grin told me how happy he was.
"How is Santa supposed to come if you're not sleeping?" he asked.
"He did come, Daddy," Jade informed him excitedly. "But he was wrestling with Mommy."
She'd blabbed, but at least she looked guilty and remorseful for saying it.
"There was no wrestling. He was just trying to give me this," I told them, flashing my ring.
"Daddy! That's what we made!" They squealed.
Lilly started to stir, blinking her eyes. She frowned and Edward pulled her into him. "Why are they being so loud?" she asked sleepily.
"They were trying to get a peek at Santa," I said.
She rolled her eyes, cuddling closer into Edward. He raised an eyebrow at me and I shook my head mouthing 'Later'.
"I think we all need sleep. For all we know, you girls might have scared Santa off," I said seriously.
Those angelic faces looked absolutely horrified.
Edward held in his laugh before tucking all three girls in. I went out into the hall while he had a few minutes with his girls. I waited, but he wasn't coming out so I went to our room. He came in after I got snuggled into the bed. His shirt was gone and his warmth surrounded me.
"What did he do to her this time?" Edward asked quietly.
"She ripped him a new one. I tried to stay neutral in front of him, but she needed to know I was in her corner."
"Before they leave, we need to have a very long talk," he told me as he kissed my neck. "I will put up a fight for her."
"I know you will, but I think her tirade tonight really woke him up. She's setting things on her terms."
Edward rolled onto his back; he had the back of his hand over his eyes.
"She's a ten-year-old little girl. Who treats their own child like that?" he asked in a gruff voice.
I saw his tears slide down and hit the pillow.
"I love you for loving her. You are the best dad she could ever have," I said as my own tears fell.
He turned to look at me and gave me a sweet kiss.
"You agreed to marry me," he said with a smile, wiping the tears from my cheek.
His eyes told me I was making the right decision and my heart told me I was an idiot for waiting this long. I knew that Edward would fight Lilly's fight against Jasper and she would always have Edward.
"That I did," I told him with a kiss.
"I'm glad you did," he said honestly.
I should probably get Alice a gift for bringing Edward into our lives. Jasper would hate that.
A/N: I can finally say this is a one shot turned fic now complete. I want to thank each and every one of you for reading and reviewing. As for what's next, I'll be finishing The Sun Must Set to Rise. After I'm done with that I think I might have one more fic left in me before taking a break from the fandom…
I want to thank my betas Astro2009 and Dolphin62598 for all their time and effort they've put into these stories. All their help is truly appreciated!