A/N: Thanks to breath-of-twilight for looking this over for me and for including me in yet another fabulous countdown! I hope everyone has a lovely holiday!

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or these characters

Entry for Countdown to Christmas 2012 – a Lyrical Melody

Rating: M

Pairing: Edward & Bella

Author's name: dolphin62598

Title: End of the Road

Twilight blanketed the dusty parking lot as I disconnected the wire from the starter on my BMW. I wiped my forehead with the back of my hand, gently closed the hood, and stepped back to observe my surroundings.

Oakdale, California was far from my home in San Francisco, but dusty and backwoods was exactly what I was looking for.

The town sparkled with twinkling Christmas lights and festive wreaths on every street light pole. I looked towards the bar and took a deep breath before approaching the front door.

My grey leggings, black leather jacket, and tall motorcycle boots made me stick out like a sore thumb, but once again, that's what I was aiming for. Briefly, I stopped at a window towards the end of the bar and fluffed my brown curls before confidently strolling through the front door.

"Hey, darlin'," a gentle voice floated from the blonde-haired bartender. He was cute with bright blue eyes and a small smile. A black cowboy hat sat on top of his head hiding his wavy blonde locks. I didn't even bother looking around the bar as his smile drew me right in.

"Hi," I breathed and approached the bar.

"What can I get you?" he asked with a smirk.

"Appletini please," I murmured.

"Comin' right up," he said and gathered the items to make my drink. I had apparently underestimated this bar, and I was impressed as he pulled out a beautiful martini glass swirled with green colored streaks.

He set the drink down in front of me and nodded before grabbing a cloth and wiping down the bar next to me.

"What brings you in here?" he asked, his eyes glancing over my shoulder repeatedly. I took a moment and sipped the martini before I answered him.

"My car broke down." I sighed and set the glass down.

"Is that so?" he asked, his eyebrow cocked in question. I nodded and took another sip. "I happen to know a very good mechanic, but he's already closed for the night. Do you have somewhere to stay?"

I shook my head. "I got as far as your parking lot. I was only passing through, but it looks like I may be here for a few days now."

"Well, you got here just in time, darlin'. The town is having its Christmas shindig tomorrow night."

"Oh…I…I don't think I'd come to that. I don't know anyone."

"My name is Jasper Whitlock, what's yours?" he asked, offering me his hand.

"Bella Swan," I answered and shook his hand.

"Now you know me, and tomorrow you'll know Edward. That's two people. I can introduce you to my sister Rosalie and her husband Emmett tomorrow. My better half, Alice, would love to meet you, as well. She runs the welcome wagon for our town," he rambled.

"Thanks," I said with a nod and smile. "Are there any hotels in town?"

He chuckled quietly, shaking his head. "I have a room upstairs that you can stay in," he offered.

"How much per night?" I asked.

"We'll worry about that later, darlin'. Head on out and get your stuff, and I'll show you upstairs."

"Okay," I agreed and hurried out to my car to gather my suitcase. Once I was back inside, I quickly downed my drink then followed Jasper up a narrow staircase at the back of the bar. He opened the last door at the end of the hall and flipped on the light switch before motioning me in ahead of him.

The room was nice with a queen sized bed, television, and bathroom. It was much more than I was expecting.

"This is really nice, Jasper," I said brightly.

"Thanks, we don't usually have many people coming through town looking to stay. I'll let you get settled. I'll be back tomorrow morning around eight with Alice. I'm sure she could use your help decorating the bar, and I'll get you in touch with Edward so you can get your car looked at."

"Wow, Jasper, thank you so much for your hospitality. Is there anywhere around here to get something to eat?"

"What would you like?"

"A cheeseburger and fries sounds amazing," I breathed just as my stomach growled loudly.

"I'll be back with it in a half hour or so," he said and quickly left the room. I fell back onto the bed and flipped the television on, content with my choice of town.

. . . .

Sunlight streamed through the window as I stretched languidly. I hadn't slept that well in a long time. It was peaceful and quiet here. Even with the bar downstairs, I didn't hear a thing.

I showered quickly and dressed in a pair of black skinny jeans and a red sweater. I wore the boots I had on yesterday, and after a quick coat of mascara and lip-gloss, I was ready to go. I grabbed my phone and car keys and headed back down to the bar.

"Mornin'," Jasper rasped as I entered the bar.

"Late night?" I asked with a chuckle.

He nodded and rubbed a hand over his face. "Alice had to stop at the store for more decorations. While we're waiting for her, I figured I'd show you where Edward's shop is."

"Sounds good," I replied and followed him out the front door. He stopped short and pointed to a brick building across the street. I saw my BMW already parked over there and looked up at Jasper with my brow furrowed.

"I called the local tow truck driver, Jed, last night and made sure he'd tow your car this morning."

"How'd you know which car was mine?"

"No one around here drives one of those," he said with a chuckle. "Edward is already there working so you might want to take your car keys over there."

I nodded and started across the street. The scent of grease and oil filled my nostrils as I entered the front door. It wasn't intolerable, but it was strong.

"Hey, pretty lady," a voice called from inside the shop. "I'm assuming you're the owner of that X3 out there?"

I walked through the waiting room and entered the shop looking for the voice. I saw a set of legs and a scrumptious ass bent over the fender of an old Cutlass and assumed that he was the one that called out to me.

"You just gonna stand there?" he chuckled and stood to his full height. I gulped and my eyes widened as they traveled further up his body. He was tall and lean with sharp features and soft green eyes. He had a smear of grease across his cheek and day old stubble graced his cheeks. It was the reddish-gold color of his hair that caught my attention though. It was such an unusual color and in a sexy, chaotic disarray.

"I'd offer to shake your hand, but I'm filthy already. I'm Edward, owner of this establishment," he said and smiled widely.

"Bell…Bella Swan," I stammered and felt my cheeks heat up.

"Well, Bella Swan, do you want to tell me what's going on with that beautiful SUV sitting out there?" he said and pointed to my car that sat just outside the door.

"It won't start," I murmured and looked up at him with a slight pout.

"No need for the pout, sugar. I'll get it fixed for you," he reassured me with a grin. I watched the muscles in his arms flex as he twirled the wrench he had in his hand. His biceps filled out the sleeves of his t-shirt nicely, and I would have been willing to bet that he had a six-pack hiding under that shirt.

"Thanks," I whispered.

"Do you have some keys for me?"

"Oh, yeah," I said and fished the keys from my pocket.

"Alright, you gonna hang around and watch me all day or do you have some things to do?" He chuckled and crossed his arms as he leaned against the car.

"I have to help Alice decorate the bar," I replied quietly.

"Good, I'll be over around lunchtime. I should have a diagnosis for you by then."

"Thank you, Edward," I breathed and blushed again.

"It's my pleasure, sugar," he said. "Now get out of here, you're too distracting to get any work done."

I giggled and headed back across the street with butterflies fluttering around my stomach.

"Bella!" A squealing girly voice pierced my ears as I entered the bar. "I'm Alice, it's so nice to meet you. I have a welcome package ready for you."

"Hi," I replied with a wide smile for the tiny woman standing in front of me. She couldn't have been more than five feet tall, and her black shoulder length hair flipped out at the ends. She wore a white dress with black polka dots and white pumps. She was very retro.

"Are you ready to decorate?" she asked.

"Sure," I replied with a nod.

We spent the next two hours hanging garland and lights. We set up a small Christmas tree in the corner of the bar, as well. When we were done, it was very festive and cheery. I learned all about how she was born and raised in Oakdale and how she never wanted to leave. She and Jasper were high school sweethearts just like Jasper's sister, Rosalie, and her husband Emmett. Alice was aloof at the fact that Edward still had no significant other.

Luckily, I had dodged most questions about myself. I wasn't ready to divulge information that was too personal. Alice was content to know that my car broke down and that I'd be around for the Christmas party that the town was hosting.

"Hey, sweet pea," Edward cooed as he walked in the front door.

Alice giggled and looked at me, her gaze hopeful and sweet. I looked at Edward then and realized that I was sweet pea.

"Uh…hi," I replied.

"Looks like you need a starter. Unfortunately, I can't get one until next week. The closest Beemer dealership is over two hours away and they are willing to ship it, but they don't have any in stock. So we have to wait until the part ships from Germany and then they have to ship it here."

"Oh…" I sighed, disappointment lacing my voice.

"If you have somewhere that you need to be then I can lend you a car, but it won't be as nice as that X3," Edward offered. "It's great on gas though and has impeccable crash test ratings so you and your husband don't have to worry about your safety."

I smirked and glanced sideways at him. "I don't have a husband, and a loaner won't be necessary. I don't have anywhere to be."

"Great, then you can join us for the holiday," Alice exclaimed.

"I guess I'll be staying," I agreed.

"It's settled then," Alice said and nodded firmly. "Tonight you'll come to our house for dinner. Maria is closing for you tonight, right, Jas?" she asked Jasper who was just coming out of the back room with racks of clean glasses.

"Yes, she closes tonight. I'll be off around four this afternoon," he replied.

"Great, I'll invite Emmett and Rosalie, too. Edward, of course, will be coming."

"Hey," Edward exclaimed. "What if I already have plans?"

"Do you?" Alice asked, looking up at him in question.

"Nope," he replied and smirked as she slapped his arm.

"Let's plan dinner for around five. Jasper will bring you when he leaves here, Bella," Alice offered.

"Sounds good," I agreed.

. . . .

Jasper made small talk as we headed to his house. We turned up a winding driveway that was lined with horse fencing and open fields.

"You have horses?" I asked, astonished.

"No, they're Edward's. His house was the first one we passed as we turned into the driveway," Jasper said jerking his thumb behind him, gesturing to Edward's house.

"How does he run a garage and take care of horses?"

"He gets up early to do chores and then goes to work. When he gets home at night, he does chores again. Tanya, the town's riding instructor, is usually in the barn most days. She takes the horses out and cares for them when she's not giving lessons."

"Wow," I stated, dumbfounded. "Does Edward ride?"

"Yeah, darlin', we all ride. You don't grow up in Oakdale, California, the home of the cowboy, without learning to ride a horse," he chuckled.

"I've always wanted to learn," I murmured as I stared out the window at the open field.

"I'm sure Edward would be willing to teach you," Jasper replied quietly. "Here we are," he announced seconds later as he put the truck in park.

The large one-story house was lit on the outside with twinkling white lights hanging from the peaks. There was a beautiful wreath adorning the front door and the front porch ran the length of the house with rocking chairs and swings on both ends.

The inside was even more beautiful with hardwood floors and white woodwork. The Christmas decorations were gorgeous. The house looked like Martha Stewart had decorated it.

"Oh good, you're here," Alice chirped as she rushed down the hallway to meet us. "Come help me in the kitchen while Jasper showers, Bella."

I followed her into the kitchen, which smelled amazing. "What are you cooking?"

"Pork roast with twice baked potatoes, green beans and crusty French bread," Alice announced proudly.

"It smells delicious," I said and smiled.

"I aim to please," she giggled. "Can you set the table?" she asked and pointed me in the direction of the dining room where plates and silverware were stacked waiting to be arranged.

"Sure," I replied and immediately set to the task.

Several moments later, the front door opened again and a feminine voice called out, "We're here, Alice."

"I'm in the kitchen," Alice called. I approached Alice's side and waited for the newcomers to enter. The woman was tall with platinum blonde hair and ice blue eyes. I assumed she was Rosalie since she had similar features to Jasper. The man that followed behind her was quite tall with dark, wavy hair and blue eyes that sparkled with mirth. I assumed he was Emmett.

"Who's the new chick?" Emmett asked.

"This is Bella," Alice said. "Bella, this is Rosalie and Emmett."

"It's nice to meet you both," I said politely.

"You too," Rosalie said with a smile. "I've heard quite a bit about you already."

"Nothing bad I hope," I chuckled.

"Anyone that helps that nutcase decorate the bar for Christmas can't be bad," Emmett said while pointing to Alice and laughing.

"Hey now," Alice scoffed, her eyes narrowed at Emmett. "We're just waiting for Edward, and then we can eat."

Jasper entered the kitchen moments later, and once Edward had arrived, we sat down to eat. The couples made small talk about what still needed to be done in the town square before the party. I realized that Rosalie was the town's mayor and Emmett was the police chief. They were both very congenial and couldn't have been more welcoming.

Edward didn't add much to the conversation and every time I glanced at him, I caught him staring at me.

"So, Bella, want to tell us why you were driving through Oakdale?" Edward asked as we tucked into dessert and coffee.

"I have a few friends just east of here. I was going that way to spend Christmas with them," I replied vaguely.

"You're from San Francisco?" Rosalie asked.

I nodded my head and tried to think of ways to avoid talking about myself.

"Edward, I was told that you have horses," I blurted trying to get the spotlight off me.

"I do," Edward said with a nod.

"I've always wanted to learn how to ride," I said suggestively with a wink in his direction. He smirked and raised his eyebrows.

"Is that so? Maybe we'll have to have a lesson or two."

"That would be great," I said.

"Since tomorrow is Saturday you could come over in the morning and we could get a nice ride in before we have to be to town for the festivities."

"That sounds perfect," I agreed.

"Great, I'll pick you up at eight tomorrow morning."

I nodded in acceptance and started helping Alice clean up the dishes. Once the dining room was cleared, everyone started heading home. Emmett and Rosalie offered me a ride back to the bar, and I gratefully accepted. I hadn't realized how exhausted I was until my body hit the mattress and I was out cold.

. . . .

The next morning, I was up and ready to go by eight, and as I entered the bar, I found Edward waiting for me. He was leaning against the bar, ripped jeans covered his legs and he had on a short-sleeved plaid shirt. The icing on the cake, though, was the brown cowboy hat sitting on his head. I bit my lip to hold back a moan as he grinned and tipped his hat.

"Mornin'," he drawled.

"M…morning," I groaned.

"Are you ready to mount a horse?" Edward snickered and turned to lead me out of the bar as I nodded.

We drove to his house in comfortable silence as I observed the town in the daylight. Jasper had kept me busy chatting the previous evening so I didn't pay attention to my surroundings. Edward pulled up to the barn and hopped out of his truck. He jogged around the truck and opened my door, helping me down, and then led me into the barn with his hand at the small of my back. The warmth from his skin felt amazing, and I longed for the barrier of clothing to disappear.

"Hey, Ed," a beautiful blonde woman called from the back of the barn. "Carmen is ready to go, but Felix is being stubborn this morning." She grinned, and her green eyes sparkled as she stepped out from beside the horse.

"I got him, Tanya," Edward said to the blonde. "Bella, this is Tanya, she's the town riding instructor."

"Hey, nice to meet you," Tanya said, smiling warmly.

"You too," I replied and smiled in return.

"You can head out, Tan. It's Saturday; you shouldn't be here," Edward scolded her playfully.

"Yeah, yeah," she laughed. "I'm leaving now."

Edward spent the next ten minutes explaining the mechanics of riding a horse, but I couldn't concentrate on what he was saying. The hypnotic way his lips moved as he spoke had me transfixed. Then he started hauling equipment around, his muscles tight against his shirt, and I was completely spellbound.

Before he could show me how to mount the horse, my lips were on his. I didn't think about it before it happened, and it was almost like I couldn't control my own body. At first, Edward stiffened and didn't respond, but after a few seconds his lips moved against mine, and it was heavenly.

His tongue swept against my bottom lip gently, and I immediately allowed him entrance. I moaned as his tongue swept into my mouth, probing and exploring. He was soft and gentle, warm and inviting. I got lost in the kiss as his hands trailed slowly up my arms and cupped my face. He groaned as I stepped closer and rested my hands on his forearms.

We both pulled back panting for air.

"That was…" I stammered.

"Amazing," Edward breathed. I didn't think any further as I pulled his face to mine again. Soon, we were rolling in the hay in an empty stall. My shirt and bra were shed quickly as we fumbled against each other, and his shirt followed, as well.

"Fuck," he groaned, palming my breasts. "You're gorgeous." He reached up to remove his hat, but I grabbed his arm and shook my head.

"Leave it," I murmured against the smooth skin of his chest.

"Do you have a cowboy fantasy, sugar?" he asked with a delicious smirk.

"Perhaps," I breathed, reaching for the button on his pants. He pushed his pants and boxers off, and then he helped me shed my jeans and panties. His erection, long and hard, bobbed in front of my face. He smiled down at me and got on his knees, lowering me gently against the hay.

"Are you sure?" he asked quietly, causing me to nod quickly before he buried himself deep within me.

"Oh," I exclaimed, the ecstasy rushing quickly through me. I squeezed my eyes shut and threw my head back, arching my back as he moved slowly. Needing something to ground me, I reached up and grasped his shoulders.

"Wrap your legs around me," he commanded. I obeyed, and he slid his arms under my back and lifted me into his lap. "You feel so good," he mumbled against my neck and quickened his pace.

The new position had his cock hitting the hidden spot inside of me and rendered me speechless as I released a long, drawn out moan.

"Sugar, I'm not going to last much longer," he hissed, bouncing me on top of him.

"Please," I begged. "Just…please."

He nodded and pressed his thumb to my clit, sending me spiraling out of control. I screamed in release, and he followed moments later with a grunt. Panting, he laid us down and pulled out of me slowly before he flopped down next to me.

"Wow," I breathed.

"Yeah, that doesn't even begin to cover it," he said and leaned over to press a chaste kiss to my lips. "Not sure that we're going to ride horses today, sugar. We have a Christmas shindig to prepare for."

"Okay," I breathed snuggling into his side. I was content staying right next to him for the remainder of the day. Unfortunately, that wasn't going to happen.

. . . .

The town center was alive with activity when Edward and I arrived at sunset. Christmas lights were twinkling overhead and jolly music was piped streaming through tiny speakers all around the area. It didn't take us long to locate Alice and Jasper. They were chatting with a couple that I hadn't met yet. Edward stuck close to my side smiling and laughing with friends while introducing me to them. Everyone loved Edward, that much was very obvious. He was a great man with a winning personality, and the looks to complete the package.

A lull in the conversation brought his attention to me, his eyes sparkling with mischief. "What I'd like to know is how the wire to your starter got disconnected," he murmured in my ear, taking me completely by surprise.

"Edward," Rosalie hissed, pointing at her watch.

Edward rolled his eyes, kissed my cheek, and disappeared into the crowd leaving me standing wide-eyed and wondering if he knew why I was here.

Before I could think on it any further, Alice and Rosalie paraded me around the square introducing me to the town's people. I wasn't sure that I'd ever remember any names, but everyone was so nice, and I felt extremely welcomed. Activities for the kids were going on all around us and we were surrounded by stands of delicious smelling food. Laughter filled the air as people strolled about. It was the most cheery feeling I'd ever experienced.

"Howdy, ya'll," Rosalie's voice called through the speakers. Alice nudged me and pointed to the gazebo in the center of the square.

"We've got a special, surprise visitor here tonight. I hope everyone is ready, but first, I want to make sure that everyone knows Bella, our town's newest visitor. If you haven't met her yet, please introduce yourselves and show her what a welcoming bunch we are. Hold your arm up, Bella," Rosalie called.

Timidly, I raised my arm and waved while several people around me said, "Hi, Bella."

Alice was bouncing beside me as Rosalie asked all the kids to come to the front of the crowd.

"Alright everyone, are you ready for our special guest?" she asked beaming down at the kids. They all screamed yes, as she clapped her hands and welcomed Santa onto the stage. He looked a little skinny to be Santa, but his green eyes sparkled with laughter and warmth.

"Ho, ho, ho," Edward called out, his voice sounding strained and deeper than usual. "Do we have any good little children out there?" The kids squealed and jumped up and down waving at Santa. "One at a time," he called out sitting in the folding chair Rosalie had pulled out for him.

"He does this every year," Alice whispered. "It's so sweet."

"It really is," I agreed.

"Maybe you could come back next year and be his Mrs. Claus," she mused.

"Maybe…" I said quietly. Maybe I won't leave, I thought.

. . . .

Life and Style of San Francisco

By: Bella Swan

A few months ago, I decided to start a journey for a project I was working on. My goal was to find a small town and test its resident's kindness.

I fully admit, going into this test, I was not expecting a great outcome. My faith in humanity had recently taken a hit, and I figured I'd be calling my editor to tow my car home and give me a ride back into civilization.

I pulled into Oakdale, California just days before Christmas, disconnected my starter wire in my vehicle and strolled into the local watering hole, expecting looks of disdain and a cold shoulder. What I got was the complete opposite. I stumbled into a town that was not only willing to lend a hand, but also, now has one new resident.

Small town America is not lost! There are still people out there that will help a person in need! It came as a shocking surprise to me, but a very welcome and pleasant one. The welcome wagon is a nice touch, as well.

The people in Oakdale know each other. They know each other's kids. They look out for each other and are willing to offer a helping hand to a stranger in their hour of need.

Take this advice from me: don't lose hope! There are still good people out there that care! Let me end this short article here and bid you a final farewell. Oakdale is my new home, and I couldn't be happier.

A/N: Hope you enjoyed!