Much love and thanks to ARFalcon who gives so generously of her time.
Twilight is owned by S Meyer. Everything else comes from my brain, which I thought still had a sane part to it, but I was wrong...so very wrong.
No innocent "P" was popped during the making of this story. For too long they have been mercilessly popped in the name of entertainment. Every time a "P" is popped, Edward looses his sparkle in the sunlight. Only you can stop a "P" from being popped.
"I need separate gift receipts for each item; boxes and tissue paper as well…and I have coupons, but I want to see how many I can use. Can you ring them up separately?"
This was my life.
Yup, mine: Bella Swan, holiday salesgirl during the most wonderful time of the year at Newton's Department Store in Port Angeles, Washington.
"Can I combine coupons? I have a fifteen percent off and ten dollars off."
My current customer's a regular, but she keeps asking the same questions like she's shopping here for the first time.
"I'm sorry, only one coupon per transaction, Ma'am," I told her calmly.
She sighed dramatically before mumbling under her breath about how times have changed at Newton's and how their competitor, Hale's, accepted everything. It was the same comment she made every time she came in here and I somehow managed to, yet again, keep from telling her to just go there.
I glanced to the line behind her, which was now six people deep, all with equally annoyed looks on their faces as they waited to pay for their well thought-out and meaningful gifts for Christmas. For all of their thoughtfulness, it was hardly ever given to us.
This was my fourth year working at Newton's during school break and it never got easier. Thank god this was my last year. I would graduate in June and then move to Seattle for a summer semester at UDub. I had a nice, cozy desk job waiting for me in the library there. No more having to deal with the shop-crazy masses.
It took another five minutes before the woman left with her twinsets in all twelve colors, and was grateful that the next person was a little more with it on coupon knowledge.
Thirty minutes later, my angelic manager let me take a break. I took off for the Coffee Nook on the other side of the store for a little hot liquid therapy.
It was the one incentive that made working at Newton's bearable.
As I approached, Garrett, the manager of the Nook, smiled brightly before reaching over to grab a medium cup and a metal pot to brew my drink.
"Bella, Bella! I'd thought that you forgotten us!" Garrett sing-songed to me as I came up to the counter.
"Me? Never! Just had to tame a bunch of wild customers!" I joked back as I leaned on the wooden surface and gave Garrett a peck on his salt and pepper, whiskery cheek.
"Well then, little lady," Garrett started in his best western accent as he tipped his imaginary hat at me, "just pull up a chair and have a cup of my finest coffee, straight from San Fran."
"Thank you kindly, sir."
I was still grinning at our playful banter as I paid the cashier and moved to take my seat at the bar on the side to wait for my coffee.
"Here you go." Garrett slid my cup in front of me with a smile.
I got a whiff of that java goodness with chocolate peppermint, and immediately felt my taste buds beg for their ambrosia. The tension in my body melted away just as my tongue touched the peak of the whipped cream that towered over the red holiday-inspired cup.
Oh yeah, Peppermint Mocha: food of the Gods, fuel and stress tamer for the Bella Swan.
I sipped until it was cool enough to drink, then went straight into Hoover-mode. I sucked it down until only a thin rim of chocolate specks and coffee lined the bottom of my cup. Even then I still tried to get every last drop into my mouth.
It was only on the menu for two months during the year, and it was probably a good thing as it had a zillion calories in it. I told myself it was my reward for being in this hell-hole to save money for school and Christmas gifts.
This place had been my favorite since I was little and drove with my family every year to visit Santa at Newton's during the holidays. Stopping at Garrett's Coffee Nook was my treat even then, except it was peppermint hot chocolate. Garrett had been almost thirty when he opened this place, and had been pleasing customers with his wares and charm for over seventeen years. He was a part of my life just as much as his store.
"How was it?" Garrett asked, watching me on the other side of the counter with a pleased smirk on his face.
"Terrible! But I think I need to try another just to be sure. I don't want any of your customers to go home disappointed."
I tried to school my face into a neutral expression, but I knew I was failing. It was perfection of course. Garrett created the recipe, along with many others featured in his shop, and I had never met its equal. The man was a genius when it came to the art of coffee-making.
He laughed and waved me away as I got up to return to my post.
When I walked into Newton's the next morning for my shift, the atmosphere around me felt different. Like someone died. I went to check in with my manager after I put my stuff in my locker only to be greeted with a half-hearted smile.
"What's wrong? What happened?"
She gave me a sad smile and placed a hand over mine in sympathy. "Bella, Garrett suffered a heart attack last night. I know you two are friends…"
"His older brother called the head-boss this morning to let them know that he's all right, but needs his rest. There will be someone from his family to run the business until Garrett decides to come back or…"
"Well, of course he's coming back! He has too! It's his life and who else can do what he does?!"
I knew that I sounded like a petulant child, I really did, but Garrett and his coffee was a staple in my life. What would I do if I didn't have that? For that matter, what am I going to do today?
Oh my God, I might go insane!
"What did you say? Bella do you need to go home?"
"Huh? No, I'll be okay. Are we sending anything to him?"
My manager eyed me for a second, measuring to see if I really was going crazy.
"Mr. Newton is sending him a bouquet from all of us, but if you want to send him a card, I can get his address for you," she offered, keenly watching my expression as I frowned at how impersonal the flowers sounded.
"Thanks, I'd liked to send him a card."
"No problem, I'll get you his address before you go home," she said, back to her usual smile.
I made my way to my station and proceeded through the motions of the day.
By the time my break came around, I didn't know what to do with myself. I had a brief jump of euphoria in my system thinking I was getting a hit of peppermint mocha, but it was squashed just as quickly remembering that its maker was ill.
I moped all the way to the Coffee Nook, not sure why I even bothered to go. My body was on autopilot, going through zombie-like motions of routine-seeking sustenance.
"Miss, can I help you?" asked a cheerful voice in front of me.
I looked up in a daze, already at the Nook counter without realizing it. A man with similar features and coloring to Garrett was on the other side waiting expectantly for me to answer. So I replied in the most articulate manner:
His smile widened, adding more to the list of similarities to Garrett.
"Are you related to Garrett?" I blurted.
"Yes, I'm his brother Carlisle and who might you be?" he said, as he offered his hand for me to shake with his smooth, friendly smile still in place.
"I'm Bella," I told him as I took his hand.
"Peppermint Mocha-during-Christmas, Bella?" He asked; his face lighting up with amusement as he pumped my hand a little more.
"Yup, I guess that's me," I replied feeling self-conscious.
Was my need for this heavenly manna from Garrett that known? Maybe I needed to seek professional help.
"Now, I can't promise it will be like his, but I'll try my best," Carlisle said as he stumbled along the counter to the make me a cup of peppermint mocha.
I watched him as he measured everything to the exact line and then carefully poured it into the red cup. He was perfectionly clumsy where Garrett was all flow.
When Carlisle handed me the cup, I could see his face was dotted in sweat.
"I hope you like it," he said nervously.
I tentatively took a sip of the concoction in front of me and tried valiantly to keep from grimacing.
It was horrible.
"It's no good, isn't it?" Carlisle asked, looking dejected.
"I'm sorry. I know you tried your best, but Garrett has that magic touch," I told him, trying hard to convey how apologetic I felt at having to tell him the truth.
"The best I can do is brew plain ol' coffee."
"Then I'll take a cup of your plain ol' coffee."
He threw out the thing that was suppose to resemble peppermint mocha and poured me a cup of the freshly brewed Hazelnut/French Vanilla blend. After I stirred in some milk and half a package of sugar, I glanced up at Carlisle to see him watching me. Feeling a little uncomfortable after rejecting his efforts, I opened my mouth again with the wittiest of conversation starters:
"So, the coffee gene missed you completely. What do you really do?"
He laughed good-naturedly, thank god, and came over to talk to me while I drank my coffee.
"No, I'm in the real estate business. My son is going to help out here until Garrett gets better."
"Is Garrett okay?"
"He's okay, just not taking care of himself like he should have been doing. He'll be back before you know it. His wife will make sure of it."
"Can you let him know that he's missed?" I asked a bit timidly. I wasn't close to Garrett, but I did feel like he was a puzzle piece in my life that was meant to fit.
"Of course! You're one of his favorites." Carlisle smiled warmly at me.
"Thank you, and thank you for trying to make the mocha," I told him as I stood to go back to work.
"Thank you for trying to drink it," he laughed as he took my empty cup to throw away. "I hope to see you soon, Bella. It was a pleasure meeting you."
I spent the majority of the evening trying to write a card to Garrett to let him know I was concerned about his health and how the Coffee Nook wasn't the same without him behind the counter.
My spark was gone. I was without a proper peppermint mocha intake today and I felt cranky. Using scrap pieces of paper, I tried writing something sincere, but it kept coming out wrong.
I tried the usual, "hope you get well soon!" route, but it seemed too typical.
Then I tried to be funny "Your brother tried to poison me today. Don't let that happen again. Get well soon!"
I even wrote something like pleading:
"Don't leave me! I won't survive without my peppermint mocha. Only you can make it right. No one understands the nuances of how much peppermint to chocolate to coffee that needs to go into this drink like you do. Not to mention the artistry of how you swirl the whipped cream on top and get that peak so perky. No one, I mean, no one can do that. Get well soon!"
Finally, I settled on something I hope said sounded appropriate:
"Dear Garrett, I hope this finds you well. You are missed."
I was proud of myself for not mentioning the peppermint mocha at all, but I did hope that by writing the word "missed" he would get that I needed a hit like nobody's business.
The next day was about the same, except when I walked over to the Coffee Nook, I saw a crowd of people crammed against the counter all "oohing" and "awwing" over whatever was happening behind it. I felt a powerful surge of hope for the return of Garrett and pushed my way to the front of the crowd only to be disappointed. Instead of Garrett, a backwards baseball cap-wearing, tall guy was juggling shakers of iced coffees like he was Tom Cruise in Cocktail.
"He's so good!" I heard whispered from somewhere to my right, quickly followed by, "And gorgeous, too!"
As everyone watched in delight, I watched in horror at the things that this guy was doing to Garrett's stuff. It didn't end with the juggling, oh no. The guy threw the metal pots for heating milk into the mix by playing some weird version of "guess which one is the latte."
When the show was over, he poured the drinks into their respective cups and handed them out to the customers. All of this was followed by cheering and clapping.
I was going to throw up.
All of Garrett's equipment for making his heavenly drinks were most likely dented, cracked, and breathed on by this guy doing all fancy hand work for the masses. I bet the drinks tasted like ass, too.
"This is wonderful, Edward!" exclaimed an older woman, batting her false eyelashes in full-on flirt mode.
"Perfect! Just as good as Garrett's!" said someone else nearby.
I was seeing red. No one was just as good as Garrett. Garrett's creations were perfection. How dare this interloper, this Edward, come into The Coffee Nook and take Garrett's place!
Before I truly understood what I was doing, I pushed my way to the front and demanded, "Peppermint Mocha!"
The tall guy turned his head and pinned me with his green gaze. I felt an immediate lurch in my body with some strange knowing. It stunned me senseless, making me forget my reason for being there. We stared each other down until someone rudely nudged me from behind and broke our intense eye-to-eye contact.
"Uh, I'll have a Peppermint Mocha," I repeated, pleasantly this time, just as he said, "Please tell me you're legal."
"What? Am I legal? Is there something in the coffee?"
"No! No, no, no, I'm sorry. I don't know- uh, hey, peppermint mocha, right?" He asked turning red and then taking control of the situation by grabbing the metal pot and standing before the behemoth of a coffee machine.
As soon as he started to make my drink, he was all business and I watched him for the slightest mishap so that I could report back to Garrett and tell him that some really good-looking guy dared to make his recipe and came up flatter-than-flat in his attempt to please me.
When the drink was made, the Edward guy turned to me with silent expectation and pushed the cup towards me.
I studied the peppermint mocha in front of me as one would a newly discovered species. It was alien, but at the same time, completely familiar. The whipped cream spiraled as Garrett's did. The subtle sprinkle of crushed candy cane followed the swirl of the cream from top to the lip of the cup. I leaned forward, took a whiff and nodded once in approval that the mixture of peppermint to chocolate was noticeable in the aroma. Next was the taste test. I licked the top peak and was greeted with the taste of whipped cream and peppermint candy. It was the starter to the liquid paradise I came to know from Garrett's expert hands, but I was nervous to proceed as everything hinged on what was underneath the cream.
Looking up, I found Edward watching me intently with arms folded across his chest. We had another electric zing as our eyes met, but I wouldn't let it deter me from continuing with the steaming cup before me. I looked back into the depths of my cup and took a sip.
It may have been a sip, but it was enough.
Enough to tell me that it was better than Garrett's.
My eyes flew up to meet Edward's and I gasped in shock.
"How? How did you know? It's like Garrett's but-"I couldn't finish what I was saying. I was beyond shocked that this Edward guy out-made Garrett's peppermint mocha.
"My Uncle Garrett taught me how to make it. I've been working on different interpretations of it and thought this one might be my favorite," he explained, looking a little sheepish.
"Huh," was the only thing I could muster in return.
"Good huh or bad huh?" he asked, picking up on my shorthand speech.
"Huh," I replied once again before I walked away in a daze, completely gobsmacked by what just happened.
Somehow I made it through to the end of my shift without making a mistake or doing anything really stupid. After the Coffee Nook, I wasn't sure what I was doing. Edward's peppermint mocha really knocked me for a loop.
Garrett always had the magic touch when it came to making what he knew would please his customers. I had been enchanted by his peppermint hot chocolate and then the coffee version when I turned sixteen. He did it all without the flair for the dramatic his nephew showed us. Garrett's magic was in his passion for helping others, while it seemed that Edward was interested in putting on a show no matter how tasty his drink was.
I looked up to see the person I was musing about standing a few feet from me in the employee parking lot with a big smile on his face.
"Hey," I replied, not sure what to say after he rocked my mocha world.
He stepped closer until he was towering over my five foot, five inch frame with what I guessed to be his six-two one.
"You took off before you told me if you liked my version of Peppermint Mocha," he continued, shoving his hands into the front pockets of his dark jeans.
He busted out laughing over my reply, but I wasn't trying to be funny. It was the only answer I could give.
"I'm Edward Cullen, Garrett's nephew," he said with his hand poised in an offer to shake mine.
"Bella Swan," I replied and took his hand.
It was the moment that most people say "and then the sparks flew," but really, none of that happened. It was the moment when I smelled him and that the sparks flew.
I leaned in closer to catch another whiff of the subtle blend of coffee, chocolate, and a hint of peppermint that mixed perfectly with Edward's natural scent.
"Did you just smell me?" he asked in amusement as I felt the rumble of his laugh against my nose.
I pulled back and quickly released his hand, realizing that I had gone collar-deep on Edward to get more of that delicious smell. My cheeks heated up to what I was sure a cake-baking temperature as I shyly glanced up at him to see if he was completely freaked out about my behavior. Instead he was grinning, reaching to place his arms around me and pull me closer to him.
"No," he said, shaking his head, "don't be embarrassed."
His smile was beyond dazzling. I think there was even one of those twinkles that shone off one of his teeth to reiterate how beautiful and talented he was.
"Okay," I said, letting myself be cuddled by this Lord of the java drinks.
"So tell me, Bella, how old are you?"
I would swear on a stack of anything that looked even remotely holy that his smile and those twinkles supernova'ed.
"Bella Swan, what are you doing this evening?"
I'm usually pretty rational about things, but my kryptonite led me down a tree-lined path behind Edward Cullen's car toward his home at five-thirty pm Pacific Standard-Time. He said that he lived with his parents, and it was only going to be dinner…and some special dessert concoction that rivaled the peppermint mocha as he stated.
Damn me and my jonesin' ways.
The house was stunning as we pulled into the front of it. It was modern, but homey with lots of wood and glass surrounded by trees. It looked as if it had grown out of the earth and forest.
Edward came to open my door for me and helped me out of the car like a gentleman; something I wasn't expecting during our brief time together. Everything he was doing so far was so different than what his appearance suggested. His baseball cap was on backwards, and he wore an over-sized striped polo shirt that belonged on a fourteen-year-old boy (Edward was twenty) with a black blazer over it.
These things made him seem like some boy with a hobby out of control, which I shouldn't point fingers at as I had my own obsessions, rather than the thoughtful man he was currently displaying.
"Mom! I'm here with a guest!" Edward called into the spacious home as he helped to remove my coat and hung it up in the foyer.
The click-clacking of heels could be heard from within the house as we proceeded into the living area. A lovely woman with the same auburn hair and green eyes as Edward appeared, and seemed to be as startled to see me as I was her.
"A girl!" she exclaimed and then glanced at Edward to my side with a silent question.
A beat or two passed between them as if they were talking telepathically, making me slightly uncomfortable.
"Sorry! I'm Edward's mother, Esme," She said with an even lovelier smile as she shook my hand.
"I'm Bella Swan," I replied, not sure what was going on, but hoping I didn't get Edward into trouble. I wanted to be a good guest as dessert was on the line.
"Peppermint-mocha-during-Christmas-Bella?" She asked with a gleam of excitement in her eyes.
Was I that known for my addiction?
"Yes, that's me," I blushed.
"You must stay for dinner! Garrett and Carlisle told me about you."
"Sure, if I'm not imposing."
"Of course you're not. Mom is an amazing cook and tonight is pasta night," Edward replied for them both, steering me towards a heavenly smell.
"Bella, we make more than enough for our small family, so another mouth to help keep leftovers to a minimum is always welcomed."
"Thank you," I replied feeling shy from this onslaught of friendliness.
The kitchen was another open space with multiple windows. It looked to contain every appliance necessary for a professional kitchen, and from the smell coming from the area of the oven, it was worth it.
"Baked shells and garlic bread," Esme explained as she saw me drag deep breaths of the edible scents into my lungs.
"Homemade," Edward whispered into my ear, sending a shiver down my spine.
The cooking gene was strong with this family.
"My parents can't even boil water," I said mournfully as I took in Esme retrieving the shells from the oven, releasing a huge waft of the combination of baked cheese, tomato sauce, and all that buttery garlic smell from the accompanying bread.
"Wait until you taste it," Edward whispered. The man was trying to kill me, I was sure of it.
"Edward, your father will be home shortly with Garrett and Kate. Please set the table," Esme requested as she continued to finish the meal.
I helped Edward set the dining table and asked him about the dessert. He smiled mischievously at me from the opposite side of the table as he placed the silverware on top of the folded napkins.
"I could tell you, but I think I want you to be surprised."
"I don't like surprises."
"Sorry, you're just going to have to wait."
He was enjoying this torture. Didn't he understand that was a no-no when it came to my need for peppermint mocha? Why did he tempt me with his dessert like dangling a carrot to a horse if he wasn't going to tell me the details?
He laughed and shook his head. "Sorry. Good things come to those who-"
"What do I have to do to get it out of you?" I interrupted, feeling myself flush all over with impatience.
He looked up at me and gave me a saucy wink. "Let's see…what could you do to get it out of me?" he drawled, rocking back on his heels.
I felt like the proverbial canary being stalked by the cat.
"Edward, just name it!"
"I will blow you if I have to!"
My god, I'm articulate when under stress. I didn't mean for that to slip out of my mouth, but it did, and Edward's face was a picture of shock. At least he was finished teasing me.
"Really?" he asked uncertain and wide-eyed with something else that gave me a bit of a tickle in down below.
I was saved from having to answer when the front door opened, and Carlisle walked in with Garrett and his wife, Kate.
"Bella!" Garrett called as soon as he saw me.
I gave him a big hug in greeting, babbling that it wasn't the same without him at The Coffee Nook.
"Nice to know that Edward and Carlisle haven't taken over the place with their looks and charm!" Garrett stated jovially as he slapped Edward good-naturedly on the back.
"He tried," I said seriously, wanting to say more about the peppermint mocha and how it was blasphemous that Garrett was out-mocha'd.
"Ah Bella, one day I will have to retire. Edward is studying to become a chef and I cannot think of a better person to take care of you," he said warmly.
"But not now, right? You won't leave right away?" I persisted.
He laughed and gave me another hug, "I'm just taking a break, but I'll be back in another week or two."
As much as Edward's recipe was better, there was something to be said for the comfort of routine. Garrett was routine; Edward was something indefinably scary and new. I looked over at Edward now watching me like a hawk. I wasn't sure what he was thinking by his neutral expression, but I had a feeling it wasn't good. I was in the middle of begging his uncle to come back to the Nook and kick Edward out into the cold. Why would he be pleased with me?
I felt a little guilty that I might have hurt his feelings. He had made a Pavlovian peppermint mocha that had me salivating like one of his bitches. There was also that zing we felt earlier and I knew that I couldn't ignore that. Maybe this was the universe's way of giving me the thumbs up that my need for peppermint mocha in the winter was an okay fixation to have. Hell, it even provided me with my own personal barista.
It was a sign that I had to make everything okay with Edward.
"Dinner is ready!" Esme called from the kitchen, stopping my inner tirade.
We moved in to the dining room and took our places around the wooden table. I was partnered with Edward on one side with Garrett and Kate sitting across from us. Esme sat the baked shells in the center of the table as Carlisle helped to bring in the garlic bread and tossed salad.
Garrett looked forlornly at the shells and sighed. Esme smiled and rubbed his shoulder in sympathy.
"It's a special recipe. We know you can't eat regular version, so I made you one that has less fat."
"Esme, you're too good to me," Garrett smiled in pleasure as he helped himself to a heaping scoop of the steaming goodness as Esme moved to take her seat at on the end.
The sumptuous smells from food had me almost dizzy. My parents, god bless them, could never rival the mastery of culinary art that the Cullen family displayed. It was a good thing I was here rather than at home tonight. I don't think I could muster the will to eat another frozen dinner that mom or dad nuked.
And with the first bite, I knew in my soul that another Lean Cuisine would never pass between my lips again.
"Bella, did you just moan?" Edward whispered, leaning towards me.
I looked at the rest of the table to see if anyone else registered my reaction to the meal. Garrett was busy stuffing his face while Kate and Carlisle looked on in amusement. Esme was the only other person who noticed my reaction. I should have been embarrassed, but her pleased smile let me know I'd given her the best compliment I could have given her.
"Just wait until dessert. This is the teaser," Edward whispered as he placed his hand on my thigh and squeezed, nearly choking me with excitement and low-fat, stuffed shells.
Dinner continued in a light vein for everyone except me. I was in a state of almost-orgasm, nearly sent over the edge into blessed release time and again due to the symphony of ingredients running around in my mouth. My taste buds had never been so tantalized. If this was the "teaser" meal as Edward promised, would I full-on combust during dessert?
When the last bite was eaten and the dishes were cleared, my stomach was bouncing for what I knew was to come next. Edward gave me a wink as he left the table to help his mom with the dishes.
"Bella, I think you're going to be in for a real treat," Garrett smiled at me. "Edward has been working on this dessert for awhile and he said that he's finally happy with it."
I peeked into the kitchen to see Esme and Edward hovering over a dish they just removed from the refrigerator. I couldn't see what it was they were so intently leaning over, but I could hear the faint sounds of "oooh" and "perfect." It was pure torture as I didn't know what Edward had made for us.
They let me stew for a few more minutes, or was it years, as they prepared the sweet onto plates for us.
Finally, they turned to us with smaller plates that contained something that resembled a mini-mountain of chocolate and cream.
From the looks of the dessert, I couldn't tell what it was. It could be anything from ice cream to chocolate pudding, but the moment a plate was placed in front of me, I smelled something chocolate and peppermint. My eyes widened and I looked up at Edward, who was wearing a smirk to rival all smirks.
Was the dessert in front of me a version of peppermint mocha?
I leaned forward and took a quick whiff to see if I was right. It definitely had the smell, but it looked like a pudding of some sort.
Edward plopped down in his chair next to me and did that thing again with the whispering of appetizing words in my ear. "Take a bite. Tell me what you think."
I did as he requested and nearly fell out of my chair.
"What do you think?" he pressed.
"I love you," I declared wholeheartedly to Edward.
The room burst into laughter, but I didn't join them. I was dead serious. Edward had laughed at first along with his family, but he saw I meant business.
Of course I meant business. He made the dessert version of his peppermint mocha that had rocked my world earlier in the day. That deserved my love and devotion forever.
He cheeks turned bright red, but he kept his eyes focused on mine.
"Thank you," he said, looking pleased, embarrassed, and unsure at the same time.
"You're welcome," I told him before I turned back to my dessert and proceeded to inhale it.
I also ate another piece after that and just barely held myself back from saying yes to another serving. Esme was kind enough to pack leftovers to take with me for later.
"Bella, will you be able to stand Edward in the Nook for another few weeks?" Garrett asked me over after-dinner coffee.
He was teasing me of course. I expected nothing less from him, just as he was waiting for me to sass back.
"He'll do," I sniffed.
"Hey! Didn't you just tell me that you loved me?!" Edward leaned in to me with one hand on the table in front me and another resting on the back of my chair.
"She's teasing. It's our thing," Garrett said before Edward became more incensed and dragged me off somewhere to mark me…which, I wouldn't mind as long as I got to mark him back as my barista/chef man.
"Okay…okay," Edward said, sitting back in his chair, still eyeing us.
"Like I said, you'll be in good hands. Edward learned from the best," Garrett said, pointing his thumb at himself. "I bet you'll even want him on permanently."
"I plan to marry him, so I'll get to keep him permanently."
"Are you two done teasing me?" Edward asked, flushing scarlet.
"We're done teasing. Now I'm being serious," I told him, reaching over to squeeze his hand.
I'm not sure if there is a word for the reaction Edward had when I mentioned I planned to marry him. It sounded like a cross between a hyena laugh, a bad cough, and a strong shout to a bastard ref who called foal on a good play.
That was just the sounds he made.
His family may have thought he was having a heart attack by the way he jumped up from his seat, knocking it to the wood floor, and did a crazy dance, complete with jazz hands, as he turned to me with wide green eyes.
"She would make a good Cullen," Garrett said conversationally, as if Edward's wonky display never happened.
"I agree," Carlisle chimed in, looking nonplused. "Bella was kind to me when I tried to make her a peppermint mocha and suffered conversation with me."
"Edward, please sit down. I think it's sweet that Bella likes you," Esme said, just as cool as her husband and brother-in-law.
"Loves me," Edward stubbornly reiterated as he placed his chair upright and sat.
"Yes, loves you," Esme said with a patient smile as she watched Edward take my hand in his and place it on his thigh.
"You're welcome back any time, Bella. Very few can keep my son on his toes and love him for his talents…and strange way of dressing," Esme continued, turning her smile to me to let it be known that all of the ridiculousness that had taken place at her table was forgiven.
"It's going on eight o'clock. Let's get you home Garrett," Carlisle said, as he rose from the table and officially putting an end to dinner.
"Aw, but daaaddd," Garrett whined as he and Kate followed.
Goodbyes were given in the foyer as Garrett and Kate left with promises of dinner tomorrow. They even asked if I was returning and begged Esme to invite me as they didn't want to miss the possible engagement announcement.
We all walked outside together since I had to leave for home as well. I had the opening shift and needed to put in an appearance with my parents before bed. Carlisle and Esme both thanked me for coming and gifted me with plenty of leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.
Edward waited until his family vacated the area to press me against the door of my car with his body.
"So…" he started, running is nose along mine as his hands took perch on the roof of my car behind me.
…and the articulation was back. Edward's touches, boy smells, and nearness were giving me another sort of high than his peppermint mocha.
"That's not how I expected the evening to go, but I'm glad it did," he said, stopping to look me in the eyes.
"I like your family," I told him truthfully. Garrett had meant a lot to me over the years, and I could care about Esme and Carlisle given the chance.
"They like you. I like you," he said before placing a playful kiss on my nose.
"I like you, too."
"No, you love me."
"That was my taste buds talking," I whispered as he moved his mouth to press a kiss to my cheek.
"You said that you were going to marry me," he whispered right above my mouth, daring me with his eyes to refute him.
"That was my stomach talking," I managed to say before Edward pressed his lips to mine and then any sort of talking stopped all-together.
I never thought that I could become addicted to something other than peppermint mocha, but I was quite certain that Edward's kisses could be a winner for that spot.
His soft lips held purpose as he pulled me against him. I wound my hands behind his neck and tentatively moved my fingers into his soft hair as we found a perfect fit together. Hints of chocolate and peppermint lingered between us as the kiss deepened. All of my senses were aroused by this one man with so many skills that I knew were made just for me.
"Bella Swan, you are going to be the death of me," Edward whispered as our lips broke apart, but not our bodies.
"I hope not. Who would make my peppermint mochas? Garrett?"
He growled and hugged me tighter before placing a kiss on my lips that smacked of possession.
"Oh no, I'm your peppermint mocha man from now on," he said.
God, the tingles those few words created inside my body felt like a three ring circus with all of their acts going on at once. I was going to be the death of him? No, Edward Cullen was going to be the death of me with how happy he just made me with his promise.
"Miss, can I use this coupon for this?" asked an annoying woman with too much sparkle blue eye-shadow, holding up a new, full-priced item that took no coupons as she very well knew.
"Sorry, it's brand-spanking new. Only sale items are coupon eligible," I explained as calmly as I could for the bajillionith time.
"What about this one?" She questioned with another item.
It only took another five minutes before she settled on the cheapest item to purchase.
Usually it was a situation that would annoy me, but it was time for a break and I had someone waiting for me that kept any sort of anger at bay.
As usual, there was a crowd around the Coffee Nook when I approached. Cheers were going up with a lot of clapping. When I reached the bar, I saw Edward pour his latest creation into a few cups and hand them out to the waiting customers. Smiles and sounds of deep satisfaction moved around the crowd, bringing a warmth to the pit of my belly.
Edward turned slightly and caught sight of me. He reached automatically for a new metal pot to boil milk and a large cup to place under the coffee spout.
"My future wife is here! Time for some peppermint mocha!" He called out to everyone within hearing distance, but his eyes were only on me. It made me feel like the warm, melted chocolate that he used in the drink he so lovingly made for me each day I was at work or just passing by for a visit.
A week had passed since he first made his special version of his uncle's drink for me and the strange dinner at his parents. Not to mention a very nice kissing session. Everything felt more amazing each day that had passed. Edward and I got to know each other a little better, and even had dinner at my parent's house (we ordered Chinese).
It may not have been love at first sight, but it was definitely taste at first sip that got me tangled in Edward's barista apron.
Yeah, on the cob with butter, please. Except that was us and it worked. Who was I to question the universe for such a wonderful gift? Not me. Not now. Not ever.
"Here you go," Edward smiled, as his placed my drug of choice in front of me.
I took a deep whiff of it before taking a sip, letting that chocolate and peppermint goodness rev my taste buds into action. As the hot liquid hit my tongue, I was on a one-way trip to the Promised Land.
"Good?" Edward prompted, more to get my attention back on him rather than needing a compliment.
"Perfect," I sighed as I leaned over the counter for the kiss he wanted to give me.
This was my life.
Yup, mine: Bella Swan, future wife of her own personal peppermint mocha-making man.
"So, how do you feel about my special lemonade for the Spring?" Edward asked.
"Gold on the Ceiling" by The Black Keys
"Finding Out True Love is Blind" by Louis XIV
"The Last of the Famous International Playboys" by Morrissey