Contest entry for the Happily Ever After TwiFic Contest
Title: Saving Grace
Pairing: Edward /Bella
Summary: Edward Cullen, owner of Cullen Plantation Bed & Breakfast, is in need of a Nanny for his orphaned niece Leah Grace. Marie Isabella Swan, fresh out of the Army sets out on a journey in search of her deceased friend's family to full fill her dying wish. All is not what it seems, will fate and destiny play out its course. Can Marie Isabella be their saving grace?
Disclaimer: I don't own anything Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended.
2am Friday - September 28th, 2012
It's quiet here in Afghanistan and cold in the communications tent. There is Intel coming through and there are reports that need attention. They don't seem to mean anything, they're all so confusing, why can't I make sense of it, what am I missing? I check the Intel again and I know there is something amiss. Then I see one more page has come through. No, it can't… Please no… not the hospital.
I call but no one is answering. Tugging at my hair while I panic, I'm nearly ripping it out. I know someone is there, Rose is on duty tonight. Please pick up the damn phone, I silently plead. I want to cry, scream but I can't; I just need someone to answer my call. Can the lines be down already? Communication cannot be lost; I have to find a way to warn them. I call the officers' tent; nothing. The team must be out on patrol and can't be reached. I even try contacting the Marine unit I know is on base. Why won't someone pick up the phone? I slam down the receiver as the fear envelops me. I have to do something. I can't stay here, I have to get there. So I run. I run to warn them, praying I don't run out of time.
And then I hear it, the first bomb blast; and I freeze. I tremble but I can't let the fear I feel hold on to me now. I have to get there, to help. I need to keep moving. When the second bomb hits, I know… I know I'm too late, but I need to find her. I have to find her, to save her, for not only my sake but for that of her precious little girl.
There's chaos and screams everywhere. To my left I see the General that was brought in two days ago – the target for this attack – needing help. I do the only thing I can; I pull him to safety and make sure he's alive.
"My nurse, help her." He points over my shoulder before he passes out.
I turn and it's then that I see her out of the corner of my eye, his nurse, my friend Rosalie. She's barely breathing and my heart sinks. Rose looks up at me and smiles, she knows that we are about to say goodbye…
~5 months later~
2am Wednesday - February 6th, 2013
I gasp and cough, trying to catch my breath. It's just a dream I tell myself, but it's also a memory, a reality of what was.
As I'm laying here safe in my bed in the house I grew up in, I remember the promise I made that night. It wasn't only to a little girl who lost her mother or the Uncle whose care she is in, but to my friend that would still be alive if only I had read the Intel properly in time.
Knowing I'm not going to get back to sleep, I get up and shower, hoping not to wake up my dad, Charlie in the process. The water is hot and while my muscles are relaxing I realize I know what I have to do. By six a.m. I have booked a plane ticket, my bags are packed and I'm on my way. North Carolina is my destination; Rosalie's hometown and where my destiny is… Leah Grace Black.
I've been in Warrenton, NC now for about three weeks, and I've learned that Leah - or 'Gracie' as she is affectionately known - and her Uncle Edward are loved by everyone in town. And even though I want to go and meet them, I don't. I keep my distance.
I'd heard through gossip that Edward lays blame on Signal Warrant Officer M. Swan for Rosalie's death. I do too – so to everyone I've met here, I'm Bella Dwyer – a family nickname and my mother's maiden name - and I've sent Marie Swan away.
Today though, things are different. While I'm sitting in the little coffee shop in town, I watch Gracie and Edward walk by. She has beautiful dark blonde hair with the biggest brownest eyes I have ever seen, they sparkle with mischief.
Edward is a phenomenon. He is about 6ft tall, the build of someone that works on the land and the looks of a movie star. His hair is a shade of auburn that I've never seen before and streaked with natural blonde highlights throughout. And his eyes– the only time I have been close enough to look into them I could've drowned. They are the color of the ocean in summer, green with subtle hints of blue.
"She's a beauty, that one."
I look up to the lady standing at the counter who spoke and smile at her.
"Yes, she is. I've seen them around town now and then. They look happy but I see sadness there too."
"That poor sweet child has lost both of her parents in tragic circumstances. He's her Uncle."
"Are you family?" I ask.
"In a small town we are all family," she says with a smile.
I think about that for a moment. I grew up in Carmel, California with a population of near 4000 people and I thought that was a small town. Here in Warrenton, there are barley 850 people, so I guess it is one big family.
"You know, Gracie is in need of a nanny. Edward, her Uncle, has had his arms full with her and running the Plantation their family owns." she says removing me from my inner thoughts.
"Doesn't he have help?"
Could this be my chance to fulfill the promise I made to Rosalie?
"Yes he does, but Edward won't trust just anyone with Gracie. He is letting her choose and the choices so far haven't been too welcomed by her."
I swear I can hear a slight distaste in her voice.
"Has she said no to a lot?"
"No, the only ones who want the job so far are Edward's sister in law, who has a nasty streak in her. She is full of spite that one, and Gracie can see it even if Edward and his brother can't." Now I know I hear distaste.
"You said 'only ones'… who else is there?" I'm beyond curious now.
"The other person is the Bed and Breakfast's housekeeper; she has no interest in Gracie. Her interests lay with Edward and having Edward alone."
I remember Rosalie talking about her sister in law being extremely upset that she left Gracie in Edward's care and not her, a married woman. Something about her being not the right influence she wanted for her daughter. The housekeeper though was a source of laughter between us, well not her per se, just her antics in trying to get Edward and her other brother Jasper - before he married – to notice her.
I can't help but smile.
"I think you should allow me to introduce you to Edward and Gracie." I am once again brought out of my thoughts when she spoke.
"Yes, I think you would fit in well with them and I know Gracie will love you." I'm pretty sure this woman was now speaking to herself.
Before I can speak, "What is your name, dear?" she asks.
"Um… Bella, Bella Dwyer."
"Well then Bella, come in tomorrow and I shall introduce you three." she says with a sly grin.
Not long after I get up to leave, I turn to the lady and ask, "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."
"That's quite alright dear, I didn't give it. It's Esme, and it's nice to meet you Bella."
"You too, Esme, and I'll see you tomorrow."
I can't help but smile as I leave the shop knowing that Rose must be helping me from above. When I look back, I see Esme smiling and looking up too.
Gracie has stopped to look at the puppies in the window of the Pet shop when I hear Miss Esme's voice.
"Edward, dear, how nice to see you both, how is my ray of sunshine doing today?" she bends over looking at Gracie.
"Nice to see you too Miss Esme, how are you?" I ask with a smile.
Miss Esme is like a mother to me and the closest thing Gracie has to a grandma. Since our mother died she has taken it upon herself to look after us. She was there for Rose when she got married, throughout her pregnancy and she didn't leave her side when Jacob passed away. When we received the news of Rose's death, Esme was the first one to come by the plantation. She stayed with us for a month to help with the funeral arrangements and to care for Gracie. She truly is a god send.
"So my dear boy, I have found you a nanny for Gracie"
"You have, who?" I'm a little confused; I know everyone in this town and so far Gracie has refused them all.
"Well, it appears we have a new resident to Warrenton. I have been watching her for the last two weeks; she comes in everyday for a scone and coffee. I finally spoke to her this morning; she was watching you and Gracie walking by actually. We got to talking, one thing lead to another and I asked her to come by tomorrow so I can introduce you three."
"Did you now." teasingly I smirk and raise my eyebrow at her.
"Oh you hush now boy, you know I worry about my sunshine here and I can't stand the likes of that sister in law of yours being around her. I have a good feeling about this honey; trust Miss Esme, have I ever done wrong by you?"
Feeling a tug at my heart, "No you never have." I say shaking my head.
Giving me her radiant smile, she pats my cheek "That's my boy. Come by tomorrow with Gracie around noon, I'll introduce you all then." she says with a wink as she walks back into the coffee shop.
Laughing and shaking my head, I get Gracie's attention. "Come on sweetheart, we need to get home, I have a lot of work to do."
Waking up the next morning, I make my way downstairs and into the kitchen where Tanya's busying herself making breakfast. "Mornin, Tanya." I greet her as I pour myself a cup of coffee.
"Good Morning Edward." She purrs and bats her eye lashes.
Cringing internally, I know she hopes for more than just an employee/boss relationship with me, but good Lord, this woman scares me half to death. If it wasn't for Miss Esme laying into her about respecting me as her boss and keeping her grimy hands to herself if she valued her job, she would be all over me. It's not that I can't speak up or defend myself, it's just that my Mamma raised a gentleman, and no matter how horrifying I find Tanya's advances, I can't find it in me to hurt her feelings by rejecting her.
I have tried on many occasions to speak with her and make it very clear that I am in no way, shape or form looking for a relationship with anyone right now, but apparently I'm not being clear enough. So when Miss Esme walks in one day and sees me with a terrified expression and Tanya trying to push herself onto me, let's just say Miss Esme laid down the law. And thank God for that, Tanya has been nothing but professional with me since.
Walking back upstairs with coffee in hand, I push open Gracie's bedroom door. My angel is still fast asleep, her hands curled under her cheeks, her lips pouting just like her Mamma used to sleep. Rose was so beautiful, Gracie takes after my sister, but she got her Daddies skin tone. Walking over to her bed, I sit down and rub her cheek. "Gracie, wake up sweetheart…Gracie." I whisper.
She twitches and groans, her eyes are fluttering, I know she's waking up. "Come on baby girl, we need to get you dressed and fed before we head over to visit Miss Esme."
Opening her eyes, she stretches her arms and legs. "Good Morning." I give her a smile.
"Morning Papa." Giving me her beautiful smile in return.
She started calling me Papa when Rose left on deployment, since she never knew her dad; she says that I'm the only person who could fit that role in her heart. I never corrected her and neither did Rose. I love that she sees me as a father figure; I love her as if she was my own. Now with both her parents gone, she is mine, and I would do anything for her.
"Okay, up you go, get washed up and dressed and I'll meet you in the kitchen. Tanya is just about finished making breakfast.
Walking into the coffee shop, I scan the place for Miss Esme and see her behind the counter speaking with a woman. She catches my eye and waves me toward her. I wonder if this is the woman she mentioned to me yesterday. Walking up to them, Esme smiles at me warmly.
"Edward, my dear boy, this here is Bella Dwyer. Bella, this is Edward Cullen and that little precious doll standing next to him is Miss Leah Grace Black."
The woman turns around and my breath gets stuck in my throat. She is a sight to be seen, I'm staring into the most mesmerizing crystal blue eyes I have ever seen.
She is stunning. She has long chocolate brown hair, skin as smooth as porcelain, and plump cherry red lips. I've never had the urge to kiss someone as bad as I want to kiss her right now.
Staring at her for a moment, I'm brought out of my ogling. "Hi Edward, it's nice to meet you. Esme has been telling me so much about you, about you both." She says as she extends her hand in greeting.
Clearing my throat and quite frankly a little embarrassed, "Um…yes it's a pleasure Miss Dwyer. Miss Esme has spoken very highly of you as well." My hand shakes her hand in return.
"Please, call me Bella."
"Very well, Bella. This is Gracie." I gesture towards my side.
"Hello, Gracie. Boy you are by far the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen." Bella kneels down to Gracie's eye level.
"Thank you, Miss Bella," Gracie says with a giggle.
Chancing a glance at Miss Esme, she has the biggest smile on her face. Looking up at me, she gives me a thumb up and mouths, "I knew it". Chuckling, I suggest we all sit down at a table.
"So Bella, what brings you to Warrenton?"
"Well, I'm originally from Carmel, CA. My mother recently passed and I was left a substantial inheritance. I was lonely and looking for a change of scenery. I was watching a travel channel one night and one of the places that they advertised was Warrenton, North Carolina. It just looked beautiful and homey, I decided to come for a visit. I've been here for about two weeks or so, I love it and I think I might stay a while."
"I'm so sorry to hear about your Momma's passing."
"Thank you." She whispers, looking into my eyes. "So, Esme tells me you're looking for a nanny for Gracie?"
"Yes, I am. I've had a few prospects, but Gracie here has refused every single one," I chuckle. "If you don't mind me asking, why are you looking for a job if you have money to live off of?"
"Well, be that as it may, I don't like just sitting around having nothing to do. I like to keep busy, and I love children." Bella says shrugging.
"Well, alright. I'm looking for someone who can live on the plantation with us. There are days that I will be away from home or out for long hours into the night, so I need someone there all the time, is that something you think you can do?" I stare at her. God this woman is beautiful, will I be able to handle her being so close to me, sleeping in my house?
"Um...okay, I think I can swing that. I just need to let the motel I'm staying at know that I won't be staying any longer. When do you need me to start?"
"Come by tomorrow morning, I can show you around the Plantation, where you will be sleeping and such. Here let me write down my phone number and the address, I'm sure you'll find it, but just in case, call me." I say handing her the piece of paper.
"Okay, tomorrow it is then." she says smiling at me. "Gracie, it was very nice meeting you. How do you feel about me coming and helping your uncle take care of you?" she asks.
"I would love that; we can play dress up, use makeup, and have tea parties!" Gracie exclaims with a gleam in her eye. I haven't seen her excited in a very long time. The last time was when we had a Skype call with Rose. I think this is going to work out just perfect.
"Yes beautiful, we can do anything your little heart desires." Bella answers, placing her hand on Gracie's cheek. "Okay you two, I'll see you tomorrow. Thank you Esme, I'll see ya!" Bella waves as she exits the coffee shop.
"So, did I do right by you or what?" Miss Esme asks as she's walking up to us.
"I love her papa! I really do!" Gracie yells out before I can answer Miss Esme.
"Yea sweetheart, I think I like her too." I laugh.
"Do you now." Miss Esme says with a wiggle to her eye brows.
"Oh boy, you're too much." I say leaning in to kiss her cheeks as I walk out of the coffee shop. I hear her laughter echo in the air.
The next morning I get up bright and early and head downstairs for my morning coffee. I can hear Gracie moving around in her room. Pushing her door open, I see her throwing her clothes out of her closet. "Whoa! What's happened in here?" I ask.
Turning around, clearly caught off guard, Gracie huffs, "Papa, I don't know what to wear, nothing is pretty enough!"
"Pretty enough for what baby girl?" I ask walking into her room.
"For Miss Bella! I want to look pretty for her, so she'll stay and take care of me." she says with a pout.
"Gracie honey, come over here." I pat her mattress. "It doesn't matter how you look or what you wear, if Miss Bella decides to stay, that decision will be based on what you have in here." I point to her chest where her heart is. "Wear whatever you want; I'm sure she'll love it. Besides, you look beautiful in anything." I say before kissing her forehead.
"I want this mess cleaned up, you don't want Miss. Bella to think we're pigs do you?" I ask.
"Oh, Papa!" Gracie begins laughing.
Bella arrives on time. I walk out to greet her as she reaches the porch steps.
"Good afternoon, I hope you found the way alright?"
"Yes I did, thank you. Wow, this is a beautiful piece of property you have here. It's gorgeous actually." Bella's eyes sparkle as she takes in the scenery around us.
"Thank you, it's been in my family for quite some time. Come, I'll show you around."
Giving her the tour inside the house, I show her where she will be sleeping if she decides to stay. Walking out to the back porch, I walk her through the property. Showing her the cottages we have on the south end of the property, pointing out the biggest cottage is where my brother Jasper and his wife Alice live. I also show her the barns, the boatshed and the lake.
"Wow! I can't believe you maintain all of this on your own."
"Well, I do have some help. My brother Jasper helps out a lot and I have Tanya the house keeper. Jasper's wife Alice, well she doesn't like to get dirty, so she's not much help at all," I say. "I'm sure all three of them are around here somewhere. Let's get back to the house, would you like some iced tea?"
"Please, that sounds wonderful."
Walking back into the kitchen, Tanya, Alice and Jasper are all standing around talking with Gracie. "I'm glad you're all here." I say. "This is Bella Dwyer; she will be Gracie's new nanny. Bella, this is Tanya the housekeeper, my brother Jasper and his wife Alice."
"Yes, Gracie was just telling us about you. Bella, are you new to town? I've never seen you around before." Alice asks with a slight sneer.
"Yes, I am. I just moved here about two weeks ago from Carmel, CA."
"Hmmm..." is all that Alice says as she walks out the back door.
"Please forgive my wife; it's a pleasure to meet you Miss. Bella. I hope you find your stay pleasant here on the plantation," Jasper says shaking Bella's hand.
"Thank you; I'm sure it will be," Bella answers.
"Well that went well considering it was Alice." I mumble as I rub the back of my neck. "I'm sorry for her rude behavior; Alice isn't very people friendly, just ignore her like the rest of us do."
"What the fuck has happened here?" I scream.
"He hired a Nanny, that's all," Jasper says trying to soothe me.
I look at him seething. "Where did this bitch come from?"
"Didn't she say California." he answers.
"Why is this happening now?" All of a sudden I feel more than just angry, I feel scared.
I look at my husband for more answers, but he has none to give me. Sometimes he is as helpful as an ingrown toenail. Until the court hearing in July, I will just have to put up with the nanny. I will be awarded Gracie; I know I will. There isn't a judge in the state that won't give her to me, a married woman who has known her all of her life. It should be me raising that girl, not a single man. After the doctor told Jasper and I we would never have a baby of our own, I realized that getting Gracie is the only chance we have. I will not let some nanny be the reason the courts change their mind. Damn Rosalie, damn Edward and damn this Bella Dwyer!
It's been about two months now since Bella decided to stay and be Gracie's Nanny. As I stand here watching them out my study window, I can't help but smile. Gracie has never been this happy; she is head over feet in love with Bella. That's all she talks about from the moment she wakes in the morning till she falls asleep at night. Bella has to do everything for her now, tuck her into bed, comb her hair, help her dress; those two are a match made in heaven.
We are having a picnic lunch today outside under the old oak tree. Gracie wants sandwiches and tea today, so that's what we're having. I laugh as I watch my girl's horse around with each other in the grass after they laid down the picnic blanket.
That's right, I said my girls…I think I might be falling in love with Bella. I've never been in love so I can't be certain, but these feelings I get whenever I'm around her, I just can't explain them. I see the way she is with Gracie and it's like someone's tugging at my heart. Bella treats her as if she was her own; cares for her like a mother should and loves her like Rose would.
I can't help but want to protect this woman with my whole being and love her with my whole heart. I will never be able to repay Miss Esme for bringing Bella into our lives.
"Papa, come on, let's eat!" I'm brought out of my thoughts by my angel waving at me from the backyard. Shaking my head and laughing, I head outside to have lunch with my girls.
"This looks delicious, ladies." I tell them as I sit down.
"Well, thank you kind Sir." Bella bends at the waist and bows.
"Okay, Papa, we have to be proper. So, when you sip your tea, you have to have your pinkie pointing out like this." Gracie says in all seriousness.
I can't help it, but I throw my head back and let out a loud guffaw.
NO! No, I won't allow this.
"Do you see what I see, Jasper?"
"Not sure what I'm meant to be lookin' at?"
"You are meant to be lookin' at our little girl slipping away from us!" I say through gritted teeth.
"You think because Edward laughed at something Bella and Gracie did, we're losin' her? How did you come up with that idea? I think it's good to seein' my brother laugh. He is so serious sometimes."
Edward and Bella are getting too damn close, I need to think of a way to keep them apart… Tanya!
"Oh Tanya…" I use my sweetest singsong voice as I enter the main house.
Where the hell is she? I swear if she is doing nothing but ogling Edward, I will have her head… there are beds to be made. When I head upstairs to the guest bedrooms, I hear a noise coming from Edward's room. Low and behold, there is Tanya lying on his bed smelling his pillows, "Tanya! What are doing?" I love making the twit jump.
"Alice! I was just… seeing if I needed to change the bedding." She really needs to work on trying to be coy… and smart.
"Whatever, Tanya. I have something to discuss with you that can ultimately help us both." I'll let her think she has a chance with Edward and it'll help me get Gracie.
"Help me how?" She is so self-absorbed.
One word will seal her fate, "Edward."
"Really? You want help with Edward?"
"No, Tanya, if you help me Edward can be yours." It takes effort not to roll my eyes at her.
"Ok, what do you need?"
"What WE need Tanya is to get rid of Bella Dwyer. She is becoming a thorn in my side, have you seen the way she hangs all over Edward?" I wonder if anyone else notices the smile Tanya gets on her face with just the mention of Edward's name, it's kinda creepy.
"She is making him very uncomfortable; I see how he smiles at her to be polite. It's nothing like the smile he gives me." Tanya beams at her wisdom, idiot.
"Yes, so are you in? My plan is to get her off the Plantation and out of North Carolina?"
"What do I have to do?"
I have Tanya reeled in, hook, line and sinker.
"I need you to keep a low profile; don't let her know about you and Edward." Or at least your obsession with him, I think to myself. "And try to learn any and everything you can about her, so we can use it to have Edward throw her out."
"So like an undercover spy mission?" She really does think she's smart.
"Yes, that's exactly what it's like." Bella Dwyer, you will make a mistake and we will catch you at it. Then Gracie will be mine. I can't help but smile outwardly and internally at the thought of becoming her mother.
May 21st 2013
I've just laid Gracie down for bed, tucking her in and kissing her forehead, "Night Gracie, light on or off?" Ever since her momma died Edward tells me she's afraid of the dark.
I smile at her and nod.
"Thank you, goodnight, Bella." I hear before walking out the door. I walk down the staircase to the first floor and walk into the study looking for Edward. He missed dinner tonight so fixed him a plate and left it in the oven. As I walk into the study I see the table lamp on.
"Edward," I say pushing open the door, but there's no one here. I walk in and look around, there are papers strewn all across his desk, and blue prints out with changes he's working on for the plantation. The study smells like him; taking in a deep breath I close my eyes and let the smell take over my senses: Old Spice and sawdust. I love being in his study, I feel closer to him here and his book collection is amazing. Walking up to the window, I see the light on and movement in the boat house. "I wonder who's in there, this late," I whisper. Edward never allows anyone in there.
Walking out the back door and looking up, it's starting to drizzle; I can smell the rain in the air. Opening the doors to the boat house I call out, "hello…hello who's in here?" I hear tinkering coming from inside the boat. "Edward, is that you?" He has his back toward me, but doesn't answer. "Edward?" I call out again.
"Is Gracie okay, is she not going to bed?" he asks without turning around.
"She's fine; she's asleep, are you alright? I was looking for you, you missed dinner."
"Yeah, sorry about that, lost track of time. I can't get this damn thing to turn on."
Furrowing my eyebrows I sense something is wrong, his demeanor is off. Climbing into the boat, I place a hand on his back. "Edward, leave it for tomorrow, it's getting late."
"Just one more second, I almost got it." he says.
I know he's avoiding me, I sense he's missing Rosalie; she loved this boat. That's why he's so protective of it and won't let anyone near it. Aside from Gracie; it's the only tangible thing he has left. I can hear the rain coming down hard on the tin roof of the boat house and sigh heavily. "The rain is coming down pretty hard, we should get inside."
"Damn it, Bella, I said give me a minute." he says throwing down the wrench.
I flinch at his words. He stands and lets out a breath and I can see the sadness in his eyes, it tugs at my heart. You did this to him, Bella. Pain laces through me as I quickly push the thought away. I turn to leave, and feel him grasp my hand.
"I'm sorry, it's not your fault, I just miss her so much," he says softly. Feeling his pain, my eyes tear up; I turn to him as he's falling to his knees. He pulls me toward him wrapping his arms around my waist, resting his head on my stomach. My shirt getting wet from his silent tears. I lay my hand on his head and run my fingers through his hair; it's all I can do to give him comfort. I feel his hands slide up the back of my shirt; it feels so good; I can feel my skin erupt in goose bumps. Closing my eyes I focus on the hot trail his fingers are leaving on my skin.
Edward looks up at me, his beautiful green eyes speak of longing, want and need.
"I need you." he says.
Before I can even say yes he is lifting my shirt. He runs the pads of his fingers along my spine, and places small butterfly kisses on my navel. I fall to my knees in front of him. We just look at each other, no words are spoken as he unhooks my bra and it falls to the floor. I know he needs this…not to think, just to feel, so I brush my hands under his shirt and raise it above his head. Leaning in I kiss his chest, I can feel his heart frantically beating. Edward's hands delve into my hair and he gently tilts my head up, searching my eyes, waiting for me to stop him… as if.
Finally, after what seems like an eternity, he leans in and kisses me. His lips are so soft, his breath is warm, and his scent is intoxicating. Our tongues touch and we both moan. Needy hands are roaming each other's bodies as he lays me down atop our discarded shirts. Resting his head in between my breasts, he seems to be mesmerized as he watches his fingers move over my pert nipples. They travel down my stomach and he nimbly removes my pants. Reaching my hand to his waist, I pull down his pants and boxers, never speaking a word; we are lost in our own poetry.
I am consumed in his lascivious gaze; I can see it in his eyes and he can see it in mine, we both want this. Leaning back into me, he trails wet kisses upon my thighs and under my breasts. As he swipes his tongue along my hard nipples my body shivers in response.
"Are you cold?" he finally asks.
"No." I whisper.
Closing my eyes I just let myself feel him, not my guilt over what I've done, what I took away from him and Gracie. In this moment all that matters is that I can give Edward something he needs, that's what I focus on. Running my hands over his back, I feel every muscle, absorb every sigh and open myself up to this man. Trailing my hands down to his ass, I squeeze him gently. He thrusts slightly into my core, and I can feel how hard he is. Sucking my nipple into his mouth and swirling his tongue around it, I arch my back and whimper in pleasure. He squeezes my hips with his hands and reaches in between us swiping a finger into my wet folds; he moans deeply. He begins to rub tight circles around my clit with his thumb as he moves his middle finger and rotates at my entrance once before inserting it.
I gasp and buck my hips, "Edward," I moan while gripping his shoulders and opening my legs wider for him. He grabs his cock and swipes the head up and down my wet pussy. "Oh dear God." I let my head fall back, "please, please," I whimper.
"So warm, so soft," Edward whispers. With one final swipe and stroke to his hardening cock he positions himself at my entrance. Looking at me, and then back down at where we are connected. Ever so slowly he pushes inside me. Leaning his head into the crook of my neck, he bites down. I can feel him stretching me, and he's so big. It's a heavenly form of torture.
"Shit." My eyes roll back. Wrapping my legs around his waist, he pushes in all the way and stills. We're both breathing rapidly, and I push my hips up letting him know it's okay to continue. Edward begins pumping in and out of me slowly, I can feel him letting go of all the anxiety he had bottled up inside. Our bodies are slick with sweat, he's kissing up my neck, and he slips his tongue into my mouth; our breaths wash over each other. He is so tender and loving. Each moment feels like a precious memory he is trying to replace his nightmares with. He gently sucks on my bottom lip as our foreheads connect. His hips start moving a little faster and I can feel him hitting every single spot inside me, I tighten my hold on him and urge him to go faster. He reaches down between us and presses and rubs my swollen nub.
"So good, so fucking good. I knew you would be heavenly." he grunts out.
"Edward, oh God, Edward….please." I can feel myself losing it and with one last swipe of his thumb, my body stiffens and I feel electricity jolt down my spine. "Fuck, don't stop, don't stop." I'm whispering in his ear. The emotions I have for him come gushing out of me.
With one last hard thrust, he grunts out my name, "Belllllaaa".
His body slumps down onto me and his weight anchors me to the here and now. I close my eyes and wrap my arms around him, taking everything in; the rain outside, this boat, his grief for his sister, his love for his niece and the long road we have ahead of us.
Edward and I walk hand in hand back to the main house. Lost in my thoughts, I can't help but wonder what this means for Edward and I, will he want to have a relationship, or is this just a passing thing? Having been intimate with Edward changes everything, what will happen when I reveal who I really am? I can't help but feel devastated; maybe this was a huge mistake. Feeling my arm tug back suddenly, I'm snapped out of my thoughts and turn around to find Edward staring at me with a concerned look on his face.
"Are you alright, Bella? You haven't said a word since we got dressed back in the boat house. Are you regretting this? Was I that terrible?" Edward asks through a nervous chuckle.
I can see the terrified expression pass through his eyes, I knows he's afraid of getting close to anyone; he doesn't want to be left again. Walking up to him; placing a hand on his cheek. "Of course not, it was everything I ever imagined it would be, so much more actually. I'm sorry I've been quiet and giving you the wrong impression. I loved it Edward, I'm just thinking about how things have changed now between us, and where this leaves us?"
"We'll I'm glad I didn't suck!" Edward says with a tilt of his head and that oh so very sexy crooked smile. Bringing me closer to him, he places his hands on my hips.
"Bella, this does change everything. I've wanted you since the moment you walked into my life and I'm not letting you go. I want this between us; please don't feel like this was just something casual for me. I want you here with me and Gracie." Leaning in he places a small kiss to my lips.
Closing my eyes, I kiss him back, placing my hands around his neck, I hug him. Breathing a sigh of relief I whisper in his ear, "Edward, there's no place else I would rather be."
With a soft laugh coming from his chest, Edward leans back to look at me. "Great, now that we have that settled, why don't we get out of this rain and into the house?"
"Yes lets." I say giggling. "I still have to feed you; I'll warm up your dinner while you get changed."
"That sounds wonderful, I'm starving!" I hear his stomach emit a loud grumble.
"Oh, you sure are, hurry up let's go!" I say tugging on his hand running into the house.
Chuckling as we run into the house, Edward runs right into my back, holding onto my hips to steady himself. "Bella, love what is it?" he asks as he steps to my side to see what I'm looking at. Right in front of us are Alice and Tanya, both have their hands folded across their chest with an expression I can't place.
"Alice, Tanya, is Gracie okay, what's with the look?" Edwards asks.
"Gracie is fine, Edward. What is going on here? What were you two doing at this hour outside?" Alice asks with a sneer.
"That is none of your concern Alice! If Gracie is fine, then you have no reason to be here, go on home to your husband and attend to him. Stop meddling." Edward says with a huff as he brushes his way past Alice.
"Tanya, did you need something?" Edwards asks over his shoulder, starting to walk up the stairs.
"She was looking for Bella actually," Alice informs him.
"Oh," Edward says looking from Alice to Tanya, then to me.
Walking up from behind them, I face the two women. "What is it Tanya, what did you need?"
Tanya is about to speak when Alice snatches the paper she is holding. "You have a message, Tanya was trying to get it to you, the caller said it was urgent." she says with a smirk.
"A message, from whom?" Edward asks as he walks back down the stairs. He comes to stand right next to me.
"Have you given this number out to anyone?" he asks.
"No, I haven't, I don't know who could possibly be calling me here."
"Well, it appears a Lieutenant Colonel Emmett McCarty called looking for a Marie Isabella Swan, Signal Warrant Officer Marie Isabella Swan to be exact, he's under the distinct impression that she is residing here." Alice says with an evil glint in her eye.
My breath hitches and my heart starts to beat frantically. No, no, no, this can't be happening, he can't find out this way.
"Marie Isabella Swan? That can't be, how can she be here? There must be some confusion, give me the number, I'll call Lieutenant Colonel McCarty. Maybe he was calling to inform me about the investigation on Rose's death. This Marie Swan; she's the one who killed Rose. He probably has some new information on her. That must be it, I'll call in the morning," Edward finishes.
"Edward... stop," I whisper as I reach for his hand. I realize that I'm going to have to come clean to him about who I really am and how I came to be here. Taking a deep breath, I chance a glance at the two women in front of me. What I see damn near knocks me on my ass. Alice has the smuggest look on her face, as if she knows what I'm about to confess. In this moment I realize this was Alice's plan all along. This is her way of removing me and her chance at taking Gracie from Edward.
"What?" Edward asks with confusion in his eyes.
"What Bella is trying to say is that Marie Swan, the one who killed your sister, well…That would be Bella Dwyer, isn't that right Marie?" Alice says with an evil smile.
"Edward, can I please have a word with you in private?" I ask while glaring at Alice.
"Wait, what is she saying, Bella?" Edward snatches his hand away. "Why is Alice saying you're Marie Swan?"
"Because I am." I inform him as tears run down my cheeks. I know I've lost him; he isn't going to listen to a word I have to say.
"Please let me explain." I whisper, stepping closer to him. I can see him shutting down as recognition, betrayal, sadness and finally anger passes through his eyes.
"WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN, YOU ARE?" Edward points a finger at me in angry accusation. "You...you lied to me, to us, to Gracie! For what reason exactly? To get a sick satisfaction; to see us suffer while you laughed behind our backs, all the while knowing you caused all of this?" Edward yells.
I remain silent, I deserve this.
"I can't believe I went against my instinct and let you in. Oh great and what we just did out there…" Edward trails off as he points outside.
"What fucked up part of your game was that, huh Marie?" he yells practically spitting in my face.
I flinch at his words. "NO, please just let me explain, Edward. Hurting you was never my intention, I lo..."
"DON'T YOU DARE FUCKING SAY IT! I'm done listening to this; get the fuck out my house!" he yells as he storms up the stairs, leaving me stunned and crying in the foyer.
"What have I done?" I cry into my hands.
"Well I guess the cats out the bag, our job is done here Tanya, let's let "Marie" here pack." Alice says laughing as she walks out of the house. Alice knew that having me out of the way would make it that much easier for her to take Gracie away from Edward.
Falling to my knees I sob; how could this have happened? How could I just lose everything? If only Edward would allow me to explain. Who am I kidding; he thinks I killed his sister. I lied straight to his face for three months. I should have been honest, but I was so afraid of his reaction and him pushing me away. And look where that got me, I've lost them anyway.
Standing up, I climb the stairs to gather my belongings. Reaching Edward's bedroom I stop, placing a hand on the door knob. "I never meant to hurt you, I love you." I whisper.
With all my belongings packed into my suitcase, I walk down the hall and into Gracie's room. I walk over and kneel at her bedside. "I'm so sorry sweet girl, please forgive me, I love you very much." I say with a tremble to my lips. Tears slip freely down my face and I lean in and kiss Gracie on the cheek.
Walking down the stairs and out the door I stop on the porch, looking up into the sky. "I tried Rose, I'm sorry I failed them, I failed you." With one last look toward the house, I walk down the driveway, leaving my heart behind.
May 30th 2013
While sitting in my study, I look out the window toward the lake. I've been a complete mess ever since I found out about who Bella truly is. I don't know what to think or how to even feel. I am so angry with her for lying to me and betraying my trust. Why would she lie, what did she hope to gain out of it all? Were her feelings even sincere, all the things she said to me, the way she acted with Gracie? Oh God Gracie...She was so upset and couldn't understand why Bella would leave her and not say good bye. Seeing that light turn off again in Gracie's eyes was the hardest thing I've had to endure. It is one thing for me to be crushed and completely heartbroken, but not my sweet innocent girl. My jaw tightens and hands ball into fists just thinking about how Bella crushed my Gracie's heart.
My anxiety doesn't stop there. On top of what Bella has done, I also have to deal with Alice trying to take Gracie away from me. It will NEVER happen.
Slumping back into my seat, I go over all that has happened over the last few months. The Bella I know would never have done anything I'm accusing her of. Could it be possible that Bella had nothing to do with Rose's death? Is that what she was trying to explain to me that night?
"Fuck," I spit as I rake a hand through my hair. What the fuck have I done?" I say out loud, running a hand over my face. "I probably ruined everything. How can she possibly forgive me after the way I spoke to her? Oh God! I threw her out in the middle of the night with no place to go, what if something would have happened to her? You're such an idiot Cullen!" I berate myself.
I hear a knock on the door. "Come in." composing myself thinking it might be Gracie; I look up as the door opens. Tanya walks into my office carrying what appears to be mail.
"Good Morning Edward, I thought you might like to go through today's mail." She bats her eyelashes at me.
"Good Morning Tanya, please just set it on the table, thank you."
Coming around my desk, I begin sorting through the mail. Halting my actions, I pick up a rather Official looking envelope. It's addressed to me. Opening it up and reading its contents, I see that it's a formal invitation to a ceremony being held at the White House in Honour of the fallen soldiers. With a shaky hand I place the invitation back on the table. Walking back to my chair my head is reeling with the possibility that I will see Bella again. What will I do, what will I say to her?
June 3rd, 2013
I made flight arrangements for Gracie and myself to fly into Washington D.C. June 4th and stay at a hotel near the White House. Packing the last of our clothing and Gracie's backpack, I figured I should take things to keep her occupied during the flight. I had asked Emily a good friend of mine and cousin to Jacob, Gracie's father, to give us a lift to the Airport the next morning.
Arriving in Washington, and checking into our hotel. I order room service for dinner. I know my nerves are on edge in anticipation of what's to come tomorrow. I'm so nervous to see Bella again and after the way I treated her I wouldn't blame her one bit if she refused to even speak to me. I know my chances aren't that great, but I am determined to apologize and grovel for her forgiveness if it is the last thing I do. I'm in love with her, my heart and gut tell me she isn't to blame for my sister's death and I'm willing to do just about anything to get her back.
Waking up the next morning with my heart in my throat, I dress in the black suit I wore for Rose's funeral. I purchased a charcoal grey button down, thin black tie and shiny black shoes. Adjusting my tie in the mirror, I reach for my cufflinks. They were given to me by my father; silver with a black C on them. Running a hand through my hair, "Always a mess," I huff. Trying to pat down the unruly locks, I hear the phone in the room ring.
"Papa, do I answer it?" Gracie yells out.
"Sure honey, it's probably the front desk letting us know the taxi is here."
Stepping out of the taxi once we arrive at the White House, I reach for Gracie's hand. "Gracie, I need you to stay with me, and not wander off, okay? This is a big place and beautiful little girls can get lost really easy here."
"Okay, Papa, I won't wander, I promise. But, what if I have to go to the bathroom?"
"Well then we both can go together and I will wait right outside the door, little missy." I chuckle.
"Let's go find our seats." Looking around I scan the crowd for Bella, frowning when I spot her name on a chair but she is nowhere in sight. Sitting down I'm feeling a little disappointed as I was hoping to see her before the ceremony began. The President begins his speech and requests a moment of silence. After, he starts to speak very highly about a heroic soldier who risked her own life in hopes to save the lives of her fellow soldiers. He describes how she went above and beyond the call of duty in her efforts, his words are very moving. Shifting in my seat I look around for Bella, I still don't see her; I begin to panic thinking she may not show. Maybe she knew I would be here, and didn't want to see me.
"Serves me well." I whisper quietly.
I'm brought out of my rambling when I hear Bella's name being called out by the President. Snapping my eyes back to the stage, I see Bella walking up the stairs. My heart leaps and breathing hitches. Good Lord, I had forgotten how truly beautiful she is.
I'm holding onto my chair, knuckles white from how hard my grip is. All I want to do is run up there and fall to her feet and beg for her forgiveness; tell her that I'm in love with her, even if it is in front of all these people and national TV.
I watch Bella receive a Medal of Honour without blinking. I don't want to miss a beat or risk her disappearing on me. I catch Bella looking in my direction, a timid smile playing on her lips. I follow her eyesight and see that she's looking at Gracie, and Gracie is waving at Bella.
After Bella is awarded her Medal, the President begins awarding the families of the fallen soldiers. Gracie and I are the first ones to be called up. Releasing a breath, I walk up the stage hand in hand with my niece. Thanking God that Bella is still on stage, I greet the President and thank him in Rose's honour the Purple Heart. Never taking my eyes off of Bella. Walking past the President to the other end of the stage, I stop right in front of her. Her eyes snap to mine, she looks scared, almost as if she wants to run.
I find myself reaching up to touch her cheek. "Bella, can we please talk?" I whisper.
Jerking her head back, her eyes are angry. "No, you made yourself very clear you had no interest in what I had to say. And right now is not the time for this conversation, Edward," Bella spits out.
Closing my eyes, I knew I was going to get resistance from her, which is why I had my mind and heart set on not leaving until I begged, pleaded and grovelled at her feet. She deserves this apology from me and she is going to get it whether she wants it or not. So, with that thought I drop to my knees in front of the President of the United States, National Television and the hundreds of people in attendance.
"Oh My God, Edward. What are you doing, please get up," Bella whispers in a rush.
"No Bella, I need to say this please. I'm so sorry for all the hurtful things I said to you; I was a complete idiot and utter asshole. I was completely blinded by my anger that I failed to realize what was staring me right in the face. I didn't give you a chance to explain yourself, and I am truly sorry for that. I don't blame you Bella; I know what you did for Rose and the rest of the Soldiers. I know you risked your life to try and save them. I would have known this three weeks ago had I stopped and allowed you to explain." I say looking into her eyes.
Bella has her hand covering her mouth with tears streaming down her face. Reaching up to wipe her tears away, I grab her hand and bring it to my lips kissing her open palm. I look into her eyes as tears stream down my cheeks. "Bella, I know I hurt you, it breaks my heart just thinking of the pain I caused you. I'm sure you probably won't forgive me right away, but I beg you for the opportunity to earn back your trust and your forgiveness. I'll do anything, Bella. Please, I love you, I need you," I whisper.
She sucks in a breath as if she can't believe what she is hearing. Taking her silence as a refusal, I close my eyes as my head hangs low. Feeling a hand on my cheek, I look up and see Bella has fallen to her knees in front of me.
"Edward. Yo...you love me?" Bella asks through her tears.
Grasping her head with both of my hands, I smile at her and lean in, placing a soft kiss to her lips.
"Yes Bella, I love you; we love you," I gesture towards Gracie.
"Please come home, come home with me Bella. Help me save Gracie?"
Meanwhile back in North Carolina, a scream full of rage can be heard. Alice who couldn't believe what she was hearing runs to the TV just in time to witness Bella's answer…
"Yes Edward, I'll come home with you. I love you too, both of you very much."
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