I decided to take Heidi's advice. Stop looking for an issue where there isn't one. I had also decided to return to the gym despite the events that happened there. Jasper swore to Edward that he would protect me.
Edward was another story; gone was his shyness and reserve. He had no issue with touching me and kissing me. He spoke from his heart and had no issue with telling me exactly what he wanted form me. It both thrilled me and scared the living shit out of me.
"Bella, have you ever thought of having a family of your own?"
Edward's favorite thing to do as of late was to watch a movie and play with my hair, making out would quickly follow and then me putting the brakes on his exploring of my bare skin.
That was something I was nowhere near ready for yet. I wondered if I would ever just love the skin I'm in.
"Honestly, no. I never had a reason to."
I was being honest with him. With no significant other, the possibility of having a family was dramatically decreased. Why think about something that wasn't a possibility.
"Would you be open to discussion about having a family in the future?"
His voice was like melted chocolate when he wanted something. He knew exactly how to touch me in a way that made me forget my name.
I turned my attention back to the movie that played on the television. Edward wasn't detoured so easily muted the television and made me look at him.
"On." He encouraged as his eyes locked on mine.
I took a deep breath considering the words I wanted to use. If I said the wrong thing, I feared it would somehow pop this bubble we were currently in. Would my admission cause him to withdraw completely? Only one way to find out.
"I would only consider having a family if the situation was right. Meaning, I would have to be in love and happily married."
I wasn't against premarital sex per say, I just didn't want to go around having sex just to have it. To bring a child or children into a relationship that wasn't established didn't appeal to me.
"I can see that. You would want to be in love with the …guy first and a name change before a pregnancy test."
He emphasized the word guy, clearly avoiding referring to himself. I wondered if I had shared too much.
"Something like that." I mumbled.
"Ok...but would you consider practicing for children before the name change?"
His question kind of irritated me and I turned so that I was full on facing him; my legs separating us.
"If you're asking me if I would have sex with you outside of marriage, then my answer is yes; but I have conditions."
Edward's face broke out into a smile as he moved my legs out of the way and pushed me back onto the couch. He began to kiss me with this new found passion, then slowed as he gave two quick swipes with his lips pulling back he looked at me intently and it took my breath away as he said.
"I have a condition of my own; you have to love me half as much as I love you before we make love."
He didn't give me an opportunity to respond as he kissed me hard again. I tried to stop him, talk with him about his admission, but he only shifted his kissing from my lips to my neck, cutting off any rational thought I may have had.
"I don't want you to say it back to me tonight. I can see it in your eyes that you're surprised and I want to hear the words when you're not completely surprised."
I agreed and he pulled me up and into our previous seating position.
"I have a tournament in Las Vegas next month, any chance you can tag along?" He resumed his combing of my hair with his fingers while taking a drink with his free hand. He went from tonsil diving and telling me he loved me to talking about a weekend trip.
"Oh, brilliant one Bella, very cool." I thought to myself.
"Check your schedule, I can get you a room to yourself or you can bunk with me."
And just like that, the subject officially changed. While I watched the actors on the screen, I began to question his admission of love. After he left my apartment, I sat down and stared at the blank screen of the television. Would I ever truly just live in the moment? Let a man like Edward love me and care for me? I picked up my phone and hit my speed dial. I needed to talk to someone about this. My mom picked up on the fourth ring, her voice raspy with sleep.
"Mom?" My voice sounded small and vulnerable.
"Bella?" She sounded alarmed, guessing something was wrong.
"I'm sorry I woke you, I just need to talk."
I could hear the sheets move as she assured me it was alright.
"You never have to worry about what time it is when you call me. What's wrong my love?"
Hearing the gentleness in my mother's voice sent me into emotional sobs.
"Oh sweetheart, what's wrong. Did you have a fight with Edward?"
My parents loved Edward. By him going to my father and asking his blessing to date me, placed him on this unattainable pedestal that I wasn't even aware existed. My mom hadn't even met him and she still loved him.
"No, we didn't fight…it's just…"
"Tell me all about it, Bella."
So I did. I told her how I didn't feel at home in my skin, how he confessed he loved me and I was internally questioning it. How I feared I would never like the person I had become, that no matter how many pounds I lost, or what size I was that I would never like myself. How in the hell was I to expect a guy like Edward to care for me, when I couldn't even love myself.
"Why mom, why does he love me?"
There was silence on her end of the line. I could hear her sniffles and I instantly felt bad for calling her and making her cry.
"Bella, you are going about this the wrong way."
Even though she couldn't see me over the phone, I gave her a questionable look.
"How do you figure?" I clipped.
"Because my darling, you shouldn't be asking yourself why me? You should be asking why not me?"
When I was little, my mom was a master at kissing my scrapes making them feel instantly better. I once believed she had magical powers that she used to make me feel better. Hearing her words only confirmed my childhood belief.
I ended the call and went to wash my face. I knew what I had to do and I didn't want to wait until tomorrow to do it. I slipped my coat on over my pajamas that I seemed to live in when I was at home and grabbed my keys. The streets were deserted this time of night and I made it to Edward's condo in minutes. All of the lights were off and I worried for a second he would be angry for waking him. I chose to risk it; I had to talk to him. To assure myself that my choice to love him was the right one.
I rang the doorbell several times like a child who got permission from their parents. I wanted to make sure he would wake up. I was about to pull out my cell and call him when the door opened to reveal a very sleepy eyed Edward. Sleep pants resting low on his hips, a white tank top covering the tattoos that I knew rested on his upper body.
"Bella?" He questioned looking concerned. It was nearly one in the morning and I knew he would be concerned.
"I'm sorry. I just had to come and tell you something before I allowed the vices I have to ruin what should have been a perfect moment."
He pulled me into the condo and locked the door behind us. With his arms around me, we stood in his foyer while he waited for me to explain why I was here.
"Earlier when you asked me about sex, you didn't let me give you my condition."
This was posing harder than I thought. I felt the overwhelming need to look at my feet. Edward's face contorted to one of mild amusement and tilted his to the side.
"Babe," He chuckled. "I don't care what your condition is. I will meet it and exceed it, regardless of what it is."
He tried to pull me in closer, but I needed to say this.
"No Edward, my condition was to be hopeless in love with the person I chose to have sex with. You wouldn't let me say it back to you earlier because you thought I was surprised, and maybe, just maybe you were right. But that doesn't take away the fact that I do love you."
I took the initiative this time and pulled him down for a kiss. I kissed him with everything I had in me, remembering the memories of the first time he said hello to me, the trip to Seattle for the park and the concert and every single moment he has enriched my world.
"I love you Edward….And I want to go to Vegas with you and not to a separate room. I want to stay with you."
I let the words float in the air around us; he could read whatever he wanted to into them. What ever happened in Vegas…well you know the slogan.
"Not that I'm complaining, but what brought this on. I mean this is something we could have discussed at lunch or even over the phone, why the urgency?"
I refused to let my vice read anything into his statement. He wasn't complaining, he was trying to understand me.
"Because, I was asking myself why a guy like you would want a girl like me, when I should have been asking why not. I called my mother and she…well, she has always had a way with things and she knows me better than even Rose at times. She is completely team Edward by the way."
Edward chuckled turning me slightly directing me to his bedroom.
"Remind me to send you mother a really big thank you gift."
Edward insisted that I spend the night with him, he rationalized that it was simply too late and that he would feel better if I stayed.
"You remember which room is the guest room correct?"
I looked at him with disbelief on my face. "Mr. Mason, we just confessed our love for one another and have solid plans for Vegas and you expected me to sleep in your guest room?"
He shook his head opening the door to his bedroom wider. I crossed the room to his massive bed, questioning if I would make this a routine visit. I climbed under the covers and felt Edward wrap around me. I closed my eyes and for the first time in a long time, I felt good about where I was and who I am.
"Bella, you should know that I plan to spend the rest of my life telling you every day how amazingly beautiful you are. I don't ever want you to question why I am with you."
I didn't say anything back. I only silently prayed he would always be a man of his word.
Over the next few weeks, Edward did keep his word and reminded me several times a day that he loved me. We spent many nights at each other's houses but we never took that next step. What was first thought to be a quiet weekend getaway turned into a three ringed circus when Edward informed me that when his friends found out about Vegas, several of them decided to come and cheer him on. When I asked for time off work, my father got wind of it and decided to tag along. That snowballed into Rose and Emmett coming and Jasper picking up the rear.
All of that was a cake walk compared to what happened to my weight loss, I hit a plateau. I have changed my work outs and changed my diet, but nothing, not a single pound will come off. Jasper had been my biggest cheerleader and reminded me that this was normal and that when my body was ready it would again shed the weight.
Edward had to work the days leading up to our Vegas departure. I missed him at night and found myself on more than one occasion staring hopelessly at my empty freezer, Ben and Jerry being evicted months ago.
With the madness that was the amount of people going to Vegas, Edward wanted to take me somewhere before things got really crazy. So, we took a late night flight and arrived close to dawn. Once we collected our luggage and Edward secured our rental car, we headed out of the city. He swore to me that we could do the hotel tours when his tournament was finished on Sunday.
While driving, he held my hand and talked about the competition he was up against. I nearly choked when he told me the purse this time was one hundred thousand dollars. It wasn't a subject we openly discussed but I knew Edward had money. He never rubbed it in my face or made me feel bad, but it was clear he had lots of it. I only smiled, not really knowing what to say.
Nearly an hour later when the sun was trying to make its appearance, we pulled into a parking lot beside the Hoover dam. I had always wanted to see it in person, but I had never had the opportunity, until now. Edward was so excited while he pulled me out of the car and practically ran down the walkway toward the massive bridge. Near the center of the bridge, Edward suddenly stopped and turned me to face him.
"When I was a little boy, my parents were always encouraging me to test boundaries. Not to get into trouble, but to question the world around me. When I was ten, my uncle made a comment that you can't be in two places at once. My father argued and brought us to this very spot. I learned that it is indeed possible to be in two places at once."
With his face lit up in excitement, he had me place my left foot on one side of a joint in the side walk and my right on the other. He stood behind me and wrapped himself around me. The moment was perfect despite the chill in the desert air as the sun began to crest the horizon.
"Bella, right now your left foot is in Nevada and your right is in Arizona, but your soul is in my heart."
Suddenly, the excitement he had built about the two states and the glory of the sunrise didn't matter anymore. I tried to turn around to face him but he kept me locked in his arms. When the sky became brighter and brighter, the words that Edward spoke that day will forever be burned in my memory.
"I want my forever with you. If today happens to be my last day on this earth, I want it to be spent with you. You are my whole world, Bella."
He finally let his hold on me slip and I spun around in his arms, latching my lips to his in a kiss that would make any Hollywood kiss scene look like child's play.
The pool tournament was being held in one of the larger hotels in Vegas. The MGM Grand had a well know reputation for holding many well-known events. At being a mile wide, it was certainly big. Esme and Carlisle had left us a message that they would meet us in one of the restaurants near the entrance to MGM Grand. Edward said they frequented this particular restaurant each time they came. There was so much to see inside the hotel that I felt like a little kid being dragged by their parents when Edward pulled me toward the restaurant.
Esme and Carlisle had a table in the back, a pitcher of mimosas on the table.
"Oh, hello my loves!" Esme called out, her reading glasses resting atop her nose, a paper back in her left hand.
We settled in our chairs and Edward and Carlisle immediately began discussing strategy.
"Ignore them, Bella. We'll have our own fun. There is a plethora of shopping to do here in Vegas."
I smiled and nodded my head drinking some of my mimosa. I would certainly follow Esme around and enjoy the sights, but shopping wasn't something I would be doing. With Rose living with Emmett and all the expenses of the house now on my shoulders, money had become tight. I would never admit this to anyone, even my parents. I loved being on my own.
Edward and Carlisle finally quit talking about pool sticks and leader boards and joined our conversation.
"I read that Saks opened a new store just down the walk and I purposely didn't pack anything for the final day of play."
I looked to Esme with a questionable look.
"Did Edward not tell you about the final day of play?" It wasn't really a question, but a statement. I watched Esme give Edward a look that no son should ever get from his mother. I quickly interjected before Esme could release her wrath.
"Esme, not to worry, I have it covered."
It wasn't a complete lie. Just by Esme's admission of going to Saks, I knew this final play thing was a dressy occasion. I had no dress and no funds to buy a dress. I would fake ill and stay in my room…see completely covered. Edward would never know I wasn't there because I would beg Esme to cover for me. Certainly Esme wouldn't want to jeopardize her son's chance at winning.
"Oh, well at least you came prepared."
Esme looked away a little too quickly to give me an easy feeling about all of this. Edward and Carlisle excused themselves to head over and make certain everything was ready for the game later. Edward wanted to insure they had received his entrance fee.
I admitted to Esme that I was really tired and sleepy and wanted to get a quick nap in before the rest of the mob arrived. She hugged me tight and said she would meet me later for some exploring.
I walked toward the elevator and noticed a couple of very well dressed women waiting for it to arrive. The up arrow had already been selected so I waited patiently.
"Did you see who made it again this year?" The long haired girl spoke.
"I did, but rumor has it, he brought a girl this year."
"Yes I heard the same, but maybe it's his cousin or something."
"Not a chance, mother said when she talked with Esme recently she was overjoyed with his choice in the girl."
"Well, that is something. Esme never approves of anyone Edward has been seen with."
"Oh yes, apparently she already has the Biltmore on alert."
I lowered my head as their conversation continued. I knew without a doubt who they were discussing. My plan of faking sick was slowly going up in flames. If Esme was so happy with me being Edward's choice, I didn't want to give her a reason to doubt that. I had to figure something out. The sounds of the casino gave me the answer I needed.
I had played several casino games...online that is. How different could the real thing be? I made my way quickly to a row of slot machines and began placing money into the slot. One hundred dollars later I was frustrated and out of cash. I was walking toward the ATM and a husky voice caught my attention.
"Excuse me miss?"
I turned to find a slightly older man standing next to a craps table. His clothes looked like he had been wearing them all night, his bow tie undone and his eyes tired.
"Can I ask a favor of you?"
I looked behind me thinking he must be talking to someone else only to find the space behind me empty.
"Me?" I questioned as I pointed at my chest.
"I need you to blow on these dice for me."
I looked from his hand to the table. I didn't understand the game of craps but I knew people did this from watching too many movies.
"Please, I give you half of what I win."
I didn't really have anything to lose, so I leaned over and blew a quick breath across the dice. I watched as he tossed the dice down and they rolled across the line at the end of the table.
I entered the elevator twenty minutes later, a smile on my face and fifteen hundred dollars in my pocket. I would find Esme and join her in shopping for a dress at Saks. I would never give her a reason to doubt her confidence in me.