Stephenie Meyer still is, and always will be, the proud owner of Twilight and its characters. Like I am of these and this, no matter how much some think I shouldn't be.
And now that that's out of the way... WELCOME! And back. We're a small, intimate group now, I think, but that's okay with me. There's no room here for anything but LOVE.
And before we get to that, I'm going to issue a plea of sorts: BEAR WITH ME. Because, while absolutely still the best decision, trying to figure out how and where to start this was NERVE-RACKING. It stressed me out more than anyone could imagine. But what's down below is what I came up with. Just please don't read the first couple of sentences and get frustrated with me and think nothing has changed. I promise it has, and will be different and more and all of those things I said it would before we left you last time. But if you're here to read this, then perhaps you have at least a little faith in me.
So, thank you for that. And I now present to you... Right There.
Chapter One: Show and Tell
"You know, Isabella, if you go blind from staring at that thing, you won't even be able to see the aisle you're so nauseatingly excited to walk down, let alone the unworthy bastard standing at the end of it."
"Alice," is all I need to say to shut my brother up. And turn his focus off of me and on to her.
"Damn it, woman, will you stop hitting me?!"
"Maybe someday... but not today. Because today you're annoying your sister."
"She'd have to be paying attention to me for me to do that. And to do that, she'd have to stop staring at her hand, which she hasn't stopped doing since she came home with something on it that nearly killed me almost a year ago."
Key word in that? Nearly. Which means my brother is still here, alive and well, in all of his annoying glory. And will be somewhere else–if he wants to stay alive and well–to walk me down that aisle he mentioned in just a few weeks. To hand me over to that perfect, beautiful man who will be standing at the end of it. Smiling at me.
Like he's doing now as he walks into our kitchen and sees me staring at my favorite present ever. Again.
But stops doing–like I do–so that he can kiss me. Which is really my favorite present... EVER...
And one I get to open every day...
"Hi, Peanut Butter Cup," he murmurs softly, and with that smile back on his lips the second they pull away from mine.
"Hi," I murmur back, ignoring the loud, ANNOYING throat-clearing from somewhere beyond us. And then "Sorry." Because while I was again staring at my stunningly beautiful promise of our future, I was also popping miniature Reese's cups into my mouth like there was no tomorrow at all.
"Sorry for what? Peanut butter is my second favorite flavor."
"Sorry for nothing if you tell me your first," I tell him. Because I know what it is...
"My first is the same as all of the other important firsts in my life... you."
See why I wanted him to tell me?
"That first better refer to lips." Jasper interrupts my swooning, earning him another smack from Alice, a scowl from Edward, and a "Shut up" from me.
But not only. "And worry about your own firsts, and your own lips, and Alice's if you wish, but ONLY, because ours are none of your business."
"The hell they're not. You're not out of this house yet, and as long as you–and your lips–aren't, everything IS."
"It's almost yet, right?" I ask Edward, instead of responding to my brother's inability to let go of the now that he wants to last forever.
"I promise it is."
"Well, if you promise then I can tough it out."
"I hope so... " he tells me, looking at me in that Edward way...
The sweet with a side of evil...
That I can't wait to get my first real taste of. And second. And...
" ...And I'm not sorry for that at all."
"Isabella, if you don't tell me where you want to go, we might not be going anywhere at all."
"I'd be okay with that. Not going anywhere... "
As if, Mr. Masen... "I don't mean I don't want a honeymoon with you, Edward. I can't wait for that. I just... "
"You just what, sweetheart?" he asks after a moment, because I didn't finish. Because this is one of those things I'm afraid he'll think is silly. Or childlike. Or just... "Tell me."
"I don't care where we go... anywhere you pick... anywhere at all with you... alone... will be perfect. I really just... just... "
"Are you nervous? Or afraid? Of alone with me?"
"No," I tell him. Because I'm not. I'm excited... so excited... "I'm not either of those things. Even if I should be."
"I didn't say you should be, sweetheart. I don't want you to be... but it would certainly be understandable if you were the first."
"But I'm not."
"Then why are we having this conversation again? Why the stalling?"
"I'm not stalling. And I told you several times I'd go anywhere you picked. And be happy... "
"Yes, and then always immediately after you did, changed the subject by asking me if our house would be finished in time."
"That's because that part does matter to me. Going there with you. Alone."
"I want it to be ready, too, Isabella. Of course I do. And for the most part it is, but a few things just weren't quite perfect. For you. So I ordered some changes. Little things, but important, because everything for you is to me. And I promise you that by the time we get back from wherever we go, it will be ready."
"But I want it to be ready before."
"I don't know if that–"
"Please, Edward? Can you make it?"
"Tell me why, sweetheart. Why before is so important?"
I bite my lip and look down at our hands. Mine are held tightly in his, and he's on his knees in front of me. Looking up at me with a want and a willingness in every part of him to give me everything I want. Make everything perfect for me.
Because he knows me. Inside and out.
He understands me. And is understanding more every day.
So much so that I don't have to answer his question now. He just needed a little time to answer it for himself. And me. And tell me I don't have to. And that he doesn't think the why is silly. Or too childlike. As one of his understanding hands frees mine. And then my lip. "You want the first night we spend as husband and wife to be in our house."
I look into his beautiful green eyes and nod. "Is it possible? For me to have that perfect? Even if something else isn't to you? Little things...?"
"It is now. Now that I understand."
"I just... I don't want the first... well, I don't want it to be where anyone else has ever been. And certainly not in a bed that... um... "
"Neither do I, beautiful. And it won't be. And you don't have to say anything else."
"Yes I do. And, unlike that, saying this is easy...
"I love you. And I can't wait to be your wife. In every way. And anywhere... after I am in ours."
"Knock knock... whatcha doin?"
Edward brought me home an hour ago. And when we walked in, Jasper and Alice were making out on the couch like a couple of horny teenagers.
It made me laugh. Because my brother is always very careful about those things. Ridiculously careful. And it drives Alice nuts.
And me, frankly. Not that I want–or wanted–to see anything like I did when we came in...
But I would like to see something. Him show her some kind of affection at all.
Alice is completely head over heels in love with my brother. And he's crazy about her, I know he is, and so does she... so does everyone in our little circle... but no one else would know it if they ever saw him with her and me.
Like he has to set some kind of example for me or something... a Don't touch example. If they're in this house. Rules that don't exist if they're in hers. Though I could have done without her telling me about that...
I shake off the shudder that brought and look up at her, and finally answer her question. "I was just thinking about my wedding day... and night."
"I'd be thinking about it too if I was marrying– nevermind. Don't hurt me. Instead, tell me why in the hell you just shuddered thinking about it?"
"I didn't. I shuddered because sometimes you talk too much about your nights and– like you said, nevermind."
She laughs and then sits down on my bed with a pout. "You Hales are as mean as you are irresistible."
"Well, that second part is what I was really thinking about. You know... that I want to be."
"Irresistible? On your wedding night? Oh, honey, trust me... he isn't going to resist anything. Or any irresistible part of you. He couldn't possibly with the way he adores you. And sure as hell not after how long he's waited to."
"No... I don't doubt that... " At all... "I just really want to look. Before he doesn't."
"I was at your bridal shower, Bella... and the only time or place I've ever seen more sexy lingerie than then and there, was in a store for it. Just take your pick from that haul, honey, and you will."
"But that's just it, Alice... I'd already picked something. Bought... for myself... and him... before you guys gave me any of that."
"Then wear it, sweetie. You have a lifetime to wear the rest for him."
"It's what I was planning to do... why I bought it... but now... after getting that haul... from every one of you who knows more about that kind of irresistible than I do... I'm not sure he'll like what I picked."
"Why would you think he might not?"
"Because what I picked is... different. Than all of the haul."
"Different, huh? Let me guess... sweeter?"
I bite my lip and nod, and she puts her arm around me. "I happen to know, as you very well do, that Edward loves that part of you. And I don't even have to see what you picked to know that he'll love it, too."
Good, because I'm not showing it to you or anyone... "But–"
"No, honey. No buts. He will. And don't let that haul make you think any differently... we're just a bunch of sex-crazed pervs."
"Rose's presents actually scared me. Well, the ones besides the shoes."
"Those shoes are FABULOUS. And just a suggestion... I know they were meant to be worn with your also-fabulous dress... but it doesn't mean you can't put them back on... later."
Well, they would be pretty with that sweet thing I picked...
"But as for her other presents... Don't be scared, sweetie, that girl's just a freak."
"I knew that already."
"Yeah, I'm sure you did. And you know, while we're on the subject of freaks, I kind of miss Emmett... "
We both bust out laughing, because she's right... he is freakish. In a lovable sort of way. And a big. And not around nearly as much as he used to be.
Unlike someone else. Who's also freakishly lovable. Though not as big. And who just peeked around my bedroom door. "You're talking about me, aren't you?"
"No." I smile and shake my head at my brother. "We probably wouldn't be laughing if we were."
"I'll pretend my feelings aren't hurt by that," he tells me, and then turns his wounded-looking attention to Alice, where it changes to something else. "I thought you were just saying goodnight?"
"It only takes a minute to do that. SECONDS, actually, so–"
"Were you afraid I'd crawled into your bed and gotten comfortable instead of came in here? Is that why you're up here spying?"
I laugh again, because crawling into Jasper's bed is something Alice has been dying to do for months.
He never lets her.
He's never allowed any woman to sleep over in our house. And even though his relationship with Alice is different than any he's ever had, closer... more serious... she's no exception. Because of me.
"I don't think that's funny. And you wouldn't dare."
It's her who laughs now... and looks at him with a Don't challenge me, darlin expression. Before saying what I've heard her say a hundred times. "Your house rules are ridiculous."
And he responds the same as he always does. "The door's open."
She rolls her eyes at him and then kisses my cheek and gets up from my bed. "Bella is fully aware of your double standard. She doesn't have to hear anything through the walls, or see me at your table for breakfast to know it exists."
"What double standard?" he asks, making my head shake of its own volition.
And Alice happy for the wide open opportunity. "The one that says 'Do as I say, not as I do. And believe I do nothing because I don't do it in the vicinity of you.' As in her."
"Yes it is," I say, interrupting him before Alice can. "And it really is kind of ridiculous. Your number one house rule. I have no problem with her sleeping over. As long as you turn on loud music or something."
"There will be no loud music. Or anything else. She's NOT sleeping over."
Sorry, Alice, I tried... again...
"Whatever," she says and pushes past him and heads towards my door. "I have to get up early anyway. Goodnight, Bella! And don't worry your pretty head about anything! Your wedding night will be FABULOUS!"
I'm going to kill her...
Because Jasper's eyes are now wide as saucers. Unhappy, unfabulous saucers. And on me.
I have to get up early too... "Go walk her to her car."
He gives me a look that tells me he'll be back–not that I didn't already know that–and leaves my room to be the gentleman that he is. I wonder if I could drink a whole bottle of wine before he gets back in? Or suffocate myself with my pillow? Or...
I decided on the third option. The maybe.
And when Jasper comes back into my bedroom he's greeted by some of my haul.
Is that weird? To greet him with it? And ask for his advice?
Some might think so, I suppose... but he's a guy, brother or not. And probably knows more about what Edward can't resist than anyone. Because before he had to resist me, Edward didn't resist much at all. And guys talk to each other about that stuff, right? Best lifelong friends, certainly?
"What the hell is all that?"
"Lingerie, is what I think it's technically called. Though I don't know about some of it... "
"I know what it is, Isabella. WHY is it in your room? Or possession at all?"
"Bridal shower presents."
"Remind me to kill all of your friends."
"Sorry, no can do. I like the smile so often on your face now."
"Oh, I'll deal with that one... "
Please don't... because then I might hear about how you did...
I shake off another shudder and then look back up–and away from my haul–at him. "Can you help me with something?"
"Burn it all? Absolutely."
He starts gathering up said haul and I laugh, because it is funny... but then put my hands on his lace, leather, and silky-filled ones to stop him. "That's not quite what I meant."
"Are you about to give me a stroke?"
"I hope not. It's certainly not at all my intention. I was just hoping that you could give me some advice. About this stuff."
"My advice is for you to let me burn it."
"If it's too awkward then nevermind. I just wanted to ask someone... that I trust and feel comfortable with... a man... someone who knows Edward... really well... that wouldn't get distracted and be a total perv about it... like I know Emmett would be. And... well, I know Sam wouldn't, but I don't think Edward ever talked to him about that stuff...
"Whatever. It's okay. I'll figure it out. I'm sorry I asked."
He closes his eyes for a moment, and he takes more than a few deep breaths, and then looks at me. In a way that tells me he really would do anything for me. "What is your question, exactly?"
"It's really okay, you don't have to."
"Ask me, Isabella. Because, like always, there's nothing you can't. Honest, there isn't."
"Well... are you sure?"
"Yes. I'm positive."
I'm not so sure he is, but... "It's just... I don't want Edward to be disappointed... " Oh God, his face... "Jasper, I'm not going to ask you about sex. I promise I'm not. It's purely wardrobe-related advice I'm asking you for. And not specific... I don't want you to know that any more than you want to... I just... I don't know... I guess I just wanted to know if there's anything he doesn't like. That you might know of. Or something that he would be turned off by."
His expression changes. And it's not to one I expected. And it holds me in place until he speaks again. "You really don't know?"
"Well, I don't know much of anything... about this kind of thing... but really don't know what, exactly?"
"What Edward likes. Or doesn't."
"Of course I don't. Not about this kind of–"
"You really and truly don't."
It was a statement, not a question. They all were. And ones he's clearly shocked he could make. To me. Who's a little hurt. "I may think your house rules are ridiculous, Jasper, just like Alice does... but that really only means that I think they're ridiculous for you.
"And how they apply to me... directly or in... is ultimately my rule. That just happens to coincidentally be one you more than happily support. And have always tried to ensure–with Edward's support–stayed in place.
"And I'm honestly a little hurt that you thought that rule–again, MINE–had changed or been broken. I thought you knew me better than that."
"Don't be hurt, Isabella, I just... well, I do know Edward...
"And I know how much you trust him... how completely... and how in love with him you are... and how that–and he–might have changed the way you looked at things... what you thought was important... especially after he put that ring on your finger... "
"It could have, I suppose... and he could have... if he cared more about himself than he does about me... "
"But it didn't," he says, once again, instead of asks.
"No," I tell him. And then add "And he doesn't." Just so it's absolutely clear. What and who he knows, or thinks he does.
"Well, I'm sorry I was wrong. And not, of course... "
"I knew the second part. Because I definitely know you."
"Yeah, I know you do. I'm a pretty open book."
"With me, yes."
"So, I can burn all of this stuff?" he asks me, adorably, looking down at it in horror.
"No. Not unless you honestly believe he'll hate it all."
"He definitely will. Every disgusting piece of it."
"Liar," I say, and laugh. Which makes him rub his hands up and down his face with an accompanying painful groan.
But then he quiets. And pulls them away. And looks at me. And, I think, opens a new page of that book. "I don't think I'm the one that you should be asking, sweetheart. Not because I'm your brother... but because I've been wrong too many times about what you have faith in. Who... who else...
"And because, though I might know the right answer this time, mine is still the same. He'll hate it all... because it's the only one I can live with... "
"I know," I tell him when he pauses. With a smile. "And that's okay with me, because I really want you alive."
"Thank you. I'm not always sure about that."
"That's because you're as ridiculous as your house rules."
"So, um... just to clarify... what I think I know... and am SHOCKED by...
"Did you just tell me to ask Edward?"
"Talk about ridiculous... " he mutters, "but yeah. I did. If what he likes is so important to you–like your not already knowing is to me–that you're worried about it, so worried about it that you'd ask me, then I think he should be given the chance to speak for himself. And take your worries away. And anything else."
"Yeah. Anything else. Or every."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I'm pretty sure Edward will answer that, too, sweetheart."
Whatever else my big brother has done, he's always given me great advice when I've asked him for it.
Just like Edward. Who is exactly the person–and the only–I should have asked for it this time.
He'd already told me exactly that...
When he told me he didn't want me to ask anyone questions. Anyone but him. For what will be for.
Something I forgot, I guess. Or let my wanting to make him happy push from my mind.
Something I think I was wrong to do. But can still make right. On this very night, for that one very soon.
Very, very, VERY soon.
"What's in the bag, beautiful?" he asks as I come down the stairs with the haul-filled one.
"My things, of course," I tease, "For my sleepover with you."
"NOT FUNNY, Isabella," Jasper warns from our couch, and then eyes what else is not with surprising calm.
Surprising because he knows exactly what it is. And because he knows Edward is taking me, and it, to his place for a quiet night alone. From which he'll bring me back home, of course...
Because very, very, VERY soon isn't quite yet. "I'm going to have to agree with Jasper on that, sweetheart. Not funny. And not happening."
"I know." Boy, do I know...
Because I've tried that already. Many, many, MANY times. To get him to let me. In an innocent I just don't want you to let go sort of way.
Because I hate it when he does. When he has to, and say goodnight. Take me home, and go back to his alone.
I hate it so much... "I was just kidding." Mostly...
He gives me a BULLSHIT grin and takes us back to the matter at hand. And in mine. "So, in the bag is...?"
"Just some things I want to show you."
"Okay," he says, and sits down. "Show me."
"No, not now," I tell him, and shake my head. "And not here."
He follows my gaze to Jasper, who I think is trying really hard to remember that this was his advice to me a couple of nights ago, and then trains his back on me. His that is now suspicious. "Am I going to think 'not now' and 'not here' is a good idea?"
"Yes," I tell him with complete honesty. "If you do actually think."
"Taking one look at what I want to show you and assuming I'm just being a little snot. Or evil, or whatever."
He glances at my brother again, and then back to me, wary but trusting at the same time. "Because you're not?"
"Yes. Because I'm not. Cross my heart."
He eyes each of my hands now, I know to see if I'm crossing anything else, and smiles. "Okay. Since you cross your heart. Only."
He really does know me... "Thank you." I smile back, for that and a million other reasons. "And now that that's settled, can we go please? I skipped lunch today and I'm starving."
"Why did you skip lunch?" he asks me, jumping quickly to his feet with his answer to my question.
"Well, I didn't intentionally skip it. I just had some things I wanted to do that took longer than I expected, and I ran out of time before I had to get back to work."
"What kind of things?"
"The shopping kind."
"Well, sweetheart, while I will never begrudge your affection for that, mine for you must insist that you never again put it before what I want you to do. Take care of you."
"Your bossiness is really kind of sweet sometimes," I tell him, and kiss him on the cheek. "And okay. I promise I won't do it again."
"But it wasn't just any shopping, for information's sake. It was important."
"Isn't it all?"
"Rose and Alice would say yes to that, and probably take away my girlcard for saying no, but... no. Not like this was."
There's a twinkle in his eyes as he looks at me. And it matches the one in his voice as he leads me to the front door. "The only person who can or will ever take a card away from you is me."
Does he mean... "Bye, Jasper!" my...
"And only to give you a new one."
Well, I don't think there's a name for that, so... "A new one?"
"Yes," he says, opening my door and helping me into my seat in his truck. "A new one."
He reaches into his pocket–something I will forever love him doing, even though I didn't see him do it the last time–and pulls out something shiny and puts it in my hand.
And then closes my door and walks around to his own with a sexy smirk. One he still wears as he gets in beside me.
Not that I can completely focus on it...
Because the shiny thing in my hand is a card. A new one. That has something on it that I can't stop looking at.
My name. And his.
Isabella M. Masen
"It came today."
It's beautiful... "I can't wait to give you my card," I blurt out.
And I know my face is instantly a thousand shades of red... because I know how that sounded...
But his is just sweet. And proud. "I knew I wouldn't really have to take it from you."
I shake my head and he smiles, and then reaches over to grab my seat belt and snap it into place before doing the same with his own and backing out of the driveway.
"But you'll have to wait just a little while longer for me to give it to you willingly," I tell him, my eyes falling back to those perfectly printed letters that will soon define me in a way I've forever dreamed, "because I don't have the proper identification or documentation to use this one yet."
"Oh, I know that, sweetheart," he agrees easily, reaching over and grabbing my hand, "And just so you know something... " and squeezing it, "I can't wait, either... but will. Willingly."
"Thank you, Edward. For... you." Thank you so much...
My new shiny and beautiful card? In my purse with my old.
Our dinner that came out of a box? A pizza box, because it's what I wanted? Demolished. Because I really was starving.
And that bag Edward carried in for me? That's for something he's starving for? About to be emptied.
The only question is where to empty it?
I don't want to do it where we are now... on my favorite thing in Edward's waiting-for-yet place. His couch, of course...
And I know getting him to take me into his bedroom would be impossible...
Though the fact that it would puts the hugest smile on my face...
"What are you thinking about, my beautiful girl?"
"You. And how good you are at waiting for things. Important ones."
"Only for you."
"I know. And I want to ask you something... for what will only ever be for you."
"Well, then by all means, I'm all ears."
"I need you to be eyes too," I say, and glance at the bag a few feet away in a chair, "And mouth. Because what I want to ask you is kind of a 'I show and you tell'."
"Okay. Show away, and I'll do my best to see and tell."
"And think," I remind him. "Don't forget about that part, or else you might get mad at me."
"Have I ever gotten mad at you?"
"Probably. But you never told me you were."
"I never told you I was because I never have been. Not once, Isabella."
He's known me since the day I was born... and that's... "Further proof of how wonderfully patient you are."
"Again, only for you."
I smile and rub the tip of my nose against his sweetly, and then get up, pulling him up with me, and to the bag full of questions. "And because you are, I really want you not to be disappointed when you don't have to be anymore. Or unhappy... or–"
"Sweetheart, we've talked about this. And I'm not going to be either of those things. Or anything else but... well, I'm not sure I could even put it into words what I'll be... but Isabella... they'd be perfect ones if I could."
"No... I'm really not worried about that. Or, more, I got past being a long time ago. Now it's... well, it's more of a 'presentation' concern that I have. For you."
"Yes. You know, like... well, you wouldn't buy someone a very beautiful and special gift and then hand it to them in a plastic grocery bag or something. You'd wrap it up in pretty paper and put a pretty bow on it. Or something like that."
He hasn't seen anything yet, but his eyes have a sudden knowing. "Isabella, is there pretty paper in that bag? And some pretty bows?"
He understands. But... "Not really. Not to me... but to you, maybe."
"To me, huh? Okay... show me and we'll see," he says, and I don't think he's mad at all.
So I pull out the first item–a red two piece one, though one of the pieces could hardly be called a whole one–and hold it up. Let him see all of it, what little there is. And see for myself his disinterest, that I can't say I understand.
"Next," he says, taking it from my hand and tossing it in the chair next to the bag.
Which I reach into again. For next, which is some black leather contraption–because it just happened to be next in the pile. I didn't arrange them in any particular way or order–and as soon as I pull it out, he takes it from me and drops it into the chair on top of the other with barely a glance. At it.
And more than one at me. Who's more unsure now than before.
About what irresistible is to him.
Him, who takes pity on me. Or something... "Can I help you with the showing me part?"
I nod and he starts pulling the rest of my haul from the bag, with quick glances and even quicker dismissals of each.
And then they're all back in it. And the bag is on the floor near the door. Because he tossed it there. From where we stood.
Before he led me sweetly back to where we were before my failed game of show and tell. The second part of which I can only assume, since he didn't actually tell me anything.
"You didn't buy any of that," he tells me now, pulling me onto my favorite place in his lap. Or on...
"No... they were all presents."
"From people who obviously don't know you very well."
"I think it's more that they do and feel sorry for you. And wanted to help you... or something."
"Well, if they feel sorry for me, sweetheart, then they definitely don't know you very well. Or at all."
"I'm glad you think that, Edward... but, in their defense, I think they just know how much I like pretty paper and pretty bows... and how much a man's likes might be different than those."
"A man's, perhaps."
"I only care about one. And what he likes."
"You definitely just showed me that. So, let me tell you something... You already know what I like."
"To eat or to drink or to watch on tv, yes... but not–"
"And who I love."
"And have–and will–only ever."
"Yes, Edward, but I don't want you not to like the pretty paper I wrap myself in. Or for the pretty bow not to entice you... and make you want to–"
"Isabella, do you remember how I worried about doing something wrong? Something for you?"
"And how you told me over and over again that I couldn't?"
"Yes," I sigh, "but it's not the same thing."
"Yes it is. It's exactly the same thing. And sweetheart, you can't do it wrong. Or wrap it. Or put it in my hands. Not as long as it's you who does."
"But that's not true, Edward. Because you didn't seem to like any of those things I showed you, and–"
"No, I didn't. Because they weren't you."
"But what if me is too me? And not enough you? And you don't even want to open your present?"
He looks at me like I'm crazy, but when he answers, his voice is soft and sweet. Like his thumb that brushes across my cheek. "Isabella, nothing could make me not want to open it... as long as you give it to me. All and only you."
"I do have some pretty paper," I tell him, "that I picked out. And a pretty bow... or a few bows... "
And I know the moment the words are out of my mouth that I was silly to worry about him not liking it...
Because I haven't even showed it to him yet...
And he's already telling me how perfect it is.
Without saying a word.
"You liked hearing that."
"I should get you home."
I pull him back down to me, where I lie perfectly beneath him on his couch. "That's the most wrong and imperfect idea ever."
"But right," he breathes, pulling himself back up again. And me with him this time.
"Not to me."
"Well, for you is my motivation at this particular moment, so... "
"So you should let me spend the night here. Because that would make me happy."
"I want to open my present, Isabella... not die knowing I'll never get to."
"You will. And won't."
"Are you forgetting what, besides your bed, is waiting for you at home? Or, more precisely, who?"
"No. I just know that he trusts you with me."
"Wow... my kisses have made you delirious... "
"Always. But not about that. He does."
"He really doesn't, sweetheart. Not beyond your basic, elemental safety."
"He knew what was in the bag, Edward. And he knew we were coming here. To be alone. With it."
"What do you mean he knew what was in the bag?"
"I mean he knew. Because I showed it to him before it was."
"You showed it to him?"
"Yes. And asked his advice. Because he's a guy, and you're a guy, and I thought you'd probably had lots of 'guy' talks... being you've been best friends forever... and he wanted to kill you and all... "
"You were really worried," he says, instead of telling me how ridiculous I am.
"I wasn't... until I ripped the pretty paper off of all of that stuff. And then... well, then I was. Because it was all very different than what I... um... "
"STOP worrying, Isabella."
"Okay. I already have, mostly... but can I ask you something?"
"You can ask me anything."
"You really didn't seem to like any of that stuff... Is that because you truly don't? Or because you think I'm too sweet to wear any of it? And not enough something else?"
"Is 'sexy' the something else you're so ridiculously referring to?"
"Sweetheart, you could make Pepto Bismol pink footie pajamas sexy."
"So, is that a no? To my last question?"
"Yes, Isabella, it's a NO. And a yes to your second, in the best possible kind of way. And another yes to the first. I really and truly didn't like any of it."
"Because to me, pretty paper isn't pretty anymore when it looks like it's been put through a shredder."
"Some of it really did look like it had been," I agree, and then drop it. Because I don't want to talk about it anymore. Or anything, really, since before we were, he thought he should get me home.
The home that I'm dying not to have to go to anymore. Simply because it isn't ours.
And because there is an ours. Waiting in a forest, though most of it has been cleared away.
Most, not all.
Because I asked him if some of it could stay. If there was enough of it–and the ground it grew from–to keep some.
And he told me that there was... more than enough... and that I could have anything I wanted. Because it was mine.
A gift he couldn't wrap in pretty paper or put a pretty bow on, but that was perfect without either. Because it was for me. And so completely from him.
Like this beautiful ring he put on my finger. That I do stare at every day. Still...
As awed and amazed as I was on the night he did. Right here on this couch. That we're keeping even though we picked out a new. Together.
Because I could never part with it. And told him that.
And he said there was enough ground for it, too. In our house. Somewhere...
And somewhere because I haven't seen it. Have no idea what it looks like. Because he wanted it to be a surprise.
He's asked me things... about colors and fabrics and surfaces...
And we've picked things together...
But only some. He's done and chosen everything else on his own. Because he trusted himself enough to. To know that he understands me enough. What I would want and what I would like and what I wouldn't.
Which is going to make me love all of those things even more. And made me even more anxious to know what he would. Want and like...
Which is exactly why that bag sits on the floor at his door.
And why he didn't get mad that I brought it here.
He knows I don't know those things. And was only trying to. For him.
Trying to learn in the only way I could until the house he'll take me home to is ours.
"Can we stay here just a little while longer?" I ask him. Because I really don't want to go home yet.
And his eyes that have been gazing lovingly at my face for the last few minutes don't tell me no. Before he doesn't. "If that's what you want."
"But not here exactly?" I ask now, wanting him to trust me enough–and himself–to take me somewhere else. And spend just a little time. Because the fact that he never has does put a huge smile on my face, but his taking me would, too.
"Where exactly?" he asks, even though I know he knows the answer. And knows that I know he does.
"Someplace you've never taken me. And that I want to go to just once... without having to sneak into."
Because I've never been in Edward's bedroom without having to. Not in the place–this–where no despicable has ever been. Or been brought to, if you don't count that bag at his door. Which I don't, because it was brought here by me, not him. But only innocently for...
"For just a little while?" he asks now, telling me he's willing.
And "Yes," I answer immediately, because he is. "Just until you say it's time to go. Again."
"Well, since you seem to be sure that I will say it... then I suppose we can."
I smile sweetly and stand. And wait.
Because I am. And because I meant it. I want him to take me.
For just a little while...
Wanting Edward to take me into his bedroom was an innocent thing.
I just wanted to be in his space. The place where he laid his head every night. Closed his eyes to every day. And opened them to every new. Because I don't get to see him do that.
It's one of the things I'm most excited for. And most anxious to see...
Edward close his eyes. With me beside him.
And then open them again the same.
In a place he chose. Dreamed...
And built. From the ground up. And not just the ground our feet will touch...
But his. His foundation. His brilliant mind and his shockingly generous and beautiful heart...
That don't fight each other anymore. That stopped...
Joined forces. So that they could protect me in a better way. By pulling me inside of both. Tucking me in. And keeping me there.
Where I knew I was always meant to be. Meant to belong in and to.
Not many people can say that they got to spend their entire lives with the one they loved...
But I can.
Yes, I'm only twenty three years old...
And my life has barely begun...
But he's been in it. Rooted deep. From the first day that it did.
And he'll stay rooted. Because it's where he wants to. And where he knows he's supposed to be. Like me for him, was always meant to.
Someone at work had said I was crazy to want to get married so young. And after so little time together.
But they just didn't understand. The time we'd really spent. The years. Watching each other grow up.
And, though I'm younger in those years...
And in so many other ways...
I'm not in all.
And not too much.
And not too much to know what's right for my life. And that I don't want to waste any of it with wrong.
If there's one thing I know–have felt the pain of learning–it's that life can be short. Far too...
We both know it. And both want as much of it as we can have. As much more...
As close together as we can get. Because he came–and brought me–where I wanted him to.
Something I'm thanking him for...
Telling him I love him for...
And will love him more for soon...
With my mouth that he won't have to shush...
Or pull from his skin back to his...
A fight for him, but a different one than the one I already won. "I really need to get you home now."
"Okay," I say easily, and giggle as he practically back flips off of his bed and away from me, his back hitting the wall behind him with a thud. "Whatever you say."
He shakes his head at me, and probably more than at me, at himself, and points to the shirt–his–I now hold in my hands. "Toss it to me."
"Come and get it from me," I challenge instead.
"That would not be a good idea, Isabella. And, in fact, an even worse one than yours to take it off of me was."
"You let me," I remind him, because he did. Even though I've never let him.
"I know that. And that my pedestal is in crumbled ruin on the floor. And I'm sorry for that. It wasn't at all my intention when I brought you in here."
"It wasn't mine, either," I tell him honestly, "When I asked you to. And DON'T be sorry. Nothing is crumbled or ruined."
And then I climb from his bed with his shirt still in hand, and, after I bring it to my nose and inhale it shamelessly, give it a hard shake-out and hold it out to him. "Just a little crumPled, maybe. But I could fix that before we go if it would make you feel better? Just point me to your iron. I promise not to get too distracted looking at you and scorch it."
He mumbles what I think is "Little snot" under his breath and snatches it from my hands. And, unfortunately for me, this much-better-than-the-one-I-planned game of show and tell is over, because he has it back on and buttoned quicker than should be humanly possible.
And then his eyes are on mine. And then my hair, which his hands now try to smooth. "You know I love you, right? With all of my heart? And, also with all of it, want to be alive to watch you walk down that aisle to me? And put your life in my hands?"
I nod and beam up at him. Fiercely.
Like I'll do something else if it comes to that when he walks me through my soon-to-be-not front door. For one of the last times before he walks–or carries–me through ours. "You will be. And then, with all of mine–everything–I promise you, happy that you were for the rest of yours." I promise, Edward.
She's so sweet. And I can't promise that she'll start keeping her promise in the next chapter, but if she doesn't get the chance to, she should in the one after. I'll try my best.
And I know there was no EPOV in this one... which feels weird, even to me... but that's just the way it went. And I promise we'll hear from him in the next one.
See you soon.