A/N: Chapter Nineteen was posted on the same day as Twenty.
Birds of a Feather
Despite the number of bodies in front of me, I hurried through the concourse with little thought to the crowd around me. Already our flight had been delayed an hour and I was anxious to get out of the damn airport. Edward wasn't picking up his phone, and I had no idea if he'd been circling the arrival area or if he'd parked and found out our arrival information.
Three weeks had stretched to a month, and Edward had never gotten the chance to join me on tour. The afternoon I'd found out had been a bad one: I'd not said much on the phone but could tell Edward knew I wasn't happy, and then I'd broken down and had a tear-fest with the girls in our hotel room. Four hours later we'd had to be on stage and Rose and Alice had taken over much of the crowd interaction that night.
And then, at the last minute, we'd been fit into a late night talk show schedule, and the end of our tour came right before a flight to Los Angeles and the national stage. Edward's plane had arrived home just the day before, and it had made no sense for him to fly again.
Needless to say, I was ready to see my husband.
Leah was taking care of baggage, at least. In the hustle and bustle of holiday traffic, it would have taken me at least another hour to deal with baggage claim, and I sent a silent prayer up in thanks for her in my life.
Finally I made it to arrivals. It was a mad house, but I turned my head and saw Edward's SUV idling in line. I waved at him to catch his eye and waited until he got close enough to park.
The back hatch opened and Sam greeted me by sticking his nose over the back seat.
"Hi, buddy. I missed you."
"What about me?"
I turned and Edward took my carry on from my hands, tossed it in the back, and wrapped me soundly in his arms and kissed me.
The part of me that had felt out of sorts the last few weeks was gone in that one moment, and I kissed him back, breathing in the smell of his skin and hair and cologne, clutching at the back and shoulders I'd missed so much.
When we broke away, I whispered, "I missed you more, but don't tell the dog."
A horn honked, interrupting our reunion and we took our time getting ready to leave.
"How was your flight?"
"Good, besides the delay. For some reason it seems like forever when you're sitting there waiting. Did you call your mama and tell her we were going to be a little late?"
"Yeah. She knows."
"Alice told me she was goin' to meet Jasper at home and come down tomorrow. Rose went runnin' off—goodness knows where—with Emmett."
He merged into the stream of traffic. "How was L.A.? I dvr'd your segment but I haven't gotten a chance to watch yet."
I laughed. "I see how you are. Too busy to see your wife on TV, huh?"
"It's been a busy mornin'," he said, looking away from me and into traffic.
"L.A. was . . . sunny." I glanced out the window at the overcast sky. "Hasn't changed much since I went with you a few years back. Same ol' people, same ol' schmoozin'. I'm glad to be home."
"Leah said you did great. Sorry I couldn't be there."
I reclined the seat and closed my eyes. "It's all right, babe. They'll be more down the road."
I opened one eye. "Mmhmm. Might snooze a little on the way down."
Sam had other plans, though, and he stuck his nose in between us and gave me a big fat lick on the cheek. I laughed and cooed at him, rubbing his ears and fussing over him.
"You've got that dog spoiled."
I shrugged off my jacket and made Sam go back to his spot in the backseat. The jacket got turned into a blanket, and I rolled my head to look at Edward. "Says you. You've spoiled him just as much."
He shrugged but didn't say anything—not like he could—and I closed my eyes again and listened to the road underneath the tires.
There was a touch on my leg, fingers gripping and then resting there warmly. I smiled at the gesture and set my hand on top of his, content. My husband had been true to his word, giving me most of his time while we'd been apart. The phone calls were long and ridiculous, and the girls (and his boys) ad made fun of us more than once for acting like lovesick teenagers, but I didn't care.
We were back together again, and the only separations we would face in the coming future would be short. The girls and I had a full tour schedule starting after the first of the new year, and Edward had already commited to going with us for most of it. There'd be times I knew he wouldn't be able to stay, not if he wanted to get the other bands on the label up and running, but we'd get through it.
Somewhere along the way I drifted off into sleep, waking only when a bump in the road startled me. I sat up and rubbed my eyes and wondered what we were doing on a gravel road.
"Where we at?" I mumbled.
I raised my seat and looked at our surroundings: a long driveway lined with trees who'd forgotten their summer leaves. It wasn't unfamiliar, though. These were trees that had painted the landscape of some good memories.
"Edward? What're we doing here?"
I looked over to see the cheesy grin spreading across his face.
"Oh my gosh. Did you rent this for the holiday?" My excitement barely contained, I looked out the front window at the farm—my farm—we'd rented during the summer.
"I didn't exactly . . . rent it."
"I bought it."
"What? How did you . . . I don't—"
"Well, you couldn't stop talkin' about it so I bugged Alice to see what the deal was. Made the owner an offer she couldn't refuse."
"When did you do this?"
"Soon as you told me how much you loved this place."
"But, what . . . what if things didn't work out?"
He pulled up to the front of the farm house and shifted the car into park. "I was bankin' on everything workin' out."
I sat in my seat and stared out in awe at the house. It was lit up in white lights, obviously decorated for the holiday season. Picture perfect. I whispered, "I can't believe it."
Edward let Sam out and he ran playfully around in the yard. Seemed like he was as in love with this place as I was. The farm house looked cozy, like it was already well lived in, and I spotted my swing from the back porch of our other house on the front porch.
Suddenly his busy morning made sense: he'd not been able to watch the late night segment because he'd clearly been bringing things to the house.
Edward walked in front of me and gestured to the steps that led up to the door, and I leapt out and flung my arms around him.
"I can't believe you did this."
"Well, believe it, sweetheart. If I knew it would make you this happy, I would have sprung it on ya sooner."
"No, it's perfect now."
I wrapped my arm around his waist and we walked up the front steps of our new house together.
It wasn't the old one, the one he'd bought me when I'd wanted out of New York; the one I'd lived in alone. This was a new start, something we'd live in together. It was perfect location wise, only thirty five minutes away from the studio and downtown, but far enough from the hustle of the city.
And, God, I loved this house already.
We reached the front door and he leaned across to open it for me. I was met by the aroma of nutmeg and spice, and a short walk into the kitchen revealed Esme rolling out pie crust.
She brushed her hands on a towel and went to the sink to wash. Immediately she came over and gave me a hug. "Hi, sweetheart. How was the trip?"
"I hope you don't mind, I just made myself at home. Thought I would start cooking for tomorrow. I knew you'd be tired."
"I don't mind at all. I'm still in shock. I had no idea he did this."
"Neither did I until last week. Didn't tell a soul," she said, giving him a look.
I turned to look at him. "Except the accountant and probably a few other people along the way."
He shrugged and went to the fridge to grab a drink. He grabbed a glass and filled it for me with ice cold water.
"I hope you don't mind that I told my mom first, I wanted to have her help me stock the house for us at least. I wanted it to be a surprise."
"You did huge." I took a look at the dining room and noticed the familiar oak table with heavy chairs. "You bought the furniture too?"
"I asked for it lock, stock and barrel, with absolutely no changes and she obliged. You can do whatever you want with it though."
I reached up to pull him down so I could kiss him. "Thank you."
"Oh, you can thank me later."
"Really? You watch your mouth in front of your mama."
"Not like I haven't seen it before," said Esme, throwing a towel over her shoulder. "You guys get settled and I'll be done here in a little while."
I set my glass on to the granite countertop, and slowly ran my hand over the smooth surface. I looked up at him again. "Really?"
He took my hand and led me into the living area, just as pretty as I remembered it. Already my mind was running possibilities; trying to fit what we already had into the already beautifully decorated space. I looked out over the rolling grounds to see Sam scampering across the lawn.
"I can see why you fell in love with it."
"Do you like it?"
"Yeah. It's you." He pulled me into a hug and I wrapped my arms around his waist, sinking into his chest. "Still tired?"
I wanted to run around and see everything again, remember what I loved so much about it, but I was smellin' like an airplane and a shower sounded nice.
"What I would really like is a shower."
"I can help you with that."
I pushed away. "Shh."
He glanced back at his mother in the kitchen, and then stage-whispered, "Um, how do you think I got here?"
"I know. We have plenty of time for that later."
He pulled me back in again and gently rubbed my back. "Brought a few things over from the old house that I thought you'd want right away. We'll have to go back for anything I forgot."
"I reckon we sell it now. I'd rather be here full time. It feels like a fresh start, Edward."
"Yeah. Yeah, it does."
We climbed the stairs to the master bedroom and instead of leaving me alone, he made good on his naughty words and undressed me before undressing himself and climbing into the shower.
After a long, hot ridiculously sexy shower, we moved about the bedroom while getting dressed. Clothes were hung haphazardly in the closet, and yet more baskets of them sat around the room, but I didn't mind much. It'd be some work to get things squared, but we had some time to do it.
"So the rest of the gang should be here later tonight."
I turned around. "Everyone is coming?"
"Yeah, I wanted to surprise you first and then make a true holiday of it. Hope you don't mind the guests."
"Not at all. We'll have to get used to bein' around when the tour starts, anyway."
"That we will. Jasper talked to the company we rented tour busses from when we went out last time. They're good, should be able to fit most of us comfortably."
"I can't believe this is my life," I said, turning in a circle. "New house, new job . . . same ol' husband."
"Hey! I just bought you a house."
I smirked at him and started sorting through clothes. "Yep. Remind me to thank you again later when all the company you invited finally leave us alone."
"Love you, too, baby."
Around supper time our guests started to descend. Alice and Jasper had been picked up by Carlisle and filled in on the way down. Alice squealed when she saw me and we hugged like we hadn't seen each other six hours ago.
"I had a feelin' he was up to somethin', bugging me about the girls weekend we had. But I had no idea he had this in him."
"He amazes me every day," I said smiling at him. He had offered Jasper a beer and they tapped the necks together in a show of pure male bonding. "Want a drink?"
Alice, Esme and I hung around in the kitchen noshing on the various hors d'oeuvres that Esme had concocted for us.
"I would think that it's our turn to be doin' all the cookin', mama. You've been doin' it for years."
"Aw, I enjoy it. Let's me be a part of y'alls holiday."
"What do you mean? You will always be a part of our holidays, bar none. Especially when them grandbabies arrive."
They stopped what they were doing and stared at me openly.
"Oh, no! Not yet. I'm just sayin' down the road."
Esme held her hand to her chest. "Mind you I would be thrilled, but with you girls goin' on the road it wouldn't be good timing."
"Trust me, I know."
The front door opened then and in walked Rose, Emmett, Leah, Jess and Eric. I grinned when I saw the last two, squeezed Edward's hands as I barreled past him, and then hugged them both. Alice grabbed coats while I made the introductions to Esme and Carlisle. Not long after came my father.
"Daddy! I'm surprised you made the trip down."
"Ah, well, had to see the new digs the boy bought for ya."
"Did everybody but me know?"
He nodded. "He just needed some reassurance. Told him he'd do just fine."
Edward's hand slid around my waist and pulled me into his side. I leaned back into his embrace and turned my face into his neck. I planted a kiss on his cheek and whispered, "You're full of surprises today, aren't you?"
"Not done yet," he said, moving to the front door as someone knocked again.
Outside on the front doorstep stood the Preacher.
"Mike! What are you doing here?"
"I was invited by your husband?"
I looked at Edward. "Always nice to invite the preacher over for a holiday dinner."
I smiled and punched him in the arm. "You're pulling out all the stops."
As we stepped into the entryway, the rest of our guests were spilling out of the kitchen into the living room. Jess, her arm locked in Eric's, tilted her head at the sight of our new guest.
Her eyes took in the rather cute blond preacher, and I said a prayer for her when her eyes lingered too long on certain aspects of his physique.
It wasn't her fault that a man of the Lord was handsome.
Edward noticed her stare, too, and snickered quietly beside me.
"That just ain't right."
"You invited them all. Tell you what, if I lose my stylist, I'm makin' you sleep on the porch with Sam for a week."
"No you won't. You're all big threats, wife, but I know how to handle you now."
"Mighty big words there, husband. Hope you can back them up."
"I got a plan."
He pulled me into the kitchen and the rest of our party followed.
As I sat there surveying the large table that we had put together, I felt so lucky to have the extended family that I did. I had a husband who was my best friend, lover and song-writing partner; the best friends a girl could ask for; and a career that I'd fashioned out of a need to dissolve my pain had developed into a blessing to be shared with others.
I felt like I had a new lease on life and this time I wouldn't let it fade away.
Where do I start… Thank you for having faith in this little story and the patience to let it play out. I wasn't always able to reply to reviews but read every single one, cherishing your words along the way.
I am toying with the idea of doing little shorts from this story down the road as there were a lot of things left to explore.
I wasn't sure if I had shared this along the way but the following link takes you to the Farm House, an actual vacation rental that I used for inspiration in the story. You may find it here: www dot vrbo dot com forward slash 454825
Song –Dance Me to the End of Love – The Civil Wars
And last, but never least, thanks to my beta and friend Nic who pushed me, saved me, sent me back to the drawing board, hunted for songs with me, laughed late into the night and always, always was there for me when I needed her. She is truly the best. xo