Nothing belongs to me, well the plot does and the OCs, but everything else belongs to the wonderful Stephenie Meyer and I am not her and I am making NO money with this story.

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Chapter 23

After the women had dried their tears and Emmett had scolded Edward, "Dude, you make the rest of us look bad!", everyone went to the dining room where the staff served brunch. Bella had to admit that it was kind of nice not to have to cook at Christmas. Once more they ate more than was really necessary but it was tradition that the whole family went for a walk through the gardens after everyone had gotten dressed, so that they could burn off some calories. The cook had forewarned them that it was really cold outside and so each one of them made sure to put on only their warmest clothes. Even Alice put warmth and comfort before fashion. A first that would surely not happen so soon again.

The gardens were absolutely beautiful and Bella felt as if she was in a Winter Wonderland. Of course, she knew that the gardens were grand and beautiful, as she had seen them before but now everything looked different. Someone had cleared the paths which made it easier for the family to walk but Bella could still hear the special crunching of snow under her feet. Bella loved that sound and her smile seemed to be permanently stretched across her face. At first the family had stayed close together and each couple had walked together but it didn't take more than 40 minutes before Emmett started an epic snowball fight in which Edward, Jasper and Alice joined in. Bella stayed with Rose as she wasn't too keen on getting cold, wet and most likely hurt on Christmas Day. Rose was happy to have someone to talked and Esme and Carlisle watched their children with a happy but indulgent smile.

"So, was Baby Cullen planned?" Bella asked as they followed the shouts of their husbands.

"Not really," Rose said. "We both want children and it's not as if we don't have the means to support it but I hadn't even been off the pill when I got pregnant. Emmett and I had talked about started trying for a baby and I wanted stop taking the pill around thanksgiving but I was already up the duff by then. These Cullen men have strong sperm. I know that Edward was also a little surprise. Esme once told me that they had still been using condoms around the time Edward was conceived."

"Wow!" Bella breathed and thought that maybe it would be a good idea to talk to Edward about using condoms just as a precaution. It was too soon for them to make a baby.

"Yes, have you and Edward talked about babies yet? I know that Pops made sure that Edward needed a child to stay where he is."

Bella groaned at Rose' question. "No, we haven't yet, but it's way too soon to even think about it. I think we should have more time as a couple before we try for a baby."

"Mhm, I think you're right," Rose agreed. "Your beginning was anything but ideal but don't forget that now that I'm pregnant, Esme will want more grandchildren."

Bella pouted at that and Rose laughed. "I know. Esme loves her family and children. I've heard her once talking to some family friend and she'd bemoaned the fact that she feared it would be years before any of her children would make her a grandmother. I can understand her but Edward's and my careers are still very young."

"True," Rose said and nodded. "Does it make me a bad person that I'm not looking forward to the huge family dinner?"

"No, I'm not exactly looking forward to it myself. I don't like huge parties but the Cullens are a big family."

Rose snorted at that. "That's just too true and sadly not everyone is as nice as Elizabeth and Carlisle. Some of the family are just awful. Like James," Rose said and shuddered.

That made Bella pick up her ears. It seemed as if she wasn't the only one of the family who didn't like James. "I take it you don't like him?"

"No, and I can't even tell you why," Rose admitted and she looked a little frustrated. "Something about him is strange. He's always polite to me, well maybe a little too much, but he never behaved inappropriately around me."

"I agree with you," Bella said and wished she could tell Rose why she didn't like James but she knew, she couldn't. Bella had promised Edward that she wouldn't talk about James and their suspicions to anyone who didn't know already. "He's not my favorite either. He was a little too friendly and touchy feely with me. I mean he's married for God's sake!"

"Well, Victoria is a trophy wife. She wanted the Cullen name and money and James wanted a wife that would fit his standards. Victoria was raised to be the woman of a wealthy and important man. Her family is all about upgrading their social status."

Bella grimaced as she heard Rose' words. "So you mean they're just like my family."

"Sorry," Rose said as she realized how her words could have hurt Bella. "I didn't mean to imply that you were like her."

"Don't worry," Bella appeased her and waved her hand disparagingly. "I know best what my family is and how some people look at me. I don't care. Everyone who meets me knows how little I care for all this. But back to the subject. Is James and Victoria's marriage a good one?"

"Oh please!" Rose snorted. "They don't even care about each other. They're just together for society's sake. I'm pretty sure that James has lovers on the side, but Victoria knows what is expected of her and as long as she can live the high life, she doesn't care. Not everyone thinks so but I know a cheating husband when I see one. The marriage of my own parents was just like that."

"Ah, the life of the rich and famous. Thank God, that I don't care about all that shit"

"Amen, sister," Rose laughed and suddenly pointed ahead. "Look, it seems as if our husbands are finally done and we can head back."

Bella looked at where Rose was pointing and saw that the kids had stooped throwing snowballs and were walking back towards the rest of the family.

"And about damn time," Rose added. "I'm about to freeze my ass off."

Bella only smiled at her and both ushered their husbands inside so that they could take a hot shower and change clothes. It would be bad if they got ill now.

MaoC

As soon as the kids were warm and clean they met in the living room and watched Christmas movies. The Cullen's favorite one was The Muppets Christmas Carol and no one was allowed to say anything against it.

"It's one of our favorite traditions and we never break it," Edward explained when Bella looked slightly confused that they wanted to watch a kids movie. "It's good to let your inner child out sometimes."

"I thought that had already happened," Bella said and gave her husband a pointed look.

"That's something else. We Cullens are very competitive," Edward told her with playful pride.

Bella laughed lightly and gave him a quick kiss. "I like it that you're not always grown-up. And just so you know, I love that movie just as much. Jane and I always watched it while our parents were busy trying to impress the society."

"Good," Edward said and cuddled her close to him while they continued to watch the movie.

They spent the rest of the evening watching movies or reading but soon it was time to get dressed for the family dinner.

Edward decided to were the suit from last night again and just selected a different dress shirt. This one matched his hair which was quiet a feat.

Bella, to Edward's immense pleasure, chose a simple black dress so that she could wear her new jewelery. Edward looked very happy as he fastened the necklace.

"It looks perfect on you," he whispered and kissed her neck gently. Bella's hair was in bun tonight which gave Edward free excess to the soft skin there.

"Edward," Bella moaned as he bit her. "Stop that or we won't make it downstairs any time soon."

"Am I making you hot?" Edward asked in a teasing voice and squeezed her ass.

"Yes!" Bella screamed and stepped aways from him. It was really unbelievable how strong her body reacted to his presence and his every touch. Bella tried to ignore the light tingling of her core and put her shoes on before she felt calm enough to face her man again.

Said man looked mighty pleased with himself.

"Don't look so smug or you won't be getting any sex the next month," Bella threatened and silently wondered if she would be able get through it.

Edward, seeing that, just smiled and quickly left the room before Bella could throw anything at him.

Once in the hallway he was pretty sure that Bella wouldn't try anything as she would hate it if his family would notice it. She didn't feel very comfortable around most of them yet. Especially the second cousins once removed and the like. Bella didn't even try to remember how everyone was related to another. All she needed to know was that they were part of the family and that they didn't belong to Bella's immediate one.

Edward escorted Bella down the stairs and they saw that most of the guests had already arrived. Tonight they wouldn't eat in the dining room because it was just too small. No, tonight they would be dining in the ball room.

Yes, Cullen Mansion had a ball room. The house had been built at a time where balls had still been part of the normal social life and today it was only used for huge events like the Cullen Christmas dinner.

Bella's breath got stuck in her throat as she saw the huge ball room and the elaborate decorations. The staff must have worked on this room for days to make it look so perfect.

She giggled silently before she turned to Edward. "I feel like a character out of one of Jane Austen's books. Everything is so ..wow!"

"Yes, I can see why you would think that. The staff loves decorating the ball room and I think that they will soon persuade Nana to hold a ball here again. Every once in a while the family hosts a historic ball. It's very popular and I think the help loved it more than my grandmother even if she loves the epoch."

"Really? There might be a ball here? And soon?"

Edward laughed at her enthusiasm. "Yes, but if you want to be sure just ask her. I'm sure that she would happily indulge you and hold a ball just so you can be at one. I really believe that the old lady loves you more than us."

Bella barely managed to suppress an excited squeal but her excitement was obvious. Even though Bella crowds and the high society, she absolutely adored the works of Jane Austen and the other authors of that time.

And no matter what women told you, nearly everyone wanted to be at such a ball. Bella was no exception and vowed to ask Elizabeth if she wouldn't grant Bella her wish.

Bella searched the ballroom for Elizabeth but who she found was James and Victoria. "Urgh."

"What's wrong, Bella?" Edward asked and looked at where Bella was staring and found his cousin. "Ah. I know you don't want to be near him but we have to act normal around him. He can't know that something is wrong."

"I know," Bella sighed and put on a small smile. "It's just that I never liked him and I'm not the only one who doesn't want to be near him."

That surprised him and he turned to Bella. "Really? Who would that other person be?"

"Rose. It's nothing concrete but something about him makes Rose uncomfortable," Bella explained. "I didn't say anything just that he wasn't my favorite person. Rose told me a few interesting things though."

That comment made Edward raise his eyebrows. "Do tell."

"I seems that ours isn't the only marriage that wasn't a love match. James apparently only married Victoria because she was a fitting wife for a man of his station and she wanted the benefits of being a Cullen. Rose believes that James isn't really faithful and that he gets some entertainment outside of his marriage."

"Well, that doesn't surprise me to be honest. James was always a little stuck-up and Victoria is just a little bitch. But don't compare them to us. Our marriage was completely different and even though I behaved like a fool at the beginning, we didn't decide to marry just to satisfy the demands of some snobs. We, you especially, were nearly forced into our union and I think we're doing rather well," Edward said and pressed a soft kiss against her lips before he guided them to some of his family members.

Most of the family was nice, there were only a few odd or unfriendly ones, and somehow Bella managed to stay clear of James and his wife but that didn't mean that Bella didn't watch them. Discreetly, of course. Both were very arrogant and even among their own family they tried to boast. It was disgusting and Bella couldn't understand how James could be related to the rest of the Cullens.

The food was amazing and for the most part Bella enjoyed the company of Edward's family. Her favorite was his great-uncle Harold. He was an eccentric old man but he was funny and Bella loved him immediately. There were also three small children that were adorable. Emma, the three year old daughter of Carlisle's niece, wouldn't leave Bella's side, not that she minded. Bella enjoyed playing with the little girl.

It was just before midnight and everyone was getting ready to leave when James finally got Bella alone. It took all of her control not to grimace at his slimy and completely false smile.

"Bella, we didn't have time to talk tonight and I was so looking forward to seeing you again."

"Oh, I'm sorry, but somehow we must have missed each other," Bella said and made sure that she stood out of arms reach. There was no way that the slime ball would touch her.

"Yes, that must be it. How have you been? It must have been really a really stressful time with Edward's recovery and all."

"Oh that wasn't stressful at all. Edward was much more reasonable than I had expected and we're so much closer now," Bella disagreed. She didn't want to be too short with him but she made sure not to tell him anything interesting.

"Really? Hm, but it must have been difficult for Edward not to be able to work and soon after his return there was the security issue. I'm sure that worried him," James said and by now it was obvious that he was fishing for information but he was more of an idiot than Bella had thought if he expected Bella to tell him anything useful.

"Oh that. That was nothing. Edward had the software updated. Some IT- guy thought that it was a good idea and Edward agreed. They are the experts after all."

Apparently, that wasn't what James had wanted to hear or expected. He looked thoughtful but not suspicious and that was all what Bella was worried about. It was important that James didn't think that Edward and his men were suspecting him.

"Well, that's good. It's nice to know that you two talk about business. I wouldn't do that. Victoria has no interest in such things nor does she know anything about it. But then she doesn't need to know such things."

Bella was doing her best not to glare or snap at him. "It's important that I know about business because I own a publishing house," Bella said with a sweet smile.

"Yes, I think I've heard of something like this," James admitted and gave her a condescending smile. "But I'm sure that you'll stop with your hobby once you and Edward start a family. After all it's the responsibility of a woman to look after her family and to be an active member of the society. My Victoria is already helping some organizations and her reputation is very good."

Misogynistic pig!

Bella was about to throw her good manners aside and give Jameshole a good kick, when Edward came and saved his cousin.

"Bella, Nana wanted to talk to you for a moment before she retires," Edward said and gently maneuvered his wife away from James. He'd noticed that Bella was pissed and about to blow up.

Said wife threw him a grateful look and quickly fled the room.

"Your wife is really something else," James said as they watched Bella go.

"I know," Edward agreed with a proud and loving smile before he quickly said his goodbyes and left his cousin to stare after him.

MaoC

The rest of the holidays passed quickly and soon it was time for Edward to return to work, if only for a few hours. It was the early morning of the 29th and Bella was getting up especially early because today was the day the new bestseller lists were released in today's issue of the New York Times. It was a good thing that Edward subscribed it. That way Bella didn't have to go outside and buy one. It was simply too cold outside and Bella didn't want to leave the house if she didn't have to.

Edward barely groaned when Bella got out of bed and she nearly ran down to the front door. Her hands were trembling when she grabbed the NYT and slammed the door shut to keep the frigid air out. Bella took one last deep breath and then she opened the newspaper and browsed to the bestseller lists. Of course, Bella was aware of the fact that it was unlikely that Inheritance of Light had made it onto the lists but nothing prevented her from hoping.

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"AAAAaaahh! Oh FUCK, baby. YES!"

Bella didn't hear Edward running down the stairs as if the end of the world had come. He looked confused and a little disoriented as he stared at Bella who was dancing around the entrance hall, screaming at the top of her lungs.

"What the fuck is going on here?" Edward roared. His voice was loud enough that not even Bella could overhear him.

She stopped dancing and screaming and jumped into his arms.

"Edward, this is absolutely amazing! I can't believe it. Fuck, I have to call Angela and Ben, oh, and Maggie."

Edward still didn't know what was happening and grabbed his wife's face and made her look at him. "What is amazing and why do you need to call your friends at not even 7 in the morning?"

"We made it, Edward!" Bella screamed and two tears were running down her face. "Inheritance of Light made it onto the bestseller list of the NEW YORK TIMES!"

For one moment Edward didn't understand what Bella was telling him but then it clicked and he was left gaping. "Really? Already?"

"Yes!" Bella said and started laughing as Edward nearly ripped the paper out of her hands to assure himself.

Yes, there it stood. Black on white. The book which Bella had believed in from the very beginning was on place 9.

"Shit, Bella! That is unbelievable," Edward laughed and wrapped his arms around Bella and whirled them around.

Both were ridiculously happy that the book was even more successful than everyone had dared to hope. Now, Bella knew that all the advertising they had done had been worth it and that things would most likely only get better.

"I need to make some calls," Bella exclaimed and ran upstairs to get her phone.

The next hour was filled with joyous shouts and happy tears. Maggie was over the moon and so excited that her little story was already so popular. Bella prepared her for some busy weeks if Inheritance of Light continued to sell so well and that Maggie would likely go on a little tour to promote the first book and the rest of the series.

Now that Bella knew that the people were interested in Maggie's baby, she and the rest of Phoenix had once again a lot of work to do. They had to plan the release date of the second book, just to name one.

Edward watched his wife as she rushed around the house to burn of some of her nervous energy. He could understand why Bella was so happy. The first own success was something very special and he could still remember his own. The feeling was like nothing else and you felt nearly drunk on it. Edward decided that today called for a little celebration. He left Bella a short note and after he'd gotten dressed, he drove to a little café that made fantastic cakes and cupcakes. His selection was bigger than they could both eat but that didn't matter. He also bought something for breakfast before drove home again where Bella welcomed him with hot coffee.

Yes, life was good.

They spent the day watching movies and eating unhealthy food. It was a perfectly lazy day and they never got properly dressed.

"You know," Bella said after they had eaten Thai take-out. "I'm happy. I didn't think that you and I would have such a good relationship back when we married. I'm glad that I was wrong."

"Edward smiled at that. "Yes, things are much better than I had thought they would. God, I was such an ass at the beginning. It's surprising that you put up with my shit."

"Well, maybe I'm just smarter than you," Bella teased him.

"Oh, of that I have no doubt."

"All in all it was a pretty good year. We're happy, Angela and Ben are getting married, Alice finally stopped being a brat and Jacob embraced his inner gayness."

Her last comment made Edward smile. It been quiet a surprise when Belle had gotten a really telling picture the day after Christmas. Apparently, Seth and Jacob had somehow managed to work things out and had spent Christmas together at Seth's flat. There hadn't been any contact from either man until Seth had sent the picture of the both of them lying in bed, naked. Bella had been so happy about this picture that she'd printed it out, which Edward found a little disturbing but had refrained from commenting on it.

Bella's hand, that was slowly making it's way under his shirt, pulled Edward out of his thoughts. "Mrs Cullen, may I ask what you're doing there?"

The hand didn't stop it's movements and nimble fingers started playing with his happy trail.

"I'm trying to get you interested in some sexual activities," Bella told him. "Are you interested?"

That woman was going to be the death of him but Edward didn't care as he grabbed Bella around the waist and moved her so that she was now under him. "Oh I would say that I'm definitely interested."

He didn't waste any time and immediately started undressing the minx that he called his wife. Bella, who was very happy about this turn of events, helped him as good as she could and once she was naked, she equaled their state of undress. It was surprising how fast Edward could be hard and ready. Not that anyone was complaining about that.

Once both were completely bare they let their hands and eyes wander over the body of the other.

"Yep, I'm really one lucky woman," Bella commented before she caught Edward's lips in a passionate kiss.

Edward enjoyed the battle of their lips and tongues but he nether let Bella forget that he wanted to do more than just kissing. He kept grinding his erection against her pussy and there was no denying that Bella was as aroused as Edward was. Her juices were leaking out of her, coating his hard member as he pushed it against her.

"Well are you going to use that rod of yours, or not?" Bella asked him and bit his lower lip.

Edward glared at her but didn't give her any warning before he thrust into her hot and willing body.

"FUCK!" Bella screamed as she felt herself getting stretched to the max.

"You should be careful who you're teasing, Bella," Edward said and pulled nearly all the way out before he pushed in again.

Their coupling was fast, hard and very satisfying. Bella welcomed every thrust and met his cock at every move while she begged him to go faster and deeper. Edward had his head thrown back and groaned as he felt Bella rack her nails down his back. It hurt but the pain only spurned him on to move faster.

And suddenly it was over. Edward felt Bella's walls locking around his cock which triggered his own orgasm.

"Aaaah Bella!" Edward screamed as he spurted into her while she moaned his name. He collapsed on top of her, completely spent, and both remained in that position for an infinite amount of him.

Edward was just about to nod off when Bella decided to remind him of something.

"Hey Edward, I finally got my couch-sex and it was as good as I'd thought."

I'm married to the strangest woman of the universe.

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Hello my dear readers,

yes, I know that I'm late but I was really busy studying for my exams. Latin is a BITCH!

Okay, so this chapter was a little bit of a filler but soon things will get rather interesting. Edward and his men will get some proof soon and then the trouble will be starting.

Please, leave a review.

Love, Nini