Bella

Well, today was finally the day. It was December third and we were on our way to the airport to fly to Chicago for the first of the three trials where Edward would have to testify. I had insisted on going with him. He worried about me taking so much time off from work, but I'd put my foot down. I knew that secretly he was relieved. We both knew this was going to be an ordeal for him, and he had faced enough difficult situations alone already this year. If my being there could provide any support or comfort for him, by damn I was going to do it. And I would get to meet his parents and see where he grew up out of the deal, too.

The symptoms of his post-concussion syndrome had finally begun to abate a few weeks ago. He was sleeping better, his appetite had returned, and most importantly, the chronic headaches were becoming less frequent, and less severe. He was down to one or two a week now, instead of every day, and he had worked his way down from fentanyl to codeine to manage the pain.

He was happier, too. Now that he was feeling better, he'd started making dinner for us in the evenings again. He usually had to wait until I got home because it was too difficult with only one hand, but I could tell he really enjoyed being able to do something for the both of us again.

As the date of the first trial got closer, I'd watched as his mood shifted again—from happy and relaxed to pensive and distracted, and finally to downright stressed. I knew this was a big deal, but it was bothering him more than I thought it should, and I didn't understand why.

A week before the trip, I finally confronted him about it, as he fretted about me coming with him for the umpteenth time.

"All right, Edward. What's really bothering you?" I asked, trying to keep the exasperation out of my voice.

He pursed his lips as he looked away from me, then sighed heavily. "What's not bothering me about this trip?" he said sarcastically.

I waited patiently as he took a few deep breaths, knowing that he'd explain as soon as he got his thoughts in order.

He looked at me again, a small smile teasing at his lips. "You're learning just what to do when I'm upset. But you already know that, don't you?"

I grinned back at him and nodded. "Yup, I know that if I just give you time and space, eventually you'll tell me. Unless, of course, you need a bit of a kick in the ass first."

He chuckled, then his expression turned serious. "I'm worried about my headaches and the trial. The flight might be an issue, given how bad the headaches have been and how easy they are to trigger, and you know that I'll probably have at least one or two while we're in Chicago, if not more. And I know I'm going to have a migraine while we're there—it's just inevitable, from all the stress. I'm hoping that we'll be safe, because unless something's changed, Aro's friends and minions aren't going to take kindly to me helping to put him in prison for a long time, and I've already put you in all the danger that I ever intend to. And…I'm worried about being able to get through all the testimony without losing it, and convincing the jury that what I say is the truth. I've been working with Angela, but it's still very…difficult."

I looked at him thoughtfully. "Well, we can't really do anything about the headaches other than take with us what you need to manage the pain, and hope that things aren't that bad. As to safety, again that's out of our hands, but I have a feeling that your friend Garrett will see to it that we're well protected. But why are you so worried about your testimony? They'll only be asking about things that happened before that night in the forest, right? So if you just focus on that, you should be okay."

"There's…more to it than that," he answered hesitantly, looking down and away.

"Hey," I said, grabbing his chin gently between my thumb and forefinger and forcing him to meet my eyes. "We're in this together now, right? Tell me, so we can deal with it together. You know things are always easier when you don't have to cope with them alone."

He sighed heavily, and I watched as he clenched his good hand into a fist in his lap. "Angela's been trying to convince me to tell you this for a while, but I didn't want to upset you. I didn't want you to think that I would have made a different choice, if I could."

"Edward," I said gently, dropping my chin and raising my eyebrows at him.

He made a visible effort to unclench his fist and put his hand between mine. "Do you remember the day I came back, how I told you that there had once been someone else in my life?"

I had thought about what he'd said a few times since that day, but I had suspected that with all the health problems he'd had since then that he hadn't had much time to devote to making peace with that painful memory. But obviously he'd been talking to Angela about it, and he'd gotten to the point that he was ready to tell me. I nodded, holding my breath.

He looked at me nervously, but he squeezed my hand and plowed ahead. "It was Tanya. She and I were more than just partners. We were undercover as boyfriend and girlfriend, but we started to date for real as time went by. I…it's so unfair that this happened to her, and I want to make it right and put the guys who did this to her in jail, and I'm so afraid that I won't be able to do that," he explained, his words coming faster as his anxiety grew.

"You were in love with her," I said simply.

His eyes flicked to mine and then down. "I thought I was…but it was nothing like the way I feel when I'm with you. I don't know what it was, but in the end, I was all that she had, and I couldn't save her. I think about all the time we spent together—we were happy, even though we were doing something difficult and dangerous. It's…hard to think about, let alone to talk about."

"You're grieving for her still, because she meant so much to you," I observed, reaching over to gently cup his cheek. "Oh, Edward, why? Why didn't you tell me?" I asked him, feeling nothing but concern for the fact that he'd borne this alone, the way he always seemed to.

"I didn't want you to think that I wished things had turned out differently," he admitted softly, his gaze still fixed on the carpet.

I tightened my grip on his hand, massaging gently. "I would never think that! When you tell me how you feel about things, I believe you. And I could never feel jealous of someone that you loved before me—you didn't even know me then, so how is there any comparison? Hey," I said, trying to draw his eyes to me.

He raised his chin slowly, and I could see in his eyes his pain over losing Tanya, and the guilt he felt for feeling it.

"You shouldn't feel guilty over grieving for her, and I don't want you to have another thought about this bothering me. The only thing that bothers me is that you didn't tell me."

"I'm sorry, Bella," he said, squeezing my hand for a moment. "In the beginning I needed…time to sort out my feelings about everything, but I should have told you sooner. You've helped me so much—I just didn't want to unload yet another thing on you. But I should have, because you're right, we are in this together."

I smiled at him, happy to see that he agreed with me. "You're going to do just fine next week," I said reassuringly. "Just think of it as the last thing that you can do for Tanya. You have the truth on your side, and you can be so charming and sincere when you want to be. You'll have that jury eating out of your hand."

He chuckled, leaning forward to kiss me softly. "Thanks, Bella. I really needed that."

"Anytime," I replied with a grin. "Sometimes I'm good for more than just kicking your ass."

"You most certainly are," he whispered, leaning in to kiss me again, and the second time it wasn't so gentle.

Edward seemed a bit more relaxed after he told me about Tanya, but as the week passed, his anxiety continued to grow. Now, as my dad drove us to the airport, I watched Edward as he gazed out the window in the early morning light, his knee bouncing a rapid rhythm from nerves. I knew he was pretty worried about the plane flight. Changes in pressure often gave ordinary people headaches; Edward considered it almost a given that he'd end up hurting. I just hoped that it wouldn't be that bad.

We got through security and boarding with no problems, and soon we were seated and ready for takeoff. Edward sat with his eyes closed, his hand gripping the armrest firmly as we roared down the runway.

As soon as I felt my ears pop from the change in pressure, I heard Edward's sharp intake of breath. I looked over and he was clutching at his forehead. His breathing became more rapid, and he reached out blindly for my hand. "Oh God, Bella, this is bad," he whispered, squeezing my hand tightly.

"How bad? Scale of one to ten."

"Twenty," he grated out, shifting in his seat. He was almost gasping now, and I was terrified—we were trapped on the plane, and he likely wouldn't get any real relief until we landed, if then.

"Let's not mess around with this," I told him. "Let me have my hand for a minute and I'm going to give you some fentanyl."

"Please," he said shakily, releasing my hand. That's when I knew it was really bad, because he'd been trying his best not to take the fentanyl anymore because it was so strong.

I rummaged around in my bag and pulled out one of the packets, removing the patch and pulling up Edward's sleeve to apply it to his upper arm.

"There, it shouldn't be long now," I said, trying to comfort him. "What else can I do for you?"

He grabbed my hand again and tucked his head against my shoulder, and I could feel that he was strung tight as a bow string and trembling.

"Just hang on, it'll get better soon," I soothed, squeezing his hand and running my fingers up his arm.

"Don't," he whispered. "Just stay still."

"Okay, whatever you need."

We stayed that way for about twenty minutes, as I listened to his ragged breaths and felt him trembling against me. Then, slowly, his grip on my hand relaxed a bit, and his trembling became more erratic, until I realized he was asleep. I did my very best to stay perfectly still for him, but he only slept for about an hour, leaving us more than two hours left of the flight.

He woke with a start, and disentangled his hand from mine to bring it to his forehead.

"Why does my head hurt?" he mumbled, still lying on my shoulder.

"We're on the plane on the way to Chicago, and you got a bad headache when we started gaining altitude. I gave you some fentanyl and you've been sleeping for a while," I explained.

"Oh. Well…why does it still hurt, then?" he asked slowly. He had been off the fentanyl for a few weeks, and I could tell it was having a much stronger effect on him than previously.

"I don't know, Edward. You can still feel it?"

"I think it's less, but…yeah."

"Maybe it's really bad this time. Why don't you just lie there on my shoulder and relax? We'll be in Chicago soon, and then it'll get better."

"Okay," he agreed, and he was quiet then. I breathed a sigh of relief. If we could just get through the flight and get him to his parent's house, maybe this wouldn't be so bad.

About ten minutes later, he shifted his head on my shoulder and raised his eyes to me. "Bella? Where are we?"

Oh boy. He was really out of it. "We're on the plane, going to Chicago, remember? We'll be there soon. How are you feeling?"

"My head hurts. Can I take something for it?"

"You already did, baby. That's why your head's all fuzzy."

"Oh…okay."

We went on like that for the rest of the flight—Edward would ask me the same few questions and I'd answer, then he'd be quiet for a while and then ask them again. I hoped the effect would lessen soon—I didn't know how I was going to get him off the plane like this.

Unfortunately, it got worse before it got better—as soon as we started descending, Edward clutched his head and cried out in pain.

"Shhhh...I'm here with you, it'll be over soon," I soothed, trying to keep him calm.

"It hurts...so much," he panted.

"I know. Here, let me hold you the way I did on the way up," I said, taking his hand and pulling his head on to my shoulder.

"Okay," he replied, letting me position him as he held on tightly to my hand.

After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally on the ground, and the plane started to empty around us. Edward flinched at the loud noises of conversation and luggage shuffling, still clinging to my hand with his eyes tightly shut.

When the plane was almost empty, the flight attendant noticed us and came over.

"Is everything okay?" she asked mechanically.

"No, actually," I replied. "Would you be able to get transportation for my boyfriend? I don't think he can walk through the airport."

"What's the matter with him?" she asked suspiciously. I wondered exactly what she was thinking. Drugs or alcohol? I didn't owe her any explanation, but if it would help me get what I needed, I was happy to give it.

"He suffers from chronic headaches, and the pressure change gave him a really bad one. I gave him something strong for the pain, and now he's really out of it."

"Oh, the poor thing! Let me see what I can do," she replied, looking down at him kindly. That's better...

While we waited, I decided that I'd better get him prepared to leave.

"Edward, we're on the ground now and we need to go meet your parents. I'm going to get you a chair so you don't have to walk through the airport. Does it still hurt?"

"Yes," he replied through clenched teeth.

"Well, when we find your dad we'll see if he can give you something else."

We waited about ten minutes, then the flight attendant came back and told me she had a wheelchair waiting just outside the plane.

"Okay, Edward, it's time to go now," I told him. "Are you ready?"

"Yeah," he replied uncertainly, but he let me put my shoulder under his and help him to his feet. It didn't help at all that he couldn't use his left arm for balance, but somehow, between the two of us, the attendant and I got him out of the row and off the plane.

Once I got him in the chair, I bent down in front of him. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, thanks for helping me," he answered, sounding a little more lucid. He was still holding his head in his hand, but he wasn't tensed up anymore. I hoped that meant the headache was easing.

The attendant smiled down at him. "I hope you feel better soon," she said, and she squeezed my shoulder as she turned to walk away.

Now, to find his parents. I didn't even know what they looked like—Edward was with me so why would I need to know? I hoped they'd see us quickly and I wouldn't have to look around much, because I knew he couldn't be any help right now.

Thankfully, they saw us the minute we cleared security, and his mother came running over.

"Edward, are you all right?" she asked, squatting down next to him. She reached out to touch his forehead and he flinched back as soon as she got close.

"Mom?" he mumbled, raising his head a little to look at her.

"I wouldn't try to touch him, he never wants to be touched when he has a headache," I offered, hoping that she wouldn't do it again.

She glanced up at me angrily, but as her eyes met mine they softened. I think she realized that I was only trying to help.

"What happened?" his father asked.

"It was the pressure change," I replied. "He got a splitting headache the moment we started going up."

"Did you give him anything?"

"Fentanyl—he hadn't taken any for a few weeks and it really knocked him for a loop—that's why he's so out of it," I answered. "And he's still having pain—is there anything else you can give him?"

"He took fentanyl and he's still this bad off? Damn," Carlisle said, looking extremely concerned.

"The worst was when we were changing altitude, but he said he could still feel it the whole flight," I explained.

His mother gave Edward a concerned look, then stood and extended her hand to me, a warm smile on her face. "I'm Esme, Edward's mother. Forgive me for my rudeness, I just didn't expect…this."

I took her hand. "Bella. It's all right, we didn't expect this either. He's been doing really well these last few weeks."

"I'm Carlisle," his father said, also extending his hand.

As we shook hands Edward stirred, massaging his forehead with his hand. "Bella?"

"I'm right here, Edward," I replied, walking around the front of the chair and bending down beside him.

"Are my parents here?" he asked dazedly.

"Yes, they're right here with me. We're going to leave the airport now."

"I'm sorry," he said softly. "This is not the way I wanted this to go."

"It's fine, Edward, really," I replied, running my hand down his arm in a gentle motion. "Don't worry about it. Let's just get you home so you can lie down, okay?"

"Okay," he said, a smile playing at the corners of his lips.

I smiled back at him, and as I straightened up I felt Esme's eyes on me. I could see the unshed tears in there.

I smiled at her, too, and then turned toward Edward's father.

"Dr. Cullen?"

"Please, Carlisle," he interrupted.

"Carlisle? Can you help me get the luggage?" I asked him.

Carlisle helped me get our things while Esme waited with Edward, and then the three of us waited by the curb while Carlisle went to fetch the car. It was bitter cold outside—December in Chicago was pretty unforgiving—so I had dug our jackets out of the suitcase before we left the warm confines of the airport. Edward was quiet the whole time, but he still seemed pretty tense.

I helped Edward into the car, and then got in the backseat with him. He immediately laid his head in my lap and buried his face in his good arm, his feet curled up on the seat. I draped his jacket over him and rested my hand gently on his back, being careful to keep it very still. The ride through Chicago was uneventful, and we soon pulled up in front of a handsome three-story brownstone.

"Edward, we're here," I whispered. "Do you think you can walk for me?"

"I don't know," came the muffled answer.

"Does it still hurt?"

"Yes. A lot."

"Okay, we've just got to get you in the house so you can lie down." At that moment, Carlisle opened the car door and bent down to peer in.

"Son, let me help you get up to your room, okay?"

"Dad?" Edward inquired, lifting his head a little.

"I'm right here, Edward, and I'm going to help you, all right?"

"Okay," he answered, and as I gently lifted under his arm, he slid into a sitting position, and laid his head on my shoulder. I slid him across the seat with me, and then got out of the car so that Carlisle could bend down and put his shoulder under Edward's good arm. It was clumsy and awkward, but we got him out of the car and up the two flights of stairs to his old bedroom.

Carlisle disappeared while I busied myself taking off Edward's shoes, and with a little effort on his part we managed to get his jeans off and I tucked him into bed.

"Stay with me…" he breathed, and I sat down on the bed next to him and held his hand. "That's better," he sighed, a smile playing at his lips.

Just then Carlisle reappeared with a syringe in his hand, and deftly injected Edward with more medication. He barely stirred, and soon his breathing evened out and I knew he was asleep, somewhere beyond where the pain could reach him.

Carlisle smiled at me kindly. "He'll likely sleep until the morning now. When you're ready, why don't you come down and join us?"

I smiled and nodded, but first I took a few minutes to lie down beside Edward, both to make sure he was okay and to allow myself to break down a little bit. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought about everything that had happened today. It had been a hard day for me, but I was both depressed and angry that it had been such an awful day for Edward. It just wasn't fair. After all this time, and everything he'd been through, he deserved for something not to go badly. What was facing him for the rest of the week was going to be hellish, and we already knew he'd have a migraine sometime this week from all the stress, but this incident on the plane today had been unexpected and terrifying. He had been doing so well, but today reminded me so strongly of those first days when he came back to Forks and the headaches had started, that for a moment I panicked, wondering if we were headed back there. I took a deep breath, and convinced myself that tomorrow had to be better.

And now, I had to face the rest of my day. Edward's parents were waiting downstairs, and I needed to go get better acquainted with them without the benefit of Edward by my side. I looked over at his handsome face, peaceful now in sleep, and smiled. I could do this for him. I would show his parents just how much I loved their son, and that we belonged together. By the time he woke up tomorrow, we would be old friends and he would have nothing to worry about.

I descended the stairs slowly, and made my way to the cozy kitchen at the back of the house. Esme was seated at the table, both hands clutched around a coffee mug as she stared at nothing in particular.

She shook her head slightly as I walked into the room and she looked over at me, the worry plain in her eyes.

"How is he?" she asked softly.

"He's sleeping, and from what Carlisle said he should be out until morning. It's probably for the best—I think he could use the extra rest."

"And how are you, dear?"

Her question caught me a little off-guard. I had been so focused on Edward that I hadn't really thought about it. "I'm…fine. Upset that this happened to him today. We knew it was a possibility, and I know he was worried about it, but I didn't think it would be so bad for him, or that the fentanyl would affect him like that. I'm used to seeing him in pain, and even a bit out of it from the meds, but he's never been that confused before. It was a bit scary."

"I'm sure it was," she agreed. "Would you like some coffee?" she offered, as I walked farther into the room and sat down across the table from her.

"Yes, that would be lovely," I replied, and she jumped up to get it for me.

When I was settled with my cup, she sat down across from me again. "How are things going for you and Edward?" she asked casually, but I could hear the concern behind the inquiry.

"Things have been going well for the last few weeks. Edward has been doing much better."

"This…is better?!" she asked incredulously.

"Yes, actually. His headaches are still horrible when they come, but now he's only having them once or twice a week instead of almost daily. You wouldn't believe how much having whole days without any pain has improved his outlook on things. He's eating better, so he's started to gain weight back, he's been sleeping more, and we're finally getting somewhere with his PT." I met her eyes then, and I knew that the determination that rang in my voice also burned in my gaze. "If it's possible, I will see that he gets back full use of his hand. I can't do anything about the headaches, but I'll do everything in my power to get him physically back to the way he was."

"I'm so glad he has you to help him," she said, grinning at me. "I know he can be a bit of a handful."

I snorted softly. "Yes, sometimes he gets frustrated easily, and he has a bit of a temper, but once I get him calmed down, he's usually pretty agreeable. He just seems to think too much about things that are out of his control, and it just spirals from there. I'm trying to convince him to talk more and think less," I admitted a bit shyly.

She laughed, but then she looked at me quite seriously. "You really do love him, don't you?" she observed, as she covered her mouth with her hand.

"More than I can say," I replied softly.

"And he loves you too—I've never seen him like this with a woman."

I furrowed my eyebrows, wondering exactly what that meant.

She saw my confusion, and quickly elaborated. "Don't misunderstand, he's always been good to every girl he's dated. But he's never been…focused on them like he is on you. When he woke up here three months ago, the only thing on his mind was where you were, and if you were safe, and once he found out that you were, his next thought was to get in touch with you. And when he couldn't, he was determined to get back to Washington to talk to you as soon as possible."

"That was my fault," I admitted sadly. "Once he was gone, I had thought that he would choose this life over me, and I wanted to make things easier for him. I thought a clean break would do that—I never dreamed that what he would want was to come back to me."

She smiled at me gently. "He's definitely different in other ways too. I don't want to say he's more mature, exactly, because he was certainly already grown up when he joined the FBI, but…his view of the world is less black and white than it used to be, and he seems to have a much clearer idea what he wants out of life."

I pondered her words for a moment. I had watched with my own eyes as his view of good and evil had changed, as he had accepted that even though he had been a drug dealer, he could still be a good man. As to what he wanted out of life, the only thing he seemed truly certain about at the moment was me. I wondered if that's what she was referring to. "Yes, even I can see that what he's gone through over the past nine months has changed him, and I don't even have his life before that as a basis for comparison."

She smiled warmly at me. "Somehow I think you may have had a lot to do with that." Her expression turned serious now, and she pursed her lips for a moment as her eyes became glassy. "Thank you, for what you did for him. Just the thought of him, being hurt and all alone in a strange place—" Her voice broke and she stopped, taking a deep breath. "I hope that someday you're a mother and you'll understand what it is to love a son and watch him go out into the world, and to hope that someone takes care of him the way that you would. I think that he's found that with you, and I can't tell you how happy I am about it."

I smiled at her and covered her hand with my own. "He takes care of me, too. More than he realizes. He's always there for me when I need him, he's sweet and attentive, and he respects me. He's everything I ever wanted in a man, and some things I didn't even know to ask for. I know that what happened to him was horrible, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but I can't say that I'm sorry that he ended up in the PT clinic in Forks last April."

"Do you believe things happen for a reason?" she asked me softly.

I nodded, chewing on my lower lip a bit.

"I do, too, and it's obvious that the reason he ended up in Forks was to meet you. I wish there had been an easier way, but fate doesn't let us choose."

I smiled at her, remembering my own words to Edward about fate all those months ago, and then his words to me when he came back to Forks. It seemed his mother and I had more than a little in common.

"So, tell me all about yourself," she said excitedly. "I need to know more about this legendary woman who keeps my son in line!"

I laughed out loud, already completely at ease with her. I could see Edward's charm and playfulness in her warm brown eyes—he was a reflection of her.

I heard a sound behind us, and Carlisle came into the room. "I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but I didn't want to interrupt you," he said, heading for the coffee pot.

Esme grinned at him and stood up. "Why don't we all go into the living room and sit? It'll be more comfortable."

So we settled in the living room, and I told Edward's parents all about my dad and Emmett, and about growing up in Forks. During our long conversation, we moved back into the kitchen so Esme could cook dinner, we ate, and then eventually we retired again to the living room, glasses of wine in our hands. When I had pretty much gotten through my life story, I glanced at Esme and asked, "So, what can you tell me about Edward? Even though I've known him for eight months now, I know almost nothing about his life before he came to Forks. The first six months he couldn't tell me about his past, and when he came back he was too distracted by the headaches for me to get much out of him. It's only been in the last month that I've really started to learn more about his life here."

Esme and Carlisle both smiled at me, and I knew I'd asked the right question. Parents love to talk about their children. Esme looked at her husband quizzically. "So, what can we tell Bella about Edward that he won't be angry at us for talking about?"

Carlisle chuckled. "I think the topics there are very limited, and none of them are the ones you're wanting to discuss!"

"You're probably right," she conceded. "So let's not worry about it, shall we?"

I grinned at her in encouragement, and she began telling me about Edward's childhood in Chicago. She skipped the embarrassing baby stories, but I learned that since Edward was an only child, he had always been very close to his parents. He went to a private school called Beacon Academy, and he had played soccer and basketball through grade school and high school. After high school he went to Penn and got a bachelor's in Criminology, much to his father's chagrin.

"I had always thought he'd follow me into medicine," Carlisle told me. "But he had always been fascinated with the struggle of good and evil, and how law enforcement actually caught criminals. He wanted to make the world a better place by seeing that people didn't get hurt in the first place, rather than fixing them up after they did. His dream was to one day be an FBI agent. Who was I to argue? I just wanted him to be happy, and if this is what made him happy, then I was content."

I shook my head, marveling at the supportiveness of Edward's parents and the incredible life that he'd had before I knew him. I thought I'd had a good upbringing, but I'd only had one parent and had grown up in a small town. Edward had two loving, encouraging parents, and seemingly the world at his fingertips.

After college, Edward returned to Chicago and joined the Chicago PD, starting out as a beat officer, but quickly making his way into the Narcotics Division. Esme and Carlisle weren't exactly happy about this, since the Chicago streets are so rough, but they knew that this was what Edward needed to do before the FBI would look at him, so they held their breath and hoped nothing bad would happen. Edward spent two years on the force in Chicago, with Garrett as his partner, before they both applied to the FBI.

"I think the day that he was accepted by the FBI was the happiest day of his life," Esme told me. "I'd never seen him so excited before. We were so proud of him! And we were thrilled when he was offered a position in Chicago. He could have been sent anywhere, but the Narcotics Division in Chicago already knew about him from his work for the Chicago PD, so they asked to keep both him and Garrett here.

"Then, the undercover work began. First it was small assignments, and we wouldn't hear from him for a few weeks, and then one day he came to visit and told us that he'd been chosen for a very important, and potentially long undercover operation. We were afraid, but he was so excited to have been chosen, and so eager to help bring down one of the major drugs rings in Chicago, all we could really do was tell him how proud we were, and pray."

She reached for Carlisle's hand then. "He'd been undercover for almost a year when he disappeared, and we had heard from him twice in that time. Once he had stopped by for a few hours, and once he'd called to check in. We heard from Garrett more than we did from Edward, since Garrett didn't have a deep cover assignment and Edward had to check in with the Bureau more frequently than he could with us. And then there was…nothing. We only heard from Garrett once in those last six months, and he was careful not to let on that Edward was missing. I think he didn't want to talk to us then because he didn't want to have to lie to us."

Carlisle nodded. "I'm sure that was why. Garrett was as worried about Edward as we were, but there was nothing he could do. He's the one who called me, after he flew to Washington and found out for sure that it was Edward. I think you know the rest."

I nodded, a bit blindsided by how much of his life Edward had sacrificed to work for the FBI, and how it had affected his family.

Carlisle looked at me then, his expression full of regret. "Bella, I'm so sorry that I took Edward from Forks the way that I did. I know I caused you both a lot of unnecessary heartache, and I truly apologize for that."

What he said was certainly true, but I couldn't have him feeling bad about it. "Oh, Carlisle, there's no way that you could have known! Had I been in your place, I would have done exactly what you did. Please don't feel bad about it."

"Thank you, Bella. You're very kind," he said, smiling warmly at me.

I smiled back at him, and my eyes fell on the clock on the mantle. It was nearly eleven. "Well, I think I should get some sleep now. It's been quite a long day."

"I'm sure it has," Esme agreed. "Hopefully tomorrow will be a much better one. I'm so glad that we got to spend some time together, although it was unfortunate that Edward couldn't be with us too."

"I'm sure he'll feel better tomorrow," I said. I was almost positive, based on our past experiences, that Edward would be better in the morning. I really hoped I was right.

I made my way up to his old bedroom, and found him still sleeping peacefully. I changed into my pajamas and spooned behind him, his warmth bringing me contentment as I drifted off to sleep.

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Edward

I opened my eyes, and for a minute I had no idea where the hell I was. I looked over and Bella was beside me, so wherever I was couldn't be that bad…

I looked around and realized that we were in my old bedroom in my parent's house in Chicago. How the fuck did I get here? I remembered boarding the plane with Bella, we took off, and suddenly I was in so much pain I couldn't fucking see…I think she gave me some fentanyl…and then here. Oh shit. What the hell had happened to me?

Bella stirred beside me, and as she opened her eyes a smile spread across her face. "Good morning, baby. How are you today?"

"Um, fine, I think. My head doesn't hurt…but what the hell happened yesterday? I don't remember anything after you gave me that fentanyl," I said, unable to keep the slight panic out of my voice.

"You reacted pretty badly to it," she told me. "You had no idea what was going on, and you asked me where we were about twenty times when we were on the plane. Even though you had the patch on, you were still in pain the whole time, and it got really bad when we started descending. You should be glad you don't remember it, you had a pretty rough day."

"Bella, given my previous experiences, I'm never happy when I can't remember something," I said ruefully.

"Point taken," she replied, smiling at me.

"Then what happened?" I asked.

"Well, we met your parents, and you were still hurting, so when we got here your dad gave you something that pretty much knocked you out for the rest of the day."

"Yeah, he's good at that," I commented sarcastically, recalling my time in Chicago after the shooting. "Did things go okay with my parents? You had to meet them basically by yourself—that's not what I wanted…"

"You were upset about that yesterday too," she said thoughtfully. "Everything was fine. They found us pretty quickly, and then we got you here and settled, and I had a nice time talking to them and getting to know them a little. It really was okay."

I eyed her suspiciously. "So let me get this straight. I was up here asleep for most of the day, and you spent that time talking to my parents."

"Yup, that about sums it up," she answered, beaming at me and grinning.

"And that was…okay?" I asked again, still trying to wrap my mind around the concept of Bella and my parents spending a significant amount of time together without me.

"I already said it was okay," Bella replied, chuckling. "It was more than okay. It was very…enlightening."

"Oh shit," I swore, my curiosity slipping into overdrive. "What all did they tell you?"

Now she openly laughed at me. "Everything I wanted to know!"

Oh God, with the way things had gone over the last few months, I hadn't even had time to think about what parts of my past I might not be ready to share yet, if any, and now it seemed I didn't get a choice in the matter.

"Edward, breathe," Bella said, her grin fading a little as she reached over and touched my cheek with the back of her hand. "I was just teasing you. I did ask your parents questions about you, and they told me a bit about how you grew up, but it's not as if they whipped out the baby pictures. Relax."

I did take a deep breath then, and I felt a bit better. "I'm sorry, Bella. I'm a little on edge with everything else that's going on this week, and yesterday didn't go at all the way I was hoping it would."

"Just because it doesn't go according to 'Edward's plan' doesn't mean that it can't turn out just fine," she said soothingly.

I smiled at her, feeling the tension dissipate from my shoulders. "You're right. I'm sorry. It was just a little unsettling to wake up this morning and have no idea what happened yesterday."

"I understand. I should have known you'd be a bit freaked out, and I shouldn't have teased you. I'm sorry too," she said, leaning in to kiss me apologetically.

God, I loved her! She always seemed to know exactly what I needed. And right now what I really needed was a little girlfriend attention. I pulled her closer, thrusting my tongue into her mouth and pressing my erection against her thigh.

"Edward, your parents are right down the hall!" Bella exclaimed.

"So? We can be quiet," I reasoned.

"No, I don't believe that you can," she accused, poking me in the chest with her finger. "And considering that I don't actually want you to, I don't see this turning out well."

"Aww, come on, Bella!" I pleaded. "I can be good. Let's at least try, and if we're too loud we can stop."

She rolled her eyes at me and chuckled. "Like that's ever going to happen." But she wound her hand down between us, and I was quiet as a mouse as she stroked me. At least for a little while.

I don't think that we woke up the neighbors…

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After our…wake up call, we dressed, intending to go downstairs to get some breakfast and see my parents. As I reached for my sling, Bella stopped me.

"Oh no, the deal was only when we're in public. Your mom's kitchen does not count as public," she said firmly.

She didn't let me use the sling at home anymore, for the most part, because now that I had almost complete motor control of my shoulder and elbow, it was important that I move my arm normally as much as possible. Unfortunately, this made it painfully obvious that I didn't have the use of my wrist or hand, while the sling allowed me to "hide" exactly what the issue was. Since I didn't really want anyone in Chicago to know the extent of the damage, she had relented and allowed me to use the sling, at least in public, while we were here. I guess I should have been a little more careful in negotiating this deal, because my mom was going to flip when she saw that I couldn't use my hand at all yet.

I gave her my best sad little boy face, and poked out my lower lip, but she just crossed her arms over her chest.

"You know how important this is. It's bad enough that you won't be using your arm for the better part of four days while we're here. We're still going to do therapy every day, and while you're inside the house I want you to do things exactly as you would in the apartment. Your mom and dad will understand."

I sighed and dropped the sling. In all honesty, I was happier with my arm immobilized. Trying to use my fingers and failing was a constant reminder of what had happened to me and what I had lost, and how much work I still needed to do to get it back. I didn't think I really needed that stress on top of everything else this week, but as usual, Bella was probably right. I had to keep facing this, just like I was going to face Aro on Wednesday.

"Okay," I agreed, kissing her softly before turning to lead the way down the stairs.

We found my parents in the kitchen, the coffee already brewed and French toast in the large skillet on the stove top.

"Hi Mom," I said warmly, putting both arms around her in a firm hug. She pulled back immediately, obviously surprised that she'd felt both my arms wrap around her, and looked at my left arm. "It's not completely healed, but now I can control my shoulder and elbow."

"What about your wrist, and your hand?" she asked quickly.

I just shook my head.

"But we'll get there," Bella said confidently as she came to stand beside me.

I put my arm around her.

"And no babying him," Bella continued. "He needs to use that arm as much as possible, at least while he's here in the house."

"Absolutely," my mom agreed.

I glanced between the two of them, their determination a perfect mirror of each other. I could see that this was a match made in heaven.

Just then, my dad swooped in to save me.

"How are you feeling today, son?" he asked as he crossed the kitchen and gave me a hug.

"Much better than yesterday. The flight was horrible, and I don't remember anything after Bella gave me the fentanyl patch."

"That's not too surprising," my dad said. "Fentanyl is very potent, and if you hadn't taken it for a few weeks, your tolerance would have disappeared."

"I guess that's what happened," I replied, shrugging my good shoulder. "At least the headache is gone today."

"That's the spirit!" my mom enthused, gesturing to us to sit at the table as she served a heaping plate of French toast.

After eating basically nothing yesterday, I was starving, so the kitchen was very quiet as we all enjoyed a hearty breakfast.

As I was finishing my last piece of French toast, I glanced up at my mom. "So, did you guys have a nice evening last night?"

"Oh yes," my mom replied enthusiastically. "Bella told us all about her family and her life in Forks, and we told her everything you never wanted a girlfriend to know about you. She particularly enjoyed the baby pictures."

I had believed Bella when she had said my mom didn't whip out the baby pictures, but them both mentioning it this morning made me more than a little suspicious. I shot a quick look at Bella, and she frowned back at me, shaking her head a little. Oh well, if my mom had trotted out every embarrassing photo she had of me, there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it now anyway, and I had bigger things to worry about this week. I gave Bella a small smile.

"I'm sure she did," I replied to my mom. "I was the cutest baby ever, so why wouldn't you share?"

She reached a hand out to smack me upside the head, but then thought better of it at the last minute and glared at me instead.

I grinned back at her, and she ruffled my hair affectionately.

I jumped as my cell phone vibrated in my pocket, and clumsily fished it out to read the text.

"Hey, Bella, Garrett just texted me, asking if we want to go out for drinks tonight with him and his girlfriend, Kate. Would that be okay?"

"Sure," Bella answered, smiling warmly at me. "It would be nice to see him again, and I'm sure you and he still have some catching up to do."

I grinned back at her, marveling at how easily she accepted all the new and different things she'd learned about me. I still had a hard time putting it all together, but she seemed to do it with ease. She was on my left side, so I maneuvered my left arm carefully, and placed my hand on top of hers, frowning a bit in concentration as I lightly squeezed her fingers.

Her smile of pure delight was more than enough reward for the effort that I had put in.

We spent the day just lounging around my parents' house and chatting with them, until it was time to get ready for Garrett to pick us up. We had decided that that would be the easiest way to do things, since I couldn't drive, and Bella didn't know her way around Chicago, particularly in the dark.

It was a nice, relaxing day—Bella had talked me into coming to Chicago early, so that I'd have time to recover if there were any issues with the flight, and as it had turned out, that was exactly what I'd needed. I had my meeting with the prosecutor scheduled for the following day, and then I took the stand on Wednesday. It was wonderful to have some down time first.

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Bella

Garrett picked us up around seven, explaining that Kate was running late, and would meet us at the bar. As we drove, Edward asked Garrett about how the trial was going so far, and about the evidence against Aro.

"So far, everything is going according to plan," Garrett said. "But you know that the big stuff is coming this week."

Edward nodded his head and said nothing, his mind seemingly on the role he had to play.

When we arrived, the bar was crowded, so we loitered around the entrance so we could get a table. Just as we finally got one, a tall blonde sidled up to Garrett and put a hand on his shoulder, leaning in to kiss him briefly and then smiling warmly at us.

"Edward, Bella, this is Kate. She works in computer crime for the Bureau," Garrett said, as the blonde beside him extended her hand first to Edward.

Ever the gentleman, Edward took her hand and kissed it gallantly, earning him a shot in the arm from Garrett.

"A pleasure to meet you," Kate said, clearly confused by Garrett's reaction.

"Likewise," Edward replied, flashing her a brilliant smile. Then he rounded on Garrett. "Ow! Just because you have the manners of a troll doesn't mean the rest of us do," Edward admonished, wincing and rolling his shoulder.

I knew if he could have used his other arm, he would have been rubbing said shoulder right now, so I massaged it for him. He smiled at me gratefully.

"It's not about manners, it's about theft, and you know it, Ed," Garrett returned, grinning at him wickedly.

Edward froze for a second, but recovered quickly, casting a furtive glance at me. "I don't think we need to go there right now, Garrett," he said shortly.

"Oh, no?" Garrett pressed. "Why—"

"Hey, who's dating who here?" I interjected, and both of them looked at me and started laughing. Even Kate, who still looked confused, chuckled a bit.

"Sorry, ladies," Garrett said, smiling contritely at both of us. "Ed and I have known each other a long time, and we have a lot of history, particularly in establishments like this one."

I glanced at Edward to find him blushing adorably, and doing his best not to meet my eyes. I knew what he was capable of when he put his mind to it, with those gorgeous green eyes of his and that seductive smile, so this conversation really hadn't surprised me in the slightest.

"Why don't you ladies have a seat and we'll go get some drinks?" Edward offered, pulling out a chair for me. Kate and I sat, and I watched Edward and Garrett jostle each other like school boys as they made their way to the bar. I wondered briefly if things would have been better for Edward if he were recovering here rather than in Forks, but I quickly decided that they really wouldn't have been. This was only the second time he'd been in a bar since the shooting—mainly because the loud music and cigarette smoke were potential triggers for the headaches he was trying so desperately to avoid. And here, he wouldn't have had someone to curl up with at night, and in-home physical therapy whenever he was able to manage it. I smiled as I recalled that some of our recent physical therapy sessions had turned rather more physical than was really required—as the headaches waned, Edward was able to devote more of himself to other pursuits.

Kate smiled politely at me. "So, you met Edward in Washington?" she asked delicately.

"Yes, I've known him for eight months now, and we started dating four months ago," I told her.

"Garrett's told me a bit of what happened to him. I can't imagine what that must have been like. It's so good that you were there to help him, so he didn't have to go through it alone."

"Yes," I managed, surprised by her thoughts. I had a feeling I was going to like this woman.

"Is he ready to testify on Wednesday?" she continued.

"Yes, I think so. He's nervous about it, and he still has to meet with the prosecutor tomorrow, but I think he'll do fine."

"This is such a big case for the Bureau," she said. "It's been a circus around here for the last two months, with all the arrests and arraignments. It's probably good that Edward wasn't here for all of that. The press would have been on him after every arrest. The whole thing hinges on his testimony, and the evidence that he and Tanya collected."

Her words gave me pause. I knew that this was a big deal, but I didn't realize that so much of it was riding on Edward. I had been telling him that he should relax about it, but maybe he had more reason for his anxiousness than I thought.

My thoughts were interrupted by Edward and Garrett, returning with our drinks.

As Edward settled in beside me, I saw him run a hand over his forehead. It looked casual, but I knew better. "What is it?" I whispered softly, so only he could hear me.

He glanced over at me, looking slightly surprised, but then he chuckled. "Of course. I should know better," he muttered under his breath. "I'm all right. I have a slight headache, but nothing to worry about."

"Do you want to take something for it?" I offered.

"Yes," he answered, clinking his beer bottle against mine and taking a long pull.

I couldn't help but smile at him. I was amazed that in the middle of all that was going on, he could still kick back and relax a bit. "That's fine, just take it easy, okay?"

He saluted me cockily, and then leaned in to kiss me as I narrowed my eyes at him.

"Don't worry, I have no intention of tempting fate," he said as he straightened up next to me. "We've already had more fun on this trip than I bargained for. I just want to have a beer or two and relax."

"That sound like an excellent idea," I told him.

And that's exactly what we did. Edward and Garrett regaled Kate and I with stories of their antics while working for the Chicago PD, and their early days with the FBI. I could tell that walking the beat in Chicago had been a difficult job for both of them, but they had depended on each other to help get both of them through it.

It was truly amazing to see Edward with Garrett. Edward had good friends in Emmett and Jasper back in Forks, but he and Garrett had had years to form the bond they shared. They knew each other so well that it seemed as if they were brothers who had been separated at birth. They were like school boys—ribbing each other and teasing, always trying to one up the other.

I learned a lot about Edward that night—even more than he realized. After a few rounds of beer, Edward excused himself from the table, leaving me alone with Garrett and Kate.

Garrett got an evil gleam in his eye. "Now I can tell a few of the better stories that Ed skipped over," he said gleefully.

I giggled and rolled my eyes. I doubted Edward would be happy about this, but there wasn't anything that Garrett could tell me that would make me think less of Edward, so I didn't see the harm.

But I could immediately see why Edward would have skipped over a few of these evenings. As it turned out, he had been quite wild in his early days on the force.

"...and he had a girl on each knee..." Garrett was saying, just as Edward returned to the table.

Edward's eyebrows rose further than I'd ever seen, but it only took him a moment to recover himself and turn his glare on Garrett.

"Garrett," he hissed, making a sharp slashing motion across his throat. He caught my eyes on him, and he grinned at me innocently. I looked away casually, just to see what he would do, and he immediately furrowed his eyebrows at Garrett and fixed him with a threatening stare. The whole thing was so quick and so comical that I burst out laughing.

Edward looked at me helplessly, and I grabbed his chin and pulled him in for a kiss. "Oh, I knew you were a bit of a wild one," I declared to the table at large, and for his ears only I whispered, "close your eyes".

"Oh no," he whispered back, "that was only for you."

I was delightfully surprised at his response, and he kissed me again to prove that he was being sincere. As his tongue found mine, I felt heat blossom between my legs and my stomach did a giddy flip. How on earth did I get so lucky?

I pulled back reluctantly, because I didn't want to be rude to our companions. As it turned out, they were sharing a kiss at the same time, so it was all good.

Garrett behaved himself after that, and stayed away from whatever other crazy stories he had that Edward would not have approved of having shared. Eventually, the conversation made its way back to the trial, and to Edward's future.

"So, have you made up your mind about coming back?" Garrett asked, turning serious for a moment.

Edward glanced at him and took a deep breath. "I'm out, Garrett. I'm going to turn my resignation in to Littman tomorrow morning."

"Shit," Garrett muttered, taking a long pull from his beer.

Edward sighed. "In some ways, I wish things weren't as they are, but that doesn't make it so. I need something with a little less risk of being knocked out cold again. I've already had a traumatic brain injury and a serious concussion, and thankfully neither resulted in any permanent damage. I'm not willing to risk finding out if the third time's the charm. Besides, there's no way I could pass the field test again. Remember the grip test? Never gonna happen."

I wanted to argue that we'd get his hand back to the way it was, but I honestly didn't know if it was true, and that wasn't going to help Edward's explanation to Garrett.

Garrett took another long drink and stared at his bottle thoughtfully. "I understand, but I don't have to like it," he replied, looking at Edward. "I'm going to miss you."

"I know," Edward replied. "I'll miss you too. I think I'm making the right choice, though. I'm finally getting somewhere with the therapy for my arm, and I've decided to go to school for counseling in the fall. I need to focus on getting better and moving on, and that will be much easier if I can put all of this behind me."

"Wise words," said Garrett. "Did Bella tell you all that shit?"

Edward smirked and reached across the table to pound Garrett's fingers with his fist. He narrowly missed before Garrett pulled his hand away, laughing the whole time.

"Smartass," Edward remarked, glaring at him.

"Yeah but it's…better than being a dumbass." They had both finished the sentence, and I laughed, remembering how Edward had said that to me before he had gotten his memory back. It seems that there were things that he remembered—he just hadn't realized it.

They both smirked at each other. "Besides," Edward explained, "it's not like we won't be back. You know my mother is going to insist that we visit regularly."

"Of course," I piped up, "and I like it here. It's a lot more fun, compared to the one-horse town I come from."

Garrett choked on his beer as he stared at me wide-eyed, and I burst out laughing.

Edward looked from one of us to the other, and I winked at Garrett playfully.

"I'm missing something here," Edward stated, at a loss.

"Nevermind," I told him. "You had to be there."

Garrett grinned at me sheepishly, turning a delightful shade of red. "Yes, apparently there were more people there than I thought."

Edward was still trying to follow the conversation. "What—"

He didn't get any further, because I covered his lips with my own, and wound a hand down between his legs to complete the distraction. It worked spectacularly, and by the time I finished kissing him, Garrett had a new conversation going.

All in all, we had a delightful evening with Garrett and Kate, and we promised that we'd go out with them again, if we had time after Edward was done testifying. Since Edward had a big day coming up the next day with turning in his resignation and prepping for the trial with the prosecutor, we decided to call it a night around eleven-thirty, and Garrett drove us back to Edward's parent's place.

When we got there, the house was quiet and empty—I'd forgotten that Carlisle and Esme were attending a benefit dinner on the other side of town and were staying at the hotel where it was being held. Carlisle was going to come back and get Edward in the morning to take him downtown, but for now, we had the house to ourselves.

As we made our way up to his room, Edward grabbed playfully at my waist and I squealed as he tickled me. I ran up the last few stairs and down the hallway into his room, and I could hear his footsteps close behind me. I stopped a few steps into the bedroom, waiting to see what he would do when he caught me.

I shivered as I felt his warm breath against my neck, and his hand traveled up under my sweater to gently massage my breast.

"We don't have to be quiet tonight," he whispered seductively, trailing kisses down my neck and on to my exposed shoulder.

"What if I want a quiet night?" I asked breathlessly, my actions contradicting my words as I leaned my head to the side to give him better access to my neck.

"You don't want a quiet night," he told me, as his hand delved into my bra so he could roll my nipple between his fingers. "Besides, you started something at the bar—aren't you going to finish it?" he said huskily, pressing himself against me. God, he was hard. I felt myself clench as I thought about him burying himself inside of me, and wetness gathered between my legs.

I turned in his arms, and my breath caught at the sight of him. His cheeks were flushed from the cold outside and from the buzz of alcohol, his copper hair even wilder than usual from the stiff Chicago wind. He was at ease, and his bright green eyes danced as he saw the fire in mine, smirking as he realized that I definitely did not want a quiet night.

"Oh, I'm not a quitter," I said, shaking my head slowly as I brought one hand up to the back of his neck to splay my fingers in the hair there and the other palmed over his cock. "I definitely finish everything I start." He moaned deeply as I stroked him and I crashed my lips into his, swallowing the sound and groaning myself as I pulled him closer. He tasted like beer and cold air and Edward and my tongue sought his roughly, twisting and tangling as his good hand found its way around me to cup my ass.

He broke away from our heated kiss with a grunt, reaching behind his head to pull the sling from around his neck and let it drop to the floor. His hand quickly found the hem of my sweater, pulling it roughly over my head as his lips sought my bare chest, licking and sucking along the line of my bra.

I threw my head back as what he was doing went straight to my clit, but I kept stroking him through his jeans. Soon low moans began to mingle in with his panting, and my pussy clenched even tighter as the sound drove me wild. I lived for the sounds Edward made when I touched him, but all too soon he was nudging my hand away and fighting for control.

"Ohhh, Bella, any more of that and we won't make it to the bed," he warned me. Part of me wanted to keep going just so I could hear the glorious sound of him letting go, but I knew it would be even better if I waited.

I realized then that he was still fully dressed, so my hands sought the hem of his sweater and yanked it over his head. I stepped in close, nuzzling my head into the warmth of his chest as I wrapped my arms around him, trying not to grind against him until he was ready for more.

"Mmmm," he hummed contentedly as he held me, deftly reaching behind me and flicking open my bra with his good hand.

I glanced up and playful green eyes met mine. "I think we're both still wearing too many clothes," he observed, looking pointedly at the button of my jeans.

I smirked at him as I reached down and undid my jeans, stepping out of both them and my panties and then reaching for Edward's in turn. This was one of the things that he had an awful time trying to do one-handed, so I made it a point to beat him to it every time.

As I slid his jeans and boxers down, his rock-hard cock was just inches from my face, already weeping pre-cum from the tip and suddenly I was on my knees, taking him into my mouth as deep as he could go. He sucked in a rapid breath, grabbing on to the dresser for support as he gasped. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to hear and see him lose it for me, so I started a rapid rhythm, swirling and sucking as I felt his legs begin to tremble.

"Oh…Bella," Edward moaned, his breathing quickly accelerating and his moans turning to soft cries of pleasure. Suddenly, he threw his head back. "Fuck…Bella…I'm gonna come…can't stop—" And he cried out as he pulsed into my mouth.

Oh my God, I almost came right then as he shuddered and panted, my hands gripping his hips as he slowly stilled. I stood and pressed myself against him, my fingers feathering up and down his back as his breathing slowed.

His head dropped to my shoulder, his breath ghosting against my collarbone as he pulled me to him. Suddenly, he chuckled, raising his head and pulling back to look at me with sparkling eyes. "What was that?"

"I finished it," I said simply, shrugging and raising my eyebrows.

He laughed and dove for my lips, kissing me and still chuckling as he walked me backwards and pushed me down on to the bed, crawling up to lay beside me. "Well, if that's the way you're going to do things, never again will I complain when you grab my dick to distract me or shut me up."

I reached up and ran my fingers into his hair, pushing the longer strands away from his forehead. "I'm just so happy that you were able to relax tonight. It's been a stressful week already, and it's only going to get worse."

He sighed and shook his head slightly. "Let's not think about that now. Not when we're both lying here naked and have the house to ourselves. Tomorrow will take care of itself."

I nodded as he nuzzled against my neck, laying soft kisses there as his fingers played idly on my leg. I shivered as his index finger traced a line up my inner thigh, arching off the bed as it landed on my clit and began a slow circling rhythm.

"I think it's my turn to finish you now," he breathed against my neck, moving closer to press himself against my side and spreading my folds with his fingers. My moan was low and needy as his finger entered me, moving slowly at first, until another finger joined it. He set a steady rhythm in and out, curling his fingers to reach that spot deep inside me while his lips caressed the underside of my jaw.

I moved my hips against his hand, feeling the delicious tingle already beginning as I reached for his chin, pulling his lips up to mine. I thrust my tongue into his mouth greedily, suddenly needing to be as close and connected as possible to the gorgeous man before me as he pushed me closer and closer to the edge.

He pulled back a little from the kiss, breathing hard against my mouth. "Come for me, Bella. Let me feel you," he urged, pressing his thumb against my clit and rubbing hard as he curled his fingers just right.

I threw my head back with a sharp cry as my orgasm rushed over me, my thigh muscles clenching and my voice echoing with each spasm between my legs. I laid my head on the pillow wearily, panting as I came down from my high, only to realize that Edward was rubbing his renewed arousal against my leg.

He grinned at me sheepishly, but then his eyes darkened with need. "Can I make love to you, Bella?" came his husky whisper underneath my ear, his hand brushing gently over my hip as his own hips continued their slow motion.

I answered him with my lips and tongue, kissing him passionately as he rocked against me. Edward couldn't be on top since he still couldn't hold his weight on his left arm, but this had led to us getting pretty creative with other positions, so I didn't really consider it a bad thing. I knew Edward missed the control of being on top, and just the ability to do anything he wanted with me, though. So much of what was happening this week was out of his control…

"Any way you want, baby," I told him, smiling at the wicked grin that spread across his face.

He seared my lips with one more needy kiss before getting up on his knees. "Turn over, Bella," he instructed me, and I grinned as I realized what he wanted me to do.

I rolled onto my stomach and brought my knees up under me, balancing my weight on my elbows as I arched my back and spread my legs for him.

A low whistle came from behind me. "Wow, what a view," Edward groaned appreciatively, and I chuckled as I shook my head.

I looked over my shoulder to see him stroking himself as he stared at me, and his gaze was so heated that my muscles clenched and I suddenly wanted him inside me right now. "Edward, please," I whispered, and I sucked in a harsh breath as he teased my entrance with the tip of his cock.

We both groaned as he plunged into me without warning, but then he moved slowly, curling around me as his hips bucked gently. He rested his injured arm on my back, but his right hand soon found my breast, kneading gently as his lips feathered kisses down my back. It was warm and sweet, and so filled with love that the only thing missing was that I couldn't look into his eyes. So I closed my eyes and just felt. A shiver rolled up my spine as Edward's breath warmed my back in soft pants.

"I love you, Bella," he whispered against me, laving his tongue along my spine as his rhythm picked up a bit.

Suddenly, I didn't want gentle and sweet anymore as I could feel myself climbing again toward release. "More, Edward," I pleaded, and his lips were gone from my back as he pushed himself upward. My hips were already pushing back against him with every thrust, but now he pounded into me in earnest, the sound of our skin slapping together echoing loudly through the room.

Edward began to moan as he drove deeper, and that sound along with his cock hitting just the right spot inside me was quickly bringing me to climax. I hoped he was close, and I got my answer as his thrusts became erratic and frenzied.

"Oh fuck, Bella, I'm gonna explode," he ground out, his hand gripping my hip as a cry tore from his throat. He pulsed inside me as I clamped down on him, finding our release together and crying out in pleasure.

Edward collapsed against my back, a shuddering heap of warmth and exhaustion, and I somehow slid my knees outward until I my stomach touched the sheets.

"Wow," Edward said into my shoulder blade, and I could feel his contented smile against my skin. He pulled out gently and lay on his side next to me as I rolled over to face him. He brought his hand up and caressed my cheek, his eyes a soft, brilliant green as he stared at me. "Thank you, for making this week bearable," he whispered.

I ran my fingers gently into his hair as I looked at him—he'd come so far, and done so well—there was only a little way to go until it was all over with. "You're welcome. Thanks for letting me tag along."

He chuckled as he pulled me toward him, shifting me over to his other side so I could sleep on his good shoulder and pulling the blankets up over us. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

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The next day, Edward's dad drove him down to the bureau office so he could turn in his resignation, and then they had lunch together in the city and went straight to Edward's prep session with the prosecutor. I had wanted to go with him, but he had convinced me that I would be bored all day, and his dad had some errands to run in the area anyway.

So, I spent the day shopping in Chicago with Esme. We had a great time, and I actually bought myself a few new things, since the stores had a much larger selection than what I could get at home. We all met up back at his parents' house in the early evening and had a quiet dinner together. Edward seemed…subdued, and tired. He didn't mention anything about his trip to the Bureau or his prep session, and everyone seemed to be in unspoken agreement not to ask.

We excused ourselves early, and as we crawled into bed I burrowed my head under his arm and snuggled up as close as I could.

"Everything all right?" I asked softly.

He looked over at me and sighed. "Yes, everything's fine. Well, as fine as it can be under the circumstances. It was…a long day. Turning in my resignation was harder than I thought it would be, and then the session with the prosecutor was…difficult."

"Do you want to talk about it?" I asked, reaching up to brush a stray lock of hair from his forehead.

"No, there's not much to say, really. I just have to focus on what I need to do tomorrow, and try not to overanalyze it."

"You're going to do just fine. You're ready for this," I told him, lifting my head to gently feather kisses down his neck.

"Mmm…" he hummed at me contentedly, but I knew he was too tired and too distracted for anything more. I reached up and kissed him chastely on the lips, and then snuggled in to sleep on his shoulder. He pressed his lips against the top of my head, and I felt him smile.

"Goodnight, Bella," he whispered softly.

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A/N: So, I decided to post this outtake in two parts, mostly because it's so long! The next part will post within a few weeks, and will cover Aro's trial and the rest of the week in Chicago. I hope you enjoy it!

Now, I need your help with something. How to Forget was nominated over at TwiFanfictionRecs in the Top Ten Completed Fics in December Poll along with a lot of other fabulous stories! It would be so awesome to be in the top ten! If you enjoyed the story, please go over and VOTE! I realize it's almost the end of the month, but you can vote once a day, so if you have time this week, vote more than once! Thanks, guys!

twifanfictionrecs*com/2014/01/01/vote-for-your-top-ten-completed-fics-december-2013/ (replace the * with . and the link will work)