To my amazing and wonderfully supportive girls Kitty and Mary, I couldn't have done it without all of their "ftssshhing" and help. I'm sorry this took so long, but RL kicked my arse so much this past month!
I own nothing.
All through lunch I was tense. As much as I loved being home, back with my family again I just couldn't stop looking at or thinking about the man sitting opposite me. It was so bizarre, but I missed him… craved him more at that very moment than all those weeks and months we spent apart.
My dad tried the intimidating interrogation tactics he would have been taught years ago, however, being police chief in a town like Forks probably left him with little chance to practice and Edward deftly charmed his way through his questions and by the end of it he certainly had my dad's approval. As I watched and listened to him, I found myself becoming mesmerised by his eyes, his voice, and crooked smile; I was falling for him all over again.
Lunch dragged on and on as obviously my family were eager to hear all about my travels, quizzing me for details and if I even tried to give them a brief synopsis, they would inundate me with more questions. By the time I'd reached the part where Emily and I were in Norway, I was ready to burst, and I think Edward was too.
"And you just decided to come home?" Phil asked doubtfully and when I nodded he scoffed.
"At the time I didn't think anything was going to top that, Emily agreed it was the perfect place to finish so we came home." I shrugged.
"At the time?" Dad questioned. "So now you're saying something could top it?"
"Something already did," I said quietly, grinning at Edward who returned the smile that I'd missed so much.
"Huh? Oh," Dad mumbled and my mother laughed.
"Well, I think we've been at this table long enough. I can have your bedroom ready if you need a place to stay," she paused and then added with a sneaky little wink, "Unless you've made other plans of course."
"I'll call you later, Mom," I said to her and she nodded.
"I assume you'll be taking the rest of the afternoon off, Edward?" Phil asked him.
"I had my assistant clear my schedule. I can catch up tomorrow."
"Do you want to grab a coffee or something?" I asked Edward and he nodded once, his mind clearly on the or something.
I walked out of the entrance to the restaurant with my family and watched as they drove off and then flung myself at Edward, kissing and hugging him tightly. "I thought that was never going to end," I sighed and then for the first time a sense of awkwardness fell upon us. "So… coffee?"
"Can I show you something first?" he asked, holding out his hand to lead me to his car.
"Sure," I agreed happily.
Within just a few minutes, I knew where he was headed and my smile grew even wider when the car turned up the long sweeping driveway to his house. It looked as beautiful as it did before, maybe even more so now there was no overhanging doubt about our relationship.
"You moved in?" I asked and he shook his head, climbing out of the car before coming to open my door. "How come?"
"Not without you," he said and I glanced at him quickly. "When I first came here after you left I saw you in every single room. In every scenario I tried to picture, you were there and it wasn't the same without you. I hated how much it reminded me of what I'd lost and I realised it was just another part of my life that I didn't want if you weren't there to share it."
"But when you came back from Italy and you knew we were going to be okay, why not then?"
He smiled and shook his head again. "This isn't my house, Bella. It's our house—always has been. I had the old fixtures and furniture cleared out, I wanted it to be a blank canvas, a new start for both of us and," he blew out his cheeks, "well I was hoping we could start right now. Move in with me, Bella?"
"Right now?" I repeated and he nodded, not a single glimmer of hesitation or doubt on his face.
"I love you and I want to spend every second of every day with you." He grabbed my hand and kissed it. "I'll check out of the hotel for good and we can walk through that door and turn our blank canvas into something fucking amazing."
I took a few steps towards the house and then stopped, turning back to look at Edward. He was leaning against his car, with the breath-taking views of the Puget Sound in the background. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and its rays were bouncing off the water, making the entire scene seem almost surreal. I had been right at lunch, there was nothing else I could ever see that was more beautiful than him, more beautiful than what he was prepared to give me—all of him.
"I love you, Edward Cullen, and I would love to move in with you right now," I whispered and he stood up straight, smiling his trademark lopsided grin, as I walked towards him. "I want to make that blank canvas into something amazing and I want to wake up right here with you every single morning. I want you to make me breakfast in bed and I don't even care if you serve me Cheerios because you burned the eggs. I want to sit out in the hot tub in the middle of winter until the early hours because it's too cold to get out and make a run into the house. I want to turn down the heat so we can snuggle up under a blanket while we watch weird documentaries about people with bizarre fetishes."
"All of that and then some," he murmured, resting his head on mine. "Let me take you to the Christmas Party on Saturday night?"
"I'd really like that," I said and then tilted my head up to kiss him.
No parents around, no airport full of travellers, no one to keep us in control so I kissed him like 'd wanted to since I first spotted him waiting for me. His hands slipped underneath my shirt, his fingers gently tracing the skin above the waistband of my jeans before he ended the kiss, much to my disgruntlement.
"Let's go inside," he said, chuckling at my expression as he tugged me along behind him. "I'm not rushing this."
As I followed him through the door and into the foyer, I took in the difference of the house without the furnishings, the pictures on the walls and found myself looking forward to making a start. I pictured what we could make it and that made me smile.
We didn't go to the bedroom not that it mattered as there was no bed in there anyway, but instead we continued on up the next flight of stairs towards the beautiful little room with panoramic views. This room had been breath-taking the first time, and I felt exactly the same the second time around.
The chairs were gone, but the soft rug was still in place on the floor. "I think the company who cleared the house forgot about this," Edward said kicking the rug nervously.
"Lucky for us," I said nervously, and laughed at how ridiculous I was being.
"Yeah, I guess in hindsight their incompetence it wasn't so bad." Edward glanced back to the door and added, "We can just-"
"Come here," I said, tugging on his shirt. "This is perfect."
I kissed him, softly to make sure he knew just how perfect and I felt him relax. The nerves, the tension or whatever the hell we'd been feeling evaporated almost instantaneously and it was like we'd never spent a moment apart.
I unbuttoned his shirt, pushing it off his shoulders and then leaned forward to place a kiss on his chest, feeling his heart drumming against my lips. I smiled and stepped back, raising my arms up so he could pull my shirt over my head. I smirked as his eyes dropped hungrily down to my bra and then laughing as he unclasped it and threw it to the floor before I even realised it was off.
My jeans followed quickly, and for a few seconds he just stood there staring at me in nothing but my underwear. I started to feel a little self-conscious, so I reached forward and unbuckled his belt, grinning when it hit the floor with a thud. The image of our first night together now seemed like a life time together, yet I could picture it with such clarity it made my stomach clench in anticipation.
Edward dropped to his knees in front of me, dragging his lips across my stomach and then slowly slipped two fingers into my underwear. I gasped, he groaned and there was no doubting how affected we both were, because it seemed like only seconds later I was seeing stars. With his head rested on my stomach, breathing hard, Edward waited, letting me come down before moving. I tangled my fingers in his hair and when I'd regained some composure I pulled his head back to look at me.
He smiled and nodded once, then pulled my underwear down my legs. "Lay down," he whispered and I did as he asked. Settling over me, he kissed my forehead saying almost apologetically, "This might not last long."
"We've got all night," I reminded him and he shook his head.
"We've got a lot longer than that, Bella."
It had been dark before we left the little room at the top of our house. We had no spare clothes, no food, no furniture or anything else, but neither of us had any intention of sleeping anywhere else that night. We ordered take out and slept, albeit uncomfortably, on the rug upstairs. To stay we were stiff, cold and full of aches and pains the next morning was an understatement, but neither of us gave it a second thought.
Breakfast was left over, cold pizza and then reluctantly I got into the car with Edward as he drove into the city for work.
"Lunch?" he asked as we pulled up outside the building I used to share with Amber and Carmen.
"Definitely." I nodded emphatically. "After I've caught up with the girls, I'm going to get a few things for us that we need if you want to stay in the house. Like a blanket or two and maybe even a blow up mattress or something?"
"Sounds good." He leaned over the console and kissed me. "Don't be late."
I wasn't late arriving, but our time together was a lot less than we'd planned. We barely made it out of Edward's office before we were surrounded by people. Alice, Jessica, Seth, Jake, and Emmett all turned up to greet me and ask question after question about the trip, Edward's video, and what the plan was now for me.
"Her plan at this very moment in time," Edward said sulkily, ate former Mr. Cockhead just starting to show through, "is to have lunch with her boyfriend. You can see her on Saturday night."
"You're coming to the party?" Alice asked and I nodded. "Great, you can spend the whole night telling me about the trip."
"We need to know every detail," Jessica added.
"Oh great," Edward muttered. "I have to share you then, too."
"Aw, poor little guy's all jealous," I said, patting his cheek playfully and he swatted my hand away.
"Hey, you'd better be careful on your way downstairs," Emmett said seriously and we both frowned. "There's a health and safety violation we need to warn people about."
"What violation?" Edward asked.
"Your bottom lip. Eddie, you're pouting so much, someone's going to trip over that thing, I swear to god." Emmett's booming laugh echoed around the floor, quickly followed by a chorus of laughter from everyone else and even Edward was unable to hide the grin on his face.
"Ass," he muttered and then grabbed my hand. "I might have to show up ten minutes late for our meeting later now you've encroached on my time with Bella."
"You'll be there at one sharp, you hate tardiness." He winked.
As the elevator doors closed I said, "He's right. You've never been late in your life."
"Fuck it, there's a first time for everything," he said with a smirk and then we both started laughing.
As we walked through the reception area, he held my hand tightly and I noticed how at ease he was with the other people we passed. He greeted several of them warmly and made a joke about with one of the guy on security.
"I like this new and improved Mr. Cullen," I told him after he was particularly pleasant to the young male server who was quite clearly having a bad day.
"Like him enough to come back and work at D.D.H?" he asked seemingly serious.
"What?" I laughed and stuffed a fork full of food into my mouth. "You're funny."
"I'm serious, Bella, I want you to come back. I have it on good authority that because of recent successes, they're stretched a little thin on the editing team and two new positions are being created to cope with the extra workload. This time there will be no arrogant cockhead trying to fuck up your application." He looked expectantly at me.
"I appreciate the gesture, but I don't need you to get me a job to make up for what happened, Edward," I told him and he shook his head. "Besides, I don't think Phil would like it very much if you and I worked in the same department now he knows about us."
"First of all, I also happen to have it on good authority that there's going to be a new Publishing Director for the fiction department." He nudged me playfully.
"You got your promotion?" I said and he nodded. "Oh my God, Edward, that's so great for you!"
"They're interviewing right now for my replacement," he told me, trying to steal a tomato from my plate and pulling a face when I knocked his hand away. "And once they've found the right person, they're going to let him or her interview for the position in the editing team. I won't be a part of the process at all, if you get the job it's because you deserve it, Bella. If you want to even apply for it in the first place, of course."
"I might just do that," I said quietly, my mind wandering to the possibility of going back to work at D.D.H Edward took my distraction to swipe the of tomato from my plate. "Why are you stealing my food?"
"I'm trying to clear your plate so we can get the hell out of here," he said. "I was thinking about what you said this morning and I've decided we need a real bed. There's no air bed on this planet that can handle what I've got planned for you these next few nights, Bella. So hurry up and finish so we can go and pick one before lunch is over."
The next week flew by. I spent the days painting the house, and Edward came home every afternoon to help me—of course that usually meant making more mess that we had to clean up, but I appreciated the distraction none-the-less.
We almost didn't make it to the Christmas Party thanks to another one of his distractions, but somehow managed to arrive only fashionably late. Edward didn't back off like I thought he might given the fact we were in front of all his work colleagues. He wasn't fazed at all, and even took me up to dance at the end of the evening.
We had an invitation from both my mother and Phil, and my father and his girlfriend, Sue, to spend Christmas lunch with them, but we politely declined, choosing instead to have dinner with my mom and Phil, on Christmas Eve so we could stay at home together in the morning, cooking lunch ourselves. We would then drive over to Forks to spend the evening of Christmas Day with my father and Sue.
I woke up on Christmas morning to find Edward grinning back at me. "Our first Christmas together and we're going to be eating cold Turkey sandwiches and beer," he laughed. "If we'd thought about this we could be eating a mega feast at your mother's house."
"True, but for cold turkey sandwiches and beer in our house we don't need to get dressed if we don't want to," I reminded him. "We could even eat them in bed, and I know for a fact we couldn't have done that at my mother's."
"Mm, that's a very good point," he agreed and then practically sprang to his feet. "Come on, let's go and open our gifts."
"Cool, but let me grab your gift first—I hid it under the bed," I tried to go around him to get it, but he just grabbed my hand and took me to what would become our main reception room.
We'd not gotten around to decorating that room as yet, so there was just a television, a couple of bean bags until we bought a couch, and a lonely looking Christmas tree sitting by the window. Underneath the tree was a neatly wrapped box and a separate envelope that definitely hadn't been there last night.
Edward walked over, his hand still holding mine tightly. "This one first," he said, handing me the envelope and releasing his hold on my hand. "Then the box."
"Okay." I opened the envelope and saw a card with a YouTube link written neatly in the centre. "What's this?"
"Open the box." He pointed to the second gift so I opened it still confused as to what was going on.
"Oh," I said, frowning at Edward's well-loved IPad staring back at me. "Um… thanks?"
"That's not your gift, please give me some credit, Bella," he laughed. "Just go to the browser and enter the link."
"Why?" I asked.
"Do it for me… please?" he asked quietly, so with just a little hesitation I did as he asked.
"What did you do this time?" I said as I waited for the video to start and he just smiled. "The last video you made had me and a café full of girls in tears."
"This is a little different and you're the first to see this, don't worry," he said and then bit his lip.
I looked back down at the screen and saw Edward sitting on the edge of our bed in nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. I was asleep behind him and the date on screen told me he'd recorded it late last night… or should I say very early this morning.
"What is this?" I whispered but he said nothing, and then video Edward began to speak.
"I thought about doing this in Italy, then at the airport when you came home, and about a hundred other times since then but however I planned it in my mind… it just didn't seem special enough. I even considered the Christmas party, but how cliché would that have been? I wanted something more than that for you."
I glanced up at Edward, who hadn't moved a muscle, but I could see how nervous he was and that terrified me.
"So, I got to thinking about the first video I made and doing it this way means I can say just what I want to say without stuttering and stammering because I'm frightened you might just say no. I can tell you how much I love you and want to marry you without having to worry about saying it wrong or messing it up. I can say that you changed my life… changed me to the point I almost don't recognise myself anymore but I like the man I see now. I can tell you that you've made me realize that needing someone to comfort you when things aren't going according to plan isn't a weakness but something that ultimately makes you stronger. I can say without an ounce of hesitation or doubt, that there is nothing I would like more than to ask you to be my wife and have you say yes. The best thing is, I can do this while you're asleep in the vain hope you might really be awake and hear me but then if you don't, I have it on tape to show you in the morning. Isabella Swan, I know this might seem like too much too soon, but I've never been surer of anything."
The video stopped and I saw Edward drop to one knee in front of me, a sparkling diamond ring between his forefinger and thumb and an anxious smile on his face. He opened his mouth to ask, but before he said a single word, I nodded, with a barrage of tears rolling down my face.
"You don't even need to ask," I croaked. "It would have been a yes if you'd asked me in Italy, at the airport, or at the party. Had I woken up last night and heard you, it would have been a yes then. I love you and I've never been surer of anything… or anyone in my life."
How the hell did I ever survive without her? It doesn't matter, now I never have to be without her again.
So, yeah I guess that would be the last official chapter. There is hopefully going to be an epi soon, I have a few things to tie up for these two, but I just needed to get this done first. The newest addition to our family… little Yogi, our chocolate Labrador puppy comes home on Friday, so I probably won't get much time to write for a little while!
Until the next time, thank you all so so much. I've had such an amazing time writing and posting this story. I've loved reading your reviews and I'm sorry I didn't get around to replying to more but I'm grateful to every single one of you for taking the time.
Bye for now,