Disclaimer: I have never nor will I ever own 'Twilight' or 'Autumn of the Witch'
I'm so sorry for the extremely long wait. I have no excuse except that I have been really busy.
"Over here Bella!"
Bella heard someone calling over to her as soon as she walked into the café. Looking over to the direction of the voice Bella saw Angela waving at her from the corner of the room. "Hi Ang, sorry I'm late." Bella apologized when she made her way across the room and sat down at the table with her best friend.
"It's no problem at all. I haven't waited for very long." Angela said waving off her apology.
Just then the waitress walked over to take their order. "Hello ladies, what can I get you?" asked the young blond waitress.
"Just a cup of coffee and a strawberry scone please," Angela ordered.
"I'll have the same, thank you." Bella added.
After the waitress left to fill their order Angela turned to Bella, "So why were you so late, you are always early?"
"I had another fight with Renee. I swear that woman lives to annoy me." Bella said annoyance clear in her voice.
"I should have guessed. What was it about this time?" Angela inquired.
"Lori, my wedding planner stopped by the house to go over some details about floral arrangements and for me to approve the reception menu. Renee was at home and decided that she wanted to offer her input, as unwanted as it maybe. I humored her until she started dictating what she thought was better choices since mine weren't up to her standards. " Bella said with more than a hint of annoyance and anger in her voice. "I'm sure you can see how that escalated into an argument."
"Yep, I would be pretty pissed at her too. How did your father ever end up with a horrible woman like her? I mean Charlie is such a quiet, easy going man and Renee is a total bitch, no offence." Angela commented.
"None taken, and believe me I ask myself the same thing every day." Bella admitted. "I just want to plan this wedding and get everything done with."
The waitress returned with their orders then.
"I still can't believe that in just a couple of weeks you will be married!" Angela exclaimed excitedly as she took a sip of her coffee.
"That makes two of us. What I really can't believe is how much work it is planning a wedding in such a short time period." Bella admitted, taking a bite of her scone. Even with Angela, Esme and the wedding planner helping there was still a lot, and since it was her wedding she had to approve everything. A few times Bella considered that if it was all up to her she would just as soon not have a wedding and just go down to the court house and get married it wasn't as if it were a real marriage, just a marriage of convenience, really just a business deal. But Edward wanted their relationship to look as authentic as possible and between Angela and Esme, Bella had come to really enjoy most of the wedding planning. They were so excited that it was infectious.
"Well lucky for you, you have the most amazing best friend and maid of honor to help you." Angela said with a huge smile on her face.
"I couldn't imagine ever getting married without you by my side. Thank you for being here for me." Bella said sincerely.
"There's no need to thank me I'm sure you'll do the same for me in the future when it's my wedding. Besides this has been really fun for me, especially with Esme, she has amazing taste and she is really excited about this wedding. I can already tell that she really cares about you."
"I know, she's really amazing and I have to admit I have really bonded with her over the last few weeks and I already consider her family." Since she met Esme Bella has either seen or talked to her over the phone everyday and they got along really well. Bella had been to the Cullen family home several times to have dinner with them after their initial meeting: once more with Edward before he left for Sicily, and three more times by herself at Esme's insistence. She had also gotten to know Carlisle and Jasper better and genuinely liked them. She had not seen Rosalie since she met her the first time she went to dinner, not that Bella minded. She did however see Emmett twice more, he was actually really funny and quite easy to like.
"Speaking of family, when do I finally get to meet your hunk of a fiancé?"
"Pretty soon I'm sure. His business trip to Sicily took longer than he anticipated so instead of only being there for a little over one week, it turned into three weeks, but he's flying back tonight. That means that I'll be meeting his daughter tomorrow and I'm sure you'll get to meet them both in the next few days."
"Great! I can't wait to finally meet the man that has captured your heart." Angela gushed; she has always been quite the romantic. "I know he has to be amazing to get you to fall in love with him and marry him in such a short amount of time. Not to bring up your ex but I know that it took a lot of persuasion from Jacob to get you to even go on a date with him."
"Jacob is a great guy, it just wasn't meant to be I guess." Bella said a sad look crossing her face, she still felt guilty for breaking Jacob's heart. Even though she didn't have any other option except ending things the way she did, she cared about Jake and it sucks that she had to hurt him. But her father was more important and she has to go through with this marriage even if it means hurting Jacob and lying to the people she loves.
"Oh shit, I didn't mean to bring it up, sorry." Angela apologized when she say the sad look that crossed Bella's face.
"It's ok, I just hate that he had to get hurt."
"I know you do, but like they say the heart wants what the heart wants. But enough about that, let's talk about my how amazing my maid of honor dress is! I still can't believe that I get to wear a dress designed by THE Zafrina McQueen." Angela said deciding that a slight change of subject would be appropriate and appreciated just about now.
It was two weeks before the wedding and Bella and Edward were being chauffer driven to his home. She would be visiting Edward's home for the first time to meet his daughter – her soon to be stepdaughter. She heaved a heavy sigh as she looked out the window of the moving car. There was so much to anticipate and if she was being honest she had to admit that she was very nervous. She could not believe that she was this nervous to meet a three year old little girl, but she truly was. Bella was split between on one hand wanting to make a good first impression on young Elizabeth Cullen and hoped the little girl would be accepting of her because Lord knows that would make everyone's life easier. But on the other hand there was a part of her that thought that if Elizabeth hated her then maybe she wouldn't have to marry Edward. Though deep down inside, she knew that that wouldn't happen.
Looking over at Edward as he sat next to her reading some work documents she wondered not for the first time what kind of man he truly was. Since their 'engagement' she often found herself lying awake at night wondering what really laid behind that implacable mask he presented to the world? She knew that he was different around his family; he seemed more amicable, more human. But was that the real him while the ruthless bastard he appeared to be was just a façade he put on for those he did business with? Bella also wondered about his relationship with his daughter, did little Elizabeth Cullen ever arouse a protective emotion in her father? Or was she like Bella would soon be, only a possession to be used and put aside when he required? Somehow she knew that Edward loved his daughter more than anything in the world.
Gazing at Edward she tried to imagine what his daughter would be like. Did she have her father's complexion? Was her hair as thick and luxurious as his, and were her teeth as straight and white as his? Were her eyes as green and beautiful as his? For a man so absorbed in his business pursuits Edward Cullen was in surprisingly good physical condition.
As if sensing her scrutiny Edward glanced up from his papers to look at her, as their eyes met he said nothing allowing only his eyes to speak for him. There was impatience as well as a kind of insolent appraisal in his stare, and in that moment Bella wished he had not found her so openly watching him. Breaking their gaze she turned her head to once stare out the window.
The car came up to large white gates, where the drive punched in a security code which was followed by a buzz and the gates opening. The driver then drove up the moderately long driveway to an opulent looking house. "We have arrived signor, signorina." The driver announced as he parked the car in front of the house.
The house was breath taking; it was quite large but not as big as Edward's parents home, but still bigger than Bella's. The three story house was painted in a sparkling white and the garden was well manicured, it was picture perfect and looks like it belonged on the page of a magazine. Bella was already in love with the house and she hadn't even set foot through the front door.
"Thank you Felix." Edward said as he opened his door stepping out and offering his hand to Bella.
Taking the offered hand Bella stumbled out of the car as he legs faltered for a moment. Edward's strong fingers supported her as he gripped her arm tightly. In that brief moment she felt a sudden warmth envelop her entire body as she was closer to him than she had been in weeks and smelt the warm male smell of his skin and felt the hard muscularity of his firm body. But then as sudden as it happened the moment ended and she was free of his embrace and he was leaning into the car to extract his briefcase and she automatically moved towards path leading to the front door of the house.
As she neared the door it was opened by an elderly woman who stood at the entrance dressed completely in black, she looked stern and forbidding and for a moment Bella felt her steps falter. Was this woman the housekeeper Edward had once mentioned in passing? Edward walked pass her at that moment and greeted the old woman.
"Buon pomeriggio, Carmen," he called as her raised a hand in greeting. "Come stai?"
"Grazie, Edward, sto molto bene." Carmen answered; she then went on to ask him in Italian whether his day had been pleasant.
That much of their conversation Bella could understand and a feeling of panic overwhelmed her as she realized that in order to be understood in this house she might have to learn the language and she began to wish she had taken more interest in the language in high school.
Edward seemed to remember that he was not alone and turning to her, he put his hand to her elbow and propelled her forward up the steps and into his – soon to be their beautiful home. "This is Isabella Swan, Carmen, my fiancée. Isabella this is my housekeeper Carmen." Edward said performing the introductions.
"Good day signorina Swan, it is a pleasure to meet you." Carmen greeted her politely with a thick Italian accent.
Bella managed to offer a faint smile as she returned the other woman's greeting. She was relieved to find out that the woman did actually speak English.
Once the greetings were done Carmen steeped aside allowing Bella to step further into the house as she got her first real glance of the magnificent hall of the beautiful; house, and for a moment Bella was completely absorbed with admiration for the immense beauty of her surroundings. Inside Edward's home was just as beautiful and magnificent as that of his parents and she remembered Esme mentioning that she did the décor for her home so she imagined that she was responsible for the beautiful sight before her. To Bella who was used to her father's modest home, it was like a scene from a fabulous movie and she didn't believe that she would even get used to living here. She couldn't imagine that a little girl of only three would really get to play on the gleaming surface; get to carry her dolls up and down the sparkling staircase; would she ever be allowed to run barefooted leaving muddy footprints to mark her trail after play in the yard in the rain?
Edward for his part seemed to be quite at home as he asked Carmen to drop his briefcase off in his office before purposefully crossing the hall towards a room at the furthest side. "Come Isabella," he said as she hovered uncertainly in the middle of the entrance hall.
After a slight hesitation Bella did as she was told and followed Edward into a bright sun-lit lounge. The floor was made of mahogany with the center of the room covered by soft off-white carpet with soft white leather armchairs and couches, piled with black cushions. On the wall there were several small paintings that depicted beautiful Sicilian scenes of vineyards and dazzling sun-kissed beaches of the Mediterranean. An entire wall was glass and overlooked a well manicured back yard with a gleaming outdoor pool.
"Please make yourself comfortable, I'll go fetch Elizabeth from her play room. I'll be back shortly." Edward said as he left Bella alone in the room.
Bella sat down allowing herself to be swallowed into the soft depths of one of the comfortable love seat. She would have really loved to kick off her shoes, but it was all so strange to think that in only two weeks all this grandeur will be her home.
Bella glanced up when she heard someone enter the room; she was quite surprised as she saw a small figure hovering uncertainly by the door. The little girl was dressed in a pretty little white dress and her tiny feet covered in a pair of cute little pink sandals. She was beautiful with her father's complexion and long flowing copper colored hair and big beautiful expressive green eyes that at the moment showed her confusion.
"Hello," Bella greeted softly. "Are you Elizabeth?" She asked the little girl.
The little girl stood by the door for several silent moments looking intently at Bella, before she finally spoke."Dov'e il mio papa?" she asked in a puzzled voice.
Bella tried to translate the words in her mind, she knew that the little girl was asking something about her father, but what exactly Bella could not remember the entire translation. "Non capisco." Bella said, to let the child know she did not understand what she had asked.
The little girl nodded and walked over closer to where Bella sat, and then asked again this time in English, "Where is my Daddy?" She asked in a beautiful little voice.
Before she could reply Edward re-entered the room through a different door from the one the little girl had just entered. "There you are. Clair and I have been looking all over for you." Edward said as he walked into the room.
"Papa!" the little girl exclaim as she dashed pass Bella over to her father who scooped her up into his arms.
"Why did you run off from Clair?" Edward asked in a serious tone, though Bella could tell by the softness in his eyes that he was not truly upset with his daughter. "You had her worried searching the entire property for you."
"Mi dispiace papa, ma volevo esplorare."
"OK, ma la prossima volta chiedi prima a Clair. Ok?" Edward said to his daughter.
Nodding her head she replied, "Si papa."
"There is someone I want you to meet." Edward said to his daughter as he walked over to Bella who was now standing in the middle of the room. "Isabella, I'd like you to meet my daughter Elizabeth. Elizabeth this is Isabella, she will be living here with us soon." Edward said.
"Hello Elizabeth, I am so pleased to finally get to meet you." Bella said to the little girl who was still wrapped in her father's arms.
Just then they heard a voice calling out Elizabeth's name as a young woman in her mid to late twenties entered the room. Bella assumed that she was Clair the new nanny who would be staying with Elizabeth while she went to classes.
"I have found her Clair, thank you." Edward said. "Isabella this is Clair, Elizabeth's nanny, Clair this is Ms. Swan my fiancée." Edward said.
"Pleased to meet you Ms. Swan." Clair greeted in English and based on her accent Bella could tell that she was actually American.
"Please call me Bella." Bella insisted as she exchanged greetings with the woman. After exchanging pleasantries, Clair then politely excused herself.
"Uncle Peter said that I was going to get a new mommy. Are you really going to be my mommy?" Elizabeth asked shyly, bringing back Bella's attention to her.
Bella who was very caught off guard by the question was not quite sure how to answer, "I – I…suppose I am, I will be your stepmother." Bella stuttered her reply.
"I've never had a mommy before." Elizabeth said as she wiggled her way out of her father's hands and stood in front of Bella looking up at her. "What should I call you?" She asked as she walked over to sit in the love seat that Bella had previously occupied.
Sitting down next to the little girl Bella said, "I suppose you could call be Bella for now and then later we can decide on something else if you like." Bella said as she glanced over at Edward. He had moved to sit in an arm chair opposite them as he carefully observed the interaction between Bella and his daughter.
Elizabeth sat quietly beside Bella for several minutes, just looking at her before asking, in a very serious tone for someone her age "Are you going to steal my Papa from me?"
"Lizzie, no one will ever steal me away from you. I will always love you and you will always be my baby girl just as I will always be your Papa." Edward assured his daughter as he moved to kneel in front of her. "Isabella will be here to love you and take care of you, not to steal me from you, ok?"
"Ok," she replied as a huge smile split across her face. "I bet having a mommy is going to be so much fun. We can do all the things little girls in movies do with their mommy." Elizabeth gushed excitedly once she was assured that Bella was not there to steal her father's love and attention from her, instead she'll be getting more love and attention.
As Bella watch the three year old excitedly ramble on in Italian, she couldn't help the small smile that appeared on her face. She could already tell that Elizabeth Cullen was much smarter than the average three year old. She spoke surprisingly clear for one so young in spite of or maybe it was because of the fact that she was learning two languages simultaneously so her language skills were more advanced than most children her age. It was clear that Elizabeth preferred to speak Italian, which meant that Bella definitely had to learn the language. But she was ok with that, Bella had always loved children and she could already see herself loving the little girl next to her.
AN: Here are the translations, I used Google translator so I hope they are right. I would like to thank KurumiAkino for correcting the translations that Google Translator got wrong.
"Buon pomeriggo, Carmen" – "Good afternoon Carmen"
"Come stai?" – "How are you?"
"Grazie, Edward, sto molto bene." – "Thank you, I am very well."
"Dov'e il mio papa?" – "Where is my daddy?"
"Non capisco." – "I do not understand."
"Mi dispiace papa, ma volevo esplorare" – "I'm sorry Daddy, but I wanted to explore."
"Ok, ma la prossima volta chiedi prima a Clair. Ok?" – "Ok, but ask Clair first next time. Ok?"