Hello everyone!

This is my new story, which will be updated almost daily in the run-up to Christmas. It's entirely pre-written, so posting will just depend on me being able to grab five minutes to post! It is beta'd by SunflowerFran. Thanks Fran!

I don't own any of these amazing characters created by Stephenie Meyer's mind. I just like playing with them! This story is rated M for bad language and eventual lemons. Please don't read if these bother you.

I actually started this story ages ago, before Fortune Favours the Bold and Liberation, but as sometimes happens, I got involved in other ideas and this one got left behind. After a couple of false starts, I finally turned it into something I'm happy with. I hope you like it!

CC xxx

The Letter, The Cat & The Holly and Ivy

Part One: July

1. Bella

I returned from my farewell lunch with some colleagues to see a note on my desk, pinned under the peace lily plant my mother had sent me when I started my year of teacher training at Meyer High School. The year had sped by, and today was the last day of school before the summer holidays.


Sorry I missed your farewell lunch.

Please could you stop by my office when you have five minutes? I'm in all afternoon, until 4pm.


My heart thumped wildly.

Edward Cullen was the Head Teacher at Meyer High. He was thirty-five, young to be a Head, but anyone who spent five seconds in a room with him would realise that he was a phenomenal teacher and a great leader.

I was moving on to my first job as a fully qualified teacher at Volturi Academy, across the city, but desperately wished that I could stay put. I couldn't deny that his leadership was one of the reasons I wanted to stay so badly … that, and the fact that he was completely and utterly fuckhot. Even his handwriting was beautiful and sexy. My heart thrummed with anticipation.

After a few deep breaths, a drink of cold water and a spritz of my favourite freesia and jasmine perfume, I walked over to his office and tentatively knocked on the door.

"Come in," he called in his clear, smooth voice.

"Err, hi. I got your note," I said as I entered his office.

"Great. Thanks for dropping by. Please, have a seat." He gestured to a chair in front of his desk, and I slid into it. "Excuse me a moment whilst I finish typing this email."

"Of course." I sat there quietly for a minute, the only sound in the room being the furious clicking of his long fingers against the keys.

I didn't mind. It gave me ample opportunity to admire his Adonis-like features. His mop of unruly auburn hair, and his deep green eyes that were highlighted by tiny laugh lines at the corners. His perfectly straight nose and perfectly square jaw. And the scattering of tiny freckles across his cheeks. His long, muscular forearms and his lean, broad chest. Of course, he was sitting down, but on numerous occasions previously, I had admired his pert, tight behind in his trousers.

There was more to Edward Cullen than his looks, though. He had real charm and charisma. He was the most positive, motivated person I had met in a very long time, and all the teachers at the school seemed to have taken on his energy and drive. Once again, I felt regret that I was moving to a different school.

"Sorry about that," he said after a minute, pushing the keyboard away from him with a small flourish, and smiling at me a little. "I needed to get that done."

"No problem, Mr Cullen."

"Bella, call me Edward, especially now it's the end of term." He had told me this on numerous occasions, but I still struggled with it. He was my boss, and I completely respected his authority and position.

"Sorry, I do try, Edward."

He laughed. It was musical, a little throaty, and sexy as hell. My nipples actually tightened in response.

"Not to worry," he replied. "Now, I know that you've had a full appraisal and review with Angela," he continued, referring to the Head of English and my mentor, Angela Cheney, "... but I just wanted to tell you myself that you've been a real asset to Meyer High this year."

"Thank you. I've really enjoyed the challenges and the positive environment. It's been a great year."

"It has. The feedback about you from other teachers, both in the English department, and with the rest of the faculty, has been excellent. You've become a valued colleague. Your generosity and helpfulness have most definitely been noticed. We're really very sorry to see you go."

"I'm so very sorry to be going. I really wanted to stay." I replied quietly.

"We really wanted you to stay too." His response was equally quiet. He suddenly cleared his throat and sat up straight. "But you'll do great at Volturi Academy. It's a great school."

"Yes. They've been very enthusiastic about me joining them."

"I don't doubt it. Now Bella, I have something for you." He reached into his bottom drawer and pulled out a dark blue sparkly gift box, tied with silver ribbon, and an envelope.

"What ... you didn't have to ..."

"I know I didn't have to, but I wanted to." He leaned over the desk to give them to me. As he sat back down I caught his scent and a shiver ran down my spine. Honey, citrus, spice and a touch of musky manliness. Goddamn, if Givenchy or some other fragrance company bottled it, they'd make billions and women would be rendered useless.

"May I open it?"

"Open the present if you want, but the envelope is your appraisal and reference from me. Open that at home, okay?"

"Of course."

I turned the heavy gift over in my hands before pulling off the bow and lifting the lid. Inside was a hardback copy of the collected works of Jane Austen, my absolute favourite author in the whole world. Geek that I am, I was even a member of the Jane Austen Society. I gasped, and my jaw hit the floor as I rubbed my thumb over the gold embossed lettering on the front cover.

"Bella, is it OK? If you don't like it ..." I realised that I must have been staring at the book for a little while.

"It's perfect, Edward. How did you know I liked Jane Austen?"

He merely shrugged.

"Open the front cover."

I did as he asked. Inside was an inscription.

Dear Bella

Thank you for all your hard work and dedication this year.

It's been a breath of fresh air to have a trainee as talented and committed as you at our little school.

Good luck in the future, although you won't need it. Your future is brighter than the sun.

Don't be a stranger.

Edward Cullen

I let go of a couple of my tears.

"Thank you, thank you so much!"

"You're more than welcome," he replied quietly and passed me a tissue. "Hope to see you again soon, Bella."

I got up, picked up my gift and the envelope, which I tucked into the back pocket of my skirt. He got up and showed me to the door.

"Me too. I'm sure I'll be back to visit."

I definitely meant it. I had made very good friends at Meyer High. Angela, my mentor, was like the sister I'd never had. Doug Banner, one of the science teachers, and his partner Luis Molina, the Spanish teacher were my new GBFs.

I held out my hand, and he shook it. The shiver I'd felt earlier when I smelled his heady scent returned with a vengeance as our skin met. Before I even had a chance to think about what I was doing, I stood on my tiptoes, and with our right hands still intertwined, I placed my left hand on his shoulder and kissed him on the side of his mouth.

"Err ..."

He stepped back, startled by my forwardness.

Shit. I had totally overstepped a professional boundary.

My face burning, I turned and walked away.