Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you lovely readers and reviewers. I can't even articulate how happy it makes me that you all love these two so much. I was able to reply to some of the reviews last chapter, but if I missed you, I'm truly sorry. Two toddlers keep a mama busy. :)
This is the last regular chapter. I don't have an epilogue written as of now, but I never say never.
Thank you to Lellabeth once again for giving me the courage to write this. I truly hope she's enjoyed the ride.
Many thanks go to my pre-readers/betas: Twilly, Sulliedsoles, Sophiacorgi, and BlueIsSoul. These ladies are so amazing, and I could never thank them enough for their invaluable feedback.
SM owns all things Twilight. Everything else is mine (including any remaining mistakes).
The first sentence will be familiar… Keep reading. ;)
Chapter 21 - Promise
"I'm gonna kick her motherfucking teeth in," I growl, turning toward the house.
"That sounds like an excellent idea," says Edward, grabbing my hand and giving it a quick squeeze before I walk away.
My eyes focus on the girl as my feet pound up the pavement, matching the pounding of my heart beneath my ribs. The rage that burns through me makes my body shake, but I don't falter.
Chelsea looks like a deer caught in headlights, like there's a train barrelling toward her, and she has nowhere to hide.
A vicious smile spreads across my face as I close in on her.
Her eyes dart around as she backs into the corner of the porch. "Wait… I'm not…"
That's all she gets out before my hand flies out and slaps her hard across the face, immediately grabbing her hair at the top of her head before she can recover. Her body twists away from me, which only serves to pull her hair harder because I don't let up. My other hand continues slapping her, causing her cheek to turn a fiery shade of red. My feet try to stomp on hers as she works to scramble away from me.
I vaguely register that it's odd for her not to be fighting back or defending herself much, but the anger blankets all reasonable thoughts in my head as I claw and kick at her.
Edward says my name, but I don't—can't—stop. This is for him. I want her to feel pain, even if it's only physical. I need her to feel it.
"You fucking deserve this, you bitch. How could you do that to him?" I realize I'm sobbing, the fury pouring out of my eyes. "How could you be so cruel to someone so utterly sweet and wonderful?"
Strong arms wrap around me, but I keep kicking at her, wanting to see her bleed.
"Shh, shh, shh. Bella."
My eyes blink open, and it takes me several seconds to realize I was dreaming. I'm in Edward's bed, and his long body is stretched out behind me. He holds me tight to him and whispers that everything's okay.
Wiping the moisture from my cheeks, I turn around in his arms, hugging him close. "I'm okay. Thank you." He lets me pull him in for a soft kiss before he checks me over.
"Are you sure? You were crying and kicking your legs."
"Yes. It was just a dream." I'm almost embarrassed to admit what I was doing in my dream, but I tell him anyway. I've had these dreams before but never when he's been around.
"Oh. Well, I'm glad that's not what actually happened."
"Me too." I snuggle closer. "Sort of," I mumble into his chest.
"I really wanted to hurt her, Edward. She hurt you so much, and it still makes me ragey when I let myself think about it."
"I don't think ragey is a word."
Laughing, I press my forehead to his. "You're probably right. As usual."
He touches the tip of his nose to mine. "Have you ever noticed how well our foreheads fit together?"
I'm still smiling. "Uh… I don't think I have. No."
Edward pulls back and runs a fingertip from my hairline to my brow. "Yours is convex. And see mine?" He turns to the side. "Concave right in the middle. They fit like puzzle pieces."
My smile curls higher and gets impossibly wider. "I love you."
"I love you too." He rests his forehead against mine again, and I can feel how well we fit together. In every single way.
Our mouths gravitate toward each other, and we kiss languidly. It doesn't matter how many times I've kissed him. I always feel those little explosions between our lips. "I'm sorry I dozed off," I tell him after we release each other. "What have you been up to? Still working on that house you've been drawing?"
He ducks his head a bit, and his cheeks turn an adorable shade of pink. "Yes."
"Why are you embarrassed?"
Stroking my hand down his cheek always pulls his eyes to mine, so I slide my palm over his day-old stubble. He gulps but looks at me.
After another harsh swallow, he tells me it's the house he envisions for us. A dream house to build someday for us to live and raise children in. "That is, if that's something you'd want… with me." His eyes scrunch closed, and tears spring to mine again.
"God," I choke out. "Edward."
He often struggles with expressing the way he feels about me, but things like this… They tell me everything I need to know. That he sees a future with me. That he wants a future with me just as much as I want a future with him.
My hands dive into his hair, and I roll him under me, kissing the living daylights out of him. "Yes," I breathe out against his lips after releasing him. "That's absolutely something I want with you."
We're still young, but we've been together almost a year now.
After Chelsea apologized, Edward seemed lighter, like a weight had been lifted from him. He'd truly been able to let it go. Me, not so much. I've tried, but obviously I still harbor some anger toward her. I do my best not to let it get to me anymore, and the dreams don't come as often as they once did. But I've always felt like she got off too easy. The fact that Edward can let it all go, even the suspicion that she drugged him, just floors me. His strength and kindness still amaze me every single day.
A lot has happened over the past several months. I met Jasper when he came home for Thanksgiving. He's a pretty cool guy, kind of quiet, laid back. At dinner, he talked a lot about his new girlfriend, Alice, and even went so far as to say he thinks she's the one.
Edward was confused as to what he meant by that. "The one to what?" he asked.
Jasper cleared his throat. "The one I want to be with, marry. Y'know. All that stuff." He looked down at his plate. "She's it for me," he finished with a shrug before shoveling another bite of creamy mashed potatoes into his mouth.
Esme beamed at him with tears in her eyes as Edward looked over at me. I stared right back, savoring the intense eye-contact he was giving me, resting my fork against my plate until his eyes released me. He then looked at Jasper. "Bella's my one."
All eyes snapped to him as he went right back to eating like he hadn't just said something so fucking… monumental.
A smile so big I thought my face would crack spread across my lips, and I followed suit, returning to my food, but at the same time, placing my hand on his thigh under the table and squeezing.
His smile matched mine.
On Christmas, I gave him a nice gaming keyboard and mouse set, and he all but tackled me right there in front of the Christmas tree at his parents' house.
"Son," Carlisle said on a laugh. "Why don't you give Bella her gifts now?"
"Oh." Edward flushed pink as he released me, and I giggled at him as he crawled over to the tree and retrieved two wrapped packages. Handing me the larger one first, he sat back on his heels, looking giddy.
I did my best to be excited for the headset he gave me. I knew how much he wanted me to get the hang of WoW, and this would make it easier for us to communicate when I was at my house playing with him online. His next gift had me in tears, though. He admitted to having help from his mom as he explained what each charm meant that dangled off the silver bracelet. A little roller skate—self-explanatory. A spoon to represent our first semi-date, when we sort of shared a sundae. A treehouse that was probably the cutest thing I'd ever seen. A 'B' and an 'E' with a red heart charm in between. And a hot pink gerbera daisy, my favorite flower.
It was perfect.
I flung myself at him, and his parents had to break us apart once again, although they were highly amused.
The next day, Edward's birthday, he attacked me once again after I gave him his gift—a lego set, which, once built, would be a replica of one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous house designs.
Luckily we were in his room this time, and his parents had gone out to pick up his cake and a few groceries.
We made excellent use of our time alone, redressed and made ourselves presentable by the time Carlisle and Esme returned.
Edward was all smiles at having gotten birthday sex, and I had to roll my eyes at him, grumbling about the unfairness of it all.
"Next year," he promised me, whispering it into my ear while we helped his parents put away groceries. I shivered and almost dropped the two cans of tomatoes I was holding.
Brady came to see me one other time. He showed up at my house, but I refused to let him inside. He was sporting a black eye, and I had a sneaking suspicion that my brother had finally doled out that ass-kicking he'd promised. It wouldn't surprise me if they ran in to each other and Brady ran his mouth.
To my absolute shock, Brady apologized for showing up at our party and generally being a dick. I didn't think I'd ever heard him apologize before.
He said he'd wanted some time to talk because he wanted to tell me he finally understood how I felt. He'd developed real feelings for this girl who was carrying what he thought was his baby, and finding out it wasn't his was devastating for him. He'd really gotten in to the whole daddy thing and been excited about it.
He apologized for cheating on me, and I told him what's done is done. I'm happy with Edward, so it was for the best that Brady and I ended when we did. I accepted his apology and gave him a brief hug before watching him drive away.
I've seen him here and there around town since then, heard he's working at the lumber mill and taking a few classes. I wish him the best, but he's just not a part of my life anymore. And I don't want him to be.
The rest of our senior year passed by in a haze of studying, making out, filling out college applications, and generally ignoring the narrow-minded students at school.
Tyler never spoke to me again after what happened at my party, and that was fine by me. He's just lucky I never told Em what he did or he'd be dealing with a lot worse than some sore balls.
Mike and Jessica broke up and got back together so many times, I lost track. News flash: they're still assholes.
Edward and I were perfectly content to mostly stick to hanging out with Angela and Ben. I still got along with most people in our class, but we just tended to be in our own little bubble most of the time.
We've been on a few double dates with Lauren and Chris and had a blast. She made fun of us hardcore for being nominated as prom king and queen, though. Lauren's never been in to the politics of high school, and after last year, I really wasn't either anymore. But it wasn't as if Edward and I asked to be nominated.
In the end, it didn't matter because we didn't win. Mt. Vernon High's golden couple, Royce and Tanya, ended up winning.
Edward actually felt guilty, like he'd cost us the win. "That's ridiculous," I told him. "Besides, I got the best prize anyway." I looped my arms around his neck on the dance floor.
His eyebrows went up. "You did? What?"
Cheesy but so very true. And judging by his answering smile and kiss, he felt the exact same way.
It's early August now, and we've both been working over the summer, saving up for college.
We'll be heading to the University of Washington in just a few weeks.
Edward wanted to stay close to his parents and be able to see his brother more, not to mention UDub has an excellent architecture program. And since I'm still undecided on a major, I didn't have my sights set on any particular school. It was a no-brainer for me to go to the same school as Edward, and staying relatively close to my family as well is a nice bonus.
Emmett is staying in Mt. Vernon and taking some classes at the community college. To most everyone's surprise, he and Rose are still going strong, so it's understandable that he wouldn't want to go far. He'll likely take over the boat shop one day anyway and doesn't exactly need a degree for that.
Today, we're going out with my dad and Emmett on a boat delivery to the San Juan islands. Watching the sun set out here on the ocean is one of my absolute favorite things to do. The sky turns the most incredible shades of orange and pink, and the whales swim close by, waving their tails at us.
While Dad drives the boat being delivered, Edward and I sit in the back of the shop's boat while Emmett drives. My back is against Edward's chest, and he plays with my fingers as we watch the whales break through the surface of the water, shooting spray high in the air.
We've had our share of problems, but our relationship is stronger than ever. This moment, with the sea air surrounding me, wind blowing through my hair, cuddled up at sunset with the guy who owns my heart… It feels like the most perfect moment of my entire life.
But then Edward does something that makes perfect look like mediocre. Tears sting my eyes as I watch him slip a thin silver ring onto my finger. A small sapphire, my favorite stone, sits in the middle of the band.
Surprised and elated, I turn to face him, and he swallows hard before meeting my eyes. "It's a promise ring," he blurts out.
My smile widens, and I run my right hand through his hair and down to hook around his neck.
Edward relaxes a little and grasps my left hand in his. "I love you, Bella. Your inner strength makes me stronger every day. Your tenacity is something to be admired. The fact that you love me exactly as I am makes me unfathomably happy. You're my absolute most favorite person in the world." His speech sounds practiced, but that doesn't come as a surprise. It's part of his plan, and I wouldn't change him for the world. "One day," he says, "I want to replace that ring with a better one. An engagement ring. I want us to be together for as long as we're both alive. I want to make babies with you and build a house for you." My tears fall steadily down my cheeks as he continues, keeping his gorgeous green eyes trained on my face. "I want to cook for you every morning and make love to you every night. You're the best thing about my life, and I don't ever want to lose you. Will you…" He squeezes my hand as he gulps again. "...accept my ring?"
Wiping my tears, I glance to Emmett, who shoots me a wink. Ah, so he was in on it. Probably Dad too. My heart threatens to burst at the love I feel for the men in my life.
Focusing back on the one in front of me, whose eyes look worried now as they glance around and then down at the ring on my finger, I cradle his jaw in my hands and bring his gaze back to mine. "Edward, I love you too. So much more than I could have ever imagined loving someone. I want all of those things you said. All of it." I'm nodding and smiling and watching his lips curl up on the ends.
"Is that a yes?" he asks, eyes sparkling in the setting sun and dimple on full display now.
"That's a yes." I kiss him hard and mumble against his lips, "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes."
Thank you SO much for reading! I hope the beginning satisfied you bloodthirsy h00rs. :P
There's a link to a pic of the treehouse charm on my profile. :)
Until next time… xoxoxo