I feel like I say this a lot but I really am sorry for taking so long to update. If it makes you feel any better, I'm behind in every other aspect of my life as well. I have two weeks off for the holiday so I'm hoping I'll be able update a couple of times. I did manage to write a one-shot for Breath-of-Twilight's Countdown to Christmas: A Magical Twist in Time. A lot of great author's contributed so if you would like to check it out I'll post the link at the end. I know you're anxious to see what our two kiddos are up to. See you at the end.

AN: I do not own Twilight.

Chapter 16

The Christmas Party


The last couple of weeks leading up to Christmas were exhausting. The bar saw office party after office party come through and there wasn't even a second to breathe most nights. We worked our asses off every evening but the sales were off the charts, the tips were abundant, and the festive air was invigorating. My team was strong and they handled the craziness like champs.

Things with Bella were also going well. Since our shopping trip things between us have been much more relaxed. We are acting more like the friends we had been before everything went to shit. There was still no touching, but our banter that occasionally bordered on the line of flirting returned. It was progress and I was just happy that she didn't seem to hate me anymore.

When I dropped Bella off from our shopping trip, I decided right then and there that I had apologized enough for what had happened. She knew I was sorry. I had said I was sorry in at least three different ways. It was time to move on. At least it was for me. I understood that it would still be in the back of her mind, but I was done explaining myself. As much as I wanted her, I was tired of feeling guilty. I just wanted to start over and it seemed that she felt the same. It was unspoken, but I really felt the slate had been wiped clean. At least that's what I hoped.

Traditionally, the Sunday before Christmas has been the Good Times at Masen's Staff Christmas Party. I closed the bar around four in the afternoon so that we could celebrate the holiday season properly. My staff works hard all year round and they deserve to have a party. I ordered a ton-fuck of food from Bella Italia so no one had to cook and opened the bar to whatever anyone wanted. Families and friends were invited, there was karaoke, and there were bonuses to be handed out. Little did my staff know, but this had been a very good year. I believed that they had been an integral part to that success and I wanted to reward them accordingly.

"Okay. Everyone gather round." It took a few minutes for everyone to settle down. I looked around at the glassy eyed, flush cheeked crowd and knew that everyone was having a really good time. "It's bonus time!" Everyone began to cheer.

Before I said anything else my eyes began to seek Bella out. I wanted to make sure she was here for this.

"So, as you know Good Times has had a great year. You probably realized this when we were going bat shit crazy trying to take care of all of our paying customers." Everyone erupted in cheers and I smiled knowing just how hard my team worked. "Before I hand out this year's bonuses, I just want to tell each and every one of you just how much I appreciate the hard work you put in. You're the reason why people come back. You're the reason why Good Times at Masen's is a place that people love coming to. That being said, I have something for all of you." I proceeded to hand out the envelopes that I had addressed and stuffed by hand. When I gave Bella hers I couldn't help but wink at her. I was rewarded by that beautiful smile I had grown to crave.

"Holy shit!" Alec was the first one to comment on the envelope. I was able to give each of my employees a two-thousand dollar Christmas bonus. It wasn't every year that I could do that much so it gave me so much satisfaction in being able to do this for my employees.

"This is too much, Edward." Of course that was Bella. She was always thinking of other people.

"Like I said, it was a good year. I can't guarantee it will be this much every year, but this year I can and I want to. Please, just accept it and enjoy."

"Well, thank you." She said with an appreciative smile.

"You, my dear, are very welcome." Before I could stop myself I leaned in and gave her a soft kiss on the cheek. I hadn't meant to do it, but damn if I could even help myself. To my surprise not only did she not pull away, Bella actually briefly closed her eyes and held her cheek out to me until I was done. It made me positively fucking giddy, enough to push my luck even further. "Bella, will you go out on a date with me?"

Bella's chuckle should have deflated my ego, but it was so genuine I could only smile at her. "No, Edward, not even for two-thousand dollars." Immediately my smile turned into concern as I tried to back peddle.

"No, that's not why I gave…" I was stopped by Bella's finger pressing firmly on my lips. I wanted to lick them, but I didn't.

"It was a joke. I know that's not the reason for the bonus. But I still won't go out with you." I sighed in relief.

"I'm going to keep asking you."

"Why am I not surprised?" Her shy grin led me to believe I was wearing her down. She used her fingers to tuck her hair behind her ears and she was just so fucking cute. "Merry Christmas, Edward."

"Merry Christmas." I called out too late as she headed off towards Alice. This was definitely going to be a slow process, but I couldn't help but feel optimistic. And I knew that my patience would be rewarded…someday.

"I see you're making progress." A hand lightly clapped down on my shoulder as Fred stood by me while I watched Bella's retreating form. Yeah, I invited Fred. He had quickly become part of the Good Times family.

"Slowly but yeah, I think I am."

"Don't worry son. She'll come around. In the meantime, enjoy the party. You, after all have earned it too. C'mon, let me buy you a drink." I laughed out loud at Fred's obvious attempt to be funny.

"It's open bar, Fred."

"Well in that case, the first two are on me." That earned another chuckle as we headed over to the bar. Fred and I shot the shit through two rounds before he announced it was time for him to go home. I thanked him for coming making him promise to show his ugly face again before Christmas.

Once he left I did what he suggested and enjoyed the party. I mingled and drank and mingled and drank and mingled and drank some more. Somewhere along the way I went to comfortably buzzed to full on shit-faced. I vaguely remember thinking I was going to pay for this in the morning and proceeded to stumble to my office so I could collapse on the couch and fade to black.

"Do you think he's dead?" I heard words that sounded like they were coming from underwater. They were muffled but I couldn't find it in myself to open my eyes and find out for sure. It might have been Alice. Maybe.

"You can't snore if you're dead." Now that sweet voice I knew. Bella. I liked Bella.

"Good point. Maybe we should just leave him here and let him sleep it off." That sounded like an excellent idea.

"We can't do that. No, I'll bring him home."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I haven't had anything to drink in hours. I can do it. You get Jasper home safely." I thought I heard the door shut. In any case, the voices were gone.

No, Bella. Come back.

Lulled back to sleep, I had no idea how long had passed when I woke up to a cool wet cloth sliding down my cheek. "Edward. Ed-ward. Time to wake up. I'm going to drive you home now." I tried to open my eyes, I really did. They just weren't cooperating.

"C'mon Edward, you can't stay here. You're going to have to work with me on this one." As soon as I pried my eyes open I quickly regretted it. The room was doing this spinning thing for a few seconds until I focused on the most beautiful sight.

"Bella? You're sooooo pretty. D'you know that? Like really fucking pretty." The pretty girl started to help me up to a sitting position but the room kept spinning. I launched my arms around the only thing not moving and tried to will everything else to stop as well.

"Edward. Too tight." My arms were suddenly pushed away just a bit but I didn't really care because I was completely distracted by the soothing scent my nose had found in the warmest of places. It made me think of other warm places I wanted to put my nose.

"Smell good, too." I opened my eyes just long enough to see that I was tucked into Bella's neck. It was so soft. "Mmmmmm."

"Okay, that's enough. Let's go, Edward. We're going to try to walk out to my car." With a lot of help I was able to pull myself up to a standing position. The room was no longer spinning but everything looked like I was watching it through an empty cardboard paper towel holder. Bella put one arm around my waist so naturally I put one of mine around her shoulders. She started to move forward but I didn't budge. I had to tell her something first. "What's the matter? Are you going to puke?"

Was I going to puke? I took a breath to see how I felt. No, I wasn't going to puke. At least not this second. I just wanted tell her something.


"Then why did you stop?" Why did I stop? Oh yeah, I remember.

"Because. I wanted you to see."

"See what?"

"We fit together…perrrfectly." I squeezed her shoulder to emphasize because, fuck, we did fit together perfectly. How could she not see that?

I didn't hear Bella's reply as we walked through the bar because I was too busy making sure my feet would move. She did tell me to ignore the mess because she and Alice were coming back in the morning to clean it up. Little did she know I didn't even see it because my eyes were closed the entire time. It was better that way for a lot of reasons. When we got outside the cold air hit me hard. I clung a little bit more to Bella as she locked up the bar.

"Edward…whoa, whoa, whoa. You gotta stop swaying." Her grip got tighter on me. Funny, I didn't feel like I was swaying. But she was squeezing and I liked that. A lot.

"I'm not shaying. Not one bit." She chuckled a little. Cheeky girl.

"Sure you're not. Let's get you home." I'm not really sure what happened after that because the next thing I know I was landing on my bed with a thud.

"God, you're fucking heavy." I managed to open one eye when I felt Bella fiddling with my shoes. I watched her struggle a little bit to get them off but couldn't find the energy to help her. Once they were on the floor, she pulled off my socks and then started to work on my shirt.

"You trying to get me nekked, pretty Bellllaaa?" The girl actually snorted.

"Keep telling yourself that, Romeo. I just want you to be comfortable. Now could you fucking help me a little bit. Lift your arms." Bossy Bella was soooo sexy.

"Rearrrr." I made my best cat fight noise and scratched the air before doing what she instructed. The shirt finally gave up the fight and ended up on the floor next to my shoes. Bella started unbuckling my belt and popped the button on my jeans. I lifted my butt up as she pulled them off by the ankles. The idea that Bella was here in my bedroom and I only had my boxers on flitted through my mind and a shiver of excitement ran up my spine. Unfortunately it was quickly overshadowed by my body's need to sleep off the alcohol.

Bella made me take some ibuprofen and tucked me under the covers. It felt nice having her take care of me. Before sleep could take me completely I grabbed her hand in mine.

"Stay…please." Bella didn't say anything. She just sat on the edge of the bed and looked down at our joined hands. "Thank you. For everything."

"You're welcome, Edward." My eyes were getting so heavy but I had to ask her one more thing.

"Go on a date with me?" The darkness took over but I'm pretty sure I heard her answer before I finally succumbed to the blanket of sleep.


Thank you so much for reading. Below is the link to the Countdown to Christmas.


Also, if your looking for even more Christmas cheer, I wrote a story and a one-shot a few years back that might help with that holiday craving if you have one.

Secret Santa Swan Style (multi-chapter story)


Alone No More (one shot)


Happy Holidays, everyone! ~Isannah