The Path We Choose

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chapter 21


I woke up Friday morning, with Edward wrapped entirely around me, anxious for the day and excited for everyone to arrive.

The afternoon couldn't get here quick enough because I couldn't wait to see Maddie and Masen. It amazed me at times, when I stopped and thought about it, how much I missed them when we were apart. After the emotional declarations Edward and I gave to each other on Tuesday night, I wasn't afraid any longer of what the future held for us. I knew, with all of my heart and soul, that we would be spending the rest of our lives together.

Edward shifted in his sleep and pulled me tighter to him and I smiled as I went over the past few days in my mind. To say they had been anything less than intense would be a lie, but they had been wonderful days just the same. Even with the rollercoaster of emotions, I felt closer to Edward now, more than ever before.

Talking with Edward about Charlie and sharing the letter with him was easier than I could have ever imagined. I've spent the last five years trying to not think about him but opening up to Edward and telling him stories about Charlie was effortless. When Edward told me that I needed to let him go to be able to move on and reminded me of how angry Charlie would be if he knew I'd blamed myself for my not being with him when he died, I realized how right he was. Edward was wrong about one thing though, it was my fault that Charlie died, and for that I didn't think I would ever be able to forgive myself.

Not wanting to dwell on that any longer, I purposely scooted back into Edward and wiggled my ass in his crotch. I immediately felt the reaction I was hoping for and felt Edward's arms tighten around me. When I felt his lips on my shoulder, as he peppered it with warm, wet kisses I knew he was fully awake…and getting fully erect as well.

"Mmmm, morning beautiful," Edward said, his voice still gravelly with sleep.

It was one of my favorite voices of his. When he first woke in the morning and his voice was gruff and deep it made my girly parts tingle.

I snuggled back into his embrace and kissed the inside of his arm and told him, "Morning sweetheart."

"I love waking up with you this way Bella," Edward rasped as he nuzzled my hair with his nose and I felt his hands move over my body.

"Oh…Mmm, Edward, that feels so good baby," I breathed out as his expert fingers stroked my already wet center.

He chuckled softly in my ear, "No angel, you feel good. I can't get enough of you Bella. I feel like I'm drowning in my love and want and just all encompassing need for you," he finished on a sigh as his finger began circling my clit even faster.

"Edward, please…baby, I'm so close…" I begged him as I felt my orgasm building, the coil in my stomach tightened in anticipation of my impending release.

I felt Edward's arms tense around me, watched as the muscles flexed in his forearms. I was lost in the feel of him, of being close to him. Every place on my body where his skin touched my skin felt like it was on fire.

"You're so wet for me my Bella, so fucking wet," he growled as his fingers moved in and out of me, and when his thumb pressed on my clit, I exploded around his fingers.

"I love the way it feels when you come my love," Edward whispered as he removed his fingers from my drenched core and rolled me on my back.

His eyes blazed and were almost black in the early morning light as he settled in between my legs. He was so beautiful…there isn't any other word, really, that I could use to describe him. I felt my heart expand with love for the man above me. He was my entire world and worth every amount of heartache and pain I'd endured up until this time.

"I love you so much Edward," I breathed out to him as I felt him nestle himself more fully on top of me, his elbows rested on either side of my head.

He bent his head down and swept his mouth across mine, his eyes focused intently on me as he entered me slowly, achingly…deliciously slowly…and I felt my body open to accept all of him.

"There it is," Edward breathlessly whispered, as he completely sheathed himself inside of me.

I must have let the question I wanted to ask show on my face because Edward answered me in a gentle, adoring voice, "Bella, the look you get on your face when I make love to you, when I am inside of you…I live for that look baby, that look that is just for me."

Edward cupped my head in his hands and rocked back and forth in me, my hips followed him with every motion, "I love you so much Bella, so fucking much it feels like I might burst from loving you the way I do."

I wrapped my arms around him as I tried to pull him closer to me, and wished I could somehow crawl inside of him, "Oh Edward, my love…baby, please…I'm so close," I panted, relishing in the feel of his body as it consumed mine.

I wanted to give him everything, every part of myself that I'd kept hidden from everyone. I wanted to give it all to the man I would love for forever.

"Give it to me then angel; come for me my Bella…let me feel you explode for me…because of me," he demanded forcefully.

Raising my hips from the bed I met his thrust and let go and came so hard I swear I saw stars. My orgasm felt like it lasted forever and when I thought I was done, Edward's voice brought me back to the present as he groaned out in pleasure, "Open your eyes Bella…look at me."

I struggled to open them but when my eyes met his, I couldn't look away even if I tried. His eyes shone brightly, the green mesmerizing in the morning sunlight, "I want to look at you as I come baby," he softly said as he leaned forward and kissed the side of my neck and sucked gently on the spot behind my ear.

Wrapping my legs as tightly around him as I could, I whispered, "You feel so good inside of me Edward, so fucking good."

"Yes Bella…fuck yes…I'm going to come," he groaned as he ground his hips against mine.

I pulled on his hair, "Oh Edward…together, come with me," I panted.

We let go at the same time and it was mind-blowing, my toes curled so tightly I wasn't sure they would ever straighten out.

Once his breathing slowed back down to a normal rhythm, he pulled out and I pouted at him, which earned me a chuckle and a pinch on my hip.

Edward pulled me to his chest and my hand immediately went to the spot above his heart and I laid my hand over it. I loved to feel his heartbeat, it made me feel connected to him in a way nothing else did.

He began to run his fingers through my hair and after a few moments of silence he quietly said, "I've enjoyed the last few days with you so much Bella. Being alone with you has been heaven. I'm not sure I'll be able to handle sharing you once everyone arrives this afternoon."

I felt the same way and while I wanted to tell him that he wouldn't have to share me, I knew he did. I couldn't wait to see Rose and Jasper and then I wanted to spend some time with Carlisle and Esme as well.

"I'll make it up to you tonight Kit Kat, you have my word," I told him as I kissed him on the chest and rolled out of bed.

"Jeelllyyyy Beeaaannnn," he whined at me, "Come back to bed, I'm not ready to let you go yet."

I giggled at him. The man could melt all the snow in Alaska with that sexy ass smile of his, I swear!

"Uh uh, baby. If I get back in that bed we'll be there for hours and you know it. Now get the hell up so you can help me get everything finished before everyone gets here." I laughed even more when I saw the bottom lip come out.

The Cullen Pout...I'm telling you that thing is fucking deadly!

Then he crossed his arms and looked even more adorable. "I can resist you Cullen, don't think I can't. Not even the pout is going to work on me this morning. Up. Now.," I told him in as stern a voice as I could muster, as I tried desperately not to smile.

He threw his head back and laughed at me, the muscles on his stomach rippled enticingly so.

"Keep telling yourself that baby if it makes you feel better. You can't resist me Swan and you and I both know it." He smirked at me and raised his eyebrow, daring me to disagree with him.

I couldn't and I did know it.


"Whatever old man. I'm taking a shower and then going downstairs. If you want to stay up here in bed, fine, but you'll be all by yourself," I huffed at him as I walked into the bathroom.

I heard him behind me before I felt him as he grabbed me from behind and threw me over his shoulder. He swatted me on the ass and chuckled when I shrieked at him, "Be careful little girl or I'll keep you in the shower all fucking morning…and you know I can do it to," he growled at me as he set me down on the counter in the bathroom.

Grabbing him around the waist with my legs, I pulled him to me and wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled his face down to meet mine. "I know you can baby, and while that sounds like a really tempting offer and one I normally wouldn't refuse, we really need to get moving Edward. Please?" I asked sweetly, and gave him a kiss and then my own pout.

Yes, I can be evil, too, when I want to be.

He sighed deeply, exaggerating as all get out, and tried to sound like he was doing me a huge favor…which he was, but he didn't need to know that. "Of course beautiful, whatever you need," he said as he kissed the tip of my nose and then turned the water on in the shower.

I snorted but he held his hands up as he turned around, "Just showering baby, that's all. I promise…for now anyway."

We did just shower, for the most part. A few kisses and even more touches but we were out within thirty minutes and dressed and in the kitchen within forty five.

After a quick breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast we finished getting the house ready. Edward helped me get dinner put together and in the fridge so that we could focus on visiting all together tonight. I decided on lasagna, salad, and garlic bread. The lasagna I could put together now and pop in the oven while getting the salad and bread ready and I didn't want to be stuck in the kitchen all night.

Seth sent a text around 11:00 letting me know he had picked Jasper and Rose up from the airport. Once the twins got out of school at noon they were meeting at the Cullen's to head up here which meant they would be here between three and four this afternoon.

I vibrated with excitement; I couldn't wait for everyone to get here.

Edward smirked at me after I checked my phone for the umpteenth time already.

"What?" I asked as I slipped my phone back in my pocket.

He walked over to where I was standing in the kitchen making sandwiches for our lunch and draped his arms around my waist as he pressed his chest against my back.

"You're just so fucking adorable. I love that you're so excited for both our families to be together Bella." Edward chuckled at me as he rested his chin on my shoulder and nuzzled my neck with his nose.

I put the knife I was holding in my hand down and turned around to face him. Looking at his face and seeing the love in his eyes just reminded me again of why this weekend was so important to me.

I took his hands in mine and played with his fingers for a few moments before I spoke. "Edward, I have never really had a family to call my own. I had Charlie of course, but no mother to speak of. I didn't have any brothers or sisters, although Seth, Jasper, Rose and I are as close as you are to Emmett and Alice. Neither one of my parents had any siblings and their parents were all dead by the time I was old enough to realize I didn't have any grandparents. We lost Seth's dad and Jasper and Rose's parents when we were all so young and then all we had left were Sue and Charlie. We all left for college at the same time and that was pretty much it. This weekend is different though," I trailed off, lost in my own thoughts for a time.

"How so baby?" Edward gently asked me, as he gripped my hands tightly in his and urged me to look at him.

Closing my eyes I tried to put my thoughts in order before I spoke, "It's just…" I sighed, as I tried to keep my emotions at bay long enough to get this out, "I've wanted this for so long Edward. So, so long. A huge family, everyone laughing and loving one another, a feeling of being a true family. You are so lucky Edward; both of your parents love you, and have made sure every single day of your life that you knew it. I never had that, not ever. Charlie was a great father, don't get me wrong, and I knew he loved me. But, there were times that I wished he would show it more or say it more."

I took a breath and kept going, "Our Sunday fishing trips? They were great and all, but in all honesty, more often than not we spent most of that time in complete silence. Charlie was definitely not a talker and he really didn't ever show much affection. I missed that sometimes. Your family is so wonderful Edward and Carlisle and Esme are practically perfect. You and Emmett and Alice are all close and then you throw in your aunt and uncle plus Demetri, Tanya and Ben and then add in Maddie and Masen…it's all I've ever wanted, even before I really knew it."

Edward let go of one of my hands and lifted my chin with his finger since I had hung my head when I finished speaking and his face was so soft and full of love he took my breath away. "Bella, my sweet, precious girl, you will never feel that way ever again. I promise you that with all that I am. Even if it was just you and I and the twins, we will always be a family angel. We'll be your family."

He wiped the tears off my face with his index fingers and held my face in his strong hands and continued on, "Baby, I'm sorry for whatever hell your mother put you through. I'm sorry Charlie died and your time with him was cut so unfairly short, but now, love of my life, you are surrounded by people who love you. Carlisle and Esme love you and have for longer than me," He scowled cutely at that before he kept going, "Alice adores you and is just itching to get you alone with her again. Emmett…I don't even want to explain to you the depths of my idiot brother's feelings about you, but suffice it to say he loves you, too. Demetri and Tanya adore you and Maddie and Masen, there aren't even enough words in the dictionary to describe how much they love you and worship you. And me Bella," he bent forward and kissed my forehead and then each of my eyelids before he whispered, "My love for you is greater than all of theirs put together…a thousand, a million times more angel."

I will never be able to understand what I did to deserve to have Edward Cullen in my life, but whatever force or power or being it was that brought us together had my everlasting gratitude.

"Oh Edward, I love you so much!" I cried as I clung to him and felt it as he picked me all the way up so I could wrap my legs around his waist.

We stood that way together in my kitchen for what seemed like hours but in actuality was only minutes before he let me go and I stood, somewhat shakily, on the floor.

Edward and I looked at each other without saying a word before he gave me the sweetest, gentlest smile ever and nudged me back towards our sandwiches.

No words were needed; we understood completely what we meant to the other just by being close to each other. You could feel it in the air it was so tangible.

Once we finished eating, the butterflies of anticipation were out in full force in my stomach and for a brief moment I second guessed my choice to eat lunch.

I impatiently watched the clock, my phone and I even kept picking up Edward's hand to look at his watch, much to his amusement I might add, until it was almost time for everyone to get here. When I finally got the text from Seth that said they were only a few minutes away, I literally felt like my heart might beat out of my chest.

Edward chuckled at me to which I responded with a scowl and the oh so mature sticking out of my tongue at him.

That earned me a full on laugh, which I supposed I completely deserved.

"Relax baby, pacing like that isn't going to make Seth drive any faster you know," Edward tried to placate me by saying.

Yeah, it didn't work too well but it did help to pass the last few minutes until I finally heard the unmistakable sounds of Eminem blaring out of the windows of the suburban.

Jasper and Seth…their love for Eminem borders on creepy.

As soon as the suburban came to an almost stop, I say almost because Jasper had his door open before the damn thing even came to a complete stop. When it did he flew out of the door and met me before I was able to take even more than a few steps.

"Shortcake, god damn it's so good to see you honey!" Jasper laughed at me as he swung me over his shoulder and spun us around in a circle.

When he set me on the ground he silently held his arms open to me and as I stepped into his embrace I completely and totally just…fucking lost it.

I was crying, huge tears fell from my eyes and the next thing I knew Lele was in our arms as well as Seth and we all held on to each other as we cried for Charlie and for the loss we all felt when he died. We also cried for the things we'd each given up in our struggle to save him and most importantly, because we were still here and still together. Our family may be small with just the four of us, but I knew and they knew too, that we weren't alone any longer.

Our quadruple breakdown didn't last for too long though thanks to Emmett and his perfectly, imperfect timing when he said, "I know the ride up here was a once in a lifetime experience since you got to spend it with me, but you know we still have the whole rest of the weekend for you each to get time with the Em man so there's no reason for all the damn tears! Isa…you're first baby…come give me some sugar!"

Emmett stood there with his arms open and the biggest smile, his dimples bringing a smile to my face.

We all couldn't help but chuckle at him and the mood immediately lifted thanks to his attempt.

Edward was trying to fight a smile but failed miserably even as he said, "Emmett, you jackass. And, keep your paws off my woman before I have to beat your ass."

He tried to grab me from Jasper but I swatted his hand away as I walked over to Emmett who was definitely enjoying the low rumble we all heard from Edward's chest. I turned to Edward and rolled my eyes at the scowl on his face and turned to Emmett and tried, supremely unsuccessfully to wrap my arms around him.

He picked me up and giggling, I kissed him on the cheek, "Thank you Emmett. We really needed that."

When he placed me on the ground, Edward immediately swooped in and slapped Emmett on the side of the head as we all laughed at Em who was standing there, holding his cheek where I had kissed him.

It was the cutest thing I'd ever seen, even if he was the brother of the love of my life.

"You fucking idiot, snap out of it!" Edward hissed at his brother who just looked at him with a spaced out look on his face.

"Daddy!" "Bella!" Came the two little voices that never failed to fill my heart with love.

Edward took a hold of my hand and we both turned towards the thundering feet of Maddie and Masen who looked so happy to see the both of us that I felt tears in my eyes…again.

Damn, if I can ever make it more than five minutes without crying I'd be ever so grateful!

We each bent down to scoop up a twin, Masen for me and Maddie for him and then we were a circle of giggles and kisses and little arms and legs.

"Bella, I missed you!" Masen told me as he held my face in his tiny hands. They were sticky from whatever he was snacking on in the car, but I couldn't care less.

"Are you better now?" he asked as he tilted his head to the side as he studied my face with all the intensity a seven year old can manage. "You look better," he decidedly said and I couldn't have loved that little boy more at that moment if I tried.

"Yes Mace face, I am all better now that you and Maddie are here!" I told him as I kissed him all over his face through his giggles and half-hearted attempt to get away from me.

"And you miss Maddie," I said as I turned to the little girl that sat perched in the arms of the love of my life, "I missed you so much sweetie." I bent forward and engulfed her in a hug and when I felt her arms around my neck and then her sweet kiss on my face I felt like I had everything I could ever hope to want or need, especially when Edward wrapped his arm around all of us in one giant hug.

"Alright, break it up you guys," said the voice of an annoyed sounding Rose, who totally gave herself away with the breathtaking smile that graced her face as she approached.

I had to fight back the tears…again god damn it!...when I watched her take a hold of Edward's hand and gave it a squeeze and then gave him a bump with her hip before she pried me away from him.

"You've had her for three days Edward, your Bella playtime is over buddy!" She told him. "And don't think you can take her from me either Dr. Dad, I will hurt you if you try."

The wink she gave him put a smile on his face and he gave in without a fuss and a kiss to my temple.

"No shit Ed, Rose is vicious!" Emmett squeaked out, sounding downright afraid of my best friend.

"Emmett Cullen, are you afraid of me?" Rose asked, as she tried but failed miserably at sounding innocent.

Emmett unwisely crossed his arms over his chest and rolled his eyes at her, not a smart move on his part at all!

Everyone watched as Rosalie narrowed her eyes at him and then the evil glint that shone in her eyes should have tipped him off that he said the wrong thing.

I started but immediately smiled when I felt Esme slip her arm in mine and then kissed me gently on the cheek before she giggled, "I swear, sometimes I even wonder where he came from. If I didn't remember giving birth to the child, I might seriously question it!"

We continued to watch the standoff between the two and I heard Esme as she whispered, "They'll make a fabulous couple, won't they?"

Esme Cullen…matchmaker extraordinaire!

I chuckled at her before kissing her cheek, "Totally…if they don't kill one another first Mrs. E.!"

I started to walk away before she totally shocked the shit out of me by saying, "Nah, that's just foreplay dear."

Esme shrugged her shoulders before walking towards Emmett, who was now cowering from two angry women.

"Emmett Cullen, I know you have better manners than that. Apologize to Rosalie…Now! And, don't let me see you roll your eyes at her again or else you will answer to me."

"Yes ma'am," came the subdued response from Emmett.

"Sorry, Rose," Emmett continued before he turned around to get his bags out of the car.

I did feel kind of sorry for the big guy…but come on. Roll your eyes at my Lele? Girl will cut his balls off without blinking if he tries that crap again.

Rosalie didn't help by giving Esme a wink and blew her a kiss which she returned with a dazzling smile as she made her way over to where Jasper and Alice were standing and enveloped Jasper in a warm hug.

Jasper has always had a soft spot for Esme Cullen and from the looks he was giving Alice, I suspected he hoped to be around for a long time to come.

"Bella, dear, how are you feeling?" Carlisle asked me as he stepped up to my side.

I turned to him and for a brief moment was stunned stupid when he smiled at me. Besides Edward, I am not sure I'd ever seen a more gorgeous man in all my life.

He smirked at me and then rolled his eyes as we both heard Edward grunt from the other side of me and groaned, "Not you too, baby. What is it with women when they see my father? Geeze! He's an old man for cripes sake!"

Carlisle snickered beside me as he wrapped and arm around me and met the icy glare from his son with a shrug of his shoulders, "Knock it off son. I can't help it if your Bella finds me attractive now can I? And, I seriously beg to differ with you on the old man comment. I am most definitely not old, am I Bella?" He taunted Edward by kissing me on the cheek.

Ok, now really. Carlisle Cullen is without a doubt the most charming and sexy fifty something year old man you could ever hope to meet. I said a quick prayer begging that when Edward got to that age, he aged as gracefully.

Edward stepped forward and tugged him to me, "Don't you need to get your bags or some shit Pop?"

He then proceeded to pull me against his side and kept his arm wrapped possessively around me and bent his head down to whisper in my ear as his dad chuckled at him before he turned back to his car and lowered his voice so that it was deathly sexy, "Sweet girl, I told you I don't share what's mine…ever."

When I felt his tongue trail up the side of my neck I couldn't help the squeak that escaped from my lips.

The man completely owns me, heart, body and soul. No need to even try to deny it.

"Alright, back the hell up Eddie!" Tanya laughed at her best friend as she swiftly moved me away from him when his attention shifted to her.

"We all get our turn with Bella, you go play with the boys now." She kissed his cheek and shooed him away and as he swooped Masen up and put him on his back, he looked back and I blew him our secret kiss.

"Go have fun baby, you and Seth take the other guys out on the four wheelers. Make sure Masen has his helmet on, I bought him one and it's in the shed with the others," I told him with a worried glance at Masen who rolled his eyes at me…and looked just like his father, so much so that I had to take a deep breath.

"I'll be okay Jelly Bean, promise!" Masen hollered at me as they went running past Emmett and Jasper who in turn looked in my direction and at my nod followed with a whoop of gleeful joy.

I looked at Tanya and put my arm around her waist, "Please tell me they aren't going to kill themselves after just getting here?"

She threw her head back in laughter; her strawberry blonde hair shimmered in the sunlight.

"No can do sweet B…I wish I could. Emmett is going to be out there…with Seth!" She giggled at my strangled expression.

Sweet Jesus, Emmett and Seth on motorized vehicles…eeek!

As we were walking up the stairs into the house Carlisle and a man who looked so much like Carlisle it was uncanny came barreling out.

"Dr. C. please tell me you are not going down there with those crazy ass boys!" I exclaimed and Tanya and I both burst with laughter at their enthusiastic nods.

Men and toys…I swear.

"Bella, sweetheart, this is my brother Marcus. Marcus, this is the ever popular Isabella Swan and Edward's love. Don't tell him though, but I think Bella might like me a little more than him. Isn't that right Bella?" Carlisle charmingly said.

Seriously people…the man is smoother than silk.

"Brother, that's just because she hasn't met me yet," said an equally suave Marcus as he stepped forward and picked my hand up, and placed a soft kiss on the back of it.

"In your dreams little brother," Carlisle teased as he tried to pull me towards him

I held my hands up to both of them and said, "Both of you are wrong. My favorite male Cullen is Masen!"

Tanya and I couldn't help but hold onto one another at their shocked expressions.

Marcus stepped forward to give me a hug and kiss on the cheek and when he stepped back, winked at me and said, "Well done little one. I think you're going to fit into this family just fine."

I blushed profusely at that, mostly because I wanted that more than anything in the world and to be accepted so readily by all of them was almost too much.

"Thank you so much for inviting us for the weekend Bella. Diane and I are looking forward to getting to know the woman that has turned my brother and his entire family into a group of bumbling fools!" Marcus sweetly told me.

"It's my pleasure Marcus, really. I am so excited to have everyone here. Now, you two go play but set a good example for the younger ones!" I mocked in a stern sounding voice.

"Not likely, we'll have them eating our dust won't we little brother?" Carlisle chuckled at Marcus and then ran down to join the rest of the guys beside the lake.

Between the four wheelers and the jet skis, I figure we'll be lucky if we see them before dinner time.

Tanya and I finally made it into the house and my heart filled with the sight in front of me. Rose and Esme were sitting with Maddie at the island, munching on the cookies I'd made and drinking some lemonade. Alice and Angela were looking at the pictures on the wall of Seth, Jasper, Rose and I and Diane was coming down the stairs.

"Aunt Diane," Tanya called to her, "Come meet Edward's Bella."

I smiled at Tanya as she called me that because; well…I really loved being his.

"Girl, you are so gone it's not even funny," she giggled at me.

"Bella, darling, it is so wonderful to meet you," Edward's Aunt Diane said to me as she pulled me in to a tight hug.

The Cullen family…every last damn one of them it seems…loved to freaking hug!

I patted her on the back and gave her a gentle squeeze before she released me and put her hands on the side of my face, "You are just beautiful dear, simply stunning. No wonder our Edward sounds like a blathering idiot when he mentions your name. Oh goodness…have you met Marcus yet? You let me know if he gives you any trouble, you hear. That man, I swear, get him around a beautiful young woman and the man turns into Casanova or some silly thing like that."

Tanya snickered beside me and said, "Too late Aunt Di, he and Carlisle already tried to have a peeing contest over our little Bella but she put them both in their place. You would have been proud!"

"Oh Bella, what did you do to Dr. C.?" Rose giggled from her perch at the island.

I couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculousness of the entire situation but answered anyway, "Nothing. They were trying to get me to say who my favorite male Cullen was and I told them…Masen."

"Good one dear," Esme nodded in approval, along with Diane and Alice.

No loyalty with the Cullen women either it appears. No hesitation whatsoever in throwing one of their own under the bus!

"Bella, come have some cookies with me and Miss Rose," Maddie broke in, with her mouth full of peanut butter cookie.

I had to make her favorite!

"Just a second sweetie, pick me out a good one and I'll be right there, ok?" I asked as I made my way over to Angela and Alice, who I had yet to say hello to since they'd gotten here.

"Bella, it is so good to see you," Alice sang in her bell like voice as she gripped me in a tight hug.

"You too, Alice. I'm so glad you could make it, although I think my tall, blond haired best friend might have swayed your decision just a bit," I teased her with a quirk of my eyebrow.

"What do you mean…I don't know…Bella!" Alice stammered out to me much to mine and Angela's amusement.

"Don't think I didn't catch the way you two were eying each other outside Cullen," I told her with a bump to her shoulder and then bent my head down to whisper in her ear, "I think its excellent Ali, let me know if you need any help, ok?"

"Bella!" Alice squealed at me, but then she smiled a soft smile that told me everything. "He's amazing Bella, the most incredible man I've ever met."

"Well, I do happen to be a bit partial Ali, but I don't think you are wrong." I giggled at the dreamy look she got on her face.

I can't wait to tell Edward about this!

Turning, I threw my arm around Angela's shoulder, "Hey Ang, I am so glad you are here. I know Edward was so excited to spend some time with Ben."

She laughed at me, "I know right? Ben was acting like a little kid all week waiting to go to Disney Land. He really misses Edward; I know they haven't spent much time together in awhile so thank you so much for inviting the both of us up here."

"Ang, you're my girl. Of course I would invite you. The boys are just the icing on the cake, you know?" I smirked at her before kissing her and Alice on the cheek to go find my little shadow.

I missed Maddie so much this past week. Masen is a riot to hang out with and he makes me laugh like no other, but my little Maddie is so precious she makes my heart hurt sometimes.

I bent down to kiss her on the top of the head and sat down next to her and smiled at her as she turned her face to me, "Here Bella, this is the cookie I picked for you," Maddie said as she handed me a perfectly shaped peanut butter cookie.

"Thanks so much Peanut Butter Cup, this one looks so good!" I told her as Rose and Esme looked at one another and by some sort of silent communication which I was obviously not privy to, they both stood up.

"Maddie, Nana is going to go talk to Miss Rose and Aunt Di, ok? Why don't you tell Bella all about your end of school party, I'm sure she would love to hear all about it," Esme said as she patted Maddie on the head and did the same to me.

With a wink from each of them they were off and Maddie spent the next thirty minutes telling me every little thing she had done for the last ten days. Most of it I already knew since I talked to her every night before she went to bed, but I happily listened again. She was so excited about everything and I swear she didn't take a single breath until she finally ran out of things to say and just stopped.

"Can we go outside and play Bella?" Maddie asked me as she continued to swing her legs back and forth on the stool.

I looked at the clock and smiled when I noticed the time on the clock on the oven.

"Sure, baby, go wash your hands and put your shoes on, and we'll go. I have a surprise for you and Masen. Oh, and grab Rufus too, ok? He needs to go outside and use the bathroom," I told her as I lifted her off the stool and pointed in the direction of the bathroom.

I sighed as I watched her scurry off, loving her more with each passing day. I still had not come to grips with the way their mother just gave them up without as much as a backward glance. What kind of person is able to do that?

Lauren Mallory better hope we never cross paths or the bitch won't know what hit her!

Maddie shrieked and giggled when Rufus began to chase her through the bottom floor of the house. Little guy did not like getting woken up apparently and I should probably tell Maddie not to run in the house but they were too cute to interrupt, and besides, it was vacation and there are no rules on vacation.

I smiled to myself the image of an older Maddie chasing a little girl with my hair and Edward's eyes around the same dining room table flitted through my mind, fading as quickly as it came.

I wanted that, more than I had the words to express I wanted it.

"What is that look for sister?" Rose asked as she sidled up beside me and reached for my hand.

She laced our fingers together and I laid my head on her shoulder. I missed Rosalie so much and I was so glad she was here. The trip to California a few weeks ago was nice but we were so rushed to go from appearance to appearance and were so busy that by the end of the day we all crashed as soon as we got back to the house, only to start over again the next day.

So much had changed since that trip, it almost seemed like it was a lifetime ago instead of just a handful of weeks. We found Carlisle and Esme, two people that meant the world to the four of us. They had helped us all through one of, if not the most difficult time of each of our lives. It was devastating for Jasper and Rose to lose their parents of course, but the accident that took Peter and Charlotte was instantaneous. There was no watching anyone suffer or be in pain like there was with Charlie and there certainly wasn't any of the extreme helplessness to do anything like we each had to deal with.

Jasper and Alice seemed to have made a connection and if that was the case, I couldn't be more pleased. If nothing else, I hoped it would help me persuade Jasper which in turn meant Rose, to come to New York. Seth and I missed them and there was no point in them staying in California any longer. My contract was almost up, my life was going to be here with Edward, Seth had Tanya and they seemed very serious about each other so there was no reason for them to be away from us any longer.

"Nothing Lele, just a hope and a wish for the future is all," I told her as I brought myself back to the present.

She turned to look at me and squinted her eyes before she allowed them to soften and shine bright at me. "You are so happy Bell, aren't you?"

"Yes, Le, I am, so much so that it pretty much scares the ever living shit out of me if I stop to think about it too much. I find myself wanting to pinch myself, just to make sure I'm not dreaming. Edward, Maddie and Masen are everything to me, everything I could have ever hoped for Rose," I honestly told her.

"I am so happy for you Bell, more than I can even tell you. Edward is amazing and the man loves you like mad. Maddie and Masen are incredible and the way you are with them is nothing short of amazing. You have a family now Bella. You deserve it so much sister. Out of all of us, you deserve it so much," she told me with tears in her eyes.

Rosalie Whitlock, calm and confident on the outside but inside had a heart of gold.

"We all deserve it Rose. All of us have lost so much, it is time to let it all go and move on," I said to her as I wrapped her in a hug. "And don't think I missed the way you looked at Emmett either Lele, I may have Edward on the brain but that doesn't mean I'm blind you know," I teased her with a crook of my eyebrow.

She blushed…Rosalie Whitlock fucking blushed!

I have never, not in twenty years, EVER seen her blush at anything.

"Ah, he's all right Bella. Too goofy for my taste you know," Rose said, sounding more like she was trying to convince herself than me.

"Keep telling yourself that sister if it makes you feel better, but you and I both know you are so full of shit and I can guarantee when he rolled his eyes at you, your panties got a little damp!" I giggled at her and then full out laughed at her as I watched the shocked look come on her face.

"You are so busted Rose…try not to keep him in misery for too long you know?" I told her as I walked over to Maddie and took her by the hand.

I walked us towards the deck before Maddie asked me, "Bella, where are we goin? Is our surprise out in the back?"

"Oohh, surprise? Can I come too Bella, please?" Alice begged, looking barely older than Maddie as she bounced up and down on her feet.

"Of course Alice, everyone can if you want. It should be being delivered any minute now," I told her as she shrieked and called for the other women in the house to come outside.

"Bella got the twins a surprise!" Alice told them all as they made their way outside and they laughed at Alice who truthfully seemed as much, if not more, excited than Maddie was.

"How nice of you Bella, dear," Esme said as we all turned to the sound of the delivery truck making its way up the driveway.

"Eddie, eat my dust old man!" we all heard from down by the lake as we watched Seth go by on his four wheeler with Edward close behind him.

Thankfully…for Edward's ass…Masen was not riding with him or else there would definitely be hell to pay.

"In your dreams pup," my love shouted as he maneuvered his machine around Seth and went speeding by him, shooting up dust all over Seth.

"You'll pay for that Edward, I'm telling Bell!" Seth whined pitifully.

I felt Maddie tug on my hand, "Jelly Bean, someone should tell Seth it's not nice to tattle."

We all had to laugh at the innocent but true statement out of Maddie, "You're right sweetie, and you need to tell him when he comes in for dinner, ok?"

"K," she answered me as the delivery driver made his way over to our little group as two other extremely well built young guys jumped out of the cab and made their way to the back.

"Bella Swan?" The driver asked, as he looked between all of us.

It was pretty comical watching his eyes take in all the women that stood before him. I suppose he should look like he got struck by lightening or something as I looked around the group of us. First you have Tanya and Rosalie who would make any man turn stupid, then Alice and Angela, who were both extremely beautiful in their own ways, and Esme and Diane were gorgeous women who could pass for someone at least ten or fifteen years younger than they actually were.

I snickered as I stepped forward when I watched the guy shake his head to clear it from the fog he seemed to find himself in, "Where do I need to sign?" I asked as he handed me the clipboard.

"Um…right…ah, right here…please?" he squeaked out as he looked at me.

Great…I hope he didn't recognize me, but judging from the blush on his face I'd say the chances are pretty good he did.


Rose noticed and stepped forward, and walked with the guy as they went in the direction of the delivery truck. When I watched the guy shake his head no and then nodded it emphatically up and down, I knew she had probably just threatened the poor guy to not say anything and then promised him something, most likely a picture with me.

She looked supremely proud of herself when she turned around and looked at me and gave me her signature look. "Well, spill it sister. What do we have to do to get the guy to leave and not talk?"

"Oh Bell, you are never going to believe this!" she exclaimed, a glimmer in her eye.

There is no telling what that look means, but it can't be anything good!

"He wants a picture," I groaned, I knew it!

She was shaking her head, "Not of you miss cover model, but of…Esme and Diane!"

No fucking way!

"Well, of course he does, the young man has taste, doesn't he Esme love?" Diane cackled to Esme who looked like she couldn't decide whether to laugh or puff her chest out and say hell yeah!

I watched in awe as Esme squared her shoulders and looped her arm through Diane's and headed off towards the truck.

I so couldn't wait for Edward to get back!

Alice looked like she was going to explode from trying not to laugh and my little Maddie was just soaking it all up like nothing.

Once the picture taking was all done the back doors to the truck opened and I watched Maddie's face as the item was brought out from the truck. She squealed so loud I am sure it hurt Rufus' ears when she figured out that it was a trampoline and was jumping up and down so quick I thought she would hurt herself before she even got on the damn thing.

"Thank you Bella, oh my gosh! Did you really get me and Mase a trampoline?" she asked with eyes as big as saucers and she watched the men put it together.

"I did baby girl. I wanted you guys to have something to play on outside. Do you like it?" I asked as I knelt down to her, just wanting to make sure.

Maddie threw her arms around my neck and left a sprinkling of kisses all over my face. "Bella, it's the bestest present ever, thank you so much. I can't wait to show Mase and Daddy, will they be back soon?" she sweetly asked.

"Yes they will, I told your dad that dinner was at seven o'clock so they'll be here soon. Let's go play!" I said, letting the excitement of giving her and Masen something they would like so much fill me up.

She ran ahead of me and I felt Alice fall in step with me as we walked towards the back yard.

"Bella, you are truly amazing with the kids. They love you so much, I'm almost jealous!" Alice said softly.

I looked and saw Maddie bouncing on her feet, anxious for the safety net to get put in place so she could start jumping and looked at Alice and spoke with as much feeling as I could, my voice trembled with the emotions that threatened to bubble out. "I love them both so much Alice. Edward has told me some of what happened with Lauren, enough to know that I will ruin the bitch if she so much as breathes on any of them. Ever. I couldn't love Maddie and Masen any more than I would if they were my own. I hope you and the rest of your family believe that Alice," I said emphatically.

I loved Edward's family completely and it would crush me if they didn't believe I had the twins' best interest at heart, because I did…always!

She chuckled lightly before she spoke, "Of course we believe that Bella. You would do anything for those kids, Edward too. They are so incredibly lucky to have you Bella, we all are. I hope you are as happy to be a part of our family as we are to have you. You have changed Edward so much, I am sure you don't even realize how alive he is now, how happy he is all the damn time. It's actually quite annoying if you want to know the truth. I want to kick him in the balls sometimes just to see if I can make him stop smiling for five damn minutes. I swear!" she giggled at me.

"Um, Ali, I'd kind of appreciate it if you didn't take that part of him out of commission, you know? Those tend to come in pretty handy and I'm pretty partial to that part of Edward's body," I teased her.

"Eeww, Bella! That is my brother you are talking about! TMI! Seriously, I could have lived for a long time without ever having that image in my mind. Thanks a fucking million!" she huffed at me as she walked beside her mother.

When she winked at me I knew I was forgiven. I wasn't really sorry; she just made it so easy.

I did appreciate what she said about Edward though. He did the same for me. I wasn't really living before he came into my life, merely existing. There is a huge difference between the two, I know that now.

The trampoline was up and Maddie was a jumping fool. Rose and Tanya took a turn and I almost peed my pants watching Esme and Diane jumping up and down. For fifty something year old women, they were in fucking phenomenal shape. Angela took a turn, showing off her gymnastic background and awing Maddie into a stunned silence. Uh oh…I hope Edward doesn't kill me for putting that little seed in her mind!

Alice and I took a turn, jumping with Maddie between us. Alice's tiny body flew up so high; she almost went over the top of the safety net. She got off after a few minutes and Maddie and I had the thing to ourselves. I could hear the guys coming up from the lake as we continued to jump. Maddie begged me to do another flip and as she scooted back to give me room I jumped up and tucked myself in and did a flip, much to her satisfaction. Not so much to mine as I felt my knee give completely out. I let out a howl of pain and Edward was at my side in an instant.

I knew I shouldn't have jumped without my brace and the look Seth and Jasper gave me as Edward carried me to the house let me know I was in deep shit.


"Bella, baby, are you okay?" Edward worriedly asked me as he set me on the sofa, immediately squatted in front of me as he felt my knee.

It was beginning to swell, but it didn't hurt too badly. I've had worse…much worse.

"I'm fine, Edward. Let me get some ice on it for a little bit and it will good," I told him, trying not to grimace when he touched it.

Seth and Jasper both stood off to the side, their arms crossed and scowls on their faces.

I held my hands up at the both of them, "Guys, knock it off. Now. I'm fine, really. I just landed wrong; it'll be fine by the morning. Honest," I told them sincerely, hoping to tell them with my eyes to back the hell off. I wasn't ready for this discussion yet and they knew it.

They each looked at me and then each other before they kisses me on the top of my head. Jasper came back with a bag of ice while Edward was outside with Masen on the trampoline.

"You're going to have to tell him Shortcake, all of it," Jasper whispered to me as he tended to my injured knee, just like he'd had to do so many times so long ago.

"I talked to Edward, Bell, while we were down by the lake. I am so glad you showed him Charlie's letter and talked to him about your Dad, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. You know this. That man loves you Isabella," Jasper's voice hitched at that point.

He hardly ever calls me Isabella and when he does, I pay attention.

"He loves you Bella, so much. I've never seen anything like it in my life. He's going to marry you one day, I am sure of it, and you are going to have babies and live happily ever after. But, you are never going to be able to have that honey if you don't tell him about Renee and James and everything else," Jasper said, his voice portraying the intensity of his words.

I hung my head for a minute, not wanting to look at him just yet, and then took a deep breath after collecting myself, "I know Jasper, god damn it I know, all right?" I said defensively because I knew I procrastinated the last few days and focused on Charlie instead of the bigger issue of Renee.

"I just don't know how to do it Jasper," I told him, hating to admit that Renee was taking control of me again…still after all this fucking time.

"There is so much J, just so much fucking…crap…I don't even know where to start. That Renee wished I'd never been born, that she hated me because Charlie loved me, that it was my fault he died? That what happened with James was my own fault? Where Jasper? Please tell me because I sure as shit don't where it should be!" I exclaimed, as I tried to catch my breath and keep myself from losing it.

Seth and Rose both looked in our direction and Jasper and I both shook our heads at them. We were fine, they didn't need to worry.

He wrapped his arms around me, my head pressed forward against his chest as he rested his chin on the top of my head, and spoke quietly, "Bella, I'll be with you if you want me to. Hell, I'll tell him if need be. In fact, I probably should. There is no way you could make it through it all. Neither could Seth or Rose. Rose would get so mad she'd have to go beat the shit out of someone or something and Seth, the boy is so soft he'd never last more than five minutes before breaking the hell down and needing a hug. Me, I'm the most mature out of all of us…and I'm the oldest, the patriarch of our little family, so it's my duty." He chuckled at me, knowing I was about to go off on the birthday thing.

"Fucking oldest my ass. I hate that I'm the youngest!" I pouted and crossed my arms across my chest.

Jasper and Rose's birthday was the month before Seth's which meant it was a month and six minutes before mine. No one ever let me forget I was the baby either.

"I love you Bella, and I am so happy for you and Edward. You just have to get through this and the end of your contract, and then you can have it all Shortcake. Everything you ever wanted. But you have to talk to Edward baby; you don't have a choice any longer," he told me as he kissed the top of my head and stood up.

I grabbed his hand and pressed it against my cheek before I kissed it, "Thanks big brother. I love you too. Point made and received. We'll do it tomorrow, I promise. Now help me up so I can get dinner going. I am sure you guys are famished."

He wanted to argue but the look I gave him brooked no arguments. I gave the same look to Edward when he came in with an exhausted but thoroughly happy Masen under his arm.

"Bella thanks so much for the trampoline! Will you play on it with me tomorrow?" Masen asked, looking up at me from under Edward's arm until he swung him around and set him on the ground.

"We'll see little man, ok? I kinda hurt my knee when I did a flip for your sister. If it's better tomorrow, then yes, we'll play. How were the four wheelers? Did you wear your helmet at all times?" I asked, knowing if he said no I would be taking a huge chunk out of Edward's gorgeous ass.

It would be painful to do, but I would!

Again he rolled his eyes at me. It was supremely adorable on a seven year old, on a seventeen year old, I would imagine not so much!

"Yes, Bella, Daddy wouldn't let me take it off. He said you bought it special for me and we would both be in trouble if I took it off, so I kept it on…even though I didn't like it," he pouted to me.

"Sorry buddy, but those are the rules. Anyone shorter than Aunt Alice has to wear a helmet!" I told him, laughing as Alice stuck her tongue out at me.

So not my fault that the woman is barely taller than someone a quarter her age!

Dinner was a loud, boisterous affair, and thankfully we had plenty of food, even with Seth, Demetri and Emmett eating. There were people everywhere, at the island, the dining room table, outside on the deck. I noticed Emmett and Rosalie sitting off to the side on the stairs going to the second story, their heads bent close together.

I nudged Edward, who was holding my hand while he tried to eat with his left hand. The man, I swear. Apparently being away from me for a few hours turned him into a magnet that couldn't be more than a few inches away from me, even if that meant eating with the wrong hand.

He looked in the direction I showed him with my eyes and smirked back at me with a raised eyebrow. Emmett and Rosalie made a stunning couple, her tall and blonde and blue eyed; Emmett huge, muscular, brown hair and dimples that would make anyone smile.

"How are you feeling sweet girl," Edward tenderly asked me as he lifted our hands up kissed the back of my hand.

I sighed, I did miss him today. I mean he was here, but not with me and it made a difference. Especially after spending the three days before solely with him.

Answering his question with a kiss on the cheek as I stood up to take our dishes to the kitchen I said, "I am fine baby. Really. It doesn't hurt and there's no swelling. I just tweaked it or something. I think it scared me more than hurt to be honest."

I started to walk towards the kitchen but was relieved of my dishes by Esme and Diane who stared me down until I took my place in my chair as they walked into the kitchen to do the dishes. Every time I opened my mouth to tell them I would do it, I got the same stare.

Esme and Diane Cullen were not to be messed with that is for sure!

The WonderTwins were exhausted after dinner and we put them to bed with no fuss whatsoever. They didn't even bathe, they were so tired. It was vacation, it was allowed.

The older Cullens retired early too, after thanking me profusely for dinner and for the invitation for the weekend…again.

The rest of us went downstairs to the game room to play Rock Band. Emmett and Jasper got the beer out of the cooler and Rose set up the blender to make her famous margaritas. I plopped down on the sofa next to Demetri, whom I had barely seen all day.

"What's up little one?" he asked as I laid my head on his muscular shoulder.

The Cullen men, I swear they must have the best genes in the whole damn world!

"Nothing much, Dem. Did you have fun on the four wheelers and jet skis?" I asked him as I snuggled closer to him.

He was like a big teddy bear and I was tired so what else was I supposed to do.

Demetri chuckled, "Hell yeah I did Bella! This place totally rocks. Thanks so much for asking me to come up here."

"My pleasure Dem, really. I am so glad you could come. Heidi couldn't make it?" I asked, knowing that he was kind of bummed his new girlfriend had to work today and couldn't get the time off.

"No, she really wanted to be here," he said, sounding as depressed as I am sure he felt.

I couldn't help but giggle a little bit, I think they teach that Cullen pout to them when they are still in the womb or some shit like that.

"You should have her come tomorrow Dem. If she is off for the weekend, tell her to come on up. We can get her directions and there is plenty of room," I told him and the next thing I knew I was thrown over his shoulder and we were spinning around in circles.

"You jackass, put me the hell down!" I shrieked at him, laughing so hard my side hurt. "We just ate you know. If I puke, it's going straight on you!" I laughed at him when he came to an immediate stop and laughed even harder when he flipped me back over and we both looked into the stern face of my favorite face in the world.

"What is it with you people putting your hands on my woman? First Emmett, then Pop and Uncle Marcus and now my fucking cousin. Ben, you wanna come over here and take a turn?" Edward growled out as he pulled me to him, my chest pressed firmly against his as his hand was sitting possessively on my ass.

"Nah, Ed, I'm good man. Thanks though…maybe I'll take you up on that offer some other time?" Ben chuckled to Angela, both enjoying the pissed off look on Edward's face.

I stepped on my tip toes and kissed his neck and then the spot on the middle of his chest. "I am your woman baby, no one else's. You know better than that! "

"Damn straight angel. These fuckers seriously better stop messing with you or else!" he grumbled as he licked my lips with his tongue before possessively pressing it inside of my mouth, making slow, deep, motions with his tongue.

A throat cleared off to the side somewhere, but I didn't really care. All I cared about was the fact that my panties were getting soaked from just kissing Edward.

"Enough you too, wait until you get upstairs for fuck's sake," Seth nagged us, handing Edward a beer and me a glass of margarita, the rim perfectly salted.

"Perfect as always Le," I praised Rose as I seductively licked the salt off the rim while staring at Edward.

I watched his eyes turn black and when he started breathing through his nose I knew he was being pushed to his limit. I chuckled to myself as I purposely let a few drops fall out of my mouth and picked my finger up and ran it down the side of my mouth gathering the spilled liquid before moving it to my tongue to lick it off when I felt Edward's fingers gripping my wrist.

He bent his head forward and sucked my finger into his mouth and when his tongue wrapped itself around my finger I swear my eyes rolled all the way back into my head and my knees felt weak.

"Little girl, don't fucking push me. I'm warning you baby, I will fuck you right here in front of everyone if you don't knock that shit off. I've had to share you all damn day; I'm about at the end of my generosity," Edward told me, his voice rough and smooth at the same time, and sexy as hell.

We each took a step back from the other before we pushed ourselves much more and then we all began to play the game.

It was freaking hilarious. The more we drank the funnier everything became. Alice couldn't play any of the instruments for shit but she sang the hell out of Pat Benatar's Hit Me With Your Best Shot. Rose and Jasper played the instruments and Emmett sang Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer like no ones business. He even did the hair flip…even though he didn't have long hair. Jasper tried to channel his inner Slash on the guitar and I thought Alice was going to pee her pants she laughed at him so hard.

Rose watched Emmett the whole time like he was a drink of water after spending a month in a desert and I didn't say anything when I watched them silently go out the back door to the garage. I knew she wanted to show him the car and well…muscle cars always turn Rose on!

Edward was hilarious as he tried to sing Eye of the Tiger after he'd had about four beers. He missed about every third word and Ben was awful on the drums. Angela and Tanya sang One Way or Another by Blondie while Seth played the drums and Ben tried the guitar, he was much better on that than the drums that's for sure. Demetri had us rolling on the floor as he sang Hungry Like A Wolf by Duran Duran, he even tried to look like Simon Le Bon, whipping his head towards the pretend camera.

Jasper convinced me to play the drums on the Foo Fighter's All My Life while he sang the vocals and Tanya played the guitar. Edward's eyes stayed focused on me the whole time and I knew he was remembering the other night in the garage when I watched his eyes narrow at me and his breathing become heavier. I even missed a few notes which caused quite the chuckle from Jasper who must have figured out something or my love spilled the beans judging from the sheepish look he gave me. I didn't really care…it was fucking hot and I wouldn't mind doing it again!

When we were done with that song and a few more beers and the pitcher of margaritas was demolished, Rose and Em decided to grace us with their presence again, finally.

She looked pissed when she came in and stood in the center of the room. Edward didn't notice, he was too busy kissing me behind my ear and rubbing circles on my hip with his thumb. I was barley functional by this point, between the long day, the margaritas and Edward, I couldn't form a complete sentence if you paid me.

"Isabella Marie Swan!" Rosalie loudly called my name.

She three named my ass? What the hell?

"Edward Anthony Cullen!" Emmett called out to his brother, who barely moved his mouth from my neck and didn't even pause in the rubbing circles department, and said circles were traveling upwards so that now the outside of his thumb kept brushing against the underside of my breast.

I was about thirty seconds, a minute tops from turning into a quivering pile of goo I wanted Edward so badly by this time.

"Can I help you?" Edward mumbled around my neck which felt delightfully warm and wet at the same time.

"Hell yes you can," Rose said as she glared at the both of us. "Would either of you mind telling me why there is a perfect set of Bella's hand prints on the hood of the Camaro or why her shorts and tank top were underneath said car, hmmm?" she finished, raising her eyebrow at the both of us.

"Well, Rose if you must know," said Edward in the smooth, deep voice he knows drives me out of my fucking mind, "That was from the other night when I fucked Bella against said car after ripping said clothes off her perfect little body," he said succinctly as he lifted me up and threw me over his shoulders.

He stopped and kissed my best friend on her cheek, the one which had yet to make a sound or move a muscle despite all the snickering going on behind us or the fact that Emmett now had his arm protectively around her waist.

Edward leaned in close to her and whispered; well he tried anyway, in his buzzed state I'm not sure he could tell how loud he was, "And Rose, it was fucking awesome. I have a picture of the handprints if you want to see them again; they are the screen saver on my phone." He kissed her again and gave his brother a manly fist bump.

I groaned knowing I would never hear the end of this now…not ever.

He swatted my ass and spun me around so I was facing the room of our friends and family, all of whom were either laughing or staring at us like we were raving lunatics.

"Say good night baby," Edward demanded, as he tried to bite me in the butt…through my jeans.

Horny, buzzed Edward was a hoot…remind me to get him drunk again…soon!

I laughed and blew a kiss to everyone before saying, "Good night baby!" And giggled all the way upstairs until Edward took us to our room, closed the door firmly behind him and then he threw me on the bed.

He reached behind his head and pulled his shirt off and I licked my lips immediately as the muscles of his stomach rippled and flexed.

"See something you like sweet girl?" He smirked at me, that panty dropping sexy ass grin on his face.

"You could say that," I told him shrugging my shoulders as I watched him watch me.

He licked his lips this time and his eyes blazed brightly and I am sure if he could have, he would have melted my clothes off my body just by looking at me.

"I missed you today baby, so fucking much. Do you know that my body aches for you when we are apart, that I feel like I can't even fucking breathe until I am near you again? What do you think of that my Bella?" he asked me, his voice dark and husky and full of need.

I yanked my shirt off my body and struggled out of my jeans and opened my legs to him. "I think you should come over here, Edward, and take what's yours baby. Show me how much you missed me and need me."

He flew to the bed and proceeded to show me…multiple times.


I woke well before Edward did and slipped out of bed and into the bathroom to take a quick shower before I headed downstairs to start on breakfast. Thankfully there was nothing more than a very slight twinge in my knee from yesterday. From last night, I had different kinds of twinges, but those I would take any day. I smiled as I thought about last night. Edward was incredible, almost desperate and frantic in the way he made love to me until the early morning hours, like he was afraid he would never get enough. Not that I minded in the least, it was hot as hell!

Stepping out of the shower as quietly as I could, I dressed in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt with plain black boy shorts and bra underneath. I slipped my flip flops on and after a quick kiss to Edward's forehead, I went downstairs to start breakfast.

I was putting the breakfast casseroles in the oven and I had started the coffee pot when people started making their way into the kitchen. Esme and Diane sliced the fruit and set the table while I helped Maddie and Masen get dressed and ready for the day. We just set everything up buffet style since I wasn't sure who would be up when.

After I fixed Edward a cup of coffee and put it in an insulated mug that would keep it hot until he woke up, I put it in the bathroom and went outside with Maddie and Masen. Mase was playing with Rufus and Maddie was just standing there with a sad look on her face.

"What's up peanut butter cup?" I asked her as I held my hand out to her.

She walked over to me and latched onto my hand. Maddie looked up at me for a few seconds before she spoke in a quiet, reserved voice. This was not the voice of the Maddie I knew and loved, not at all. "Bella, do you remember me tellin you that I signed up to play soccer?" she asked me.

"Yes, sweetie, I do. Do you not want to play anymore? You know your Daddy won't make you play if you don't want to," I told her, knowing there was no way Edward would ever make either one of them do something they didn't want.

Maddie shook her head before she looked at me with the saddest little face I'd ever seen. "No Bella, I do want to play, I just don't know how. In recess the other day we was playin and I didn't do so good. Some of the girls laughed at me, the boys too."

Oh, hell no. No one laughs at my girl. She wants to learn how to play, then by God, I'll teach her how to play. She'll be running circles all around those little shits.

I hadn't touched a soccer ball in more than five years and I swore to all that was holy that I never would again, but my girl needed me and there was no way I'm letting her down.

Knowing what I had to do, I turned to Maddie and Masen and told them to stay put for a second while I ran in the house. I needed someone to come outside to watch Masen while I took Maddie for a bit. Running inside, I found Demetri first and he readily agreed to go outside with Masen. Heidi left first thing this morning to come up here so he was going to wait outside anyway. I pointed him in the direction of the tire swing and trampoline before I grabbed Maddie by the hand and took her into the garage.

Edward didn't notice this part of the garage the other night, not surprisingly as he was otherwise occupied, but there was another small room off to the side. I made my way over to the door and took a deep breath. I hadn't been in this room in years, there were way too many painful memories for me, but for Maddie, I opened the door and flipped the switch and waited for the lights to come on. Once the room was bathed in a soft light, I gripped Maddie's hand and we entered the room.

As expected, the rush of memories was painful, especially as my eyes roamed over the trophies that lined the shelves on the walls. I watched as Maddie looked around the room, her eyes full of questions for me, and ones that up until right this moment, I never wanted to answer ever again. Jasper's words ran through my mind now as I realized he was so right in what he told me yesterday. I did have to face all of my past before I could move on and while it would be painful, it had to be done.

"Bella, are all of those your trophies?" Maddie asked me as she walked over to the wall to get a closer look.

All of my team pictures were on the walls, from when I started at the age of eight all the way up until the National Team picture…that's the one that hurt the most.

"Yes baby girl, they are. See, there are all my pictures too. I started playing right about the same age as you are; I was just a little older though," I told her, "I started playing when I was eight. Jasper played with me, too."

"You played with the boys's, like on the same team?" she asked, looking at me like I was her hero.

I chuckled, "Yes, Maddie I did. I was a pretty fast little girl when I was your age, and when I got older too. Come here sweetie, let me show you some things," I called to her and helped her up on the table against the wall.

Pulling a box down from the shelf, I carried it over to where she was sitting and opened the top. The rush of memories that flooded my mind threatened to overtake me for a minute but I took a deep breath and fought them back. I wasn't ready for the onslaught just yet.

I dug through the box for a few special items and took them out before I pushed the box to the side. I would go through it later; right now this was for Maddie.

Bending over, I picked up her foot and untied each one of her shoes before I took them off. I picked up a well worn, but still usable pair of soccer cleats off the table. Renee's voice as I ran in the room to show her my new shoes played in my mind but I turned it off and focused on the little girl looking at me with so much love in her eyes it broke my heart into a thousand little pieces.

I slipped her foot in each cleat, making sure they fit, but knowing instinctually that they would. It was like it was meant to be.

As I tied first one, then the other, I began to softly speak to my little prodigy, "When I was just about your age princess, my daddy bought me these shoes. They were my favorite pair of shoes ever. I wore them every chance I got, even to bed if I could get away with it." I winked at her, knowing we were both thinking of Masen and his Jeter jersey, "I scored my first goal in these cleats Maddie, do you want me to teach you how to play? You can wear my shoes and I have something else for you if you want it?" I asked her, chuckling softly as she enthusiastically nodded her head.

I reached over and picked up the pink jersey off the table top and lifted the shirt Maddie was wearing over head before I slipped the jersey on. I hated this jersey, with a passion but only because it was pink, but it was the first one I'd ever gotten so it was supremely special, but not more than the little girl sitting in front of me.

"This, Maddie was my very first jersey from my very first team. I was the only girl on the boy's team and I had to wear a pink shirt while the boys all wore black. My number, for every team and for all the time I played was sixteen. I want you to have my jersey, sweetie, is that okay?" I asked her as I watched her tiny body twist around and read the back of the shirt.

"It has your last name Bella," she told me.

"Yes, it does baby girl, but you can still wear it if you want to. When you start playing on your own team, you'll get a shirt with your name on the back, but for now, you can use mine, if you want?" I asked again and again was met with the same enthusiastic nod.

I picked up my National Team jersey then and quickly slipped it on over my t-shirt. I turned around to show Maddie that it had the same number as her's on the back, and she smiled when she recognized my name and number on my shirt was the same as the one on hers.

"Bella, what does the 'c' mean on your shirt?" She questioned as she pointed to the 'c' on the front left of the jersey.

"It means Captain, Maddie. When I was on this team here," I said as I pointed to the USA on the patch on the arm and chest of my jersey, "I was one of the two captains on the team."

Maddie's eyes grew so big in her head as she whispered, "You were a captain?"

I nodded my head at her and quietly answered, "Yes, I was."

"What does that patch mean?" she asked pointing to the USA embroidered on the National Team patch.

I turned so she could see it better and then told her, "This Maddie, means United States of America. When I was eighteen years old, sweetie, I was picked to play on the team that was made up of the best players in the whole country. We were going to play in a big tournament with teams from all over the world."

"Did you win?" Maddie asked as she continued to stare at the jersey.

"I didn't get to play baby. I got hurt real bad and couldn't play anymore," I told her, pushing past the pain that flared in my chest at that admission.

I picked her up off the table and set her on the floor, and grabbed the last item I'd pulled out. My little size 3 soccer ball, the size Maddie would play with and the one I started with. Grabbing the ball pump off the wall, I wet the needle and made sure the ball was aired up properly before I handed her the ball.

"This was my first ball, Maddie, the one I learned to play with, and the one Jasper and I used to practice with every day during the summer. We'll use this one for today, okay, and then if you want, you can take it home with you, too," I told her as I took her hand and we made our way out of the garage.

I picked up the bag that held the portable soccer goal I used to practice on as we left the building and headed towards the back yard to get it set up so we could practice. I had my own cleats from so long ago draped over my shoulder and could actually feel a tingle of excitement building as I anticipated putting them on for the first time since I'd been forced to stop playing…forever.

"Do I get to keep your shirt and the shoes, too, Bella?" she asked me as we approached the spot in the yard where we would practice. Masen waved to us from the tire swing and went back to his playing, paying very little attention to what we were doing.

I set the bag down and had the goal assembled in no time and as I attached the last stake in the ground I looked up at her watching me with rapt interest.

"Of course you can baby girl, if you want to," I told her, pleased beyond words that she would want to keep something of mine that had meant so much to me for such a long time.

Once I had everything put away from setting up the goal, I sat on the ground and put my cleats on. I pulled the socks I had grabbed from earlier when I went to find Demetri out of the pocket of my shorts and slipped them on my feet first before sliding my right foot in my shoe. I was amazed at what I was feeling as I laced the shoe; excitement, anticipation…happiness. What I didn't feel was sadness or anger or fear. I did feel a sharp pain of regret, but that would always be there I supposed, but the overriding emotion was happiness.

I was thrilled beyond belief at the joy I felt in being able to share my love for soccer with Maddie. It was unlike anything I'd ever felt before and it shocked me to my core. I never, in a million years ever, expected to have this feeling again and it literally brought tears to my eyes as I realized I could keep my love for soccer if I wanted to.

I got up off the ground, my knee protesting just a bit from the pressure of standing up on it, and bent over to tie Maddie's shoes again.

A feeling of being watched came over me and I turned around and looked in the faces of my three best friends, the ones who've supported me and have given me more strength than I ever could have imagined and the tears on their faces told me everything I needed to know.

They loved me, they are proud of me for taking this step…they would always be there when I need them.

I raised my hand and made a fist and laid it over my heart, the signal I gave them before every single match I've ever played and when I got it back from them, I felt like my heart would burst. I wanted to run inside to them and fall to my knees in gratitude for every damn thing each one of them has done for me, because of me, but when Jasper inclined his head in the direction of …Edward, my heart literally stopped for a beat.

This is it, I knew what he is asking and for the briefest of moments I wanted to shake my head no to his silent question, but instead I took a deep breath and nodded in agreement, giving him a small smile.

Edward will know everything in a short while, every awful thing Renee had ever said to me. The devastation I felt when I got injured, the fear we all went through because of James and then the anguish of Charlie's illness and death and the toll it took on all of us…and the sacrifice we all made for him, and the one they all made for me.

He would know it all.

Rose looked at me, tears falling down her beautiful face, and gave me a small wave. She understood what was about to happen and even though she had been pushing me towards this day, she knew how hard this was going to be for all of us.

Seth, my brother for all intents and purposes just stared at me, telling me without even speaking a word that he was proud of me for taking this final step. We were closer than any other two people I knew, closer even in some ways than Jasper is to Rose, and I loved him more than I would ever love anyone else…even Edward. We have been each other's constant companion for our entire lives, barely spending more than a few days apart ever since birth. When I went to the National Team Camp, it was the longest we had ever been apart…we barely made it through.

Our lives were gradually moving in different directions now, we could both feel it. My future was with Maddie, Masen and Edward and his was with Tanya hopefully. Once my contract was up, I didn't need him to be with me twenty four seven, and as hard as that was to come to terms with, we both knew it was coming. When he blew me a kiss, I wanted to run to him and beg him to never leave me, but when I noticed Edward was standing next to him, I couldn't move.

My Edward, love of my life and my everything.

I could feel his love for me from here, feel it as it wrapped around me, protecting me from what is about to happen. I hope he can take it, and I hope the love he feels for me now, and mine in return for him, will give him the strength to hear it all.

It wasn't a pretty story, and it would hurt him because it had hurt me…still hurts me.

I watched as he made a move to open the door but when I shook my head at him he stopped immediately. I needed him to listen to Jasper before he came to me; once he knew everything, then he could come to me and we could move forward together…as a family.

Raising my fingers to my lips, I blew him a kiss, hoping to convey to him how much I loved him and how much my life has changed since the three of them have come into it.

I called to Maddie and as she walked to me, I took her hand and with final look at Edward, turned and took her to begin our practice and begin my path to my new life…one in which I would never be alone in again.

I hoped.

1 comment:

  1. ok, ok, I guess I will be the first to comment! I have been reading and enjoying your story! OMG I love the website! I have not been reading off of I have enjoyed every chapter in your story so far and feel really bad for not reviewing. Just didnt want to be the 1st on your blog to do so. LOL. Guilt got me though. I love the characters you have created. The kids are sweet and I dont find them annoying! HEHE! Man what a history Bella has! SHe is very strong, I am glad she is letting Edward in. They seem to love each other soo much! Thanks again for this beautiful story and website.....Karen