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.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chapter 24


"Shortcake, Edward, we need to talk to you," Jasper just said.

My eyes immediately traveled around the room taking in the very anxious and tense faces of everyone. As my gaze rested on Emmett and Ben, I knew this was not going to be pleasant judging from the intense looks each of them wore.

I felt Bella stiffen beside me and heard her breathing get faster as she clung to my side.

"Everything will be fine angel, I promise you," I told her as I kissed the side of her head.

I walked to the two remaining seats at the table and sat down, pulling Bella with me. I looked out the back windows to make sure Maddie and Masen were okay and gave Demetri a grateful nod as I noticed Heidi outside with them.

We sat down and I scooted Bella's chair closer to mine so that she was right against me. She was nervous already, I could tell from the way she played with the fingers of her hand. I reached over and stilled their movements with mine; my fingers laced our hands together. Bella took a deep breath then and looked at me; a small smile appeared on her face.

"I love you baby," I whispered to her and watched as my brave girl squared her shoulders, squeezed my fingers, then looked at Jasper.

"Ok Jasper, what's with the round table?" Bella asked, trying to break through the tension in the room

He smiled at her indulgently, knowing perfectly well what she was trying to do, even though she didn't fool anyone.

"Bell, Edward, there were some…developments that occurred while you have been up here. Things have happened since the Gala that you both need to be aware of," Jasper began hesitantly.

Bella squeezed my fingers and I ran my thumb across her knuckles hoping it would calm her before we really even knew what the hell was going on.

"What kind of developments, Jasper?" I asked, my voice indicating he better tell me straight out.

Jasper looked around the table finding Seth's eyes and at his small nod, took a deep breath and focused on Bella and me.

Shit, I could tell this wasn't going to be good at all.

I noticed my dad as he held my mom's hand; Uncle Marcus and Aunt Diane looked like they wanted to cry. Angela fidgeted in her seat so much Ben had to still her with a hand on her knee.

Seth and Rosalie looked like they wanted to be sick and Alice and Tanya each nervously looked around the room, at everyone and everything but Bella and I.

Demetri and Emmett both had blank looks on their faces and that told me more than anything.

They were scared, they all were.

I let go of Bella's hand and wrapped my arm around her shoulder, holding her close to me. I kissed her temple and said a quick, silent prayer, begging whoever was listening to help keep me strong for whatever was about to come my way.

Looking at Jasper, I raised my eyebrows at him and indicated he should just spit out whatever it was.

He closed his eyes briefly before he exhaled through his nose and looked at Bella and I. "Ok, Bella received some… rather disturbing mail last week after the Gala. It was delivered to the office at Volturi's."

I heard Bella's gasp and then looked to see her sit with her eyes squeezed tightly shut and shake her head back and forth.

"Breathe angel, I'm right here," I whispered to her as I pressed her head on my shoulder.

"No, Edward, please tell me this isn't happening…not again, not now," she begged me in a small voice.

I gazed at Jasper who looked positively sick as he watched Bella curl into my side. He glanced at Seth and Rose and they stared at Bella with the same look on their faces.

My hand was rubbing circles on her back as Bella tried to get her breathing under control. "When you say disturbing, what exactly are we talking here J?" I asked, needing to know specifically what we were dealing with.

"Shit, Edward. Um, ok, well, there were two letters that came in. One arrived the Monday after the Gala and the other came on Friday, right before we all left to come here," Jasper said in a tense voice.

"What did they say J, please tell me the truth? Don't lie to me, just tell me," Bella pled with him.

Fuck, she was breaking my damn heart.

He looked at me and I nodded at him. Whatever was in those letters she deserved to know. This was her career, her life we were talking about here and I'd be damned if I was going to let someone else dictate how and what she should know.

Jasper walked to Angela and picked up two envelopes from her and handed them to Bella before he sat down across the table from her.

I watched as she pulled the first letter from the envelope, her fingers trembled as she gripped the paper.

"Wait a minute," I said sharply, causing Bella to jump beside me. "Sorry baby," I whispered to her before I turned my head to Jasper. "Have these been shown to the police or anything? Do we need to be careful for fingerprints?" I asked, not having a clue as to what the proper protocol was in a situation like this.

Jasper nodded his head and looked at Emmett. "Brother, there really isn't anything that they can do at this point. Just look at the letters and you'll understand what I'm talking about," Emmett explained to me, his fists clenched tightly on the table.

Rose laid a hand on his forearm and he unclenched one of his hands to cover her hand with his. He shot her a grateful smile before he looked back to Bella and me.

"Go ahead baby girl, we're all here for you," Emmett said softly as he smiled at her.

Bella turned her face towards mine and I kissed the tip of her nose, "Together angel, remember?" I asked her softly as I covered her tiny, cold hand with mine and we turned the paper over together.

Bella squeaked as she looked at the picture, her hand covering her mouth as her eyes got as big as saucers. My stomach dropped and then twisted painfully. On the page was a picture of Bella and me dancing at the Gala. There weren't any photographers allowed inside so it had to come from someone's camera phone or digital camera. The picture itself was beautiful; Bella was looking up at me as I had my head bent down towards hers, both of us smiling as we stared into each others eyes. It was the words below the picture that sent chills up my spine though:

I'm watching you and I can promise… you won't always be this happy

"What the hell Emmett?" I barked out, "How the hell can the police not do anything about this?"

Emmett sat back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling before he brought his gaze back to me and Bella. "Edward, while I agree that is creepy as fuck it really doesn't say anything that can be construed as a direct threat," he said as he pointed towards the paper I was currently crushing in my hand.

"Look at the other one you two," Jasper said, bringing our attention back to the other envelope in Bella's now trembling hands.

I pried it from her fingers, gently uncurling them from the paper, "Let me sweetheart, okay?"

She nodded at me, her eyes wide with fear.

My heart was beating a mile a minute and at the same time it was breaking knowing what this was going to do to her.

I pulled the piece of paper out of the envelope and muttered a fierce, deadly "Jesus Fucking Christ," before I very grudgingly let Bella look at the paper.

"Oh God, no...please, not again…no…no," Bella whimpered as she let the paper fall to the floor.

I tried not to look at it again, since I was quite positive I would never forget what I just saw, but I couldn't help it.

There was a picture of Bella, Maddie, Masen, and I taken on one of our Saturday trips out and about in the city. This one depicted the four of us sitting outside eating lunch at Mr. Saul's deli. Remembering that day, I shivered as I realized this picture was taken even before the Gala.

The words beneath the picture even more frightening since I knew when that picture had been taken:

Enjoy it while it lasts…it won't be for forever

I frantically looked from Jasper, to Seth to Emmett and Ben and then at Bella.

She was crying softly, her hands over her face. I pulled her to me and placed her on my lap. I reached up and gently tugged her hands away from her face and tipped her chin up to look at me.

Sweet Christ, she looked completely shattered. I kissed each of her hands and then softly spoke to her, "My Bella, look at me please." I waited patiently for her to pull herself together as best she could before I began, "I won't let anything happen to you or to them Bella, I give you my fucking word. You don't have to be afraid ever again angel, I promise you."

My heart broke into a thousand tiny pieces as I watched utterly helpless as she fell apart, her body shaking with her silent sobs. "Edward…I'm so sorry…I never meant for…I can't…" she stuttered out between mangled breaths.

"Bella, shhh…my love it's going to be fine…baby," I rasped out to her, barely able to speak my throat was so tight.

She shook her head and scrambled off my lap and stood up, looking around the table. Bella looked at me, tears falling from her tortured eyes and said softly, "I love you Edward," and turned away from me.

I watched as Bella ran out the back doors and towards the lake. Every part of me wanted to go after her, but I knew she just needed a moment to get her emotions under control.

This…this is what she feared from the very first moment we met, and to have the reality slam us in the face was a shock.

I heard chairs scrape as my family members left the room, everyone silent. Thank fucking god, there was no way I could talk to anyone right now.

I tipped my head back and ran my hands through my hair, tugging until it hurt. The pain was welcome actually; it helped me focus on what needed to be done. I sighed deeply before I picked my head up off the back of the chair and bent forward, resting my elbows on my knees and holding my head in my hands.

I looked up to the face of my brother sitting across the table from me. His eyes were bright…intense as he stared at me.

"We won't let anything happen to any of you," Emmett told me in a hard, determined voice.

"I know that Emmett, I'm not worried about me anyway. It's Bella and the kids that I am the most concerned with," I told him as I looked towards the window again.

Jasper and Seth stood at the window, each watched Bella silently as she stood facing the lake. She wasn't moving, just stared out at the water. I didn't have to be a mind reader to know what was going through her mind.

She was scared, angry and guilty. I didn't know which emotion was the most prevalent, but I was a hundred percent certain she was feeling all three…and then some.

"Edward," Jasper said, still facing the window.

"You can't let her run away and hide from this. We are so fucking close to the end, 3 more months Edward. She gave up her life, her dreams to try to save Charlie. We can't let her do it for nothing. If she runs away, she'll never forgive herself. She's lost so fucking much already; she deserves to live the life she wants when she is free from Volturi's. The life she is meant to spend with you and Maddie and Masen," he finished, his voice thick with all the emotions I knew he was feeling.

Seth put his hand on Jasper's shoulder and squeezed it before he turned to look at me, "Edward, nothing will hurt her or you or your family. I give you my word," Seth said fiercely as he walked out the door and to Bella.

I watched as he approached my love, saw her shoulders tense as he got closer and then her body's posture relax as he stood next to her and held her tiny hand in his large one.

Neither one of them spoke; they just stood there, finding peace in each other's presence.

There was a tiny, very tiny, part of me that was jealous at the way he calmed her, they way he made her feel safe, but it was foolish to even feel that even for a moment. There wasn't anyone on this Earth, myself included, that would ever be able to come between the two of them.

"He'll stop at nothing to keep her safe Edward," Jasper said as he sighed and turned around.

"I know that Jasper, let's just see what we need to do to make sure nothing like that becomes necessary," I told him, and turned back towards Emmett and Ben.

Bella would come to me when she was ready. For right now, she needed Seth and I was okay with that.

I spent the next thirty minutes listening to my brother and best friend explain the changes that would happen at my house and the loft. For the most part, we would just be increasing the security at both places. Emmett planned on updating the security at mom and dad's by adding some surveillance equipment for the house and the yard. He and Ben were going to head to the loft when we got back to the city on Tuesday to go over the last changes Jake made to the building and make suggestions if needed.

Rose was going to take a look at the cars to ensure they were as safe as they could possibly be. I had no problem with that whatsoever. If Maddie and Masen were going to ride in my car or the suburban, I wanted them as fortified as possible.

It seemed like everything would continue on as normal for now, maybe with just a heightened awareness of what was going on around us. I was glad for that. I did not want Maddie and Masen to worry about any of this or it to affect them in any way. Bella and I would figure something out, I was sure of it. The whole family was behind us so I wasn't overly concerned…yet.

If things began to escalate in any way, then we would have to make some hard decisions.

"Rose and I are staying in New York. We aren't going to stay in California any longer," Jasper said during a lull in the conversation.

I looked up when my brother…squeaked. Emmett looked like he'd just won the lottery. I knew from the look on his face that he was extremely excited by the prospect of Rosalie being close by and permanent.

I looked at Jasper and raised my eyebrow at him and he sat back in his chair and ran his hand through his hair before he said, "There is nothing for us in California anymore Edward. Seth and Bella are here, Bella's contract is almost up and now that we've found your mom and dad again, it just feels like we were meant to be here, with all of you."

"What about Rosie's shop?" Emmett asked as he tried, not very successfully, to hide his anticipation of Rose staying in New York.

Jasper rubbed the back of his neck and shrugged his shoulders and answered, "I don't really know Emmett. She said there was just as much opportunity here as in California. Besides, with this thing with Bell now, there is no way she would leave anyway. Not after what happened the last time."

"Where are you guys going to stay?" Ben asked as he looked up from some papers he was looking at.

I had missed Ben… so much. We hadn't had much time to talk at all over the last few months and I was so excited when Bella told me that he and Angela were going to be here this weekend. He'd been my best friend for so long now, I felt bad for getting so caught up in starting my relationship with Bella that I had let staying in regular contact with him become less important than it should be.

Jasper snickered and shrugged his shoulders again. "I am going to stay with Seth, I think, for a bit. We are going to have to get some of our shit shipped out here and one or both of us are going to have to go back and get everything squared away in California before too long."

"And Rose?" I asked.

I really, really hoped she wasn't going to be staying with Bella. I loved Rosalie, I really did, and we got along great but I was going to have so little time to spend with Bella once we got back to the city, I didn't want to share what little time I had with her on top of it.

Jasper chuckled at my question. He obviously knew what I was really trying to ask, without having to come outright and say it, "Well Edward, she was going to stay with Bella," he grinned as I narrowed my eyes at him.

He said was going to stay…did that mean she was still…or not?

Fucking hell.

All three of the assholes laughed at me then as I huffed at Jasper before he went on, "As I was saying, she was going to stay with Bella, but we all know how little time you two will have together and no one wanted to get in the way of that and face the wrath of Shortcake," he chuckled as he pretended to shiver.

Wrath of Bella…she was all kitten! A fucking adorable and sexy kitten…but a kitten just the same.

"So, where is she going to stay?" Emmett blurted out.

"I'm not sure yet, really. Esme said she could stay with you all, Edward, but Alice and Tanya have both offered to let her stay with them. Esme is going to help us find a house once things calm down a little bit," Jasper finished.

I wouldn't mind if Rose stayed at Carlisle and Esme's; maybe that would mean Bella would spend time over there, too?

"Well, I am sure you'll get it all figured out," I told him. "Does Bella know you guys aren't going back?" I asked and when Jasper shook his head at me, I laughed lightly. "She's going to be really excited, you know that right?"

He smiled and looked outside at Bella and Seth. Everyone at the table laughed when we saw Bella cross her arms and stomp her foot at Seth.

Cutest fucking thing I had ever seen!

Seth laughed at whatever made her mad and I said, "Oh, oh," when I saw her eyes narrow at him.

I knew that look, she was about to go off on his ass.

She said something that made him go completely still and then he took off running towards the garage. She giggled at him for a second before she took off running after him and jumped on his back. He laughed again at her and then I watched as she kissed his cheek before he turned and started walking back this way.

"That's my cue guys, I'm outta here," I said as I smiled when Bella noticed me look at her.

Her face immediately softened and I couldn't stand to be away from her for another second.

I ran out the door and bounded down the stairs and came to a stop in front of the love of my life…and her best friend.

"Hey Edward, I think this belongs to you," he chuckled as Bella hit him upside the head.

"She sure the fuck does. Now, hand her over Clearwater, she's mine," I growled at him.

He laughed at me when I narrowed my eyes at him. I really wasn't fucking kidding.

Bella was mine.

"I'm not a this, Seth, thank you very much," Bella scowled at him as I plucked her off his back and into my arms and then slid her onto to my back.

Bella wrapped her arms around my neck and pressed her forehead into the side of my neck. I nuzzled her hair with my nose, immediately recognizing my body's response of her proximity to mine. I was totally lost in her as I always was when I had her in my arms and I barely registered Seth walk away until I heard him mutter, "I'm going to find Tanya."

After a few moments, I heard Bella giggle softly before she said, "I think we ran him off." Then she proceeded to run her tongue up and down my neck before she ran it in circles.

I squeezed her legs that were wrapped around me and then told her, "You better stop that little girl before I take you back inside and lock us away in our room."

Bella huffed at me before she said, "Okay, I'll be good."

I chuckled at that because I really wanted to tell her that was not what I wanted to hear, but instead I said, "Thank you baby, I would hate to have to punish you again."

"Like you really minded that, Edward," my love told me.

I groaned softly as I remembered our morning shower, "You are truly evil Bella."

I twisted her around pulling her off my back and stood her in front of me. "Are you okay sweetheart?" I asked her, knowing that she was still struggling with what Jasper told us earlier.

Bella looked off for a moment before she brought her eyes back to mine and once she looked at me she said, "Honestly? Not really," she held her hand up to stop me from interrupting once she saw I was about to do just that and went on, "But I will be. Edward, you and the twins are the most important people in my world and I would never do anything to put any of you in danger, but I am also not about to run away."

"Good. You know I would hunt your ass down if you tried angel," I told her, completely serious.

I knew this was the thing she feared the most when we first got together, but we were in this thing together…where she goes, I go.

"Bella let me say one thing and then you, me and the kids are going to spend some time together before we have to leave tomorrow. I promised you I would keep you safe, and I meant it. Whatever is going on, and we don't really even know yet, we will work it out. No hiding and no running… for either of us. Where you go, I go. Deal?" I asked, hoping that she could see the sincerity in my words.

"Deal," she said immediately and then I pulled her to me. I grabbed her by the hips and angled our bodies against each other. I needed to feel her close to me and let her presence soothe me.

I will never, unless it's completely necessary, tell her that this whole thing freaks me out…especially knowing what happened to her the last time something like this was a problem.

"Ok, let's go find the kids and get out of here. Masen said something last night about taking the car out today?" I asked, as I cocked my eyebrow in question to her.

I have to admit, I was fucking excited as hell to get in that car and I gave Bella my best Cullen pout as she looked at me, a grin threatened to take over her face.

Sometimes it really wasn't fair, the advantage the 'Cullen Pout' afforded me, but I used it whenever the need arose without shame.

Hey, if it works, it works!

Bella rolled her eyes at me and then I knew I had her. "Yes, you big baby, we can take the car out for a drive. I did promise Masen he could go for a ride. Just so you know, my agreeing to this has nothing whatsoever to do with you dazzling me or using that damn pout on me Cullen," she growled at me as she pointed a finger in my chest.

I picked up her finger and brought it to my lips before I kissed the tip of it then ever so gently, nipped the end of it. "Dazzle you? I have no idea what you are talking about baby," I said as I sucked her finger farther in my mouth and twirled my tongue around it.

She sucked in a sharp breath before she pulled her finger out. "Watch it old man, or you'll be riding in the back seat with the kids and I'll be the one driving," she giggled at me as she ran towards the deck.

"Beeelllllaaa," I hollered after her as she got closer to the back of the house.

She turned around and was walking backward, looking at me with an adorable smirk on her face.

"You will let me drive, won't you baby?" I asked in the sweetest voice I could muster.

Bella looked straight at me, not giving anything away as she came to a stop and crossed her arms at me.

I heard the back door open and Maddie and Masen ran down the stairs and stopped on either side of Bella.

"Bella, whatcha doin'?" Maddie asked her as she looked back and forth between the two of us.

Bella bent down in between the two kids and glanced at each one before she turned back to me. "Well, Peanut Butter Cup, your dad was trying to convince me we should take the Camaro out for a drive," she paused as they both jumped up and down and nodded their heads.

"But," she trailed off dramatically as she took a turn to look at each one of us, "He thinks I should let him drive. What do you two think, do you think we should all go for a ride and let Daddy do the driving?"

She wrapped an arm around each of them as my two little traitors looked from me to Bella. I was pretty sure Maddie was on my side….but Masen? I wasn't so sure of that little guy. He loved Bella something fierce so it was hard to say which way he was going to go.

They stood and stared at me for what felt like an eternity, the three of them thoroughly enjoyed watching me squirm before my little princess came to my rescue. "I think Daddy should drive Bella," she said.

"Ok Maddie, that's one yes. Mase, what do you think little man?" Bella asked him as he looked up at her in pure adoration.

I know Masen, I feel your pain buddy.

He narrowed his eyes at me and then tugged on Bella's hand so she would bend down so he could whisper in her ear. I stood and watched in amazement as the smile on Bella's face grew and grew until she finally giggled at him and nodded in his direction.

Bella looked at me and smiled…and my heart melted.

"Well?" I asked giving all three of them my pout…I hoped this didn't backfire on me.

Maddie giggled at me, Masen shook his head and Bella just looked happy.

I wanted her to always look that way and I wanted to be the one that put that look on her face.

Bella watched me squirm for a few seconds before she laughed lightly and said, "Fine, Edward. You can drive the car. Maddie and Masen, you guys go in and tell Nana we'll be gone for awhile and not to plan on us being here for lunch…but that I will be back in time to make dinner!"

I kept my eyes trained on Bella as she watched Maddie and Masen run into the house, the love she had for them very apparent even from the distance I was from her. When her smile faltered briefly, I felt my heart clench as I wondered what that was about.

"Angel, look at me," I told her softly but forcefully and waited for her eyes to find mine.

When they did, the look she gave me almost broke my heart. The love was still there, but what caused my stomach to twist in knots was the look of fear that was right behind it.

"I caught that look just then, mind telling me what that was all about? And, don't try to bullshit me either Bella, I can read you like an open book," I told her as I waited for her to respond.

She looked back towards the house; her eyes seemed to stare unfocused at the family on the deck.

I wanted to touch her, to hold her against me, but I really needed to know what was going on inside that gorgeous head of her's.

I watched as she struggled to put her thoughts in order, noticed the crease between her eyebrows deepen with each passing second.

Bella let out a frustrated sounding breath before she fixated on me again, her body language letting me know she was still fighting…something.

"It's just…everything Edward. I can't even put it into words…I feel like things are just spinning and spinning out of my control and I don't know which way is up right now. We haven't even talked yet about everything Jasper told you yesterday and I know you have to have questions." She paused for a second when she saw I was about to say something.

Bella held her hand up to stop me from speaking and with a nod of my head I let her go on, feeling like such an ass for not realizing that Bella being Bella would be worried about my reactions to what I found out yesterday.

She started waving her hands all around as she began to talk again, "I know we need to talk baby, about so much. There is so much to figure out and I can't even get a handle on what to start with. The letters, the fact that J and Lele are moving here, the fact that tonight is the last night we get to spend together for who the hell knows how long, my schedule coming up…just everything Edward," She huffed out on a deep breath, as she finally stilled her hands and then she blew her hair out of her adorable face in the process.

Now would so not be the time to tell her how fucking cute she gets when she goes off on a tangent like that…but really…she makes me want to kiss her all over when she gets all flustered.

"Bella, come here sweetheart," I said quietly when she finally seemed like she had calmed down a bit.

She looked at me but didn't move, until I said, "Please sweet girl? I just want to hold you for a minute…I think we could both use it."

Bella nodded and then slowly walked towards my outstretched arms. I brushed her hair behind her ears before I held her face in my hands and felt her little hands grip my wrists as I bent forward and kissed her forehead. I let my lips linger there for a moment before I kissed her, letting my lips sweep across hers.

Her lips were always so fucking soft and warm and I let myself get lost in kissing her. My tongue traced around first her top lip then her bottom, before I pressed it gently into her mouth. I let my tongue go where it wanted, tasting her fully and enjoyed the feel of her tongue against mine. I angled our bodies so that they were firmly against the other, my body hummed in pleasure from being so close to her.

I kissed and kissed her, not wanting to break away until we finally each had to breathe. I leaned my forehead against hers and took each of her hands in mine and looked into her bottomless, clear brown eyes. I noticed, not for the first time, the little flecks of gold scattered throughout the brown, making her eyes even more mesmerizing than they already were.

"My love," I began softly as I brought both of her hands to my lips and reverently kissed each one. "I know you are overwhelmed right now and it seems like there is just one thing after another coming at you. I'm very sorry that I haven't really stopped to think how difficult the past week has been for you. First seeing my parents again and finding out about the letter from Charlie. Then actually having to read the letter and the few days we spent together. After that, you saw Jasper and Rose for the first time after Charlie's letter and had my crazy ass family descend upon you. On top of all of that, you knew that Jasper, Rose and Seth finally told us about Renee and everything that has happened to you. And last, but not least, let's add some deluded freak and some ambiguous mail to the list."

Bella snorted then and I kissed her because she was just too fucking cute to resist when she did that shit. "Baby, it's a lot to take in. It's okay to be a little freaked out about everything. I am too, if you want me to be honest with you."

She raised her eyebrows at my declaration and I chuckled in chagrin. "Bella, anyone in this position would be fucking nuts not to be at least a little concerned. I can't be with you every second of every day, no matter how much I wish I could be. I have a job to do, patients to see. You have appearances to make, interviews to give and meetings to attend. I have to entrust your care to Seth and as much as I know he would lay down his life for you if he had to, it's still not me protecting you. But, for today, for right now, let's put all that to the side and enjoy our last afternoon away from all of that. Besides, I can't wait to fucking drive that damn car!"

"Just remember Edward," Bella said with a smile in her voice, "If anything happens to that car it's Rosalie you have to answer to, not me!"

I gulped and nodded at her, "Point made, love."

Rose and I may get along fine but there is no way in hell I wanted to be on her bad side if I could help it. She scared the ever living shit out of me. Forget Jasper…Rose was a hundred times scarier than her twin brother.

The kids rushed towards the garage and Bella grabbed the keys for the car from the hook on the wall and we all got in the car, with me behind the wheel.

Bella made sure that Maddie and Masen each put on their seatbelts as did the both of us and then we were off. She had to give me directions a few times but we finally made it out on to the road and towards town. Bella pointed out things along the way and I never realized there was so much to do here. We'd all been so happy in our little tiny bubble that I'd never paid any attention to anything else but Bella and the family. I couldn't wait until the next time and we had more time to explore everything.

The next time…I fucking loved the way that sounded!

We drove down by the beach and the pier, the kids happily talked about what to do the next time as Bella continued to show us her little corner of the world. She finally pointed us in the direction of the Farmer's Market stating that she wanted to walk around a bit and pick up a few things for dinner.

I very carefully parked the car in a spot far away from all other vehicles and we all got out and made our way to the market. I got a few appreciative looks from passersby but I didn't know if they were for the car or the girl beside me.

My money was on the girl, but that was just me.

Maddie and Masen had a ball at the market, sampling all the fruit and chocolate and candies they could get their little hands on. We finally found a place to sit and have some lunch and we happily ate our hot dogs, chips, and lemonade before we finished up.

Bella had a few things she wanted to pick up for dinner as well as some after dinner treats that she kept as a surprise for all of us. I noticed as she found a stand that sold bath oils and such that she bought quite a bit from there and again as we made our way to the stand a bit farther down where they sold some local wine. We stopped at the stand that had homemade candy and she let Maddie and Masen pick out some taffy as well as some other types. Bella also purchased quite a bit of homemade chocolate.

"Don't worry Edward," she giggled at me as I looked at her, "you'll find out soon enough."

"Whatever baby, I'm just enjoying watching you, don't pay any attention to me," I told her as I gave her a quick kiss on the temple.

It was wonderful to watch her walk through the market and charm every person she came in contact with. I was surprised when a few knew her by name as they called to her as we walked by. She hugged a few women and kissed a few of the older farmers on the cheek as we continued to look around. I had never seen Bella so carefree and open before and it was glorious to watch. It made my heart hurt when I realized just how much she truly gave up in order to try to save her father when she signed that contract five years ago. Because of her willingness to give up on her dreams for herself, she had to hide away and keep who she truly was from everyone except those select few she was able to open herself up to.

While I was extraordinarily grateful to be one of those select few, it made me sad when I thought about all the people that would never know how truly spectacular my girl was. She may be blindingly gorgeous on the outside, but that didn't hold a candle to the true beauty that was beneath.

She caught me staring at her and the blush that was known to make my heart stop beating crept across her cheeks, "Why are you looking at me like that, Edward?" she asked as she put down the bunch of carrots she had in her hand.

I shrugged my shoulders at her as I glanced around quickly keeping track of Maddie and Masen who were asking one of the local farmers question after question about…cows.

I suppose they didn't really know a lot about cows since they lived in the city, and I chuckled as I listened to the nice old man explain the difference between a Holstein and a Jersey cow. Hell if I knew what the difference was, but Maddie and Masen were enthralled.

I stalked towards her, needing to touch her desperately. Wrapping my arms around her, I crushed her to my chest and bent my head down to nuzzle behind her ear with my nose and left a trail of kisses up and down the side of her neck. "I just love you so fucking much my Bella. You have no idea what just looking at you does to me sometimes. I want you all the damn time baby, so much so that it makes it pretty fucking hard to concentrate on anything except for you. Can we spend some time alone tonight, just the two of us, please?" I quietly asked her, letting the naked need I felt for her come through in my voice.

Bella's breath hitched and I felt her hands tighten on my back where they had been lying. I felt her nod and then I gently pushed her away from me so that I could look at her. She wasn't looking up and I tilted her face up with a finger beneath her chin."Sweet girl, what's the matter?" I asked her gently and waited for her to look at me.

"I don't want to go back to the city Edward. I want to stay here with you and Maddie and Masen and never have to stand in front of a camera or answer another question from a reporter ever again. I don't want to look behind me and wonder who is back there or worry every fucking day that my best friend in the whole world might have to stop some crazy ass lunatic from hurting me or someone I love," she said fervently, quiet tears falling from her gorgeous eyes.

"Oh my Bella, come here baby," I crooned to her as I pulled her to me, completely enveloping her in my arms.

"I am always going to be here for you beautiful. I fucking promise you that. You aren't alone in this anymore and Maddie, Masen and I will always be your family. It's not for much longer Bella, just stay strong a little longer and when your contract is up, we can move on together and never look back," I told her with all the conviction I could.

We would be a family and in September when she was no longer at the beck and call of Aro Volturi, I would make it my mission in life to give her everything she ever wanted.


The trip home was quiet as the kids fell asleep in the car and Bella watched the scenery go by in the window her head was leaned up against. I held her hand, my thumb making endless patterns on it as we drove the short way back to her house. I didn't speak, knowing she was working things out in her mind, but I couldn't help but touch her. I needed to feel the connection between us and I wanted to make sure that she could feel it as well.

After parking the car in the garage, and damn it was a dream to drive, the kids and Bella went into the house, carrying all the bags from the market. I know Bella was excited about cooking for everyone and I didn't even ask what she was making. She had been looking forward to this all day and just knowing she was happy was good enough for me. She could have been making liver and onions for all I cared, well that's a fucking lie because that shit is just nasty, but the point is as long as she was happy, so was I.

I went up to our room and changed into some basketball shorts and a t-shirt and grabbed a beer before heading outside to the deck. I watched the water for a bit, the lake was busy with water-skiers and people riding jet skis. I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up into the faces of my father and uncle who also had beers in their hands…and a cooler as well.

"You two planning on being out here awhile?" I smirked at them as I took a drink.

"For your information nephew, the cooler was sent out here by your Bella. She wanted to make sure you had what you needed," Uncle Marcus told me with a pointed look.

I chuckled to myself; my love was nothing if not predictable. Always thinking about everyone else. "She's something else," I said with a sigh as I ran my fingers through my hair.

I really needed to be alone with her…badly.

"Is she doing okay son?" my dad quietly asked me as he sat in the chair beside me and put his feet on the railing of the deck in front of us.

I took a deep breath and looked at him and Uncle Marcus who sat down on his other side. "I don't know Pop. On the one hand she is so fucking strong, but on the other, she is still that little girl that just needed to be taken care of. She's worried about Maddie and Masen, about me, about Seth, and all the rest of you, too. Worried about everyone but herself of course."

I leaned forward and rested my elbows on my knees and looked at each of them before I quietly admitted, "I'm scared Pop. If something ever happened to her…I can't even…she's my whole world, my life."

"Edward, I know you are worried about her, but you have to trust Seth and Jasper to keep her safe. Emmett and Ben as well. This may turn out to be nothing more than a few letters from some person with a brief fixation on her. Don't let what happened to her before influence you now. Isabella Swan is without a doubt the strongest person, man or woman, I have ever met in my life Edward. I am truly in awe of her," my dad trailed off in a whisper.

Uncle Marcus shook his head and gazed out towards the water as he spoke, "That amazing girl in there has been through more in her short life than most have been through in their entire lifetime. She hasn't let that change who she is either. If anyone had the right to be bitter and angry, it would be her, but she's just the opposite. Edward, I have no idea what favor you are going to have to repay someday for the gift of her, but you better pay up boy. And, if you ever, ever hurt that beautiful woman, I will…well, I'm not sure what I'd do, but it would be something!"

"I'd kick his ass for you Uncle M," Emmett said as he slapped me on the back and sat down beside me.

I reached down and grabbed him a beer and wordlessly handed it to him and watched as he took a long pull before tipping his chair back on two legs. I will never be able to figure out how he does that without falling flat on his ass, but he manages all the time.

"We talking about Sweet B?" my brother asked me.

Him and his goofy ass nicknames for everyone and everything, I swear. I haven't told him this yet, but Bella giggles every time she thinks about him calling her that. She loves the big oaf for some damn reason I can't even begin to understand.

Not really though, because Emmett is really fucking easy to love. And, boy does he ever love his Sweet B. I would be tempted to be worried about that if it wasn't for one Rosalie Whitlock. She has turned my brother's world completely around in just a few short days, and I, for one, can't wait until she is here permanently to keep his ass in line.

"Yeah, Pop and Uncle Marcus were asking if Bella was okay with everything," I told my brother as I reached for another beer.

Emmett stopped with his beer mid-drink, "Shit, brother, she's okay isn't she?"

He looked really hurt at the thought of Bella being in pain. He is such a fucking softy when it comes to the women he loved in his life. Mama, Ali, Maddie, Tanya, Bella…and now Rose; all completely worshiped by my brother. Angela and Heidi probably weren't too far behind either. Once you feel the love from Emmett Cullen, you're in for life. Or so I'd been told.

I shrugged my shoulders again and turned my head to my brother. "I don't really fucking know Emmett. We haven't had any time to talk about anything. Jasper laid all that out for us yesterday morning and then today we got hit with the mail. She's been dealing with seeing mom and dad again after all this time, plus reading a letter from her father who died five years ago. How the hell would you be if you were dealing with all that shit big brother?" I snapped at Emmett.

As soon as the words left my mouth I felt bad, and I felt even worse when I felt my dad's hand on my shoulder.

"Shit, Emmett, I'm sorry man. I didn't mean to snap at you like that," I told him as I let out a frustrated breath and ran my fingers through my hair.

"It's okay Ed, this can't be easy on you either," Emmett told me as he slapped me on the back.

"It hasn't been at all. There is all this shit in my head and I can't do anything about it. I'm going nuts just trying to sort it all out. I need to talk to Bella; we just haven't been able to find any time to do it. She wants to spend time with everyone here and I don't want to take that away from her." I sighed and took a drink of my beer before going on. "I am sure we'll think of something, but we have to find time to talk first."

"After dinner, let us watch the kids for you Edward, you and Bella take a walk or something," Carlisle offered kindly.

I smiled at him in gratitude before I answered him, "Thanks Pop, but we'll see what Bella has planned for tonight. She was being all sneaky and shit at the Farmer's Market so she has something up her sleeve."

"Sweet B has surprises for us?" Emmett asked, sounding more like Masen than a man that owned his own business.

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Alice walked out to tell us that dinner was ready and when the door opened my mouth immediately began to water. Bella had made beef, chicken, and shrimp fajitas; I could smell them from here along with the fresh onions and peppers she got from the market earlier.


I was suddenly famished!

I picked up the bottles that my brother, uncle and father left on the deck in their haste to go eat.


I noticed Alice as she stood watching me with a pensive look on her usually happy face. "What's wrong sister mine?" I asked her as I walked over to her and put my arm around her.

"Are you okay Edward?" she quietly asked me as she picked up my hand and played with it like always.

Her question took me by surprise, but in reality, it shouldn't have. Out of everyone here, Alice would be the one most likely to worry about me over Bella or anyone else. That didn't mean she didn't love Bella because she surely did, but Alice prided herself on being my protector even though she was my baby sister and there was nothing that would ever change that.

I looked at Alice for a moment before answering her question, knowing I could be completely honest with her and not need to censor anything for her so I quietly answered, " I'm not sure yet Ali. I'm trying to be but I am truly fucking scared out of my mind that something will happen to her. I've just found her, but I can't live without her. I want to tell her to tell Aro and Jane to fuck off and just walk away but there is no way Bella would ever do that and that pisses me off; at her for being so stubborn and at them for putting her in danger in the first place. I don't know what the hell I'm doing here Ali and I'm terrified I won't be there if she needs me," I finished.

"Oh, brother. You can't think like that or else you will drive yourself even crazier than you already are," Alice giggled at me when I narrowed my eyes at her. "But seriously, you can't be with Bella every second of every day Edward, you're going to have to rely on Jasper and Seth here. I know you and I know that is going to be exceedingly difficult for you to do. You'll drive Bella nuts Edward, not to mention what you will do to yourself if you can't get a handle on this. We don't even know really what we're dealing with yet. I understand that with what happened in the past with James everyone is going a little overboard, but panicking when it's not even necessary yet isn't going to accomplish anything. You and Jasper really just need to take a step back and not jump to conclusions," Alice finished with a stern look in my direction.

"Did you happen to give this same speech to Jasper as well?" I asked with a smirk.

I may have been completely focused on Bella for the last couple of days but that didn't mean that the looks and touches and whispers between my sister and Jasper had gone unnoticed either.

Alice blushed and ducked her head before she whispered, "I think I love him Edward."

I wanted to ask her if she was crazy and remind her that she just met the guy, but considering Bella had me head over heels in love with her almost from the very first moment, I couldn't really argue with her.

So instead, I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and kissed the side of her head, "I'm happy for you baby sister. J is a great guy, you couldn't do any better. But, if he hurts you in any way, I'm getting Emmett and Demetri to kick his ass!"

She laughed at me, "You don't love me enough to do it yourself brother mine?"

"Hell no Ali! Jasper scares me half to death with that calm quiet thing he does. Not to mention, I am not getting Bella pissed off at me if I can help it!" I chuckled at her as she crossed her arms at me.

"You're so whipped Edward, it's not even funny," Alice snickered at me.

Like I could even begin to deny that statement?

"Yep, I am and proud of it too!" I told her as I pulled her inside and to the kitchen with me.

Everyone stood around the island loaded up their plates with all the food Bella had made.

I had no idea how she managed to pull off cooking so much food in such a short amount of time, but damn my girl was a whiz in the kitchen.

Emmett had…two…plates of food and kept telling Rose to add some to her's for him as well. Demetri and Seth weren't any better and well, from the looks of it, Jasper, Ben and my dad and uncle were gorging just as much.

Jesus, was she trying to kill us?

I groaned a little when I thought about all the running I was going to have to do next week to burn off all the food I'd eaten in the last five days.

Emmett caught my eye and just nodded at me…yep, we would definitely be working out…a lot!

I found my two little monsters trying to roll their fajitas while Bella poured them some lemonade.

I chuckled as I watched Masen try to roll his tortilla and pick it up, only to have all the chicken fall out the other end.

The look he gave the misbehaving tortilla was priceless as was the look he got from his sister and Bella.

"You need some help there, little man?" I asked as I walked up and kissed them each on the head.

My son looked up at me in complete bewilderment as he held the tortilla out to me, "Daddy, everything keeps falling out and I'm starving!"

Bella giggled from the other side of the island and shook her head at him before moving along to get everyone else their drinks.

I ruffled his hair and told him, "Here, let's see what we can do. Can't have you starving to death, now can we?"

We finally managed to get his food put together and when he started eating, I went to go get my own plate, only find my love standing in front of me with mine already fixed.

"Here, baby, I went ahead and got you some of everything," Bella softly told me as I took my food from her.

"Thanks beautiful, this all looks so amazing. I don't know how you do it," I told her after I gave her a quick kiss on the lips.

She put her little hand on the side of my face and smiled sweetly at me as she said, "I love to cook Edward and I love that I have so many to do so for now."

I grasped the hand that was on my cheek in my hand and kissed her palm and whispered, "I love you so much baby, thank you for taking such good care of all of us."

She sighed as she stared at me for a moment and then gently prodded me towards everyone else, "Go eat Edward before your food gets cold."

"Aren't you coming too?" I asked, not wanting to eat without her.

"Yes, silly, now let me go get my plate before Emmett and Seth eat it all and I'll come join you in just a minute," Bella told me as she walked off; checking to make sure everyone had everything they needed before she fixed her own plate.

I sat down at the table beside my mother and Tanya and they caught me watching Bella as I continued to miss my mouth with my food.

"Shut it Tan," I growled at her when she giggled at me.

"Whatever, E," Tanya chuckled at me. "I just love watching you act like a teenager all googly eyed over their first girlfriend."

"I am not googly eyed, T!" I whispered to her, knowing deep down that, yeah, I really was.

"It's okay son," Esme told me as she leaned over, "Your father still looks at me that way after all this time, too."

I smiled at her because my dad was still crazy about her, and wasn't afraid to show it. "Thanks, Mama."

"You just take care of her Edward," she told me.

I nodded, knowing there really wasn't anything I wouldn't do for Bella, "Yes, ma'am."

Dinner was great, even if I didn't get to sit with Bella at all. Aunt Diane, Rose, and Angela caught her before she could make her way over to me.

I thought I handled that pretty good, only pouting long enough for Bella to blow me a kiss from across the room and Rosalie to roll her eyes at me…which she followed up with a wink.

She thinks she's so tough all the time…Rose is nothing but a big softy.

Once the food was put away and the kitchen cleaned much to my loves aggravation since she was forbidden to help, everyone congregated in the living room in front of the big fire place.

Seth and Jasper lit a small fire. The room was a little cool since we had opened the back doors and the night air had chilled significantly.

I sat on the sofa and listened to the conversations around me. My dad was talking to Jasper, Seth and Demetri about Jasper and Rose's move to the city. He was so excited to have them close by, you could tell just from the tone of his voice. I knew from talking to him after his reunion with Bella just how much he admired Jasper and Seth for taking such good care of Bella and Rose and it came as no surprise when I heard my father offer Jasper whatever help he needed in getting things settled as quick as possible.

Aunt Diane, Rose, Angela and Alice were talking about Rose's business and what her plans were going forward. Alice was going to look into the lease Rose had in California for her business and help her through the mess of selling that business or finding someone to run it. I was amazed really, at how well Rose and Alice were getting along. They were total opposites, but it was evident that they were becoming fast friends.

Emmett, Ben, Uncle Marcus, Tanya and Heidi discussed the plans for tomorrow. Apparently there were going to be some boat races on the lake and they wanted to attend. I knew Emmett couldn't wait to get his hands on driving Bella's boat.

And lastly, my gaze turned to Bella. She was sitting with my mom, Maddie and Masen as the kids told their Nana all about their trip to the market and their meeting with the farmers. Apparently the cow discussion was still very fresh in their minds as they quite impressively filled Esme and Bella in on the differences between the different kinds.

Bella watched them continue to talk, the smile never left her face as Maddie and Masen continued to speak. I continued to watch Bella. She must have felt me staring at her because her eyes found mine almost immediately.

I noticed Bella lean towards Esme and whisper something in her ear. She caught my eye again and motioned her head in the direction of the stairs.

Hell yeah!

Alone time with Bella…fucking finally.

She waited for me at the bottom of the stairs and slipped her hand into mine as she pulled me up towards her room. I felt my body instantly respond to her touch, the electricity immediately crackled in the air around us as we walked toward her room.

As soon as she opened the door, I scooped her up in my arms and threw her on the bed, following her urgently. I allowed my body to settle onto hers and laid my arms on either side of her head and then stared down into the face that I wanted to look at every day for the rest of my life.

"You're so fucking beautiful, Isabella, have I told you that today?" I breathed out as I bent down to kiss the side of her neck.

The moment my tongue met the soft skin behind her ear, my body exploded with desire and I couldn't help the low moan that escaped from my mouth.

When Bella whimpered softly as I allowed my growing erection to press into her, I began to suck on the side of her neck with more pressure, nipped at the tender skin and enjoyed very much the feel of her body respond to my actions.

I trailed my tongue across her collar bones, and used my teeth as I went from one side to the other.

"Edward, baby….um…we have to…stop," she groaned to me as I pressed my hardening cock into her core and continued to kiss and lick my way across her shoulders and down her chest.

I shook my head, not wanting to lift my mouth from her skin for even the brief time it would take to speak.

My hand slipped under her tank top, my fingertips lightly brushed over her taut stomach and up to her breasts. I cupped one in my hand, gently pinched her nipple in between my fingers. I growled deep in my chest as I felt the muscles in her legs tighten around me and when I felt her hands in my hair, tugging almost painfully, I kissed her.

Desperately almost, full of need and want, I plunged my tongue in her hot mouth possessively. I nibbled on her bottom lip then let my tongue dip in and out of her mouth, tasting her and let my need for her completely take over.

I shamelessly ground my erection against her warm pussy; reveling in the friction I created by rocking back and forth against her body.

"Oh Edward…fuck baby…god you feel good," Bella panted as she lifted her hips off the bed to circle them against mine.

"Angel, I need you so much, let me make you feel good baby…please?" I begged her, my cock getting painfully hard now.

My mouth was everywhere, her neck, behind her ears, the swell of her breast…anywhere her skin was exposed to me.

Bella's hands were in my hair and I felt her fingers still and then she withdrew them to place her hands on the side of face.

"Edward, sweetheart," she moaned as I ran my thumb over her hard nipple, "Please, we really need to stop, as much as I don't want to."

I sighed, somewhat painfully actually and removed my hand from her shirt and rolled off her.


As I laid on my back willing my erection to go away, I felt Bella place her head on my shoulder. My fingers immediately went to her hair and I felt myself relax with the motion.

Bella's hand was tracing circles on my chest over my heart, her favorite place to touch me it seemed like, and I heard her sigh gently and chuckle.

I stilled my fingers in her hair and huffed, "I have no idea what could possibly be funny little girl."

She picked her head up and rested her chin on my chest and looked at me from under her eyelashes. Her pupils were dilated and her cheeks were flushed pink…and she took my fucking breath away.

"Now do you mind telling me what the hell you were laughing at, you're giving me a complex here baby," I told her trying to sound sincere, but with her looking at me that way, I couldn't really pull it off.

Bella rolled her eyes at me before she said, "Like that would ever happen Edward. I was just laughing at the way you threw me on the bed when we came up here. Were you excited to have me all to yourself Kit Kat?"

I reached down and pulled her on top of me, hissing as her chest then her center rubbed up against my cock. I just got it to go away; I didn't need to get all worked up again…shit.

Yeah, I should have given that more thought before I grabbed her sexy ass.

Speaking of sexy ass, Bella pulled herself up and she rested her's on my thighs and I couldn't help but let my fingers rub the curve of her ass that peeked out of her shorts.

"You look good up there angel, are you sure I can't tempt you into staying in bed with me? I promise to make it worth your while," I smirked at her, and gave myself an internal fist pump when I saw her breathing start to come in quicker bursts.

I almost had her…just a little bit more.

She reached down in between our bodies and palmed my cock through my thin basketball shorts and Jesus Christ did it feel fucking good.

I moaned and closed my eyes as she leaned forward, her hair falling on my chest and then surrounded us as she kissed up my jaw and to my ear. I felt her tongue trace the shell of my ear and when I felt her warm breath in my ear and her fingers grip my erection tighter, I raised my hips up to her hand.

"Mmmm, Edward, you're all scruffy and you know how much I love it when you don't shave every day. I would love nothing more than to stay up in this bed with you, but your entire family is downstairs and I need you to help me bring some things downstairs…please?" she breathed out as she sucked on the side of my neck.

"Bella, god damn it you are going to be the death of me someday, I fucking swear you will!" I grumbled to her as I heard and felt her giggle against my neck.

"Laugh it up now sweet girl, but when I spontaneously combust and then I'm no more, we'll see who's laughing then won't we?" I growled at her as I reached up and pushed my fingers in her hair.

"Now kiss me like you mean it and I'll help you with whatever the fuck you want," I commanded her and pulled her to my face and pressed the back of her head until her lips were firmly against mine.

She did kiss me like she meant it…for about five wonderful, aching minutes until she finally pushed against my chest and rolled off me and hopped off the bed.

I flung my head back against my pillow and threw a mini temper tantrum as I kicked my legs up and down and gritted my teeth.

"Knock it off you big baby," Bella laughed at me as she put her hair up in a pony tail, "Just think Edward, the sooner you get your ass out of that bed and help me, the sooner we can come back upstairs," she sassed me as she went into her closet.

"Bella, you better not be teasing me. That shit isn't funny baby. I want you…now. I don't think I can go downstairs and sit with everyone knowing that we could be up here, naked, in bed, with me buried deep inside of you." I groaned as image after image of how Bella looks naked flashed through my mind.

I felt the bed move as Bella dropped the bags she had pulled out of the closet beside me.

I opened one eye and looked at her, smirking when I saw her nipples harden under her t-shirt and her chest flush and her tiny hands clenched in tight fists beside her legs.

She wanted me as much as I wanted her…fuck yeah!

"Edward Anthony Cullen!" she screeched at me, her voice shook with the effort she made not to give in to me. "Stop laying there being all sexy and irresistible and get your ass up and help me or I swear I am coming up here and putting on sweats and sweatshirt and going straight to sleep after we are done downstairs!"

"Sexy and irresistible huh? If I didn't know any better Isabella Marie Swan, I'd say someone is getting pretty worked up, hmmm?" I rasped out to her in a deep, sultry voice.

Her eyes narrowed at me and I knew I'd pushed her just about as far as I could before she really would follow through on her threat.

I chuckled again, very softly, and got out of bed and stood on the other side from her. "Okay angel, I'm up. Now what is all this and what do you need me to do?" I asked her as I surveyed the items on the bed.

Bella blushed then and ducked her head before she looked back up at me,"Um…well you see, I…well, I got everyone a little something at the market today and I wanted to give it to everyone before we went to bed. I also got some homemade chocolate to make s'mores. I thought Maddie and Masen would like that?" she ended, making it sound like she wasn't sure.

God, she was just so…Bella.


I took a stuttering breath before I softly told her, "Baby, they will love it. You are amazing, you know that?"

She looked at me, smiled and said, "Will you help me carry all this downstairs, please?"

"Of course, let's go. I can't wait to eat me some s'mores. You do realize these are Emmett's favorites don't you? And, Bella, I'm warning you…only let him have one," I told her in seriousness.

Emmett and chocolate was a nightmare waiting to happen.

We made it downstairs to find everyone talking or playing games. I helped Bella set everything on the counter and watched as she got the fixings out for the s'mores and called Maddie and Masen over to let them help her carry everything to the fireplace.

"Sweet B, please tell me that is what I think it is?" my idiot brother yelped out when he noticed Bella open the container of marshmallows and the box of graham crackers.

Holy fucking shit…my girl made homemade marshmallows.

Was there anything she couldn't do?

"Well, Emmett, if you mean everything to make s'mores then yes, yes it is. Why? Do you like s'mores Emmett?" Bella teased him.

"Please, please, can I be first? Pllleeaaassseee?" he begged shamelessly, much to the delight of his niece and nephew.

"Uncle Emmett, you are so silly," Maddie laughed at him. "First you have to melt the mallow and then put the chocolate on top between the grahams crackers."

She looked at him like he was an idiot…which he was.

"Right Bella?" Maddie asked as she looked adoringly at Bella.

Bella bent down and kissed her on the cheek, "Right you are Peanut Butter Cup. Now," she said as she stood up and clapped her hands together and announced, "Let's show Uncle Em how to make the best s'mores he's ever tasted."

Everyone crowded around the fireplace as Bella, Maddie and Masen roasted marshmallows and put the s'mores together.

Emmett tried to roast his own but Bella put a stop to that after he burned his fifth marshmallow in a row. "Emmett, you big oaf, you can't stick the marshmallow in the fire, you have to hold it over the top of the flame or else it burns to a crisp and then you can't use it." She giggled at him as he tried…again not to burn the damn thing.

"Rose, come over here and help the doofus make his damn s'mores before he uses all my freaking marshmallows." She laughed at him as she kissed him on the cheek and stepped aside for Rose to take over.

She had one of the gooey treats in her hand as she walked towards where I stood against the island in the kitchen. My eyes had to have turned black with lust as I watched her wipe her finger across the melted chocolate and marshmallow that dripped off the side and then placed her finger in her mouth, her little pink tongue taunted me as she licked her fingertip clean.

The little vixen was in so much fucking trouble when I got her upstairs.

I growled deep in my chest as she approached me, and I smirked in satisfaction as I watched her eyes gloss over and her cheeks blushed a tantalizing shade of pink when she heard me.

When she got close enough for me to reach, I grabbed her around the waist and stood her between my legs.

"Is that for me sweet girl?" I asked as I picked up her finger and licked the remaining chocolate and marshmallow off.

"Mmm hmm," Bella mumbled quietly as she stepped closer to me.

It was no accident when I felt her angle her body firmly against mine and my cock knew it too.

I picked up the hand holding the s'more and took a bite, letting the sweet treat melt in my mouth.

Jesus Christ if that wasn't the best fucking thing I have ever tasted.

I moaned as I chewed, my tongue darted to the side of my mouth to lap up the bit that dripped out.

"Let me baby," Bella murmured to me, her voice husky and full of lust as she leaned up and flicked her tongue at the sticky mess.

Bella kept her eyes on mine as her tongue slowly licked up every drop and she knew she was driving me crazy.

"You are so playing with fire angel," I warned her. "I hope you aren't fond of sleeping because I can fucking promise you won't be getting much of it once I get you upstairs."

"Bella, come look at what I made!" my son the cock-blocker yelled from the other room.

"Later Edward, and then I'm all yours," she whispered to me as she kissed me briefly.

"You're always all mine Bella, don't ever fucking forget it either," I snarled at her.

She picked up the pendant she always wore and kissed it before she softly said, "I don't ever want to forget Edward."

The rest of the night was spent eating dessert and cleaning up. I watched as Bella made her way quietly around the room, giving everyone their gifts. She had made all of the adults a small gift bag with some aromatherapy soaps and oils, a bottle of wine and some of the homemade chocolate and candy she bought.

She was so god damn amazing, she took my fucking breath away on a daily basis. Every day I woke up thinking I could not possibly love her any more than I did, and every single day she did something that proved me wrong. She was so selfless, so pure…so fucking good.

I promised myself, for like the ten thousandth time since I met her that I would do everything in my power to make her happy, that I would show her every single day that she was the most important thing in my world.

As I watched my mom, dad, aunt and uncle all give her a hug and a kiss I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of wine from the fridge, two wine glasses and slipped upstairs. Tonight I would worship her, adore her, and show her how incredible she truly was.

I found some candles in her room and went to the bathroom. She had some bath oil in the cabinet and I placed the bottle on the counter. I went back into the room and turned the lights down low, lighting candles on the nightstand and dresser. I opened the curtains and let the moonlight shine in the room. I found my favorite playlist on the iPod and set it in the docking station.

When I was certain I had everything under control, I went back downstairs and was happy to see that everyone was getting ready to head to bed. I grabbed Masen and Bella got Maddie and we helped them get ready for bed and made sure they brushed their teeth. There was no way they were going to bed without it after eating all that sugar.

I spent a few minutes in the room with them while Bella went back downstairs to finish telling everyone goodnight. Maddie and Masen told me what they wanted to do tomorrow before we left and how much fun they had today. We talked about all the funny things Emmett, Demetri and Seth had done over the past few days and what going home tomorrow was going to be like. Neither one of them liked the fact that Bella would be at her house and we would be at ours, but I promised them we would figure something out. Once they settled down, they fell asleep almost instantly. I watched them briefly, and reaffirmed to myself my promise to keep them safe. Besides Bella, there was nothing in this world more important to me than the two of them. I kissed them each on the forehead and quietly shut their door.

Bella was talking to my parents and Jasper and Alice as I walked behind her and whispered to her to give me ten minutes and then come upstairs. I kissed my parents and gave Jasper a hug and Alice a kiss on the cheek. I told the rest of family and friends good night and went back to our room.

I turned on the iPod and started the water in the tub. I lit the candles in the bathroom and got the towels out of the linen closet and put them on the counter. I sat on the bed and waited for Bella and when I heard the doorknob turn, I stood up.

She opened the door, her eyes immediately flitted around the room and when they found mine, she smiled.

"Edward, what is all this?" she asked as she stood there and stared at me.

I walked toward her and stopped directly in front of her, holding her face in my hands. "This, love of my life, is me trying to show you in a very small, insignificant way, how much you mean to me…how much I love you…how much I adore you," I told her, kissing her between each statement.

"Oh Edward, you didn't have to…" Bella started to say but I placed my finger over her lips.

"Shut the hell up baby," I told her and then kissed her lips again. "And, yes, I most definitely had to do this. You always do so much for everyone else; let me take care of you now."

I pulled her behind me to the bathroom and stopped her on the rug.

"I love you so very much Isabella Marie, it sometimes doesn't seem like saying those three simple words are enough to describe what I feel for you," I told her softly as I pulled her shirt over her head.

Kissing her shoulder as I dropped the shirt in the corner, I began again, "You are my entire world, everything I love, everything I want to do for the rest of my life, every dream I have…it's all you baby," I whispered as I slipped her shorts down her gorgeous legs.

I bent my head forward as she stepped out of the shorts at her feet and kissed her stomach.

Ghosting my hands up her back, I unclasped her bra and pushed the straps down her arms. "I've waited my entire life for you angel, and I knew the instant I saw you in the park that you would be mine, that you were made for me…I just had to wait for you to find me."

The bra followed the shirt into the corner as I finished, "You are mine, Isabella. Mine to love forever, mine to take care of…mine to make love to everyday for the rest of our lives," I breathed out as I pushed her panties to the floor and then stood up and took her in.

She was fucking glorious as she stood there naked…for me.

Bella had tears coming out of her eyes and I knew they weren't sad tears but I had to ask anyway just to make sure, "Baby, why are you crying?" I asked softly as I waited for her to look at me and answer.

"You make me feel so beautiful Edward," she whispered. "I love you so very much; sometimes it scares me how much I do."

"What are you afraid of Bella?" I asked, not sure I wanted to hear the answer.

"If something ever happened to you, I couldn't go on, Edward. I couldn't. What if you ever leave? I wouldn't survive." She whimpered quietly as her shoulders shook.

I stood still, not moving a muscle and then said, "Bella, look at me. Now," I demanded fiercely.

"I am never, ever fucking leaving you. Together, remember? Where you go, I go. We made a deal and I am holding you to it. I love you Bella, and I promised you forever, and I am not breaking my promise," I vehemently told her.

"Together," she whispered right before I took her in my arms.

1 comment:

  1. I just thought I would mention... that since I started this story I cannot put it down. I have been reading it to the exclusion of all my other stories except when I have to leave the house, cuz I do not have it on my kindle, otherwise it would be all I am reading there as well... I love your writing and the story, it pulls me and calls to me in a way I do not even want to go anywhere and when I do I cannot wait to get back to the house to continue reading it... it is ~compelling, your characters have so much depth and I find myself falling in love with Bella and Edward all over again. But I also find that the dimension you have added to Seth, Rose and Jasper are a commanding factor as well. All of the "adds" to the characters and how I have fallen for them is amazing. The changes and shake up of some of them has caused me to like them when normally I would not, like Tanya... that is definitely one I don't normally care for and yet I find I like yours... Marcus and Dem, again, another set I have come to feel a likeability I do not ususally find in their characters and the dynamics of the affection between Edward and his family, that, I totally LOVE, their open affection and the bond between Bella and her "family" makes me fall in love with your whole story with every chapter...