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 27


"Bella, baby," Edward said and I shook my head at him.

I had things I needed to say to him and I needed to get it out now, before I completely broke the hell down.

I could only imagine what I looked like as tears streamed down my face. I felt awful…completely wrecked when I thought about Edward and how he must have felt today. Jesus Christ the whole day had been one complete fuck up after another and my poor, sweet Edward bore the brunt of all of it.

Something needed to change and fast. I could tell all week that he was getting closer and closer to this moment right here and I didn't do anything to stop it. I could tell each time I talked to him that all of this, everything we left unsaid all week had worn him the fuck down and the fact that he made it through dinner at all was a miracle in itself.

Sure, he acted like a complete ass at the house and the way he talked to me as we got in the car and the way he completely ignored me during dinner and the ride home would not go without him giving me an apology for sure, but right now, we needed to talk about what got us to this point in the first place.

I wasn't taking all the blame for this either, and he need to know that as soon as possible, too. I knew I had my own part in what happened this past week, but so did he. We were in this together, like he's said before, and that meant we would both need to admit what we'd done wrong.

"Edward, this isn't working," I quietly told him and as I watched him completely shatter in front of me, I realized just how those words sounded coming out of my mouth.

Holy shit…I couldn't even talk to him without hurting him!

I flew across the room to him so fast I knocked him backward and we both sank down to the ground in front of the windows that had meant so much to both of us.

Grabbing his head in my hands, I kissed all over his face, "Oh Edward, I'm so sorry…so fucking sorry. God, please forgive me baby… that did not come out at all like I meant it to. I love you Edward."

He stared blankly at me, his eyes flitting all over my face. "Say it again, Bella, please," he begged me, still looking utterly broken.

I crawled in his lap and put my knees on either side of his thighs and rested my forehead against his and stared into his green eyes, the ones that right now were clouded with so much hurt and sadness I could barely make myself look at him. "I'm so sorry Edward, can you please forgive me?" I begged him as I clutched onto the sides of his face.

He shook his head at me and now I felt like the world had crashed down all around me. "No? I…Edward…please…"

"No Bella, tell me you love me again. Please tell me so I don't feel like I am going to fall apart," Edward sadly told me.

"Oh my Edward, you crazy man you. Of course I love you…I will always love you. Forever and always, remember?" I cried to him as I wrapped my arms around his neck and pressed my entire body against his.

He ran his fingers through my hair and nuzzled his nose in my hair and I could literally feel his heart beat against my chest. I also felt it slow down to its regular rhythm as he continued to stroke my hair and breathe in and out. "Jesus fuck, Bella. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I'm old, you can't do shit like that to me," he said, as he let out one more deep breath.

I giggled briefly at him but then got serious again, there was still so much to discuss. "Edward we need to talk sweetheart."

Now it was his turn to chuckle, "Normally those four words never mean anything good, but in this case, you couldn't be more right baby," he said as he kissed me on the temple.

I got off him and helped him up and he immediately swept me in his arms and wrapped them tightly around me. "I love you too Bella, just in case you were wondering."

My body relaxed against his and I squeezed him to me and whispered again, "I'm really sorry Edward."

He kissed my nose and looked me in the eyes, his looked so much clearer but they were still clouded with uncertainty, "No more than I am my love. I'm sorry I acted like such an ass."

"Yeah you were, but we'll get to that later. Just know I won't forget the way you talked to me anytime soon and I don't care how mad you get at me, don't ever ignore me like that again, all right?" I asked.

"I am really sorry Bella, there is no excuse for acting the way I did," Edward said again.

"Shhh," I told him. "I am just as much to blame as you are, more so in fact."

Edward shook his head vehemently at me and ground out in a hard voice, "No fucking way sweet girl. There is no way in hell I am letting you take the blame for all of this. I acted like a complete jackass at Ma and Pop's and the ride here was even worse."

I stood on my tip toes and kissed his jaw and said, "Why don't you go change your clothes and I'll get some blankets and pillows and fix us each a drink so we can sit here in our little corner of the city and talk, okay?" I asked him.

"Bella," Edward said in a pained voice as I started to walk away from him. He looked at me as if he thought I would run away and not come back.

I looked at him and he really did look like he was barely hanging on. He was without a fucking doubt the most amazing, wonderful man on the planet and he was mine…still and always mine.

"Edward," I breathed out as he hung on to my fingertips. He may have had a tenuous grasp on them, but he held on with everything he had. "It's ok now. Go put some basketball shorts on and one of my favorite t-shirts and I'll meet you back here in just a minute."

He nodded and started to walk towards my room when I stopped him, "Oh and baby? I put your clothes in the bottom drawer. Make sure you put on the black shirt I love so much."

The smile he gave me was almost blinding and I swore it almost split his face in half.

I made my way through the loft and grabbed the extra comforters and pillows that were in the linen closet and pulled my favorite blanket off the back of the sofa and laid them down on the floor in the corner of the dining room. The lights of the city shone brightly and I turned on the twinkle ones above me too. I went to the kitchen and pulled out some glasses and grabbed a bottle of wine for me and Edwards's favorite bottle of scotch from the liquor cabinet.

Knowing my man, and I really did, I knew he would need a strong drink as soon as he sat down. Edward really had had one hell of a day.

Maybe I let him off the hook too quickly about the way he acted at dinner, I didn't really know and frankly I didn't care. The reason he did what he did was what was important. Not that I wanted to see him act that way again because if he did I would surely kick his ass from here to next week.

I heard him as he made his way back to our special little corner and I couldn't help but groan softly as he approached. He was wearing a pair of low slung black and white basketball shorts and he did have my favorite black t-shirt on. It wasn't anything special really, but on him it looked like sin. There was just something about Edward and black that made my body tingle all over…certain parts more than others of course.

He grinned when he saw the bottle of scotch on the tray on the floor and he sat down and leaned his back against the windows and let his head fall backward. I heard him sigh deeply and he kept his eyes closed for a few minutes.

I poured him a very stiff drink and placed it in his hands and then I got up and kissed his forehead, "I'm going to change, I'll be right back sweetheart."

Edward nodded at me but didn't open his eyes. That was okay, he needed to be alone with his thoughts for a few minutes and I did as well. I knew we would find a way to fix what was wrong and I couldn't help but think about how great this morning was and how awful the day was after that.

Masen was so right when he said my job was dumb…my little best friend had no idea how true that damn statement was.

I changed quickly into a pair of Edward's boxer shorts and one of his t-shirts that I had absconded with a few weeks ago. I put my hair up in a ponytail and washed my face before I walked back out to where my love was still sitting silently. I picked up the remote and started the iHome and sat down, smiling slightly when I saw Edward had already poured me a glass of wine.

Edward's glass was empty and I refilled it, not quite as much this time and waited patiently for him to open his eyes. This was going to be a long discussion so whenever he was ready, we would start.

He picked his head up and his now open eyes found mine immediately and his face softened into a sweet, sexy smile. "You're so beautiful angel," he said quietly.

I smiled at him as my heart melted. He was so incredibly sweet, and tender, and loving…always. I knew he felt bad about the way he acted earlier and while it stung, it was understandable.

"Edward, talk to me baby, tell me everything," I told him as I reached for his hand and put it in my lap. I wanted…no needed to touch him and to feel our electricity bounce back and forth between us.

He shrugged his shoulders at me and said, "Bella, I don't even know where to start. I knew I should have talked to you more this week about some things and then when you were late today…I just snapped. I never should have taken it out on you though. I hope you know I never want to speak to you that way again."

I kept his hand in my lap and continued to play with his fingers while I talked, "Edward I understand that you were frustrated and probably a bit panicked too, but don't act like that again, please. You should have taken me aside at some point, even if it was away from your mom or dad and talked to me instead of letting it build up to that point. And just so we are clear, don't ever talk to me that way again okay? I know we will argue at times and that is normal, but I won't stand for being talked to like that."

"Bella, I give you my word that I won't ever do that again. I feel terrible baby, I am so sorry."

"Enough now. I know you're sorry and that's all that matters. Do you want to start with why I was late today or with how the past six days have sucked more than I could ever believe was possible?" I asked.

The next thing I knew Edward reached up and grabbed me behind my head and pulled me to him and captured my lips in a kiss so passionate it literally made my toes curl. He kissed me until I was as breathless as he was and he pulled back to push my hair back behind my ear.

"I've been waiting to do that for hours now," he panted as he grinned at me. "I really have to agree with you there baby, this week sucked major ass," Edward said and sat back against the window and took another sip of his scotch.

Taking a deep breath I took his hand again and began to speak, "Let me say a couple things first, without you interrupting and then I'll answer any questions you might have, deal?"

He smirked at our trademark bargaining term and I got comfortable on a pillow and started, "Edward, we both knew that being apart was going to be hard, but I'm guessing that neither one of us understood how difficult it would truly be."

"Fucking understatement of the year there angel," he grunted at me but held his hands up when I raised my eyebrows at him.

I smirked at him feeling so much better than I did about an hour ago. Then I felt like everything was falling apart, but sitting with him in our special little corner made everything seem so much better.

"I know that I am being totally ridiculous about all of this Edward," I began slowly and grinned when he raised his hand like a kid in school to ask a question.

"Yes, Mr. Cullen?" I asked in the most serious voice I could manage, which admittedly was not much at all considering how adorable he looked right then.

Edward reached for both of my hands and held them in his own and said, "Bella, stop. You aren't being anymore ridiculous than I am. I am not going to feel bad for wanting to see you and spend time with you and I don't expect you to do it either. I have waited a very long time for you my sweet girl, and I don't feel like waiting any longer to begin our lives together. The circumstances right now are less than ideal for sure, but that doesn't mean we can't figure something out either."

"Okay, so I guess this means we've decided that we can be ridiculous together, right?" I asked him and snorted when he rolled his eyes at me for a change.

"No, seriously Edward. I need to get a few things off my chest so I need you to let me talk without raising your hand to try to interrupt me." When he nodded at me and settled back into the pillow I started again, "This week sucked so bad baby, I can't even begin to tell you how much or how many times I just needed to see you or have you give me a hug and kiss, or just be next to me for even five minutes. I need you, in whatever way that can happen. If it's for a quick breakfast in the morning or seeing you in between patients at your office or hell, even crawling into bed after a long day and sleeping next to you, I want it…I need it."

"I don't want to sound like a broken record or make myself sound like a big baby here either, but you know and I know that I hate…hate…my job. But it is what I do, and I am going to give it my all until I am finished. I made a commitment and I fully intend on doing my job the best way I can until I no longer have to do it. I hope you can understand that, Edward," I told him softly as he squeezed my hands and looked at me, pleading silently to say something.

When I nodded my head at him he spoke, "Bella, your loyalty is one of the things I love and admire the most about you. I hate your job, you know this. But, I also know you would never do anything but the best job you can do at it, too."

"Thank you Edward, for understanding that part at least," I told him before I took a sip of my wine and continued.

Sighing deeply, I looked at him and smiled. God, he was just so…Edward! "You have to understand something Edward…this, having your family around and being accepted - while it is amazing and wonderful, it is also something I am not used to…at all. I love your whole family baby, I really do, but I have to be honest and say I'm a bit…overwhelmed by all of this."

"Damn, Bella, I never even thought of that. Shit, why didn't you say anything?" Edward asked me as he ran a hand through his hair.

I shrugged my shoulder at him and began softly, "What was I supposed to say? I love them all, I really do, but I am not used to all the attention and I am certainly not used to so many people being concerned about me at one time. I haven't had to be accountable to anyone but Seth for a long time now, and it's been an adjustment for me."

"Do you want me to talk to them angel?" he sweetly asked me and I shook my head at him.

"I don't think that is necessary…yet. I may have to sic you on Uncle Marcus though!" I told him and he scowled just like I knew he would.

"No seriously Edward, it will be okay, but I do think it is necessary to establish…boundaries for lack of a better term," I told him honestly.

Edward looked chagrined for a moment before he kissed me quickly on the lips and said, "I think you are right about that Bella. My family can be a bit overbearing at times."

Shaking my head again I said, "They aren't overbearing sweetheart, I think exuberant is a better word. I haven't had to account for my whereabouts to anyone for a long time now and with the exception of Jasper and Rose no one has been concerned with my day to day activities in even longer. It's just a lot to take in Edward."

"Okay so we've decided that we are both being ridiculous, that I was an ass at dinner and you will kick mine if I act like that again, that your job sucks ass and being apart sucks even more ass and that my family has driven you nuts…and it's only been a week!" Edward chuckled at me as he took another sip of his scotch.

"Well, I am not sure I would word it all like that, but yes, I think that about covers it…along with establishing your apparent infatuation with the word ass. Now," I said as I drank the rest of my wine and shook my head at Edward as he attempted to pour me another glass. "Let's talk about how we fix all this."

"You quitting your job is completely off the table, right?" he asked in mock seriousness.

I scowled at him and said hesitantly, "I think that we should utilize your clothes being here and have it be more permanent."

"You want me to live here with you?" he asked me, looking a bit scared at the prospect of that.

I took a steadying breath and said, "I don't think we are quite ready for that yet baby, but how about if you and the twins spend three or four nights here a week? Its summer and the kids aren't in school so it won't disrupt anything and it would give us time to ourselves. I think that is what this past week has really made me realize. I love your family and I love mine but I love you more and need you more and like we said earlier, even if all we do is sleep next to each other, it makes the time apart more bearable."

Edward sat there for a few moments while I sat and watched him and when the smile broke out on his face, I knew we were on the same page. "I think that sounds perfect Bella. Truly. But, you know there are some nights I have to go to the hospital and check on patients and there are things I have to do for the Foundation, too."

"I know that Edward, but I would love to spend time with the kids…and to be honest, I would love to spend time with them by myself. If we plan on making this a permanent thing between us, it's going to happen," I told him as I held his hand and looked down at it.

"Bella, look at me please," Edward said in a strong, sure voice.

When I lifted my eyes to his, he spoke earnestly, "Baby, there is no if, none whatsoever. It is only a matter of when. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, don't ever question that. You will be a Cullen someday Isabella, that I promise you with everything I have."

Holy shit, he's said that before but damn…this time it was different.

It wasn't that I doubted him or anything but just then it was as if my entire future became clear and fuck me…I wanted it so bad I could taste it.

"Edward?" I asked, my breath coming in short, quick bursts.

He looked at me and his eyes immediately darkened and he softly said, "Yes baby?"

"Can we be done talking? I'd really, really like for you to be inside of me right now if you wouldn't mind."

Edward stood up and lifted me in his arms and carried me to our room, and he shut the door with his foot before he carried me to our bed.

"What do you want my Bella?" he huskily asked me as he kissed my neck as he laid me on the bed.

I grabbed his head and pulled him up to me so I could look him in the eyes, "My Edward, I want you to make love to me in our bed in our room," I whispered to him.

"Oh fuck Bella that is without a doubt the sexiest damn thing you have ever fucking said to me," he rasped out and then proceeded to show me just how much he liked it.


This time when we woke up on Monday morning and Edward had to leave to go home and then to the office it didn't feel like the end of the world like last week did. I still felt a little foolish sometimes when I thought about how we both felt last week when we were apart, but Edward's words did ring true, this was our life and our relationship, not anyone else's so what others thought didn't matter.

"Bye baby," he whispered as he nuzzled my hair with his nose and ran his hands up and down my back as we stood by the elevator.

It may not feel like the end of the world, but it was still hard as hell to let him go.

"Kiss me Edward," I breathed out to him as I felt his tongue on my neck. Damn him, he always knows what that does to me!

He chuckled at my request and slowly moved his mouth from my neck, down my jaw and then to my mouth where he let his lips ghost back and forth across mine, but didn't touch them.

I grunted and damn near stomped my foot at him, "Edward, knock it off. Stop teasing me damn it and kiss me!"

"Your wish, my command sweet girl," he purred at me and captured my bottom lip between his teeth and bit down gently on it before I felt his tongue in my mouth.

Edward always tasted so fucking good, all minty and crisp and everything; that did not even come close to the way he smelled in the morning…or well anytime really.

He was mouthwatering and there was really nothing I loved more than to sleep in one of his shirts, dress or tee, after he had been in it all day. His smell haunted me when we were apart, as pathetic as that might sound to some. But I swear to you, if you ever smelled Edward, you would understand exactly what I was talking about.

The kiss continued until my knees went weak and I gasped for breath and then he pulled away.

"This isn't any fun angel, but I have to say leaving you this time isn't anywhere near as bad as last week," Edward said as he kept his mouth on my neck.

I giggled at that and nodded my head in agreement, "I totally agree with you there sweetheart. Now get the hell out of here so you can see the kids and make it to the office on time. I'll try to call you later on, but remember I am going to be swamped today and tomorrow," I gently reminded him.

If there was one thing we both learned from last week it was that we really needed to communicate. The realization of that was a bit unnerving to say the least because honestly if anyone would have asked me I would have said our ability to talk to one another was unparalleled, but it would have been wrong. We loved each other so much that our wanting the keep the other from worrying actually made things worse. Lesson learned…that's all I'm saying.

"Thank you for the reminder Bella, just send me a text message when you can, deal? Just so I know you are doing okay. And you can always send me dirty messages too…oohh…or half naked pictures, I like those too." He chuckled as he waggled his eyebrows at me and swatted me on the ass as the elevator doors opened.

"I knew it!" I squealed at him as he stepped in and held the doors open with his arms. "You do only think about me naked!"

"Like I've said before Isabella, you have seen yourself naked, yes? It's a wonder I am able to think of anything else at all…ever. But you know that's not all I think about baby, I also think about your legs wrapped around me, and how you taste right before you come, and how it feels to be buried deep inside of you," he said huskily to me as he bent his head forward and brushed his lips against mine.

"You are so not fair, Edward," I groaned at him as his tongue licked my bottom lip.

"Til Wednesday my Bella…I love you so much," Edward breathed to me as he stepped back.

I blew him a kiss right before the doors closed and whispered, "I love you too, Edward," and tried to keep the smile he had on his face burned in my memory.

This was a thousand times better than last week that was for damn sure!

My day started almost immediately after Edward left since I had to jump in the shower and get dressed to meet Seth and Jasper downstairs and head to the office.

I gave Jasper a much abridged version of what happened this past week, leading up to the decisions we made last night. Jasper was very supportive of the idea of spending as much time together as we could whenever we were able to and when I explained to him my thoughts on Jane's behavior yesterday and the reasons behind it, to say he was livid would be an understatement.

"God damn that woman to hell," Jasper growled and slapped the back of Seth's seat which got him a glare in the rear view mirror.

Seth was on the phone so he couldn't say anything to Jasper out loud, but his eyes spoke for him.

"Jane," was all I said for Seth to completely change his attitude.

"What the fuck is the matter with her?" Jasper asked as he looked out the side window.

I had no idea what to tell him because it made no sense to me either. Every time I turned around yesterday, she did something to undermine me. If the sponsors wanted me to take pictures with the contestants, she demanded that I sign autographs. If anyone wanted to interview me, she would say it was time for pictures. She made me look bad, but she made Volturi look worse and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what she was trying to prove. It was her fault entirely that I was running late in the first place yesterday to dinner, the mishap at the loft was just the icing on the cake. I had given her my phone to charge for me in the trailer the sponsors had set up for our use and I would swear on a stack of Bibles that she didn't charge it on purpose. Again, her reasoning I couldn't fathom, but I knew she did.

"Jasper, I need you to make sure Ali is on top of my contract. I don't trust Jane at all and I am afraid if she is trying to sabotage me for some reason, Aro can come back and use it some way or the other. We knew the closer the end of my contract got the more pressure they would use on me to re-sign," I told him as my stomach clenched at the thought of somehow not being able to walk away in September.

He grabbed my hand in his and squeezed, "I promise Bell that when you are done with that fashion show in September, your time with Volturi will be finished. I give you my word."

"I believe you J," I told him sincerely.

I would trust Jasper with my life without question and really, I was talking about my life here. If something happened and I wasn't able to start my life with Edward and the twins in September, I wasn't sure I could handle that.

"Okay, onto other things," Jasper said as he pulled out his iPhone and scrolled through his calendar. "Let's talk schedules."

We spent the remainder of the ride to the office going over my tentative schedule for the rest of the summer.

It was daunting and crammed with appearances but there were a few bright spots…mostly the trip to California in the beginning of August to the Kids' Choice Awards. I immediately had an idea of Edward and the kids coming with me and taking a trip to Disneyland afterward. Maddie and Masen would love the awards and the trip to Disney would be fun for all of us. I felt giddy just thinking about it and couldn't wait to talk to Edward about it on Wednesday.

The meeting at Volturi was long and tedious. Twilight was anxious for me to get there next Monday and go over a few things with them in regards to promoting the sportswear and I had few brief appearances to try to cram in before and after the movie premiere on Sunday. I couldn't wait to bring Maddie and Masen a surprise from the Toy Story 3 movie I would be seeing. Masen was a huge Buzz Lightyear fan and I was going to keep where I was going as a surprise until after I got back.

"Isabella, are you sure that we can't persuade you and your Edward along with his two beautiful children to attend the movie this weekend?" Aro pressed…again.

Jasper reached over and squeezed my knee in a silent warning to not lose my temper with his question. If I thought he had any reason other than a self serving one to ask me that, I would be fine, but I knew he didn't.

I took a deep breath and said, "Aro, I've told you before and I will tell you again. My relationship with Edward Cullen is private and will not be exploited by you or anyone else for any reason. If and only if I decide for him to accompany me to some event or another will he do so, it won't be because you have asked."

"Well, dear, I do understand your reason although you know I disagree with you completely, but as you wish. I am sure there will be other opportunities to get pictures of you and Mr. Cullen together," he warned ominously.

I opened my mouth to say something else but Jasper's fingers dug into my leg almost painfully and when I turned my head to look at him he shook his head at me and at that I sighed and sat back and the meeting began again.

By the time I got home late Monday night I was exhausted and had only been able to send Edward two very brief text messages throughout the day. I called the kids from the car on the way home, barely able to keep my eyes open as I listened to Maddie and Masen tell me about their trip to the bookstore and ice cream with Nana. I loved those kids to pieces but I was worn out just from listening to them!

I told Edward I would call him once I got to the loft and got ready for bed and I warned him it wouldn't be long either. I was fucking exhausted. Aro and Jane really weren't kidding when they told me the number of requests for me to make an appearance had increased since the Gala.

Jesus, I really couldn't wait for September to get here!

Tuesday was much the same, starting even earlier since I had a radio interview to do at 8:00 a.m. I sent a good morning text to Edward and got one back as soon as he was done in the shower. Stupid man decided to attach a picture of his naked ass…payback for the boy short picture I sent him last week he said.

He was in so much fucking trouble it wasn't even funny and I thought about a plan for him as I walked into the station. The radio host was completely inappropriate with me and I had to shoot Seth more warning glances than I'd had to in a long fucking time. God, what is it with guys? They have a beautiful woman sitting across from them and they immediately think its okay to proposition them…and on the air too?

Fuck, I really hoped Edward never heard the crap the idiot spewed at me. Ridiculous and then the tool was legitimately confused when the interview was over and I turned him down…again…for a date. Apparently the words I have a boyfriend didn't compute in his pea sized brain. He finally backed the hell down when Seth got in his face and said, "The girl said no dickhead, do you not understand fucking English?"

The rest of the day passed in haze too, but I did manage to send Edward a picture from the photo shoot I had in the afternoon. Twilight had a new line of bathing suits coming out and they were going to be featured in an upcoming issue of Marie Claire.

When I was in my dressing room changing into one the skimpiest damn bikinis I had ever seen in my life I took a picture of my reflection in the mirror. The bathing suit, and I used that term loosely, was sky blue with deep brown piping around the edges and on the ties and it looked fucking phenomenal against the color of my skin…even I had to admit that, and I knew Edward would die when he saw it.

My phone rang almost instantly after I sent the message to him and when I pushed the button to answer all I heard was his deep breathing and then a deep, gritty "Isabella Marie, you are in so much fucking trouble when I see you tomorrow night, I hope you know that. Love you baby," and then he hung up before I could even say a word.

Exactly the reaction I was hoping for to be honest and my girly bits tingled with anticipation for tomorrow night.

The photo shoot was long but the photographer and the editor of the magazine were both extremely pleased with the results…I didn't have the heart to tell them it was only because I was thinking of Edward while I was getting my picture taken that made me smile that way.

I had to talk to the kids again from the car on my way home to say good night but I would never miss talking to them if I could help it. So far I'd been able to keep my word and I hoped my luck would continue to hold out. We had a quick conversation, the two of them mostly talked about spending the night tomorrow and I listened as they finished one another's sentences.

I even managed a brief hello to Edward who sounded like he'd had as long a day as I had. He had rounds at the hospital, a day full of appointments and then he'd had a Foundation dinner to attend tonight with Carlisle, Marcus and Demetri.

He alluded to an email that he had written and asked me not to read it until I got home and got ready for bed. I gave him my word as my mind raced as to what he could have done. With Edward Cullen, there was really no telling.

I anxiously made my way upstairs and into my room as soon as Seth let me off the elevator with a smirk and a wink which I studiously tried to ignore.

I'm not sure I ever changed my clothes any faster than I just did and I couldn't help the butterflies I felt in my stomach as I opened my email from Edward.

As my eyes flew over the screen, I muttered a low, "Holy mother of God," and when I heard the phone ring I answered it with trembling fingers, "Bella, did you like my email?" Edward asked in a dark sultry voice.

"Edward, there are no words to describe how fucking much I loved that email baby, none," I said breathlessly.

"Explain to me Isabella, in a very detailed manner, exactly which parts you liked," he purred at me and as my hand slid under the covers and into my already soaked panties I did exactly as he asked, over and over again.


Wednesday morning I woke up and for about thirty seconds I was in a bad mood…until I remembered that Edward and the twins were spending the next three nights here with me. It was going to be hard to leave them on Saturday to go to California, but knowing that Rose was coming with me made it a little easier…not to mention the welcome home sex I planned to get from Edward when I got back late Tuesday night.

I had a fairly light schedule today thankfully and as I took Rufus out for his morning bathroom break I thought about what to do with my day. After spending about twenty minutes outside, all of which I used to think about Edward and the email he sent me last night, we made our way back inside.

The elevator stopped on the second floor and Seth got in with me, "Morning Shortcake," he said with a kiss to the top of my head.

He bent down and patted Rufus on his head and chuckled when he ran in and out of his legs.

"The kids and Edward coming over tonight?" he asked me as the elevator stopped at my floor and we got off to walk to my door.

I couldn't stop the smile that spread across my face just at the mere mention of Edward's name and I still smiled when I told him, "Yeah, he and the kids are coming home with me after we go to Maddie's soccer game."

Seth had walked to the fridge to take out the pitcher of orange juice I kept just for him and stopped and turned around and looked at me, "Bell, damn. I can't go tonight, I am supposed to meet Tanya and Mr. and Mrs. Denali for dinner. I thought I told you that."

I shook my head at him, not really understanding what his not being able to go had to do with anything. Maddie loved Seth of course, but she would be just fine without his attending the game. Besides, I didn't ask him to come anyway. "And?" I asked as he stared at me.

"Well, if I can't go, you can't go," Seth told me, sounding like I was an idiot for not figuring that out on my own.

I narrowed my eyes at him and crossed my arms and stared at him, not really believing what I just heard come from his mouth. "Um….excuse me?" I ground out to him in a hard voice.

"You heard me Bella, if I'm not able to be there, then I'm sorry but you can't go either," Seth told me and grabbed a glass out of the cabinet.

Okay Bella, I told myself, there had to be a logical reason for Seth to be acting like the biggest asshole in the history of assholes right at this moment. Breathe Bella, remember this is Seth, you love him, I told myself over and over again as I tried to use some of my yoga techniques to calm myself.

I shook my head at him and tried again, "Seth, I don't really understand what you are saying right now. Are you telling me that since you made a date with your girlfriend and her family, that I have to miss Maddie's first soccer game? Are you serious?" I asked incredulously.

"As a heart attack, Bell," Seth answered me as he slammed his glass down on the island.

I walked forward to the island and gripped the edge so tight my fingernails hurt and glowered at him, "I am trying to be very patient here Seth, but you are going to need to enlighten me on why, exactly, I am staying home while the rest of my family," I said that word fiercely, "is going to be at a very important soccer match."

"It's not safe Shortcake, I'm sorry," Seth said just as harshly.

I hung my head, "Jesus Christ, Seth. Is that all?" I asked him in exasperation.

"Is that all? Is that all?" he shrieked at me."Fuck Bella. Damn it!" Seth yelled and slapped his hands down so hard on the island that he winced in pain.

"Seth, what the hell is going on, this is beyond weird," I told him as I tried to keep my temper in check.

There had to be a reason for his irrational behavior. There is no way he would act this way if there wasn't. What it was, I had no idea, but there damn well better be one or I was going to be short one best friend.

He looked at me for a moment, his eyes looked pained and distant before he whispered, "I'll be right back, wait here, okay?"

I nodded at him and watched my best friend stomp out of my door and down the hall to the elevator.

What the fucking hell was that?

In twenty five years, Seth had never, ever acted that way to me before and he certainly never used that tone of voice with me either.

I grabbed my cell phone off the coffee table in the living room and typed out a quick message to Edward since I hadn't done it yet.

Morning baby…guess what? In only nine more hours I get to see you and guess what again? In less than twelve we'll be naked and you'll be inside of me! I miss you…and love you even more! ~~ Always, B

Seth may be acting like a freaking idiot right now, but that didn't stop my stomach from clenching and my panties to get a little wet just thinking about Edward and his gorgeous naked self.

I smiled when my phone vibrated, letting me know that my love had responded back…he didn't disappoint.

Fuck, Bella…you CANNOT do that shit to me first thing in the morning…I have a patient waiting in the exam room and now I have a raging hard on so yeah thanks for that! Is it time to be inside you yet? I miss and love you baby…so fucking much. Have a good day~~ Always, E

Giggling, I put the phone down on the table and sat on the sofa and closed my eyes. I loved teasing Edward. It might be cruel sometimes, but damn, it was so much fun. Besides, the text was payback for the email from last night, so I didn't feel sorry for him at all!

Sexy ass old man…the things he can do to me with just words should be illegal!

I smiled to myself as I imagined tonight but my smile faded quickly as Seth came back in the loft holding a piece of paper.

Son of a bitch.

This couldn't be good at all, and I stayed glued to my spot on the sofa and waited for Seth to come to me.

He was beside me in an instant…yeah, real good delaying tactic there Swan, I thought mockingly to myself, as Seth sat quietly next to me.

Seth took a deep breath and resignedly said, "This was delivered to Volturi yesterday. Jane and Angela gave it to me before we left the restaurant last night."

My stomach felt like it had fallen out of my body and landed at my feet as I gingerly took the paper from him. I turned it over and immediately dropped it as the hair on the back of my neck stood up and my blood felt like ice flowing through my veins. On the paper was a picture of just me as I walked Rufus one morning. I knew exactly when it was, too. Last week when we had gotten back from the lake, Seth had an early morning appointment so I took Rufus for a quick walk to the coffee shop the next block over. I didn't even tell him…or anyone when I got the bee up my ass for a good cup of coffee and decided to just take a quick walk. Looking at the picture, I felt sick to my stomach knowing that someone had watched me…and that I had been all alone at the time. The words chilled me to the bone:

Such a lovely day for a walk…til next time…

"Bella, you mind telling me when this was taken because I know for a fucking fact you and I have not gone for coffee any morning since we've been back from the lake," Seth asked me in a steel hard voice.

I threw myself against the back of the sofa and felt like suck a damn idiot. Jesus, Seth was going to kill me…and that was nothing…nothing…compared to what Edward was going to say and do!

"Shit, okay." I huffed, trying not to get defensive because this was all me. "Do you remember the morning you had that appointment really early?" I asked as he nodded his head. "Well, I decided for some damn reason that I wanted a caramel macchiato from that shop on the next block, so I grabbed Rufus and took him for a walk to go get one. I was gone like 30-40 minutes tops, Seth!" I finished somewhat huffily when I saw his breathing get harder.

He stood up and began to pace around the living room, "Jesus fucking Christ! Isabella Marie Swan are you out of your fucking mind? Do you not realize there is some damn nut job just waiting for…well, who the hell knows but whoever this sick fucker is its obvious they are a lot closer to you than we ever thought."

"I'm sorry Seth," I told him quietly and at my words, all the frustration seemed to evaporate and I was staring at the 13 year old boy that had just found out his father died.

"Bell, God damn it! If anything…I mean I could never…fuck!" Seth stumbled over his words before he took a deep breath and started again. "Shortcake, I love you. It's been you and me against the world for our entire lives and if anything, fucking anything was to ever happen to you… I just can't even think about it."

I reached out for him and he sat down beside me and wrapped his arm around my shoulder as he pulled me close to him and kissed the top of my head. "You and me, we're family Bell. I know you have Edward and the kids now and I have Tanya, but no one will take your place in my heart. You know that right?"

"It's the same for me Seth, I hope you know that," I whispered to him.

Until the day I died, Seth would always remain my best friend.

"Things are changing for both of us, I can feel it and I know you can, too. I am no longer the most important man in your life and you, my little one, are no longer the most important woman in mine. I mean we are, but we aren't…am I making any sense whatsoever?"

I turned to look at him and smirked, but still didn't say a word. "Bell, come the fuck on, I'm dying here. You know what I was trying to say don't you?"

Laughing at him, I decided to put him out of his misery, "Yes, I understand. Our lives are going down different paths now and mine leads to Edward and yours leads to Tanya. We knew it would happen sometime, Seth," I finished on a whisper.

Seth reached forward, kissed my forehead, brushed my hair behind my ears and held my head in his hands as he stared into my eyes, "It is so hard to let you go Shortcake, it's just been me and you for so long, you know?" When I nodded my head he went on, "But, Edward is a good man, a good father and he makes you happy and that is all I've ever wanted for you Bella."

I reached up and held his hands that were still on my face, the tears coming now just like I knew they would. "You have to be more careful Bella, this isn't a joke and the sick bastard sending those notes isn't playing a game. No more going out by yourself, you hear me? I know it sucks and it isn't fair…and it should make you afraid," he said with a pointed look at me.

I hung my head, it wasn't that I wasn't afraid, I just didn't think about it when I decided to take a walk the other day. "We've gone over this before Bell; it's not just you anymore. There are two little munchkins that think you walk on water and if anything ever happened to you, it would devastate them…not to mention what it would do to Edward if you were hurt or attacked while you were out taking a walk because you got a hankering for coffee. Was it worth it to risk yourself like that?"

Shaking my head at him I answered, "Of course not Seth. I will be more careful, I promise."

This really sucked ass so bad, but I would be more careful…I had to be now.

"Now about tonight, let's see if we can figure something out. And, you do realize that from now on, no more going anywhere alone, right?" Seth asked me and when I huffed and nodded my head in compliance, he smiled. "Good, I knew you would see it my way."

"It's not like I had a choice in the matter, Seth," I told him as I glared at him.

He was only doing his job as my body guard and as my best friend and I knew that, but it didn't mean I had to like it!

He stood up and began to pace again before he turned to me, "Is J going to the game?" Seth questioned and when I nodded my head he stopped. "Okay, here is the deal. You can go tonight, but only if Jake goes with you. I know Jas and Edward will be there, but this an open space we're talking about here and Jake is trained to protect you, J and Ed aren't."

I groaned, I really didn't like going anywhere with Jacob…at all. He was a nice guy I supposed, but he made me uncomfortable. He always stared at me and he gave me the creeps. I knew his dad Billy had been really good friends with Charlie and Harry and I knew Seth trusted him, if he didn't he wouldn't be here, but that didn't stop me from not liking the guy.

Seth chuckled, he knew how I felt about Jacob but he held firm, "Take it or leave it Shortcake. And, get used to Jake being around more; from now on it will more than likely be the both of us going with you everywhere now."

"Fine," I said as I stood up and stomped my foot. "I can't wait until this shit is over and I don't have to deal with this anymore," I said as an after thought.

"Just because your contract is up in September Bella does not mean that everything magically goes away and you can just fade away into the background you know," Seth told me quietly, but firmly.

My shoulders slumped…motherfucker.

"But I want it to," I whined pitifully to him. "I just want to be with Edward and the twins and be able to go to soccer games and baseball games and not have to look over my shoulder or worry about signing an autograph or take a picture with some drunken guy at a restaurant. I just want to be left alone."

"You'll be fine. Edward, Maddie and Masen will make you so happy that it won't matter. Just promise me you will always be careful, I won't be there to protect you anymore Bell," he choked out the last part.

"I don't know how to be without you, Sethy," I whispered to him, using the name I did when we were little.

He gave me a watery smile, and had tears in his eyes, "It's the same for me too Bella. It's hard for me to step aside and let Edward take care of you, knowing that he is the most important man in your world now. It's been my job since Charlie died to take care of you and now someone else is going to do it instead of me. It's just…hard Bell…so fucking hard letting you go." He barely got the words out before I threw myself at him and clung to him.

"It's always been you Seth, even when Charlie was alive. And you don't have to let me go, it will just be different that's all. We'll always be best friends no matter what," I promised fervently.

I meant it too, with all of my heart. Edward, Maddie and Masen were my family, but so was he and there was no way I was losing him. Things would change as they had to, but he would always be a part of my life.

He kissed me on the head one more time and squeezed me in his arms before he gently pushed me away from him. This was way, way more emotion than he was comfortable with and I knew that so I stepped back from him and gave him a knowing smile.

"Yeah, yeah, don't push it, Shortcake," Seth said to me, but smiled anyway.

We would be just fine when the time came for us to move on with our separate lives. It would be different and it would be an adjustment, sure, but we would always be a part of the other and that wouldn't change.

I made my way to my bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth and when I came back out, Seth was just getting off the phone, "Thanks man, I'll talk to you later."

He turned to look at me and said, "That was Em. He and Ben are going to come over and take another look around the building with Jake and me and then they are going to give us some pointers on the things we need to be on the lookout for. At some point Shortcake, Edward is going to have to learn all this, too."

I sighed and said, "I know. I hate it and it will drive him nuts, but I know it needs to be done."

Seth walked over to me and patted me on the head and said, "Good girl."

I growled at him and went to lunge in his direction but he was too quick for me, "Nice try short stuff, but not happening." He laughed at me and then said, "Okay let's go over what the plan for the next few days will be and then decide on what to do about California this weekend. You have told Edward you were leaving, haven't you?"

"Yes, dad, I did. We talked about it Sunday night," I told him crossly as I got a bottle of water out of the fridge.

"I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation!" Seth snickered at me and then full out laughed when he noticed the glare I gave him. He held his hands up and said, "What? I talked to Emmett on Monday and he said poor Edward looked like he was about to spontaneously combust throughout the whole dinner and that by the time you guys left his hair looked like he had stuck his finger in a light socket."

"Shit," I muttered under my breath.

"Hey, what's that look for?" Seth asked as I looked at him with what I am sure was a grimace of pain as I remembered Sunday.

I hadn't really had much time to talk to Seth since Sunday. Monday and Tuesday were crazy with meetings at Volturi about the appearance on Sunday and then this weekend, on top of the radio shows, photo shoots and appearances I had to make. I had barely had time to talk to the twins before they went to bed and have a brief conversation with Edward…thus the email last night, before I tumbled into my bed, exhausted.

"Seth Sunday was a disaster. You know how fucked up that whole thing at the skate park got with Jane and all her bullshit. Then remember you brought me home so I could change to go over for dinner?" I looked up at him and when he nodded his head, I went on, "Well, I got home and changed just like I wanted to but then Rufus let me know he needed to go outside, so I took him. Of course, as could only happen to me, I slipped and fell in the clearing and got mud all over myself, so that meant I had to take another shower and change my clothes…again. I couldn't call Edward and tell him because my phone had died and by the time I got to the Cullen's, I was over two hours late."

"Oh Jesus, Bell…" he groaned. Seth knew exactly how Edward would have reacted and he wasn't wrong. I still cringed every time I thought about the look on his face when I walked in the house. I never wanted to see that look again if can help it.

"Exactly. And then on top of that, when I got there is was 'pass Bella around time' and I was handed off from one to the other of them and didn't have time to say more than hello to Edward. Dinner was awkward as hell. I had a feeling about what was going on with him, but the rest of the family, while I love them to death, was completely oblivious to the whole thing until he acted like a lunatic snapping at everyone," I finished on a sigh.

Sunday may have turned out wonderfully, but that dinner is not anything I want to live through any time soon.

Seth chuckled a bit and said, "The Cullens…they can be a little overwhelming at times."

"Yeah, no shit. I told Edward I wasn't used to all of the attention and the checking in they all do since we've gotten back from the lake. I mean hell, Uncle Marcus calls me almost every day now!" I giggled.

I loved Uncle Marcus, truly I did, but he could be a little much at times.

"And Edward," Seth said as he moved his head back and forth, "He hates to share you during the best of times. I can only imagine how he felt by the time you got there on Sunday. He must have been going nuts when he couldn't reach you and then you were late. I wonder why he didn't call me?" he asked, mostly to himself but I answered anyway.

"That's what I asked him and the silly man said, 'I didn't even think about it Bella'. I mean, if he would have called you he would have at least realized I had made it home instead of thinking the worst which is what he did. You should have seen how upset and scared he was when I got to Dr. C.'s on Sunday. I don't ever want to see that again." I shuddered at just the thought.

"Good," Seth said succinctly. At my raised eyebrows and narrowed eyes, he continued, "Now you understand why you need to be more careful."

"I get it, all right," I told him and then we got down to business and coordinated the rest of the week.

When he went downstairs to shower and get ready for Emmett and Ben, I decided to make some cookies for the shelter. It had been awhile since I had done it and I felt bad that I was so caught up in my own life that I forgot about the kids at the shelter.

I thought to myself how strange it was that Edward, Tanya, and Carlisle all volunteered at the same shelter that I had found all those months ago. It made you really believe what Carlisle told me about fate the more I thought about it…it had to be. It was just one more way for me to truly know that Edward and I were meant to find one another.

The routine of baking cookies was like second nature to me and I had them cooling on the island in no time. I checked the time and groaned just a bit when I realized that I would need to be ready to go in just over an hour to head out to another interview.

I jumped in the shower and got dressed in a pair of black dress pants, a crisp white sleeveless shirt and some black flats. I had my hair straight and a minimal amount of make up on. I figured if they were going to make me change my clothes if I needed to take pictures, I might as well dress in something comfortable to begin with.

As soon as I had the cookies boxed up, leaving some in a separate container for Edward and the kids since I knew how much they all loved double chocolate cookies, I headed to the security office where I knew Seth, Emmett and Ben would be.

I heard Emmett's booming laugh as soon as the elevator doors opened and counted quietly to myself as I walked towards the office. I made it to five before I saw his grin…and his hand out. "Sweet B…please tell me those are for me?" he begged as he eyed the box in my hand.

Shaking my head at him, I couldn't help but giggle at the defeated look on his adorable face, "Those aren't for you, they are for the shelter, but these," I held out the smaller container to him, "These are for you and Ben to share."

Emmett had the container opened before I could even blink and had a mouthful of cookie when he said, "Share, shmare. Ben will never have to know."

"Emmett Cullen, don't make me tell your mother you aren't sharing!" I told him sternly, but then broke out into giggles when I saw him gulp as he swallowed a mouthful of cookie.

"Fine, damn Bella. I can't believe you would tattle on me to Esme…I thought we were buds," he said dejectedly as he ate another cookie.

I grabbed the container from him because I knew if I didn't he would eat them all before we even made it to Seth's office. "We are buds Em, but you still need to share."

"It's still not fair, that's all I'm saying. I bet you have some upstairs just for Edward, don't you?" he said as he eyed me.

I rolled my eyes at him. Jesus, how does Rose put up with him? He whines like a little kid!

"Yes, there are some upstairs Emmett, but that is because Maddie and Masen are staying here tonight and they are Masen's favorite," I exasperatedly told him.

He grabbed one more cookie and then kissed me on the cheek and said, "Well, then I guess I'll just have to come get some later from my favorite niece and nephew."

"Emmett, they are your only niece and nephew!" I chuckled at him as we walked into the office.

"Doesn't mean they aren't my favorite," he told me like the smart ass he was as he flopped down in a chair.

"Nice Bella," Ben said as I handed him the container and he picked up a cookie for himself. "My best friend is one lucky bastard, not only are you gorgeous, but you bake him cookies too."

"I still say it's not fair," Emmett mumbled, causing everyone to laugh at him, including Jacob.

"Hello, Bella," Jacob said in a smooth voice as he looked me over from head to toe.

I shifted uncomfortably under his intense scrutiny and murmured a quiet, "Hey, Jacob. It's nice to see you again."

It had been a few days since I'd seen him. He was at the skate park on Sunday, but as was normal, Seth was the one that was at my side, Jake just kept an eye on things from the sidelines.

He made me uncomfortable, there was no way around it, but I was going to have to suck it up. Until the next three months were over and until the letters stopped, Jake was going to be around me so I needed to just suck it up.

"I hear we have a soccer game to go to tonight?" Jake said as he moved to stand next to me.

I had to fight the urge to move away from him and stood there and nodded my head, smiling. I couldn't help it; I couldn't wait to see Maddie at her first game. "Yes, we do."

"Is Edward going to be there?" he asked me, sounding hopeful that he might not be.

I chuckled as I tried to imagine Maddie's first game without Edward being there to watch…there was no way. "Yes, Jacob, of course he'll be there."

"Oh," he said as he slumped his shoulders.

Weird…just weird.

Shaking my head at the whole thing, I looked at Seth and said, "Can we get out of here? I want to drop the cookies off at the shelter on our way to the interview."

"Sure Shortcake, let's hit it. Jake, I'll talk to you later. I'm entrusting Bella to you for the night, make sure you are on your toes," Seth told him sternly.

Jake stared at me, and again I got that feeling that something was off with him. He told him, "Of course Seth. Bella won't have to worry about anything with me there to watch her."

Um…yeah. That didn't sound creepy as fuck or anything.

I gave Seth a pointed look and said, "Let's get out of here. Now."

Emmett and Ben both gave me a hug and kiss and Emmett got a smack upside his head when he tried to sneak another cookie. Damn idiot…I swear.

I made it to the shelter and then to the interview and the time passed quickly and I made it home in plenty of time to change into Capri pants and a t-shirt for the soccer game. I grabbed my sunglasses and Edward's old baseball hat from high school. I absentmindedly picked up my pendant and kissed, just like I always did when I thought about him as I made my way into the kitchen.

I stopped short when I saw Jake standing in the living room as he stared at a picture of Edward, the kids and I. It was the same one he told me he had in his office and I absolutely loved it. We took a ton of pictures at the lake. It was time to hang some new ones in here, I thought to myself as I looked at my walls, forgetting about Jake for a moment. I would keep my favorites up of course, but it was time to move forward and those pictures represented the past.

"Jake, what are you doing in here?" I questioned as I walked to the kitchen to grab some water bottles and put them in a small cooler after I filled it with ice. I also got the bag of sliced oranges I had cut earlier for Maddie and Masen. From experience I knew that since it was so hot out, oranges would help keep them from getting dehydrated.

Jake grinned at me, and it didn't come off as sincere as I am sure he hoped it did. "I just thought I would save you the trouble of coming to find me when you were ready to go is all," he said nonchalantly.

Seth and I would definitely be having a talk about this…soon, but I had a game to get to and I didn't want to be late so I let it go for now.

"Okay, well, I'm ready. We can go now," I said as I grabbed my stuff and made sure I had my cell phone…and that it was fully charged.

I would not make that mistake again!

We arrived at the game after an extremely uncomfortable car ride. Jake tried to make small talk by asking totally inappropriate questions about Edward and me. I shook my head as I got out of the suburban and tried to put it out of my mind. Maddie was what was important right now and not Jacob and his strange behavior.

"Bella!" I heard from my little protégé.

I couldn't help but giggle when I saw her with my shoes on as she ran towards me. I bent down to catch her as she flung herself straight into me, "I am so glad you are here!" she squealed as I kissed her all over her face.

"Pshh, like I would be anywhere else? This is like the place to be for tonight, didn't you know?" I laughed as I stood up and kissed her on the nose. "Are you ready for your debut?"

She squished her face adorably at me and asked,"What's that?"

Sometimes I forgot she was only seven years old. "Oh, sorry. I mean are you ready for your first game?"

Maddie nodded her head enthusiastically at me and said, "Yes! I even told Coach you were coming and he wants to meet you."

"Okay," I said as I held my hand out to her just as Edward, Masen, Ali, and Jasper walked up.

My whole body reacted to Edward's smile at me, and I glared at him when I heard him chuckle.

Like I have said before, smug, sexy jackass is what he is. But…he is mine so I can't complain too much.

He reached for me and pulled me to him and nuzzled my neck with his nose, "I've missed your smell baby…God I've missed you so fucking much."

I still had a hold of Maddie with one hand but that didn't stop my free hand from lightly grazing the front of his black cargo shorts. "I've missed you too Edward, so much. Just think, in a few short hours you'll be able to show me just how much you've missed me…and who knows, maybe I will return the favor?" I panted out to him as I flicked my tongue on his neck.

"Okay, you two, break it up. We're in a public place for goodness sake!" Alice exclaimed but then giggled at the expression on both of our faces. "Jesus, it's only been like sixty seconds, you can't have possibly forgotten you were standing in the middle of the parking lot at the soccer fields did you?"

We both looked at each other and shook our heads admitting with shrugs of each of our shoulders that we had indeed forgotten where we were.

"God, you guys kill me," Alice said as she grabbed the cooler from me.

Edward pulled me to him one more time and kissed me soundly on the lips…no tongue this time damn it, but it was just as well. "I love you Bella, and I really did miss you."

I patted his cheek and kissed it briefly before I told him, "Love you too Kit Kat. Let's get this show on the road; I can't wait to see my girl in action!"

"Bella!" Maddie giggled to me, "You're so silly."

"Whatever peanut butter cup. You're going to rock, I know it and you know it," I told her as Edward winked at me.

I walked over to Masen and held my arms out to him as he wrapped his arms around me so I could give him a hug. "Hey Mase Face, I brought you a treat. It's in my bag," I told him as I handed my bag to him.

"Bella smella, did you make these for me?" he squealed as he took out the baggie of cookies I brought for him.

"Well, I sure didn't make them for your dad, so I guess I did," I told him and laughed when he held the bag up in front of Edward.

"Daddy, look…all for me!" Masen giggled when Edward lunged at him and then threw him over his shoulder.

"We'll see about that little man, I'd be willing to bet Bella left some at home for us, didn't you baby?" he asked with a pout.

The Cullen pout, I swear to Christ it will be the death of me one day.

Jasper came and stood next to me and put his arm around me, "Does it sometimes feel like you have three kids instead of just two?" he asked me.

The feelings that flew through my body at his words were almost enough to drop me to my knees and when I turned to look at him his face was soft and his bright blue eyes glimmered in the late evening sun. "What? Anyone that looked at you with those two kids would automatically assume you were their mother just by the way you act around them."

"I love them so much…all of them," I whispered while I watched Edward chase Masen and his bag of cookies around the parking lot, much to the amusement of both Maddie and Alice.

He kissed the side of my head and said, "I know you do Bell. Did Seth show you?" he asked, not needing to elaborate in the least because he knew I would understand what he meant immediately.

I took a deep breath and nodded my head at him, "Yes, he did. And before you say anything," I said and held my hand up to stop the next question that was about to come out of his mouth, "Yes, I know I have to be more careful and yes I understand that either Seth or Jacob or both of them will be with me at all times from now on."

Jasper reached down and grabbed my hand in his and said, "I'm sorry Shortcake, but that's just the way it's going to have be from now on. You're too important to all of us to risk putting you in situation where there is no one there to protect you."

"Yeah, well, Seth and I will be talking about Jacob, that's for damn sure," I grumbled as I put my sunglasses on.

I started to walk off when he tugged on my hand, "What about Jake?"

Shaking my head at him I told him, "I don't want to talk about this right now Jas, tonight is for Maddie and I miss my man. We'll talk about it later."

I smiled at Edward who had turned to look at me; I felt the pull I always did when he was near by and I let my hand fall away from Jasper's and walked to the love of my life.

He immediately pulled me to him and I felt his body shift and relax as I put my arm around his waist. "Everything okay baby?" Edward asked me sweetly after we stood there for a few moments.

I looked up at him and couldn't help but smile and swoon a little bit…Edward Cullen is seriously the most beautiful man on the freaking planet. "Yeah, we have some things to talk about tonight when we get home, but it's nothing that can't wait."

Edward bent his down to mine and ghosted his lips over mine and whispered, "I can't tell you how much I fucking love it when you say home and I know I'm going with you."

"I know what you mean Edward; it's fucking amazing, isn't it?" I squealed at him like a little girl.

He kissed me on the tip of my nose and said, "You have no idea sweet girl."

"Bella, hurry, come on!" Maddie yelled as she ran up and grabbed my hand and began to drag me towards her team warming up on the field.

I was a little worried about how I would feel once I got out here but honestly, all I felt was excitement for her. No unease and no painful memories at all and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by that.

"All right baby girl, I'm coming. Geeze, you don't have to pull my arm off you know," I giggled at her as I looked at Edward.

He had a nervous look on his face, he was worried about me, but when I smiled at him and blew him a kiss, it was replaced immediately with a smile of his own. He turned to Alice and said something and they both made their way to Masen to find a place to sit and watch the game.

Jasper was behind us, and I chuckled when I saw the sheepish look on his face. "Jasper, hurry and get up here if you're coming with us," I said as I turned back around and bumped his shoulder when he was next to me.

"Sorry," he said quietly. "If I'm intruding just let me know. I just wanted to make sure you were okay."

"No worries BFF," I told him and left it at that.

"Coach! Coach!" Maddie hollered as we approached the man that was her coach. "Hurry and come here, this is Bella!"

I shook my head at her, I loved her to pieces but she didn't seem to realize that not everyone was going to be excited to see me as she was.

We approached the man and he gave me a startled look when he stopped in front of me. Great, he'll probably ask me to autograph a Sports Illustrated or something like that.

"Are you Bella Swan?" he asked, sounding somewhat incredulous.

Okay, this was different. No one ever used the name Bella and Swan was never, ever mentioned…anywhere.

"Um yes, I am," I answered back, not really sure what to make of the whole strange situation.

"Holy shit!" he exclaimed and then put his hand over his mouth and said, "God, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to blurt that out like that. I've been a big fan of yours since I saw you play in the US U-19 championship. You were an incredible player, I was so sorry to hear about your injury."

"Thank you…um…" I said because I didn't even know his name.

"Oh crap, right. Yeah, my name is Coach Scott. Scott Austin, it's an honor to meet you," he said as he grabbed my hand and shook it.

I couldn't explain what I felt at that moment if you would have paid me money to do so. I hadn't had anyone recognize me for soccer in such a long time it was a complete shock…and I had to admit, a very pleasant one at that.

"Well, it's nice to meet you too, Coach Austin," I told him as I gently pried my hand away from his.

"Oh please, call me Scott," he said as he looked back at the kids and I smiled when I saw Maddie juggling on the field.

"She's quite the little player; I assume that is your doing?" Scott asked me and pulled my attention away from Maddie.

I shook my head and said, "No, that's all her."

"Bullshit," Jasper said. "Don't let her fool you. She's worked with Maddie quite a bit and Bella is a phenomenal teacher."

"Scott, Jasper Whitlock. Best friend and my personal coach from the time we started playing league soccer at the age of eight," I said with a smirk in Jasper's direction.

"Oh, wow! Would you two like to help me with the warm-up? I would love to have your input," Scott said and I couldn't believe how excited I was at the prospect of coaching, even for just warm ups.

"Bella, I am so proud of you," Jasper said sincerely and kissed me on the cheek as we approached the field.

Coach Austin introduced the two of us, much to the amusement of Maddie and we spent thirty minutes going over some quick drills with them and I had a fucking blast.

By the time I made it over to Edward and Masen, my face almost hurt from smiling so much.

"You looked like you were having fun baby," Edward murmured softly to me as I sat next to him and got ready to watch the game.

"It was amazing Edward. I never thought I'd feel that way again," I told him, the awe I felt readily apparent by the tone of my voice.

"I love you so much Bella, it's incredible to see you so happy," Edward told me sweetly as he linked our hands together as we settled in to watch the game.

Maddie was the star of course and I was so proud of her…I barely had a voice left by the time the game was over with.

She ran off the field towards me and I wrapped her in a hug and spun her around as I kissed her face over and over again. "You were incredible Maddie, I am so proud of you!" I told her sincerely.

We made our way to the suburban and after a few very awkward moments between Jacob and Edward, we got the twins buckled in the booster seats I kept in the back just for them and we were off towards a celebration dinner at our favorite pizza place.

"I don't like the way he looks at you," Edward whispered in my ear as he maneuvered past Jake to help me out of the car once we arrived at the restaurant.

Edward glared at Jake who scowled back at the two of us as we stood on the sidewalk holding hands.

I squeezed his hand and pulled him down to me and whispered back, "This is about Maddie, we'll talk about Jake later at home, okay?"

He grinned at me and said back, "Home, I love the way that fucking sounds Bella."

Dinner was a lot of fun and we were only interrupted a few times by people that recognized me and wanted an autograph. Edward and the kids were very patient and understanding while Jacob, who should be the most used to that happening just stood there and looked cross at the whole thing.

The whole thing was fucking weird if you asked me.

By the time we got home, the twins were exhausted and after quick baths for both of them, Edward and I managed to get them each in bed with no fuss whatsoever.

After we kissed them each goodnight and got them tucked into bed we walked back towards my room where Edward promptly spun me around and pressed me back into the wall.

"Do you have any idea what it does to me Bella, to watch you kiss the kids before and tuck them into bed? What it does to me to watch you on the soccer field with Maddie or wrestle with Mase in the park? What it does to me to know that when I wake up in the morning I can look forward to seeing you at the end of the day, and know that I will be sleeping with you in my arms that night? Do you have any fucking idea what seeing you in that itty bitty bikini did to me yesterday?" Edward hissed out as he undressed me until I stood before him naked…panting and needing him so badly.

I shook my head at him and watched with lust filled eyes as he moved away from me and slowly undressed himself until all I could focus on was his hard cock…and damn if I didn't want it.

"This is what you do to me Bella; I want you all the fucking time baby," Edward said as he stroked his erection and I knew my eyes glazed over as I watched, completely mesmerized by what he was doing.

I dropped to my knees in front of him and looked up into Edward's bright green eyes and said in the sultriest voice I could manage, "Let me help you with that baby," and leaned forward to take him into my mouth.

"Oh fuck Bella…damn baby that feels so good," he moaned out as he wrapped my hair around his fingers and with the other hand rested it on my face.

I took him all the way in and felt him get harder with each movement in and out and when I swirled my tongue around him and lightly grazed the underside of his cock I felt his legs tense and then I felt his release, and I continued to suck until he was finished.

"Jesus Bella, that was fucking incredible," Edward chuckled to himself before he looked down at me. "I love you baby," he whispered as I wiped the corner of my mouth.

I kissed him quickly on his hip bone before I stood up and then Edward scooped me into his arms and pressed his lips against mine and said, "Now it's my turn to return the favor," and he promptly did just that…numerous times.


Thursday morning came very quickly but I can't begin to explain how amazing it was to wake up with Edward wrapped around me and know that I got to do it again the next day and the one after that, too.

I slipped from his grasp and smiled when I saw him immediately grab for my pillow and pull it to him; I pulled on a t-shirt and some boxers to go to the kitchen to start breakfast.

I had just started to pour the batter onto the griddle when I heard my two favorite seven year old voices giggle behind me. I turned to see them try to sneak up on me and when they caught me as I stared at them they broke out into a fit of laughter which caused Rufus to hop up from his bed and attack the two of them.

"Morning my little munchkins," I said to each of them as I kissed them each on the forehead. "Did you guys sleep okay?"

One of the things we were going to have to do if we decided to keep this arrangement up was to redo the guest bedroom. Jasper's double bed was still in there and I needed to take that down and replace it with a bed each for Maddie and Masen.

They each nodded their heads at me and when I said, "Good. That means you're plenty rested enough to come help me with the pancakes… come on."

They scampered in to the kitchen and waited for me to get a stool for each of them and then we proceeded to make breakfast. I had to make another batch of batter due to a few flipping mishaps, but we finally managed to make enough for the four of us.

"That has got to be one of the best things to wake up to in the morning that I can imagine," said my most favorite voice in the world.

I turned to Edward and my breath got caught in my throat as I took him in…holy shit!

Edward was standing there in a perfectly fitted black pair of dress pants and a light blue dress shirt and a light blue, dark blue and black tie on.

I stared at him, and I knew my mouth was hanging open and I couldn't be sure or not, but I'm pretty sure drool was involved as well.

He was fucking gorgeous…and mine.

Edward stalked over towards me, the smug smirk that killed me every damn time on his face and leaned down to whisper in my ear as he placed a finger under my chin, "See something you like baby? You better close that mouth before I stick something in it," and then he proceeded to lick all around my ear and when his warm breath blew in my ear and I shivered, he chuckled darkly.

I looked at him with pleading eyes and said, "Please tell me that is what I get to look at every morning before you go to work?"

He chuckled at me and went to kiss the kids good morning and fix himself a cup of coffee.

I wasn't joking, if I got to look at that every morning I was the luckiest damn woman on the face of the planet…hands down.

"Daddy, look! Bella helpded us makes breakfast!" Masen told Edward excitedly as he looked at the two of them and then smiled at me.

"It looks delicious little man. Let's eat and get a move on, I have to drop you two off at Nana's before I have to go to the office," Edward told them as we moved to the island and dug in.

It was bar none the best fucking breakfast I had ever had…but I think it had more to do with the company rather than the food.

I kissed Edward and the kids good bye at the elevator and when Edward said, "See you tonight baby. I should be home by 6:00," I thought my heart would explode I was so happy.

Thursday and Friday sped along as we settled into somewhat of a routine and it was the most amazing thing I had ever experienced. Sharing little things like reading together to the twins before bed or eating all together for breakfast made me realize just how much I wanted a life with Edward, Maddie, and Masen when this modeling thing was finished and I was free.

This was what I wanted to do with my life…spend it with the three of them.


It was Saturday before we knew it and Rose and Emmett were at the loft to head to the airport. I kissed Maddie and Masen over and over again and promised repeatedly that I would bring them home a surprise, that they would be coming back next week to spend the night again, and that I would still call before bedtime. I knew calling tomorrow night was going to be tricky because the movie would just be starting when it was their bedtime, but I would figure something out.

I couldn't drag out my goodbye with Edward either. Not only were we running late already, but I did not want to get on the plane a crying mess and it was only for a few days so I sucked it up and gave him a very passionate, but PG kiss in front of the building and then with our trademark blowing kisses, Emmett took off towards the airport.

"You okay Sweet B?" Emmett asked me.

"Not particularly Em, but it's only for a few days, I'm sure we'll manage," I told him. "Thank you for coming with us. I did not want Jacob to have to come with me…at all."

"Is there anything you need to tell me about that Bella?" Emmett asked in all seriousness.

I shook my head at him, Jake makes me nervous, but I was pretty sure it was just me. "No, but I'll let you know if that changes, okay?"

He nodded and drove us to the airport and away from the other half of my heart.


  1. Hmmmm... Kate, Jake & Jane. Take your pick, at first I thought maybe kate could be the stalker, cuz women can stalk just like guys... and I thought about jane, cuz she does have an inside with being the volturi group access. But as things progress and she keeps getting the inner warning, and his behaviour... he would have the easiest access working with Seth... trust your inner intuition Bella it's usually right~!

  2. Hmmm... kate, jake & jane... take your pick. At first I thought maybe kate, cuz there are women stalkers just like guys... maybe. then I thought about jane as she has access as being part of volturi group and she is a bitch... but the more we go along the more I tend to think it is jake just by his attitude and creepiness around Bella, not to mention her inner warning going off regarding him, even Edward feels it where jake is concerned... always trust your inner intuition Bella it will never stir you wrong. He has the easiest access to Bella because of Seth... and Seth will kill him ~ he trusts jake, Bella needs to talk to Seth as soon as she gets back~