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.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Chapter 28


Four damn days…that was how long it would be until Bella got back.

I had to say that since our talk the other day, things had been so much better it wasn't even funny. And, not that I wouldn't miss the hell out of her while she was gone, because that was just a given, but it was getting easier to deal with.

Yeah, I missed her and thought about her all the time just like I always would, but the desperate feelings I used to get had faded away now. I guess that was due to knowing that she would come home to me and the kids.

Home…motherfucker if that wasn't my all time favorite word these days. Well, I supposed Bella was still number one, but hell, that one ranked right up there. When she suggested Maddie, Masen, and I stay here a few nights a week, I couldn't really help the thoughts that immediately flooded my mind. I pictured us in a house, more than likely the one in Lake George and waking up every morning with her beside me. I pictured attending parent/teacher conferences with her, birthday parties, Christmas morning…and God damn if I didn't want it all.

I could tell she really believed me when I told her she would be a Cullen someday and I couldn't be happier about that. I would marry Isabella Marie someday…soon, and then we could get to work on making all those dreams I kept having, a reality.

"Daddy," Maddie said as she tugged on my hand.

We still stood in front of the loft and I turned both her and Masen to go back upstairs. We were all going to stay here while she was gone. Ma and Pop were away for the week with Uncle Marcus and Aunt Diane and since we had so much of our stuff over here and needed to take care of Rufus anyway, it made just as much sense to stay here as it did at home... well not home per se'…shit that was going to take some getting used to. I hope I don't confuse the kids. Bella and I were really going to have to sit down with them and talk about all of this. Not to mention Seth and Jasper were here which meant Ali and Tanya would be around to keep me company.

Yeah, it might be easier to deal with her being gone, but that didn't mean I still didn't miss the hell out of her and needed to stay busy while she was gone either.

"Come on guys, let's go back inside and stop in and see Jasper and Seth and then we'll figure out what to do with the rest of our day, okay?" I asked the two of them as we walked back into the building.

I made sure the door was locked and that the alarm was engaged and then we made our way up to the second floor to see what Jasper and Seth were doing.

Maddie and Masen were busy discussing what they thought Bella would bring back for them from California. They were going to be so surprised, especially Mase when they found out where she'd been. And, I had to admit, I was excited to see what she came back with. Whatever it was, I knew they would love it.

We stopped on the second floor and the two of them raced each other down the hall to Seth's door.

"What's up munchkin's?" Seth said as he opened the door, not even waiting for them to knock. I'm sure he heard them coming…they weren't exactly quiet in anything they did.

"Hey Seth!" they each hollered as they ran past him and straight to the Wii he had set up. He said he got it for the kids but I'm pretty damn sure he got it for himself and Jasper more than anything.

I smiled as the kids plopped down on the sofa on either side of Jasper and just got to it, barely giving him a second glance, but he did get a kiss from Maddie on his cheek. He got the manly fist bump from Mase.

"Did Bella get off okay?" Seth asked as I made my way inside his apartment.

I nodded my head and said with a sigh, "Yeah, Em just left to head to the airport."

His apartment was every bit as big as Bella's, just not quite as open.

I spied a pair of Tanya's favorite sunglasses on the countertop in the kitchen as we headed that direction to get a drink and at my quirked eyebrow, Seth just shrugged his shoulders at me.

"Is she going to be by later on?" I asked, feeling it wasn't necessary to elaborate for him.

He grinned at me as he poured me a glass of Coke and said, "Yeah, T's having lunch with her mom and then she'll be by. She'll be happy you're here though."

I smiled and nodded my head at that, I would be happy to see her, too. Between work and seeing my own patients, volunteering at the shelter, Foundation business, the kids and Bella, I didn't see as much of my best friend as I would like so the chance to catch up was more than welcome.

"Me too, man. I miss the hell out of her," I told him honestly, knowing he would understand more than just about anyone except maybe Jasper what I was talking about out.

"I hear ya," Seth said back, understanding just like I knew he would.

I chuckled to myself when I remembered he'd had dinner with Uncle Eleazar and Aunt Carmen. They weren't really my uncle and aunt, but like Tanya and my parents, I called them aunt and uncle since our families had been friends for so long.

Seth looked at me with a questioning glance when I laughed again and I said, "I was just wondering how your dinner went with Uncle El and Aunt Car the other night?"

Tanya was their only child and she was as spoiled by them as you could possibly imagine. Not that you could tell that from the way she acted because Tan was one of the most laid back people you would ever meet, but her parents certainly tried to turn her into a princess every time she turned around.

I loved Uncle El and Aunt Car as much as I did my real uncle and aunt…well Aunt Diane all the time, Uncle Marcus was still on my shit list more often than not for his flirting with my woman…but they were completely oblivious as to how their behavior affected Tanya, especially once we got to high school.

She was already disliked by the majority of the girls in school, Alice the exception of course. But Uncle El and Aunt Car just made it worse by showering her with gifts and throwing parties for her for everything they could think of. They made her attend the Debutante Ball and her graduation party was one for the record books. Everyone was jealous of her, girls because she was so beautiful, guys because they wanted to date her…or do her more likely, and she was just above all of it.

Tanya had been my best friend for almost half of my life and I couldn't be more ecstatic for her happiness right now if I tried. Seth made my friend smile and accepted her for who she was and that meant everything.

"Shit man, I wish someone would have warned me ahead of time!" Seth grumbled as he finished pouring himself a drink and sat next to me at the breakfast bar.

I snickered at him, "I take it Tan didn't tell you her mom liked to hug and kiss…a lot!"

Seth actually blushed as he looked at me, "Fuck no, no one told me and Tanya thought it was fucking hilarious when her mom tried to kiss me on the damn lips once dinner was done. I would bet you a thousand bucks that she tried to play footsie with me under the table when we were trying to eat!"

"Maybe the woman just couldn't resist the hotness that was Seth Clearwater," Jasper teased him as he stepped up to the counter and slapped him on the back.

Jasper slid onto the barstool on the other side of me and bumped my shoulder with his as he settled himself.

We both laughed at Seth when he glared at us and he mumbled a, "What the fuck ever," under his breath before he got up. "I'm going to play with the kids, at least they respect me," he said as he walked away.

"Fucking baby, he's been that way since we were five years old, I swear." Jasper said as he shook his head at his best friend.

There were times when I felt a twinge of jealousy over how well the four of them knew each other. There were things about Bella that I hadn't even scratched the surface on finding out and the three of them knew it all already.

Jasper walked to the fridge and pulled out two beers and after he popped the tops off both, he handed me one and said, "Come play some pool with me, we'll talk."

I glanced at the kids and realized they wouldn't even miss me, they were completely engrossed in Mario Kart with Seth and from the looks of it, they were tag teaming his ass and throwing everything at him they could manage.

"Damn, Mase, not another green shell…shit!" Seth exclaimed.

Mase hit pause on the game and held his hand out, "Give me two dollars Seth."

Seth looked at him, as confused as I was. I looked at Jasper and he shrugged his shoulders, too.

What the hell was my little guy up to?

After he pulled the dollar bills out of his pocket and handed them over to a very pleased looking Masen, Seth asked, "Ok little man, not that I mind forking over money to you, but what the hell was that for?"

Jasper and I both watched in amusement as Maddie put her controller down too and moved to stand up with her hand out now, "Gimme a dollars Seth."

By this time Jasper and I hung on to the other to keep ourselves from falling down we were laughing so hard. He glared at us and said, "I don't know what you two idiots think is so damn funny."

We totally lost it when both of them stuck their hands out and he slapped the money down in each of their hands before he took a deep breath and said, "Now, one of you tell me what the," he caught himself right in time and it was a good thing too because Masen was all over that, "Is going on…please?"

Masen shrewdly looked at him and said, "Let go of the money and we'll talk."

I looked at Jasper and whispered, "Emmett."

Really, was any other explanation necessary other than the name of my older brother? That was something that my brother had taught me from an early age, always get the money first.


Apparently not, since Jasper just nodded his head and we each turned our attention back to the deal making going on in front of us.

Seth reluctantly let go of each of the kids hands and flopped back onto the sofa and said, "Okay little dude, spill."

Mase counted the money out and gave Maddie hers, giving her the three dollars and keeping only the two for himself. I had a hell of a kid…no doubt about it!

He looked at Seth and shrugged his shoulders and said, "Easy. Aunt Tanya said you used bad words too much and to tell you, you had to pay me and Mad a dollar every time you said one."

"What the…are you…sh…fine!" Seth huffed and then took his wallet out. "Here's twenty bucks for each of you to start with," Seth said and then shook his head and sat down.

"Damn woman, I swear." he mumbled, but not low enough for us all not to hear him.

Masen cocked his eyebrow at him and Seth responded, "What? I already gave you twenty, I'm covered."

Maddie patted him on one arm and Masen the other and they both looked at each other and then back at Seth and said, at exactly the same time, "Thanks Seth, easiest money we'll ever make."

Seth burst out laughing and handed them each their controllers and said, "Okay munchkins, it's time for Uncle Seth to teach you two the meaning of road rage, let's play!"

At that, Jasper lifted his chin in the direction of the pool table that was set up along the wall of windows.

He grabbed the pool cues off the wall and I got the balls set up and he broke before he started to talk.

"So, how did the first week of your and Shortcake's new arrangement work out?" Jasper asked as he hit a ball into the side pocket.

I watched him as he walked around the table and set up for his next shot. I wasn't surprised he knew about what Bella and I had decided to try out, and to be honest I hoped he thought it was a good idea. Jasper and I hadn't really had much chance to talk to one another since the lake.

There was something about the guy that just made you want to spill all your deepest, darkest secrets to him and while that scared the ever living shit out of me only because Jasper was one intense guy, I also knew that I was extremely grateful that he had accepted me in Bella's life and that we were on our way to being really good friends.

I rested my hands on the pool cue that stood up straight on the floor and said, "It was…it was fucking great."

I know I probably looked the biggest fucking idiot on the planet with a huge ass smile on my face, but hell if I cared. It was fucking great…beyond that actually. It was perfection.

Walking to the table when it was my turn Jasper said, "I'm really happy for both of you Edward. It's been so fucking long since I have seen Bella this happy. Actually, I'm not sure I've ever seen her this way before. The way she is right now, is the real Bella…and that is because of you and Maddie and Masen."

Turning my head to him after I totally blew my shot, he nodded and said "I'm serious Edward. I won't lie to you, when Bella first told me about meeting you I had my reservations. But after watching the two of you…especially after the talk at the lake, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that you were the best thing for her."

I stood in front of Jasper and in the most serious voice I could manage since, admittedly I was a little shook up by what he just said, and I told him, "Jasper, Bella means everything to me man…everything. She is my whole world; I hope you believe me when I tell you that I will always do whatever I can to make sure she is happy."

He walked over to me and slapped me on the back and said, "I know that Edward…why do you think Seth and I have let you live all this time? You didn't think we would let just anyone around our Shortcake did you?"

I had to chuckle a bit at that but then I narrowed my eyes at him and said, "Speaking of letting people live, Emmett and I wondered what your intentions were in regards to our baby sister?"

The funny thing was, I wasn't really kidding. I knew how Ali felt about him, we'd talked about this already and I knew that she was in love with him. I also knew how excited she was that he was making his move to New York permanent and had no plans to go back to California even when Bella's contract was up.

Jasper gulped visibly under my stare and I gave myself an internal fist bump for being able to intimidate him. Like I've said before, Jasper was a scary dude. But, I thought it was only fair to give him the same scrutiny as he had given me. I didn't love Ali any less than he loved Bella so it was well within my rights to make sure his intentions were good where my sister was concerned.

But, as I stared at him he got this dreamy look on his face and it was then that I knew he loved Alice as much as she loved him. Jasper looked me straight in the eye and said, "I love her Edward. I knew from almost the very first time we talked that she was the one and I know it now with all my heart. I am so in love with your sister it makes you being all loopy over Bella look like a crush."

"Just know Jasper that if you hurt my baby sister, Emmett does own his own security business. I am sure he could hide your body if we needed to," I told him and then started laughing when I saw the shocked look on his face.

Jasper grinned at me and held his fist out for a pound, which I gave him, "I deserved that I suppose considering the shit I gave you about Bella. Guess we just love our girls a lot, don't we?"

"You know it J," I told him and then we finished our game making small talk and discussing Bella's schedule coming up and his move back to the city.

Tanya showed up not too much later and I spent some time visiting with her while Jasper and Seth took the kids to pick up some lunch. Ali showed up just as they got back with the food and we spent the rest of the afternoon playing video games with the kids and visiting with each other.

I missed Bella so much and wished she was here and it didn't seem the same without her, Em, and Rose. It was amazing to think that only a few short months ago I would have just hung out at my parents house with the kids or taken them to a movie and now we had a huge, crazy extended family of people we all genuinely enjoyed spending time with.

When I was finally able to pull the kids away from Seth and the Wii, we went upstairs and got ready for bed. Bella called just like she promised and after the kids told her all about her day, she told me about hers and what she had been up to since she got there. She had an appearance almost right away when she got in and then another one later tonight so she told me she would text when she got in and we said good night.

One day down Edward, I thought to myself when I crawled into our bed, only three more to go.


When I woke up on Sunday I had to admit to feeling just a little strange sleeping in Bella's bed without her in it or even in the same city. I smiled though when I remembered how happy she sounded last night when she called before the kids went to bed.

I didn't get to talk to her for very long due to the time difference and the fact that she had an appearance to go to for a restaurant opening for some hot shot actor that wanted to try his hand at owning his own place. I reached for my phone to read the text message I knew would be waiting for me and I couldn't help but smile when I read:

Just got in baby, the food sucked and the guy was an ass…what the hell are some people thinking? I miss you and I can't begin to tell you how much I love the thought of you at home, in our bed, waiting for me! I love you so much Edward…and I'm so happy with our new arrangement, I can't even tell you! Have a good day sweetheart, take the kids to the park; it's supposed to be a gorgeous day! Always, ~~ B

The park sounded like a great idea and I sure as hell didn't want to get on Bella's bad side from two thousand miles away so I got out of bed and jumped in the shower.

I planned on taking the kids to Mass first so I dressed quickly in a nice pair of jeans and a long sleeve dress shirt and went to the kitchen to make our customary pancakes. I doubted they would be as good as Nana's but I was willing to give it a shot.

While the griddle heated up I went to go wake up the kids, telling myself that I really needed to talk to Bella about doing something with the sleeping arrangements…and I realized I needed to have a talk with Maddie and Masen about a few things as well. I knew I had been wrapped up in Bella for the last couple of weeks, and I needed to reconnect with the both of them so going to the park today would be a great chance to do all of that.

"Wake up sleepyheads," I said as I kissed them each good morning and chuckled when they woke up rubbing their eyes.

"Uh…grr…mmm," Masen mumbled as he tried to pull the pillow over his head while my little princess hopped up and immediately latched on to my neck and gave me a sweet kiss on the cheek followed by a "Mornin' Daddy!"

Can you tell who the morning person out of our bunch is?

"Time to get moving you two, pancakes will be ready in a few minutes then we have to get to church. Father O'Connor gets mad when we are late." I said as I went to go finish making breakfast.

We did make it to Mass, just barely, and we got the evil eye from Father O'Connor as we slid into our usual spot. Of course he totally lost it when Maddie giggled at him and made him smile.

"Running late again, huh Edward?" Father asked me as we left the church.

"Sorry sir, Ma and Pop are out of town this weekend so I had to make the pancakes and get the WonderTwins ready to go all by myself," I told him as he bent down to give each of the kids a hug.

We had been coming to this church for as long as I could remember and he had been to the house more times than I could count for dinner.

"Esme tells me you have met a very special young woman?" he asked me as the kids ran to talk to a few of their friends from school.

I smiled when I thought about introducing him to my Bella…I would have to warn her when the time came. Father O'Connor was well known for his Irish charm that was for sure. Esme turned into a giggling school girl in his presence…it was quite embarrassing!

He chuckled beside me as I hung my head; the man had always been able to do that to me. There were very few people that had the ability to see right through me, but he was one of them…always had been.

"Yes sir, I have. She's very special," I said reverently.

"Her name?" he asked as he shook hands with a parishioner that passed by.

"Isabella Marie Swan," I said, feeling a little anxious at the prospect of introducing Bella to him.

I knew where the trepidation came from of course. When the time came for Bella and I to get married… and it would…I wanted Father O'Connor to be the one that officiated. He had baptized all of the Cullen children, Maddie and Masen included and he anxiously awaited the opportunity to perform all of our wedding ceremonies as well. His blessing was going to be needed…and wanted.

He patted me on the shoulder and said, "Beautiful name for what I presume is a beautiful woman."

I sighed, I just couldn't help it, "You have no idea Father, and beautiful doesn't even come close."

"Edward from the look on your face and the look on Esme's when she talks about the two of you, I would say a visit is definitely in order…the sooner the better, you hear?" he said as he gave me a brief hug.

"Yes sir, I am looking forward to it. I'll be in touch," I told him as I called for Maddie and Masen so we could head to the park.

"Enjoy your day with the children, son, and we'll talk...soon," he said pointedly.

Yep, I hoped Bella was ready; Father O'Connor would not wait for too long, that was a guarantee.

We made it back to Bella's to change and picked up Rufus in record time and we were on our way to the park before it was even eleven o'clock. I couldn't help but think back to the day Bella and I met so I pulled out my phone to send her a quick text:

Morning angel…on my way to the park with the twins thanks for the heads up about the weather. It is a perfect day…well as perfect as it could be without you. Say hi to Rose and Em; hope my brother is taking good care of you. Miss you baby…and love you even more. Have a good day! Always~~ E

Once I put my phone in my pocket and put my sunglasses on; Maddie stepped up beside me and grabbed my hand. My baby girl, she was growing up so fast and for the briefest of moments I felt pity for Lauren because she would never get to know what amazing children Maddie and Masen were. Not that by this point she could take any credit for it, but she missed so much by just throwing them away.

The two of them were my life, my reason for living and I still said a quick prayer of thanks every night before I went to bed for the blessings that they were.

"Daddy, are we gonna live at Bella's all the time now?" Maddie sweetly asked me and pulled me from my reverie.

Masen stopped abruptly and turned around to look at me and waited for my answer.

Well, it looked like the time to have that talk with my kids was upon me.

I looked up and we were at the entrance for the park and I motioned them to a tree off to the side where we could sit and Rufus could play while we talked.

We all sat down and I said, "Okay you two, let's talk. Mad, you asked if we were going to stay at Bella's all the time now, and the answer to that question is no…at least not for right now. Bella still has to be gone lots for her job and we decided that until she's done with her dumb job," I chuckled and bumped Masen's knee at his word, "we would stay with her a few nights a week and then the others we'll still stay with Nana and Papa."

"But why can't we stay there all the time?" Masen asked me.

Okay, this one was going to be tough to explain but I owed it to the two of them to try. I had promised them they could ask me anything and I wasn't going to let them down by pushing this off to the side.

"Masen, it sometimes seems like Bella has always been with us doesn't it?" I asked him and waited for him to answer me. When he nodded I went on, "It seems that way to me too, but she hasn't. There are still a lot of things that Bella and I need to learn about each other and that takes time. I know you two don't understand all this but trust me when I say that Bella is going to be a part of all of our lives for a very long time."

"Is Bella gonna be our mom?" Masen asked me quietly.


I knew this question was coming at some point in time but I had really wanted to talk to Bella first before I answered it. I knew what I wanted, and I was fairly sure I knew what she wanted, and what the kids wanted was blatantly clear, but Bella and I had never actually come out and said the words yet.

"Maddie and Masen, look at me, both of you," I said as I took a deep breath and hoped like hell I was about to say the right things. "Bella loves both of you very much; you both know that, right?" When they nodded their heads at me I kept going, "I love Bella very much too, just like you both do and at some point in the future I hope we can all live together always as a family. I want to and I know Bella does, too, but it takes time guys. Neither of us wants to mess anything up and the best way to not do that is to take things a little bit at a time."

"I love Bella, Daddy, so much," Maddie told me and I pulled her on to my lap and my heart felt like it broke apart when she said in a small, sad voice, "I want her to be my mom…I want a mommy."

"Why can't Bella be our mommy, daddy?" Masen asked in the same broken voice and I pulled him to me, too.

God damn Lauren to the fiery pits of hell I thought to myself but then as soon as I did, I thought about how much better our lives were without her in it so I concentrated on that.

I knew I wanted to marry Bella and I knew I considered us a family…and I knew she felt the same way, but how do you explain that to two seven year olds?

"I think the way things now are pretty good, don't you guys? Bella is your bestest friend, both of yours. We have a lot of fun together and it's really nice. Let's just have fun staying at the loft and having camp outs in the living room and taking all of Uncle Seth's money for right now and let things just happen," I said wishing that Bella was here with me.

I wanted to tell them that she was already their mother in every way that meant anything but I needed to talk to her first.

"Why didn't our real mommy want us, did she not like us? Did we do something to make her mad and go away?" Maddie asked and I couldn't help the tears that started when I looked at her.

"Oh princess…of course you didn't do anything wrong and you certainly didn't do anything to make her not like you. Neither one of you did," I said as I tried to keep from becoming a sobbing mess. "There is a lot more involved in being a mommy than just having the baby and your…birth mother," I choked out, refusing to call Lauren mommy…that was Bella and would always be Bella…"She just didn't think she would do a good job taking care of you so she let me do it all by myself."

"What if she tries to take us away from you and from Bella?" Masen asked with tears in his eyes and I pulled them both into a crushing hug.

"No, Masen, she won't. I promise you. If at some point you would like to meet her or talk to her, we can figure something out, but I give you my word that you will never have to do anything you don't want to," I forced out over the lump that was in my throat.

Jesus Christ this was fucking hard…I needed Bella.

"I don't ever want to talk to her, she's a bad person," Maddie said and while I agreed with my brilliant little girl, I did not want her carrying that thought around with her.

"Maddie she is not a bad person. She made a decision and she is the one that has to live with it. Besides, I think we've done pretty good with just the three of us, don't you?" I asked as I tried to lighten the mood some.

This was supposed to be a fun day for us and I was determined it would be. There was time to talk about this later, and when Bella was here to be a part of the discussion. This affected her as well and since we were a family, we needed to talk about it as a family.

"You are the bestest Daddy in the whole world," my precious little girl said as she blew a raspberry on my cheek and Masen did the same to the other and said, "Yep, you are."

I wanted to kiss and hug them for hours after that but instead I kissed them each on the head and said, "I love you both, so very much and I always will, okay?"

They each nodded their heads at me and then grabbed Rufus to go to the playground.

I laid back on the grass for a minute and pinched the bridge of my nose while I tried to get my thoughts in order and tried to put my heart back together again.

I hit speed dial #1 on my phone knowing that the voice on the other end would be the only one that could do that right now.

"Hey sweetheart," Bella said as soon as she answered.

I choked up so much when I heard her voice that all I got out was, "Bella."

"Edward, baby, what is it, what's wrong?" she asked frantically as I tried to get my breathing under control.

I was finally able to calm down enough to tell her what the kids and I talked about and she assured me I handled everything perfectly. Bella did admit that she had a feeling a talk like this was bound to happen sooner or later and she also said she knew we had more to talk about but for right now, it was just fine.

"Thank you angel, I don't know what happened but as soon as I heard your voice, I completely lost it there for a minute. Shit, I'm a mess," I snickered to her as I ran a hand through my hair and looked at the kids playing.

Thankfully it didn't look like anything we talked about had upset them too much…or even much at all and for that I was extremely grateful.

I wasn't foolish enough to think we wouldn't have to have more difficult discussions about Lauren the older they got, but for the time being it, looked like everything was all right.

"You're not a mess; you're a wonderful father and the man I happen to be head over heels in love with. You did fine Edward, I only wish I could have been there with you," Bella quietly said.

"I wish you could have, too," I honestly told her. "And, I am crazy in love with you too."

"Go enjoy your day with the kids baby; I'll talk to you a little later. Kiss them for me, and tell them I miss them, okay?" she asked.

"Okay, sweet girl, I will. Have a good day and give my love to Em and Rose. I love you Bella, so much," I told her on a sigh.

I did. I really, really, REALLY did.

"I love you too, Edward. Always and forever, you know?" Bella tenderly said.

"Always and forever beautiful." I blew her a kiss and then disconnected the call.

I meant it too, with all my heart.

The rest of the day was fun and carefree and we stopped to see Mr. Saul on our way back to Bella's and had our usual late lunch and by the time we made it home after stopping for ice cream, we watched a movie and then got ready for bed.

Bella managed to call before bed, but was only able to say a quick good night to the kids after telling them to be good for the next two days so they would get the surprise she had for them. I told her good night then, too, knowing she was going to be out late at the premiere.

The kids went straight to bed, not wanting me to give Bella a bad report and risk their presents and I followed right after.

One more night Edward, then my love would be back home with me…where she belonged.

Waking up Monday morning in Bella's bed without Bella in it sucked major ass, but it sure as hell beat waking up at Ma and Pop's all by myself. At least here, I could smell her on her pillow as cheesy as that sounded, and I looked around our room and saw our things mixed together. I glanced in the bathroom and saw her lotion next to my shaving cream, on top of the dresser my wallet and keys were next to the picture she had on there of her and her dad, beside the bed the tennis shoes I wore yesterday were next to Bella's.

I had never felt so fucking happy just looking at two pairs of shoes before, but I knew my happiness came from what they represented…not the shoes themselves.

The kids and I got up and got ready to go and I dropped them off at Ma and Pop's so that Alice could watch them during the day. She was going to work from her apartment anyway today so it worked out just fine.

I sent Bella a text, hoping she had her phone on silent since it was not even seven o'clock there yet and said,

Sleeping in our bed without you is no fun, can't wait until you are home and in it with me…naked! Love you so much baby…have a good day! Always, ~~E

After I saw my first two patients, I felt my phone vibrate in my jacket pocket and I smiled before I even looked at it knowing instinctively that it was from Bella and I was not wrong.

You and me naked in our bed…it's a date sweetheart! Can't wait to see you tomorrow. You are going to die when you see what I got you…and no it's not something you can take off me either…you perv! Have a great day; I'll talk to you later. Love you…Always, ~~ B

What can I say; my girl did know me rather well!

The day passed quickly with me giving Tanya the evil eye every time we passed each other in the hallway. She thought it was so funny…wait until I caught her letting the 'f' bomb drop, she better be ready!

Finally the end of the day approached and I'd managed to keep my distance from Kate for the most part. I still needed to talk to my dad about her and her extremely unprofessional behavior, but it would have to wait…again. At this rate, I would never get around to talking to Carlisle about her.

"Okay, BFF, I'm on my way to your…well, your part time house to pick up Maddie and Masen and take them swimming. You did pack their bag for them didn't you?" Tanya asked me as she poked her head in my office around four thirty.

I rolled my eyes at her, "Yes Tan, I did actually remember to get their bag ready. Shit…do you think I'm a complete idiot?"

She stuck her hand out and I grunted and glared at her as I placed a dollar bill in her hand, "I'll catch you one of these days T, you can f…bet on it," I bit my lip and shook my head at my own dumb ass.

"Not a complete idiot, E, just most of one," she said as she giggled and then left the office.

Grabbing a file from my desk, I got to work on some paperwork so that I could leave in a few minutes as well. I finished and left to head…home.

I walked out of the elevator and started towards Bella's door when I stopped abruptly. Her door was cracked open and I knew there was no fucking way it looked like that when the twins and I left this morning before I went to the office.

Approaching carefully and with my hand on my cell phone to call for help if I needed it, I pushed the door open and entered the loft as quietly as I could manage. I said a silent prayer of thanks that Tanya had the kids with her.

I sat my briefcase on the table inside the front door and proceeded to hear noises from inside the loft, the living room from the sounds of it. I knew it wasn't Seth, since he was with Tanya and the kids, and I knew it wasn't Jasper since he and Alice were having dinner and then they were going to stop by here so I knew whoever it was…wasn't supposed to be here.

My adrenaline pumped through my veins and I could feel my heartbeat accelerate as I made my way to the living room and what I saw made the hair on the back of my neck stand on its end followed quickly by a red haze of rage.

Jacob fucking Black stood in the middle of Bella's living room and he held the picture of the four of us from our first dinner in his hand. The scowl on his face left little to the imagination in regards to his feelings about me…and about Bella.

"Can I help you Jacob?" I said in a low, menacing voice.

The fucking asshole dropped the picture on the ground and the glass broke and shattered all over the damn floor when he heard the sound of my voice.

He whipped his head around and had the fucking nerve to look pissed at me for being here. "Edward…what… what are you doing here?"

I narrowed my eyes at him, was he fucking kidding me with this shit?

"Well considering I'm staying here and my stuff is in the bedroom I share with Bella, I think the better question is what are you doing here?" I asked as I stared him in the face.

He was mad…livid actually by my declaration and he shook he was so angry.

"What the hell is the matter with you, Jacob?" I asked him as he turned around and started breathing heavily.

He stood still with his back to me and his hands clenched in tight fists beside his thighs. "What do you mean you're staying here? Are you and Bella living together now?" he spit out to me as he turned back around to face me.

I ran a hand through my hair and tried to stay calm. I had no idea what he was doing here and I wanted to damn well find out and going off on him would not help me get the answers I needed so I took a deep breath and said in the calmest voice I could force out, "What I mean, Jacob, and not that it is any of your damn business, is that yes, Maddie, Masen and I are staying here while Bella is in California and we are going to begin staying here 3 or four nights a week as our schedules allow."

"But why are you staying here if she's gone?" He asked again, focusing on that aspect of what I just said instead of the fact that we were all going to be living here together, as a family, even though for the time being it was on a part time basis.

I rolled my eyes at the kid…and really, that's all he was. He may be a huge motherfucker but the tool was still only 22 years old.

"Because she asked me too Jacob and because I fucking feel like it, okay? Besides, she asked the kids and me to take care of Rufus while she was gone," I told him sharply as I looked down at the broken glass on the floor.

I began to walk to the kitchen to get the broom and clean up the mess. I was going to have to replace the frame and hopefully the picture was still okay. I heard Jake mutter under his breath as I walked past him, "She could have asked me to stay and look after the damn dog."

Spinning around I didn't even try to disguise the annoyance on my face, "What the hell did you just say?"

He stood tall and squared his shoulders at me and I did the same to him, not backing down a fucking inch. Idiot was insane if he thought he could intimidate me…fucking douche bag.

Apparently he had never been taught to respect your elders.

"I said," Jacob ground out as he tried to set me on fire with his glare. Too bad it wasn't fucking working there, pup, I thought to myself and didn't even try to stop the smirk I knew I now had on my face.

Jake narrowed his eyes at me even more when he noticed the smirk and he tried to stand up even taller. The damn kid already had a good few inches on me so I couldn't really figure out what he was trying to do but I let him keep going, hoping that by the time all was said and done Jacob fucking Black knew where the hell things stood around here.

He exhaled out through his nose and started again, "I said, Bella could have just asked me to look after her dog."

Oh, this was going to be rich…and fun.

I leaned back against the island of the kitchen and crossed my ankles and let my hands rest behind me against the counter top and tried to relax my features and spoke calmly, "And why pray tell, do you think she would have asked you to come all the way over here to watch Rufus when Seth and Jasper could have done it since they lived in the building. Or maybe she should have asked…oh, I don't know, her boyfriend… you know the man she is in love with." I may have stressed the word 'man' a tad bit more than necessary but hell, the kid was a piece of fucking work. "I'm confused here Jacob, why exactly do you think she would have asked you when any of those options were available to her. And while we're asking and answering questions here, why don't you tell me just what the fuck you are doing in here, when you knew perfectly well she wouldn't be?" I asked my voice had turned deep and barely contained.

I had had fucking enough of this dick head and I was done. Seth was definitely going to hear about this and so was Bella…as soon as possible. He creeped me the hell out and I knew he did the same to Bella. She had mentioned it on more than one occasion and she had told me about what he said the day of Maddie's soccer game, too.

Seth trusted him for some damn reason, but right now I didn't fucking care. He knew and I knew he shouldn't be in here and we both knew that whatever his reason for being here, it didn't fucking matter.

Jacob stood up tall and proud and tried to stare me down, and I had to really hand it to the kid, he sure as shit wasn't backing down one damn bit, but I was done.

"Now, why don't you tell me what you are doing in here Jacob and then you and I can both get on with our days, hmm?" I asked, not particularly caring that I sounded like an asshole.

He tried to hold my gaze but his shoulders gave way due to the intensity with which I stared at him. "I thought I left something the last time I was here so I came back to get it. Then I noticed the dishes and things out on the counter," he motioned towards the kitchen area, "so I took a look around to make sure everything was ok. I was just getting ready to leave when you showed up," he finished defensively.

Plausible, I had to give him that. I didn't believe him for one damn second but I couldn't prove that he was here for any other reason either.

"You knew Bella wasn't going to be back until tomorrow night, Jacob, why didn't you wait to come get whatever it was you thought you left here, then?" I asked as I crossed my arms and continued to watch him carefully.

He shrugged his shoulders casually at my question and I found myself rather conflicted. Either he was really good at lying and hiding things or he was telling the truth…and honestly, neither one of those options appealed to me in the least.

"I could have, but I was in the office downstairs and remembered it so I was just going to run up here real quick and grab it and like I said, I was just about to leave when you came in like you owned the damn place," he sneered the last part to me.

I thought of a not so nice comeback to that little remark but I was done with this conversation and more importantly, I was done with him.

The one thing I did know for sure after talking with him was there was no fucking way in hell that Bella would ever, ever be alone with him. If Seth couldn't go then Jasper or I would go, and if not us then I would get Dem, Em, or Ben…hell Uncle Marcus if I was desperate, but Bella would never find herself with just him again. That was a fucking promise.

I started to herd him towards the door and I could tell he was really fucking pissed but there wasn't anything he could do about it. This was my home now too…well part time and what he thought about it didn't matter one fucking bit to me.

Opening the door I stood aside so he could pass and I would swear you could almost see the steam coming out of his ears but I just smirked at him…that's right young pup, she's all mine I let my smart ass grin speak for me and I slapped him on the back just to be a prick…and just because I could.

He was all the way in the hallway now and I said as I turned to go back inside to my home, "I'm sure I'll be seeing you around kid, I'll be here plenty." And then I shut the door with a little more force than necessary.

I let out a very frustrated "Fuck!" and ran both of my hands through my hair as I took a few deep breaths. I walked to the fridge and pulled out a beer and after popping the top, drank half of it in one very long drink. I took another deep breath and looked around the loft to see if I noticed anything out of place and when I spied the broken glass, slammed my beer down on the island and went to get the broom and the dustpan.

As I walked over to clean up the mess I told myself that if the dickhead ruined her picture I was going to cut his balls off with one of the shards of glass, but after I picked through the glass very carefully, I was able to tell the picture was still in perfect condition.

Lucky motherfucker that kid was, that's all I was saying.

I got the glass picked up and thrown away in the recycling along with my empty beer bottle.

Resting my back against the island I sighed…for like the hundredth time since I walked in here a short while ago, I dialed a number and when the other party answered, I said, "Man we have a problem, come over here when you can. I need your help."

Once I got the answer I knew I would get, I went to change my clothes still looking around to make sure nothing seemed out of place.

It didn't but that didn't stop the creepy feeling of knowing that someone had been here from taking over.

I changed into some basketball shorts and a t-shirt and had no sooner pulled out two more beers from the fridge when I heard the elevator and then a knock on the door.

I started to say come in because I was fairly sure it was who I expected, but now I second guessed myself and frankly that pissed me the fuck off. I stomped to the door and looked through the peep hole before throwing the door open to see the very startled look of my other best friend.

"Jesus, Edward, you look like shit. What the hell is going on?" Ben asked as he followed me into the loft and to the kitchen where I handed him a beer.

I stood with my back against the refrigerator and told him everything, from the way Jacob acted at Maddie's soccer game, to the things he'd said to Bella, and the way he made her uncomfortable.

He opened his mouth to say something when I stopped to take a drink of my beer but I started talking before he could say anything. I then proceeded to tell him about the fuckery that happened today.

Ben's eyes about popped out of his head when I first started to tell him what happened and by the time I was finished he gripped his beer bottle so hard I thought he would break it.

"You're not shitting me, are you?" Ben asked as he stared at me.

I ran my hands through my hair and said, "I wish to hell I was Ben. I'm going to have to tell Seth and Jasper about this…and Bella too. The dude is one creepy fucker, I'm telling you."

"Damn, Edward," Ben said, apparently at as big a loss for words as I was.

"I'm telling you one thing though, there is no way Bella will ever be alone with him again. If Jasper or Seth can't be with her then I'll go or have Em go," I said as I threw our empty bottles in the recycle bin.

Ben slapped me on the back and said, "Well, count me in for that, too."

"Thanks, really," I told him as we made our way to the sofa and I turned on ESPN to watch the ball game that was on.

"No big deal," Ben said as he waved it off. "My best friend's girl needs help, I'll be there. Besides your girl is my girl's meal ticket!"

I laughed at his attempt to lighten the mood as we settled in to watch the game and he proceeded to fill me on how things were going with Angela. She had been introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Cheney who fell immediately in love with her.

I was so happy for Ben and Angela was perfect for him.

"So, they get back tomorrow night, right?" Ben asked during a commercial break.

"Yep, Bella said their plane lands about six o'clock," I told him with a sigh.

He chuckled to himself and said, "I know the feeling my friend, but it's not for too much longer."

I tended to forget that where Bella went, so did Angela and she usually had to go ahead of Bella to get things set up.

"Thank fucking God for that," I told him honestly.

We spent the rest of the game catching up and when he left we both promised to stay in better touch. We loved our girls, for sure, but our friendship meant too much to each of us to dick around with.

Tanya dropped my two very exhausted children off at home with a bag of Chinese take out for the three of us to eat around seven and after a phone call from Bella that they both were barely conscious for, I talked to my love for the first time all damn day.

She told me how her meeting at Twilight went and that Rose had managed to get most of their loose ends tied up. She'd arranged for someone to take over her shop and had all of her and Jasper's things shipped to New York. They were going to keep the house there so what didn't get shipped, stayed in the house. I knew Alice would be excited to find out Jasper was here to stay, especially after mine and his talk yesterday. They would be living together before too much longer, mark my words.

"Baby, you sound exhausted, you should get some rest," I told her when she yawned for the third time in the last five minutes. "You'll need to be well rested for when you get home tomorrow, you know."

"Oh, I know sweetheart, I'm sure the kids will keep me up all night," Bella giggled at me when I growled at her over the phone.

"You know damn good and well what I meant little girl, am I going to have to punish you when I see you?" I asked in a smooth, velvety voice.

I heard her gasp and then she whispered, "Damn it Edward! That is so mean!"

I laughed at her, enjoying the fact that she needed me as much as I did her. "Less than twenty four hours Isabella, then you're all mine."

"I'm always yours Edward…all the time." Bella sighed and it made me hard just thinking about getting her home and in this damn bed.

"As I am yours. Go get some rest beautiful, and get ready to come home to me and the kids. We've missed you baby," I told her as I tried to will my erection away.

"Home, God that sounds so good, especially when I know you three will be there," she said wistfully.

"I know Bella, and we always will be. I love you angel, be safe," I told her, not wanting to use the word good bye.

We tried to avoid it as much as possible if we could. It just didn't feel right to say it, because it would never be good bye, it would always be until I see you again.

"I love you too Edward, so much. Give my love to Mad and Mase too, I'm not sure they even knew what they were saying earlier," Bella chuckled.

"Will do sweet girl, now get some rest, you're gonna need it!" I laughed again when I heard her huff at me.

"Later baby," I said and blew her a kiss over the phone and laughed out loud when she mumbled, "Horny ass old man…I should make you hang up first."

"You wouldn't be that mean baby…maybe I'll have to let you punish me for being a bad boy," I purred to her.

"Or for being a perv, ok Edward, I'm going now…and you'll just have to wait and see who punishes whom. Go take a cold shower Kit Kat…I will be home to you in less than twenty four hours."

She giggled when she heard me groan and the she hung up.

Damn, I loved the hell out of that woman…even if she was going to be the death of me someday!


Ma and Pop got home late last night and Esme was anxious to see her grandchildren so after a quick breakfast with my parents and kids I was off to the office…but not until after I promised to take Ma to lunch in the next few days and catch her up on everything. From the look she gave me I knew I was in for an ass chewing since we hadn't had a chance to talk since the dinner here before they left on their trip…and the one where I acted like a lunatic.

So, I was going to take my punishment like a man and told her I would be happy to have lunch with her as soon as possible.

Mama's boy…through and through.

The text I received from Bella late in the morning made me laugh out loud and that earned me a dirty look from Kate when she saw me put my phone in my pocket. I rolled my eyes at her and went about my day, working through lunch so I could leave after my last patient at two o'clock.

I was pissed that I was going to have to tell Bella tonight that I had to go out of town on Friday for a meeting for the Foundation. Some kind of issue had come up and Uncle Marcus, Carlisle, Demetri and I were flying to Washington, DC for an emergency meeting on Saturday. Luckily I would be home late Sunday night, but I was still pissed I had to leave at all, especially since Bella would have just gotten back.

"Do you have a hot date tonight or something, Edward?" Kate sneered at me when she noticed me packing my briefcase before I left.

I was taking the morning off tomorrow so I could spend it with Bella and the kids and then going to the shelter in the afternoon so I wouldn't be back until Thursday.

As I closed my briefcase and grabbed my suit jacket I turned to her and said, "Yes Kate, I do. Maddie, Masen and I are making a welcome home dinner for Bella. She's been gone since Saturday and we wanted to do something nice for her."

When I looked at her as I picked my briefcase up and started to walk out the door, she looked like she wanted to say something but instead she just narrowed her eyes at me and turned and walked out. Shrugging my shoulders, I turned my lights off and left the office, not even giving her a backward glance.

Smiling, I thought of Bella and tonight and nothing else but her mattered at this point!

I hurried to mom and dad's and picked up the kids and then we stopped at the market on the way to the loft to get the things we needed for tonight. Maddie and Masen were very specific in what they wanted but we were in and out relatively quickly.

We all changed our clothes and after we relaxed for a bit, we got to it.

I looked at the clock in the kitchen and then obsessively checked my watch to make sure the clock wasn't off. Bella should be home in less than an hour and we still had so much to do.

Maddie was busy picking up the living room and Masen was busy setting the plates…very carefully, on the table in the dining room. He was very dedicated to his task though and I couldn't help but chuckle as I saw him move a plate a few inches to left only to step back and then move it back to the right.

They were both so damn adorable right now, especially since this dinner was their idea. Maddie kept fluffing the pillows in the living room and Mase was still studying the table with a discerning eye.

"Okay guys, the pillows look great Mad, and Mase, the plates are in the perfect position," I told them, getting both of their attentions at the same time.

"But Daddy, this one looks off center, come see!" Masen said sounding so much like his Aunt Alice it was scary.

The kid was definitely spending too much time with my tiny type-A terror of a sister but I did as he asked just the same.

I looked at the table and was more than a little impressed with the effort he had put in to making everything perfect. Beside Bella's place was a pile of pictures the kids had drawn for her while she'd been gone as well as the picture frame Esme helped the kids make to replace the one that got broken.

To say Jasper and Seth were outraged when I told them about finding Jake in Bella's loft yesterday would be the fucking understatement of the year. I had to literally restrain Seth from hunting the kid down and killing him on the spot but that was nothing compared to Jasper. I always knew he was a scary motherfucker but seeing it in person was even worse. He got calm…eerily calm and his eyes were as hard and as cold as anything you could ever dream up.

We decided to let me tell Bella about Jake and then the two of them would talk to her and see what she wanted to do about the whole situation. I knew what I wanted, but I would talk to her first.

Picking up the picture, I couldn't help but smile at it. Esme had taken the kids to the Clay Café to paint a frame for her. It was a mess…but perfect at the same time. Since we only had one picture, Esme drew a line down the middle and let each one paint what ever they wanted on their half. On Maddie's, she had tried to paint a soccer ball, a peanut butter cup from the looks of it, some polka dots and some flowers. Masen of course tried to paint a drum, Rufus, a purple Skittle and happy faces.

Bella would love it!

What Bella would not love was the reason the frame needed to be replaced in the first place, but I was pretty sure the new frame would soften the blow…at least a little bit.

I checked my watch again and said a very quiet, "Shit," under my breath. Since Tanya's brilliant plan to get Seth to watch his language around the twins, those two had their hands out every time one of us started to open our mouths. I always tried to watch my language when I was around them but it was funny how the prospect of handing over cash to my two seven year olds curbed my instinct.

"Okay, you two, go dress in the clothes that we laid out on your bed and then come help me finish cooking. Bella will be here in about thirty minutes so we need to get a move on," I told them as they scurried off to the guest room…well I guess now it was their room.

We had actually brought some of their things over here when I picked them up from Ma and Pop's.

I still saw red when I thought about walking in here yesterday with the two of them with me. Jacob was a lucky son of a bitch, that's all I had to say.

The water was boiling on the stove and just as I was getting ready to call the kids in to help add the spaghetti, they walked in. Maddie had picked out a cute sundress to wear and Masen had on some cargo shorts and a Polo shirt. Both of them were still in their bare feet, but that was just fine. I pulled out the stools Bella had for each of them and the three of us got to work on finishing the food for dinner.

"Daddy, do you think Bella likes sghetti?" Maddie asked as she broke apart the long noodles in half to add to the boiling water.

"Yes, princess, I do think she likes sghetti just fine. As a matter of fact, I happen to know its one of her favorites," I told her with a kiss on her nose.

She giggled at me and I couldn't begin to try to pick through all the things I was feeling cooking for my love with the two of them. It was like we were a true, real family and I would be a lying fool if I didn't say that that thought filled my heart with more happiness than I thought I would ever know.

Bella was the missing link in our perfect circle and now that she was a part of our lives…and I planned to make sure she always was, it was everything I thought I could need…and so much more.

I looked at Masen who was busy tearing the lettuce for the salad, "Daddy, is this nuff lettuce?"

Of course it was way more than the four of us needed but I would never tell him that so instead I said, "Yep, little man, it's just right."

The gap in his smile made me laugh and I knew that Masen was beside himself in anticipation for the tooth fairy to come tonight. It was his first tooth since Bella came into our lives and of course he wanted to call her right away and tell her about it but then decided he wanted to surprise her instead.

The sauce was simmering in the sauté pot and the garlic bread was sliced, buttered and wrapped in foil in the oven. The kids helped me carry the wine glasses to the table since they had begged and pleaded to drink their milk in the 'big people' glasses like Bella and I. We had even picked out the same flowers that the kids had given her that very first time, daisies from Maddie and purple lilacs from Masen. I knew she would remember because she just remembered shit like that all the time.

Damn show off…not that I ever forgot anything when it came to her either, so I didn't have much room to talk.

My phone buzzed and I knew right away who it was from and I wasn't wrong.

Hey sweetheart, on the way from the airport now…should see you in less than 15…can't wait! Always, B

"Okay troops, we're in countdown mode now. Let's check off everything and make sure we've got it all…dinner ready?" I said.


"Bella's frame and personalized art work by one Masen Samuel and one Madeline Grace?"


"Rufus walked and fed?"

They looked at each other and ran to the food bowl to make sure the little guy had eaten earlier. They took their job very seriously that was for sure.

"Check!" they hollered from the kitchen.

"Dessert ready and waiting for after dinner?"

They giggled knowing how much Bella would love our surprise.

Maddie and Masen each nodded their heads and when they looked at one another they started laughing but said, "Check!"

I clapped my hands and said, "Great, let me drain the pasta and then we're all set for Bella. Mase take the bowl of salad to the table and Maddie take the basket of bread we just finished cutting then all we have to do is wait for Bella."

As soon as I had the pasta in the colander, and Maddie and Masen put their things on the table, we heard the elevator and I swear I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest.

Shit, what the hell was the matter with me?

I knew what it was though, it was the fact that she was coming home…to us. We were slowly merging our lives together and this was the first time she had done this since we started staying here, so this was a big deal. Maddie and Masen were bouncing up and down on the balls of their little bare feet and the moment was so heartwarming and tender it literally brought tears to my eyes.

Jesus Christ I was so damn lucky it wasn't even funny.

And not for one solitary second did I take having her in my life…and in the lives of my children for granted.

When she stepped off the elevator and saw us standing in the hallway waiting for her she froze for about forty five seconds while she drank us in and then she flung her bags on the floor and ran to us and threw her arms around all three of us.

"Oh my God, you have no idea how much I missed you guys," my angel said as kissed each one of us in turn.

I held her face in my hands as she got to me once she was able to extricate herself from the very firm grips of my two children, "Bella, baby, I missed you so damn much. Welcome home angel," I told her as I brushed my lips across hers and then rested my forehead against hers and allowed our electricity to flow all around us.

Masen giggled as he poked me on the arm with his very strong index finger; damn I was going to have a bruise! He stood there with his hand out and I sighed as I reached in my pocket and placed a dollar in his little palm. The kid was going to be able to buy a fucking car when all was said and done between all of us. I am seriously having a talk with my best friend…as soon as it was humanly possible.

Bella looked at me with her eyebrows raised and I kissed the tip of her nose before I chuckled and we all stood up, Maddie still very much attached to Bella's leg.

"I'll tell you later baby, suffice it to say…watch your mouth around the little language police here, trust me…you'll be broke in no time. I think they've already got almost forty dollars a piece! And, that's just since you've been gone!" I laughed at her shocked face.

Masen tugged on her hand and Bella bent down and kissed his cheek before he told her, "It's more like fifty Bella…most of it was from Uncle Seth and Uncle Demetri but Daddy helped too."

"He did, did he? Well, you'll have to tell me all about it," she was saying when I walked in after getting her bags from the floor in the hallway.

As soon as the door closed she looked at me and smiled and said, "I missed you Edward, so much."

"It was the same for me sweet girl," I told her softly as I ran the back of my hand down the side of her face relishing the tingles I got when my skin met her very soft skin.

Bella looked around and noticed the table with the flowers on it and looked at me with tears in her eyes, "What is going on?" she quietly asked.

I reached for her hand and said, "You need to ask the WonderTwins that one baby, this was all their idea."

If it was possible, her eyes filled with more tears and she struggled to get control of her emotions before she squatted down and wrapped an arm around each one and said, "Spill it, you two."

Masen grabbed her face in his little hands and squeezed it so hard she had a fish face, which looked even worse since she was smiling so big at him, "We wanted to surprises you. We missded you."

"We did Bella. We love you." Maddie said as she tried to give her a kiss on her squished lips.

"Mase, buddy, let go of Bella before she stays that way, then what are we gonna do with her?" I teased as she tried to glare at me but she was too happy to even pull it off even a little bit.

"Oh you two, I love you so much!" Bella giggled as she stood up.

Bella followed me into the kitchen and helped me get the spaghetti put on a platter to carry to the table and after we grabbed the glass pitcher of milk for the kids and the bottle of wine for us we made our way to the dining room so we could eat.

Dinner was loud and boisterous as Maddie and Masen both tried to tell Bella different things…at the same time. I sat back and watched and with each passing second became more and more firm in my belief that I couldn't wait to make her my wife. I wanted this…every single day for the rest of my life and I wouldn't stop until I had it.

As we were finishing up dinner, Bella excused herself and went to her suitcase. I took the opportunity to clean off the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher and then got her gift from the table and met her and the kids in the living room.

"Okay, you two. Daddy said you were good while I was gone so I suppose you deserve your presents now," Bella told Maddie and Masen as they bounced up and down on the sofa.

She handed them each a gift bag and once I heard Masen's "No way, this is so cool!" and Maddie's "She's my favorite!" I knew Bella's presents were a success.

They each pulled out a t-shirt with their favorite character from the Toy Story movie on it…Buzz for Mase and Jessie for Maddie. She had also given them each a signed picture of Bella with Buzz and Jessie as well as some other odds and ends she got from the premiere.

She handed me a bag too, with a smile but a nervous expression as well. "I hope you like this Edward."

I kissed her quickly because it didn't matter what it was, I would love the hell out of it but when I took out the picture I couldn't help but gawk for a few seconds before I laughed. She had taken a picture with Tom Hanks and had him write a message to me and sign it.

I chuckled when I read what he had written…She's a hell of a girl, you're a lucky man Edward! But your brother is one scary guy! Best wishes…Tom Hanks.

Bella told the kids all about the movie and then I motioned to the two of them to come take the gift they had made for her and give it to her.

She opened it and when she saw the picture…and the frame around it, she began to cry very softly.

"It's beautiful you two, thank you so much!" Bella giggled as Masen tried to wipe her face and she kissed them each on their cheeks before she sent them to their room to go get changed for bed.

She walked over to me and gave me a long, searing kiss that set my whole body on fire and I couldn't help but growl as she purposely rubbed her hand against my crotch.

"You better watch it Bella, it's almost time for the kids to go to bed," I told her as I sucked on the soft skin behind her ear.

Bella looked at me with lust filled eyes and purred, "Who says I want to watch anything baby? I think someone said something about deserving a punishment?"

The kids showed Bella all the pictures they drew for her while she was gone and we finally got them to go to bed when they couldn't hold their heads up any more.

After we got them in bed I grabbed Bella's hand and drug her to our room. As soon as I had the door closed, Bella had her legs wrapped around my waist and her hands in my hair as we kissed like we hadn't seen each other in months instead of just a few days.

Was it completely insane to be so consumed by her that being away from her for even a few days turned me into a love starved lunatic…who the hell knew. The only thing I did know was that when we were apart, I felt like a piece of me was missing and when she was back with me, I felt like I could breathe and like my whole world just came into focus.

"I missed you so fucking much Bella," I panted to her as I pulled her shirt out of her pants and threw it on the floor when I had it off.

I attacked her exposed collar bones, Jesus they were the sexiest things I had ever seen. I was a bit afraid I had an unnatural obsession with them but as I licked her from shoulder to shoulder and felt her shudder in my arms, I couldn't find it in me to care one damn bit.

Bella ran her hands through my hair and when I felt her nails scrape my scalp, I growled into her neck where I had turned my attention to.

She was grinding herself against my extremely hard cock and I could feel how warm she was through her pants.

I stood her up and knelt down to unbutton her pants and pushed them and her panties down in one smooth motion. I always liked to see what she had on underneath her clothes, but I was in too big of a hurry to be buried deep inside of her to care right at the moment.

I reached up and put my hands on her ass…god damn if I wasn't obsessed with her ass too, and pulled her closer to me and when I touched her clit with the tip of my tongue, the groan that escaped from her made my dick hard as a fucking rock.

"Mmmm, Bella, you are always so wet for me baby, and you always taste so fucking good," I murmured as I sucked her clit into my mouth and continued to lick and suck on her clit until I felt her juices run into my mouth.

"Edward, please…I need you inside of me…now, oh please," Bella begged me once she was able to speak.

I stood up and pushed my jeans and boxer briefs down as I felt Bella grab my shirt and try to pull it off of me.

When I was as naked as she was I pulled her to me and kissed her…hard and led her to the bed. I turned us so that I landed before she did. I wanted her on top of me this time, wanted to feel her body move over every inch of me and as I gripped her hips and lifted her up, I knew I was right to want this.

Jesus she felt so fucking good as I lowered her onto my hard cock.

"Fuck Bella, you have no idea how good it feels to be inside of you like this," I rasped out as I lifted my hips off the bed and pushed even farther inside of her.

She raked her fingernails down my chest and I literally thought my body was on fire it felt so damn good.

"Shit Edward…oh god that feels…fuck, so good," she breathed out as I hit that spot inside of her that made her pussy clench me tight inside of her.

I sat up and wrapped my arms completely around her and wound my fingers through her hair and pressed my tongue deep into her mouth.

"I love you so fucking much baby," I said as I rolled my hips towards her as she moved up and down on me.

Reaching my hand down between us, I pressed on her clit with my thumb and said in an uneven voice, "Come for me Bella…please, I need…Jesus…"

She arched her back as I continued to press and rub her clit and when I felt her silky hair brush the tops of my thighs and felt her fingernails dig into my legs, I could tell I wouldn't last much longer.

Bella was so fucking exquisite when she was like this, totally uninhibited and wanton, and it turned me the fuck on like nothing else.

I held onto her hip with one hand while the other still massaged her swollen clit and when I took that little nub between my fingers and pinched, I knew she was about to fucking lose it.

"That's it baby, come for me now…come Bella…give it to me…" I commanded her as her breath caught…damn if I didn't love it when she did that; she came and she was fucking spectacular.

I followed right behind when her muscles clenched around my cock and she continued to writhe against me until I was finished.

Bella threw her head forward and rested it against my shoulder until her breathing slowed to its normal rhythm.

She kissed my neck a few times, her warm breath sending chills down my overheated body. "I love you so much Edward, thank you for such an amazing welcome home…the dinner, the gift, the kids…you, it was…it was perfect," she said sweetly as she kissed me briefly on the lips.

I stood up with her wrapped around me and walked us to the bathroom and as I turned the water on and stepped in I kissed her softly and whispered, "I will always be here to welcome you home angel…forever and always, remember?"

We both crawled into bed, exhausted but satisfied…for the time being at least, and I for one, knew I was exactly where I wanted to be for the rest of my life…with Bella.


Wednesday passed in a blur and Bella took the news of my impending trip like I thought she would, disappointed, but resigned. We were becoming rather used to being apart it seemed…I didn't think I liked that very much.

Bella, the kids and I spent the morning at the park and then we stopped for lunch before I had to go to the clinic. She was going to go over and visit Esme with the kids and then stay to have dinner with us at Ma and Pop's. The kids were going to stay there until Friday night when they would stay the weekend with Bella while I was gone. She was so excited and got a very mischievous gleam in her eye whenever I would question what she had planned for them to do the two days I would be gone…and she would answer with a shrug of her sexy shoulders…yep, obsessed with those too it appeared…and a smile.

Whatever it was, I trusted her and if she was happy then so was I.


I got to Bella's a few minutes late to take her to dinner. I wasn't happy at all about having to go to this stupid meeting for the Foundation, but it was part of my duty as a Cullen to attend so I would do it. Another two fucking nights away from her…damn it…but it was just another thing to get through.

I walked in, glaring at the door knob when it turned and opened without having to use my key and told myself to make sure I told Bella to knock that shit off. With the crap with Jake and the letters, she needed to be more fucking careful.

"Baby, are you almost ready, we're going to be late!" I hollered as I heard a muffled, "shit" from our room.

She walked out smoothing out her dress and stopped abruptly when she heard my sharp intake of breath. I groaned when she picked her head up and looked at me. Holy fuck she was stunning.

Bella was wearing a simple black dress with thin straps and some black strappy sandals. Her toes were painted my favorite shade of pink and the only jewelry she wore was her pendant. She had straightened her hair and it hung down past her shoulders and it was so shiny and looked so soft that my fingers ached to touch it.

Have I mentioned my obsession with her hair, too?

She stopped and stood still in front of me while I continued to stare at her.

"Edward, baby, what's wrong? Do you not like this dress?" she innocently asked me.

"Isabella Marie, I fucking love that dress. I fucking love you wearing that dress. I am going to fucking love taking that dress off you before I make love to you in our bed when we get home tonight," I told her as I peppered her sexy as fuck shoulders with kisses. "Now let's get the hell out of here before we lose our reservation."

We made it to the restaurant in record time, apparently tonight was going to be perfect since we managed to avoid almost every red light between the loft and the restaurant.

I glared at the valet as he tried to help Bella out of the BMW and she glared at the overly flirtatious hostess that took us to our table.

I reached down and grabbed her hand and laced our fingers together before I picked them up to my lips and brushed my lips across her knuckles; I couldn't help the chuckle that escaped as I let the tip of my tongue flick against the soft, sensitive skin of her hand.

Bella tried to glare at me but her eyes softened immediately when I pressed a gentle kiss on the inside of her wrist and then pulled her close to me to follow the hostess to our table. I was so completely absorbed in being next to Bella that I almost tripped over my feet when Bella abruptly stopped.

The shocked look on her face was enough to cause me concern but it was when I looked in the direction she was staring that I got…confused.

Jane Volturi was sitting at a table just off to our left and was having a very intimate conversation with her dinner companion from the looks of it.

"Baby, what's the matter?" I asked her as I tried to usher her forwards to our table.

I thanked the hostess with a quick nod of my head and helped Bella into her seat. Bella for her part had barely looked away from Jane and her date at all during the past three minutes.

"Bella, why are you looking at Jane like that?" I asked her as I finally got her attention.

She shook her head and took one last look in their direction before she looked at me. "I'm sorry Edward. I didn't mean to freak you out like that," she said.

I took her hand in mine again and said, "Angel, why do you look like you've seen a ghost?"

Bella took a deep breath and let it out slowly and then told me, "Not a ghost Edward. That man, the one Jane is having dinner with? That is Ian…my old boyfriend from college Ian."

The flash of jealousy that raced through my body left my stomach feeling like it fell out of my ass and landed on the floor.

Ian? The Ian that had sex with my Bella. That fucking Ian?

I sat back in my seat and ran my free hand through my hair and took a few calming breaths before I looked at Bella. She looked positively terrified and I immediately felt bad.

Shit…it wasn't like we hadn't talked about him before…and it wasn't like we weren't bound to run into someone from my past at some point in time either.

Bella looked down so I reached over and lifted her chin with my finger and whispered, "Sweet girl, you have nothing to worry about. I'm sorry if I overreacted…you know how I am when it comes to you."

Of course right at that time a fan came up and asked for her autograph which she of course gave with a smile.

"I'm sorry I ruined our night out Edward," she softly said when the admirer left.

I picked up her hand and kissed it again, and told her, "Baby, nothing could be farther from the truth. Now pick out something positively delicious to eat and let's enjoy our date."

We ordered our food and shared a bottle of wine and completely forgot about Jane…and Ian until I felt someone's presence beside us.

"Bells, is that you?" came the masculine voice that could only belong to the tool more commonly known as Ian.

Bella placed her napkin on the table and stood up with a hesitant smile on her face. "Hello Ian, it's wonderful to see you again. How are you?" she asked as she gave him a brief hug.

I had to clench my fists under the table and I bit the inside of my cheek when he turned and kissed her cheek, letting his lips linger there for entirely too long in my opinion.

"Jesus, Bells, you look sensational!" he exclaimed and I wanted to punch him in the face.

Bells…what the fuck was he doing calling my Bella…Bells?

"Um, thank you. Ian, this is my boyfriend Edward Cullen, Edward this is my old friend Ian Murphy," Bella said somewhat awkwardly.

I stood up to shake the assholes hand and my suspicions about him were confirmed when he tried to squeeze my hand. Motherfucker tried to intimidate me…what the hell was it with these punk ass kids?

"Nice to meet you Ian," I said smoothly as Jane walked over to join us.

"Isabella, fancy seeing you here," Jane said, sounding completely insincere. "And with Edward too, now this is a surprise," she said and my bullshit radar went into overdrive.

"Hello Jane," Bella said politely as she looked at me and cocked her eyebrow.

Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought it was strange that Jane just happened to be here, with Bella's ex-boyfriend no less.

"Aro will be so disappointed he missed an opportunity to see the two of you together, and out in public too," Jane said in a voice that would grate on anyone's nerves.

"Yes, well, Bella and I were just trying to have a nice dinner out, no big deal," I said and hoped they would take the hint and move on.

After a bit of small talk and Ian's continued request for Bella to give him a call, they finally left us.

Bella looked concerned as she sat back down and we hurriedly finished our dinner and made our way home.

As we crawled into bed, I wrapped my arms around Bella and pulled her close to me and I couldn't help the last though I had before I drifted off to sleep.

Jane was up to something…I just didn't know what.

1 comment:

  1. Enter another piece of trouble and yes Edward you have every right to figure the bitch is up to something... she's gonna try to use ian to come between you and Bella... keep your guard up~!
    Well, everyone is now on the same page about jake, I told you Seth would want to kill jake, LOL saw that coming a mile away...
    The kids were so cute about making dinner for Bella and the day in the park was a humdinger for Edward, but he handled it great, Bella said so, *smirk*