Title: Life's Gifts
Author Penname: TwoTwiMoms
Summary: Raised by her Grandparents; the only family she's ever known, Bella is swept off her feet when a new History teacher starts at the same school where she teaches. When her grandfather falls ill, Edward becomes her saving grace – but he's not the only gift that life has to give her.
Warnings: You may need to grab some tissues
This story was written for the Christmas Wishes compilation. We want to thank everyone who contributed to a worthy cause.
Thank you to our wonderful beta darcysmom who is always there with encouraging words and makes our writing look so much better. We love you! Also thank you to Illicit Writer for the beautiful banner you can check out on our blog or profile. Make sure to check out her work it's really awesome!
"Gran? Is everything all right?"
"Bella, honey, I need you to come home, Papa's sick. I need you to help me get him to the hospital."
"Gran … hang up and call 911. I'll be there as soon as I can."
I carried my lunch tray over to a table where a few of the other teachers from Forks High were sitting. There were a few familiar faces and a few that were not so familiar. I sat down next to a handsome, bronze haired man with beautiful, brilliant green eyes. He had a sexy, crooked smile that he shot at me when he pulled out the last empty seat at the table – right next to him.
"No problem. I'm Edward Masen, by the way. I'm the new American History teacher," he said as he offered his hand, once I'd set down my tray.
"Nice to meet you, Edward. I'm Isabella Swan, but you can call me Bella. I teach twelfth grade English."
"Pleased to meet you, Bella. Have you taught at Forks High for long?"
"This will be my third year."
"How do you like it?"
"I love it. High school kids are always a challenge, but if your job doesn't keep you engaged why do it?"
We had two more fun filled days of the teacher's workshop we were attending, going over procedures for administering the High School Proficiency Exam and the End of Course exams plus endless discussions of ways we could better prepare our students for them.
I found myself sitting next to Edward in our workshop and spending my time talking to him during our breaks. I'd learned that he had grown up in Forks, living here until his father's death when he was fourteen. His mother moved them to Seattle to live with his aunt and uncle. He decided on going to college at UDub when his mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when he was eighteen. He took classes and managed to help care for his ailing mother.
"We must have only missed each other by a few months. I moved to Forks a couple of weeks before my freshman year."
After talking for a while, we pieced together that Edward was only a few months older than me; his birthday was in June and mine was in September. Had he stayed in Forks we would have met when we started high school.
I told him that I grew up in Port Angeles, and lived with my Dad until he was shot in the line of duty when I was six. My mom walked out on us when I was only a couple months old, so I was taken in by my paternal grandparents after my Dad died. I was thankful that they lived in Port Angeles also, because I was traumatized enough from the loss of my father. I didn't need the added worry of changing schools and having to make new friends. But because of the local economy and scarcity of jobs, we moved to Forks when I was fourteen when my grandfather became the dispatch manager at a local logging company.
"So do you still live with your grandparents then?" Edward asked softly.
"No, I have my own apartment, but I do spend a lot of time there on weekends. Gran and I usually make Sunday dinner together. Papa also likes it when I come over and watch Mariners games with him. I hate baseball, but I like to watch with him."
"How about you? Do you see your aunt and uncle often?"
"Yeah," Edward chuckled. "I usually see them on the weekends. I'm sure I'll spend a lot of time driving back and forth to Seattle."
In the weeks following the workshop and even after school began, Edward and I continued to keep in touch. We'd see each other at school and have lunch in the teacher's lounge together. We'd call or text each other and we spoke on the phone nearly every evening during the week. The weekends were the only time we really didn't talk to each other. Edward did end up driving to Seattle nearly every weekend.
School had been in session for nearly three weeks when it came time for my birthday. I had plans with a friend to go out for dinner and drinks on my birthday. Edward offered to stay in Forks for the weekend and join us, but I waved him off and wished him a good visit with his aunt and uncle.
The day after my birthday, Edward entered the teacher's lounge before school started and I sat at the conference table still trying to wipe away the devastation that none of my friends remembered my birthday. We'd all made plans to meet in Port Angeles at my favorite Italian restaurant, and I sat and waited for over an hour and no one showed up. I asked them to cork my bottle of wine and drove home alone and finished it off in front of the television while I watched a Gilmore Girls marathon on TV.
"Bella … what's wrong?" Edward asked softly.
"Ugh … I had the worst day yesterday."
I delved into my story of my friends forgetting about me on my birthday and sitting in front of the TV and drowning in a bottle of chardonnay. Edward looked crestfallen as I finished my tale of woe.
"Jesus, Bella. I wish you'd have called me. I would have come back early or met you there or something, anything to have made your day a little better."
"Thank you for the sentiment, Edward. But it's okay, really."
"It's not okay, Bella. They forgot and left you alone on your birthday."
For the next few days following my birthday, Edward checked in on me a little more often. Sneaking me texts during class, and emailing me more than usual. On Thursday, he called me just before Grey's Anatomy came on and asked what my plans were for that weekend.
"Umm … just dinner with my grandparents on Sunday. But I guess I could work on my lesson plans for the month of November."
"Can you issue a rain check for dinner on Sunday?" Edward asked.
"Yeah, I don't see that being a problem, why?"
"Because I'd like to take you to Seattle this weekend."
"Because I can. And because I think you deserve a little attention this weekend after your disastrous birthday. So pack an overnight bag, and bring something nice, because I'm going to take you out for dinner."
"Edward … you don't have to do all that. I'd be happy if you took me to Port Angeles and bought me a hot dog."
"I want to, Bella. Besides, I'm hoping that after this weekend you'll let me take you to Port Angeles and buy you a hot dog, anyway."
Bright and early Saturday morning, Edward knocked on my door and I grabbed my overnight bag and was ready to go. He brought me my favorite pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks and a maple oat scone to make up for the fact that he was getting me out of bed far earlier than should be legal for a Saturday morning. When we arrived in Seattle, we pulled up to a very posh looking hotel, and I felt very much out of place wearing jeans, a sweater and my Chucks. My only consolation was that Edward was also wearing a pair of artfully worn jeans, a t-shirt with a button-up shirt over it and like me, he was wearing a pair of Chucks.
"What's wrong, Bella?" Edward asked softly.
"I feel so under-dressed, like I don't belong here."
"You look beautiful don't worry about it, okay?"
I nodded and followed him toward the elevators.
When the bellhop opened the door to our room, I stepped in, and it was absolutely gorgeous. The room overlooked the Puget Sound and had a lush king size bed. The bathroom concerned me a bit, there was only a glass wall separating it from the bedroom area, the shower enclosed in glass as well.
Once the bellhop left the room, I turned toward Edward and he saw the concern on my face.
"Oh God, Bella. I'm so sorry, my Aunt said I should reserve the Grand Luxe Parlor Suite because it was lush and comfortable. She didn't mention the glass wall. As far as the bed, I thought a king size would be fine, because I don't mind sleeping on the sofa."
"Oh Edward, you've been so wonderful to plan this weekend for us, I couldn't ask you to sleep on the sofa. We can share the bed or I can sleep on the sofa. We'll figure out something for the bathroom."
"Are you sure? Because we can always ask if they have another room."
"No, Edward. This is beautiful. It'll be fine."
"Yeah, it's perfect."
"Good." Edward smiled.
"Soo … what are our plans for the day? It's barely ten in the morning," I yawned.
"Well, you have an appointment at eleven at the spa."
"Everyone deserves to be spoiled a little on their birthday, Bella."
"But it's not my birthday, and as is I'd rather forget about it."
"Just humor me, please? I wanted to do this for you, so please enjoy it."
Edward walked with me down to the spa at a quarter to eleven. He gave them my name and checked me in asking that they spoil me as much as possible. He promised that he would be back in a couple hours to join me for lunch and told me to call if I needed anything. I thanked him again and promised I'd see him later.
Two hours and a manicure and pedicure later I was led into a private room where I found Edward waiting with lunch. I felt a little self-conscious wearing only a robe with my underwear underneath, but Edward's smile took my breath away and made me feel completely at ease.
"Enjoying your day at the spa?" Edward asked sweetly.
"I am. Thank you so much, Edward. You've been so good to me I don't know how I'll ever repay you."
"You don't have to, Bella."
"But I want to!" I argued. "I can't let you take me to stay in a gorgeous hotel room and then pay for a day at the spa expecting nothing in return."
"Yes, you can."
"No, I can't. At least let me make you dinner or something."
"Really?" Edward asked incredulously.
When we finished up our lunch, one of the assistants came to escort me back for my facial.
"Have fun!" Edward smiled.
The facial was heavenly, and after the facial, I had a ninety minute massage. If the facial was heavenly, the massage was other worldly. It felt absolutely amazing. I was so relaxed and felt completely rejuvenated. As I was getting ready to walk out of the spa, the concierge of the hotel introduced himself and handed me a note.
I hope you've enjoyed your day at the spa and that you're feeling happy and relaxed. I'll be a gentleman and stay away from the room so you can take a shower and get ready for dinner. I'll meet you at the bar in the lobby at six thirty. If you prefer for me to meet you in the room, just give me a call and I'll be there.
P.S. The garment bag on the bed is for you, as are the shoes. Consider them a birthday gift, please?
I was intrigued by the garment bag comment at the very least, but I was relieved to hear that I had time alone to take a shower and rinse off a bit of the massage oil that had been generously applied to my skin.
After my shower, I walked into the room and pulled a clean pair of panties and bra out of my bag. Thankfully I'd chosen a pair of black lace panties and a matching bra. When I unzipped the garment bag, I found a gorgeous black dress with a tight bodice, spaghetti straps and a flared skirt. It's exactly what I would have chosen for myself if I'd had the opportunity. I opened the shoe box and found a pair of black lace ballet flats. I slipped them on after putting on my dress and they fit perfectly.
I dried my hair before I dressed and twisted it up elegantly on my head. At six twenty five, I stepped on the elevator and headed toward the lobby. I found Edward in the bar, just where he'd promised he would be, and I couldn't help the wide smile on my face when I saw him. He was devastatingly handsome in a pair of dressy slacks, a pale green button-up shirt and a dark green tie. His eyes sparkled as he watched me walk toward him, and he smiled crookedly.
"You … look amazing, Bella."
"You look pretty handsome yourself," I giggled.
"Ready to go get some dinner?"
Edward had made dinner reservations at Sky City, the restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. I'd always wanted to eat there, but I had thought it was reserved for the wealthy, never for someone who lived off a teacher's salary.
"Bella … don't freak out at the prices, just order whatever you'd like."
I really didn't want to freak out because he'd more than gone out of his way to plan everything, and he'd been nothing short of wonderful to me since our day began.
I ordered the grilled salmon while Edward had the New York strip steak. We shared a few bites of our food with each other, and sipped our wine, enjoying wonderful company and lively conversation. I felt myself falling for the wonderful man in front of me, and as he took my hand when we got up from the table to leave, I knew things would never be the same again.
When we returned to our hotel room, Edward promised to stay in the living area – far away from the glass wall of the bathroom while I did my nightly ritual and slipped into my pajamas, and I did the same for him. When he was done, we both crawled into bed – Edward on one side, and me on the other. We laid facing each other and talked and talked for hours. At one point we were laughing so hard our sides hurt, and it got to a point in the conversation where no matter what we said sent us into a fit of laughter.
"We're going to wake up the neighbors," Edward chuckled.
"I don't know about them, but I'd rather be woken up by laughter than by someone banging the headboard against the wall or squeaky bed springs."
Edward let out another hearty laugh before becoming very serious again.
"Bella … this is the best night I've ever had. Thank you for spending the evening with me."
"Me too," I breathed. "Thank you for asking me to spend the evening with you, Edward."
For a few long minutes we just stared at each other until I stifled a yawn.
"Get some sleep Bella. You had a lot of excitement today."
I covered my mouth as another yawn escaped. "Goodnight, Edward."
"Goodnight, Bella." Edward leaned over and kissed my forehead softly.
I closed my eyes and buried my head deeper in my pillow and fell into a blissful sleep, as visions of emerald eyes and soft, warm lips danced under my eye lids.
Even though the blinds were closed, the light got through anyway, signaling the start of a new day. Although I was very warm and toasty I knew I had to get up soon—even if I didn't want to. I snuggled into my pillow only to realize it wasn't soft like when I had fallen asleep, but hard and very warm. It was then that I knew that my head was resting on Edward's chest.
I opened my eyes slowly only to close them again when I saw gorgeous emerald eyes staring back at me.
Edward chuckled making his chest vibrate with laughter under my cheek as he squeezed my shoulder bringing me closer to his side.
"There's no use beautiful, I know you're awake."
I opened my eyes once again looking up into the deepest green eyes I've ever seen as they seemed to bore straight through my soul. I wasn't sure what exactly I saw in his beautiful eyes but it had my stomach doing flip flops.
"I'm so sorry, Edward. I should have stayed on my side but—"
I tried to pull away but he held me steady to his side.
"I'm not at all sorry for this, Bella. I like you. A lot. Whatever this is between us, I want to see where it goes. Do you think we could do that?"
I looked up into his eyes and managed to squeak out a measly "OK."
Edward shifted so he was more on his side and we were facing each other. His hair was in a disarray from sleep but he still looked handsome as ever. He draped his arm over my waist and pulled me close.
"Do you think I could kiss you now, Bella? I've wanted to do that for a very long time, and I'm not sure I can wait another minute."
I was speechless after his admission, more due to the fact that I've wanted him to kiss me for a while too. I wasn't sure my voice would actually work so I simply nodded.
Warm, calloused hands slid to either side of my face as his thumbs rub along my cheekbones. Soft gentle lips molded to mine in a sweet kiss. Our lips moved in a steady rhythm against each other's like they were meant to. Edward's tongue swept across my bottom lip before he slowly dipped it in my mouth to swirl with mine. The kiss was all lips, tongue and teeth but it wasn't aggressive or rough it was passionate and lust filled.
Edward was first to come up for air with moist lips and heavy breaths as he rests his forehead to mine. We just stared into each other's eyes as we tried to catch our breath from one amazing kiss.
It had been a very long time since I'd had a man kiss me and none of them ever kissed me the way Edward did. He took such care as my head rested in his hands and his lips devoured mine.
"That was …"
"Yeah, it was."
"How about you get that gorgeous butt of yours dressed and I'll take you to breakfast?"
"Umm … okay."
"Bella, don't worry. I'll turn my back and not peek."
I wasn't worried about Edward looking; I think I was more in shock of Edward calling my butt gorgeous. We had been flirting for months—at least I thought it was flirting—but I wasn't really sure how he saw me.
Edward kissed the tip of my nose then gently nudged me out of bed. "Go."
I climbed out, grabbed some clothes and went to the bathroom to get ready. I let the warm water soothe my muscles as I tried to clear my head of the events from this morning.
Edward had said my butt was gorgeous—although I think he meant me not just my butt—and he actually wanted to try a relationship with me. I felt like a teenage girl crushing over the popular movie star. I hadn't felt this happy in a long time.
I washed and dried quickly, dressing in jeans and a blue Henley long sleeve shirt. I blew dry my hair and even added a little touch of make-up. When I stepped out of the bathroom Edward's back was to me as promised and I saw he had dressed in jeans and a green button up shirt. He swiftly turned with a smirk on his face when he heard me step out.
Edward extended his hand and I immediately took it without any hesitation. He lead me out the door where we headed to a little diner by the hotel. We chatted about nothing of importance over our breakfast.
When we finished and Edward settled the bill we went back to the hotel so we could pack up and head back home. The ride home was quiet but not an uncomfortable quiet. Edward held my hand drawing circles on my knuckles as he steered us to my apartment.
Edward helped me out then grabbed my luggage and walked me to my door.
"Thank you for a really great weekend, Edward."
"It was my pleasure."
He set my bag down when we got to my door and wrapped his arms around my waist pulling me closer.
"I had a really good time, Bella."
Edward brushed his lips to mine before they molded together. His kisses made me weak in the knees so I was glad he was holding me up. He nipped my bottom then top lip before slipping his tongue in my mouth to swirl and dance with mine.
His hands tightened on my hips as the kiss deepened and my hands went to the hair at his neck. I stroked his neck as his hands caressed my hips in a gentle soothing motion. He made a low sound letting me know he was enjoying himself but I could barely hear it over my frantic beating heart.
Ever so gently he pulled back kissing my lips once, twice before resting his forehead to mine trying to catch his breath.
"I better go," Edward said with a little regret.
Edward kissed my lips again before turning to leave but said over his shoulder, "I'll call you later, Bella."
The weeks following our getaway we became even closer than before. We ate lunch almost every day together and talked and texted as much as possible. Except for stolen kisses here and there nothing further ever happened.
Some nights I cooked for the two of us and we ate and graded papers together. It only seemed like the right thing to do was meet each other's family, so Edward took me to Seattle to meet his aunt and uncle and I invited him to my grandparents' house. Edward's aunt and uncle were so nice and of course Gran and Papa loved Edward.
We were well into the month of October and Halloween was approaching. I was helping out with the Halloween festival with some other teachers most days after school but Edward and I found some time for us.
It was Thursday night, Edward and I were sitting on the couch watching 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' when I received a frantic call from my Gran.
"Gran? Is everything all right?"
"Bella, honey, I need you to come home, Papa's sick. I need you to help me get him to the hospital."
"Gran … hang up and call 911. I'll be there as soon as I can."
I glanced at Edward who sat concerned next to me on the couch.
"Edward … Gran needs me, Papa is sick. I have to go, I'm sorry."
"Bella, I'm not letting you go alone. Just let me grab my wallet and keys and I'll drive you."
"I don't have any idea how long I'll be," I insisted.
"It doesn't matter. I want to be there for you."
I finally conceded and made sure everything was off before Edward and I left his house. He drove as quickly and safely as he could to Gran and Papa's house. When we pulled up the ambulance had just arrived. I told them that it was my Grandmother who had dialed 911 and I used my key to let them in the front door. When we reached the living room, my Papa was sitting in his chair groaning in pain. The EMT's quickly took his vitals and decided to immediately transport him to the hospital.
I saw to all the paperwork while Edward helped Gran gather her things and helped her into his car. He did what he could to comfort her, and at that moment I found myself so thankful that I'd agreed to him coming with me.
The ride to the hospital seemed like it took forever even though it was only about a ten minute drive. Edward dropped us at the door to the emergency room and promised that he would join us as soon as he parked the car.
I went immediately to the front desk and the nurse said that she'd be more than happy to escort Gran back, but I'd have to wait until he had at least been seen by the doctor on call.
I slumped into a chair in the waiting area, resigned to the fact that I'd be waiting for a while. Edward came in not long after, asking if I'd heard anything yet. I couldn't bring myself to speak. I just shook my head no.
"Can I get you some coffee or tea?" Edward asked softly.
"No thanks. I don't think I could handle anything on my stomach right now."
Edward wrapped his arm around me and pulled me as close to him as the uncomfortable chairs would allow.
"I'm sure everything will be okay, Bella. We just have to be patient."
Gran came out about an hour later, her eyes red and tired.
"Oh, Bella honey, they've taken Papa into surgery. They said he had a gallbladder attack and wanted to remove his gallbladder right away. They said we can go up to the third floor and wait in the waiting room there if we want, but he'll probably be in surgery for a little over an hour before they take him into recovery."
I felt so relieved that it was something that could be remedied with surgery. I was still anxious to speak with the doctor because Gran had a tendency to only hear what she wanted to hear when she was upset, and in this case, I knew that could very well have been true.
Edward ushered us up to the third floor waiting room, and fetched us some coffee and tea while we waited.
"Edward … we're going to be here a while and it's late. You should probably be getting home. You have class early in the morning."
"You have class too, beautiful. I'm not going anywhere until you talk to the doctor and you and Gran are settled, okay?"
For the next hour and a half we sat and waited. We hoped that the doctor would come sooner than later, but we weren't so fortunate. The nurse came and said that the surgery had gone well and that Papa was currently in recovery. He would be moved up to a room on the fourth floor, but that we should stay put until the doctor came out to talk to us.
We waited another hour for the doctor to come.
"Mrs. Swan?" The doctor asked.
"Yes, that's me," Gran replied.
"Your husband is out of surgery and he did very well. We are however a little concerned about his low blood pressure and we've been working on getting that back up to a healthy level. We removed his gallbladder and he is now resting comfortably. Visiting hours are over, but I believe they'll make an exception for you to go in and see him for a few minutes. We're going to keep him here tomorrow just to make sure we get that pressure up to where we want it to be and it stays there."
"Thank you, Doctor."
"Come on, beautiful. Let's get you upstairs so you can see your Papa," Edward whispered as he took my hand.
My other arm was wrapped around Gran and together the three of us made our way up to see Papa.
A few days later, Edward and I found ourselves sitting at my grandparent's dining room table. Gran insisted on making us dinner since we'd spent so much time waiting at the hospital with her.
"Really, Mrs. Swan, it's not a big deal. You didn't have to go to all this trouble, I was happy to stay and be there with you and Bella."
"Oh Edward, you can't fool an old woman. I know you were there for my granddaughter more than you were there for me, but I appreciate it none the less. It's nice to see someone caring for our girl. She can be so stubborn sometimes, but you're patient with her. As the saying goes … slow and steady wins the race."
Edward laughed and I couldn't help but cover my face with my napkin because I was blushing so fiercely. He turned and looked at me and took my hand in his, squeezing it gently.
"Bella, don't hide. Please?" Edward begged.
After dinner, Edward and I went back to my apartment and snuggled up on the couch to watch a movie. It was a Friday night and since the evening we'd spent at the hospital, we hadn't had much time together.
"Edward … I'm sorry this week has been such a disaster. You've been so wonderful through it all and I can't say thank you enough for everything that you've done."
"Bella … I … I love you. There isn't anywhere that I would rather have been this week than doing what I could for you and your grandparents."
My heart melted at his admission. I'd been wanting to tell him for weeks that I was hopelessly in love with him, but I refused to out myself until I knew exactly how he felt. Now that he'd confessed his feelings, I couldn't react fast enough. I leaned over and kissed him ardently, pouring my affection for him into one simple gesture.
"I love you too, Edward," I whispered against his lips.
His body sighed with relief.
"You have no idea how wonderful that sounds coming from your gorgeous lips, Bella."
"Probably as good as it sounds coming from yours, Edward."
Our lips met again tentatively at first before our tongues tangled in an erotic dance. I moved over and straddled his lap, wanting to be closer to him and he wrapped his arms around me, holding me to him. I finally broke our kiss, needing to catch my breath.
"Will you stay?" I whispered as his lips ghosted against the skin of my collarbone.
"Mmmhmm," he agreed. "I thought you'd never ask."
I tangled my fingers into the hair at the nape of his neck and tugged his head up to meet my eyes.
"Let's go to bed."
I led Edward down the short hall to my bedroom. I slipped into the bathroom and readied myself for bed, before re-entering the bedroom in just my boy shorts and tank top.
"God, Bella. You're so beautiful." Edward smiled crookedly.
He kissed me quickly before making his way to the bathroom. I pulled down the covers and crawled into my bed. I was nervous about what was going to happen, but excited to be with Edward. I'd dreamt so many times about waking up in his arms and hoped with my whole heart that it would be a reality. I was still lost in my day dreams when I felt the bed dip next to me and I looked over to see Edward wearing only his gray boxer briefs and a white t-shirt.
"Bella? Are you okay? We don't have to do anything that you don't want to. You know that right?"
I snuggled into his open arms and kissed his chest above his heart.
"I know. I'm okay, I was just day dreaming. Sorry if I zoned out on you."
"Day dreaming about what, beautiful?"
I must have blushed seven shades of red, and I was thankful for the dim light in the room so that Edward couldn't fully see.
"Waking up next to you. In your arms. It's silly really."
"I don't think that's silly at all, Bella. I've been thinking about that too; ever since we spent that weekend in Seattle. I want to worship you, to make love to you and show you how much you mean to me."
I looked up at him adoringly and whispered.
"What are you waiting for?"
Edward's lips crashed into mine as his fingers tangled in my hair, holding me to him. His touch was never too much. Our tongues tangled again as I ran my hands along the sinewy strength of his back. I wanted more. I wanted to feel skin on skin, and as if he could read my mind, he pulled back and lifted off his shirt. His chest was perfection. The lightest bit of soft coppery hair covering his pecs and part of his abs before dipping below the waistband of his briefs.
His calloused hands moved from my hair down my arms and back up my sides, stopping just below the curve of my breasts.
"Bella … " he breathed.
I kissed him once more before reaching down and pulling off my tank top, leaving me in just my boy shorts. Edward immediately cupped my breasts in his capable hands, his thumbs ghosting over the tight peaks of my nipples.
"Oh God, Edward …"
Before I knew it, I was on my back and he was hovering over me, his warm mouth gently suckling on my nipple while his other hand massaged my other breast.
"That feels so good …" I breathed.
He hummed against my skin as I murmured my pleasure in his ear. The hand that was on my breast made its way down to my heated center, finally cupping me and giving me a bit of the friction I needed.
"Fuck, Bella … you're so wet."
Edward slipped his hand down my boy shorts, coating his fingers in my essence before pushing two fingers inside of me and working my clit with his thumb.
"God, and you're so tight …"
"It's been a while …" I breathed.
His lips found mine again as he continued his ministrations on my clit and he murmured.
"I'll be as gentle as I can, I promise. But I want you to come for me first."
I needed to touch him in some way and I reached down and rubbed my hand against the soft cotton of his briefs and the hardness of his erection. Just by feeling him I knew that it would take me a bit to adjust to his size and I understood his promise.
"Ugh … Bella that feels so fucking good."
I reached my hand over and tugged on the hand he was touching me with and he immediately withdrew his hand.
"Bottoms off, big boy."
I pulled my boy shorts down and tossed them on the floor and I watched as Edward did the same with his boxers.
He kissed me again, rubbing his hand across my stomach before finding my center again. He added a third finger inside me and I couldn't help the moan that escaped from my lips. My hand immediately found his cock and I gathered the moisture that had gathered at the top and ran it down his length before wrapping my hand around it and worked it up and down.
"Jesus, Bella. Not too fast or I'll come and it won't be pretty."
"Don't you want to come?"
"I do. But I'd rather it be inside you instead of all over me."
"I want you Edward," I breathed.
"Come get me, beautiful. It might be easier if you're on top at first."
I sat up and moved to straddle him.
"Do I umm, need a condom?" Edward asked shyly.
"Do you want one? It's been well over a year for me and I'm clean. I'm also on the pill so you don't have to worry about anything there."
"Honestly, I hate them. It's been about two years for me and I'm clean too. I trust you, beautiful. There is nothing else that I want in this moment than to make love to you."
I crawled up his body, kissing as I went before I met his lips with mine. I pressed my wet center against his straining cock, coating it with my essence.
Edward ghosted his hands up and down my sides before settling them on my hips.
"Ready?" he asked softly.
"Mmmhmm …" I nodded.
I raised my hips slightly and Edward guided me down gently over his cock. I could feel myself being stretched and it was just not painful as his length filled me. I squeezed my eyes shut at the feeling that was so foreign yet so home and so, so right.
"Bella … beautiful, open your eyes. Are you okay?"
I trembled in his arms for just a moment as he rubbed my back soothingly.
"I'm fine. You feel … incredible. Just give me another few seconds."
"Take all the time you need, beautiful. You feel so good."
We stared into each other's eyes as I adjusted to the feel of Edward filling me. I could feel him grow even harder stretching me but in a good way-really good way.
Finally looking into the green orbs staring back at me, I used his shoulders for leverage as I lifted myself up and sunk back down on his cock. The feeling was nothing I had ever felt before, like our bodies were meant to be one.
Gradually I moved up and down on his cock bringing his pelvis in contact with my clit. Up and down I glided as my orgasm began to build up that high slope.
Edward cupped my breasts gently rubbing his thumbs along the tight peaks. He leaned forward taking a hard peak in his mouth causing me to moan wantonly. My head went back as I reveled in the feel of Edward's hands on me as I rode his cock.
I continued a steady rhythm up and down as my orgasm approached faster. My eyes fell to Edward's when I felt my muscles contract and clamp down on him and a loud masculine moan left his lips.
"That's it baby. Let go. I want to feel you come on my cock."
"Oh, God …"
My head fell back as his words set in and my orgasm hit hard like no other orgasm I'd ever had. It was powerful and mind blowing and I swore I saw stars. I let myself just feel and not think about anything but the pleasure I was feeling and the man under me.
Edward was still thrusting upward as I was coming down from my high only to start another climb. He grabbed hold my hips and still connected flipped us so he was now hovering over me.
"Bella, I love you."
"Oh, Edward, I love you too."
Edward slowed his thrusts in and out so I wrapped my legs around his hips, digging my heels into his ass urging him to go faster. He picked up the pace bringing us both closer to the edge. A few more thrusts and Edward was spilling in me as my second orgasm hit and we were falling over the edge together.
My hair was in my eyes while I tried to catch my breath from some really great love making. Edward gently brushed my hair off my face so he could kiss my lips sweetly. He pulled out leaving me cold and empty but laid next to me pulling the covers up over us.
He wrapped his arms around me pulling back against his chest while kissing my head softly. I closed my eyes and let sleep take me under.
Hours became days, days became weeks and the more time I spent with Edward the closer we became. It was evident that I had fallen hard and fast and even if I didn't want to admit it out loud yet, I knew that Edward was the one.
It was Thanksgiving and we were spending it with Gran and Papa and then Saturday driving up to Seattle to spend time with Edward's aunt and uncle. The holiday season was my favorite time over year; spending time with your loved ones building memories.
I loved to cook which I guess you could say I got from Gran because she always went all out for Thanksgiving and today was no different. There was turkey, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, candied yams, stuffing, mash potatoes, creamed corn and warm homemade biscuits. Oh and for dessert there was pumpkin pie, apple pie and peach pie, all of which I helped her bake.
Edward pulled out my chair then took the spot next to me. Gran and Papa sat down across from us then Papa said grace before we passed around the food.
"Gran, everything looks delicious."
"Thank you, Edward. Bella, you should keep this one around."
I felt the heat rise in my cheeks and knew my face had turned a bright shade of red. Edward squeezed my hand under the table, I looked over to him to see so much love looking back at me and my embarrassment was long gone.
We passed around food filling our plates with delicious food while talking and catching up on everything going on. Gran and Papa seemed to really like Edward and even though to some people it may have seemed like prying, they were just old and wanted to know more about the man in their granddaughter's life.
After dinner Papa settled back on the couch to watch some football but Edward ever the gentlemen helped clear the table. He even offered to wash the dishes but Gran shooed him out of the kitchen telling him to relax and watch some TV with Papa.
Even though we didn't live that far away, Edward and I were staying and my grandparent's house. Papa hadn't been feeling well lately and I could see that Gran was more tired lately plus I just wanted to spend time with them. Edward just wanted to be where I was which only made me love him more.
"I really wish I could sleep with you in my arms but I do understand."
I kissed Edward's lips sweetly. "And that's why I love you."
Gran and Papa were old fashioned so Edward and I were sleeping in separate bedrooms. Although I wanted to fall asleep in his arms I didn't want to disrespect my grandparents.
Saturday morning after saying our goodbyes we headed to Seattle to visit with Edward's aunt and uncle. The day before we had baked and shopped and baked some more so Gran had loaded us up on goodies for our trip.
As soon as we stepped out of the car I was pulled into a warm hug by Edward's aunt. "Bella, it's so good to see you. I've missed you."
"We just saw you last weekend, Esme."
"I'm still allowed to miss you two."
I just giggled. Esme and I had become close just from the trips Edward and I had made to Seattle. She was like the mother I had always wanted but never had. Esme went to give Edward the same warm hug she gave me.
"Has my nephew been treating you well?"
"Good. At least I know I helped raise him right."
Edward just shook his head as Carlisle stepped around Esme to greet us.
"Edward, son, how are you?" Carlisle said, as he gave Edward the one arm man hug.
Carlisle kissed my cheek and gave me a hug. "Hello, sweetheart."
Carlisle and Edward carried our bags in while Esme wrapped her arm around my waist ushering me into the kitchen. After everything was settled Esme decided we needed some girl time and we were going shopping. We left our men to watch college football.
We had just walked in the kitchen and set our bags down when strong warm arms wrapped around my waist from behind.
A shiver went down my spine as Edward whispered in my ear, "Hey, beautiful. I missed you. Is my aunt done hogging you for the day?"
I nodded because apparently that's all I could muster with Edward's warm breath on my neck.
"Good. Let's go to bed."
I was exhausted after a day of shopping and Edward knew me all too well. He grabbed my hand and we made it upstairs to our room. After changing Edward pulled the covers back and patted the bed next him. Without hesitation I went to him and rested my head on his chest.
Esme and Carlisle had no qualms about Edward and I sharing a room much like my grandparents had but that didn't mean we were going to be doing anything more than sleeping. It just felt really wrong to do anything more.
Edward kissed my head and I kissed him just above his heart before falling into a peaceful sleep.
"Bella, sweetheart, wake up."
"Bella, your cell phone is ringing. That's the third time in the last five minutes that it's rang. I would have got it but I have a beautiful girl in my arms."
I went to grab it but I missed the call only for it to ring once again.
"Bella … it's Papa. He fell … the ambulance … they're taking him … to the hospital."
Gran was upset and crying and I could barely understand what she was saying. I could make out that my Papa had fallen and the ambulance was taking him to the hospital.
I sat back on the bed only to have Edward sit up and wrap an arm around me. "Gran, calm down. Edward and I will meet you at the hospital. We'll be there as fast as we can."
"Bella?" Edward asked as I jumped from the bed and began to dig around in my bag looking for a pair of jeans to put on.
"We have to go, Edward. Papa fell and they're taking him to the hospital in an ambulance."
As I spoke, Edward sprang into action, picking up our things and throwing them into our bags. I ran into the bathroom and when I came out, Edward had his shoes on ready to go. I tugged on my boots and followed him out the door.
"What about Esme and Carlisle?" I asked worried.
"I'll call them later, they'll understand."
I was so thankful to have Edward to drive me. There is no way I could have driven and gotten myself to the hospital in one piece. I was so worried about both Gran and Papa that I couldn't see straight. Edward got us there as quickly and safely as possible.
Once again, Edward dropped me off at the entrance while he went to park the car. I went straight to the information desk, unsure if they'd still be in the emergency department or not.
"Elijah Swan, please?" I asked.
The desk attendant typed his name into the computer.
"Yes, he's been admitted to the CCU, miss. Fourth floor, make a left when you get off the elevator and go all the way down to the end of the hallway and make a right. You can't miss it."
"Thank you," I breathed, just as Edward came through the front doors.
He followed me silently toward the elevators.
"He's in the CCU, Edward. This can't be good."
"Bella," Edward said softly, pulling me to him. "Don't let your imagination run away with you. We can't assume anything until we talk to the doctor."
I nodded into his chest just as the elevator chimed to let us know we'd arrived at the fourth floor.
Just as we were walking toward the CCU, Gran came out of the family waiting room just outside the nurse's station.
"Sweetheart!" she sobbed.
"Gran," I breathed. "How is he? What's going on?"
"Well he's got fluid on his lungs, so they've inserted a chest tube to drain it and they've given him some strong antibiotics to fight off infection."
"I thought you said he fell?" I asked, confused.
"He did. He's gotten so weak since yesterday. He got up to go to the bathroom and down he went, right there in front of his chair. All day long he's complained that his chest was tight and he was short of breath and it seemed like it was only getting worse. It was only a matter of time before I called 911."
"Oh, Gran. I'm so sorry that I wasn't here," I sobbed.
"Sweetheart, no. Don't you be sorry. This wasn't your fault. You were right where you needed to be."
Edward stayed back and let me have a few minutes with my grandmother, but he somehow knew when he was needed. Just as Gran was telling me that I needed to spend time with Edward's family too, he was there behind me rubbing comforting circles on my back.
Gran looked exhausted so I asked Edward if he'd take her and get her something to eat and then take her home. I promised that I'd sit with Papa until the following morning. When I walked into my grandfather's CCU cubicle, I was shocked. I'd never seen my grandfather look so small. His skin was pale and his breathing was shallow. I sat down in the chair next to him and took his hand in mine. It was calloused and rough from years and years of manual labor. I sat and just stared at his hands; hands that had held me as a baby, my bike as a little girl so I didn't fall off, hands that removed every splinter I'd gotten from his wood shop. It amazed me that hands so rough could be so tender and loving. But it wasn't just the hands, it was the man lying in this bed.
"Isabella," I heard a scratchy voice say.
"Papa?" I breathed.
He smiled slightly and squeezed my hand softly.
"How's that Edward treating my girl?"
"Like a princess," I whispered.
"My girl deserves nothing less."
"Papa," I chided.
"She's tired. I had Edward take her to get her something to eat and then he was taking her home."
I felt a warm, familiar hand on my shoulder.
"Gran's resting," Edward said quietly. "I got her food and then took her home and got her settled. I told her I'd bring her back in the morning."
I covered his hand with the hand that wasn't holding Papa's and squeezed it lightly.
"Thank you," I whispered.
"Yes, thank you, Edward. You care for my girls when I can't apparently."
"It's my pleasure, sir."
"None of this 'sir' stuff. It's Eli, and don't you forget it."
A few days later, they had moved Papa from the CCU to ICU where he spent a couple days before they moved him to a regular room. Everyday Gran would come and sit with him while Edward and I were at school, and then after school I'd rush home to cook and then take dinner to the hospital. The nurses complained that he wasn't eating and Papa said it was because the food tasted like salted cardboard, so I had taken to cooking dinner and taking it to him. Edward didn't join me every night, but some nights he did, and the three of us would sit in Papa's room playing Gin Rummy.
"Bella …" Edward began one day at lunch. "Why don't you stay home tonight. You're exhausted and you haven't been home in over a week to do anything but cook. Take a night off, please?"
"Edward … I can't leave Papa there alone. He won't eat unless I take him dinner. I …"
"I'll go over to the hospital tonight. Cook him some dinner and I'll stop by and pick it up and take it over. Please?"
"Do you promise to stay with him until visiting hours are over?"
"I wouldn't have it any other way, baby."
"And you'll call me as soon as you get home?"
"Better yet, I'll come over afterwards, okay?"
True to his word, Edward came over and picked up Papa's dinner. I also made up a plate for Edward since I knew he wouldn't eat before going to the hospital. I felt awful for not going to see Papa that evening but I had to admit it was nice to be in my own space for a change. I indulged in a lengthy bubble bath and then put on my comfiest pajamas and settled in to watch TV on the couch.
Edward let himself in just after nine o'clock. He came in carrying his leather messenger bag and the containers from the food I'd sent.
"How was he?" I asked.
Edward chuckled. "Glad to see you too, baby."
"God, Edward, I'm sorry. I just …"
"I know, Bella," he said, kissing me softly.
"He's good. He's excited because that cute nurse he likes his going to give him a bath in the morning."
"Oh, God," I giggled.
The next day, I was sitting at my desk waiting for my students to turn in a quiz when Edward popped his head into my classroom and motioned for me to join him in the hallway.
"Bella … Gran called from the hospital and left a message with the office for you to call her back. I told Gail I'd deliver the message. If you want to go call, I'll watch your class."
I nodded and immediately made my way to the teacher's lounge. I quickly dialed the number to my Papa's hospital room; sadly enough I had it committed to memory so I could call and check in during the day if I needed to. Gran answered on the third ring.
"Gran … is everything okay?"
"Honey … is there any way you can come over to the hospital?" She asked, her voice full of sadness.
"Gran, is Papa all right?"
"He's here honey, but he's not all right. Can you just come, please?"
"I'll be there as soon as I can," I promised.
I quickly explained to Gail that I had a family emergency and that I needed someone to cover my last two classes of the day. I explained that Edward was currently tending to my class, but I needed him to drive me to the hospital. Again, I knew there was no way I could have driven myself. I went back to my classroom and explained everything to Edward and just as I was gathering my things, Angela the librarian came in and explained that she'd be tending to my classes.
Edward quickly drove me over to the hospital, promising that he'd be back as soon as school was out. He kissed me quickly as I hopped out of the car and made my way into the hospital.
I walked into my grandfather's room to find him asleep in bed. His mouth was drawn down on one side and Gran held his hand and wept as she spoke softly to him.
"Oh, Bella," she sobbed quietly. "The nurse came in to give him a bath this morning and change the sheets on his bed. Well, you know he hasn't been out of bed much since he's been here. Apparently the nurse got called out of the room and left him standing by himself. He fell down and by the time they got back to him it was like he'd had a stroke. He tries to talk but everything is garbled and doesn't make any sense. He gets upset because he thinks he's speaking just fine and he's not."
Gran was so distraught and I really couldn't blame her.
"Was it a stroke?"
"I don't know," she sobbed. "I haven't been able to get an answer out of anybody!"
"Okay, Gran. Just sit with Papa and I'll see what I can find out okay?"
I didn't fare any better than Gran had at getting an answer as to what was going on with Papa. The nurses just skirted around it saying that we'd have to wait until the doctor made his rounds. When Edward finally arrived, he called Carlisle who happened to be an Oncologist to see what his opinion was. He handed me the phone and let me describe the symptoms we were seeing and he agreed that it could possibly have been a stroke but without seeing his chart and the results of any scans they had done, he couldn't make an educated diagnosis.
"Bella, if you still don't get any answers by tomorrow, call me and I'll come see what's going on. You and your Gran are both very much in Esme and my thoughts, and we'll do whatever we can for you; even if it means throwing my name around a little bit."
I thanked Carlisle and told him that we'd keep him posted.
Thankfully it was the last day of school before Winter Break. I was free to spend my days at the hospital with Gran and Papa. Beyond the fluid on his lungs they had never really given us a specific diagnosis. By the next afternoon, we still hadn't gotten an answer from the doctors as to why my grandfather's speech was suddenly impaired. I took a deep breath and called Carlisle.
"We're on our way," was his reply.
Gran gladly signed papers giving Carlisle permission to take over as Papa's primary care physician. Carlisle was able to pull a few strings and get privileges allowing him to do so.
Carlisle spent most of the afternoon and evening pouring over the charts and having more tests run. He promised us that by the next morning, he'd have a definite answer for us as to what exactly was going on.
Edward and I got to the hospital just after ten o'clock. Gran had been there for an hour already as visiting hours started at nine. Esme was sitting in the family waiting room just a few doors down from Papa's room.
"Good, you're here. Carlisle would like to talk to you now that everyone is here."
Carlisle and Gran entered the room a few minutes later. Gran's eyes were red and puffy.
"Gran?" I asked, worried.
"Bella … there's no easy way to say this. Your grandfather has lung cancer. That's what is causing the fluid in his lungs."
I gasped and I felt the room begin to spin before warm arms surrounded me.
"How long does he have?" I choked out.
"Not long, I'm afraid. With cancer this advanced, honestly I'm surprised he's hung on this long."
I watched as Esme wrapped her arms around Gran, comforting her. I couldn't help but turn toward Edward and bury my face in his chest, letting the sobs overtake me.
"Bella, baby … let's go see your Papa. He needs you right now," Edward said softly.
I nodded and let him lead me to Papa's bedside.
Gran eventually came in and joined us, and then eventually Carlisle and Esme did too – at Gran's insistence.
"Having family around is the best thing for one's soul, and I know Eli wouldn't want it any other way."
Carlisle had given my grandfather morphine at some point in the afternoon and kept a close eye on it as the day wore on. I sat in the chair by my Papa's bedside, holding his hand and telling him how much I loved him.
With Edward by my side I promised my Papa that I'd be okay and that together, Edward and I would always watch over Gran. So it was then, with Edward's warm arm around me that I felt my grandfather's soul float up to heaven. It was the loud steady alarm from the machines that told us his physical body had left us.
I embraced Gran as she stood next to the bed still holding his hand, repeating the wedding vows she'd made to him forty five years prior.
"Bella, honey … there's one more angel up in heaven. Let's go home and put up a Christmas tree because that's what Papa wanted to do as soon as he got home from the hospital."
On our way home, Edward stopped at the local tree lot and we hooked a fresh tree to the top of his car and drove back to Gran's. Edward set up the tree while Gran and I pulled out the tree skirt, lights and ornaments. As much as Gran was hurting inside from the loss of Papa she wanted to do this one thing for him. Maybe she knew he would be looking down with a big smile on his face.
After Edward strung the multi-colored lights on the tree one by one we added the different special ornaments we had collected over the years. There were ones I made as a child that Gran had kept all these years and ones that Papa had gotten her to add to her birdhouse collection. Each and everyone had a meaning and Gran knew them all.
"Do you remember this ornament, Bella?"
"Oh, God Gran, that was the year I wanted to be a ballerina."
"I bet you would have been a beautiful one," Edward whispered in my ear.
I snorted. "Yeah right, I really don't think so Edward. I'm not very graceful. I can't dance let alone do ballet."
"Maybe, I'll teach you to dance sometime. It's all in the leading you know, and I'm not half bad."
"I'm sure you're not," I said as I nibbled his bottom lip.
"Bella, remember when you gave this one to Papa?"
"Gran, I can't believe you kept that one."
"Your Papa cherished this one because you gave it to him. I would never get rid of it."
The ornament was a little bear with a Mariner's uniform that I had bought at a Santa shop at elementary school. I thought it was the greatest gift because I had picked it out all by myself. My Papa made me feel special and think it was the greatest gift -at least to him.
Tears started to stream down my face at the memories that filled my head. In an instant Edward had his arm around me, holding me close as I sobbed into his chest.
"Hey, beautiful, it's okay," Edward said as he rubbed my back trying to calm me.
"I miss him so much, Edward."
"I know baby."
Edward continued to stroke by back in gentle circles as I let everything I had been holding in finally out. I missed my Papa and he had only been gone a few hours. I knew he wanted us to go on but I needed the time to grieve. Gran came over to hug me while in Edward's arms and we just comforted each other.
I pulled out of Edward's arms and went back to decorating. I was exhausted and wanted to get it done, take a hot bath and be wrapped up in Edward's arms.
After we finally finished the tree we sat back on the couch—Edward in the middle with one arm around Gran and the other around me—and just took in the beautiful tree we had decorated together. This was for Papa and he would have loved it. I just wish he was here to share it with us.
Tuesday morning, only four days before Christmas, we buried Papa on a very cold December day. I clung to Edward as he held Gran and me up as the priest read the prayer before we lowered him in the ground. We were saying goodbye to the most honorable man I knew—my Papa, Elijah Swan. He was gone but I knew he would watch over us from heaven.
I sat on Gran's couch wrapped in Edward's arms while Gran busied herself doing dishes or anything else to keep her mind off missing Papa. Friends and family had paid their respects a while ago leaving the house oddly quiet now.
I turned to the man who had been there for me and Gran through everything, who held us up when we weren't able and saw so much love shining in his eyes he could have lit his own Christmas tree.
"Edward, thank you for being there for me and Gran. I honestly don't know what I would have done without you."
"Hopefully you'll never have to know. I want to always be there for you. Marry me, Bella."
"Marry. Me. Bella."
My mouth didn't know how to function and my mind was going a mile a minute. So much had happened in the last few months. I learned that life was too short and could be taken at any moment. You needed to take life by the horns and hold on for the ride and never ever waste precious time with the one you loved.
My heart already belonged to the man next to me and I was willing to give him my soul too. He was my friend, lover and soul mate. There was only one answer I could possible give.
"Yes. Yes! I'll marry you, Edward."
Edward wrapped his arms around me pulling me in for a kiss. His lips were sweet and gentle, just a mingle of breath against our mouths.
"You know Papa will be happy you told me yes," Edward said with a big smile.
"What do you mean?"
"You know the night I went to sit with him so you could rest?"
"We had a very long talk that night and I asked him for your hand. He told me he would be proud to have me as a grandson and knew I would look after his princess. He made me promise to always take good care of her. Which of course I promised to always do."
"Oh, Papa." I looked up to heaven while tears slipped down my cheek as Edward wrapped me in his arms once again kissing my head while I cried.
On New Year's Eve, in a small ceremony at Esme and Carlisle's house, Edward and I were married. Even on short notice Esme was able to work her magic and pull the entire thing off without a hitch. It did help that she knew all the right people.
We didn't want to waste anymore moments and were ready to start living our life together.
"I love you, Mr. Masen."
"I love you more, Mrs. Masen."
"Bella?" Came the sleepy voice from behind me.
"In here," I said softly.
I stood in front of the fireplace glancing between the sparkling lights of our Christmas tree and the picture of my grandfather on the mantle.
"That's your Papa," I cooed. "He was my Papa too."
In my arms, I held my newborn son, Elijah Anthony Masen. He was born a year to the day my grandfather died. He was Gran's joy and the result of Edward's and my love. When I found out just after Easter that I was pregnant, I knew he was a gift.
Edward joined us in the living room, wrapping his arm around Elijah and me and kissing my neck sweetly.
"Hey, little man," Edward crooned as he lightly traced his finger down our son's angelic face.
With his other hand, Edward reached over toward my grandfather's picture and reverently ran his fingers across it.
"Thank you … for everything," Edward whispered.
The holidays aren't about the gifts that come wrapped in pretty packages and bows. They're about being with your loved ones, because the best gifts aren't the ones you can find under the tree, they're in the people around you – they are truly life's gifts.
We know you were all hoping for an Irishward update and you hate us for the cliffee but we hope this story will hold you over till we have an update. We have so many projects we're working on right now but don't fret Irishward will not be put on the back burner. The chapter is about half way done and should post soon!
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