Preread by Hood in a hurry.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all got what you wished for this year and that health and prosperity finds us all in the New Year! Thank you for sticking with me on this very long road. I can't believe it took me three years to finish. But here it is ...

The Curb epilogue

Edward and I are standing outside a mint green, two story house in the middle of one of Chicago's surrounding suburbs. I don't want to go in. I didn't even want to come. But when your dad saves you and your boyfriend's life then flies to Italy in order to help put an end to all the bullshit, you kind of owe him. This is all he wants. For me to be a part of his life. Come over for holidays. Especially Christmas. So, that's what I'm doing.

The only perk to celebrating the holiday with a parent is it forces your boyfriend to get dressed up. His jeans are dark and dapper, hugging his muscled ass and legs just enough to appreciate his shape. He topped the casual off with a festive green sweater and a pair of brown boots. The dark denim jacket I got him has white Sherpa around the collar. The whole ensemble makes me want to do unspeakable things to him.

"You plannin' on goin' in any time soon or is your goal for me to freeze my nuts off?" Edward asks.

I give him an unappreciative look then get a great idea.

"We could always forget about this." Just leave the gifts on the porch, ring the doorbell then run like hell. "Go home where I can get those nuts of yours toasty warm."

He smirks. "Nice try, but you promised, remember?"

I give him a pout. Promises, shmomises. My dad promised to love and cherish my mom for the rest of his life. Don't see him keeping up his end of that bargain. Although, when I finally agreed to move in with Edward and Charlie didn't have to pay part of my rent anymore he did start giving it to my mom. Which I guess is noble enough for him.

"Don't worry. Once we get home you can warm up my nuts like you so desperately want to."

I roll my eyes, letting out a little whine before heading up the stairs to the porch and knocking a little too loudly on the metal screen door. It swings open a few moments later to reveal Kate in a plain red t shirt and plaid pajama pants with one of the twins balanced on her hip.

"Hay Bale! What's happening, kiddo? Long time, no see." It annoys me to no end that she uses her nickname from back when she used to babysit me. Like nothing ever happened. Like we're friends. Like I'm still some little kid. At least, she looks frazzled, is growing a few gray hairs and hasn't lost any of the baby weight. Silver lining.

I introduce Edward. Kate goes to shake his hand not realizing there's spit up on it. She apologizes then swivels toward me to take the baby from her. I hesitate a moment before reaching out for him or her. I don't see them all that often, so I have no clue which one it is. All they're wearing is a gender neutral diaper.

Kate disappears into the other room while Edward and I stand by the door, me now bouncing my baby sister or brother on my hip.

This life is wild.

I have to admit, Edward is pretty good at baby talk and making him or her smile. Even though my biological clock isn't quite ticking yet my ovaries definitely take notice.

"This looks good on you, ya know?" Edward says before starting up the baby talk again.

"What exactly is this?" Uncertainty and discomfort?

"This." He gestures to the kid. "A baby in your arms. You're a natural. See, she likes you."

"How can you tell it's a she?"

Edward nods his head to where the other kid had been sleeping. I look over and find they're awake and have ripped their diaper off. That's definitely a penis. And it's peeing. Dad comes in just in time to catch his son mid stream.

The tone has officially been set for the remainder of the visit.

The twins take turns screaming and crying while we all awkwardly sit around and open our gifts that nobody really want from each other. I'm ready for a drink by the time it's finally acceptable for us to leave.

"That wasn't so bad." Edward comments once we're tucked away in the car together.

I scoff. "Were you in there? It was torture." Those kids are demons. They must take after their mother. From what I've been told, I was always quiet like Charlie.

With a lazy smile Edward puts the car in gear then rests his hand on my thigh. My body reacts to his touch the way it always does with a flash of heat then liquidized desire. I curse the fact the days not over and we have yet another stop to make before I can rip these tights off and do anything about it.

The vibe at Jasper's is much more calm and welcoming. Even though Alice has been gifted her father's house after his mysterious disappearance … they often choose to stay at the loft. Said they'd rather live in a small space, close together at the heart of the city than in a castle on the outskirts of it. I guess I couldn't really blame them. I mean, they could always just pick a room and all huddle in it together. 'Cause damn, a castle?

The place is packed with friends of the couple. Some I recognize, some I don't. We make the rounds for introductions and some small talk like proper party-goers. When someone exits Edward lets me know he's going to grab their abandoned seat.


My feet are killing me.

Quickly putting an end to conversation by grabbing a drink I head to the crowded couch and sit on his lap. One of his hands comes to rest on my thigh while the other slides to palm my hip. Draping an arm over his shoulders I lean into him and take a sip.

"What is that concoction!" he asks.

I hold up the bulb shaped glass filled with red liquid and frozen berries. "A Very Merry Ornamentini. Jasper made the glasses in the shape of ornaments. I tried to help but no dice. I still suck at blowing." I say, not really paying attention to how it sounds.

Always in a filthy mind space, Edward is sure to make me aware of it. "You're both sufficient in sucking and blowing if you ask me." He squeezes my hip and I can't find it in me to be offended in the least. The alcohol has made me even hornier than he has on his own by just existing. I want to rip his green sweater off with my teeth and lick him like a candy cane.

Edward can tell by the look in my eyes exactly what I want to do to him. He returns the look, leaning in for a kiss when Alice sufficiently ruins the moment by thrusting yet another baby in my face.

"Anthony's missed his Auntie Bella and uncle T, hasn't he? Yeah!" She says excitedly to get Anthony to smile before changing her voice back to normal. "Could you hold him, please. Just for a minute. I really need to use the bathroom. This place is filled with people's germs. But ya know, he's used to you guys' germs so, I figured now is the perfect time for you three to catch up."

Taking Anthony off her hands I assure her it's fine while Edward starts in on the fluent baby talk. The kind that gets my ovaries to perk up and take notice. Anthony smiles, takes a look around the room at all the people then promptly lays his head on my chest.

"He likes you, too," Edward whispers in my ear. "Seems those dirty pillows of yours are pretty popular."

I elbow Edward in the ribs. Anthony stirs just as Alice returns to collect him and debate with herself whether or not to put him down for the night. I opt for bed and thankfully Edward agrees that it's time to call it a night.

Once we say goodbye to Alice and Jasper we make our way outside, hand in hand. When we get to the car Edward spins me around and backs me up against the door. My arms wrap around his neck as his incircle my waist and his lips finally descend on mine. This kiss is lengthy but chaste. When he releases my lips his go to the bend of my neck and I cradle his head between my head and shoulder trying not to laugh. The alcohol not only makes me flush it makes me especially ticklish.

And frisky.

One of my legs wraps itself around Edward's waist on its own accord. The tips of his fingers lightly slide over my tights and up the back of my thigh, agonizing slow and in control of their actions.

He's teasing me that much is clear. I can't wait to get back home.

His hand stays in place as I lower my leg, creeping up just a bit farther and slightly lifting my skirt to graze the underside of my ass.

I playfully push him away. He laughs, giving me a peck on the lips before opening my door for me then jogging to the other side to get in.

His hand is back on my thigh for the drive home, his thumb making lazy circles, that sneaky pinky finger sliding just under the hem of my skirt and driving me fucking insane.

I turn my attention out the window to try and distract myself. Compared to other years the Christmas lights are pretty lackluster. There's more gray slush than white snow on the ground. All in all, it's basically just another winter day in the Windy City.

Except for the fact that Edward and I haven't yet had our gift exchange.

The thought gets me excited in a whole different way. I'm practically vibrating when we finally make it home. After tearing out of our dress clothes and into something more comfortable we make our way to the living room to sit by the tree.

We make a quick call to my mom to wish her and Phil a Merry Christmas. After we hang up I make Edward open his gift first. I can tell by the look on his face I did pretty good when he opens the card to find a verification for a monthly Omaha steak gift set.

"I signed myself up for a couple classes, too. Figured I better learn how to cook the steaks and prepare something to go along with them other than take out." I laugh at my undomesticated self. I'd never been particularly good in the kitchen. It never bothered me before when it was just myself. But seeing as how Edward has taken such good care of me, even cooked for me. I want to be able to do the same for him.

"I love it. I love steak. I love you." Edward leans in and gives me a chaste kiss. When I try to deepen it he pulls away. "Not so fast. You still haven't opened yours."

He pulls a sapphire blue bag from behind his back and hands it to me. I waste no time tearing through the white tissue paper to find a pamphlet inside. When I pull it out and read what it says my hand flies to my mouth.

"Stop." I glance up.

Edward's smiling at me.

Looking back down at the pamphlet I run my fingers over the words. "I mean … What? How? How did you even think to do something like this? How do you even do it? How?"

My vision blurs. While I turn into a big ball of emotion Edward takes the pamphlet from my hands and opens it to explain further.

"Basically, you can just go online, pick what you want and it's just a few points and clicks from there." He says it so matter of fact, like it's not a huge deal to find out that zoo animals are up for adoption and I'm now the proud parent of Pablo the penguin. "See, all his information's here. His history and stuff. They even included a picture." He holds it up. "And the best part is you can go and visit him whenever you want." He shrugs and tucks the picture of Pablo back in its pocket. "You could even wear your penguin jammies. I bet he'd like that."

Stunned silent I stare at this man, my heart bursting. This whole thing has just blown my mind. It's beyond sweet.

Grabbing the pamphlet from Edward's hands I toss it aside and rise to my knees, smashing my lips to his. The force knocks him to his back. The perfect position for what I'm getting ready to do to him with my mouth.

Blindfolded and sitting in the passenger side of Edward's car I have no idea where we could be going that tops visiting my own penguin in a zoo.

Between Christmas and today, New Year's Eve, Edward and I have been twice to visit with Pablo, so I'm pretty sure that's not the surprise that I'm in for. Plus it's late. Probably nearing midnight. The Zoo wouldn't even be open at this hour. Pablo's probably sleeping standing up, which is quirky. But I try not to judge because I want to be a supportive parent.

"You sure you can't see anything under there? You're smiling and it's making me nervous." Edward says, his hand firmly planted on my thigh. His grip is a lot tighter than it usually is.

"Making you nervous? You're not the one missing a major sense here. I'm the vulnerable one. No, I can't see a thing."

"Good. Just hang tight. We're almost there." He gives my thigh a squeeze. I place my hand on top of his and he turns his palm up to lace our fingers together.

Not much longer and I can tell he's parallel parking. Even though I can't see it I can picture him doing it with the one hand and the image definitely does it for me.

"I'm going to get out. Leave the blindfold on and I'll be right around to help you, okay?"

"Okay. But hurry up the anticipation is killing me."

Edward places a kiss on the back of my hand then let's go of it. I hear him get out of the car. The door shuts. Seconds seem to take forever before he's opening my door to help me out. The winter chill bites but smells nice and fresh when mixed with Edward's cologne. I shiver and he pulls me in close, trying to keep me warm as he directs me to wherever we're going.

A familiar sound filters through the air, the soft murmur of people counting.




A wave of nostalgia hits me. I'm transported back to the night that I first met Edward. How I found him beaten beyond recognition and how it could have ended up so differently if I'd only called 911 for him and didn't go along for the ride. I probably wouldn't even know him now. I probably still wouldn't have a relationship with my father. No matter how fractured it still is.



Edward stills me by my shoulders. His hands slide up to cup both sides of my jaw.

"The first thing I noticed about you was your voice," he says. I feel his thumb ghost over my bottom lip.


"You were threatening me with pepper spray, yeah." We both laugh lightly. "But something about it was calming. I didn't want to stop hearing it. I wanted you to stay with me. Just be by my side."


He starts loosening the blindfold. "When I finally saw you I knew I was done for. Those soulful brown eyes and pouty lips. There was know coming back from the kind of beauty you resonated from the inside out."



"I wanted you then. I've wanted you since. I want you now." The blindfold drops and I'm looking into his sea deep eyes. For the second time in a week, my heart has burst. If he keeps up the sweet talk I'm going to have to get it checked out. "I'll always want you … forever."


The surrounding party goers shout their wishes for a happy New Year as Edward takes a knee on the very curb we first met and pulls out the most beautiful ring I've ever seen.

"Please tell me you'll always want me, too. And marry me."

My head is swimming along with my eyesight. All I can do is nod before the tears begin to fall and a soft cry dislodges from my throat.

"I'll always want you, too. Yes. Yes! Of course I'll marry you."

Edward beams, sliding the ring on my finger before standing to wrap me in his arms as the whole neighborhood unknowingly but fittingly celebrates this moment along with us.

As the surrounding cheers die down so does our kiss. We pull apart to breathe, both shivering because it's too cold for us fools to be outside.

Stepping behind me Edward wraps me up in the front of his own his coat to walk me back to the car. He bends down to give me a kiss before shutting the door. Once he's on his side and has the car rumbling and the heat blasting he leans over the console to kiss me again.

His hand finds its perch on my thigh as we take off towards home. Every red light it's the same thing. He stops and leans in for another steamy kiss. The last is interrupted by the incessant amount of pings his cell lets off.

Curious I take a peak and Edward surprisingly lets me without a fight because turns out it's my alternating texts from my mom and dad, both curious as to "how it went."

"Excuse me? How do they know about my engagement before I did?" I ask.

Edward gives me a sheepish shrug. "What can I say? Guess I'm old fashioned at heart."

"You're telling me you asked them for their blessing?"

"That's what I'm telling you, yeah. Is that okay?" he cautiously adds.

I'd never really thought about the convention of a marriage proposal before but surprisingly I find that I like the fact that he respected my parents enough to even think to ask. Especially this day and age.

I assure him by leaning over to toss his phone aside and start right back up where we left off, the kiss quickly heating and steaming up the inside of the car. Before we start tearing each other's close off we tear apart instead. The cold air blasts my chafed lips but it doesn't stop me from giggling when Edward takes my hand and hurries us up to get inside the warm welcome of the house. Our house.

Our lips are like magnets in the dark, our fingers going for zippers and buttons and anything standing in the way of getting his skin against mine. Neither of us is paying enough attention to notice the unmarked box at our feet until I've nearly killed myself tripping over it.

A small, surprised scream escapes from me into Edward's mouth. His grip tightens around my back just in time to keep me from falling and he swivels away putting himself between me and the open box at his feet.

I flip the light on, slightly flinching from the bright beam and the thought of a bomb going off in both our faces. But the box is open. There's no bomb. Just a reminder of something I'd forgotten for a bit.

"Do you think it's a threat?" I ask, glancing further inside the box. It's filled with pictures of Edward and I, out and about, through the window and into our home, a few from our incredibly intimate moment tonight, before and after he proposed.

"No, just a power play." Edward reaches back for me. "It's okay."

I take his hand then step closer, melting into his side. He kicks the box aside and out of the way before we head into the bedroom together.

We're silent as we finish getting ready for bed.

Edward leaves his boxers in place and slides under the covers, watching me intently as I slide on a shirt then think better of it and pull it back off along with my panties.

It's not like either of us are going to get any sleep tonight anyway.

I make a show of crawling across the bed to him. Throwing a leg over his lap I straddle his hips, flipping my hair over one shoulder in a seductive display of what's to come.

His eyes darken, a lazy smirk tipping one side of his mouth while his hands start to roam.

There's only two things I'm certain of.

The first is that I love this man. And second, if the other shoe ever drops I want to be certain he knows it and we've both gotten all of the love we could get.

The End ...

But is it?

I started a new fic Dragging Pegs. Edward is a biker. If that's of any interest to you please check it out! Also if you are reading Pegs you are probably aware Hood and I wrote a os for the first responders contest. Well, turns out we were actually the only ones who wrote for it, which is comical but also sad. So, be on the lookout from JonesnInDaHood later for that story as well!

Love y'all!

Merry Christmas!