All tension left Embry's body; she said yes! Tears were prickling in his eyes. Fuck, she said yes!
"Bella," he managed to whisper through a tightening throat and pressed his face against her neck. Don't you dare cry, you fucking baby, he chanted to himself. Don't. The fuck. Cry.
Bella wrapped her arms around him and held him tight. Paul was hugging her, and Embry could hear him swallowing. He, too, was controlling his emotions.
"Damn, Bella," Paul rasped and hugged her tighter.
They stayed in the embrace for a long time. Embry didn't want to let her go as if she would vanish if he did.
Then Bella moved, and Embry unwrapped his arms from her midsection. Paul removed his arms from Bella.
They all glanced at each other for a while. It was a bit awkward; no one knew exactly what to do or say.
"What do we do now?" Bella asked, blushing adorably.
"Let's eat breakfast," Paul chuckled.
He and Paul hadn't actually talked about what they would do if she said yes. Embry guessed it was because they were afraid to hope it would really happen. Like planning it would be bad luck or some shit.
"Yeah." she blushed some more, and they both moved back to their seats and started to collect food on their plates. Embry was unable to tear his eyes off her. Her hair was falling from her loose ponytail, and how she pulled her bottom lip into her mouth made him crazy. He wanted to touch her so bad. Kiss her...
He felt Paul's kick on his leg. Paul wiped the corner of his mouth with his finger, signaling Embry he should stop drooling. The fucker. He kicked him back and took a bite from the freshly baked bead roll. Damn, it was good.
Bella cleared her throat, and Embry's eyes snapped back to her.
"I tried to think about last night," she said somewhat nervously, "that if we start this thing, how we could make it work. I mean, would you move to San Francisco?" Bella suddenly stopped and looked at him. "Embry, your dad! How is your dad? I've forgotten to ask about Henry."
Embry felt a lump in his throat.
"He died in March," he choaked.
"Oh, Embry. I'm so sorry," Bella gasped and moved to hug him. He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her pressing his face to her neck. Embry could feel the walls he'd built around the pain of losing his father starting to crumble, but he held them up. No way was he going to break down now.
"I'm so sorry," Bella whispered. "I know how much you loved him. What happened?"
Embry cleared his throat and moved a little so he wouldn't be mumbling in her neck. "He had a stroke. He survived the first one, but the second one was too much."
Bella hugged him even tighter and then kissed him on his cheek. Her touches and warmth soothed him like nothing else. If Embry hadn't known it already, he would realize that he could not live without Bella anymore. She was everything he could ever want or need. Only she could make the pain go away.
When Bella let him go, she didn't move but grabbed Paul's hand, lacing her fingers through his.
The look on Paul's face was priceless; if Embry hadn't known his face probably looked just the same, he would have laughed. It was like a lost puppy that had found its way back home.
"I don't know why I get to be so lucky to have you two back in my life," she said. "I thought that I would never see you again. But now you are here..." she shook her head, and her eyes welled up with tears. She closed her eyes, and a single tear fell on her cheek. Embry brushed it away but didn't trust his voice to say anything.
Bella opened her eyes and smiled. "I love you and hope I can be what you both want and need. I'm just so scared..."
"Shh, baby," Paul interrupted, knowing what Bella would say. "We all are. This is new to us all. I am scared shittles that I'm not good enough for you, but I know that I love you and want to be better for you."
"You don't have to be anything more than you are," Bella said softly.
"See, neither have you," Paul smirked. And Bella smiled.
"We just need to take one day at a time and see how things go," Embry added, finally being able to speak.
Bella nodded. "You two are just too sweet," Bella sighed.
"Only for you, baby," Paul said. He'd become a sappy fucker overnight, but Embry could hardly blame him.
They ate their breakfast, chatting and catching up. Bella told them about Thomas that he'd been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was getting treatment. The prognosis was good, and he was in such good shape that he wanted to keep working. But it had been a very stressful time after the diagnosis was confirmed, and the severity of cancer had still been unknown.
"He'll be alright," Bella said. Embry squeezed her hand. He knew how important all the people working for Bella were; they were practically her family.
Embry told Bella about his father and how he had died. It was easier to talk about him than it had been before. The image of Leah crossed his mind the morning after they had slept together, and he shook his head to get rid of the memory. In a way, he'd felt that Leah had used him when he was the most vulnerable, but he'd played his part in that mess too. And he wanted to tell about it to Bella, and he would when the time was right.
They moved into lighter subjects, and Bella told them she was in the process of getting a dog. She would adopt one from the local shelter, and they had promised to contact her as soon as they got a puppy or very young dog.
"I've always wanted a dog but kept thinking that I don't have time for one, which is true," she told them. "Then I got an idea that I can take a dog and let Old Jack take care of him. He's the rough sleeper who usually spends his nights at the bus stop in front of the store. He was a police dog trainer with force but got fired because of a drinking problem."
"How well you know this Old Jack?" Paul asked. "I mean, how do you know you can trust him? Is he safe to be around?" Paul asked, voicing Embry's doubts.
"I've known him for years. You've met him too," Bella said. "You remember the man with a white beard and a black cap."
"Oh yeah. Now I remember, the one who tells terrible jokes and laughs while telling them," Paul said.
"That's Old Jack, and he is perfectly safe. Being a drunk doesn't make you a bad person. I just want to do something for him, and I think this would be a perfect win-win situation; I would get a dog I've always wanted, and he would get to train the dog and have something meaningful to do."
"Have you talked with him about your idea?" Embry asked. This was so Bella through and through, always thinking of others.
"Not yet, but he loves dogs and talks about them often. When I ask him why he doesn't have a dog, he just says he can't afford one. He is very responsible in that way. Dogs do cost quite a bit."
"We had a dog when I was a kid," Embry told them. "It died when I was four. My parents didn't want to have another dog, no matter how bad I wanted one." Embry was actually quite excited about the idea of Bella getting a dog; he would love to have one around again. But now, he was going ahead with things. They hadn't talked about where they would live, and they certainly couldn't impose themselves living with her.
"Well, if we are here with you, and we can keep an eye on that old man, I think it is an excellent idea," Paul said. Embry glanced at him. He was being too pushy.
"So, are you planning to move to San Francisco?" Bella asked.
"Yes. We haven't made any plans yet, cause we weren't sure how this would go," Paul said. "If you wanted us or not."
Bella blushed as she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and smiled. She was so damn beautiful. Embry ached to pull her against him and kiss her.
"Well, if you are moving here, I think... um, you should move in with me," she said.
Embry's heart skipped a beat. Did he really hear right?
"I mean, if that is what you want, it would be stupid to pay rent here in San Francisco. It is so ridiculously expensive, especially in this area. My home is big, and there is room for you. You can have your own rooms. And if things go well, it's possible to renovate and make more space if we need it. Or would that be too strange for us all to live together? I don't know what the right way would be," Bella was babbling now, glancing nervously at them both.
So damn cute.
"Bella, there is no right way," Paul said. "I think I talk for both of us if I say that it would be fucking awesome if we could move in with you."
"But we don't want to intrude. We want you, but you don't have to give up your personal space for us. We can think of other ways to be together."
Paul shot him an annoyed look. But it was true. Embry hated that Bella might think it was something she had to do.
"Em, I wouldn't offer my home to you if I didn't mean it. I thought about this a lot last night, and it just makes the most sense. But it wouldn't be right away. We need to get to know each other again. Spend some time together and catch up. Don't you think?"
"Yes," both he and Paul answered at the same time.
They finished their breakfast and took the dishes to the kitchen behind the shop. Beth was baking something. Probably the bead rolls they had just eaten.
"Enjoyed your breakfast?" Beth asked with a wink. Embry's cheek heated; did she know?
"Yes, thank you, Beth," Bella answered. "Is the couple from Spain coming tonight?"
"Yes, they just called me and asked for directions."
"That's great. They were staying for five nights, right?" Bella asked.
"Yes," Beth said and pulled a fresh batch of newly baked bread rolls from the oven. Embry loved the feeling in the kitchen. It brought back memories of happier times when his mother was still alive.
"Would you guys help me to clean up the room?" Bella asked, turning to them.
They left the kitchen and climbed upstairs. They had opened the window to let in the fresh air, and the room didn't smell stuffy. Embry loved this room, it was very beautifully furnished, but it also held a special memory. It might be in this room where Embry had realized he'd fallen in love with Bella and that there would never be anybody else for him.
Embry stayed at the door watching her. She moved around the room, straightening things out. She glanced over her shoulder and saw him watching her. The blinding smile that spread across her face made Embry's breath hitch. He felt a sudden need to kiss her. It burned his insides, and he went to her without thinking.
"Bella," he said quietly.
"Yeah?" she turned around and stopped to look at him. She tilted her head smiling and asked, "What, Em?"
Embry cupped her head between his hands and leaned down to kiss her. Softly on the lips. Bella was surprised at first but kissed him back. Damn, how he'd been missing kissing her and feeling her close to him. He deepened the kiss, and Bella pulled him closer by his belt loops. He couldn't help getting hard having her so close to him, and Bella moaned when she felt him hard against her. Embry grabbed her ass, pulling her closer.
Embry saw Paul coming behind Bella.
"Mind if I join in?" he said and leaned down to kiss Bella on her neck. Bella stiffened for a moment but relaxed and continued kissing Embry. She moved her hands from his hips to his hair, and her other hand disappeared to touch Paul. Paul moaned, and damn, it made him harder still. She moved her head to kiss Paul, and Embry's lips moved to her neck.
"Damn Bella, I want you so bad," he murmured against her neck, his hand roaming up to her sides. Paul's hand was on the way, and Embry pulled his hand away, placing it back on her hips.
Three was a bit of a crowd.
"Stop..." Bella panted. "We need to stop..."
They all stopped breathing heavily.
"We're not ready to do this," Bella said, pointing her finger between the three of them.
"You're right about that. Sorry, I just couldn't stay watching," Paul said, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Yeah, sorry, Bella, I just had to kiss you," Embry said. He was bursting with want and need, but he knew he had to wait a bit longer. And he could wait. He'd been dreaming of having her this close to him for months. He could definitely wait a little longer.
"And I want to kiss you..." Bella said, her pink cheeks blushing darker, "...both of you. God." Bella hid her face in her hands. "It makes me sound like a slut, doesn't it." Bella giggled a bit nervously.
"No, Bella. You can't think like that," Embry said, pulling her hands off her face. She peaked under her lashes, and dear God, he felt his knees going soft. "We want you to want us both." Embry glanced at Paul.
"Damn right, Bella. It is what we are offering, right?" Paul assured.
"Yeah, I know. It will take some time to get used to," Bella said. "And we need one-on-one time, don't you think?"
"Absolutely," Paul said, and Embry nodded.
Damn, thinking about Bella and Paul together wasn't the easiest of things, but as long as he had her too, it would be okay. It was what the deal was. It would be okay.
"Let's get this tidied up and then have a good talk. Bella said, moving away from their reach. "Paul, can you take off the sheets and Embry, could you check the bathroom, take the towels and see that it's clean? I go down to get new linen and towels. The linen closet up here seems to be empty."
Bella closed the door to the guest room and leaned against it. Her heart was beating out of her chest, and her legs were shaky. Those men would be the death of her. She could hardly think when they were around. Was she really going to do this? Would she be able to handle two gorgeous guys being around her all the time? She felt like she'd lost every brain cell when either of them touched her, and having two of them touching her ... well, it made her brain dead. But damn, it was hot.
She shook her head, trying to clear it, and went to the utility room. She took a few sets of clean sheets and towels and returned upstairs.
Paul had taken the sheets out, and when Bella got in, he came to take the sheets from her.
"Thanks, Paul," she smiled.
"I think the bathroom is all good now," Embry said, carrying two used towels, and he picked up the sheets from the floor. "I'll take these to the laundry room."
"Thanks, Em. You can go to my place the door is open. This will be ready after we make the bed, and we'll come down."
Bella watched as Embry left the room. The memory of them in this same room many months ago rushed into her mind, and she felt a throbbing ache between her legs. This was going to be embarrassing. She just couldn't function them so close.
Bella and Paul made the bed together. They stole glances at each other, but neither did say a word. Paul's hair was a bit longer now, and he had a slight stubble she felt like running her nose over it, inhaling his musky scent. Bella mentally slapped herself. She was behaving like a silly teenage girl.
"All done?" Paul asked after they'd made the bed.
"Yeah. Beth will bring some flowers and snacks before the guests arrive. We've done our bit."
They left the room and went down. Embry was already sitting by the kitchen table when they arrived. He was fiddling with his phone, and when he saw her, he smiled his adorable boyish smile.
Bella moved to sit by the table, and Paul followed her.
"So," she started, "there are many things we need to discuss. Like how we're able to spend time together, all the three of us, but also one on one. And then there is the importance that we all understand how essential it is to always talk to each other and tell how we feel and what we want and need. That sort of thing. This," Bella said, pointing her finger between them three, "won't work if we don't talk."
Both men were nodding.
"Yes, you are right about that," Embry said. "It's a good thing that me and this fucker here," Embry nodded towards Paul, who flipped him off, "have spent quite a lot of time talking and being honest about things as well as beating the shit out of each other. So, I guess that is a good start, right? And we always talked before," Embry said, looking at her with his beautiful brown eyes. She could get lost in those eyes.
Bella cleared her throat. "Yes, I think we all are good when it comes to conversational skills. But so that you don't have to beat the shit out of each other anymore, saying things that really matter out loud is important. What do you mean about beating the shit out of each other?" Bella asked, fearing the answer.
Paul chuckled. "We needed to get some frustration out of the system before we started to hang out and talk about you."
"About me?" Oh God that could not mean anything good.
"Yeah. We started to go to the gym together to spar and talk about you," Embry added sheepishly.
"Don't worry; it wasn't anything bad. We just missed you so damn much, and talking about you was the way to keep your memory alive. Sappy, eh?" Paul said, smiling.
Bella's heart melted, and she didn't know what to say.
"And as you said, we need to organize some time to spend together," Paul continued. "And I guess the weekends are the best time. We work during the week."
"There is little less than a month left of this semester and then maybe a couple of some paperwork, but nothing keeps me in La Push after that," Embry said.
"And I can leave my work about the same time," Paul said.
"What it is that you do?" Bella realized that she didn't know where Paul worked now.
"I'm coaching shitheads like me, but younger," he said. "At the youth center. We spar and talk. Anger management and some shit."
"Oh, Paul, that's awesome. You got a job out of your volunteering there?"
"Yeah, it's kinda fun, but I would rather work as a chef, and I can find work here easily."
That was true. There was a chronic shortage of proper chefs in this city.
"Have you been keeping up with your photoshoots?" Bella asked Embry. She had looked on his Instagram now and then, but there hadn't been any new photos since he posted photos of her.
"Not much. Haven't been feeling up to it lately. But I'm quite sure things change when I'm here."
"That's a relief. I love your photos. You have to get back taking them," Bella said. She was feeling a bit nervous. She didn't know how to proceed. Should she just ask either to come next weekend and another the next? This was going to be awkward.
"So would it be okay if Embry or I came here next weekend and the other the next?" Paul asked, saving her from making the suggestion. It really would take some time to get used to having two boyfriends.
"I guess that is a good plan," she said. "But it would be possible for me to come to La Push too. It's hardly reasonable for me to expect you to come here. Flights cost money."
"No, it's all right," Embry said, "I rather come here."
"Me too," Paul added. "I can't stand staying in La fucking Push any longer than I have to."
"Are you sure?" Bella had liked La Push. The ocean and the beach there, in its rugged beauty, had made an impression on her. "I would love to visit the place again."
"We can take you there one day, maybe to one of the heritage days or some shit. But at the moment, I want us to spend time here if you don't mind." Embry said, and Paul nodded.
"Okay, I guess it's settled then," Bella said, not quite believing all this was really happening.
Thank you for your comments, follows, and favs. I'm pretty excited about this little story. And now that I've finished my wolf-fic, I've got more time for this one. Most likely, I'll update my other AH story next. It's been a while since I posted to that story.
Thank you for reading and I always love hearing from you.