I awoke suddenly to a sharp pain to my abdomen. Confused, I tried to move my left arm only to see that Tony's head was using it as a pillow. That explained why it was feeling numb. Though my brain was still fuzzy and not fully awake, I was able to deduce that the pain came from a kick to the stomach. After three nights of sleepovers, I have come to learn that this kid is lethal in his sleep. Satisfied that all was as it should be, I settled back down into my pillow to try and get more sleep. Considering how tired I felt, it must still be relatively early. If I was lucky, maybe I could get another hour in before Tony and his energetic self roused me again.
I heard a feminine sigh come from my right, causing me to whip my sleep addled head around quickly. There, with her dark hair spread out amongst the pillow was Bella. For a moment, I had thought her homecoming was only a dream. But there she was, living proof that she was back, and she came home to me. I took a moment to observe her in this vulnerable state. There was such a calmness on her face, and I hoped that was the result of a good night's sleep. The fact that she was able to relax and be at peace in a new place made me feel warm inside. She felt safe here; safe with me. I could only hope that this would be the first of many times that Bella would sleep next to me. Preferably in my arms—that would be even better.
She certainly belonged here in this bed according to the breathtaking site before me. Last night she had borrowed a shirt from me since the pajamas she had packed for Washington were for colder weather. I was just thrilled to see her in my clothes. I felt like a high school athlete who got his girl to wear his letterman jacket, even if it was just a gray undershirt. I was appreciating that shirt now as in this early morning light, I could easily make out the color of her areolas through the thin material. God, it left little to the imagination. Her harden nipples made me wonder if she was in fact cold, or if she was having a bit of a naughty dream. Maybe she would sleep talk, and clue me into what was bringing such a smile to her face. Another kick to my stomach reminded me that we were not alone. Maybe next time there won't be a buffer, my inner dialogue offered.
Despite how much I was enjoying the unfiltered view, I knew that I couldn't afford to get anymore turned on. I didn't want to scare her away, or bring unwanted questions forward from Tony. It was best if I made a graceful exit now, and gave myself time to calm down. Plus, I wanted to do something to start our day off right. We had a wonderful time last evening reconnecting as a family, and I was hoping that we could continue that today. And what better way to start the day than breakfast in bed? I slowly readjusted Tony from my arm to the pillow, and sneaked away. When I was confident my moving about hadn't stirred my company, I made my way to the kitchen to see what I could scrounge up.
I settled in on pancakes, though mine came from a box mix. I'm sure Bella would have whipped it up from scratch—but it's the thought that counts here. While that was forming, I added some bacon to the griddle. Growing boys need protein, right? Just to cover all my bases, I cut up some fruit too for a well-balanced meal. By the time everything was finished, I was mighty proud of myself. I could only hope that it impressed my bed companions just as much. I settled the food, serving utensils, and plates on a tray. There wasn't any room for drinks, but I didn't want to spill stuff as I got breakfast set up in the bedroom. Figuring I would have time, I decided to come back for juice and milk after I delivered the tray first.
Upon entering the room, I found Bella sitting up and rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. Again, my eyes strayed to her nipples which were on display, but I quickly diverted my eyes before I could be caught. Instead, I cleared my throat, and said, "Morning. Did you sleep okay?"
Dropping her hands to her side, Bella looked my way. "I was wondering where you left to. Thought you might have work."
Setting the tray down on the bed, I sat next to it so I could face her. "Not today. Today I'm off. I thought I would make us some breakfast."
Bella looked over at the spread, and smiled. "Looks good."
"I just need to get drinks. Would you like coffee? Juice?" I asked, standing back up.
"We can eat in the kitchen. Less mess," Bella shrugged, while scooting closer to the edge of the bed.
"No!" I said, admittedly louder than I should. I quickly spared a glance towards Tony to see if I disrupted his sleep. Thankfully, he still appeared to be slumbering. Looking back at a confused Bella, I offered her a sheepish smile. "Its just, I like seeing you in my bed. I wanted to milk it for all I can."
Bella rolled her eyes at me, but settled back into the pillows. "I'll take coffee, please."
"Okay, I'll get the drinks. Can you attempt to wake our chaperone up?" I said, before making my way back to the kitchen. By the time I returned with beverages, Tony was wide awake, and staring starry eyed at breakfast.
"I've never eaten in bed before. I thought food had to be eaten on the table. This is so cool! Can we always eat in bed?" he rattled off, getting more excited with every statement. I was worried all his bouncing was going to knock over the tray, so after I put the drinks down on the end table, I settled my hand on his shoulder to still him.
"Gotta sit still if we're going to eat in here. Not having a table means that food can topple over and make a mess. So, do you think you can sit still so I can give you your food? I got you apple juice to go with everything," I told him.
"I can sit so still. I'm a big boy," he promised, freezing like a statue to prove his point.
"Such a big boy," Bella said, running her fingers through his hair. "What do we say to Daddy for making breakfast?"
"Thank you, Daddy. It looks yummy! Do the pancakes have chocolate chips in them? Or Nutella? Or fruit stuff?" he asked, while Bella cut up his pancake into bite-size pieces.
"Uh, Daddy can only make a few things, so these aren't too fancy. Just plain ones. But I brought syrup to put on them. And some whipped cream if you want," I added, hoping that I didn't mess things up.
"I like plain ones too! You did good Daddy," Tony said.
"Looks great Edward," Bella added after she handed Tony's plate over to him. I handed her a plate so she could serve herself next. But she didn't take any food. Looking at her, I saw that she was biting her lip, which usually meant something was on her mind. When I saw her spare a glance at Tony, I knew she wanted to say something that might not be appropriate for little ears.
I quickly grabbed the remote, and turned on the tv. It was still on the cartoon network from yesterday when Tony stayed over. That did the trick—Tony was immediately absorbed into watching the Roadrunner try to escape that pesky Coyote. Turning back to Bella, I saw that she was still biting her lip, but at least she was smiling a bit. I shrugged, before saying, "Looked like you wanted to talk. Thought this should keep him busy."
"Thanks." Checking to make sure Tony was preoccupied, she lowered her voice and said, "Do you think you and I could spend some time together today? I have some things on my mind that I think we need to talk about. But he probably shouldn't be around for it though—in case…" she trailed off. Now I was worried.
"In case?" I asked, prompting her to continue with her thought.
Derailing her previous thought, Bella said, "He shouldn't be here for grown up topics. And we didn't get to talk much yesterday."
The serious look on Bella's face was raising all sort of alarms in my head. I kept hearing the words in case repeat over and over inside my mind; my inner dialogue filling in the blanks. In case we start to fight. In case things turn ugly. In case we break up. In case-
"Edward?" I looked up to see Bella looking at me strangely. I must have been zoned out. "Is that okay? Or did you have plans set for today?"
"No plans. Figured we could have a family day, but I'd never turn down the opportunity to spend time with you," I told her, offering her a smirk despite the inner turmoil I was really experiencing. "Let me figure out who could take him for today, and then you and I can plan, okay?" I said, getting up from the bed quickly so I could retreat out of the room.
Once alone, I took a long deep breath. Did going back to Forks change things for Bella? Is she no longer happy here? Did Angela say something? I thought her friend was all for us being in a relationship, but maybe I read the signs wrong. I felt my anxiety rising with every doubt that presented itself. By the time I made it to the kitchen, my hands were shaking. I decided to call Jasper in the hopes that he could talk me down some.
"Dude, not all of us are morning people," I heard drawled through the phone's speaker. I spared a glance at the clock to see that it was barely 7 am. I guess I hadn't thought about the time when I was awoken this morning.
"Sorry J. I didn't even realize the time," I said quickly.
"What's wrong?" he answered back. I guess I was more rattled than I cared to admit if he could already detect something was off. I hope I hid it better from Bella.
"Nothings wrong. Or I hope nothings wrong. I'm not really sure."
"You got to give me more than that if you want my help," Jasper said, sounding more awake now.
"Bella's here. And—" I was cut off
"Really?" he asked, "Isn't it a little early for house guests? Or did she spend the night, hmm?" he asked, clearly being an ass looking for gossip.
"We had a family sleepover, if you must know. But that isn't why I'm calling. She just asked if we could spend the day together. She has things she wants to talk about."
"And if I recall, you have things you need to talk to her about, so what's the problem?"
"She doesn't want Tony here. She said in case. In case what, I don't know. In case we fight? In case things hit the fan?"
"Dude, don't future-trip. You won't know what she wants to talk about until you ask. But if she's asking to be alone then its probably something important. Why are you freaking out? Didn't we just talk about how you need to talk to her as well? This is the perfect opportunity. Time for you guys to hash everything out."
"Doesn't it seem suspicious that she wants to have a serious talk the second she gets back from her trip? What if she wants to leave? What if she realized this isn't what she wants? What if—"
"What if she's all in, and wants to reconfirm you guys are on the same page?" he added, putting a positive spin on things.
"God, J. My heart is racing. I can't lose her. Not after everything. I just got her back," I whispered, even though I was alone in my kitchen.
"Then you have to tell her this."
"Do I let her talk first? Or do I bring up the kid thing?" I asked, clearly out of my depth.
"I don't know what she wants to discuss Edward, so I can't really tell you how to navigate this conversation. But if I'm thinking correctly, my guess is you both are gearing up to have the same conversation. Think about it—she just was in baby-ville with Angela's little one. She's got babies on the mind. If I were a betting man, I'd say you both are looking to have the same conversation."
"I thought I would have more time though. And didn't you suggest we do this with a third unbiased party? What if I screw things up? What if I tell her something she doesn't want to hear?"
"Edward, stop man. You can't imagine all the worse case scenarios. Otherwise, you're finished before you even start. Take a deep breath for me. Settle yourself. Okay?" he said, trying to get me to calm down. When I managed to get my breathing more under control, he spoke up again. "Now, sounds like you need someone to take Tony off your hands for a while. Is that what you were calling about?"
"Sort of? That's the excuse I gave Bella to get a moment alone with my thoughts. But then things just went downhill so quickly, and I dialed you."
"Understandable man. Well, Alice and Sophia were going to go shopping today, but I'm free. I planned to go to the hardware store to pick up some tools, but I can take Tony with me. All boys are fascinated with Home Depot, right?" he chuckled, trying to alleviate the mood.
"You sure man? I can call and see if Mom or Dad can take him if you're busy," I asked, worried he wasn't being fully honest with me.
"I was just going to work on some projects around the house. But truthfully, I'd love a little male company. As you know, the women outnumber me in my own house. Tony can be my little helper. I'll make it enjoyable for him, I promise."
"If you're sure. Do you want me to bring him to you?" I asked, figuring the commute would at least put off this talk for a little while. Or at least give me some time to gather my thoughts.
"Nah, you're on the way to the store. Makes more sense for me to get him. Think he'd be ready to go in an hour?"
"You don't want to sleep more? I really didn't realize how early it was."
"I'm up now—doubt I'd get back to sleep. So just give me time to rustle up some breakfast, then I'll head your way."
"Okay. Thanks man. I really appreciate it."
"No worries Edward. Just keep calm. And be honest. Listen to all that she has to say, and I'm sure she'll give you the same courtesy. And, if you both seem to be hitting a brick wall, offer up the counseling option. If anything, it shows that you are willing to work on this more. Nothing has to be decided today."
"I know. Thanks J. I'll see you soon."
I placed the cell phone down on the kitchen counter, bringing my hands up to rub my face. Jasper is right—I can't focus on worst case scenarios. That isn't fair to Bella or I to be a negative Nancy before we even start. I will let Bella run this show. I only hope that things don't turn sour.
By the time I made it back to the bedroom, Tony and Bella were both finished with their meals. Though I did notice that Bella hadn't eaten much. Maybe she was just as nervous as I was.
"Hey Tony. Uncle Jasper is doing some projects around the house. He wanted to know if you wanted to go to the building store and help him get the tools and supplies he needs. Living in a house with all girls, he said he is going to need a helper. Do you think you would want to be his helper today?" I prodded.
"I love tools! And I'm a great helper! What kind of things is he working on? Is Sophia going to be there? Will she be mad that I'm working with her Daddy?"
"Sophia is going to go shopping with Alice, so Jasper is all by himself. That's why he needs help."
"I can help. I'll be the best helper. When can I go?" Tony asked, jumping in his seat with excitement.
"He said he'll be here in about an hour, so you probably should brush your teeth and get dressed for the day. Make sure you put on your play clothes though, because you might end up getting messy." Apparently, the thought of getting messy was the cherry on the sundae. Tony immediately jumped from the bed, and hurried into the spare bedroom where we were keeping his clothes and toiletries.
I couldn't help but notice the awkwardness that sprung up with Tony's departure. Was this a glimpse of what today would be like? Not liking that thought, I quickly said, "That should keep him busy for a bit. I wasn't sure what exactly you had in mind, but Jasper said he'd check in later to see if we needed more time, or whatever."
"Sounds great. Thank you, Edward," she said, offering me a smile. I think she was trying to be reassuring, but my nerves were too fried to really appreciate it. "Could you help me to the chair? I want to get ready for the day too."
I wanted to say that she should stay in her pajamas so we could be comfortable for this talk, but a quick glance at her breasts made me realize that I couldn't really afford any distractions with this serious talk. I hurried to grab her chair from the corner of the room, and lifted her up into her seat. Before I could truly retreat, she gave me a kiss on the corner of my mouth. She pulled back before I could try to reciprocate. I lifted my brow at her fast retreat.
"Morning breath," she said with a shrug, before rolling herself towards the bathroom.
"Does that mean I'll get a proper good morning kiss after you brush your teeth?" I called after her.
She turned to look at me over her shoulder, "Seems like you have a few kisses piling up. Good morning, thank you for breakfast, I missed you. But only if you brush your teeth too."
I chuckled, glad to see that despite the mood, we could still be playful with one another. "I'll get right on that beautiful. Let me know if you need any help in there."
"I'm sure I can manage on my own," she said, before shutting the in-suite bathroom door.
I went to see if Tony was doing okay prepping for today. He was trying to brush his teeth while putting socks on at the same time, and obviously making a mess of things.
"Buddy, calm down. You have time before Jasper shows up. You don't have to rush. Focus on brushing your teeth first, then put on your clothes." Once I saw that he was listening to directions, I turned back to the bed to approve the outfit he chose for today. Seems acceptable to me.
When he was finished in the bathroom, Tony started to get dressed for the day. "What are you and Mommy going to do while I'm a big helper?"
"I'm not sure buddy. I think we might just talk and catch up since she was gone and I missed her."
"Just talk? That's boring. You should do something else. Like play a game, or go to the movies, or go out to eat."
"We just ate buddy, and its still early. Maybe we can do something like that later. We'll see."
"You definitely should. 'Cuz you're working on being friends, right? Friends spend time together."
Oh, now I understand. I guess we were still trying to work the mission. Shaking my head, I offered him a smile. "We'll see buddy. Mom and I will spend today together, and then maybe the three of us can do something fun later. How does that sound?"
"Can we have another sleepover? I liked Mommy here." You and I both, buddy, I thought.
Not wanting to promise him things when I was unsure of how today would go, I simply said, "I'm not sure buddy. Three sleepovers in a row is a lot. I think it may be time to go back to Grandma and Grandpa's house. I heard that Grandpa really missed you while you were over here."
"Really? I missed him too!" Tony exclaimed, thankfully distracted from leaving my place.
While Tony got dressed, I brushed my teeth with a spare tooth brush. I wanted to be ready for those kisses I was promised. After we were finished, to pass the time while we waited for Jasper I read Tony one or two stories. Truthfully, I was trying to distract myself from the fact that Bella was probably naked in my bathroom. I didn't need to put myself into temptation's way.
"I was wondering where my boys were," said Bella from the doorway.
"We're right here Mommy. Daddy was reading me a story. I like this one. Its about a dragon that eats tacos. I want to eat tacos. Can we do that for dinner?"
"Maybe. That sounds yummy," Bella offered.
"Do you know where we can get good tacos Daddy? Or should we see if Grandma will make us some? She is a good cook," he asked.
"It's too early to worry about dinner now buddy. Aren't you full from all those pancakes you ate?" I asked him, while tickling his full belly. Not wanting to get him too excitable, I stopped and said, "Let's go get your shoes on because Jasper will be here soon." At the mention of Jasper, Tony was off the bed and heading to the living room.
"You're good with him," she said, a real smile on her face. Before I could respond, she rolled off after him.
I stayed laying on the bed for a moment. Could Jasper be right? From that last interchange, I'm starting to think so. The doorbell pulled me from my thoughts, and I quickly made my way out to help Tony finish getting ready.
"Let me see those muscles. Yup, you'll do for the job. Thank you for volunteering," I heard Jasper say, as I made my way into the living room.
"I'm strong, and I listen good, and I like tools. What sort of tools are we going to work with?"
"Well, we need to do some painting if you're up for the job. And then we might have some minor things to do with a hammer, and screwdriver."
"This is going to be awesome," Tony exclaimed.
Jasper made small talk with Bella as I put Tony's sneakers on. I made sure to double knot them because I could just imagine him tripping over a shoe lace with tools around. I wasn't quite sure if he was clumsy like his mother, but I didn't want to take the chance.
"Alright, we'll see you guys later. Text me if you need more time or whatnot," Jasper said in parting as they made their way towards the door.
"Will do. Thanks again man." Jasper just offered me a reassuring smile in return.
"Bye Mommy. Bye Daddy. Have fun, okay?" Tony said before heading out the door.
I heard Jasper mumble, "Not too much fun," under his breath. While I would love a day of fooling around without impressionable eyes, Jasper knew that wasn't what today was about. I punched his shoulder to scold him, without having to address out loud what he actually said.
"Bye Tony. Be safe, and listen to Jasper," I called out after him. Once they were gone, I closed and locked the front door. Turning around, I saw that Bella was watching my every move. I didn't like how stifling things felt, so I tried for humor. "And then there were two."
Bella chuckled, but there was a nervousness about it, making it not seem sincere. I wanted to make her as comfortable as possible, so I asked, "Where would you like to do this? Living room couch? We could go out on the patio, if you like. I'd suggest the bedroom, but that might be a little dangerous without our chaperone."
"Haven't seen the patio yet. Let's go there. Should I grab a sweatshirt?"
Not knowing how long we would actually be talking for, I figured it would be better if we were fully prepared so we wouldn't have to stop and start again with distractions. "I'll grab one just in case. Can you get some drinks together?"
"Too early for alcohol?" Bella asked, then chuckled again.
"It's five o'clock somewhere, right?" I jested back, then said, "I'll stick with iced tea. I probably should keep my wits in check. But feel free to booze it up if you want. Do you need the liquid courage?" I asked, wondering if she would give anything away.
"I'll have lemonade. Leave the drinking for later," she said
"Will we be celebrating? Or drowning our sorrows," I asked, as I backed away and headed towards my room to retrieve a sweatshirt for her. She didn't respond right away, so I left the room. I think I made out "Too soon to tell", but I couldn't be sure. While in my room, I also grabbed a throw blanket. Just because we were having a serious conversation didn't mean we couldn't cuddle under a blanket together, right? I had a feeling that I was going to need to make the most of our alone time, just in case it is our last.
Just in case. There are those dreaded words again. I quickly shook it off, not wanting to get side tracked and left to rejoin Bella in the kitchen. She was pouring our drinks, but I could see that she was nervous as her hand was shaking. I was worried she was going to drop the pitcher, so I quickly set my things down, and grabbed it away from her. When the task was done, I turned and took her hands into mine.
"Hey, sweetheart—please calm down. I don't want you to be nervous to talk to me. We should be able to talk about anything right? Especially with communication being the key to our success this go around." I hoped I had reassured her some. I picked up the sweatshirt and blanket, and handed it to her to roll out with her while I nabbed the two glasses. I brought the pitcher as well so we wouldn't have to worry about refills.
Once outside, I settled down in the lounger, and watched Bella look around and take in her settings. When she finished, she turned back to look at me, but flushed when she realized that I was watching her while she was distracted.
"It's beautiful out here," she offered.
"That it is," I told her, still enjoying my view. Bella anywhere is beautiful. But Bella here, with the sun reflecting off her hair, was radiant. Worried that my staring was making her uncomfortable, I asked her, "Do you want to stay in the chair, or can I interest you in a cuddle here on the lounger? I even have a comfy blanket to keep you from getting a chill," I bragged, hoping to entice her.
She hesitated as she considered her options, before saying, "I want to cuddle."
I felt like I won a million dollars. I was worried when she first mentioned the need to talk that she was going to distance herself, and pull away from me. But this just proved that she wasn't doing that, and I felt like the huge weight that was pressed on my heart was alleviated. "Then get over her beautiful."
She rolled over, and when she was within arm's reach, I lifted her up and onto the seat next to me. I pulled the coffee table closer so that she could elevate her leg, then threw the blanket around the both of us. Bella leaned over and put her head on my shoulder, and for a while, we simply just enjoyed the peace.
I don't know how much time had passed before I heard Bella clear her throat. Obviously, she had gathered her thoughts, and was ready to start.
"The floors all yours. What's on your mind?" I prompted, showing her I was ready as well.
"Leaving to go to Forks was hard. I wanted to be there for Angie. Especially since she was there for me when I had Tony. But I felt like I was being torn in two. When I boarded that plane, I left my heart here. And a body without a heart can't really function."
"I know what you mean. I tried to hide it, but I was a mess when you left Bella. Some part of me worried that you were going to board that plane, and never come back. My emotions were all out of whack," I confessed.
"Did you almost ask me not to go?" she asked me.
Confused where that come from, I asked, "I wouldn't do that to you Bella. I know this was important to you. Why do you ask?"
"I could have sworn you wanted to say something before I left, but seemed to be biting your tongue. I was worried when you didn't say what was on your mind."
I was surprised that she had picked up on that. With a nervous chuckle, I said, "Of course you noticed that. No, I wasn't going to ask you not to go. I was trying to keep myself from telling you I love you. I didn't think that was the most appropriate time." Bella's head lifted from my shoulder to look at me. I could see tears forming in the corner of her eyes. Figuring I might as well go for broke, I continued, "You have to know how much I love you, Bella. Having you back in my life has made me so very happy. You complete me—you make my heart whole. So yes, I can understand what you meant when you said you felt like you were being torn apart when you left. Because my heart was breaking to see you go. To see you walking away, or in this case rolling away from me to get on a plane to fly back to Forks."
"I love you too. I always have. I never stopped," she whispered.
Not knowing what was still yet to come, I figured I had to take the time now to commemorate this epic moment. I swooped in and tenderly kissed her. It wasn't hurried, or passionate. Instead, we simply breathed in each other, sealing our commitment to each other. I took my thumbs and wiped away the tears that were now leaking down her face. I was slightly worried to see so many tears. I pulled back, and added a kiss to each tear-stained cheek before settling back in my seat. Bella took a couple moments to calm herself, before she resumed her spot resting on my shoulder.
"I'm glad that we are together now. That we are getting a second chance. I almost want to send Mrs. Cope a gift basket to thank her for this opportunity."
"I'll get my credit card right now," I joked, though in reality I wasn't really joking. Mrs. Cope will forever be instrumental in giving me back my life, and she needed to be thanked for overstepping that fateful day she called me.
"But" she said, getting us back on track. I immediately dropped my smirk, knowing we were getting to the crux of the issue now. "While we are partaking in this second chance, I am worried. What really has changed Edward? Are we any better off than we were five years ago?"
Taking a moment to consider her question, I answered, "I never really understood why you left in the first place. I know why now, but back then, I would have said things were fine. Perfect even. We were going to get married, make a life for ourselves. We can have that all again Bella. Now we have the added bonus of Tony. So, are we better off? I'd say we are."
"You know now I left because of Tony. I couldn't abort him Edward," she stated.
Not wanting to rehash old arguments, I cut her off. "And, like I've said before, I really don't think I would have asked you to. Yes, I admit that I was never really fond of children, and didn't think we would have any. But knowing Tony now? How could I not love him, Bella? He's a part of you and me. The very best parts. I think I would have come around if you gave me the time to think about it, and process it. Look at how well things have gone now."
"You're a natural Edward. Being a Dad suits you. It really does," Bella told me, which made me smile. "But that is what hasn't changed though. Our stances on children." Pulling away so she could put some space between us, she continued, "Yes we have Tony now. And you have accepted him, and love him, and shown me that you are here for not just me, but for us. You've proven yourself and I am overjoyed and can see that future vision of the three of us living together as a family. But I always envisioned more than one child Edward. Growing up alone, as an only child—I hated that. I would never wish that upon him. I was always envious of what you had with Emmett and Alice."
Grabbing my hand, she added, "I want to have more children Edward. Holding Angela's baby made me nostalgic. It reminded me of my goal to give Tony a sibling. But it also reminded me that while I love you and the life we can have with each other, this is still a prevalent issue. That is where we are no better off."
"You're so sure of this? That I can't change my stance?" I asked her. Truthfully, I wasn't sure of the answer myself, but I wanted to know why she was so sure.
"It's not that you can't Edward. I just know that I have no right to ask you to. You are entitled to your opinions and your thoughts. But that is what makes me question if love is enough here? If I want more kids, and you don't—either I have to give up what I want, or you have to give up what you want. No one can be happy here. This isn't like a regular argument where we can compromise. And even if I decide that I can be happy with just you and Tony and have no regrets, sometimes life throws curve balls at us. Tony was created while I was on birth control Edward. So, do I have to live in fear that any additional unplanned pregnancies will be seen as an attempt to tramp you? I don't want to live a life like that."
Not liking the distance between us, I picked her up, and settled her on my lap. Pulling her into my body, I pressed a kiss to her forehead, giving myself a moment to choose my words carefully. "Bella, I don't know what the future holds for us. Do I want to have another kid today? No, I don't. I'm still settling into parenthood. I have five years to play catch up for. I can't just switch mindsets overnight. Yes, I agree, things are going well with me and Tony. But we're still in the beginning stages. I'm sure there is going to be days when I get frustrated with him, and his messes. Days when I regret not being able to just pick up and go do whatever I want. But until I see how I handle those situations, I can't give you a definitive answer of could we have more."
"I understand that, Edward."
"Then you need to understand that I'm not saying no. I'm not asking you to give up on your dreams either Bella. I'm just asking you for some time. Time to figure out what I want."
"But time is what I'm worried about. How much time? A year? Three? Five? I know with modern medicine women can get pregnant later in life. I just don't want to settle into a life only for it to end in heartbreak down the road. Maybe its better to cut our losses now before we can get anymore hurt," she mumbled the last part under her breath.
I pushed her back as if she had burned me. "Cut our losses?" I seethed.
"I just mean, I don't want to get everyone's hopes up only to end up in the same place we were five years ago Edward."
"Spending five years away from you Bella was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Now that you are back, I refuse to let you go so easily. I'm not asking for time to try and trap you into staying with me. Just like I wouldn't accuse you of trapping me if you were to fall pregnant again. All I'm asking for is a year to at least figure out my role in fatherhood. I'm still learning. With a year, we can settle down, buy a house, be a true family. Then, we can figure out what to do about adding to that family."
"I already feel like you are just saying that because its what I want. That's no way to live either Edward. I want us both to be happy, and I don't know how to do that when we want such different things."
"I don't know what I want Bella, outside of you. And Tony. If you asked me six months ago, I would have told you I would never want kids. You're right—that hadn't changed. But meeting Tony…it changed everything Bella. He has wormed his way into my heart in a way I never thought a child could. And that makes me wonder, why is that? Even with Sophia, I kept my distance. She didn't have the same type of appeal. What makes Tony so different? Is it because he's my flesh and blood that the bond is undeniable? Is it because he came into my life past the sticky crying baby stage? Can I relate to him because he's older, or would it not have mattered if he was four or two? That is why I need time to figure all of these things out."
Bella grew quiet after my speech. I figured I would mention Jasper's idea, just to show her I was seriously trying here. "While you were away, I spoke about this with Jasper. Like I said earlier, I didn't take you leaving well. He actually said I was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder since I never came to terms with you leaving me the first time. But through that conversation, the concept of more children came up. And just like I told you, I told him I wasn't sure what I wanted. It's true that I want you to be happy, and would give you the world. But this would be a big give, especially since I still have so many unanswered questions to consider." I let out a sigh, before admitting, "He suggested that maybe we should see a counselor about this issue. Someone unbiased that would let us both work out our sides of the coin to figure out what will work best for the both of us. Would that be something you would consider? After we had some time to settle down?"
"I talked about this with Angela too. She had a suggestion as well. She also thought maybe you got along with Tony because he was older, and wondered if maybe we could consider adopting a child—someone young enough to appease my yearnings, but old enough for you to be happy as well."
"Seems that our friends have some pretty good suggestions," I told her. "It's a valid idea, but again, I can't give you a yes or no answer right now Bella. Ask me again, in a year."
"I think considering all that we've been through, couples counseling might be a good idea for us. To deal with the hurt of keeping Tony away. And my leaving like you said. It could help everyone reacclimate and figure out how to be a family. Could start there, and after you've had some time, maybe we could explore the future."
"I'm game if you are. I love you Bella, and I would do just about anything for you."
"I know. You proved that with the private jet," she quipped.
"You need to get over the fact that I will spoil you," I told her, pulling her even closer to me.
"Once in a while, it's okay. Just out of practice," she said into my neck. I shivered as I felt the warm breath with each matching word.
"Anything else you want to talk about?" I asked, not wanting to venture too far off topic if we weren't finished yet.
"That was it. You have anything else to add?" she questioned.
"I think we hit all the major points. Are you feeling better now that we talked? You were so nervous—I hated seeing you anxious to talk to me."
"I feel like we earned that alcohol now. Celebratory drink."
"Maybe later. I don't want to move right now. I'm happy just the way we are," I told her.
"Me too," she said, adding a kiss to my neck.
"I really did miss you, Bella. I don't want to be away from you. This past month, I have been spoiled beyond belief. I don't know what I'm going to do when you guys go home. I think we need to come to a decision quick about where we are going to live so I can give notice at work."
"Our lives are much more movable Edward. Tony is young, so he can start over and make new friends. Plus, he has Sophia here, and family here. There really isn't much left for us back in Forks. With Jacob out of the picture, it's really just Angie and Ben. And its not like we'll never see them again. Family visits one another. We can make trips back to see them, and they can come visit us out here too."
Worried she was telling me only what I wanted to hear, I questioned, "What about your job Bella?"
"I'm out for the rest of this year Edward. I'm not a tenured professor—I wouldn't be surprised if they offer my position to my sub if she's a good fit. And all this time off will give me plenty of time to find something out here."
"Are you sure? I don't want you rushing into this Bella. I told you, I would be just as happy to come to you guys. I don't want to disrupt your entire lives."
"Home is where you are Edward. And I have to admit, I have liked having all of this extra family around these last few weeks. Tony really could thrive with all these role models in his life. I think this would be a good thing for us. A fresh start. The three of us here, in Chicago."
I pulled her out of my neck to bring her face back into my line of sight. Just hearing that she wants to live together, the three of us, was the selling point for me. I was worried she was going to make us live apart in the beginning, like we had been doing since she arrived. Staring into her eyes, I asked just to clarify, "The three of us, together?"
"I'd like to get there. I'd prefer if we kept this arrangement while I'm still rehabbing. But I wouldn't be opposed to looking at houses with you. That way we have something to move into when we're ready."
I crushed my lips to hers, no longer able to hold myself back. I couldn't be gentle right now, not after that declaration. I think she too felt the same way as she knotted her fists into my shirt, pulling me hard against her. I circled my arms around her waist, and gave into the many unrestrained and exploratory kisses that our bodies craved for. When I felt her fingers on the nape of my neck, coiling into my hair there, I let out a soft groan. My hands traveled up and down the length of her back. I felt this overwhelming need to touch every part of her. She didn't feel close enough. I just wanted to disappear into her—let our bodies become one. I felt my heart drumming in my chest. Considering how her body was molded against mine, I'm sure she could feel how fast it was racing. I don't know if we kissed for five minutes, or five hours, but regardless of the fact that my lips felt bruised, I couldn't force myself to stop. When I felt warm hands under my shirt, I startled and pulled back. Bella had a love drunk look upon her face, entirely enraptured by our latest make out.
"What's wrong? Why did you stop?" she panted, trying to catch her breath.
"I was wondering if we should relocate. I can only imagine what type of show we are giving the neighbors," I joked.
"Bedroom?" she asked, pulling her lip between her teeth. I wanted to be that lip.
"Are you sure Bella? I thought we were going to wait until your casts come off?" I asked, though I was getting giddy at the thought of reacquainting myself with those areolas I had the pleasure of almost seeing earlier.
"We're waiting for the cast to come off to have sex. That doesn't mean we can't do other things," she reasoned as she kissed her way down my jaw. Who was I to argue with that line of thinking? "Please Edward," she said. There was no reason for begging when I was more than willing to give her what she wanted.
I stood from the lounger at once, and carried her back to my room. When I settled her down on my bed, I once again was taken by her beauty. Flushed cheeks from our exertion, hair sprawled out in multiple directions. Her chest was heaving, whether it be in excitement, or from lack of oxygen, I wasn't sure. But taking in that sight, I couldn't help but wonder how did I get so lucky? before swooping in and picking up where we left off.
AN: Please don't hate me for ending it there. I'm worried about writing lemons due to how many stories get flagged or pulled due to complainers. Plus, when I first started writing this story, I rated it T because personally I never thought I would get to this position. I promise those of you who are looking for smut, I won't leave you hanging. But I think I may post naughty things separately, just in case. So, stay tuned. XOXO