-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
Moving in with Edward was pretty seamless. We’d spent most of July and August in each other’s apartments, so we’d already learned the most important things about living together. Like how he left his towels on the floor after his shower but organized his CDs alphabetically, and how I set my bedroom clock ten minutes ahead to trick myself into getting up on time.
I had been bringing things over gradually, and I sold most of my furniture, so there was no big moving day for me. Angela on the other hand, hadn’t moved a damn thing to Garrett’s apartment except for a few changes of clothing, so I spent almost a full two days helping move all of her shit and listening to Garrett complain about back breaking labor. Edward had mysteriously mixed up the days and had to work, but since it was Ang’s stuff we were moving anyway, I only teased him a little bit.
Thanksgiving came and went without much fanfare. Edward and Garrett had to work double shifts, so Angela and I made our way to Forks to share the holiday with our families. Edward texted me a picture of something on a cafeteria tray, but the only thing I recognized was gravy. I refrained from sending him a picture of Mrs. Weber’s perfectly browned turkey, but I did send him a photo of the pumpkin pie I’d baked. He took a picture of his pouty lips, and I caved, letting him know there was another pie for him, hidden in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator at the condo.
Christmas loomed around the corner before I was prepared for it. I struggled to shop for a man who could afford to donate $5,000 to charity for me just because he felt like he owed me. In the end, I realized there was nothing I could buy him that he couldn’t get for himself. I knew that it was more about the sentiment than the gift, but I realized that was the answer.
We opened gifts on Christmas morning before his shift at the hospital. He gave me a gorgeous chain with a heart shaped pendant and a collector’s copy of the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. I got him a renewal for his subscription to the Journal of Emergency Medicine and a sweater that I knew would look gorgeous with his eyes.
He had no idea that those were just the things I could wrap and that his real present would arrive later. Our trip to New York had shown me how much Edward loved his family, but he rarely admitted to himself or anyone else how much he missed them. So, with Alice’s help, I arranged the one thing he would never think of asking for.
“Don’t fill up on Christmas cookies and crap at the nurses station,” I warned as he pulled on his coat. “I’m making a full blown holiday meal for us, baby.”
“I appreciate it, really,” he sighed, kissing me softly, “but you shouldn’t go through that much trouble just for the two of us.”
“You won’t convince me, so don’t try. I’m going to rock out to Christmas music and make us our first Christmas dinner.”
“Fine. Fine.” He laughed, raising his hands in defeat. “I’ll call you before I head home and make sure you don’t need anything.”
“Perfect. Now get out of here before you’re late.” And before your whole damn family shows up on the doorstep and ruins the surprise.
He gave me one more kiss and headed out the door. I texted Alice that the coast was clear and ran to our downstairs neighbor’s condo to get the turkey and other groceries I’d stashed there. They were a sweet, older couple whom Edward had introduced me to when I first started staying over at his place. They had flown to Colorado to visit their daughter, and when they asked me to feed their cat for the weekend, I mentioned my plan to surprise Edward. They were thrilled to help me pull it off and offered their refrigerator along with anything else I needed.
Thirty minutes later, the Cullen women arrived, talking and laughing like usual. They’d left the men at the hotel with the kids for a few hours so we could get the majority of the prep work done without all of them underfoot. I had cooked large meals before but never entirely on my own. I’d always had Angela or her mother to help. I wasn’t too sure how much help any of the Cullens would be, but Alice assured me that they could all follow instructions and read recipes.
I put them to work chopping vegetables while I got the turkey ready, and before I knew it there was a pounding at the door that could only be Emmett.
“Bella, let me in! I smell food!” he yelled.
“Hold on!” I laughed, fumbling with the lock. I barely had it open when he pushed through the door and picked me up in a bone crushing hug.
“How’ve you been? You keeping Eddie on his toes?”
“Of course. Rose keeping you out of trouble?”
“Nevah!” He gave me a smacking kiss on the forehead and passed me off to his father, while the twins pulled on my pant legs.
Once the greetings were done, everyone made their way into the condo. Esme mixed drinks and Alice set out some snacks while Rosalie set the twins up with a video and snuggled with the baby. The afternoon passed in what I had learned was typical Cullen family togetherness. The twins played nicely until one of them erupted into sobs, blaming the other for a heinous crime and Baby Peter toddled around and tried to touch everything he could reach. There was a lot of laughter and yelling at Emmett.
Jasper had just finished making his deviled eggs, and I had just pulled the turkey from the oven when Edward texted to tell me he was on his way home.
E: DONE. Grabbing a shower and heading home. Need NE thing?
B: Just U. XOX
E: Soon 🙂
Rose turned down the television, and everyone quieted their voices so Edward wouldn’t suspect anything before he came through the door. Carlisle joined me in the kitchen and carved the turkey while I tried to keep my hands busy, putting food in serving dishes.
As the minutes ticked by I began to get increasingly nervous. Edward loved his family, but what if he didn’t like the surprise? I should have seriously thought this through more. We could have spent our first Christmas together, alone. That would have been special too.
“Stop,” Esme whispered, coming up behind me for a hug as I folded napkins to take to the table. “You know he’s going to be happy.”
“I hope so,” I sighed.
“Let’s get you a fresh drink.”
I had to laugh. That was her solution to everything. She had made a pitcher of vodka and cranberry juice earlier, which Alice called her holiday special. “Sure, that sounds good.”
I had just taken a sip when I heard Edward’s keys in the lock. I snapped my fingers a couple of times and shushed everyone as I made my way towards the door.
“Something smells great,” he called, walking in.
I stepped forward and hugged him, stopping him before he took his coat off. I gave him a quick kiss as his eyes drifted over my shoulder and he pulled back in surprise.
“What the? Mom? Dad? Holy shit!”
“Hi, sweetie!” Esme rushed over, hugging us both as Carlisle grinned from his seat on the arm of the couch.
Everyone made their way over to us and passed Edward around in hugs to say hello. He was excited, but I could tell he was sort of dazed, still not sure it was real. When the last person stepped in front of him, laughing at his gaping expression, I wondered again for a second if it was too much. Then Edward’s face broke into the biggest smile I’d ever seen, and I forgot my worries.
“Ho ho ho, Cuz,” Riley laughed and pretended to tip his hat.
“What are you doing here?”
He shrugged. “Esme said if I wanted to kiss her under the mistletoe I’d have to come to Seattle, so here I am.”
“Well, then I’m glad you’re a total perv,” Edward chuckled and pulled his cousin in for a hug.
They held each other for a few seconds, and I could see Ry whispering in his ear. Then the stepped back and Edward grabbed me, kissing me harder than was probably appropriate in front if his entire family, before burying his face in my shoulder.
“I can’t believe you did this.”
“Is it okay?”
“Jesus, Bella. It’s unbelievable. I don’t even want to know how you worked all of this out.”
“One call to Alice, that’s all it took.”
He laughed again, giving me a tight squeeze. “I suppose that’s all it would take.”
“Let’s put this bird on the table, yo. I’m getting hangry,” Emmett boomed, bursting our bubble.
“I just walked in the door,” Edward snapped back, “and what the fuck is hangry, ya freak?”
“And you call yourself a doctor?” Emmett clucked and shook his head. “Hangry, the condition of a person who is so hungry they’re angry. Thus, hangry.”
“I’m pretty sure you made that up.”
“Google that shit. It’s real.”
“Hey,” I stepped between them, even though I knew they were only teasing each other. It was just the way they were. I was actually a little surprised Riley hadn’t jumped into the middle of it, agreeing with one of them. “It’s a day of peace. Let’s all get a drink, and we’ll serve dinner.”
“Yeah. Fine,” they mumbled before Emmett pulled Edward into a headlock and started rubbing his knuckles into his brother’s already messy hair.
I rolled my eyes and went into the kitchen, but not before I saw their mother cuff both of them on the head.
We finished putting food on the table, and I sat down to my first Christmas dinner with the Cullen family. We laughed and talked, and listened to the twins explain how Santa Claus had found them at their hotel room and delivered all of their gifts. We talked about Christmas traditions, how Charlie put a toothbrush in my stocking every year and how Emmett insisted on leaving Santa a bologna sandwich instead of cookies because that’s what everyone else did.
Several times throughout the meal, I caught Esme gazing at her children with a dreamy look on her face. It wasn’t until later, after we had opened gifts and were seated in the living room around the Christmas tree, that she said anything.
“Isabella, I just want to thank you for inviting us. I rarely get to spend time with all of my children anymore,” her voice caught, and I reached over to grab her hand. “Doing this for Edward, for all of us, it speaks volumes about how much you love him. I’m so glad you’re a part of our family now.”
I had been so focused on Edward that I hadn’t actually thought about what this would mean to the rest of his family. And clearly, it meant a lot. I blinked away tears and swallowed the lump in my throat.
With a shrug, I tried to laugh it off. “Edward is really hard to shop for.”
Everyone laughed, and Edward pulled me onto his lap and into his arms. We stayed like that until Carlisle and Esme left to take the kids back to the hotel, then we ended up back at the dining table with a deck of cards and a bottle of Irish whiskey Riley brought.
The drinking and laughing went late into the night. Edward had such a great time. I felt like I could see the tension melt away from his frame. At one point, I came back from the kitchen to see Edward and Riley’s heads together, grinning and whispering about something. I stopped in my tracks, just watching them, torn by how good it was to see them so happy and terrified at the realization that Edward would always miss his family if we stayed in Seattle.
He wasn’t unhappy in Seattle by any means. He told me that he loved the city and wanted to stay, that he didn’t want to practice medicine in his father’s shadow. I just couldn’t imagine having to give this up. Permanently. We hadn’t talked about his post-residency plans in a while, though I knew he’d spoken to his father’s friend at Harborview about future openings in the emergency room there. But seeing him, his whole face lit up as he goofed around with his brothers and cousin, I wondered if he had truly thought through what it would mean to stay in Seattle for good.
Edward gave me a wink and I shook my head to clear my thoughts. We had plenty of time to talk about our future and as Emmett poured another round of shots, I put the topic out of my head and made my way back to the table to enjoy the rest of the night.
I woke in the morning, sweating like I was in a sauna and with a pounding headache. I could barely move, but after a few seconds, I discovered it was because Edward was sleeping almost on top of me. I wiggled to get out from under him, but he was too heavy and I was too hung over.
“Hey,” I rasped. “You have to move.”
“I can’t.” His voice was gravelly, and it came from somewhere buried in my shoulder.
“You have to. I think my head is going to explode, and I know I’m going to pee in your bed if I don’t get to the bathroom.”
“Meh. I’m used to blood and urine.”
“I’m not,” I snorted and my head hurt like hell. I pushed on his shoulder. “Seriously. Get off.”
He groaned and rolled over, burying his head under a pillow. I went to the bathroom and found some ibuprofen before I stumbled to the kitchen to start some coffee. Bodies and blankets littered the living room, but it was the sight in the kitchen that stopped me short. I turned around without a word and went back to the bedroom, too scarred to even think about making coffee.
I climbed over Edward and flopped on the bed. “I need brain bleach.”
I flipped the pillow off his head and onto the floor. “I just saw your brother’s naked ass in the kitchen. I can’t unsee that.”
He laughed, then winced and grabbed his head. “I told you at the beach someone in my family didn’t wear pants.”
“How the hell was I supposed to remember that?”
He snorted and stole my pillow. “You’ll never forget now.”
No, I certainly wouldn’t.
When we finally dragged ourselves out of bed, Edward’s parents had arrived with the kids and bags full of take out food for breakfast. We spent a few more hours with his family before they had to go back to the hotel and pack and Edward had to head into the hospital. All in all, my first Christmas with the Cullens was a roaring success.
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
Edward and Garrett both worked on New Years Eve, so Angela and I celebrated like old times, drinking champagne and watching movies in our pajamas. It was good to reconnect with her, and we promised that despite seeing each other at work everyday, we’d make more of an effort to get together on the weekends.
On Valentine’s Day, I received a box of chocolates and bouquet of red roses at work. The blooms were large and fragrant, and I spent the afternoon grinning at them like a lovesick fool. Though roses and chocolates were the ultimate cliché, Edward knew that no one had ever sent them to me. When I had been dating Paul, I’d been lucky to get a card for Valentine’s Day.
We had plans to make dinner together, so I was beyond disappointed when Edward texted to say he had to work a double shift. I looked at my roses on the mantle and sighed. What had started as my best Valentine’s Day ever, had fallen flat.
I wandered to the refrigerator and debated heating up some leftovers or making the dinner we had planned. As I shifted the boxes around on the shelves, I realized that our night didn’t have to be ruined. I pulled the containers out of the fridge with a renewed sense of excitement and got down to cooking.
Two hours later, I carried the picnic basket Edward used during his proposal into the hospital. I stopped at the nurses station and talked with Jen, one of the friendlier E.R. nurses whom I knew would help me out. She practically swooned and rushed me out of the triage area so Edward wouldn’t see me. I took the elevator down to the lower level and set up our picnic in the back hallway where I knew Edward sometimes liked to hide out when he had downtime. After about ten minutes, I heard the elevator ding, and I looked up to see a grinning Edward coming down the hall.
“Whatcha doing, Swan?”
“Having dinner with my man.”
“Oh, shit, am I interrupting?” He looked around as if there might be someone else there with me.
He sat down next to me and leaned over to give me a kiss. “You brought me dinner?”
“Mm hm.” I nodded and kissed him again. It was easy to get lost in his kisses.
“You didn’t have to do this, baby. I still want to have our night; I love when I get to cook with you.”
“I know, and we will, but… I didn’t want to eat alone tonight.”
“I can’t argue with that.” He cupped my cheek and kissed my forehead before sitting back against the wall. He rubbed his hands together and grinned as he looked at the food I had set out. “Everything looks great.”
I dished up our food, green salad and pasta with grilled chicken and pesto, while Edward poured us each a glass of ginger ale. We ate and talked quietly about our days and tried to decide when we would make up our cooking date. Eventually, Edward leaned his head against the wall and closed his eyes. He’d been working for close to twelve hours, and I knew he was tired. I took his hand and put my head on his shoulder, taking a minute to rest myself.
“I talked to Dr. Snow at Harborview today,” he said quietly, startling me.
“Yeah, he’d like me to come over sometime when I’m off and check out the department over there.”
I’d continued to think about Christmas with his family. I hadn’t brought up my concerns but, apparently, it couldn’t wait any longer.
Sitting up, I licked my lips and turned sideways to face him. “Are you sure you want to go to Harborview?
He cocked his head, confused. “Yeah, why? Have you heard something bad about their E.R.?”
“No,” I said slowly before pausing to figure out exactly how to say what I was thinking. “Are you sure you want to stay in Seattle? I just mean, it was so good to see you with your family. I worry about what you’re giving up by staying out here.”
“Babe, I’ve been through it over and over, before I even moved out here. I want to do this on my own, to build my own name.” He drew his knees up and circled them with his arms. “I know it’s hypocritical to say that and then interview with one of Carlisle’s old friends, but my main interest in Harborview is that it’s part of the U-dub system. This past year, I’ve really enjoyed working with the first year residents. You know, teaching them and helping them relate to patients. I want to be able to work with students or residents, and I’m not too proud to accept a foot in the door.”
“If that’s what you want, have you considered doing it any closer to home? I don’t mean New York, but Chicago, Detroit, even Boston would be closer but not in your dad’s immediate circle. I just-” I stopped, not sure I could come right out and tell him what was worrying me.
He pushed some hair over my shoulder before taking my hand and gently rubbing his thumb over my palm.
“What are you thinking?”
I bit my lip as I looked down at our joined hands, then I lifted my eyes to meet his gaze. His eyes were full of concern, and it melted my heart.
“We’re so far away from your family.” I glanced down and let out a deep breath before looking back up at him. “I don’t want our kids to grow up without them.”
He took in a sharp breath and his eyes got wide. I could see the shock register on his face. Then, as quickly as it came, it was gone, replaced with his signature panty dropping smile.
“Stop it,” I laughed, hitting his shoulder. “I’m being serious. My family consists of my dad, you, Garrett and Angela. If you want to get crazy, we can include Ang’s parents and brothers. But you’ve got siblings and cousins, and nieces and a nephew. You’re parents are like… Jim and Cindy Walsh or something.”
“Nice. They’re oblivious to everything and constantly trying to be cool?”
“Don’t interrupt. You know what I mean. I just… I think you need to really think about committing yourself to staying so far away from them.”
He sat up straight and turned towards me, leaning his shoulder on the wall. “Bella, I know what you’re saying and, God,” he lifted our hands and held them over his heart, “I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you’re thinking about this. That you brought my family, including Riley, here for Christmas.” He shook his head, but he was still smiling. “But for now, for the next couple of years, this is where I want to be. I love Seattle. I love having you show me your state.
“Let’s just be us for a little while. Edward and Bella. Then in a couple of years, if you don’t hate my family yet, we’ll have this talk again. If by then you want to move closer to my family so you can let my mom and a nanny watch the kids for the weekend, great, but right now…I just want you to myself.”
By the time he was finished, tears were rolling down my face. He leaned close, cupping my face with his hand.
“Why are you crying, baby?”
“Because you’re so freakin’ sweet,” I sniffed, wiping my eyes.
“Psh,” he laughed. “It’s all true. I love you, and I don’t want to share you with my mom yet.”
I grabbed a napkin and wiped my nose. “I like your mom, but I never want to see your brother’s naked ass again as long as I live.”
“I can make no promises on that one. Actually, I can probably guarantee it’s not the last time you’ll see it. Emmett has no shame, and a tendency to sleep naked and eat breakfast pantsless. I think he was just being nice in the Hamptons. I couldn’t believe you never saw him then.”
I started to giggle, and I couldn’t seem to stop. Edward’s family was so perfect but at the same time insane. They were a great mixture of cookie cutter sitcom and slapstick comedy.
Edward nudged my shoulder. “At least he had his back to you.”
When I finally stopped laughing, we had about another ten minutes together before Edward’s pager went off.
He checked the message and sighed. “I’m sorry, but I’ve got to get back.”
“I know.” I stood and reached down to pull him up. I wasn’t upset. I’d wanted to see him and eat together and we’d gotten that. Hell, our conversation about staying in Seattle had turned out so much better than I imagined.
He gave me a hug and kissed me one more time. “I love you, Bella. I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but you’re stuck with me. You know that, right?”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way, Doc.” I squeezed his shoulders and knew I had to let him go to work.
“You want me to help you pack this up?”
“No, I’ve got it,” I said, stepping back. “Get out of here. Go save some lives or something.”
He hesitated for a second, then nodded. He kissed my forehead and took a few steps backward before turning and jogging towards the stairwell.
Pausing before opening the door he gave me another smile. “Love you!”
“Love you, too. Now go!”
He gave me a little wave and was gone. The door clanged shut loudly, and the hallway was quiet again. I sighed and finished packing up our picnic and folding the blanket I’d laid out. I threw the blanket in a bag and grabbed the basket before I made my way to the elevator.
I chuckled at the advertisement on the wall just above the up and down buttons. It was a gorgeous picture of Mt. Ranier in the spring time with the tagline, “What’s your excellent Washington State adventure?”
I reached up, taking the heart pendant Edward had given me for Christmas between my thumb and forefinger and smiled. I was on the best kind of adventure with Edward ever.
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
So, did you forget about the pantsless relative? Just like Bella, you’ll never forget again! LOL
This chapter didn’t cover as much time as I initially planned for it to, but I think it made up for it in swooniness… Thanks so much for reading!
What I’ve been reading:
It’s been a blizzard here, so I’ve had snow on the brain… Here are a couple of skiwards from my favorites list –
Negative Twenty and Falling by Katinki (complete o/s but 20,000 words LOL)
Two weeks, a few cups of cocoa, a mountain of snow, a pair of mittens, and one Mr. Perfect-Gorgeous. I present to you: Skiward. Just a little bit of wintery fluff so that you don’t think I’m always so doom and gloom. AH.
Off Piste by Landdownunder (complete)
Edward is a professional skier, Bella is an ex-Olympian still involved in the industry. They haven’t seen each other since one memorable encounter a few years ago; now the Vancouver Winter Olympics will have them sharing the same slopes once again. AH