“Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.” ~From “The Princess Bride” – Wesley to Buttercup
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
Riley’s cookout was a bit surreal, and I was glad that I faced it with a cocktail in hand.
It started with Maggie, and holy shit, she was a surprise. I had imagined this stylish, snooty, Sex and the City type, but she wasn’t that at all. No. She was a Snooki wanna-be, and it wasn’t working for her. Thank God Alice and Edward had made comments about how much she had changed in a year, because, really, I couldn’t see her being friends with any of the Cullen’s.
I guessed they’d sort of inherited her with Riley’s wife, but still. She was a piece of work. After her bullshit with screwing up my name and acting like she couldn’t believe Edward was off the market, I knew that I’d have to keep an eye on her. She seemed like someone who liked serving up revenge.
Riley was another story. I could immediately see him as Edward’s best friend. He was welcoming and funny. I knew Edward was reluctant to see him, and even more so when Riley suggested they talk later. He’d admitted to me on the ride over that he was afraid their lives were too different and they had drifted too far to be friends again. I had hope that Riley was ready to bury the hatchet, or build a bridge, whatever it took to get his cousin back, and that made me kind of want to kiss him.
After a trip to the bathroom and a stop to meet some musician Alice knew, I found myself standing on the beach with Rose while Alice played in the surf with the twins. I took a deep breath and made a ridiculous comment about the weather. I was still focused on being the bigger person, and the silence was kind of awkward.
She huffed and spoke without looking at me. “I’m supposed to apologize to you.”
“But you don’t want to?”
“Bree, be nice!” she snapped. The twins had been playing together nicely, but Bree had apparently decided she wanted to splash her sister, a lot. “Look, I don’t know you, and you certainly don’t know me or what I went through when I met this family. I didn’t mean to offend you, I was just being protective.”
“I’m not sure I know anyone who wouldn’t be offended when called a gold digging whore, but maybe that’s just me.”
She made a sound that could have been a sniff or a laugh, and I saw the corner of her mouth lift.
“Bree!” she yelled again. “Do you need to get out of the water?”
“Then stop splashing people or you’ll spend the day in the house watching ESPN with your father.”
I couldn’t help laughing. The idea of that little frilly child inside watching sports on TV for an extended period of time was torture, for both Bree and Emmett.
“Can we just start over?” she asked, glancing at me quickly before looking back at her children.
“Without an apology?” I felt like a bitch, but I knew I couldn’t let her get off scot-free. She would hold that over me forever if she could.
“Fine.” She rolled her eyes. “I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings. I was just looking out for my family.”
She wasn’t sorry, and we both knew it, but I had a feeling it was the best she could muster.
I don’t think I’d said that to anyone since I was twelve, but it was truly the only thing I could say. Hopefully we could move on from there. Or I would have to talk to Angela about coming to New York to kill her. Yeah, getting along would be better.
“He says you’re important to him.”
He’d told her that? Holy shit. She watched me, waiting for a response, and I smiled as I tried to hide my surprise, as well as the butterflies in my stomach. I bit my lip, trying to figure out how to tell her how I felt about her brother-in-law without telling her too much before I’d confessed my feelings to him.
“He’s amazing. I’m lucky to have found him.”
Her eyes held mine for a second before she gave me a nod.
Alice shrieked from the water as both Kate and Bree splashed her.
“Alright, Aunt Alice is done. It’s time to play in the sand.” She made her way out of the water, both girls whining and pleading for her to stay. “Nope. Come make a sandcastle with me!”
Their heads hung as they followed her to the beach, but their pouts disappeared as soon as they began to play in the sand. But they weren’t building a sandcastle, that was for sure. Without a word between them, the twins had conceived a plan to bury Alice in the sand, beginning with her feet.
After a while, I decided that I needed to get out of the sun. Alice wanted to come along, saying she wanted some water. Rose wanted to hand the girls off to Emmett for a while, so we made our way back towards the deck.
Edward and Riley leaned against the deck railing with their backs to the beach. I was relieved to see them talking, and their relaxed postures were a good sign. I nudged Alice, and she glanced at them.
She smiled. “I saw them earlier. They’ve been talking for a while.”
“That’s good, right?”
“Yeah. I don’t know what you’ve done to Edward, but he didn’t even want to come to this party last year, let alone talk to Riley.”
“Oh, I don’t think I’ve done anything. Maybe it was just time.”
We continued walking, neither of us wanting to interrupt whatever was passing between the cousins.
The house was cool when we made it inside, a welcome change after our time in the sun. There was another bar set up in the living room, and Alice got us drinks while I used the restroom.
When I found her again, she was in deep conversation with an older woman who looked like an oompa loompa and was slathered in diamonds. The rings on her fat fingers flashed as she waved her hands around, talking animatedly. Alice nodded and smiled as the woman’s mouth continued to run. As I got close enough to hear them, I realized the little orange woman was talking about a remodeling project she wanted Alice and Esme to do.
Alice held two drinks in her hands. When our eyes met, she gave me a slight nod before holding one of the glasses towards me. She mouthed, “Later,” as I took the glass, and I gave her hand a squeeze to let her know I understood.
I took the opportunity to explore the main floor of the house on my own. The back of the house was almost entirely windows, allowing uninterrupted views of the deck and beach from every room. The living room was quite large and decorated in striking bursts of color, including a Pollok-style splatter painting on the wall. The style was contemporary, if a little dated. I had a feeling everything in the house represented Charlotte’s taste.
The formal dining room wasn’t much better. There was a long, black lacquered table with matching high-back chairs. The curtains were mauve with a large cabbage rose pattern on them. It all screamed to be updated, and I wondered how Alice and Esme could stand it. I knew very little about design, but even I knew that the decor in this house seemed both inappropriate for the beach setting and in need of a facelift.
I pushed through the far door in the dining room to see an incredible kitchen buzzing with activity. It had state of the art commercial appliances including a gas range with double oven and a subzero fridge/freezer. There were marble countertops, a breakfast bar, and a small, informal dining area. The catering staff moved around with calm efficiency, demonstrating that the kitchen was as functional as it was beautiful.
I wandered farther into to the room, standing at the breakfast bar for a better look at everything. I was a kitchen nerd. I loved to cook and made do with the shoddy apartment kitchen I lived in, but Edward had seen me drool over his newer appliances and granite countertops. This kitchen was in an entirely different league. It should have been in a magazine.
The caterers mostly paid me no mind, though I’d caught a couple of them smiling at what must have been a expression of awe on my face. The huge, double-bowl stainless sink caught my eye. I was pretty sure the faucet was from the Kohler ProMaster line and my fingers itched to try it out.
I was lost in my own thoughts when I heard an obnoxious laugh behind me. I may have only met her once, but I knew that bitchy cackle belonged to Maggie.
“Betsy,” she sneered, “I see you found somewhere you should feel comfortable—with the help.”
I turned around to face her and rolled my eyes. “Well, the people in here certainly are friendlier than you.” A couple of servers chuckled as they moved around, filling trays and drying dishes.
I took in Maggie’s outfit—if you could call it that. She’d changed into a tiny summer dress with spaghetti straps that did nothing to contain her gigantic breasts. ” I see you actually put some clothes on. That must be uncomfortable for you.”
Her eyes got wide. She probably wasn’t used to people standing up to her.
“Listen,” she tossed her hair over her shoulder. “I’m sure you think you’ve hit the jackpot with Edward, but I wouldn’t get cocky until he actually says, ‘I do.'”
She was crazy if she thought she ever had a chance with Edward. I shook my head at her.
“You don’t know anything about my relationship with Edward.” I licked my lips and found the courage to say the words I so desperately wanted to believe. “We’re planning a wedding and a life together. You can bitch and moan all you want but, in the end, he’s coming home with me. You’d do well to remember that.”
“And we’re in my home, you should remember that.”
The door to the dining room swung open as she spoke, and Esme stepped into the kitchen like my own personal superhero—with a tumbler of vodka as her secret weapon.
“Maggie,” Esme’s eyes moved up and down Maggie’s generous body, and her lip curled just slightly, “your disrespect is quite unbecoming.”
“Esme-” she started, but Esme cut her off.
“It’s Mrs. Cullen.” She sipped her cocktail, then smiled sweetly. “How is your mother these days?”
“My mother?” Maggie looked surprised, and a little afraid. “She’s fine. She’ll be in the city next week.”
“Yes, we have a lunch date. I’ll be sure to tell her how lovely the party was. You know she worries that Riley will damage her reputation.” She took another drink and sighed. “But I’d say Riley isn’t the one she needs to worry about, wouldn’t you?”
Maggie snorted and stomped off. It was the second time I’d seen her turn on her heel and run away. I was beginning to realize that Maggie was much more bark than bite.
“And Maggie,” Esme called sweetly as Maggie reached the door, “put a sweater on. You look like a tramp.”
Maggie’s eyes shot daggers back at us. She let out a huff of frustration, but she pushed through the door and left without another word.
As the door swung closed Esme turned to me and smiled. “God, she’s a bitch. I can’t believe she had the balls to say anything like that to you.”
“How much did you hear?” I snorted. “She makes it a point to call me by the wrong name.”
“Enough. She’s just jealous.”
“I know.” But it was all so overwhelming. Meeting Edward’s family and putting on a show while trying to figure out exactly what was going on between the two of us. I wanted to tell her everything, but I knew I shouldn’t. She was watching me, waiting for me to say more, and I sighed. “It’s just been a rough couple of days. First Rosalie and now this, can’t people just be happy for us?”
“Oh, honey, there are always a few people who try to rock the boat, but what you and Edward have is stronger than that. Just talk to Edward, don’t hide these things from him. The two of you are so in love, these little speed bumps will just make you closer.”
“I hope so.”
I bit my lip and prayed she didn’t see how worried I was. I wanted this weekend to solidify our relationship. So far Maggie and Rose had been the only obstacles, aside from lying to everyone, and I thought maybe we were going to succeed.
“Things will work out, I just know it.” She cupped my cheek and smiled tenderly. “Now, let’s refresh our drinks and find your fiance.”
I started to move towards the door, and Esme shook her head. “The good stuff’s in the freezer.”
Of course it was.
“Vodka and soda?” she asked as she added ice to her own glass.
She made her own drink then filled most of my glass with vodka and added a splash of soda. We moved onto the deck to find Edward, but were sidetracked near the door by Carlisle. He was talking with a former colleague from the hospital.
“Bella this is Dr. Patrick Snow, an old friend from the hospital, and his wife Didyme. Patrick, Didyme, this is Bella Swan, she’s engaged to my son Edward,” Carlisle said proudly, which made me cringe internally. “He’s finishing up his residency at U-dub in Seattle and Bella teaches, middle school, correct?” He glanced at me, and I nodded. “Where are you now, Patrick, I thought you moved out west?”
“I did, I did. What a small world, I’m at Harborview in Seattle. Director of Emergency Services.”
“Really?” Carlisle beamed. “That’s terrific news. I knew you were looking for an admin role. Are you still able to get your hands dirty, now and then?”
“Of course,” Dr. Snow grinned, “I have to keep my skills sharp. So, how long does your son have left at U-dub? I need some new blood on my team.”
Carlisle laughed heartily. “He’s got a year left, but maybe you should talk to Bella about their plans. I heard they were thinking of a New York wedding.”
Everyone looked at me, and I froze for a second, unsure of what to say. Edward had made it sound like a relationship with me would be enough to keep him in Seattle, but I had no idea what he’d been telling his family. Did they think he wanted to come back East? Would they blame me if he didn’t? I looked over at Esme, who smiled at me over the rim of her drink, and I felt a little better. I knew she only wanted Edward to be happy, well, that and to have children.
I shrugged at Carlisle’s friend. “We’re still deciding, but I’m sure he’d love to talk to you.”
Carlisle patted my shoulder, and I knew I’d said the right thing. His eyes searched the crowd until he found Edward and Riley still talking at the edge of the deck. He caught Edward’s attention and waved him over. Esme and Didyme were talking quietly, and I realized it was the perfect opportunity to have a moment alone with Edward.
“I’ll get him. He and Riley are just catching up.”
Carlisle nodded, and I made my way across the deck. Edward took a step away from Riley then turned back. His expression changed, and they exchanged a few words before Edward nodded, and the conversation was over. Riley walked off, and Edward seemed to be gathering his thoughts. I was right in front of him before he even noticed me.
“Edward,” I said quietly, and his eyes jumped to mine, startled. “Your father wants to introduce you to someone.”
I smiled and took his hand before heading back towards Carlisle.
“Bella, wait.” Edward’s voice was hesitant, almost uncertain, it wasn’t like him at all.
I turned towards him and put my hand on his chest, studying his face as I tried to figure out what was troubling him. “Are you alright?”
He looked down at me and suddenly I was the one being studied. I had no idea what he was looking for, but I could only assume he found it when the corner of his mouth turned up in a smile. He ran his hand through his hair and let out a deep breath.
“I am now.”
“Yeah?” I asked, but I couldn’t hide my smile.
“Yeah,” he laughed, giving me a quick hug and kissing my hair. “It’s just been… A lot today.”
I laughed. “I hear that. Now come meet your dad’s friend Dr. Snow. He’s the E.R. director at Harborview.”
I nodded as I finally began to lead him back to Carlisle.
“Wow, okay. Did you tell him that we wanted to stay in Seattle?”
I glanced over my shoulder and shook my head. “I said we hadn’t decided.”
“Really? I thought we had.” My heart skipped a beat at the way he referred to us as ‘we.’ I wasn’t sure I’d ever get used to it.
“I didn’t know if you’d said anything to your parents.”
“Oh, right. Good call. What would I do without you?”
“The same things you used to do, drink beer with Garrett and fall asleep with your nose in a medical journal.”
He stepped closer, and I felt his hands on my hips and his breath in my ear. “And I told you I never want to live like that again.”
His words sent a shiver down my spine, and I stumbled. His arms came around me, and we both laughed. His arm stayed around my waist as he slipped beside me and we made our way across the deck together.
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
Much later, following dinner and a few more drinks, we found a relatively secluded spot on the beach to wait for fireworks. We spread out the blanket that Alice loaned us and got comfortable and watch the sunset.
I moved between Edward’s legs and sighed as he wrapped his arms around me. He pushed my hair off my shoulder and gently kissed the sensitive spot behind my ear. It was the first time that we’d been alone together since we’d arrived at his cousin’s. Part of me wanted to sit back and enjoy his sweet attentions, but another, more insecure part of me, knew that we needed to talk.
“Edward,” I whispered, squeezing my hands into the arms of his polo shirt.
“Mm hm,” he mumbled, as his nose skimmed along my neck.
“What are we doing?”
His hands slid down my thighs, and his fingers traced the edge of my shorts. “We’re waiting for fireworks.”
I took my hands out of his sleeves and put them over his, stilling them. “That’s not what I meant.”
He sighed and dropped his forehead to my shoulder. “I know.”
“I mean, we’ve both said we don’t want to go back to the way things were, but what does that mean?”
He dropped a quick kiss on my temple before bringing his hands up to massage my shoulders. “I think it means we just keep doing what we’re doing.”
“Okay… And the engagement?”
“I think… It’s on,” he said quietly.
The engagement was on? I had no idea what to make of that. Of course it was on, everyone thought we were engaged, but what about when we went home, what then?
I turned partway around so I could see his face. “What does that mean? I’m sorry, I just want to understand.”
“It means let’s stay engaged.” His hand cupped my face, and his thumb stroked my cheek. “I’m falling for you, a little more every day. I just.. I hope you feel the same.”
I bit my lip. Did he mean it? His thumb smoothed over my eyebrow, and his eyes searched mine. In that moment, everything came together. I knew he meant it, that what I felt was real.
“I do. I’m falling for you, too. I was afraid it was just me.”
He grinned and his other hand came up, tangling in my hair. “Just think, by the time the wedding rolls around we’ll be madly in love.”
“Madly?” I teased.
“Deeply,” he chuckled, leaning in to kiss me as the first of the fireworks burst in the sky over our heads.
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
A/N: Truly, madly, deeply – WHAT?! LOL So… they’ve had a little talk. They both know that there has to be a more serious discussion, sometime when they’re not drinking…but they’re on the same page! Thanks so much for reading! See you in 2 weeks.
Last week I told you all about my outtake for the Fandom4TwiFanG compilation…and I actually finished it by the deadline! GO ME! Gossiplips1 has made me an awesome banner for it too! Check it out (and her blog while you’re there!)
I have to tell you guys -I kind of love that you are digging my fic recs (I like knowing other people are finding these gems!) – but seriously – thank you so much for showing such amazing love to the fics I’ve mentioned. Poor Michelle M Marie (At Last) nearly had a stroke last week with all the new readers and reviews. Thank you so much for helping me pay it forward. 🙂
Recs this week:
CoVert Masquerade by Saharafirefly (WIP, 31 chapters, almost finished) (Undercover Agentward? *nods* Plus, how’s this for funny? I powered through this fic, and when I got all caught up I thought, I should tell people about this story… then I read her A/N after ch31 and she pimped out AiL! LMAO Great minds, ya’ll!)
In the subversive world of organized crime and undercover agents, nothing is what is seems. Will Bella Swan, sent to extract Edward Masen out from under the clutches of the vampire fetish obsessed Volturi Crime Family, succeed in her mission? Or will the lines between business and pleasure become blurred? AH/OOC. Rated M for language and lemons.
I Remain, Yours by Momatu (WIP, 25 chapters – It’s the time travelly thing again – sort of. I’m on the edge of my seat with this one right now.)
Bella is unexpectedly given an antique desk that once belonged to Edward, and in it she finds a letter he wrote to his cousin in 1918. She responds and sets them off on a journey neither could ever have expected. Perhaps there are some things we aren’t meant to understand, just accept… Will eventually contain character death – NOT Edward or Bella.