-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
I woke to the sound of someone knocking on the door. Sitting up quickly, I tried to figure out where I was and what time it was.
Hotel room. The Roosevelt. With Bella. Shit, where was Bella? My heart pounded as I looked around the room as if she was hiding in a corner or something. She wasn’t, but her things were still piled on her suitcase so I knew she hadn’t left. I took a deep breath and realized the shower was running.
In the shower. Naked.
I needed a shower. I could join her. Were we at that point? Probably not.
The pounding on the door started again. I tightened the knot on my sleep pants and made my way to the door to look through the peephole.
My sister stood in the hallway with her hand raised to knock on the door again.
“Hang on,” I called as I took the chain off the door and opened it.
“Good morning! I come bearing gifts.” She leaned up and kissed my cheek then charged into the hotel room carrying a tray with coffee and fruit.
Yawning, I scratched my head and stepped into the bedroom to grab a t-shirt out of my suitcase. Pulling the shirt on, I went to join Alice in the living area. I picked up a banana and a cup of coffee off the table and sat down.
Alice sipped her coffee and smiled. “Bella’s in the shower?”
I nodded and peeled the banana.
She bit her lip and looked over her shoulder at the bathroom door before turning back to me with a sigh. “I really like her. She’s so… normal.”
“What does that mean?”
“Don’t talk with your mouthful. It means that she’s great, and I’m really excited that she’ll be my sister in law.”
I accidentally gulped hot coffee when she used the term sister in law, but I managed to recover and make a joke. “I’m so relieved you approve.”
I didn’t know why I reacted to her words at at all. Was it because I wasn’t used to thinking of Bella as a real part of our family? Or was it because a part of me, a part that got bigger and bigger with every moment I spent with her, wanted it?
“Whatever.” She crumpled up a napkin and tossed it at me. “Mom will like her, too. Rose will be … well, Rose, but it will be fine. But, you know I have to ask…” her voice trailed off and she sighed. “You bought her a Claddagh?”
My head dropped back and I let out a groan. “Jesus, Alice. Could you and dad have been more obvious staring at her ring last night? Yes, I bought her a Claddagh. Did you think I was going to bring her out here with nothing on her hand? How do you think mom would react to that?”
“She wouldn’t like that at all.” She snorted.
Exactly. Mom would have been pissed if I brought Bella out here with nothing on her hand to indicate she was engaged. I thought the Claddagh had been pretty clever. It represented love, loyalty and friendship. We had two of those and, if I was being honest, even a little bit of the third.
“The Claddagh is nice, but…we’ve talked about it for so long-”
“Mom has talked about it,” I uninterrupted her whine feeling frustrated.
“We all talked about it… how the rings would be given to the women you and Emmett love, that they were meant to be worn—not stuck in a box. Em gave Rose grandma Cullen’s ring.” Her eyes were sad. “It just doesn’t feel right. I mean, Bella deserves Grammy’s ring. Doesn’t she? Are you going to give it to her?”
Fuck. How the hell should I answer that? Avoidance. It was the only way.
“I didn’t have it. The ring was here; I was in Seattle.”
She gave me a look that told me she thought that was bullshit. “Answer the question.”
I sighed. “Yes. I plan to give it to her.” Maybe not this weekend… “I’ll take it home and get it sized, and I’ll surprise her again.”
“Oh!” Her eyes lit up and she looked like she’d won the lottery. “You don’t need to have it sized! She has the same size finger as Grammy.”
I pulled my shirt away from my chest and fanned myself a little. It was getting hot. Must have been from Bella’s shower, or maybe it was my impending panic attack. What was my sister even talking about?
“Bella told me her ring size when we were talking about packing. I have some great vintage pieces I brought out for her…”
Alice’s voice continued but I didn’t hear half of what she said.
I had no idea what she was talking about, but I cut her off. “Did you get the ring from the bank?”
My voice sounded off even to my own ears. In the pit of my stomach I knew it was something she would do. Part of me was hoping she said no, but again… there was part of me that knew that if she said yes it was just one more sign that Bella and I were supposed to be together.
“What? Grammy’s ring?” She grinned. “Why? You want to give it to Bella this weekend?”
Holy shit. Did I? Could I?
“It doesn’t matter.” She grinned and waved her hand as if to say it was no big deal. “It’s in my purse. I’ll give it to you later, I came over to ask how long ’til you two are ready to go?”
It was like Alice to change the topic like that. She could talk about something deadly serious and then turn around and ask about the weather. I was still thinking about whether or not I would give Bella a real engagement ring and she had wanted me to know when we could get on the road. I had no idea how her mind worked.
“What do you think?” She gave me an impatient look.
My eyes darted toward the bathroom door, and I tried to come up with a time frame. Half an hour? An hour? How long did Bella take to get ready? I’d dated women in the past who could have spent hours in the bathroom primping. She said she was low maintenance, but that didn’t help me with a time frame. Alice was still waiting, and I knew I had to say something.
“I don’t know, an hour?”
She barked a laugh. “Jesus, Edward. How late did Bella keep you up? You’re half asleep!”
My eyes must have been as big as saucers. “No, we- I – um…”
“Wow. I was expecting you to tell me you were the one keeping her up, but you don’t even want to talk about it. You’ve changed. It’s kind of nice.”
The bathroom door opened and Bella saved me from having to say anything. She was, however, dressed in nothing but a towel and I thought I would have a heart attack. Her skin was so gorgeous. I’d heard of porcelain skin before but never truly seen it. That’s exactly what Bella’s skin looked like though, cool, smooth porcelain. Sure, I’d kissed her the night before, but it had been dark and I couldn’t see her flawless skin. I wanted to touch it, maybe lick it, definitely run my lips along her collarbones.
“Hey, Alice. Oooh, coffee.”
Bella made her way over to the table and grabbed a cup before sitting on the arm of my chair. She smiled down at me as she adjusted her towel. “Hi.”
“Hi,” I managed, trying not to imagine what she looked like under the scrap of cotton. “Good shower?”
“Mm hm. I saved you some hot water.”
“You two are adorable.” Alice grinned at us. “Bella, he says you can be ready to head out in an hour. Does that sound good?”
“Great.” Alice stood and moved behind the couch. “I’m going to go light a fire under Jasper’s ass then, because I’m sure he’s still watching the news. Meet you in the lobby?”
“It’s a plan,” I agreed as she let herself out.
I closed my eyes and leaned my head back on the chair. Fresh out of the shower, Bella smelled delicious. Combine that with the rich smell of coffee and I was in heaven; I still wanted to touch her skin. I sighed as I thought about the cold shower that was in my future. At least it would wake me up.
Bella took my coffee from my hand and gently ran a hand through my hair. I felt the chair shift as she stood, then she took my hand and tugged.
I opened my eyes to find her smiling down at me again, and I let her pull me to my feet.
She ran a hand over my hair and smirked. “Morning.”
“Morning.” Not very eloquent. There was something about her that reduced me to a hormonal teenager. It was upsetting and thrilling all at once.
Putting my arms around her, the towel was the only thing between us and she giggled as it gaped a little.
I raised my brow. “Do you know how tempting you are standing there in nothing but a towel?”
Her nose wrinkled. “I look like a wet rat. Let me get my hairdryer, and you can shower.”
She tried to back up, but I kept my arms around her. The morning could have been awkward, and I couldn’t believe I thought it, but I was glad we hadn’t woken up in bed together. That might have been too much for both of us. But she handled Alice’s presence like it was an everyday occurrence and seemed completely comfortable walking around in a towel and letting me hold her.
Rubbing my nose along her neck, I kissed the spot just below her ear. Her skin was just as smooth as it looked.
“I just want to thank you before it gets crazy. Whatever happens, thank you for coming out here with me.”
Her fingers tangled in the hair at the back of my neck, and she kissed my forehead. “Stop thanking me. I want to be here.”
We looked straight into each others eyes, and I didn’t really have the words to tell her everything I was thinking. I was so glad she was with me and looking forward to our time together. She was more than I could have ever imagined. My hand came up to cup her cheek and I bent my head to kiss her. My lips were just brushing hers when there was another knock at the door.
“Fuck,” I whispered against her mouth before pressing my lips hard against her in a quick kiss.
She groaned as I stepped back and she grabbed her towel to hold it up.
I took a deep breath and checked the peep hole again. “What now?”
“I’m sorry,” Alice whined.
I opened the door and gave her the evil eye.
“I forgot my coffee.”
“Since when have you been a coffee drinker anyway?” I huffed. My sister generally didn’t need any type of help with energy.
“Since there wasn’t much sleep in our hotel room last night either.”
“Ugh. Too much information.” The thought of my Alice having sex with anyone was gross, even if she was married.
“The walls at the beach house are thin, Edward. You’ll see.”
Bella laughed as she grabbed my sister’s coffee and brought it to the door. “Here you go.”
She was blushing and I wasn’t sure if it was from our almost kiss or the things my sister said. What I was sure of was that I was going to have to spend the entire weekend with my shirt untucked or everyone would see exactly how she made me feel. Fuck. I discreetly adjusted myself as I stood behind the door, then cleared my throat and raised an eyebrow at Alice.
“Oh. Right,” she giggled, “I’ll see you in a while.”
She waved at Bella and left again. By the time I grabbed a change of clothes from my suitcase Bella was coming out of the bathroom with her hairdryer and a small bag.
We spent the remaining time in the room gracefully dancing around each other as we finished getting ready. Something about Bella stripped me of everything I knew about women and made all of my previous experiences meaningless.
I caught myself paused in the middle of pulling my sock on as I listened to her humming while she brushed her hair out. I don’t know how long I sat there lost in my thoughts, watching her. She was beautiful and graceful in her simple movement.
I was suddenly anxious for her to meet my mother, but my nerves were for an altogether different reason than they were when I started this charade. It was no longer about fooling my mother. I wanted her to like Bella as much as I did.
She caught me looking at her in the mirror and grinned. “Ready?”
“Yeah, just getting my shoes on.”
I slipped my loafers on and gathered our bags before we stepped into the hallway. The door closed behind us, ending our first night together, and she took my hand. We walked together to the elevator, and my heart beat a little faster.
We could do this. And this was so much more than either of us originally thought.
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
The drive to the beach was mostly uneventful. Somehow I’d ended up in the front seat with Jasper while Bella and Alice rode in the back together. I found myself frequently glancing over my shoulder at Bella to make sure she was alright. She and my sister were both fine though. They spent the ride giggling and talking, occasionally having quick conversation with Jasper and me, but for the most part I didn’t know what they discussed. Bella never looked panicked or upset, so I had to assume that Alice hadn’t grilled her too hard.
As we got closer to the beach house I watched Bella’s expression begin to change as she took in the scenery. We were in heavy traffic even though the city was long gone, but the landscape was full of greens and blues. The fresh salt air slowly filled the car and Bella met my gaze with a huge grin on her face.
“Are we there yet?” she joked, her eyes full of mischief.
Alice giggled. “Yeah, how much farther, Jasper?”
“Not much farther,” he called back to them in a goofy sing song voice.
“About half an hour, depending on traffic,” Alice murmured.
The time seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. One minute we were teasing Jasper about his driving, the next he was pulling into the driveway behind the beach house.
“Holy. Crap.” Bella stretched each word, her face full of amazement. “You only live here in the summer?”
“Sometimes only on weekends,” Alice shrugged.
I watched Bella, a little afraid of what she was thinking, as we climbed out of the car and started to unload our bags. .
“It’s gorgeous. I guess I didn’t realize it was actually on the beach… like, literally; I thought we had to walk to it or something.”
“Yeah, the Platt’s didn’t do anything halfway,” Jasper laughed, referring to my grandparents excess. “Despite the fact I know exactly what beachfront property is worth here, I just have to think of this like any other summer getaway or I’ll make myself sick. I mean, I grew up staying at roadside motels when we traveled. The idea of a summer home of any size was completely nuts to me when I met Alice.” He patted Bella on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, Esme’s awesome. Everyone is really casual. Don’t be afraid to sit on anything, or worry that you’re going to break something. Emmett is like a bull in a china shop, he breaks something every day.”
Bella sighed and gave him a small smile. “Thanks, Jasper.”
There had been a brief second where I wanted to pull his hand off her, but I knew he was just helping her calm down in a way that only another outsider could do. I’d tried to tell her how relaxed things were at the beach, but it was good for her to hear it again.
We carried our bags to the house and Alice opened the front door, calling out to our parents. My father’s Mercedes was the only car in the drive, so my brother either hadn’t arrived yet or someone had made a run into town.
“In here!” my mom called, and we all turned our heads to the kitchen.
She wore tennis gear with her hair pulled back into a neat ponytail, as she mixed a batch of cocktails. It was classic Esme.
“Did you have a good drive?” she asked over her shoulder as she put a bottle of vodka back in the freezer.
“No problems,” Jasper answered, dropping the luggage in the entryway. Alice and Jasper automatically went to the kitchen to join her. I put an arm around Bella and we followed.
“Mom, I want you to meet Bella.” She was tense, so I made sure to keep my hand on the small of her back, rubbing lightly.
“Yes, hello! Let me look at you… Oh Edward, she’s beautiful.” She glanced over at me quickly then went back to assessing Bella. “I heard you met Carlisle last evening. I must say, he’s quite smitten.” She took Bella’s hands in hers before pulling her into a hug, squeezing her the way only a mother could. “Well, I’m not thrilled that I’m practically the last to meet you,” she laughed, “but welcome to our home and, more than that, welcome to the family.”
My mother stroked her thumb across the Claddagh ring on Bella’s ring finger before hugging her. She gave me a pointed look over Bella’s shoulder, and I knew she would give me an earful.
I wanted to roll my eyes, but I resisted. My mother would have reached over and smacked the side of my head if I did. Again with the ring. It was getting annoying. And it was clear that I was going to have to tell Bella something. There was no way she’d missed everyone’s reactions to her ring.
My mother stepped back and put her hands on Bella’s cheeks, looking into her eyes with a grin. “We have so much to talk about this weekend! But I’ll let you get settled.”
“Mom.” I stepped in to distract her and let her hug me tightly as well.
She gave me a tight squeeze before planting a kiss on my forehead. Her eyes were glassy, which any other time I might have attributed to the vodka, but her quick glance at Bella let me know it was more than that.
“I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you for bringing her to meet us. I’m sorry if you felt pressured. I just want you to be happy.”
“I know, mom. It’s alright. We’re really happy. I can’t wait for all of you to get to know her.” And I couldn’t wait to take our things upstairs before she guilted me into admitting something I shouldn’t.
We’d been whispering, so I wasn’t entirely sure how much anyone else had heard, but Alice was wiping her eyes. She had an arm around Bella, so they’d probably heard it all. Jesus. Bella made me into a nervous twelve year old and my mother turned me into an guilt ridden emo wimp.
“Holla!” Emmett’s voice boomed through the house as he threw the front door open. “Emmett Cullen in da house!”
I rolled my eyes as he came into the kitchen carrying a large cooler. “Emmett, no one talks like that.”
I wasn’t purposely being a dick. It was just how my brother and I communicated, by taking digs at each other.
“Yeah?” He set the cooler on the counter and turned to me with a look that said ‘game on.’ “Well I heard No One got engaged, so I’m hoping he won’t be a total prick all weekend since he’s getting laid.”
“Emmett Daniel!” my mom yelled and smacked the back of his head.
“He started it!” He laughed and pointed at me. “Why aren’t you slapping him?”
“You’re a father, I have higher expectations of you,” she huffed.
“You’re full of crap, ma!”
Emmett laughed even harder and picked mom up in a bear hug. She smacked his shoulder with one hand and yelled something about not spilling her cocktail.
I took a step behind Bella and put my arms around her, resting my chin on her shoulder to watch. She squeezed my hands and laughed at the chaos that was fairly normal at the beach house. Actually, it was fairly normal anywhere my family was.
When Emmett finally put mom down he turned back to me. “Oooh ho! What do we have here? Is this No One’s fiancée?” He stood a little straighter and, though I didn’t know what he was up to, I chuckled a little in Bella’s ear to let her know he meant no harm. “Tell me, how do you put up with this stiff prick?”
I could see the blush climbing up Bella’s neck but she didn’t miss a beat with her come-back. “I put up with his stiff prick quite well, thanks.”
My mom spit out her precious cocktail as Alice and Jasper howled with laughter. Emmett, however, stood there shocked.
“You walked right into that, bro,” I laughed before I gave Bella a squeeze and kissed her on the temple.
He shook his head and laughed, then grabbed one of Bella’s hands and kissed the back of it. “I’m Emmett, and I might be in love with you.”
“I’m Bella, and I might be nice to you.”
“Dude,” he looked at me. “I have no idea what this girl sees in you, but she’s a keeper.”
Everyone seemed to feel the need to tell me that. Did they think I didn’t know? She was the best thing that had happened to me in years.
I finally realized that the rest of his family was missing. “Where are Rose and the kids?”
“I dropped them off with dad at Riley’s on my way to the store. They’re on a treasure hunt.”
Alice laughed. “Ri lost his keys in the sand?”
“Yup,” he nodded and grabbed a beer from the cooler. “Happens every summer. I swear I’m getting him one of those janitor key chains so he can strap them to his belt.”
Conversation turned to Riley’s barbecue and other plans for the weekend. My family talked around us for a minute because Bella and I weren’t entirely sure what we were doing. After a few minutes my mom offered Bella a cocktail and a tour of the house. Bella glanced over her shoulder with a little wave, and they disappeared with Alice into the living room.
“She’s feisty. I like her,” Emmett told me, pointing his beer towards Bella’s retreating back.
“Yeah. I like her too. I just hope mom and Alice don’t drive her crazy this weekend.” It was the truth, they just had no idea what I really meant.
Jasper slapped my back and handed me a beer. “They have a wedding to plan, it’s like blood in the water to your mother and Alice. Just wait til Rose gets here.”
I nodded and sipped my beer. I may have underestimated how much involvement my family would want in planning a wedding.
“I hope your girl is up to the challenge.”
From all that I’d seen of Bella so far she could handle it. I had a feeling that I was the weak link, and I was terrified that someone was going to call me out.
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
I like to visualize stuff as I write, so this is the house I found that I’m kind of imagining as the beach house…though we’re all going to pretend there’s a pool and hot tub on the deck. Okay?