Ring-a-Ding-Ding!

-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-

EPOV

Jasper and I ran at a good pace, our feet pounding the hard sand. We ran our usual route, circling back to the house, passing the same runners we saw every morning.

I tried to run as often as I could, but I wasn’t obsessive like some people. Although I preferred running outdoors, a treadmill was just as good. While I appreciated the work out, the thing I loved about running was that it was the one time I took just for myself. I used that time for whatever I needed on a given day. If there was a problem I needed to work through, I could think about it with no other distractions. If I needed to clear my head, I focused on my breathing and my footfalls, letting everything else disappear.

Running with Jasper that morning, I tried to let my mind go blank. My relationship with Bella had changed drastically in the last twenty-four hours, all for the better. She knew where I stood, well mostly, and she was on the same page. She just didn’t know the extent of my feelings—that I’d marry her tomorrow if given the chance. I felt a million times better about everything, as if I could get through anything with her by my side. For that brief time on our run, I had nothing to worry about.

When we reached the house, we stretched a little on the stairs to the deck. I reached for my toes and took a deep breath. When I glanced at Jasper, he was looking at me, grinning.

“What?”

“Nothing.” He chuckled and shook his head as he continued to stretch.

“What?” I stood and waited for him to answer.

He sighed, but he was still smiling. “It’s just nice to see you finally under the spell, man.”

I furrowed my brows and laughed, “What are you talking about, weirdo?”

“Love, man. You wear it well.”

Oh. Yeah. I couldn’t hide my smile. “It’s that obvious, huh?”

He leaned on the railing for a second, and looked out towards the water where Rose and Emmett and the kids splashed in the surf.

“Well, even if Emmett hadn’t heard your lovin’, it’s written all over your face. And in the way you two can’t stop making googly eyes at each other. Alice says she’s never seen you like this before.”

“I’ve never felt like this before.” I hadn’t. Not with anyone I’d dated. And the more I thought about it, I’d been feeling different since the moment I met her.

He nodded. “It’s good, right? I remember how I felt when I first met Alice.”

“Does it, go away?” I wondered. I hoped it didn’t, because he was right, I felt better than I had in years, and I knew it was because of her.

“No. Not really. It sort of mellows, you know? But then it swells up and surprises you here and there reminding you how lucky you are.”

I was lucky. That was for sure. What were the chances that meeting Bella the way I had would have led to this? I couldn’t even imagine.

-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-

The day was perfect. Bella and I caught some sun with my family on the beach and around the pool. I played some basketball with my brothers in the driveway. I kissed Bella as often as I wanted, and she even initiated it a couple of times. We ate sandwiches for lunch on the deck under the big umbrella. And my mother only got slightly drunk.

The afternoon flew by, and I found myself on the deck with my dad while we waited for everyone else to finish getting ready for the neighbor’s cocktail party. We stood at the rail looking out at the water, sipping a couple of cold beers.

“I’m happy for you, son.” His eyes were trained on the beach, but I could see the corner of his mouth lifted into a smile.

“Thanks.”

“She grounds you, you know? You’ve always had a kind of nervous energy about you, but not when she’s around. It’s good.” He glanced at me and laughed. “I like to think I have that effect on your mother, too.”

I smiled, thinking of all the times that my dad had simply put a hand on my mother’s shoulder or touched her back, and whatever had been bothering her seemed to disappear.

“I think you do. You’re really good together. Crazy,” I chuckled, “but good together.”

“Right?” He took a drink of beer and smirked. “Anyway, you know what I mean.”

“Yeah. I feel…Better when I’m with her. Like none of the shit in the past matters and anything is possible.” I snorted. “So cliche.”

“But probably true. You should do something nice for Garrett and his girlfriend, that’s who introduced you? You could toast them at the wedding.”

I stopped with my beer halfway to my mouth, shocked. Not that Garrett and Angela wouldn’t love a toast, but it was suddenly clear that the lie we’d told was going to snowball like crazy. We’d have to tell everyone now, not just my family. I had obviously not thought this through.

“Edward?” Carlisle’s brow creased in concern.

I brought my beer up the rest of the way to my mouth and took a long drink, using the seconds to decide if I was actually going to tell him. He continued to watch me, and I knew that if I could tell anyone the truth it was my father.

“That’s…That’s not exactly how we met.”

His eyes got a little wider, but only for a moment, then he sighed and looked out at the beach.

“It’s just that I wasn’t… How we met is… You… Mom… Fuck.” My stomach turned just thinking about how I’d lied to them—how I was lying to them.

“Son, relax. I’m not going to lie and say I’m not surprised, but…It’s none of my business. It’s between you and Bella.”

Was he kidding? My family thought everything was their business. Just hours earlier my brother had listened to us have sex. Before I could say anything, he spoke again.

“Edward, do you know how Aunt Catherine and Uncle Charles met?”

“Yes, at a work picnic,” I answered right away. I’d heard the story a hundred times—especially after Aunt Catherine died, and Riley was staying with us a lot.

“Right. That’s what they told everyone so your grandmother wouldn’t find out the truth.”

“The truth? What are you talking about?”

“Your Aunt Catherine met Charles in a bar, and within twenty-four hours she lost her virginity and moved into his apartment. There wasn’t a chance in hell anyone was telling your grandmother the truth.”

I stood there, dumbfounded. I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about how Riley’s parents met, but I’d never imagined their story wasn’t real.

“Edward, how you met doesn’t mean anything. There are a lot of couples who have embarrassing stories about how they met.”

“Well, apparently it’s not as bad as I thought,” I mumbled.

“It’s your decision if you want to share the story with people or not. It’s not necessary. How you feel about her, what your plans are…That’s what counts.”

“I love her,” I whispered before I realized I was even saying it.

“Then that’s all that matters. I know you. I know you’re feeling guilty right now for lying. We raised you to be an honest man, and you are.”

He shook his head, and I was still trying to get my head around what he was saying. My parents had preached honesty and promised unconditional love, yet here I was lying and my father was saying it was alright.

“You can’t think of it that way. It’s… Not lying.” He paused, and his eyes had a faraway look. After a second he shrugged and gave me a sad smile. “It’s keeping something private, and you have every right to protect that. Does that make sense?”

“I think so, but I just… It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I wasn’t supposed to find her this way.”

“That’s what I’m saying, Edward. It doesn’t matter how you found her—just that you did.”

“Don’t you want to know?” My stomach was in knots. He was telling me that it didn’t matter, but I had a hard time believing he meant it.

“If you want to tell me someday, you will. But right now? I don’t think I want to know. Can you imagine what your mother would do to me if she found out I knew and she didn’t?” He shook his head and shuddered. “All I need to know is that you’re happy, and you love her. That’s enough for me.”

“Yeah, alright.” I knew what he was saying, but all I could think about was my mom. Fuck. I could imagine any number of insane ways she would react if she ever found out.

And she was the reason behind all of this. I mean, she wasn’t to blame. I wasn’t childish enough to deny responsibility for what I’d done…Sure she’d guilted me into a corner and made me feel like a failure of both a son and a man because I was still single and hadn’t started a family yet, but the resulting actions were my own. And blame was such a negative word. How could I blame anyone for causing me to do something that led me to Bella?

Shit. I was all over the place. Worrying about my mom finding out, thrilled about where things stood with Bella. I leaned on the railing and rested my chin in my hand.

My dad just laughed.

I needed more beer. A lot more beer.

“Hey,” Bella called from the doorway, “there you are.”

I looked around and realized I was alone. I had no idea my father had left.

“Are you okay?” She looked stunning as she walked across the deck in dark blue dress and heels that were so high I didn’t know how she kept her balance.

I took a deep breath and looked into her eyes. It was exactly like Carlisle said, her mere presence soothed me. My current panic about Esme finding out how we’d met disappeared.

I realized Carlisle was right. Our story was just that—ours. We weren’t the first couple to hide the way we met from our parents, and we wouldn’t be the last. All I could think about was Bella and our future. Together.

“Doc?”

I couldn’t help the silly smile that overtook my face, or the eyebrow that went up.

“What?” she laughed. “You called me Swan the other day; I needed a one syllable nickname.”

“I’m not complaining. In fact, we can play doctor anytime.”

She smacked my chest and laughed. “Funny.”

“You know you want to see my stethoscope.” I waggled my eyebrows.

She rolled her eyes. “You’re incorrigible.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing, Swan.”

We grinned at each other, and the sound of the sliding door interrupted our moment. I glanced up to see Emmett leaning out of the house with his hand over his eyes.

“Yo, I’m not interrupting anything, am I? Cuz it’s time to go next door.”

“Sorry, we’re having sex again,” Bella called, “right here on the deck for everyone to see.”

Emmett’s mouth dropped open in shock, and he peeked through his fingers.

“Aw, that’s not fucking cool,” he grumbled, realizing she was pulling his leg. “Why you gotta hate?”

We cracked up laughing as he slammed the door, but not before we heard laughter coming from inside the house as well.

-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-

The Sokolov’s party was the same every year. Families with old money, extravagant hors d’oeuvre, imported caviar and expensive champagne. The only difference this year was, for the first time, I had a date. And despite having never met the majority of the guests and hardly knowing my family, Bella fit in like she’d been coming to the party for years.

Mrs. Sokolov was so pleased to hear that I was engaged, she took Bella under her wing. She led her away, casually telling me over her shoulder there were some people Bella needed to meet.

She returned to me a little while later looking almost sad.

“Hey,” I took her hand, rubbing small circles on the back of it with my thumb. “what’s going on?”

“Can we talk outside for a second?” Her eyes darted to the doors leading to the pool area.

“Sure.”

I put my hand on the small of her back and led her outside. I had no idea what was going on in her head, the only thing keeping me calm was the fact she leaned into my touch and made no moves to distance herself from me. We went to the far side of the deck, finding a place where we could have a private conversation.

She turned towards me, but she didn’t raise her eyes to mine.

“Bella? You’re scaring me.”

“I’m sorry,” she said quickly, her eyes jumping to mine before returning to stare at her hands as they twisted between us. “I’m just thinking of how to ask this, or what to ask really.”

“Just ask. It can’t be that bad, right?” I hoped it wasn’t, but I had no idea what she was wondering.

“Okay, I just… It’s been weird…” She groaned and huffed, then just blurted out what she was thinking. “Your family keeps looking at my Claddagh like there’s something wrong with it, and tonight Mrs. Sokolov asked me if my engagement ring was being sized. What am I missing?”

My eyes got wide, and my hand flew up to pull at my hair. “What? Are you kidding me?”

“You ask that a lot.”

“I just… Can’t people mind their own fucking business? Shit.” I shook my head. “I don’t mean you. Fuck. I mean… I’m sorry.”

“Just tell me what I’m missing. Is there like, some family heirloom that I should know about? I mean… Shit, Edward, it’s a pretty significant detail.”

“Not really, but yeah.” I pinched the bridge of my nose and gathered my thoughts for a second, then dropped my hand to my side. “Alice and my mother would tell you there is, and apparently Mrs. Sokolov too, but… Grandma Cullen died when we were all little, I don’t think Alice ever knew her. My mom used to let her play with this jewelry box full of her old stuff. Alice would cover herself from head to toe in necklaces and beads.

“One time, Alice asked Esme what Emmett and I got from Grandma Cullen. So Esme told her that Emmett and I each got one special ring. There was one from Grandma Cullen and one from Grammy Platt, even though she was still alive, but anyway… Em and I were supposed to get to choose one when we fell in love and wanted to propose.”

“And everyone knew this?” she asked softly.

“What? No. I mean, my family knows, and I guess the Grammy’s friend, but it wasn’t like that. Emmett and I never cared about that. Mom and Alice talked about it all the time.”

“But Emmett gave Rose one of the rings?”

Fuck. I couldn’t imagine what she was thinking, but Alice’s words from the hotel room rang in my head, “Bella deserves Grammy’s ring. Doesn’t she?”

“He did, but… I never cared about that.” I ran my fingers through my hair again and tried to figure out how to explain. “I mean, Emmett is four years older than me, I always knew he’d get to pick what ring he wanted, and I’d have what was left. So I never seriously thought about it. I figured if I met someone—I mean, when I met someone—who I wanted to marry, I didn’t want to look for someone who matched the ring. I always believed finding my other half was more important than finding someone who would want that ring. Does that make sense?”

Bella nodded, and I saw tears in her eyes. I realized that although I’d explained myself, I hadn’t told her the most important part.

“But you know what?” I lifted her hand and rubbed my thumb over the cool gold of her Claddagh. “That fucking ring would be perfect for you. It’s… Unique but classic. It’s beautiful and… it’s part of my family. And you are too. You fit perfectly in this chaos. I swear to you, when the time is right, I’m going to propose to you for real, and I’m going to give you that ring. It’s yours.”

I leaned my forehead against hers and sighed. “Until then, I stand by everything that Claddagh represents. You mean so much to me.”

I wiped her eyes, and she stretched up to kiss me, winding her arms around my neck.

“I’m sorry I didn’t explain the ring thing sooner,” I whispered into her hair.

“It’s okay.” Her fingers slipped through the hair at the back of my neck, and she sighed. “It would have been better if you’d told me, but I understand.”

I sighed, “I’m horrible at this fiancé gig.”

She giggled, and I leaned back to see a big smile on her face and a twinkle in her eyes. “You are kind of bad at this. Maybe I should check Craigslist for another fiancé?”

I laughed. “I’ll do better. I promise.”

“I’ll hold you to that, Doc.”

I kissed her again, wishing that I could simply drag her back next door and have my way with her, but it was too early. There were still people to say hello to, and I kind of wanted to show off my fianceé.

“We should go back,” I said quietly, thinking if she didn’t hear me then it wouldn’t be true.

But she had heard me, and she nodded her head. Her fingers wove through mine, and we made our way back into the party. .

An hour or so later, I stood near the bar with my brother and Jasper as the ladies mingled. They returned a few times to tell us about some piece of gossip they found particularly juicy or for a quick peck on the cheek. The girls dragged us to the dance floor for a few songs, then let us go back to the bar while they continued to shake and shimmy to the oldies and a few classic rock songs. While the Sokolov’s were my grandparent’s age, they knew their guests were from several generations.

Jasper and I were talking to an old friend when I saw Alice call Bella over to talk to a woman I didn’t recognize. Alice waved her arms around and practically bounced with energy. Bella smiled and nodded, shaking the woman’s hand. They spoke for a few minutes, the woman frequently checking her phone. Alice’s only seemed to get more excited and Bella nodded her head a lot. When the conversation came to a close, they began walking towards us, arm-in-arm. Alice was grinning, and Bella looked… Panicked.

I moved towards them, quickly pulling Bella into my arms.

“Are you alright?” I looked down at her, brushing some hair off her cheek.

She nodded but pulled herself tight against me and buried her face in my neck.

I stroked my hand down her hair, trying to soothe whatever had her spooked. “What is it?”

When she stepped back, the corner of her mouth had lifted into a half smile. She chuckled, “Alice is already planning our wedding.”

“What?”

“That woman, she’s the events manager for some hotel, Ocean Blue or something. She and Alice compared dates and talked about catering options.”

“Holy shit!” I laughed, but I shouldn’t have been surprised. When Alice got excited about something she jumped in with both feet. “Wow. What do you think?”

“I told her we wanted to see the place tomorrow. Alice wants us to go there, and one other place she has in mind.”

My hand had worked itself into her hair at the nape of her neck, and I stroked her cheek with my thumb. “You okay with that?”

She bit her lip and sighed. “Yeah, I think I am. I mean, you’ll come with me tomorrow, right?”

“Of course. I wouldn’t miss it. We’re in this together,” I promised, squeezing her hip.

“This is real, Edward.”

“I know,” I whispered, as I lowered my lips to hers.

-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-

A/N:
Ummm… A lot happened in that chapter, yeah? I’m not really sure how it all ended up in there – the chapter sort of took on a mind of its own!

Carlisle is down with ‘keeping things private’ – I wonder if there’s a story behind that? Hmmm…
FINALLY he tells her about the ring!
Alice is planning the wedding already! That girl is full steam ahead!
Don’t worry… drunk Esme will make another appearance! We just had some more important things to get to this time.

Thanks again for reading! You all are the greatest!

I feel like a douche saying I haven’t had time to do review replies and then telling you what I’ve been reading… but here’s what I’ve been reading…

Mixtape by JustAskSunKing (aka SunKing and JustAskAlice)(WIP posting daily) Short and sweet chapters – the 90s references are killing me!
What were you doing in 1994? Bella and Edward were wreaking havoc, making out, breaking up, and making up. This mixtape is his gift to her. The song remembers when.

You Came to Early by Elliania (WIP, just caught up to its prologue)
Edward and Bella married too young and for all the wrong reasons, so no one acted surprised when their marriage crumbled down. Two kids and five years later, events force them to live under the same roof for a while. Will they realize what they lost? AH. Older, divorced E/B. Daddyward. HEA.

Moment of Victory – RMacaroni (14ch – complete)
There, in the middle of the exit, where we’ll walk right by it on our way out to the field, is the trophy, the prize, the most coveted award for a footballer — the World Cup. The round base holds two athletes stretching up, the world on their hands, in their moment of victory. Only the greatest have held that golden statue, and today, the US finally has a chance. ExB. AH. All EPOV

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