AN: Declarations from both at last
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Without all of you, where would I be?
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Third Time's the Charm Part 2 Chapter 13
Left pregnant and alone, Bella delivers a surprise to the paramedic who knocks on her door.
I was disappointed when Marcus called the following morning to tell Bella her air-conditioning was fixed, but I drove her back to her apartment, promising I'd see her soon. If I wanted to convince Bella I was serious, I would have to up my game. Yesterday had been the equivalent of a date, having an early meal and spending an evening at a concert. True, the music wasn't live and we weren't outside, which was what I would have arranged for a date, but we'd spent some quality time together without leaving the apartment and gotten to know each other.
Unfortunately, I couldn't put my plans in place because I'd promised to cover some shifts for a colleague so they could take a vacation. In exchange, he would cover mine, so I could take some time off over Thanksgiving.
On Friday, our second date was a meal and a movie with popcorn. Not being able to go out for a meal, I picked up Thai on my way and brought two movies, appearing at Bella's door. I spent half an hour with my favorite little girl, putting her to bed while Bella made popcorn. With the lights off, the atmosphere in the room was thick with tension, and I wasn't sure how much of either film we'd remember the following day.
I kissed her cheek on the way out and almost breathed a sigh of relief. At home, I took a long shower, relieving myself of the tension that had taken up residence in my body. I could no longer deny I was falling in love with Bella, and I wanted nothing more than to make her mine.
For date number three, I planned a picnic with a difference. Saturday afternoon found me at Bella's door again; this time, with a loaded picnic basket and a blanket, which I spread out on the living room floor after pushing the coffee table out of the way. Emily had her place in the center of the blanket, watching while I unpacked the food and even some champagne; though, I'd made sure it was the non-alcoholic variety since Bella was breastfeeding. The picnic was a huge success, and by the time the evening ended, I felt as if we were moving forward.
As the evening wore on and we settled on the sofa to watch a movie, it seemed natural for me to put my arm over her shoulder and hug her close to my side. It was a delightful torture for me. Everything about Bella drew me in—her breasts pressing against my side, her face resting against my chest, her hot breath against my skin—and I wanted her.
By the time I left, I'd been hard for hours and pulled her into a hug, not even bothering to hide how she affected me. I wanted to kiss her, to devour her mouth, but chickened out, planting a kiss on her neck just under her ear. I felt her shudder, and I could feel goosebumps rise on the skin under her ear.
Eventually, she started to pull away, though I could feel her reluctance, her arms remaining around my waist. I kissed the top of her head, inhaling the scent of strawberries and freesia that I knew were in the body and hair products she used, and then reluctantly stepped outside the door.
~ oOo ~
Mom had called to remind me I was to invite Bella for dinner on Sunday. When I relayed the invitation to Bella, she looked a little shell-shocked, but seemed happy with the idea. However, the next morning when I arrived to pick up her and Emily, she was in a full-blown panic.
She fled into her bedroom, and I followed wondering why she was so upset. Surely, it wasn't the invitation; it had to be something to do with Emily. The bed was covered in what looked like the contents of her closet.
"I have no idea what to wear, Edward. Nothing fits!"
I tried very hard not to laugh since Bella was clearly distressed. She threw herself on the bed in the only clear spot available. I moved a few things, sank down beside her, and pulled her up until she was under my arm.
Tipping her face toward me with my fingers, I asked, "Hey, what are you so worried about? You already know my dad, and my mom's a pussycat. They're both aware you've just had a baby, so there are no expectations. Wear whatever is comfortable; I promise you, it'll be fine."
She looked a little embarrassed as her gaze swept the room at the clothes strewn over the bed. "It's a bit of a mess, isn't it?"
I nodded and laughed at the expression on her face before l made my way over to the bassinet, something Emily was fast outgrowing. She waved her arms around and kicked her legs until my face appeared over her. My gorgeous girl stilled and smiled at me.
"I might have known you'd be here early for Emily. A girl could get a complex, you know?"
Before I could answer her, a knock sounded through the apartment and I picked up Emily, tucking her into the crook of my elbow.
"I'll get it, Bella, and then dress my little sweetheart here."
I made my way down the hall toward the door, where the idiot on the other side continued to knock. I swung it open, ready to give whoever it was hell, but before I could utter a word, the idiot was trying to push his way past me.
I stepped in his way, and he turned to glare at me. "Who the fuck are you? And why are you in my apartment?"
I blinked at the anger in his voice, but before I could tell him to back the fuck off, Bella appeared at my side.
"What are you doing here, Tyler? It's not your apartment; you took yourself off the lease, remember?"
He didn't look at her and instead glared at me over her head.
I glared back, not budging an inch. I didn't care how big he was; he'd feel my fist if he made one move to hurt her. "You know this asshole, Bella?" I questioned.
She looked him right in the eye. "This is Emily's sperm donor, Edward." She laid her arm over mine, and I looked down at her. "Take Emily into the bedroom, please. I'll deal with Tyler. Okay?"
I looked back to him, still reluctant to leave them alone together, whoever he was. "Are you sure, Bella?"
When she nodded, I relaxed a little and glared back at Tyler. "You'd better not hurt her, or you'll answer to me."
With a final look at Bella to make sure it was what she wanted, I headed back down toward the bedroom. I'd give her the space she'd requested, but there was no way I was shutting the door. I wanted to be there if she needed me.
"Didn't take you long to move someone else in, did it, Bella? Is that baby even mine?"
Tyler's scathing tone and rudeness had me gritting my teeth, but I stayed where I was as Bella had asked. I didn't care if the conversation was a private one.
I should have known Bella wouldn't take any nonsense. "Shut up, Tyler. You know damn well I'd never cheat, so, yes, she is your daughter. The one you didn't want, remember? You're not welcome here, Tyler."
"Who's the guy?" he said, jealousy ringing in every word.
Good,I thought; she's mine!
"That's none of your business, Tyler, but whoever he is, he makes a great daddy, something you couldn't ever be. Why. Are. You. Here?"
Even I knew from Bella's tone he was on dangerous ground.
Daddy? Is that truly how she saw me? What about us?
"I was curious, and I thought you might have reconsidered and put it up for adoption."
It? Adoption? What sort of person did he think Bella was? She'd told me she'd made it pretty clear to him she and the baby were a package deal.
I was through the bedroom door in a second, my rage at his behavior breaking over me like a wave. Tyler reached out for Bella before I was even halfway across the living room, but I shouldn't have worried. Bella flinched away from him before he was close enough to touch her. His face creased in annoyance, and I moved a little closer in case he decided to grab her.
"Come on, babe. We were good together, weren't we?" The wheedling, whiny tone of voice wasn't doing him any favors, and I had to bite my lip to prevent myself from laughing out loud. He didn't know Bella at all if he thought a declaration like that would win her over.
What a fucking idiot. Couldn't he see he wasn't wanted? Was he arrogant enough to think Bella would entertain any plan that didn't include Emily?
My heart did thump uneasily as a thought crossed my mind.
Would Bella want him to be a father to Emily? I knew she didn't want him back, but would she want that?
"She's not an it; she's a person. How dare you come anywhere near us and assume I'll take you back?" Bella stepped forward, poking his chest with every word she spoke. "Since you're clearly not interested in your daughter, I suggest you get the hell out of here."
The next shove was two-handed, her small stature rocking him with the force of it. I really wanted to laugh at the look on his face. I loved her mama-bear attack on him.
"And don't worry; I don't want a single cent from you. I'll be applying for a termination of your parental rights since you chose to abandon us. Then you can go on with your sad little life and completely forget about her and me." With a final push, he was over the doorstep, and she'd slammed the door in his shocked face.
She turned to face me, knowing I'd probably heard every word.
My voice came out in a whisper. "Did you mean that? About me being a great daddy?"
"Of course I did, Edward. I don't say things I don't mean," she said calmly. She bit her lip, not sure what else to say. Eventually, she lifted her head. "But to be a daddy, you'd have to ask me out on a date, to want to be with me, too."
A feeling of relief washed over me; we were finally on the same page.
"You silly, beautiful, crazy girl. What do you think I've been doing all this time?"
I could see when the realization hit her. "Every time we've been together was a date, wasn't it, Edward." It wasn't a question.
"Yes, I want to be with you, Bella. It's not just this beautiful little girl who has my heart beating faster; it's you. Do you want to know when our best date was?"
She nodded, her gaze never wavering.
"The day Emily was born was my birthday, too, and I couldn't have wished for a better way to meet the two loves of my life."
"Love?" she questioned.
"Yes, love." I looked down at Emily who, despite the tension, had fallen asleep in my arms. "I fell in love with this little one the second I laid eyes on her." I looked back at Bella, hoping she could see the truth of it in my eyes. "It might seem quick to you, but you've been in my thoughts every minute of the last few months. I know it's love, Bella, but I'm prepared to wait for you to catch up."
She took the two steps necessary and slid her arms around my neck. Resting her head on my chest, she took a deep breath. Drawing back, her gaze met mine.
"I don't need time, Edward. I'm already there."
An indescribable warmth flooded through me, and my free arm slid around Bella's waist, bringing her flush with my body. I leaned down and pressed my lips against hers, feeling the tingle that had been there from the beginning wash over me.
I pulled away a little, needing to breathe, and hugged her fiercely. "Come on, sweetheart, we have a dinner invitation, and I want to introduce my girlfriend to my parents."
~ oOo ~