Third Time's the Charm @sukiethree
Chapter 15

AN: Another chapter and Edward is making arrangements

Once again, my thanks to MeteorOnAMoonlessNight, annaharding and Midnight Cougar for their stellar work throughout this story to make it pretty and readable for you folks out there

I may not get to answering much in the way of reviews but please know I am so grateful for the love you've all shown for this story. I read and love every single one of them

Disclaimer: SM owns it all but this sweet Edward is mine and mine alone.

Third Time's the Charm Part 3 Chapter 15

Left pregnant and alone, Bella delivers a surprise to the paramedic who knocks on her door.

Chapter 15

The rest of Charlie's visit went well, and by the end of his four-day vacation, we were well on the way to a relationship where we understood and respected one another. Mom and Dad invited us out to the house and, this time, there was no nervousness in Bella. I knew I'd been right; she fit in so perfectly, and they welcomed Charlie with open arms. I could feel everything slotting into place.

We drove Charlie to the airport for a tearful goodbye, at least on Bella's part. Promises were made for a visit to Forks at Thanksgiving, where we would also be meeting up with Bella's friends.

"You're welcome back here anytime, Charlie." Instead of shaking my hand, he pulled me in for a man-hug, then squeezed Bella goodbye, kissing Emily.

"I'll see you three at Thanksgiving." With a parting wave, he disappeared into the departure lounge to board his flight. Bella was quiet on the drive back to her apartment, and I left her to her thoughts for the time being.

For once, there was a spot in front of her apartment building, and I switched off the engine, waiting for her to speak.

"Why aren't you parking in the garage, Edward? You can come up, if you aren't busy." She sounded hesitant for the first time.

"No, I'm not busy, but you've been quiet, and I thought you might like some time to yourself."

She looked as relieved as I felt. "No, it's fine. I want you to come up."

We would have to work on communication. Now that we were together, we didn't need any confusion to set us back.

"I always want to be with you, Bella. You need to tell me what you're feeling. I just don't want to smother you, you know?"

She reached over and cupped my jaw, her thumb brushing lightly along the edge, leaving shards of fire wherever she touched.

"I'm sorry I gave you that impression, Edward. I want to spend time with you, too, but I don't want to take up all of your time. I was just thinking about Dad. I know he'd like me to move back to Forks, but I really want to stay here. Close to you."

My heart, which had stuttered at her acknowledgement of her dad's wishes, beat double-time at her admission of her feelings toward me.

"In that case, I'm going to grab your time for the rest of the day. Why don't we collect some things for Emily and head on over to my place? We could have a picnic in the park and then watch a movie. You can stay over if you want, so you don't have to worry about getting back later tonight. How does that sound?"

"Perfect, Edward. Come up with me?"

I didn't need a second invitation, and opened my door to step out, rounding the car and helping Bella out before getting Emily from her seat in the back. Both Bella and I had a car seat base so we didn't have to swap them over between vehicles. Somehow, that little action made me feel even more like part of a family.

Locking the car, I followed Bella into the foyer, stopping to say hello to Marcus on the way to the elevator. While Bella flitted about gathering a change of clothing for Emily and herself, I sat on the sofa encouraging Emily to smile for me again. Of course, now she'd done it once, it didn't take much to reproduce the smiles. It made me feel as if we were all moving forward, with Emily accepting my presence in her life. I hoped Bella was feeling the same.

Bella reappeared in the living room with a packed bag for her and Emily and grabbed her purse, ready to leave now. "You're working tomorrow, aren't you, Edward? Will you be able to drop me back here on your way to work?"

Much as I wanted her to stay so I could come home to them both, for now, I agreed I could take her back in the morning.

That day, and the ones that followed, Bella and I spent as much time together as we could, growing closer. We still hadn't been intimate, but she hadn't shown any further signs of wanting to progress our relationship to that stage. Maybe I was being too subtle. It was time to take my girl out on our first proper date.

~ oOo ~

Mom and Bella had been building their relationship and meeting a couple of times a week, either for lunch out or at the house. I was happy for both of them, though I was envious Mom got to spend that extra time with my girls.

So, when I decided it was the right time to take Bella out on that date, just the two of us, I approached Mom before I spoke to Bella.

"Hi, Mom," I called as I pushed open the patio doors around the back of the house. I'd finished my shift a little earlier than normal and made my way to my parents' house, knowing Mom was likely to be in the sunroom.

"Hi, sweetheart. What brings you here? Did we have something arranged?"

"No. Why shouldn't I call round to see my beautiful Mom whenever I want to?"

She grinned at me, probably already guessing why I was there. I took the seat opposite her, watching her for a few moments as she finished pinning things to a mood board. I'd watched her do it a hundred times while I was growing up. It was how she put together ideas for one of her interior design jobs.

"It's fine, Edward. I was joking." She put the board back on the easel she always used. "What can I do for you?"

"I was wondering if you'd be able to babysit, so I can take Bella out on a date. It'll be the first one on our own, and the first time Bella will be apart from Emily. I think she'd be more comfortable with you than anyone else."

"Of course I will, Edward. I love that little girl. When were you thinking?"

"Well, I have to work this weekend, so I was thinking about Monday. It's an odd day for a date, I know, but I don't have another one off for two weeks. I've managed to make a booking at one of the restaurants on Navy Pier."

"I'm sure she'll be happy no matter which day you choose, sweetheart."

We retired to the kitchen where Mom made coffee and produced a slice of cake, which would keep me going until later. We spent an hour or so catching up until eventually, I had to get going.

"Thanks, Mom, for babysitting. I'd best get home and shower; Bella's cooking for me tonight, and I can't miss my Emily-time."

I pulled into the underground parking lot and headed straight for the apartment, letting myself in with the key Bella had given me when Charlie came to visit. She met me in the hall with a hug and, unable to resist, I captured her lips in a kiss. I cupped her head in my hands, my fingers tangling in her hair and drawing her closer to me for a second kiss and then a third.

"Wow," she said, licking her lips. "What was that for?"

"I missed you today, and I couldn't resist kissing my girlfriend." The word was still new and my heart gave a little jump every time I thought or said it.

"You can do that anytime you want," she teased. "As long as I can do the same, boyfriend."

It was only now I noticed the delicious smell pervading the apartment, and I slid my hand down her arm, tangling our fingers together as we walked into the kitchen.

"That smells divine. What are we having?"

"Souvlaki."

"That's Greek, isn't it?"

"It is, so I thought we could also have a Greek salad, and I have some fresh bread to go with it."

"Sounds great. Is there anything I can do to help?"

At that moment, a snuffle came from the baby monitor on the breakfast bar.

"If you can fetch Emily, I'll finish up the salad."

I nodded, already out of the kitchen and headed toward the bedroom.

"Oh, and she'll need a change of diaper, too."

As if that were ever a problem. Bella never needed to ask; I'd always be there for both of them. When I made it back to the living room, I put Emily in her bouncing chair and strapped it to one of the dining room chairs so she could be with us while we ate.

Bella had finished the salad, so I collected dishes and flatware, laying the table and adding glasses and a jug of lemonade I found in the refrigerator, while she brought the dishes to the table.

An hour later, I pushed my chair away from the table and unbuttoned the top button on my jeans.

"Dessert?" Bella grinned as I patted my stomach.

"I couldn't eat another bite, though give me an hour and I'm sure I can fit some in. Emily's looking like she'd love some of what we've just eaten." I nodded in Emily's direction where she was waving her arms around. "How long is it before you'll be starting her on solid food?"

Bella stood and unbuckled the straps that held Emily safe. "Well, she's been asking to be fed more often recently, so I did a little research and asked your dad. All the advice points to adding a spoonful of baby rice somewhere between four and six months. I'm going to give it another month and see how she goes."

"Sounds good. Why don't I clear the dishes and make some coffee while you feed her?"

She readily took me up on the offer and settled on the sofa while I put the coffee on and loaded the dishwasher. When I was done, I came and sat at the end of the sofa. We'd become much more comfortable with Bella breastfeeding in front of me, and we talked about my day and hers.

"My day sounds so boring next to yours. I love taking care of Emily, but I need to do something with my brain, too. I'm thinking about going back to work after Thanksgiving, even though the last thing I want to do is leave Emily with a sitter or at a daycare center."

"I'm sure she'll be fine, Bella. I'd like to go with you when you start looking at places. I feel very close to both of you, and I really want you both to be happy. Is that okay?"

"I wasn't sure how much you wanted to be involved. She's not your responsibility, but I'd love you to help with the choice. You and she have a special relationship, so of course it's okay, Edward. Um, I want you to be able to take care of Emily—more than you already are—so, I've been expressing and freezing my milk so you can feed her, too. It'll also get her used to taking a bottle when the time comes."

Emily had finished by now, her head lolling back, bubbles of milk on her lips. I held my arms out, and Bella passed her to me so I could lay her over my shoulder. From experience, this was the best way to get any gas out of her belly, and I loved how close she was. I leaned back, patting her on the back, while Bella righted her clothes.

"Thank you, Bella," I said quietly. "For including me," I clarified.

Bella got up to pour some coffee, and we settled back together on the sofa. I lifted my arm, hugging her close to my other side, a comfortable silence between us. Emily's gurgling belly and the waft of a filled diaper had us both giggling, and Bella took Emily off to the bedroom to change her and lay her down to sleep. She'd need to be fed again around midnight.

When she returned to the living room, I tugged Bella down beside me and back into my side. Inexplicably, I was suddenly nervous about asking Bella out. Our relationship had started at an odd place; we were doing things backwards.

"Will you go on a date with me, Bella?" I blurted out. "A proper one; just you and me? I love Emily, but I'd love to take just you out."

She leaned back and stretched her arm out to pull my head down to her mouth, kissing me hard. "I'd love to, Edward. I'll have to see if I can find a sitter."

"About that." I ran my hand through my hair, slightly nervous. "I've already asked Mom if she'd be okay taking Emily for a few hours. She almost didn't let me finish asking before she was saying yes. You know how much she loves babies."

"That's perfect, Edward. I couldn't ask for anyone better to take care of Emily, other than you, of course. Where are we going, and when?"

"I'm working the next three weekends, building up time off for Thanksgiving, so I thought about Monday. Is that okay with you? As for where, that's a little secret for now."

~ oOo ~

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