Third Time's the Charm @sukiethree
Chapter 16

AN: Finally their first true date. Hope you enjoy as much as they do.

My thanks to MeteorOnAMoonlessNight, annaharding and Midnight Cougar for their never-ending patience with my missing commas.

I'm grateful for every review, follow and favorite - I love you all.

In other news, I was placed 6th in the Top Ten Completed Fics for July and that makes me giddy with happiness. Thank you for every vote always. If you haven't read either A Little Piece of My Heart or the EPOV companion piece The Missing Piece, you'll find them on my profile.

Disclaimer: SM still owns every single little piece of Twilight.

Third Time's the Charm Part 3 Chapter 16

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

Chapter 16

The day of our date dawned cool for September. The weatherman had promised high clouds and sunshine with a cooling breeze to offset the late summer humidity. Bella had asked me a hundred times where we were going. I hadn't let on, just that she should wear something a little dressy with shoes she could walk in.

I collected Bella and Emily from their apartment after lunch, driving them to my parents' house. Mom had Emily out of the car before I'd even had a chance to round the car and help Bella out. We followed her into the house to find Dad seated at the breakfast bar, a sandwich and a coffee in front of him.

"I didn't know you were home today, Dad."

"Afternoon, Edward. I hear you're taking our Bella here out on a date, and I just couldn't miss time with this little beauty." He reached out and chucked Emily under the chin as Mom placed the car seat on the coffee table in the family room, unbuckling it and lifting Emily out. Dad dropped his paper on the table and held out his arms.

"Here, let me have my cuddle first before you hog her for the rest of the day."

Bella and I looked at each other, exchanging grins. I knew she'd been nervous to leave Emily with anyone at all since this would be the first time they'd be separated since her birth.

"You two can get going as soon as you like." Mom leaned over Dad's shoulder, watching as Emily gave them both a gummy grin. "Emily will be absolutely fine with us; I've been looking forward to today."

Bella grabbed the diaper bag from my shoulder, unloading the bottles of milk and placing them in the refrigerator.

"She's had a mid-morning feed already, Esme, but she's been pretty hungry over the last few weeks, so she might want them sooner than every four hours. She's still not convinced about the bottle, but generally, she's usually too hungry to protest for long. Are you sure this is okay? Edward hasn't told me where we're going, so I have no idea what time we'll be back."

She looked at me and dropped the bag onto the counter. I took her hand and squeezed it lightly, letting go when Mom pulled her into a hug.

"Don't you worry about her, Bella. Emily will have two willing slaves for the day, so be as late as you want. Of course, if you want to check up, just call—as often as you need."

When Mom drew back, Bella rounded the island and leaned over to plant a kiss on Emily's forehead before taking a deep breath.

"I'm ready, Edward. We'd better get out of here before I change my mind about leaving her."

I followed suit, kissing Emily goodbye, then took Bella's hand as we headed out to the car.

"Okay, now can you tell me where we're going?"

"Well, we're starting at Navy Pier for a river cruise, followed by lunch at one of the riverside cafés. I thought we could take a short walk along Michigan Avenue, then the rest of the afternoon can be whatever you want it to be. We could take a walk in the botanical gardens or visit the art museum, whichever you prefer, or we could find a bench in the park. For dinner, I've booked a table at the Riva, on the pier. There's a firework show on too, which we can see from the restaurant. How does that sound?"

"Wow, Edward. I love it. I've lived in Chicago since I started at the university, almost five years now, but the only place I've ever been to is the amusement park on the pier. I like the sound of the river cruise and the botanical gardens."

We spent a perfect couple of hours on the river, listening to a guide telling us about the history of the architectural buildings. I'd heard it before, both at school and growing up, but Bella hadn't. I enjoyed the trip, her body next to mine, her smiles and kisses, whispering facts to her not covered by the guide. Lunch was a shared pizza and a cold beer at one of the cafés on the way back toward the pier, eventually hailing a taxi to Michigan Avenue.

Despite Bella's protests, I dragged her into one of the baby stores and insisted on buying a few things for Emily.

"God, Edward, have you seen these prices? They're way too much, especially since she'll grow out of them in next to no time."

"Come on, Bella. She needs some pretty dresses, and if we get the next size up, she'll have something nice to wear to meet your friends when we go to Forks. Please?"

She shook her head and smiled, letting me have my own way, although I didn't let her see the final total.

From there, we took another taxi to the Lincoln Park Conservatory, spending an hour or so strolling around in the sweet-scented, warm air before walking to a nearby Starbucks for a cold drink. Bella was getting a little uncomfortable, and we had a couple of hours until the dinner reservation, so we hailed a cab to go back to my car, then we headed back to her apartment so she could express her milk. It was strange to be there without Emily, and the apartment felt oddly empty.

Bella called Mom to check how Emily was doing without us, only to find that she and Dad hadn't had a single problem and loved having her. Rather than stay at the apartment without Emily, we left and went back to Navy Pier, walking around the amusement park before making our way to Riva. I'd never eaten at the restaurant, but my parents had, and had sung its praises, so I was sure the food would be good.

We were shown to a table by the window, and a server appeared to place a menu at each seat. The table was covered in a white cloth, with a series of different sized candles in the center and a single dark red rose in a crystal vase. I pulled out one of the plush, comfortable chairs facing the dark expanse of windows, waiting until Bella was seated before taking my own, choosing the one beside her rather than on the opposite side of the table.

"Wow," was all Bella could say, her eyes darting around the room and taking in the ambience. A single pendant lamp suspended above each table provided the lighting, giving the guests the illusion of privacy.

"Do you want some wine, or stick with a soft drink?" I asked Bella. "I know there are some things you can't drink."

"Hmm, I think tonight I'm going to make an exception since it's a special occasion. I'll have a watermelon cooler, please."

"And I'll have a Blue Moon, thanks."

The server disappeared, returning within minutes with our drinks, while we looked over the menu.

"I can't decide what I want, Edward. Everything looks so yummy."

The server returned to the table to take our order, waiting patiently and discreetly while we made our decision. Bella decided on the crispy calamari to start, followed by the fresh cut chicken breast with sautéd spinach, while I ordered a shrimp cocktail and filet mignon with baked potato.

As we finished our entrées, the sky outside the restaurant lit up with fireworks, much like the feelings inside me every time Bella touched me. Trying to go slow was a trial, and I had to remind myself repeatedly that we'd been together as a couple barely six weeks, though it felt much longer.

"Can you fit in dessert, Bella?" I asked. "Mom and Dad tell me the Key Lime Pie is the perfect finish to dinner."

"I don't think I could eat one by myself, so how about we ask for one portion and two spoons, and we can share."

We left the restaurant full in more ways than one. I'd loved every minute of our date and I hoped Bella had, too. I pulled her into my side, my arm under her hair and across her shoulders. Her arm crept around my waist, her fingers tucked into the back of my waistband. Her touch was like a jolt of electricity, sending sparks of energy to every extremity. The walk back to where I'd parked the car was quiet, the night warm.

"Shall we go and get Emily?" I asked. "I've missed her."

"I was just going to ask," she said. "You can feed her with a bottle if you like, since the next few feeds from me might be laced with vodka."

It was after eleven when we arrived to pick up Emily. She'd just woken for a feed, so we stayed until she was fed and changed, ready for bed. Wrapped in her blanket and buckled into her car seat, I slid it and her into the back seat of the car.

"Thank you for taking care of her, Esme. And Carlisle. It was a great comfort to know she was in such good hands. Edward planned the perfect date. A boat trip, lunch, a walk in the Botanical Gardens and then dinner, too. "

Hugs and wishes of goodnight followed us as we got in the car and headed for home—to my apartment.

That was where I felt they should both be.

~ oOo ~

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