AN: Thanksgiving dinner and a night out with friends
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Third Time's the Charm Part 3 Chapter 21
Left pregnant and alone, Bella delivers a surprise to the paramedic who knocks on her door.
Dad was long gone when I made it downstairs the following morning, Emily on my hip. Edward was already up and had pancakes and bacon warming and waiting for me along with coffee.
"Who brought the highchair?" I asked after I'd been thoroughly kissed good morning.
"Sue dropped it off before your dad left for work. She said to tell you she'd be here at about ten to give you a hand with the prep. It's a good idea, isn't it? We might have to prop Emily up a little bit to support her, but it'll be better for dinner, won't it? I think I'll get one for the apartment."
"Yeah, that was next on my list since she's more active now. That was really sweet of Sue. I like it." I turned back to him. "What are you doing this morning?"
"I know what I'd like to do." He pulled me into his body, giving me no doubts as to what he wanted. "But since you're busy, I guess I'll take care of Emily. There's bound to be some sort of game on, so I'll teach her the basics. Let me know if there's anything you need me to do. For the moment, let's eat."
While Edward plated up breakfast and got Emily settled in the newly delivered highchair, I slid the turkey I'd already prepared the previous evening into the preheated oven. I'd planned dinner for around two so that would give it enough time to cook.
We lingered over breakfast, talking quietly while Emily banged on the tray in front of her and made a complete mess with the pieces of banana Edward had cut up for her. Sue knocked on the door just after nine-thirty.
"I'm not too early, I hope."
"Nope, Edward and I were just talking. Come on in."
She followed me into the house and into the kitchen. "I'm glad the highchair is already seeing some use. I didn't want to overstep, but your dad wouldn't have thought about everyday practicalities. It belongs to Emily Uley on the Rez."
"Thank her for me, won't you?"
After greeting Sue, Edward lifted Emily from the highchair, kissed me, and headed to the living room. Sue already seemed to know her way around Dad's kitchen, so it didn't take us long to get into gear—peeling potatoes, cutting up vegetables, and making the usual side dishes that went along with any Thanksgiving dinner.
Leah arrived at one, bringing Seth, who didn't have his driver's license yet, and Dad followed behind not ten minutes later. After introductions all round, Seth joined Dad in the living room for yet another game; there was always one on somewhere. Leah helped with the last of the cooking, while Edward laid the table. I'd already fed Emily earlier, but she could sit at the table in her new highchair and enjoy dinner with the whole family.
Finally, the table was laden with a beautifully cooked turkey and all the trimmings. Dad had never been one for religion, but this year was so totally different; the first spent as a full family, so he felt the need to give thanks. Plates and glasses were filled, and each person had a chance to say a few words. Sue, Leah, and Seth went first, all thankful for Dad, but it was Edward who brought a few tears to my eyes.
"I'm thankful for so many things that have changed my life in this year. For my job, which brought me to Bella and Emily on the most important day in their lives; for Emily, whom I couldn't love more than if she was my own, and finally, for Bella, my love. I'll be forever thankful she found it in her heart to accept me into their lives."
I wiped the tears from my cheeks and swallowed hard.
"Erm." I cleared my throat. "I'm thankful for the same things, Edward. I'm so happy it was you who came to my rescue almost six months ago. Your actions that day helped me give birth to Emily, the sweetest baby anyone could have or want." I stopped for a moment to run my hand over the top of her head. "And best of all, they brought you to me. I love you, Edward."
A minute's silence followed. Edward leaned over and kissed me, his arm over my shoulder, pulling me into his side. He looked around me and reached out to copy my movement, sweeping his hand softly over Emily's head. She cocked her head to one side and gave him a gummy grin, making everyone laugh.
"I love you too, sweetheart," he said quietly.
Finally, it was Dad's turn, and he stood, raising his glass. "I'm thankful for many things this last year. For Sue taking a chance on a relationship with a perpetual bachelor like me, for Seth and Leah, great kids, for Edward bringing Emily safely into this world, and finally, thank you, Bella, for giving me a beautiful granddaughter."
Everyone raised their glass, echoing his sentiments. When he took his seat again, the conversation resumed while everyone emptied their plates and refilled them. Eventually, even Seth had to call it, sitting back and undoing the button on his jeans as both Dad and Edward had done.
"That was absolutely delicious, Bella." Seth rubbed his protruding belly. "If that's how you cook, I'm glad my mom and your dad are getting it on."
"Seth!" Sue's voice was scandalized and embarrassed at his words.
Everyone else laughed good-naturedly with Emily following suit, though she didn't know what we were laughing at. Sue, Leah, and I stood to start clearing away the dishes and clean up, but Edward took the plates I had gathered in my hands.
"You ladies have done all the preparation, so let us do the cleanup. Take Emily with you and have a seat, all of you, and I'll bring in some coffee when we're finished."
"Aw, I don't wanna wash the dishes," Seth whined. "That's women's work, isn't it?"
Five pairs of eyes turned their glare on him and he shrank back in his seat, holding up his hands. "Just joking," he said quickly.
"Good save, Son," Dad said as Seth got to his feet and started to gather the empty dishes from the center of the table.
"Thank you. That would be lovely." I stood on tiptoe and kissed Edward as I lifted Emily out of the highchair.
"Here, Bella, let me take Emily and do a bit of a cleanup on her." Leah held out her arms and I handed my daughter over.
Heading for the bathroom, Leah chattered to Emily who seemed to be listening intently. It didn't take the boys long to clear the table, put all the leftovers in the refrigerator, and finish the dishes. With Emily being kept amused by Sue and Leah, I allowed my eyes to close, only to be pulled from sleep by a steaming, fragrant cup of coffee.
"Hmmm, smells good. Thanks, Edward."
He placed two coffees on the table in front of us and took the seat beside me. I snuggled into his side as he took Emily from Leah, while Dad and Seth decided on which game to watch. The late night, followed by Emily waking me at dawn, and a stomach full of great food had me almost falling asleep again, lulled by the sound of the television and the rumble of Edward's voice under my ear.
Woken by my phone, I hauled myself off the sofa and grabbed it from the hall table where I'd left it, taking a seat in the kitchen.
"Hey, Bella. It's Alice."
"Oh, hi, Alice. How are you?"
"Great, Bella, thanks. I'm at my parents' house with Jasper and we were wondering if maybe we could meet up somewhere before you go home?"
"I'd love that. Is Rose here in Forks, too?"
"She and Emmett are at his parents' house. I've already spoken to her, and she's up for it if we are."
"We could meet at the diner for an hour or so. I can bring Emily with me so she can meet you all."
"Of course. I'm really looking forward to it, and I know Rose is, too."
"Okay, let's meet at the diner in about an hour. It'll give me time to feed and change Emily."
"See you soon then, Bella."
Alice hung up, and I returned to the living room, taking Emily from Edward's lap. "Are you okay to meet up with Alice and Rose, Edward?"
"Of course. I'd love to meet your friends." Edward stood and stretched, showing a slice of skin between his jeans and t-shirt, diverting my attention for a second.
"Is that okay with you, Dad?"
"No problem, Bella. We'll see you later."
While Edward freshened up, I fed Emily, then we swapped for him to change her and get her ready to go out while I freshened up. In less than an hour, I was strapping Emily into her car seat, and we were ready to go.
"We won't be out long, Dad, okay?"
He nodded in agreement, looking away from the game for a few minutes. Sue stood and gave Emily a kiss and Edward and me a hug.
"If I'm not here when you get back, and I don't see you again this weekend, have a safe journey home and come back soon."
After saying our goodbyes to Leah and Seth, we headed for the diner. Alice and Jasper and Rose and Emmett were already seated in the booth we'd always taken over after school and during vacations. Despite having eaten a huge dinner a few hours ago, the boys found room for a slice of apple pie and ice cream, while we all drank coffee and caught up on our lives over the past five years.
Emily was passed to Alice, then Rose, and then Jasper and Emmett. She was a hit with everyone, even Emmett, who hadn't had any experience with children at all. Edward charmed the girls and hit it off with the guys.
It was time to leave when Emily fell asleep. Not yet ready to say goodbye, I remembered Jessica's suggestion from yesterday.
"Hey, guys. You remember Jessica Stanley? She's married to Mike Newton." Everyone nodded. "Edward and I met up with her yesterday at the grocery store, and she suggested we get together. We could go to a nightclub in Port Angeles. Does anyone feel like a night out? It's been ages since I went dancing."
"I like it," Alice said. "We could get something to eat before we head into the nightclub and make a night of it."
"Angela and Ben—you remember them? They'd love to come along too; though Ang said she doesn't know how long she will be able to stay as she's almost eight months pregnant."
So it was agreed I'd ask Dad and Sue to babysit on Saturday. Alice and Rose tried to get me to go Black Friday shopping tomorrow, but there was no way I was getting up at silly o'clock to get to Seattle.
I called Jess and let her know we were up for a night out. She squealed in delight and said both she and Mike would meet us there.
We all had a great time at the club, dancing until midnight. Lauren Mallory and Paul Lahote were already there when we arrived, both having had too much to drink. Lauren and I had never really gotten along, and Paul was just plain creepy. His eyes had always followed me, though thankfully, he'd never tried anything. Maybe some good came of being the chief's daughter.
Lauren had changed in some ways; for one, she'd put on a little weight, but she was still the rude, intolerant person she'd been in school. When Edward and I stepped outside to get a little fresh air, she sauntered over toward us, lighting a cigarette and blowing the smoke out into the air.
"I see Miss High-and-Mighty is back in town. What's this then? I thought you were too good for Forks; you were going to do great things. What a failure." She sneered. "And I hear you brought a kid with you. Never thought you'd get yourself pregnant; no wonder Tyler dumped your ass."
Paul stood just behind her smirking and looked me up and down, much the same way Lauren was doing to Edward.
"It looks like you've somehow managed to get your claws into this fine-looking man. Be careful, pretty boy, she'll chew you up and spit you out like she did Tyler."
"Get over it, Lauren. You're just jealous because he preferred me to you. It's been five years and I suggest you move on. Oh wait, you're with Paul Lahote, so have a nice life."
Edward pulled me into his side and kissed me, never once looking at Lauren. "Don't let her get to you, Bella. Tyler's loss is my gain, and I love you."
"I love you, too, Edward."
Without a glance back at either of them, Edward and I went inside, joining the others on the dance floor. Jessica was, of course, a little inappropriate, and tried to corner Edward a number of times, but we managed to evade her most of the time by sticking together. Mike didn't seem to mind at all, and reverted to how he'd been in our senior year, flirting and trying his best to hit on me. Edward eyed him, ready, as always, to defend my honor, but after a shake of my head reassuring him I would be fine, he turned and asked Alice to dance. I managed to disentangle myself from Mike soon after, heading onto the dance floor with Jasper, who was as charming as he'd always been in that laid back way of his.
It wasn't long before Edward and I were dancing in a circle with Alice and Jasper, then we were joined by Rose and Emmett when they'd finished grinding all over each other—just as they'd done in every school dance we'd ever been to. Edward fit in beautifully with all my friends, as if he'd always been there, and no one missed Tyler at all.
Angela, dressed in a black dress covered in sequins, proudly displayed her stomach for all to see. Ben refused all drinks, telling us the least he could do was to stay sober if the love of his life couldn't drink. They danced with the six of us for a short while until Angela retired to a booth, complaining her feet and her back ached too much to dance anymore.
"I can't keep up with all of you right now, but we'll have to do this again next year so I can drink and dance all night."
I took some time out from the dance floor to spend time with her since we wouldn't see each other again for a while. I encouraged Ben to join in with the others while I kept Angela company, switching to water for the remainder of the evening. I'd still have Emily to take care of when Edward and I found our way home.
Angela and Ben were the first to leave. Both Edward and I stepped outside the doors of the club to say goodbye.
"We have to stay in touch this time, Ang. I've missed you."
"Sure thing, Bella. Maybe we can take a vacation to Chicago some time."
"That would be perfect, Ang. I promise I'll call and email this time, and you have to call me when your little girl arrives, too. I wish I could be here for you."
Angela hugged me tight despite the bump between us. "I know, Bella. I'll speak to you soon."
Edward turned from his conversation with Ben and pulled Angela in for a hug, too. "Take care of yourself and that baby, Angela."
Ben tugged Angela away, tucking her under his arm. He helped her into their car and we watched as their lights disappeared into the night. We made our way back inside the club to find the others.
It was after midnight when the limo Emmett and Rose had hired arrived at the club door to carry us home in style. Jess threw her arms around Edward as if he was her best friend. Eventually, he managed to disentangle himself from her arms and stood behind me, watching as Mike, inappropriate as usual, pulled me into a hug. I turned my head at the last minute as he tried to kiss me on the lips.
"I've really missed you, Bella. You've missed me, too, haven't you?"
I rolled my eyes at Mike's drunken display, wondering for the tenth time why Jess didn't seem to be jealous at all. I shrugged internally—who knew what went on in any relationship. Of course, I assured him I missed them both before Edward pulled me away from Mike and secured his hand on my waist.
"We'll see you when we're next in Forks," I said. That seemed to go well, and they both waved their goodbyes and got into the back of a waiting taxi after I assured him that, of course, I'd missed them both.
Edward threw a heavy arm over my shoulder and leaned down to whisper in my ear. "I really liked your friends, Bella."
I giggled. "They liked you, too, Edward. Especially Jess."
"God," he said. "She's got eight arms and her hands were everywhere. Is she like that with every man she meets?"
I nodded wryly. "She's not changed from school, but she's harmless."
The rest of us, Alice, Jasper, Rose, Emmett, Edward, and me, climbed into the back of the limo. Jasper was staying with Alice and Emmett with Rose, and as the girls lived next door to each other, the four of them were dropped off first.
"We'll be coming to see you in Chicago sometime early next year," Alice promised. "Jasper has some tournaments in Australia over Christmas and after, so it'll probably be in April."
She pulled me and then Edward into a hug, then stepped back for Jasper to do the same for me and to shake Edward's hand.
"I'd love that, Alice."
We'd been very close in high school, and I hadn't realized how much I'd missed them all. Emmett stepped forward and enclosed me in a bear hug.
"Em," I gasped. "I do need to breathe, you know."
"Stay in touch, Bella. Let's not leave it for so long this time." He stepped back to shake hands with Edward. "Take care of our girls, Ed. It's been great to meet you."
Rose was the last and she hugged me, whispering in my ear. "Missed you, girl. We'll see you soon. Don't let that man go. He's perfect for you." She stepped back. "We'll see you soon too, Bella, and that beautiful little girl."
With waves and more hugs, Edward and I got back into the limo. Being the only ones left, Edward's hands roamed over my bare legs, his wet kisses on my neck giving me goosebumps.
Thankfully, the limo arrived at Dad's soon after, so I didn't have to deal with a handsy Edward for long. To be honest, I liked him a little drunk and handsy, and had we been in Chicago, I would have given in and taken him to bed. However, Dad was still up, even though Sue had gone home. Emily was fast asleep, and it didn't take long for Edward to do the same. I said goodnight to Dad at my old bedroom door and fell asleep quickly, too.
The rest of the weekend was spent catching up with Dad and getting to know Sue, Leah, and Seth. Leah wanted to know all about U of C, since she was applying to colleges. Seth, being a couple years younger, wanted to know about their sports program since he was hoping for a football scholarship.
Monday morning came, and Edward, Emily, and I headed back to Chicago. Alice, Jasper, Rose, and Emmett promised they would visit sometime the following year, and Angela and I promised to stay in touch and not let our relationship fade again.
I was sorry to be leaving Dad, but I really wanted to get back home and sleep in my own bed, or better still, in Edward's. This weekend had shown us both that we were ready to take our relationship to the next level, and it was only the lack of the appropriate space that was holding us back. However, we arrived home very late after our plane was delayed, and despite Edward's earlier promise that we had a date at his place, we put Emily to bed and then went straight to sleep.
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