I raced down the stairs, grabbing my coat and putting it on.
"Bella?" Mom called, walking in from the living room. I let out a sigh, knowing I would be late.
"Where are you off to in such a rush?"
We hadn't truly spoken in weeks, aside from hi and bye. I just wasn't ready for the conversation I knew she wanted to have.
"I'm heading out to meet a friend at the Christmas market."
"Oh." Mom smiled at me. "That sounds like fun. I'm glad you're making friends. Is it anyone I might know?"
"Cullen... that name sounds familiar... oh. Bella, he's an Amish widower—"
"I'm aware." I had to fight the urge to roll my eyes. "The beard, the hat, the horse and buggy kind of give it away."
My mom frowned, and I instantly felt bad. "I really don't deserve the attitude, Bella."
I pushed out a breath. "I know. I'm sorry."
"I know you're hurt, and probably confused, but I didn't plan to get pregnant, Bella. No one is more shocked than me; I mean, I'm 42! Who has an unplanned baby at 42?"
Tears burned the corner of my eyes. "I haven't meant to be so cold these last weeks, but you're right, my heart hurts and I... I don't know. I love her, mom. It felt as though my heart had been torn from my body when I gave my baby up."
"I know you did, honey. I've never told you this before, because, really, why would I? But when I was pregnant with you, I thought briefly about giving you up. Then, years later, when your dad and I got divorced, I wondered if I'd made the wrong choice by keeping you." She must have seen the look on my face and hurried to finish her story. "Not because I didn't love or want you, it was exactly the opposite. I loved you so much and felt so guilty that I'd been selfish. Instead of providing you with a stable, happy life, we gave you two parents who couldn't figure it out. It broke my heart when you were 8 and asked to live with your dad full-time. He made you feel safe and content, and since being with him made you happy, I agreed. I still had a lot of growing up to do myself, and I refused to take away your stability."
The tears I'd been trying to fight streamed down my face. I'd never known my mom to be so open and raw. "Mom."
"Seeing what a beautiful, loving, responsible woman you've turned into, I know I made the right choice to let you live with Charlie. I also never regretted keeping you and having the chance to know the person you've become." She pulled me in for a hug. "Now tell me about this Edward Cullen."
"He's—I honestly don't know that much about him yet, but what I know, I like. There's a gentleness about him. He's so quiet, but when he speaks, it's always worth listening to. When I'm near him, my heart doesn't hurt nearly as much."
Mom tilted her head, staring at me. "You sound like you're already in love. I don't want to see your heart broken. You can't expect him to change everything about himself for you, Bella."
"I don't expect him to, but I have to take the chance. I have to get to know him." I glanced at the clock on the wall. "Crap! I need to go! Love you!"
As I pulled into the lot in front of Edward's barn, he was just coming out. I jumped from the car, tripping over my feet and almost face planting. I straightened myself out, positive my cheeks were bright red. "I'm sorry, I know I'm late."
There was a sparkle in his eyes; it was obvious he was trying his best not to laugh at my misfortune. "You're right on time. I was just about to hitch Twilight to the buggy."
I walked toward him, examining the buggy. "It looks different from the ones I've seen around town."
"Jah, uh." He rubbed the back of his neck, and now it was his turn to blush. "It's called a courting buggy. Careful of the first step." He gripped my elbow, helping me climb in before he made his way around to the other side, hoisting himself up and sitting beside me.
"Courting?" I raised my eyebrows.
He gave a flick of the reins and we were off. It was mid-December and there was a definite chill to the air. "I could tell you it's just the name for the style of buggy, but that would be a lie. While it is what we call it, I picked it because I have intentions toward you. I'd like to get to know you more. I enjoyed your company very much the other evening."
I pulled my coat tighter, fighting off a shiver. "Is that what you've been doing at the restaurant, trying to get to know me?"
"You're cold, I'm sorry. There are blankets behind you." He gestured with a nod of his head before continuing. "Did you truly not know that was why I've come into the restaurant so often? A man can only drink so much kaffi and eat so much pie." He smirked.
As I wrapped myself up in a thick fleece blanket, I realized this was the most I'd ever heard him speak, and he seemed so animated. "You seem happy today. Happier than I've yet to see you."
Edward faced me, his features becoming serious. "I've been thinking a lot lately. I'm watching my life pass by, and that's not how it's supposed to be. Maggie would want me to be happy, and I've got to try to find what that means for me."
I stared at the road ahead of us, taking in what he said. "I've been doing the same, thinking I've got to try, as well. I had a long talk with my mom today. It was difficult, but it helped."
"Sehr gut, I'm glad."
I noticed a slight frown appear on his lips, but before I could ask about it, we pulled into the lot where the market was. He pulled a basket from the back before hopping down and walking around to my side, offering me his hand.
"What would you like to do while we're here?"
I shrugged. "I've never been to something like this. I suppose I could find a few last-minute presents. There's bound to be something my dad would like."
He nodded. "Then we'll shop for presents."
We walked for a few minutes before he stopped, his body stiffening. He glanced over at me. "My brother and his wife are here. I'm sorry, they might not be very kind."
"Oh, um, okay."
"They're just... very set in their ways. It's nothing personal."
"Edward! We didn't expect to see you here." A man and woman who I assumed were his brother and his sister-in-law stopped in front of us. They purposely looked everywhere but where I stood, making it obvious they were ignoring me.
"I come every year. It should be no surprise, Emmett."
"Would you join us for dinner tonight, Edward?" The woman, Emmett's wife, stated.
Edward let out an exasperated sigh. "I already have plans, Rose." He turned to face me and I watched as his jaw unclenched and his eyes softened as he stared at me. Before anyone else could attempt to continue the conversation, he spoke again. "I think I saw a sign that someone is selling kittens; would you like to see them, Bella?"
My gaze drifted to his brother and his wife, the glares they sent my way making my stomach turn. "Yes, definitely."
He gripped my elbow, leading me away. "I can't apologize for their actions, but I can say I'm sorry you had to experience that."
"What was that about?"
"My family's been trying to set me up for a few months now, and I've told them to mind their business because I wasn't ready. I'm sure it was a shock to see me with a woman, and an Englischer at that."
Edward looked down at me, meeting my eyes. "Let's not worry about them. How and with whom I spend my time is none of their concern. I'm happy to be with you, all right?"
"Yes. Now, are there really kittens here?"
He chuckled, giving me a brilliant smile. "I wouldn't lie to you about something as serious as kittens. Come on."
Kaffi - Coffee
Sehr gut - very good/great
Next chapter, we'll continue their date. ;)