Falling for a Dark Soul @tufano79
Chapter 12

Disclaimer: None of this mine, nor do I claim to be Stephenie Meyer. I just like to dabble in the playground that she created with Bella, Edward and her Twilight characters. No copyright infringement is intended.

Up next will be the first date. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a poll in my group in which POV you preferred the first date. So, the next chapter will be in that POV. We’ll also start building those new traditions.

Chapter Twelve

Edward

I was standing outside of my parents’ home. I was holding a bouquet for my mom and a bottle of Macallan’s for my dad. Sam was wriggling next to me, anxious to get some loving from his doggy grandparents. I rang the doorbell with my elbow. My father opened the door, giving me a smile. “You know, we’ve told you that you don’t need to ring the doorbell, Edward,” he chided. “This is and will always be your home.”

“Well, I did it for a reason. I had no free hands,” I said, handing him the bottle. “Happy Thanksgiving, Dad.”

“Thank you for this,” he laughed, taking the bottle and Sam’s leash. I stepped through the door, shifting the bouquet to my other arm as I took off my coat. “I was hoping to meet Bella today.”

“Mom told you?” I groaned.

“She said that you had met someone. Someone very special,” Carlisle shrugged but a smile ghosted over his lips. He put the bottle into the bar in the living room. He poured us both a glass, handing me one. “She also said that you were extending an invitation …”

“I did extend the invitation, but Bella and her sister are spending the holiday with one of my team leaders,” I explained. “Their plans were made over the weekend I came to visit Mom while you were working.” I pet Sam as I moved further into the house. “I am, however, going out with Bella tomorrow.”

“You are?” Esme asked, scurrying out of the kitchen and into foyer.

“Here, Mom. Flowers,” I grinned, thrusting the bouquet toward her.

“They’re lovely. You have a date?” she breathed, dragging me into the kitchen.

“Here we go,” Carlisle snorted, following us.

“Hush, Carlisle,” Esme chided, gently slapping his arm. “What are you doing? Where are you going? Are you bringing flowers?”

“Mom, you need to breathe,” I snickered. “I have things planned. Bella’s still new to the city. So, I wanted to show her around and immerse her in Chicago culture.”

“Well, what are you doing?” Esme asked.

“That’s for me to know and for Bella to find out,” I smirked.

“Are you going to take her out to eat?” Esme questioned. “What about her sister? Is Katie coming with you?”

“What I have planned would work if we have Katie with us, but I did express my hope that I wanted to spend time with just Bella,” I explained. “Regardless of who’s going, I know it will be a perfect day. Or, at least, that’s my hope.”

“Do you have a picture of Bella?” Carlisle asked. “I’ve heard a lot about her from your mom and I feel like I know her. But, she’s just a figment of my imagination.”

I pulled out my phone as my mother gave Sam his requisite treats from her. I showed him the picture from the Halloween party and the other one from when we spent the day cooking. “The little girl is Katie. She’s Bella sister.”

“They’re both beautiful,” Carlisle mused. “The picture from the party, you almost look like a family.”

“I wouldn’t go that far, Dad,” I sighed.

“Esme, are you okay in here?” Carlisle asked.

“Yes. I love you both, but you are more of a mess in the kitchen,” Esme snorted.

“Bella would disagree. We made your stuffing to perfection last weekend,” I argued with a grin. “Speaking of which, here’s your recipe back. It was quite popular at our Friendsgiving this week at work.” Esme scurried back over to me and hugged me tightly. “What was that for?” I asked.

“Because … just, because,” she said, cupping my cheeks. “Go, spend time with your father. I’m all good in here.”

I followed my father into the family room. There was a fire blazing in the fireplace. Sam was gnawing on a ginormous bone from my mom. I sat down on the couch, sipping the scotch my father poured for me. “This is good, Dad.”

“A gift from a patient. Not as good as the bottle you brought me,” he snickered. “But, we’ll save that for a special occasion. Maybe, when we meet Bella?”

“Right now, we’re just friends, building that relationship. Yes, I’m attracted to her, but I don’t want Tanya 2.0,” I snorted humorlessly.

“I know that you don’t like to talk about Tanya, but after I gave you grief about her, we never really …” he trailed off. “What really happened? I know that Tanya cheated on you and that’s why you ended it. From your clear abhorrence of Tanya now, it was clearly more than that.”

“From the moment I walked into your home, what was the one thing I said I always wanted?” I asked, staring at the flames in the fireplace.

“A family of your own,” he answered. “Edward, we may not share blood, but we are your family.”

“I know that,” I whispered. “But, I always wanted my own children. You see how much I donate to the foster system and children’s charities. It’s a way for me pay it forward. Anyway, I wanted to be a dad. I thought that Tanya was on the same page as me. She wasn’t.”

“What do you mean?” Carlisle asked.

“She had been pregnant, at least three times,” I said coldly, the familiar emptiness taking root in my belly. “And then, she wasn’t …”

“Are you saying …?” he growled.

I didn’t answer verbally. I just nodded jerkily. I took another sip of my drink, relishing in the burn as it went down my throat. “It came out when I found her and Jacob. During the divorce proceedings, Jenks had a private detective look into her financials. She had a separate account from me. She paid for the procedures out of those accounts.”

“Were they yours?” Carlisle muttered.

“She told me that I was the only person she had sex with without a condom,” I spat. “However, after finding out the truth, I had to be tested for everything. I wasn’t going to risk my health because of that whore. Ever since she broke my trust, I just shut down and focused on work.”

“Edward, she betrayed you in the most egregious of ways,” Carlisle sneered. “I don’t blame you for being so closed off. But, I don’t see that in the photo you shared with me with Bella.”

I looked at the photo, staring at it and my heart just yearned for it. Katie was snuggled in my arms, with her head laying on my shoulder. She was smiling happily. Bella was snuggled just as close, her face close to mine. She was relaxed, with her arms around my waist. Bella’s smile was more subdued, but she was content to be held. I wanted to protect them both. My grin was crooked, but genuine. I hadn’t smiled much in my life, but what graced my face was so real. “I want this, Dad. I would gladly trade my success, my money for this … for a real chance at having a family. I just don’t know how.”

“I don’t understand,” Carlisle frowned.

“The relationships I had with my foster families were shit, Dad. When I first moved in with you guys, I didn’t know how to act. I don’t know how to trust anyone,” I sighed.

“Do you trust your mother and me?” he asked.

“No, not really,” I answered honestly. “I know that hurts you when I say that, but I … don’t know how to trust.”

He moved so he could sit closer to me. I stiffened, but that was more instinctual. Years of being afraid of abuse, physical or sexual, ingrained my fear and from my conversations with my therapist, it may never go away. “I won’t hurt you, Edward,” he said quietly.

“I know,” I whispered.

He stared at me. His blue eyes were swirling with love and concern. “Is there anyone that you trust?”

“Sam,” I snorted humorlessly.

“Not what I was looking for, but it’s a start,” he chuckled. “Why do you trust Sam?”

“No matter what, he’s always there for me. He doesn’t cast judgment or hate me for my past. He loves me unconditionally and genuinely seems happy to see me,” I answered. “He also doesn’t pity me or think I’m disgusting.”

“Edward, you’re far from disgusting. What are you talking about?” Carlisle admonished.

“The things I had to do when I was in the foster homes,” I snapped. “I’m disgusted at myself.”

Carlisle took my face in his hands, tears brimming in his eyes. “Edward, what happened to you in foster care, that was not your choice. People who should have loved you and protected you violated your trust, your body. Do you think I’m disgusted when I look at you?” He didn’t give me a chance to answer. “Never, son. I could never think that. You are strong and I love you.”

He pulled me into his arms and hugged me. Usually, he wouldn’t do that because he knew that I would freeze up. Hesitantly, I slid my arms around his chest and returned his embrace. He choked out a sob when he felt my arms around him. “I didn’t mean to make you cry,” I said.

“I just hate that you think so lowly about yourself,” he breathed, pulling back and smiling at me gently. “Now, back to my question … trusting Sam. Is there a person you could trust in the same way that you trust your dog?”

“Possibly,” I shrugged, but my heart was screaming for me to blurt out Bella. My mind, however, struggled with the possibility of trusting another human.

“Edward, there’s hope for you, yet,” Carlisle said. “I think we had this conversation shortly after you decided to end it with Tanya. You said that you never could trust anyone. Everyone was an asshole and that no one was trustworthy.”

“I remember that conversation,” I mused. “I was so pissed off.”

“Regardless of the past, the future seems to be bright,” Carlisle beamed. “Whatever you have with Bella? Cherish it. Looking at you and seeing this serenity in your face, it’s worth what you’re building with her.”

After that conversation, Carlisle and I watched the football game. At halftime, I checked on Mom and spent the second half of the game helping her in the kitchen, getting our Thanksgiving meal ready to eat. I made the salad and mashed the potatoes, using my newfound talent that Bella taught me when I’d spent the day at her home. I put the salad bowl on the elegantly set dining room table. My cell phone vibrated from my pocket.

I took it out, sliding my finger across the screen. “Hello?”

“Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. Edward,” Katie sang. “Do you have FaceTime?”

“I do, little one. Hold on,” I chuckled, pulling my phone away from my ear and activating my screen. Katie was holding the phone, in Bella’s lap. Katie was in an adorable outfit. Bella was in a pair of black leggings, black dress and a slouchy cardigan sweater with a burgundy scarf. “How are my two favorite girls? Having fun?”

“We are,” Katie said. “Miss Sue and Mr. Harry have two adorable kitties. I played with them. But, I like Sam better.”

“I think Katie is allergic,” Bella said, brushing Katie’s hair back. I could see some pink splotches on her pale skin. “Sue gave Katie some allergy medication, but she’s sniffling and rubbing her eyes.”

“I’m glad you like Sam better. He doesn’t make you a sniffly,” I chuckled. “Did you all eat yet?”

“We just finished,” Bella smiled. “It’s family tradition to eat early and then veg out the rest of the day. Sue and I are taking full advantage of that. We put together dinner. Harry and Sue’s younger brother, Ian, are doing the dishes.” I bristled at her mention of Ian. Was Sue trying to set her up? As if she could read my mind, she continued, “Ian spent the weekend here. He couldn’t afford a plane ticket back home. He goes to college a University of Wisconsin at Madison. Home is in Florida. Sue’s home in Schaumburg is significantly closer to Ian’s school. Anyhow, I’m rambling.”

“What was your favorite part of the meal?” I asked both of them, laughing quietly.

“Miss Sue’s turkey! It was so good! They deep fried it!” Katie exclaimed.

“It was delicious. I never had deep fried turkey. It was very juicy,” Bella giggled. “But, my favorite part of the meal was the wine. Sue had this fabulous white wine that went perfectly with the meal.”

“Are you drunk, Miss Swan?” I quipped. Behind Katie’s head, she held up her fingers to indicate ‘a little bit.’ “If you’re drunk, spend the night, Bella. I would hate for something to happen to you or to Katie.”

“I already had a bag packed,” Bella said. “Katie and I stayed in the guest room last night, staying again tonight, and driving back to the city tomorrow morning. Katie, tell Mr. Edward what you’re doing tomorrow.”

“Black Friday Shopping!” Katie squealed, clapping her hands eagerly. “Miss Alice and Miss Cynthia are taking me out shopping with Addy and Kamryn. Bella hates to shop.”

“Really?” I snickered, blinking up to Bella.

“Give me an online retailer, my credit card and my Rakuten account, and I’m good to go,” Bella retorted, rolling her eyes. “Black Friday Shopping was a tradition for Katie and Mom. Katie wanted to go, but I couldn’t take her because of my plans with you.”

“You’re taking Bella out on a date, right?” Katie asked, holding the phone closer to her face. Her blue eyes were huge on the phone.

I barked out a laugh as she blinked at me. “I am, little one. Is that okay?”

“Yes. It’s awesome. Bring her flowers and make her love shopping,” Katie said. Another child’s voice called Katie, asking her if she wanted to watch a movie. “Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. Edward. I love you!” She scrambled off Bella’s lap, leaving us on FaceTime. My heart beat faster, hearing Katie’s sweet proclamation.

“You’re very good with her, Edward,” Bella said softly. “Most people wouldn’t be so understanding, but you have really helped bring her out of her shell. She really does love you.”

“She’s easy to love,” I whispered, wishing I had Bella in my arms. “I hope you’re having a good Thanksgiving. I can only imagine that it’s difficult without your parents.”

“Well, I spent the night here. Sue insisted. We worked in the kitchen last night while Katie played with Seth, Leah and their kittens, Hulk and Thor. I was a little sad, but it helped to talk to Sue and Harry. Sue’s parents are still around, but Harry lost his parents when he was a little younger than me. His father died of an aggressive brain cancer and his mother couldn’t cope with it, dying of a broken heart a month afterward. Anyway, this morning, Katie and I watched the parade with Leah and Seth. After that, we got dressed up and took a ‘family photo.’ We sat down to eat after that and now, we’re just vegging. Katie wanted to call you before we changed into our jammies,” Bella explained.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing your pajamas,” I teased.

“My UDub hoodie and faded plaid pajama bottoms? So sexy,” she deadpanned, rolling her eyes.

“You’re gorgeous. In anything, angel,” I said. Her cheeks flamed and she bit her lip. My mom walked into the dining room, squeaking before scurrying back out. “What time will you be back at your home tomorrow?”

“Cynthia and Alice are picking up Katie by ten in the morning. We’ll be back shortly before then,” Bella answered, smiling tenderly at me. “What time are you picking me up?”

“Is noon okay?” I asked. “I have a full day planned, to help you get acclimated in Chicago. Dress warmly, angel and wear comfortable shoes.”

“I’m looking forward to it, Edward,” she breathed.

With a sigh, I looked back at the door to the kitchen. I could see my mother hovering, eager to talk to me and serve Thanksgiving dinner. “I probably should get going. We’re getting ready to sit down to eat.”

“Enjoy your meal, Edward,” Bella smiled. “Happy Thanksgiving.”

“You, too, angel,” I said, waving as I hung up the call. I sat down in the window seat, rubbing my chest.

“I’m sorry for disturbing your call, Edward,” Esme frowned, putting down a bowl onto the table. “Was that Bella?”

“And her sister,” I said. My phone chimed and I got a text. “She sent me a few pictures from her Thanksgiving with Sue Clearwater.”

“I remember Sue. She’s very nice,” Esme said, taking my phone. “Oh, wow! These pictures are so adorable. Bella obviously adores her sister. Look at those faces!”

“Katie said she loved me,” I said.

“I wasn’t trying to listen, but the way you spoke to Katie … you were very good with her,” Esme breathed. “So, of course she loves you. Despite your history, you have a good heart, Edward. You want to love someone, to give everything to one person. This little girl is working her way into your heart, but I think that Bella is the one truly shattering those walls. Did you feel that way with Tanya?”

“I wanted to. She said all the right things,” I shrugged. “I think that I needed her to be what I wanted. I was blind to her bullshit and I got burned.”

“Well, this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for these sweet girls,” Esme said, pointing to a photo of Bella and Katie, hugging each other and smiling. “They’re giving my son something that he never had.”

“What’s that, Mom?” I asked.

“Hope,” she sniffled, kissing my temple. “Go get your father. Dinner’s ready.”

“Do you need help?”

“Just with the turkey, Edward,” she answered, smoothing her skirt.

I got up and told Carlisle that dinner was ready. He got up, joining us in the kitchen. We all picked up serving dishes, placing them on the table. Carlisle sat at the head of the table, with Esme on his right and me on his left. We clasped hands and Carlisle led us in a quick prayer. We weren’t overly religious, but it was a family tradition to share a prayer before meals. Sam hovered under foot, wanting some extra goodies from the table. He was well-fed. I gave him some white turkey meat, some plain stuffing and cooked carrots mixed with unsalted chicken stock.

When we finished dinner, Carlisle and I did the dishes while Esme watched a movie, Home for the Holidays. “I’m going to take Sam out for a walk,” I said.

“Are you spending the night?” Esme asked me from the family room.

“No, probably not. I have to run some errands tomorrow morning before I pick up Bella,” I answered. “But, I’m not leaving yet. Sam is giving me the look. He’ll leave a puddle if I don’t get him out.”

“I don’t want that,” Esme giggled.

“Come on, Sammy,” I ordered and he hopped up, following me to the door. I put on my coat and clipped the leash to Sam’s collar. We walked for a half hour while thought about my conversation with Bella, Katie and my adoptive mother. Was my fledgling relationship with Bella giving me hope?

Was I that broken?

Could I be fixed?

A chime on my phone broke my reverie and I slid it out of my pocket. It was another picture text. Katie was laying on Bella’s chest, sleeping deeply. They both were in the pajamas - Bella in her UDub hoodie, her face free of makeup and her hair pulled into a ponytail and Katie was in some unicorn pajamas.

Just wanted to say good night. I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. I can’t wait until tomorrow. Thank you for … everything … for giving me flexibility at work and for being you. Hugs to you ~ Bella

I crouched down next to Sam and pulled him close. “Sam, look at the light.” I took a selfie of us and sent it as a response to Bella’s text.

Sam and I had a great Thanksgiving. I’m taking him out to walk off some of those calories I’d devoured from dinner. Sleep well, angel and I’ll see you tomorrow. I’m so incredibly thankful for you. Hugs back and more … ~ Edward

xx FFADS xx

After one of the best night’s sleep, I got up early and ran around the park with Sam. When I was done, I dropped him off at the dog daycare since I didn’t know what time I was coming back home. I paid for his stay and I went back to my condo. I ate a quick breakfast before I showered, shaved and attempted to tame the mane. However, like usual, it was a practice in futility. My hair had a mind of its own.

I dressed in a pair of dark jeans and a black turtle neck. I sprayed on some cologne, Dior Homme. On top, I put on a longer grey tweed coat and a black scarf. Stuffing my wallet into my pocket, I picked up my keys and phone. I checked the clock, seeing that I had about a half hour before I had to drive to Bella’s brownstone. I rode down to my car, sliding into the front seat. I drove to a nearby flower shop, Asrai Garden.

“Good morning,” said a gentleman at a large wooden table in the center of the shop. “Welcome to Asrai Garden. I’m Kai. How can I help you?”

“I’m having a first date today and I’d like to pick up a lovely bouquet for her,” I smiled.

“I remember you,” he said. “You ordered the unicorn bouquet and the peach rose bouquet, to match her blush. My boyfriend had so much fun putting those together.”

I chuckled nervously. “That’s me. The woman I’m dating has a little girl and I didn’t want to make her feel unwanted,” I shrugged. “Anyway, I don’t want to bring just roses.”

“Tell me about her,” Kai said.

“Bella is the strongest person I know,” I breathed. “She’s driven, smart, funny, beautiful and forgiving.”

“Do you want peach again or something else?” Kai asked.

“Something pretty, elegant,” I answered vaguely. “Maybe pink? But, not obnoxious pink.”

“I have the perfect idea,” Kai nodded. “I’ll make you something that will make your girl smile. Do you want something for the little girl, too?”

“I’ll just browse while you work your magic. Thank you,” I said.

“Any price point?”

“No worries there,” I answered as I shook my head and began wandering through the shop. There were some stuffed animals for bouquets. I looked through them, finding a stuffed bear. I plucked it up, running my fingers through the soft fur. I continued browsing through the shop until Kai called me over. He created a beautiful bouquet with soft pink peonies, blush roses, succulents and greenery. It was wrapped in gray paper with a green and pink ribbon. “Wow, this is beautiful.”

“You like it? I can add or take away whatever you like,” he said.

“No, it’s perfect. I’ll take it, along with this guy,” I grinned, holding up the bear.

“Do you want a ribbon for him, too?” Kai asked.

“Yeah, green maybe?” I shrugged.

“You got it,” Kai answered.

He took the toy and walked over to the counter. He checked me out and put a ribbon around the bear’s neck. I handed my credit card, signing it with a flourish. I also gave Kai a hefty cash tip. “Thank you for your help this morning, Kai.”

“It’s been a pleasure,” he said. “Have fun on your date, Mr. Cullen.”

“I hope so,” I snickered. I waved as I left, getting back into my car and driving to Bella’s brownstone. I was a little early, but I just couldn’t wait. I circled the block and found a spot at the end of the street. Picking up the bouquet and stuffed bear, I walked to Bella’s. I jogged up the steps, knocking on the door.

The door opened and Bella stood in front of me. She looked gorgeous. Her hair was curled and pinned back from her face. She wore a pair of black jeans, a black sweater and a pair of camel booties. “You are a vision,” I breathed, holding out bouquet.

“Edward,” she smiled, taking the flowers and inhaling deeply. “You didn’t have to get me flowers.”

“I wanted to,” I shrugged. “I also got something for Katie. Just a little friend to make her smile.”

“You’re spoiling her,” Bella said, stepping aside to let me into her home. “I’m going to put these into some water. Do you want some coffee?”

“No, I’m good,” I answered. I followed her into the kitchen as she got a vase from one of the cabinets. I put the stuffed bear on the counter, watching her move effortlessly in her home. She had a soft smile on her face as she arranged the bouquet.

“So, what’s the plan for today?” Bella asked, filling the vase with water.

“I know things will be crowded because of the holiday, but I’ve reserved a time at Millennium Park to go ice skating. Then, we’ll spend some time at the Christkindlmarket, but Katie’s proclamation that you hate shopping kind of worries me,” I chuckled.

“What’s the Christkindlmarket?” Bella asked.

“It’s a German open-air market in downtown Chicago. There are traditional Christmas ornaments for sale, along with other various German delicacies,” I explained. “You said you wanted to create some new traditions. I think that the Christkindlmarket may be a good place to start.”

Bella looked up at me, tears welling in her eyes. She walked over to me, sliding her arms around my neck. I snaked my arms around her waist and inhaled deeply. Her skin and hair had subtle rose scent to it, with vanilla and sugar mixed in. She pulled back, her hands cupping my face. “What did I do to deserve your kindness?” she asked.

“Pissed me off at first,” I chuckled darkly.

She glowered at me with her brow quirked, “Edward …”

“You reminded me of my humanity,” I whispered. I blinked down to her pink lips. I couldn’t wait anymore.

Apparently, neither could Bella. She moved closer to me and kissed me. It was barely a brush of our lips, but it ignited something inside me. She looked up at me. Her espresso eyes were wary. I leaned down, pressing my mouth fully onto hers. She moaned, tangling her fingers into my hair as tasted her lips. Butterflies were flying in belly and my heart was pounding against my ribcage. When she moaned again, I slid my tongue into her mouth and she pressed her entire body against mine. We broke apart, panting heavily. She looked up at me, giggling quietly. “Your mouth is covered with my lipstick.” She began wiping it off my lips.

I stopped her fingers, kissing her again. “A badge of honor, angel,” I grinned.

“You look like a deranged clown,” she said, dragging me to the bathroom. I looked at my reflection. Yes, her lipstick was a mess on my face, but I did not recognize the man standing behind Bella. I was happy. She put the seat down on the toilet and pushed me to sit. “As sweet as your words are, I don’t want you looking like Pennywise.” She grabbed a washcloth and began washing my lips. “The one day I put on lipstick.”

“What do you normally wear?” I asked.

“Lip gloss or Chapstick,” she snorted. “I just wanted to look pretty for you, Edward.”

I stood up and checked my mouth, satisfied with her clean up job. “Bella, you always look gorgeous,” I said. “I also hope you know that now we’ve crossed this bridge … I really like kissing you.”

She blushed as she looked up at me. “So do I,” she whispered. “I’ll go grab my lip gloss.” She stepped past me but I kissed her again. She just melted against me, gripping my jacket. “Your lips are addictive,” Bella mumbled against my mouth. She sucked my lower lip between her teeth, causing me to moan. She released my mouth with cheeky grin. “I’ll be right back. You … calm down.”

“It’s a little hard around you, Bella,” I laughed at her retreating form. I also looked down, trying to will my dick to calm down. The few brief kisses had woken him up from a long, lonely slumber. I did finish cleaning my face and walked out of the bathroom when Bella came back downstairs, her face flushed. “Are you okay, angel?”

“I had to cool off,” she said. “I’m sorry that I just jumped you.”

“You don’t hear me complaining,” I grinned. “If you hadn’t taken the initiative, I would have kissed you.”

“Does this mean that we have to file that paperwork?” Bella asked, her eyes sparkling.

“Only if we want a relationship,” I answered. “Is that what you want? A relationship?”

“Very much so,” she answered.

“On Monday, we’ll make it official, angel. For now, we have a date to enjoy,” I smiled.

“Anything else planned after the market?” she asked. “I kind of …” I kissed her again, just to feel her relax in my arms. “We can’t do that at work, Edward.”

“I know,” I smirked. “For the rest of our date, we’ll head closer to home, which is Kibbitznest Books, Brews and Blarney. I know you’re an avid reader, but you haven’t had a chance to do so since you’re exhausted caring for Katie. There’s also food and live music tonight. What time is Katie coming back?”

“Well, about that,” Bella said. “Katie is spending the night with Alice, Cynthia and Cynthia’s twins, Addy and Kamryn at Alice’s place.”

“So, there’s no timetable?” I asked.

“That’s correct,” Bella nodded, walking to the closet. I took the camel-colored jacket and helped Bella into it. “I may be jumping the gun, since we haven’t even finished our first date.”

“Bella, we kissed before we even left,” I laughed.

“And it was so good,” she cooed, hugging me. “Anyway, the mention of traditions and ornaments from the market, it got me thinking. Can we start another one?”

“What’s that, angel?” I asked.

“Help me and Katie decorate this place for Christmas tomorrow?” Bella asked. “We’ll blast Christmas carols and set up the living room to be a Christmas fantasy.”

“We’ll even get a real tree,” I suggested.

“That we can’t do. Katie’s allergic. I have a great fake tree and I use aromatic room spray to give us the pine tree scent,” Bella said.

“It’s a date, angel,” I smiled, checking my watch. “But, we do need to get going. We have an appointment with some ice.”

“I’m glad we have good insurance. I’ll break something,” Bella snorted, picking up her purse.

“Not with me. I’ll catch you when you fall, Bella,” I said, opening her door.

“Is that a promise, Edward?” she quipped, walking past me.

“It’s a vow, angel. I’ll gladly take the bruises to ensure your safety,” I chuckled. I held out my hand after she locked her door. Together, we walked to my SUV and I helped her into the front seat. Once I got into the driver’s seat, I drove us to Millennium Park, using underground parking. We walked to the ice rink. I told her about Millennium Park as we made our way to the skate rental counter.

“Have you ever skated, Edward?” Bella asked.

“Once. My parents brought me to a rink when I was first adopted. I was such a shit, but I was actually pretty good at it,” I answered, angry at my behavior.

“Did they bring you here?”

“Actually, the rink was originally at the location of the Christkindlmarket,” I said. “I am older than dirt.”

“Only seven years older than me,” Bella teased. “Don’t put yourself down, Edward.”

“What size?” asked the attendant.

“Woman’s size seven and half,” Bella answered.

“Men’s twelve,” I added. The attendant handed us two pairs of skates. I paid for the rental and led Bella to a bench. We put our shoes into a locked box after I helped tying both of our skates. Bella clung to me, unsteady on the thin blade of metal. “Relax, baby. You’ll be okay.”

“Those kids are like Olympic skaters,” Bella grumped, squeezing the hell out of my fingers. I stepped onto the ice, turning so I was holding her hands in mine. “Edward …”

“Bella, trust me,” I breathed. She eyed me dubiously but took a shaky step onto the ice. With another unsteady step, she was on the ice and suctioned to my body. I held onto her rubbing her back. “If you fall, you’ll slide.”

“What happened about cushioning my fall, Cullen?” she snorted.

“We have to move, angel,” I said, sliding my arm around her waist. “Just push off and have fun.”

Slowly, we made our way around the rink and Bella did relax, eventually moving to hold my hand and not grip my belt. “Okay, this isn’t so bad,” she said. “Normally, I can’t walk on a straight, flat surface. Gliding on a sheet of ice? Easy peasy.” Someone bumped her and she lost her footing. I caught her, twisting us so she fell on top of me and my head hit the ice. “Shit! Edward! Are you okay?”

“Ow,” I laughed, holding my head. Bella sat up, flustered and worried. “I’m okay, Bella. I’ve got a hard head.” I got up easily and pulled Bella to her feet. “You okay?”

“I think I twisted my ankle,” she said. “The claws at the front of the skate went one way and my foot went the other way.”

“It’s called a toe pick,” I explained. “You use them for …” I looked around the rink and found a skater flying on her skates backwards. “That.” The skater took off and landed a jump.

“I think I’m done. There’s no way in hell I could ever do that,” Bella snorted, clearly favoring her right foot.

“Come on, gimpy,” I said, guiding her to the exit. I picked her up easily, much to her chagrin and carried her to a bench. “I’ll get our shoes.”

“I’m sorry, Edward,” she frowned. “I told you I was going to break something.”

“You twisted, not broke,” I teased, walking to the lockers. I got our shoes. Bella had already taken off the skates, massaging her right foot. “Any swelling?”

“I don’t think so. It was just jarred,” she smiled, taking her booties. She put her shoes on, zipping them up. I took off my skates and after I put my own shoes on, I carried the rentals back to the counter. Bella was standing when I was back. “It feels better on solid ground.”

“Do you think you can walk a little bit?” I asked. “Get some pictures?”

She nodded, taking my hand and we walked to the Park Grill. I got us some hot chocolate and we wandered around the park. We arrived at Cloud Gate, the ginormous bean in the center of the park. We took pictures, hamming it up in the reflection of the sculpture. I think the favorite picture we took was of us kissing in the reflection. I could not remember feeling this light or free with anyone.

After our touristy moment in front of Cloud Gate, we decided to walk to the Christkindlmarket. While we walked, I learned a bit about Bella’s family and their holiday traditions. I could tell that Bella was very loved by her mother and stepfather.

“What about you?” Bella asked. “Christmas traditions?”

“I didn’t have many until I moved in with Carlisle and Esme,” I answered. “Prior to that?”

“Stupid question,” Bella grumbled. “I’m sorry. I’m an idiot.”

“Angel, don’t censure yourself. For the most part, prior to Carlisle and Esme, I didn’t get much in the way of Christmas. But, I had this one family. Or rather, it was just a woman. Her name was Delilah Bishop and I was one of two boys that stayed with her. I was nine and the other boy was eight. Delilah was an older woman and she’d lost everyone, her own children, her husband. She gave me and Gavin a real Christmas celebration that year. We were given gifts and I felt loved by her,” I explained. “She really did love us, but she was really sick.”

“Oh, no,” Bella gasped. “What happened?”

“When Gavin and I got back from school one day in January, we found her in the kitchen. She’d died,” I frowned. “She had advanced cancer and she didn’t want any treatment. Gavin and I didn’t know about it. Neither did the department of children and family services. If they had known, we would have never been placed with her. She wanted us. She wanted to give us a real family, even if it was for six months. In her will, she left us with a tiny inheritance and a letter explaining all of that.”

“What happened to you and Gavin after that?” Bella asked.

“Gavin was sent to another family, but losing Delilah messed something up in him,” I frowned. “He overdosed on heroin when he was sixteen. I was sent to the foster family from hell.”

“Say no more,” Bella said, stopping me and cupping my face. “I’m grateful that Delilah gave you something special before she died. I’m also grateful that you’re here, now, sharing something special with me and that you didn’t go down the same path as Gavin.”

I slid my arms around her waist, pressing my forehead against hers. “How do you know exactly the right thing to say?”

“I speak from the heart, Edward. With you, my heart has been taking a huge lead,” she said, brushing her lips against mine. “You’ve wriggled your way into mine.”

“Same, baby,” I smiled.

“No more heavy. At least, not now,” she said, tugging on my arm. “Let’s enjoy some German shopping.”

About fifteen minutes later, we arrived at the Christkindlmarket. It was a bit overwhelming, but Bella lit up. We shared some mulled wine in seasonal mugs, enjoying some pretzels as well. We also picked up several ornaments for the tree we were going to put up the following day and got some presents for Katie. As we wandered through the open-air market, it started to snow and Bella grinned happily.

An hour after we got to the market, I noticed Bella was shivering. “Do you want to go, angel?” I asked.

“I don’t. This place is awesome,” she said. “But, I can’t feel my face.”

“Come on,” I chuckled, taking her hand and leading her out of the market. “This place is open every day. We can come back any time.”

“And bring Katie?” she asked, her brown eyes pleading with me. I answered her question with a tender kiss. I pulled back, but Bella kissed me again. “You’re so warm.”

I laughed, taking off my scarf and wrapping it around her neck. “There’s a Starbucks nearby. You go defrost in there while I go get the car.”

“Do you want some coffee?” she asked.

I nodded, walking with her to the Starbucks before briskly walking to the parking garage at Millennium Park. I put our purchases in the back of my Tesla and drove back to where I left Bella. She hopped into the car, handing me a venti pumpkin spice latte. “Do you want to get something to eat?”

“Yeah, but someplace closer to home,” Bella said. “When I sat down at Starbucks, my foot started to throb.”

“We can go to the book shop or somewhere else?”

“I would like to explore the book shop and I’m afraid my gimpy ass would prevent that,” she giggled. “Rain check on that?”

“You’ve got it,” I grinned. “What are you in the mood for, food-wise?”

“I’m flexible,” she answered.

“Okay, anything you don’t like?” I pressed.

“Super spicy food and I really don’t want turkey,” she quipped. “We’ll be eating turkey for years. I have to find a turkey tetrazzini recipe for all the leftovers that Sue gave us.”

“How do you feel about Greek?”

“Never had it,” she said. “Is it similar to Italian?”

“A bit, but different enough,” I replied. “Let’s go to Taxim.”

I drove us back to our neighborhood. Unfortunately, there was a wait to eat at Taxim, but it wasn’t overbearing. We hung out at the bar, drinking some wine until our table opened up. We also created a plan of attack for decorating Bella’s home. Once we finished our meal, we’d head back and bring up all the holiday décor.

After a delicious late lunch, I drove us back to Bella’s brownstone. There was no parking, so I double parked and helped her inside. She was favoring her right foot and I knew I had to get her to ice and elevate. Once I parked my car, two blocks away, I jogged back to her home with the bags from the market. I let myself inside and Bella was on the couch, her foot elevated with a package of peas on it.

“Do you want to go the hospital?” I asked, putting the packages on an overstuffed chair.

“Nah,” she answered. “I know it’s not broken.” She patted the couch and I sat down next to her. “Today has been awesome, Edward. The best first date I’ve ever had.”

“Says the gorgeous woman who has peas wrapped around her ankle,” I deadpanned.

“But, I get to snuggle with you for the rest of the night,” she said.

“I still need to get the Christmas decorations,” I chuckled, holding her closely.

“Hmmm, later,” Bella murmured, shifting her body to kiss me. Her lips brushed over mine and I cupped her cheek. “I think we have some more important things to focus on, Edward.”

“No argument here, angel,” I growled, capturing her lips again.

A/N: Things are moving forward with our two favorite characters. Bella just couldn’t wait to kiss him and now that the bridge has been crossed, they will be doing so a great deal more. We will finishing the date and the rest of the weekend in Bella’s POV. We’ll also get some Katie and Edward time.

Pictures of their date are on my blog. You can access that through a link on my profile. I’m also on Facebook: Tufano79’s Twilight Fanfiction Appreciation. Twitter, too: tufano79.

Leave me your thoughs and thank you for reading!

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