Falling for a Dark Soul @tufano79
Chapter 18

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.

Anyhow, up next will be a juicy little kumquat through Edward’s eyes. Bella, however, did say that she loved him. When will our Grinchward drop the ILY? We will be some citrus, Christmas Day with gifts from ‘Santa’, spending the day with Carlisle and Esme and Katie’s birthday party (maybe).

Chapter Eighteen

Bella

I hopped up and found the gift I wanted to give to him. I walked back to the couch, handing him the box. “Merry Christmas, Edward.”

His eyes lit up, making him look so much younger. He tore into the gift and saw a beautiful watch. “Oh, Bella, this is exquisite. My old watch died recently and … I’ve been relying on my phone … this is so much more elegant.”

“I had it engraved,” I whispered.

He took it out and slipped off the satin pillow. On the underside of the watch, I added the engraving: My love for you is timeless … Bella. His eyes widened and he looked at me. I took the watch, sliding it onto his right wrist since Edward was left-handed. “I know that … you may not be ready to say this, and that’s okay, but I can’t not hold it back anymore. I love you, Edward.”

He stared at me, reaching up and tracing my features. His eyes were brimming with tears, but he blinked them away. “I’ve heard people say those words and I never understood them,” he said quietly. “You’re also right in saying that I’m not ready to say them, but I’m starting to understand so much.” He took my hand and pressed it to his heart. “This beats for you, Bella. You’ve broken through the walls around my heart and I’m no longer the shell of a man. I may not be able to say it, but I’m starting realize that I’m capable of … being loved and loving someone else.”

“You are so loveable, Edward. Once you get past the gruff, Grinchy exterior,” I said.

“I may not be able to say the words, but I want to show you how much …” he trailed off. He looked at me and his eyes were swirling with love. Love for me. Without saying a word, I stood up and took his hand. Together, we went upstairs to show how much we loved each other.

Edward

Bella closed the door to her bedroom. The only light inside was that of her Christmas tree. It bathed the room in a soft, romantic glow. I was excited, thrilled beyond all recognition at what was going to happen here tonight. I wanted to show Bella how much I cared about her, even if I couldn’t say those three words out loud.

Not yet.

I was terrified that when I said those words, everything would fall apart.

No more negativity, Edward Anthony. Has Bella ever shown you any indication that she would stab you in the back? Even when you were being a colossal douche?

True …

“Edward, look at me,” she said softly, her small hands taking my face. “I love you.” She took my hand pressing it onto her chest, just above her heart like I’d done a few moments earlier. “This beats for you, too. I won’t hurt you. To do so would hurt me, hurt Katie.”

“I don’t want that,” I said, sliding my arms around her tiny body. “I want to give you a part of me. I choose you. I choose to be with you.”

“If you’re talking about making love …” Bella sputtered. “I don’t have any condoms …”

“I’m not ready for that. I do want to make love to you, but tonight is not the right time,” I whispered, kissing her rambling away. She blushed, looking up at me sheepishly. “However, I do want to explore. I want to give you a part of me that no one ever saw, that no one could take.”

Her eyes softened, hugging me so tightly. I buried my face into her neck, reveling in her curves of her body pressed against me. I bent down, picking her up. Bella gasped and looked at me in surprise. I just kissed her, carrying her to her bed. I kicked off my shoes, laying her down on the mountain of pillows. Her fingers gripped my sweater, pulling me onto the bed as well. Bella’s legs tangled with mine and her fingers slid into my hair. Our kisses were languid and deep. It wasn’t about the frenetic need for pleasure.

This was love. This was sharing something inherently more with that one person and only her.

Bella’s hands moved from my hair and down my torso, slipping them underneath my sweater. I pulled away when I felt her palms on my stomach. “Are you okay?”

“Your hands are chilly,” I chuckled.

“Cold hands, warm heart,” she smiled, sliding her hands to my back.

I normally tried to avoid people touching my back, touching my body, because of my tortured past. I was covered in scars, a shadow of the heinous monsters in the world, but I didn’t want to push her away. Her frigid little hands were like a brand, relaxing me. I wanted her to feel every part of me. I kissed her, sliding my tongue into her mouth as she gently scratched my back under my sweater. I relaxed further, easing my hands down Bella’s body to hook her leg over my hip. My erection was straining against pants. Bella moaned when I rolled my hips to get comfortable. She stopped kissing me, staring at me. She started to pull my sweater off my body. I sat up, taking off my sweater. “I know I’m not much to look at … covered with …”

“You’re beautiful,” Bella said softly. “They are cruel reminders of the darkness of the world, but Edward, you’re not that dark, angry man anymore. You’re more.” Her fingers glided along my ribcage and she moved so she was straddling my hips. “You have love to give. You have a chance for your own happily ever after, to come into the light and bask in it.” She shimmied off her sweater dress, revealing her black lacy bra. I cupped her face with one hand, holding her close to my body. I kissed her lips, barely brushing my mouth over hers, three times.

I …

Love …

You …

It was the only way I could tell her until my brain caught up with my heart. With her smile against my lips, I think she knew my intention. She melted against me and our kisses grew more fervent, needy. I caressed her pale skin, teasing her back before I unclasped her bra. I eased the straps down her arms and tossed the offending piece of lace onto the ground. Bella rolled her hips over mine and she whimpered as I ran my hands over her smooth, soft skin. Where I was scarred, my Bella was a vision of perfection. She trembled and her skin erupted in goose bumps. “You’re turning me on so much, Edward,” she whispered. “Your touch is … so reverent, gentle.”

“More?” I asked, nipping at her ear. She moaned in response. “I want to give you more, angel.”

“Please,” she gasped.

I smiled, rolling us so she was on her back. She let out a tiny gasp as I hovered over her. She was so beautiful with her swollen lips, chestnut curls and heaving chest, bare and gorgeous. I took one finger, circling her nipple. Her eyes closed and she arched into my touch. I cupped her breast, sucking on her neck. She quietly moaned my name, twisting her fingers into my hair. I eased my hand down over her ribcage to her leggings. “May I?” I asked.

She nodded, hooking her fingers on the waist of her leggings. Together, we slid them off her long legs and she was bare except for a pair of black lacy panties. They left little to the imagination and my mouth watered at seeing her nearly naked body. “I’m down to my skivvies and you’re still in your dress pants, baby,” Bella chided. “Can we even the score? You’ve got to be uncomfortable.”

“Not yet, angel,” I said, gliding my hand down her midline. She bit her lip as I twisted her nipple. “Fuck, you’re exquisite.”

“You look at me like I’m the most gorgeous woman in the world,” she tittered. “I’m not. I’m me.”

“You are the most gorgeous in the world to me,” I said, crashing my mouth against hers. “You’re gorgeous on the outside as well as the inside, Bella. So gorgeous.” I devoured her mouth, lost in her lips and soft curves against me. Her skin felt like silk under my palms as I touched every inch of her body.

“Edward,” she breathed into my mouth. She sounded so lost in the sensations. I was just as lost: her lips, her pale skin and the heat between her legs. I could feel her arousal through my pants and I wanted to feel it … feel her.

“My Bella,” I whispered, spreading my hand on her belly. “Can I touch you?”

She let out a strangled moan, nodding her head. Her legs were moving, rubbing together in need of friction. I slipped my fingers into her panties. Easing my hand further down until I felt her soft, damp curls, I growled lowly. I circled my finger over her clit and she gripped my shoulders. Bella was so wet, her arousal spilling onto my hand. I wanted more. I had to taste her.

With my past, I didn’t like oral sex because I was forced to do it. Now? I needed to taste her. I wanted to give this part of myself to her. Pulling back, I kept circling her clit and spreading her arousal on her swollen folds. “Bella, can I …” I choked up. Say it, Edward. She’s not like your past. Bella’s your future.

She must have realized what I wanted. She slid off her panties and Bella was completely naked before me. Fuck, she was the embodiment of feminine beauty. “You’re in charge, Edward. I love you and I want you to explore.”

I nodded and moved so I was kneeling in between her legs. She watched me as I stared at her. Her eyes were tender and patient as I swept my gaze over her naked body. Her skin was gleaming in the incandescent light of the Christmas tree in her room. Her breasts were the perfect size, just barely larger my hands. Her nipples were pink and hard as diamonds. On either side of my hips, Bella’s legs were spread. I traced my fingers along her ribcage, down along her flat belly and the slope of her hips. I crawled over her, kissing her mouth before making my trek down her lithe, sexy body.

I wrapped my lips around her breast, swirling my tongue over her nipple. Bella arched against my mouth. I cupped her other breast, reveling at the softness of her skin. I pressed open-mouthed kisses down her belly and just above her thatch of curls. I inhaled deeply, smelling the sweet and slightly earthy scent of her arousal. My mouth watered in anticipation. I kissed her inner thighs before sliding my tongue along her slit. Her flavor exploded in my mouth. It was so inherently her, salty and sweet with a touch of spice. Bella gripped her bed spread in her fingers, spreading her legs further apart.

She was perfect. Her pink folds were dripping with her arousal, swollen with need. I kissed her pussy like I would kiss her mouth, sliding my tongue inside her. Bella was panting and her hips were moving. I dragged my mouth up and sucked her clit between my lips. With one arm, I braced her hips and the other hand teased her core.

“Edward …” she whimpered, her tone reverent and needy.

She was enjoying what I was doing to her. Fuck, I was relishing in the pleasure I was giving her.

Only her.

I pushed a finger inside her, shocked at how tight she was. I hummed in appreciation, lost in the sensation. My cock was weeping, desperate to join my fingers, but not yet.

When we made love, I wanted to show her. I wanted to say those three words out loud as we shared one body. She was my light. She made the darkness go away … all of it. She made realize that I wasn’t a broken, shattered man. She made me fucking whole.

Looking up at her, she was leaning on her elbows, watching me as I devoured her succulent pussy. I drank from her, tasting her essence, her sweetness. Her gaze stayed on mine as I gently cupped her breast with one hand and slid in another finger into her body. She bit her lip, squeezing her other breast and twisting her nipple.

Fuck me, that is so hot.

I pumped my hand inside her, curling my fingers and lapping up her arousal. Her head fell back as she rocked against my hand. Her body undulated with each thrust of my palm. She was making love to my mouth and fingers. Unconsciously, I was rolling my hips and I could feel my balls tighten. Bella’s sinuous movements, her freedom with her body and her abundant arousal were the perfect combination for my own release. Her muscles around my fingers fluttered as she gasped. “I’m going to come … Edward … harder!” she whispered.

You’re not the only one who’s going to come, angel.

I eagerly obliged her request, thrusting harder and finding that spongy spot inside her body. She trembled and her juices dribbled down my arm. I needed more of her. I ran my tongue along her slit and groaned at the change of her flavor. She was even sweeter when she was more aroused.

Bella’s hand slapped down on the bed and her hips moved jerkily. Inside, my fingers were being squeezed. I watched her as her orgasm claimed her. She lost all control as waves of ecstasy washed over her body. Seeing her come triggered my own release and my cock exploded in my boxer briefs.

I kept my mouth on her until she calmed down. I removed my fingers from her and crawled up her sexy, but sweaty body. Bella looked at me with a sated expression. She grabbed my hand that had been inside her, sucking my fingers between her lips. My cock twitched against my thigh. This woman was a siren. With a loving grin, she kissed my mouth, tasting herself on my lips. “Hmmmm,” she purred. “We taste good together.”

I smiled against her mouth, laying down and curling her against my body. “You taste better,” I whispered.

“Your tongue should be bronzed,” she breathed, tracing her fingers over my chest, inching toward my belt buckle. “Perhaps, I can return the favor?”

“Trust me, angel. You did,” I said, my face flaming in embarrassment. “Sensory overload, to be honest.”

She looked at me, running her fingers over my swollen lips. I playfully nipped at her fingertips. She giggled, kissing me deeply and sitting up. “As much as I want to bask in the afterglow of some serious sexy-times, we should get ready for bed. I just know that my sister will be up at the crack of dawn, jumping on the bed to see if Santa came.” She stood up, naked as the day she was born and completely comfortable in her skin. “And, Santa did come. Twice.”

“You did not go there,” I laughed.

“Oh, but I did,” she smirked. She crawled back onto the bed and straddled my hips, smiling tenderly at me. “Thank you for sharing that with me, Edward. I’ve loved what we’ve done prior to tonight and I feel like what we just shared was something so special. I love you.” I kissed her lips three times and hugging her close. “Now, you use the bathroom first since you’ve got jizz in your pants.”

“You are giving me whiplash with your funny retorts and quips tonight, angel,” I said, dumping her unceremoniously on the bed. She just giggled, smiling brightly at me. I bent down to pick up my sleep clothes from the bag I stored up here.

“The quips and retorts are preventing you from going into your head, Grinchy,” she said. “You have a tendency to overthink things. But, it’s one of the many things I love about you.”

“True,” I shrugged. “I’m working on it. I didn’t overthink what we did tonight. I wanted to share something with you that I didn’t share with anyone else, angel. Just you, only you.” I didn’t want to see her look of surprise based off my admission. I ducked into the bathroom, closed the door, and leaned heavily against the counter. I took a few deep breaths before stripping out of my dress pants and boxer briefs. I cleaned off my release from my cock and thighs, tossing the washcloth into the hamper. After I cleaned up, I tugged on a pair of sleep pants and a t-shirt before brushing my teeth.

When I walked out of the bathroom, Bella was dressed in the same adorable sleep set she wore the first time I spent the night. Her face was scrubbed clean of all the makeup and her hair was in a messy bun on top of her head. She was rubbing some lotion onto her legs, but when she saw me, her brows quirked. “What did you mean before you hid in the bathroom, Edward?”

“I don’t want this to turn into something sad,” I said, tossing my dirty clothes into my overnight bag.

“I promise to not to turn anything into something sad. I’m just curious,” she replied, tugging my hand and dragging me into the bed. She sat in front of me, looking at me. “Please?”

“You know, for the most part, about my past,” I sighed. “Creepy foster fathers and whatnot. Oral sex was never something that I ever wanted to do because I was forced to do it when I was younger. When the choice was a blowjob or getting your ass whooped? You can guess what I chose. I had enough scars. When I got older, away from that life, and I had a choice, I never willingly went down on anyone. It was something that I needed to control, I guess.”

“Not even that twat you were married to?” Bella asked, her lips pressed into a flat line.

“Don’t hold back, baby,” I snorted.

“Oh, trust me. I won’t,” she replied. “I would love to pop Silicone Barbie’s fake tits for what she did to you. Bitch.”

I chuckled, pulling Bella into my arms. “Not even with Tanya. She asked me to go down on her numerous times, but it felt wrong to do it with her. So, I didn’t,” I answered honestly. “I couldn’t. With you, I wanted to. Hell, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” I took her hand and pressed it to my chest. She felt my rapidly beating heart. “I lost my innocence a long time ago, but with you, I don’t feel dirty, used, discarded.”

“Oh, Edward, you’re not. Those monsters took what was never theirs to begin with,” she breathed. “I wish I could make that feeling go away.”

“You do, angel,” I murmured. “By loving me.”

“I do love you, Edward,” she said, turning in my lap and hugging me. “Thank you for trusting me to share something with me that you never did with anyone else.” Pulling back, she brushed back my hair. “I may not have been your first, but possibly I could be your last.”

I didn’t know how to respond to that, but I wanted it. I kissed her and we curled up under the covers. Bella fell asleep with her head on my chest, gripping my shirt.

She was right that she wasn’t my first. Not by a long shot. But, she would be my last …

My forever …

My grown up Christmas wish … Santa, are you listening?

xx FFADS xx

The bed was shaking. Why in the hell was the bed shaking? There are no earthquakes in Illinois. Are there?

“Kit Kat, I love you, but no,” Bella grumbled against my neck.

“But, Bella, did Santa come?” Katie finagled, bouncing at the foot of the bed.

I checked my new watch, biting back a groan. It was barely six in the morning. I just curled closer to Bella, wishing that Katie would stop bouncing on the mattress. She was cute. Very cute, but I was freaking exhausted.

“Bella! Edward! Please?” she whined. Bella shot up and caught Katie mid-bounce. Bella turned her body so she had her back to me, spooning her sister and I was spooning Bella. “I’m not going to win, am I?”

“Nope, kid,” I said, sliding my arm around Bella’s waist and nuzzling her hair. “Katie, you’re cute and all, but it’s really early. If Santa came, the gifts will still be there in an hour or so.”

“Oh, fine. We can have a morning snuggle. It’s only because I love you both so much,” Katie sighed. “Can Sam join us?”

Both Bella and I responded simultaneously, “No!” Bella’s queen size bed was barely big enough for the three of us. Add in a seventy-five pound dog? Someone was going to end up on the floor.

Katie just giggled, but she did eventually fall back asleep.

An hour and half later, Sam was whimpering. Begrudgingly, I had to drag my ass out of bed to take him out. My dog looked at me guiltily, seemingly upset that his need to go to the bathroom was disturbing my sleep. I pet his head and decided to let him use the tiny backyard behind Bella’s brownstone. I did not want to get bundled up. I opened the door and he did his business while I made some coffee. Need caffeine. Sam came back in and Katie ambled downstairs. I was sipping my coffee, allowing the caffeine to course through my system. Katie wrapped her arms around my thigh, pressing her cheek to my hip. “Merry Christmas, Edward.”

I bent down, picked her up and put her on the counter. “Merry Christmas, Little One. Did you sleep well?”

“Yeah. I’m sorry for jumping on you and Bella this morning,” she said, snuggling close. “I just love Christmas.”

“It’s a very magical time of year, Katie,” I said, kissing her messy curls.

“I love Christmas, but I’m sad,” she whispered. “When Bella and I went to see Santa last weekend, I told him what I wanted, but in my heart, I really wanted Mommy and Daddy to come back. That was my Christmas wish. They’re not here, Edward. Was I a bad girl?”

I put my coffee down and hugged her. “They may not be physically here, giving you hugs and spending time with you, but they’re watching over you, every moment. Your mommy and daddy love you so much.”

“Are you sad, too, Edward?” she asked, looking up at me. “You said your mommy and daddy died.”

“I’m sad for you, Little One,” I answered. “I barely remember my birth parents. I was younger than you when they passed away. I also got lucky. I have two adoptive parents who love me very much. You’ll meet them today.”

“What should I call them?” she questioned.

“My mother’s name is Esme and my father’s name is Carlisle,” I answered. “I think that you can call them Miss Esme and Mr. Carlisle, unless they ask you to call them something different.”

“If you marry Bella, would you be my brother?” she asked.

I laughed, kissing her forehead. “I would guess so, Little One. But, Bella and I have only been dating for a month.”

“That’s enough time. You need to get her a ring, Edward,” Katie said, crossing her arms and giving me a sassy look.

“How about this … when I’m ready to ask your sister to marry me, you can come with me to pick out the ring. Okay?” I said.

“Pinky swear?” Katie smirked, holding up her right hand and wiggling her pinky.

I latched my pinky with hers, earning me a brilliant smile, “Pinky swear. Now, do you want to help me make breakfast?” Katie hugged me and gestured she wanted to hop off the counter. I scooped her up, placing her on the hard wood flooring.

“Can’t we open presents?” she wheedled.

“I’m certain that Bella would like to be awake for that,” I argued. “Breakfast, presents and then …”

“Church! We have to go to church,” Katie said. “Do you have your Sunday best, Edward?”

I nodded. “Bella told me about going to church, so I have a suit hanging up in my car. I’ll get it in a little bit. For now, do you want eggs or pancakes?”

“Both?” she grinned. “With bacon?”

As I was working on making the batter for the pancakes, Bella came down. She was still half asleep, but looked beautiful. She swiped my coffee cup, taking a healthy swig. “There’s a whole pot, right there, angel,” I quipped.

“Yours is cooler and therefore, easier to drink and wake me up, Grinchy. SOMEONE decided to use my bladder as trampoline,” she answered, eyeing her sister. Katie hugged her Bella, begging to open one of the gifts under the tree from Santa. My girl held strong, helping me to make breakfast.

After we ate, Katie tore into her presents from Santa. She was so excited to get an American Girl doll that looked just like her, a bicycle, new winter clothes and other various toys. Bella and I decided to put the rest of the presents, for each other and for Katie, into an empty tub for us to open at my parents’ home. I knew that my folks bought a few things for Bella and Katie, so we’d share in the gift-giving wealth. Katie wanted to open all of them, but Bella distracted her by telling her that she needed to get ready for Christmas services.

When we finished the presents, I loaded up the remaining gifts in the back of my car and swiped my black suit. Bella told me that I could shower in her bathroom while she got ready with Katie in hers. I took a quick shower and dressed in my suit. I was sliding my tie around my neck when Katie skipped into Bella’s bedroom. She was wearing a green dress. “Wear this one! It was my Daddy’s favorite to wear at Christmas.”

I took the tie from her. It was a deep red with silver snowflakes. “Thank you, Katie,” I said. “I’m honored you’d share this with me.”

“Can I watch you tie the tie? I liked to do that with my Daddy,” Katie asked, crawling onto Bella’s bed.

I nodded, sliding it around my neck. I could tie a tie in my sleep, but having Katie watch me so raptly made me fumble a bit. When I finished, I smiled at her. Katie’s blue eyes were brimming with tears. I sat down, taking the little girl into my arms. She was crying into my shoulder. Bella came into the bedroom, giving her sister a sympathetic look. She sat down next to me and Katie, rubbing her sister’s back until she cried herself to sleep. “She gave Phil that tie for Christmas last year. He wore it to church,” Bella said quietly.

“I can take it off,” I whispered.

“No, she gave it to you, Edward. She doesn’t know how to grieve. She’s so young,” Bella explained. “But, you are so fucking good with her. Better than I am.”

“You’re an amazing sister and so much more to Katie. You were thrown into parenthood and you’re doing … so much,” I argued. “She’s happy, healthy and she knows that you won’t walk away.”

Bella wiped her cheeks, nodding. “I know Katie wants to go to church. I do, too, but I’m an emotional wreck,” she said.

“I’m afraid I’ll be smited,” I deadpanned. Bella gave me a look, obviously questioning my sanity. “I’ve never really gone to church. My parents go, but when began my life with them, I didn’t feel compelled to do so. I didn’t go before. Why should I go now? So, they gave me a choice. I chose to stay home.”

“You might like it. My faith fell to the wayside when I was in college, but when Katie was born, I started going back. It gave me answers to questions I never knew I had. It helped me come to grips with the death of my parents,” Bella shrugged, brushing her fingers through Katie’s curls. “I just need to put on some tights and my booties. Katie’s ready to go.”

I carried Katie downstairs. She woke up when I put on her coat. Her little fingers traced the snowflakes on the tie and she held up her arms. I picked her up, carrying her out to the car. As I buckled her into the booster seat I’d purchased, her little hand pressed to my face. “Thank you for wearing the tie, Edward. You look as handsome as my Daddy.”

“It’s my pleasure, Little One,” I said, kissing her forehead. “Feel better?”

She nodded, kicking her feet. Starting the car, I waited for Bella to come out. When she did, I opened the door for her. “You look exquisite, angel.”

“Thank you,” she replied, kissing my lips. “So do you, Edward. You and suits? Better than porn.”

“Nice, Bella,” I deadpanned, closing the door.

I got into the car and Bella gave me directions to her local parish. We walked in. Bella was greeted by several younger couples. Her eyes were glimmering as she introduced me to them as her boyfriend. Katie was holding my hand, proud to be seen with me. The bells rang and we went into the sanctuary, sitting near the back since the church was packed.

The service was what I expected and I could tell that Bella and Katie got a lot of peace from attending. Katie sang the Christmas carols in a sweet soprano. She tried to get me to sing, but I just smiled indulgently. I did not have any musical talents. I enjoyed listening to music and I could find a beat, but I was tone deaf. When the service was over, Katie wriggled so she was at the end of the pew. An older man, with kind blue eyes and an impish smile shook her hand. “Merry Christmas, Deacon Andy!”

“And to you, too, Miss Katherine,” he said. “Who’s this?”

“This my sister’s boyfriend, Edward,” Katie answered. “Deacon Andy is my favorite! He’s awesome.”

“Blessings to you, Edward. And to you, Miss Isabella. I hope your family has a wonderful Christmas,” he grinned, shaking my hand and giving Bella a quick hug. “Will we see you on Sunday?”

“It’s my birthday, Deacon Andy,” Katie chirped.

“We’ll try to come to the evening service,” Bella explained. “Katie’s birthday is scheduled when we normally attend services.”

“If I don’t see you, Miss Katherine, have a wonderful birthday,” Deacon Andy beamed. He gave Katie a hug and shuffled off behind the priest and other parishioners.

“You seem leery of Deacon Andy,” Bella whispered. “He’s a great guy. All the kids love him. He’s led the children’s services and Katie has adopted him as her grandfather. He’s also invited us over to his home with his wife when we first got to Chicago, when we really didn’t know anyone.”

“Sorry,” I mumbled. “It’s just … it’s hard for me to see the good in someone when they have nothing to gain.”

“I understand, Edward,” Bella said, taking my hand. “Deacon Andy is one of the good guys. An honest to goodness good man.” She kissed my cheek sweetly. “Let’s head back to my place and get out of these dress clothes, unless we need to be dressy for dinner with your parents.”

“It’s dressy casual,” I chuckled. “I have a pair of jeans and another sweater in my bag.”

“You mean I don’t have to wear this get up?” Katie asked, standing on the pew.

“Hey, you’re the one who wanted to wear that get up,” Bella chided.

“It’s pretty but it itches,” Katie grumbled, tugging on her tights.

“Come on, Itchy,” Bella snorted, holding up Katie’s coat.

We put on our coats, walking out to my car. I drove us back to Bella’s brownstone. I dropped them off since there were no parking spots on her street. While I searched for a spot, I called my parents. I let them know that we were coming in an hour or so, after we ate some lunch and changed out of our church clothes.

When I walked back into the brownstone, Katie was skipping down the stairs in a red outfit with Santa embroidered on the chest. Her hair was pulled into a low ponytail. “Bella’s changing,” Katie said.

“Thanks, Little One,” I grinned, tugging on her ponytail. “I’m going to do the same.”

“Did you like church?” she asked.

“I did like it. It’s different than I remember,” I shrugged. “But, the last time I went to church, I was a little boy.”

“Do you have pictures?” Katie asked. “I bet you were very cute.”

“I don’t, Katie,” I frowned. “Not from when I was really little. I think the oldest picture I have is from when I as fifteen, when I moved in with my adoptive parents.”

“I will definitely ask your mother to see that,” Bella quipped. She was wearing a burgundy cardigan with a white blouse underneath and a pair of black jeans with her black booties. Perched on her nose were a pair of glasses. I arched a brow, pointing to her frames. “My contact ripped in my eye and it was my last pair. I get to wear these until I find an eye doctor to order me new ones.”

“You look beautiful,” I said, kissing her nose before jogging upstairs. I changed out of my suit and into a pair of dark-wash jeans and a cream-colored sweater. I hung up my suit, draping the tie over the hanger and zipping it into the garment bag. Carrying my overnight bag and suit, I walked back down to the living room. After eating some lunch, I took Sam out for a walk and we got back into the car to drive to my parents’ home.

When we arrived, Bella stared at the massive house, biting her lip. “I’m in over my head,” she whispered.

“Welcome to my world,” I said flatly. “My parents will adore you.”

“What about me?” Katie asked.

“Both of you,” I grinned. “Come on!”

Scrambling out of the car, Bella held onto Sam’s leash and Katie’s hand. I carried the tub filled with presents. The door opened up and my mother was grinning widely as we made our way up the steps. My mom hugged Bella and Katie. “It’s such a pleasure to finally meet you both. Edward has told me so much about you,” she sang.

“It’s a nice to meet you, Mrs. Cullen,” Bella said quietly.

“Call me Esme,” Mom grinned. Blinking down to Katie, who was huddled close to Bella, she crouched down. “You must be Katie.”

“Hi,” Katie said shyly. “You’re really pretty.”

“Thank you, sweet girl. So are you. You look just like your big sister,” Mom cooed. “Come with me. I’ve got cookies.” She held out a hand to Katie and they went inside.

I put the tub of presents in the foyer, scoffing good-naturedly. “I see how it is, Ma,” I teased.

My mother giggled, scurrying back and kissing my cheek. “They’re perfect for you, son.” She stepped back, taking Katie’s hand. “Cookies, hmmmm?”

“Sounds really good, Miss Esme,” Katie chirped.

“Call me Nana,” Mom grinned, tugging Katie into the kitchen.

My father came in, carrying an armload of firewood. “You look much better, Bella,” he said.

“Holy crap,” she breathed, pressing her hand to her chest. “Sorry. You’re all sneaky and ninja-like.”

“My apologies, Bella,” Dad snickered, walking into the living room. “But, you are looking much better from the last time I saw you. I’ve never seen my son more terrified when I first came over when you had the stomach flu.”

“You were really warm,” I said, putting the presents underneath the tree. “Jeez, Dad. Got enough gifts?”

“If your mother had her way, there would be more,” he snorted.

“I really appreciate you coming over and helping me, Dr. Cullen,” Bella said. “Katie just had the upset tummy and fever. It was a lot more hellacious for me.”

“None of this Dr. Cullen. Please, call me Carlisle,” he grinned, wiping his hands on his jeans. “It’s such a pleasure to meet you.” He hugged Bella. Pulling back, he smiled at me. “How are you, son?”

“I’m good, Dad,” I answered. “The best, really.”

“Carlisle! Come meet Katie,” Mom called out to my father.

“Excuse me,” Dad said, leaving the living room. “Do either of you want anything to drink? A glass of wine? Scotch? Whiskey?”

“Wine would be great,” Bella answered.

“Red or white?” he asked.

“White, please,” Bella replied, sitting down on the couch. She looked around the room after my father left. “This is surreal, Edward.”

“Imagine a fifteen-year-old punk who’d been thrown away like garbage …” I snorted. “I was terrified that I was going to mess everything up. I refused to sleep on the bed because I thought I was too dirty. Even now, I ring the doorbell like I’m a guest and I’ve been their son for twenty years.”

“Edward, I can see how much they adore you,” Bella chided gently. I gave her a shrug, putting the plastic tub in the closet. I sat down next to her, threaded my fingers with hers and kissing her wrist.

“Here’s your wine, Bella,” Carlisle said, handing her a healthy glass. “Edward, I got you a scotch.”

“Thanks, Dad,” I smiled.

“This is delicious,” Bella said, taking a sip. “What is it?”

“Conundrum,” he answered. “It’s a white blend. It’s Esme’s favorite wine.”

“It is,” Mom replied, walking back in with Katie. Mom was holding her own glass with one hand and Katie’s hand with the other. “Katie and I shared some pre-Christmas dinner cookies.”

“Nana Esme made chocolate chip cookies like Mommy,” Katie said, skipping to sit next to her sister. “With caramel mixed in. They were so good.” Her eyes were trained on the tree, specifically on the gifts underneath it.

“You’ve got presents on the brain, Katherine Marie,” Bella chided.

“We usually open presents after we eat dinner on Christmas,” Dad said. “But, it’s been a long time since we had a child with us. Katie, you can open one present before we eat.”

“Before I do, do you have any pictures of Edward as a little boy?” Katie asked, grinning at me.

“I do have a few,” Mom smirked. “Edward was camera shy.” She got up and found a small album from when I first moved in with them. She handed me the album to show Katie and Bella. “My son was as skinny as a rail and hated getting his hair cut.”

I rolled my eyes, showing them the pictures. “This was about a month after I came to live with my parents,” I said.

“Edward, you were a twig,” Bella said, her eyes wide. “I also like your hair now.”

“I liked to hide behind that mess of hair,” I snorted humorlessly. Bella looked at me, understanding swirling in her eyes.

“What happened to your arm, Edward? You’ve got a cast,” Katie asked, pointing to the green cast. “Did it hurt? You look sad and upset in your picture.”

“I broke my hand. My dad was the doctor who set it for me,” I replied. “And I was really sad for a long time …”

“You’re not sad anymore, right?” Katie questioned, clambering into my lap.

“No, Little One. You, Bella and my parents make me very happy,” I breathed, giving her the photo album.

“Because you love us,” she said with certainty. I smiled at her crookedly, giving her a nod. She kissed my cheek, looking at the pictures and asking a periodic question. I felt my mom get up and heard her quiet tears as she disappeared into the kitchen.

“I’m going to check on Esme to see if she needs help,” Bella said. I turned and kissed her. She traced her fingers down my scruffy cheek. In a quiet whisper, she said, “I love you.” I brushed my lips over hers three times and she got up, walking into the kitchen. My dad came to sit next to Katie and me. His blue eyes were also brimming with tears. His hand squeezed my shoulder affectionately. I just tightened my hold on Katie as she asked me questions about my childhood.

I knew that moment, something had changed for me. I understood what everyone was saying. Blood doesn’t bind family … relationships do.

My parents? We may not share blood, but they adored me as if they had me as a baby. They showed me love. They showed me how to love.

Bella and Katie were slowly becoming my family. I’d fight lions for them. I’d do anything to ensure their happiness, their protection, their love.

“Edward, I’m happy that we got to spend Christmas with you,” Katie said quietly after my father got up to fill up his glass. “I love you so much.”

“I love you, too, Katie,” I said, kissing her forehead. “This is the best Christmas I can remember. Despite the early wakeup call.” She just turned in my arms, giggling quietly and kissed my cheek. I sat back, holding her and letting the moment settle over me.

This was happiness. This was love.

I wanted it. I wanted it all.

Definitely my grown-up Christmas wish …

A/N: We started off with some sexy times … Edward sharing something with Bella that he never did before. Edward, from the moment he was put into the system, he was fucked over by his foster families. He’s now seeing that he was worthy of love, but he’s still terrified of opening up himself to it.

Then, we ended with some family time, with Esme and Carlisle. They’re noticing a change in their adoptive child.

I also want to point out … Deacon Andy was based on a real person. He was the deacon at my church when I was a kid. He adored the kids and he helped us understand the church’s teachings in terms we could grasp. He passed away when I was a freshman in college. But, he was one of the people who helped shape my life.

Anyway, we’re going to finish Christmas in Bella’s eyes … starting with her conversation with Esme. We’re also going to celebrate Katie’s birthday and New Year’s before heading back to work at MAC.

Pictures from this chapter are on my blog … you can access that through a link on my profile. I’m also on Facebook: Tufano79’s Twilight Fanfiction Appreciation. I’m on twitter, too: tufano79. Leave me your thoughts and thank you so much for reading!

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