Falling for a Dark Soul @tufano79
Chapter 22

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 Valentine’s Day, the trip to New York City for the New Moon launch at Bergdorf’s and perhaps, a little something-something.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Edward

I was clicking through shopping sites on my computer. I was trying to find the perfect Valentine’s Day present for Bella, along with something small for Katie. We weren’t celebrating since it was the anniversary of Bella and Katie’s parents’ death. They would undoubtedly be sad, but I did want to get them something to acknowledge my feelings for them. Frustrated, I glowered at my computer. I couldn’t find something that said that I loved them, but not being over-the-top. My phone rang on my desk, further adding to my frustration. Pressing the speaker phone, I answered. “Yes?”

“Mr. Cullen, your father, Dr. Cullen, is here,” said Shelly.

“Send him in, Shelly,” I replied, my brows shooting up to my hairline.

It was rare that my dad came to my office. The last time he came by was shortly after the Tanya debacle. We had words.

Loud words that resulted in him leaving in a huff and us not speaking for nearly six months.

“Here you go, Dr. Cullen,” Shelly murmured, holding open the door to my office.

“Thank you, Shelly,” Dad grinned as he walked into my office. He was wearing a blue suit and holding his overcoat over his arm. “I didn’t mean to surprise you, but I was in the neighborhood. I had a meeting at a nearby hotel with some of the other hospital leaders. We’re done early. Do you have time to go to lunch?”

I checked my calendar. I didn’t have any meetings. “That sounds nice,” I replied.

“Would Bella like to join us?” Dad asked, a slow smile spreading over his face.

“She’s working remotely today,” I frowned. “This weekend will be rough for them and so Bella took a half day. She worked this morning and this afternoon, Bella and Katie are going to see their grief counselor at a satellite office in Glenview.” My father arched a brow, asking a question in his eyes. “It’s the anniversary of their parents’ death.” I put on my coat, swiping my wallet and cell phone.

“Oh, poor thing,” Dad replied. “Maybe, they would like to come over this weekend? I know your mother would love to spoil those girls.”

“I asked Bella what she wanted and she just wanted to stay home with me and Katie,” I answered. “I know it won’t be easy for them, but I want to be there for them. We’ve been through happy times … I’m not running away from the tears.”

We stopped briefly at Shelly’s desk and I told her that I was going out to lunch. With a request for her to send any calls to my cell phone, we left and walked to a nearby bistro. We ordered our meals. “I didn’t realize that Bella and Katie’s parents died so recently,” Dad murmured. “I knew that they were gone, but I thought it happened some time ago. A couple of years.”

“It’ll be a year on Valentine’s Day,” I said, sipping my soda. I sat back, idly playing with my napkin. I was slightly upset that I couldn’t really celebrate the first Valentine’s Day with the woman I loved in any sort of traditional way. It seemed selfish, but not. “Am I dick?”

“I’m not following,” Dad snorted, smiling at me.

“Sorry, I had a train of thought in my mind,” I snickered. “I was thinking that I’m a bit miffed that I can’t celebrate Valentine’s Day with Bella because of what happened. I respect that it’s a sad day, but I still want to give her something to show her and Katie that I care.”

“You more than care, Edward,” Dad chided gently. He gave me a gentle smile. “Bella and Katie have brought the light back to you, son. You love them and I understand your desire to cherish that.” He reached across the table, stopping my anxious twisting of the napkin. “You’re not a dick. The woman you love is going through something on a day where you should acknowledge your relationship. You want to take that pain away and celebrate your love. I think you being there for them is exactly what they need.” I sighed, not happy with his response. “However, something small might make them not feel so lost this weekend.”

“Will you help me?” I asked. “I’ll admit, I’m a little out of my depth, especially when it comes to kids.”

“Edward, you’re amazing with Katie. She thinks you hung the moon,” Dad breathed. “She adores you. You’re her hero.”

“Both my girls are my heroes,” I whispered. I closed my eyes, grinning wistfully. I loved them so much. Each day, it became easier and easier for me to say those words to them.

“You can tell them how you feel. You can say that you love Katie and Bella,” Dad said simply. I looked at him, afraid that he’d be pissed that I could say that I loved Bella and Katie, but unable to say the words to him or my mother. There was no judgment in his eyes, just happiness. “Edward, I can see those cogs turning. You’re terrified that I’m pissed at you for loving Bella and Katie. Am I right?”

“Well, yeah,” I answered honestly. “You’ve been my parents for over twenty-years and I …” I shook my head, twisting the napkin again. My father took my hand and squeezed it gently. Blowing out a breath, I continued, “I’ve known Bella for less than a year and I can talk to her, tell her how I feel. Why can’t I say that to you and Mom?”

“I’m not going to begrudge you true happiness, Edward. With Bella and Katie, you’ve got your own family. With us, you still feel like a guest, an interloper when you’re not. You never were, but you have to believe it in your mind,” Dad responded. “I was terrified that you’d completely shut yourself off after what happened with Tanya, but after reading her letter …”

“She was more fucked up than me, but in a different way,” I sighed. “I’m grateful that Bella was with me when I read it. Rather, Bella read it to me. I was feeling betrayed by Tanya to read it objectively. I walked around with the letter in my pocket for a month.” Shaking my head, I looked out to the street. “Anyway, will you help me with finding presents for Katie and Bella?”

“Of course, son. My meeting was supposed to go all day, but we made our decisions before lunch. I’m free for the rest of the day,” he said. “Perhaps, you can help me find something for your mother. We’re going out for dinner, but other than that, I’ve got nothing.”

“Sounds like a plan,” I smiled.

We enjoyed our meal and left the bistro. We walked to a nearby department store, wandering around while looking for presents for our Valentines. I managed to find something for Bella … a white gold and diamond heart ring by David Yurman. It was chunky and elegant. It portrayed my feelings for her without looking like an engagement ring. My dad liked my idea, but he went with a Pandora bracelet for my mother.

For Katie, I wanted to get her something sentimental and we found it in a specialty jewelry shop. It was a sterling silver heart locket that she could put in photos of her parents. I also picked up something fun for her, buying a pink, glittery slime kit. She was addicted to that shit.

The final gift I picked up for my girls was for both of them. Bella was an avid reader and it carried over to Katie. When they moved, most of their books stayed in Forks. Katie’s books made it, but Bella’s were collecting dust in the basement of their unsold home. I found a beautiful collection of Jane Austen’s books. Bella loved her stories and had checked them out several times from the local library. I wanted her to have her own copies. Copies she could pass down to Katie, when she was old enough to enjoy Jane Austen.

When we finished our shopping, which took less time than I anticipated, we walked back to my office building. “If you and Bella want to come over, I’m certain that your mother wouldn’t mind rearranging our plans,” Dad said.

“I’ll let you know, Dad, but I’m certain we’re just going to hang out close to home or do something … mindless. Katie wanted to see this new Disney movie and it’s opening today. We’ll see what they want to do. Thank you for your help,” I replied, gesturing to the bags of presents for Bella and Katie. “Do you think they’ll like them?”

“I do, son,” Dad breathed, stepping toward me. I initiated a hug and stepped back quickly. My father had tears in his blue eyes as he reached up, cupping my cheek. With a nod, he hailed a cab and I watched him clamber inside. I went back into the building, riding up to the MAC floor.

I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up the work I’d missed while I was out with my dad, finding Valentine’s presents for Bella and Katie. I was finishing up the contract for the Taiwanese tech company when my office line rang. I picked it up. “Edward Cullen, MAC Advertising.”

“Hey, Edward,” came the tired voice of my girl.

“Bella,” I breathed. “How are you? Katie?”

“As good as can be expected,” she sighed. “We just got back from Michele’s office. Katie’s doing okay. She’s clingy, of course. She’s adamant on me not going anywhere tomorrow without her.” Her voice caught at that last statement. “She said that if I die like Mommy and Daddy, she wants to be with me.”

“Fuck,” I spat.

“Yeah, fuck,” Bella snorted humorlessly. “Michele’s partner took Katie while Michele and her husband, who’s a psychiatrist, worked with me. I can’t stop crying. That shit is not normal. No five-year-old kid should have to deal with this. I’m an adult and I’m struggling.”

“Where’s Katie now?” I asked.

“She’s asleep in her room. I, um, swung by doggie daycare and picked up Sam. I think she needed him. They’re curled up together,” she sniffled.

“What about you, angel?” I pressed. “Do you need me? I can come over … I hate hearing you cry, love.”

“It’s barely three,” Bella argued. “I’m okay. I’m going to take a nap. Crying at my appointment gave me a migraine and Michele’s husband gave me a mild sedative to calm me down. Finish your work day, Edward. I just wanted to let you know that I have Sam and I’m home.”

“Thank you for letting me know, Bella,” I said. “I’ll be over when I’m done. Do you want me to pick up some dinner?”

“That would be great,” Bella breathed. “I don’t have the energy to cook. I’m just drained. Katie and I were supposed to go for pizza after our appointment, but …”

“Done, angel. I’ll pick up pizza for you,” I smiled. “Thin crust or Chicago-style?”

“Chicago-style,” she snickered quietly. “With all the extras and dessert.”

“Your wish is my command, Bella,” I said. “Get some rest, love. I’ll be over by six at the latest.”

“Kay … love you,” she yawned.

“I love you, too,” I whispered back. She hummed and ended the call.

It was tough to focus on the rest of my afternoon, knowing the difficulties Bella was having. Somehow, I managed to get through my to-do list before leaving the office. I drove to my condo to pick up my overnight bag. Then, I swung by the florist to brighten up Bella and Katie’s day with some flowers. I knew that Bella thought they were an unnecessary extravagance, but the soft look in her eyes indicated she really did like it when I bought them for her. The last stop was the pizza place, picking up our dinner.

I must have had good parking mojo. I managed to snag a spot right in front of Bella’s brownstone. When I pulled up, I heard my dog bark and I saw Katie bouncing on her toes on the stoop. Bella was holding Sam’s leash. She bent down and handed the leash to Katie. She skipped off the stoop, meeting me at my car. “Hey, Little One,” I said, bending down to hug her. “Did Sam make you feel better?”

“Yeah,” she said, nodding adorably. Her pale skin was pink from being outside and her eyes were a little puffy. “Can I help, Edward?”

“Not while you’re holding Sam, Katie,” I chuckled. “I’ve got it. Besides, Sam is leaving a present on the sidewalk.”

“Oh, no! Bella! Do we have a baggie?” Katie asked, running back to the house.

“Here, Kit Kat. Bring it back to me so I can tie it up,” Bella said, giving Katie a blue poop bag.

Originally, I wanted to stop Katie from scooping the poop, but Bella said that Katie need to learn to be responsible, especially with taking care of Sam. Even though Sam was now more Katie’s dog than mine, Katie still begged for her own pet. It would be a while before Bella would even consider it, but taking care of Sam was helping her get used to all that came with pet ownership.

Including the unpleasant side of scooping up dog shit.

Balancing our dinner, my overnight bag and two bouquets, I managed to avoid stepping in Sam’s crap and walked up the stairs to my Bella. Her face was drawn with red, puffy eyes and deep frown. I handed her the bouquet of flowers. Her lips curved up, but her sad smile didn’t reach her eyes.

I went into Bella’s brownstone and put the pizza onto the kitchen counter, along with Katie’s bouquet. Their Valentine’s Day presents were wrapped in my overnight bag, which I ran up to Bella’s bedroom. When I walked back downstairs, Sam, Bella and Katie were in the kitchen. Bella was putting the two bouquets into vases. “Thank you for the flowers, Edward,” Katie said, wrapping her arms around my waist. “They’re really pretty.”

I picked her up, kissing her forehead. “I’m glad you like them, Little One. I know that this weekend is tough for you. I hope they made you smile,” I said. She nodded, putting her head on my shoulder.

“You spoil us, Edward,” Bella said, giving me a wry grin.

“Now, she gets it,” I snorted. I kissed Katie’s forehead again. “Go wash up, Little One.” I put her down and she darted into the bathroom with Sam on her heels. Once she was gone, Bella fell into my arms. She gripped my shirt and I had to physically hold her up. “I’ve got you, angel.” A quiet sob vibrated against my chest. I tightened my hold on her. My heart broke for the agony Bella was experiencing. Her grief was so raw.

Bella stepped back, wiping her cheeks and blowing out a breath. “I’m sorry. This is probably not how you wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend,” she said.

“I don’t care how we celebrate it, Bella. This will be difficult for you and you’re not alone anymore,” I said, wiping a tear away. “I’m happy to be with you and Katie.” Bella took my face in her hands and kissed me deeply. I cradled her lithe, sexy body to mine and reveled in her soft lips.

“Did you get cheesy bread, Edward?” Katie asked, walking back into the kitchen. We jumped apart. Bella’s face was bright red while I felt my ears flame.

“Busted,” Bella whispered, reaching for the bags with the sides.

“You’re just as guilty, angel,” I whispered, kissing her neck. “And, yes, Katie. I got cheesy bread with both red sauce and garlic butter sauce. We’ll keep the vampires away.”

“Yay,” Katie chirped, clambering onto the stools.

“We got stuffed pizza, Kit Kat. Do you want one slice, with some cheesy bread?” Bella asked. Katie nodded. “Edward also picked up meatballs, too.”

“Can we split a meatball, Bella?” Katie asked.

“You got it,” Bella said, dishing up Katie’s dinner. She cut the pizza quickly and Katie dug into her meal. “What about you, Grinch?”

“I’ll have a full meatball; two slices and I’m still debating on the cheesy bread. I also picked up mozzarella sticks and deep-fried zucchini slices,” I said. “But, I can make my own plate, love.”

“Meh, I’m here,” she said, handing me a full plate. “Did you get the zucchini for me?”

“I know you like it with ranch dressing,” I smiled.

“You do love me,” she cooed, kissing my jaw.

“Hmmmm, yeah, I do,” I chuckled, giving her a crooked grin. “Do you want some beer?”

“Not with the meds that I was given. I have some Ice flavored water in the fridge. Can you grab me a pineapple coconut one?” she asked as she made her own plate.

“Can I have some apple juice? Please?” Katie asked while I was at the fridge. I picked up Bella’s beverage and Katie’s juice before swiping a soda for myself. Once we got our drinks, Bella and I sat down at the kitchen counter, digging into our meals. Katie sipped her apple juice and smiled. “Are going to see that movie tomorrow?”

“I think it would be nice to get out,” Bella answered. “We’ll go out together and then get something to eat.”

“Even though it’s Valentine’s Day?” Katie asked. “You’re not going out like Mommy and Daddy? Alone?”

Bella and I shared a look. Bella’s eyes watered and I reached over, taking her hand. “Little One, with what happened a year ago, your sister and I aren’t going to go out without you tomorrow. We can all stay in or we can all go out. We’re not going to separate.”

Katie nibbled on her food, thinking about what I said. Bella’s grip on my hand was tight and her body was trembling next to me. I slid my arm around her and she woodenly leaned against my body.

“Can I think about it?” Katie asked, her voice contemplative.

“Sure, Little One,” I answered, running my hand down her hair. “Let’s enjoy our dinner and we can veg out tonight. It’s been a long week, long day, really. I also got brownies and ice cream for brownie sundaes. We can make them tonight or tomorrow … your choice.”

“Hmmm, maybe tomorrow. For breakfast,” Katie giggled.

“I don’t know about breakfast,” I snickered. “But, tonight, we relax.”

“That sounds perfect,” Bella murmured, kissing my shoulder.

I knew that Bella was going to crash once we sat down on the couch. Her body was exhausted and her mind was weary. I vaguely remember taking anti-anxiety meds when I first moved in with Carlisle and Esme. I was terrified that they would be like everyone else who’d taken me in, abusing my trust and destroying my spirit. With a month of night terrors and many sleepless nights, Carlisle brought me to a child psychiatrist. I didn’t say much, but I was prescribed a mild sedative after my adoptive father described my symptoms. They made me feel so heavy, like I couldn’t stand up straight and I was groggy the following day. Bella was easily half my weight and she was still feeling the effects of whatever they gave her at her appointment.

When we finished dinner, Katie went upstairs to put on some pajamas. Bella sat down on the couch and sighed heavily before picking up the remote. “Thank you for talking to Katie,” she said. “I’m … my emotions are still so close to the surface. I don’t know if I want to rage, cry, or both.”

“Anything for you, angel,” I responded. Bella searched on her Netflix account before handing me the remote. “Nothing catching your eye?”

“I’m going to crash as soon as it turns on. Mark my words,” Bella snorted, her eyes sliding shut. “Pick whatever … kid-friendly, though. We can’t watch Brave New World or some shit with all that random fucking.”

I finally decided on Lost in Space. It was interesting and Katie had a crush on the kid who played Will Robinson. “Katie’s been upstairs for a while,” I said.

“I can check on her,” Bella mumbled, moving to get up but she was sluggish.

“No, you stay,” I urged, caressing my lips over Bella’s. She didn’t argue, just curling back up on the couch. I jogged up the stairs and found Katie, dead-to-the-world on her bed. She was curled around the stuffed dog I’d gotten all those months ago. Sam was by her feet. His tail wagged and he let out a quiet bark. “Shhh, Sam. Little One’s sleeping.” I picked her up and tucked her into the bed, brushing her hair away from her face. Her lips were pouted out and her brow was furrowed. Pressing a kiss to her head, I whispered. “Love you, Little One. Only precious, sweet dreams.”

“Love you … Edward,” she sighed, tightening her hold on her furry friend.

With another kiss, I left her room after turning on the night light. I went downstairs and found my other girl, asleep on the couch. Her head was bent at a funny angle. I turned off the television and the downstairs lights. Easily, I hefted her into my arms. My jostling woke her up. “I’m awake,” she slurred.

“And, I’m a girl,” I teased.

“I can walk,” Bella said, putting her head on my shoulder.

“Don’t deny me to be a knight in shining armor,” I quipped, carrying her up the stairs. She didn’t respond and she was asleep as I maneuvered my way to her bedroom. I took off her socks, tucking her into bed. I quickly changed and joined her. While she slept, I read some on my Kindle before curling around her. She sighed, burrowing closer to me and I enfolded her in arms.

Protected from her sadness and enveloped in my love.

“I love you, angel,” I whispered. “Always.”

xx FFADS xx

As predicted, Valentine’s Day was a somber one, filled with memories of Renee and Phil Dwyer. We never made it to the movie. Both Bella and Katie slept in late, emotionally wrecked from their appoint the day before.

I catered to both of my girls, giving them the attention they deserved, but the space when needed. Katie got weepy when we watched a video from Katie’s birthday just prior to their parents’ passing. I took that opportunity to duck out and take Sam for a long walk. Thankfully, it was a mild day and we were able to take a few laps around the park before heading back to Bella’s place.

When I got back, Katie was in better spirits and I decided to give them my Valentine’s presents.

“Edward, you really didn’t need to get us anything,” Bella chided.

“I see a bag,” I snickered, pointing to the pink bag seated under the cocktail table. “Pot, meet kettle.” I handed Bella and Katie their wrapped gifts.

“The flowers were enough,” Bella said, giving me a soft, but appreciative grin. “Katie, you go first.”

Katie had three presents. One was from Bella and she had two from me. Katie tore into Bella’s gift first, pulling out a beautiful frame. “It’s Mommy and Daddy,” she breathed, holding the frame to her chest. “They look so happy, Bella.”

“I took that picture when they told me that they were having you, Kit Kat,” Bella said. “Do you see that black and white photo in their hand? That’s a picture of you in Mommy’s tummy.” Katie examined the picture, grinning widely. “Mommy was very excited to be pregnant. You were her little miracle.”

“Thank you, Bella,” Katie whispered, hugging her sister. “I love you.”

“I love you more, Kit Kat,” Bella breathed, pressing a kiss to Katie’s hair. “But, you’ve got more.”

Katie moved back to her spot and took off the bow that was on my bigger present, putting in Sam. He tried to bat it off with his paw and gave Katie a disgruntled look when he couldn’t. She squealed when she saw my first present, flying into my arms. “Pink glitter slime? You are the bestest, Edward. This is so awesome,” she breathed, sitting on my lap. “Can we make some?”

“After we finish opening up gifts, Little One. You’ve got one more,” I snickered, handing her the smaller box. She kissed my cheek, putting the smaller bow on my forehead. I think I gave her the same look that Sam did. She just giggled until she opened the velvet box, when she gasped.

“Edward,” Bella breathed. “That’s …”

“For Katie,” I said. “It’s a locket.” I took the silver locket out of the box and opened it. “You can put a picture of your parents in here, to keep them close to your heart.”

“Bella, can you help me find pictures for the locket?” Katie asked. “They have to be so little.”

“I think I have the perfect photo for your locket,” Bella said, her voice quiet and wavering. “For now, why you don’t put it on?”

“Can you help me, Edward?” Katie asked. I nodded, clasping the silver locket around her neck. The chain was long and the locket lay in the middle of her chest. She turned in her lap, hugging me tightly. “Thank you, Edward! I love you!”

“I love you, too, Little One,” I grinned, kissing her forehead.

“Bella, give me Edward’s present,” Katie chirped, holding out both her hands. With a grin, she gave Katie my gift. “It’s from both me and Bella.”

“I’m certain I’ll love it,” I said quietly. Tossing the tissue paper onto the floor, I pulled out another frame. It was a brushed nickel, masculine but my eyes were drawn to the perfect photo inside. The picture was from Christmas, but it was the three of us. Bella was curled to my side and Katie was hugging my neck. I was focused on my face because I didn’t even recognize myself. I looked younger and so happy, my eyes twinkling. Tears welled in my eyes as I looked at the photo.

“Katie, go set up your slime kit in the kitchen,” Bella instructed. Katie slid off my lap, skipping away. Bella moved so she was crouched in front of me. Her hand gently caressed my jaw and I looked up at her. “I thought I lost you, Edward.”

“I’m here,” I croaked. “I can’t … this picture … perfect …”

“It’s a beautiful photo,” Bella said. “Your mother sent it to me and I knew I had to print it out for you. You look so handsome, relaxed, carefree! So different from the man I met when I started at MAC. I knew that you loved me, loved Katie. But, seeing this photo … it radiates all through you, Edward.” I helped her into my lap and she brushed my hair away from my face. “I know it’s not a lot.”

“Bella, it’s everything. This is the most amazing gift,” I murmured. I looked at her. “All I wanted in my life was to have a family of my own. I wanted to put up pictures on my desk of the people that I loved on my desk, sharing them with pride. I have the photo from Halloween, but that was so early in our relationship, our friendship …”

“There was a distance in that photo, where this one is more intimate,” Bella explained. “I’m glad you like it.”

“I love it. I can’t wait to put it on my desk,” I grinned, kissing her quickly. “Now, open up your present.”

“The flowers were present enough,” Bella chided. I arched a brow, handing her the bag with her gift. She brushed her lips over mine, opening her gift and gasping quietly. “Edward … this is exquisite.”

“I know that today is tough for you, but I didn’t want to ignore it. I wanted to celebrate what we have. You and Katie are the only ones that I can say that I love,” I murmured, taking the heart-shaped diamond ring out and sliding it onto her right hand. I lifted her hand to my mouth and caressing my lips along her knuckles. “Take care of my heart, Bella. You own every inch of it.”

Bella took my face in her hands, kissing me soundly. “Always, Grinch. You own my heart, too. I love you so much.”

Quietly, I said, “I love you more, Bella.” I kissed her, losing myself in her tenderness and beauty.

“Edward, are you coming?” Katie grumbled impatiently. “We’ve got slime to make!”

We broke apart and Bella giggled. “Priorities, babe. Slime first … making out later.”

“Much later,” I growled, kissing her again.

xx FFADS xx

That night, Bella and I didn’t make love, but we did let more of our walls down. I held her as she cried, missing her family and I gave her my comfort and love. We fell asleep in a tangle of naked limbs.

The next day, we went to church. Both of my girls needed the solace of their faith. I sat in between both of them, listening to the homily and grinning when Katie hugged her old friend, Deacon Andy. His blue eyes were soft and he invited all of us over to his home for a late lunch. He must have known about Bella and Katie’s history. He doted on all three of us when we went over for the meal, providing a safe space for my girls, and by extension, me.

After that lunch and some guidance by the sweet old man, Katie and Bella were more smiles and less tears. We decided that to go see the movie that Katie wanted to see. Getting popcorn, slushes and other movie goodies, we settled in at the theater.

The following week at work, I was barely in the office. I had a few business trips to attend to, a day trip to Minneapolis and a few days in Nashville. I hated being away from Bella, but I’d been putting off these trips. With the trip to New York City at the end of the following week, I needed to get these meetings done.

The night before we were leaving for New York City, we were at my parents’ house. Katie, along with Sam, were staying with them while Bella and I were in New York. Katie was not happy about our leaving. My mother was doing the best to assuage Katie’s fears, planning on doing things with her to keep her occupied. They’d grown close since Katie was spending time with Esme after preschool and daycare, but nothing gave her much comfort like being with her sister. We promised to call every day and that did put her at ease.

We drove back to Bella’s brownstone, leaving Katie with my parents. “I feel weird,” Bella said. “I miss Katie’s chatter. I never thought I’d say that. I was so used to quiet and when I became her guardian, she’d just talk and talk and talk.”

“She always has something important to say,” I replied, reaching over and threading my fingers with hers. “It’s okay to miss her, Bella.”

“I more than miss her and we haven’t even left,” Bella argued. “I trust your parents. Carlisle and Esme are awesome. They adore Katie and they give her another place where she can be safe, but she’s not with me. I don’t know. This is the first time that we’ve been separated for more than a night since …”

“You’re afraid that something is going to happen to you, or to Katie,” I suggested.

“My parents’ death is a cruel reminder of how fleeting life is,” she sighed. “What happened to them was a fluke, but they were taken too soon. I don’t want my sister to be alone in the world.” I pulled onto Bella’s street and parked at the end of the block. “Edward, does your divorce lawyer know someone who can handle wills?”

“Bella …”

“No, I want Katie to be provided for,” Bella growled. “I have no family, Edward. I consider you and your parents to be my family. If something happens to me, I want you to be her guardian. If something happens to you … your parents are next.”

“Okay, angel. I’ll call Jenks tomorrow morning and see what we can do,” I said, getting out of the car.

“Thank you,” she sighed, sliding her arms around my waist. “Maybe, I’m being paranoid … but, I’d feel better if I had a contingency plan. I should have done this sooner.”

“Come on, Bella. Let’s go inside. You said you need to pack,” I murmured.

“And, I don’t have a dress for the event. I haven’t had a chance to pick one up,” Bella grumbled. “Maybe, I can wear the same dress from the event in Chicago.”

“We’ll have some time before the event to pick up a dress for you, Bella,” I grinned, opening the door to the brownstone. “I know that you’re anxious about traveling, but everything will be okay.”

“I know,” she said, giving me a timid grin. “Thank you for talking me down. You’re right that I’m anxious about traveling, but at least I’ll be with you and the rest of our team. I’ve never been to New York City. Hell, Chicago is the farthest east I’ve ever traveled in my life.” Her furrowed brows smoothed out and she gave me a genuine smile. “Thank you for being here, Edward.”

“Anything for you, love” I smiled. “Let’s get you packed. Perhaps I can persuade you to pack that sexy little blue nightie …”

“I’ll pack it, but if things go the way I’m hoping, I won’t be wearing it for long,” Bella purred, giving me a sexy grin.

“I like the way you think, Bella.”

A/N: I had every intention to get to New York City in this chapter, but this seemed like a good place to stop. I also wanted to get Bella’s POV of New York and their first time together, making love.

Pictures of the flowers and the presents for Valentine’s Day are on my blog. You can find a link for my blog on my profile. I’m also on FB: Tufano79’s Twilight Fanfiction Appreciation. I’m on twitter, too: tufano79.

Leave me some loving!

I'm auctioning off a Bella and Edward one-shot for Ashley's Auction. The story obviously to be determined by the winning bidder. I will write pretty much anything. Information about the auction is in my group and on my blog. Please consider bidding on my one-shot for Ashley!

Here's some information:

After eight days in and out of the hospital for pain, Ashley finally spoke to a surgeon and it was decided that she needs to have her gallbladder removed, and because of an underlying issue, she will also need exploratory surgery. Ashley's finances have been exhausted with all the trips to the ER, not just in the last week, but the countless visits over the past year due to flare-ups.

We're shooting for a goal of $5000, which I know is a lot, especially in these times. Ashley is a valued member of our fandom, and fandom takes care of their own.

A GoFundMe is set up ...

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. Chapter 1 3533 2 0 2. Chapter 2 4022 1 0 3. Chapter 3 3007 1 0 4. Chapter 4 7070 1 0 5. Chapter 5 4707 1 0 6. Chapter 6 5073 1 0 7. Chapter 7 5707 1 0 8. Chapter 8 6160 1 0 9. Chapter 9 7290 1 0 10. Chapter 10 5107 1 0 11. Chapter 11 7266 1 0 12. Chapter 12 7421 1 0 13. Chapter 13 5740 0 0 14. Chapter 13 5791 0 0 15. Chapter 14 6924 0 0 16. Chapter 15 5305 0 0 17. Chapter 16 6237 0 0 18. Chapter 17 9272 0 0 19. Chapter 18 7442 0 0 20. Chapter 19 6785 0 0 21. Chapter 20 7947 0 0 22. Chapter 21 7575 0 0 23. Chapter 22 6159 0 0 24. Chapter 23 6552 0 0 25. Chapter 24 7575 0 0 26. Chapter 25 8562 0 0 27. Chapter 26 7691 0 0 28. Chapter 27 7096 0 0 29. Chapter 28 8168 0 0 30. Chapter 29 7108 0 0 31. Chapter 30 8069 0 0 32. Chapter 31 7677 0 0 33. Chapter 32 8496 0 0 34. Chapter 33 6599 0 0 35. Chapter 34 638 0 0 36. Chapter 35 8756 0 0 37. Epilogue 12871 0 0