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A Labor of Love

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&#187; A Labor of Love <td> <a href='/u/2058400/lizconno'>lizconno
<small>Author of 3 Stories</small> <SELECT title='chapter navigation'
Name=chapter onChange="self.location = '/s/5496816/'+
this.options[this.selectedIndex].value + '/A_Labor_of_Love';"><option value=1
selected>1. Chapter 1: Change<option value=2 >2. Chapter 2: Endings<option
value=3 >3. A Quick AN & Ch 3 Preview<option value=4 >4. Chapter 3:
Breakdown<option value=5 >5. Chapter 4: Possibilities<option value=6 >6. Chapter 5:
Nuptials<option value=7 >7. Chapter 6: Flirting<option value=8 >8. Chapter 7:
Lemonade<option value=9 >9. Chapter 8: Uncertainty<option value=10 >10. Chapter
9: Alone<option value=11 >11. Chapter 10: Interviews, Part One<option value=12
>12. Chapter 11: Interviews, Part Two<option value=13 >13. Chapter 12:
Brunch<option value=14 >14. Chapter 13: Commencement<option value=15 >15.
Chapter 14: Moving<option value=16 >16. Chapter 15: Comfort<option value=17
>17. Chapter 16: Games<option value=18 >18. Chapter 17: Dates<option value=19
>19. Chapter 18: Surprises<option value=20 >20. Chapter 19: Progress?<option
value=21 >21. Chapter 20: Revelations<option value=22 >22. Chapter 21:
Dilemma<option value=23 >23. Chapter 22: Declaration<option value=24 >24.
Chapter 23: Tears<option value=25 >25. Chapter 24: Assurance<option value=26
>26. Chapter 25: Connection<option value=27 >27. Chapter 26: Perspectives<option
value=28 >28. Chapter 27: Time<option value=29 >29. Chapter 28: Labor<option
value=30 >30. Chapter 29: Admissions<option value=31 >31. Chapter 30:
Advice<option value=32 >32. Chapter 31: Seattle<option value=33 >33. Chapter 32:
Finally<option value=34 >34. Epilogue Part One<option value=35 >35. Epilogue Part
Two</select> <INPUT TYPE=BUTTON Value=' Next > '
onClick="self.location='/s/5496816/2/A_Labor_of_Love'"> Rated: <a
href='http://www.fictionratings.com/' target='rating'> M - English - Romance - Bella &
Edward - Reviews: <a href='/r/5496816/'>2,239 - Updated: 06-21-10 - Published:
11-08-09 - Complete - id:5496816 <script type='text/javascript'>
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This is my first fanfic. Please be kind!

BPOV

"What do I tell him? I'm not good at this…" I whined over the phone to my best friend
Rosalie. From the moment I met Rose in college, I've been in awe of her knack to break
up with a crush and move on to the next campus cutie in a matter of moments.

"Bella." I could hear Rose's finger wagging across the phone line that ran from Seattle to
my home in Phoenix. "You just need to tell him the truth. Don't sugarcoat it because he'll
think he has a chance. You've made your decision to move back to Seattle. You made this
decision last year and he convinced you to stay. If you don't make a clean break of
things, I'm going to hunt you down and kick your ass." Rose's "vicious" threat made me
giggle. "I'm not kidding. You've wasted two years with him. You would've left Phoenix
after that first year if he hadn't dangled marriage in front of you."

I hated how Rose cut through all the bullshit. She was right. I didn't want to be alone like
my dad so I stayed with James because I thought I wouldn't feel alone. Once I moved in
and he promised me a life of happiness, reality crashed down in a matter of minutes.

James Dwyer was the principal's son of the school where I taught first grade. We met at
the new faculty welcome party. The older teachers had warned me that he came to the
party so he could meet a hot teacher; he struck out previous two years, but Phil assured
his son a "sexy little number" was joining the faculty. When other teachers cautioned me
about his past, I ignored them. But it turns out, James has always been about how much
ass he can hit. I'm fairly certain he cheated on me, but the best I did was catch him flirting
with everything with tits.

Phil looked less than enchanted with my decision. At least I told him I was leaving the
school because I wanted to move home. He had no idea my decision was part of
"Operation Slay James" and that meant a clean break from Phoenix.
"Look, you've quit your job, you don't have a lease holding you hostage, and you have
an apartment waiting for you up here in Seattle. You know what else? Your family and
friends are here." Rose's pep talk shook the uncertainty out of me. I was ready to do this.

"Rose, thank you for giving me a compelling argument. But mostly, thank you for
reminding me about the most important aspect of this move: to return to my family and
friends. I'm going to pack like a bat out of hell, load the truck, and pump myself to cut the
ties. 'Operation Slay James' is a go. I repeat, 'Operation Slay James' is a go."

I heard a tiny giggle in my ear, followed by a side-splitting laugh. In between chortles,


Rose used her most serious voice and stated, "When are you going to realize this isn't a
military campaign? This is a war! 'Operation Slay James' will not do. It is of such utter
importance that no words can describe it."

My best friend was mocking me. I can't remember a tense time since I met her during
which Rosalie Hale wasn't doing her darnedest to lighten the mood; mocking me seemed
to be her favorite method, though. "I love you and I'll call you from the road. Keep
sending good vibes my way!"

"I love you, too! Emmett and I will be dancing, singing, praising the gods of good vibes!
Call me the second you get on the road. Good luck."

Rose was gone. I had to do this break with Phoenix and James on my own. First step was
packing all of my clothes into my car. I jerked my suitcases out of the closet placing them
atop the bed and carefully, but with speed, began the process of moving on. While I
prepared for my future, I began to think about my past.

I met Rose during the first day of formal rush our freshman year at the University of
Washington. Because school, dorm life, and sorority life was so overwhelming, UW paired
us up so we had someone to share our experience. Rose was my Rush Buddy. The
second I saw her I realized we had nothing in common and that I wasn't going to receive a
bid. In front of me stood this tall, blue-eyed blonde goddess dressed head-to-toe in
designer labels. Her gait exuded confidence as everyone's eyes turned in her direction.
Meanwhile, I slouched in the corner wearing the same blue sweater and khaki skirt I wore
to my high school graduation.

Rose walked up to me, smiled, and in the sweetest voice said, "I'm Rose. I understand I'm
the lucky person who gets to be your Rush Buddy." This girl knew how to put me at ease
before she knew me! That night, Rose and I scoured my closet to find the best clothes for
the rest of the week's rush events. Each morning she tapped on my dorm door and I
dragged myself out of bed – just to do my hair and makeup. We spent the time sharing
stories. By the time we both received bids to join the sisters of Kappa Gamma Zeta, we
had become BFFs.

During the six years I'd known her, Rose was my rock.

At this point, I scanned the room with an eagle eye to see if I'd left anything laying about.
I didn't see anything, so I packed up the car. I finished not a moment too soon because
just as I slammed the truck bed shut, James rolled into the driveway.

"Oh, you're all sweaty and sexy. Let's go inside and put that sweat to good use."

"Um," I stammered. "We need to talk."


EPOV

I was not looking forward to this evening. Almost every Sunday night's dinner was spent
at my parents' house. My mother, Esme, liked to be surrounded by family so she insisted
on these dinners once we all finished college. I was glad to see my brother, but my
mother could not cook which meant I had to endure my weekly torture session at the
Cullen household. I suppose I could look at having to eat Esme's dinner as a way of
seeking revenge on Emmett, my twin who had moved to Seattle for college and never
returned. Because of his busy medical practice, he didn't spend too many Sundays
shuttling between Seattle and our tiny hamlet of Forks. At least that was the excuse he
gave. I knew he was lying. After all, we did share a womb for over nine months and were
the best of friends. Oh well, time to get this ordeal over with.

"Girls!" I shouted for my twin daughters, Elizabeth and Renee. I always thought the
occurrence of twins skipped a generation. Turns out my wife's mother was a twin. When
Angela was pregnant, I joked that if I had known this about her early on, I wouldn't have
married her! Their mother had been named appropriately – she was an angel.

The memory of the first time I met her is emblazoned in my mind. It was my last semester
at Stanford and I was taking a women's studies class to fulfill the general education
requirement I had avoided during my previous four-and-a-half years.

My teacher had called on me and I coated my lame response in a docile tone, hoping to
catch the professor and the other 29 women in the room off guard so I could avoid being
dragged into yet another contentious debate. As the unfortunate singular man among
the bunch, my opinion was often sought. Most of the time I didn't mind, but I hadn't
completed that week's reading so I knew any opinion I had would be attacked before it
left my mouth. This morning, the quietly pretty girl with glasses in the front row turned
and glared at me after I spoke. I didn't know what I did to offend this woman, but I had to
find out. After class, I walked up to the girl and introduced myself.

"I know who you are. Remember, there's only one of you, but a classroom full of us. I'm
Angela."

"Did I say something to offend you earlier?"

"No."

"If looks could kill, I'd be dead from that look you gave me."

"Oh." I couldn't believe that was her response. I stood waiting for her to elaborate. I
watched as a thousand thoughts ran across her face. She finally opened up, "I didn't
expect much of you the first day of class. I figured you took the class to meet women."
That was a plus. "But you always provided thoughtful and unbiased viewpoints to our
discussions. Today, you phoned it in. I lost some respect for you."

In that moment, I knew the gauntlet had been thrown down. I had to prove to Angela
that I was worthy of her respect. Before I knew it, we were spending much of our free
time together. We started dating after a couple of months and married a few years
later. When she got pregnant during that first year of marriage, I was more excited than
a kid on Christmas morning. My wonderful wife was going to have my child. Angela had
been blessed with an easy pregnancy, which was fantastic as she was pregnant with
twins. Everything had been smooth. The pregnancy, the early stages of labor, and then
she started hemorrhaging during childbirth. The last image I saw of my wife as they
shoved me out of the delivery room was of a ghostly pale woman with a bloated belly who
laid unconscious on one of those tables with stirrups.

I shuttered at the memory as Renee tugged on my shirt cuff. "Daddy, we're ready to get
in the car. Grandma will be mad if we're late." She had a point. At four years old, my
daughters impressed me with their ability to deconstruct situations and people. Even
without their mother around to influence them, the girls were exhibiting many of the
qualities I had loved about her. Days like these made me miss her: being around my family,
talking about weddings, and watching our daughters.

With the girls loaded in the backseat of my Lexus RX450h, we left for my parents' house.
We lived on adjoining lots that visitors often described as "massive." The long drive
through my property was beautiful this time of year. There was a lot of land for the girls
to explore, but they'd need a chaperone. I decided the girls were old enough for a dog. I
would have to talk to their grandmothers about it. We pulled into the next driveway and
wound through my parents' property. As we reached the clearing, I saw Alice and her
fiancée, Jasper, step out of her yellow Porsche as Emmett leapt from his Jeep.
Thankfully, we would all be on time so no diatribe tonight. My mother viewed lateness as
the epitome of rudeness.

"Hey man!" I greeted Jasper Whitlock, who would become Alice's husband in a week. Alice
Cullen was my cousin who grew up with us after her parents died in a car accident when
she was a baby. We were six when she moved in, so we viewed her as our sister and we
protected her the way any brothers would protect their 4-years-younger sister. Jasper
endured a lot of abuse at Emmett's hands while they were in medical school at the
University of Washington. If Jasper could put up with Alice's high-strung nature and
endure Emmett's overbearing voice and physicality and still want to marry her, I knew he
was alright. "Are you ready to make these dinners part of your weekly schedule? Maybe
you'll start manufacturing medical emergencies every week to rescue you!"

"I'm a psychiatrist. We don't have too many of those. Maybe I can change my area of
practice so I can avoid these dinners. Emmett, how often do you deliver babies during
the weekends or at night?"

"Aw, man. It's rough." Emmett let out a big yawn to punctuate his point. "I haven't had a
free weekend in years. If I didn't take vacation, I'd never spend a lot of time with Rose."

Alice slapped Jasper across the arm and stuck her tongue out at me and then Emmett.
She abhorred our mother's cooking, as well, but she looked forward to the time they
spent together. I didn't understand how those two could work together and socialize
with one another as much as they did. They ran an architecture and interior design
company, Cullen Designs. Mom was the architect and Alice designed. In fact, Alice was
her own wedding coordinator and designer.

"Mom!"

"Move it. I want to see those beautiful granddaughters of mine! Edward, you left them in
the car while you joked around with your siblings? You should be ashamed of yourself." I
knew my mother was kidding—the whole exchange with Alice, Jasper, and Emmett took
less than one minute—but I could feel the blush warming my cheeks as I unclasped
Elizabeth's car seat and my mother freed Renee. "There. Let's get you girls inside. It's a
little cool tonight." My mother hurried around the car, delicately holding Renee's tiny
hand. She reached out to scoop Elizabeth's waiting hand into her own and the three of
them trudged up the stairs to my parents' front door, followed by Alice. I watched with
pride as three generations of Cullen women entered the house.

Jasper, Emmett, and I followed the ladies. My father, Dr. Carlisle Cullen, was at the bar
making drinks. He smiled broadly as we all meandered into the family room to sit down for
appetizers. After serving all of us, the Chief of Staff of the local hospital in Forks sat
down next to my mother and opened his mouth with the most shocking of declarations.
"Edward, we're all gathered here today for an intervention." What? As far as I could tell,
I wasn't an addict.

A/N: Please be patient. There will be a lot of background and I promise lemons will show
up soon!
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value=3 >3. A Quick AN & Ch 3 Preview<option value=4 >4. Chapter 3:
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&#187; A Labor of Love <td> <a href='/u/2058400/lizconno'>lizconno
<small>Author of 3 Stories</small> <INPUT TYPE=BUTTON Value=' < Prev '
onClick="self.location='/s/5496816/1/A_Labor_of_Love'"> <SELECT title='chapter
navigation' Name=chapter onChange="self.location = '/s/5496816/'+
this.options[this.selectedIndex].value + '/A_Labor_of_Love';"><option value=1 >1.
Chapter 1: Change<option value=2 selected>2. Chapter 2: Endings<option value=3
>3. A Quick AN & Ch 3 Preview<option value=4 >4. Chapter 3: Breakdown<option
value=5 >5. Chapter 4: Possibilities<option value=6 >6. Chapter 5: Nuptials<option
value=7 >7. Chapter 6: Flirting<option value=8 >8. Chapter 7: Lemonade<option
value=9 >9. Chapter 8: Uncertainty<option value=10 >10. Chapter 9: Alone<option
value=11 >11. Chapter 10: Interviews, Part One<option value=12 >12. Chapter 11:
Interviews, Part Two<option value=13 >13. Chapter 12: Brunch<option value=14
>14. Chapter 13: Commencement<option value=15 >15. Chapter 14: Moving<option
value=16 >16. Chapter 15: Comfort<option value=17 >17. Chapter 16: Games<option
value=18 >18. Chapter 17: Dates<option value=19 >19. Chapter 18: Surprises<option
value=20 >20. Chapter 19: Progress?<option value=21 >21. Chapter 20:
Revelations<option value=22 >22. Chapter 21: Dilemma<option value=23 >23.
Chapter 22: Declaration<option value=24 >24. Chapter 23: Tears<option value=25
>25. Chapter 24: Assurance<option value=26 >26. Chapter 25: Connection<option
value=27 >27. Chapter 26: Perspectives<option value=28 >28. Chapter 27:
Time<option value=29 >29. Chapter 28: Labor<option value=30 >30. Chapter 29:
Admissions<option value=31 >31. Chapter 30: Advice<option value=32 >32. Chapter
31: Seattle<option value=33 >33. Chapter 32: Finally<option value=34 >34. Epilogue
Part One<option value=35 >35. Epilogue Part Two</select> <INPUT TYPE=BUTTON
Value=' Next > ' onClick="self.location='/s/5496816/3/A_Labor_of_Love'"> Rated: <a
href='http://www.fictionratings.com/' target='rating'> M - English - Romance - Bella &
Edward - Reviews: <a href='/r/5496816/'>2,239 - Updated: 06-21-10 - Published:
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Again, please be kind…keep an open mind! :)

BPOV

"Baby, baby. Whaddya mean, 'we need to talk'?"

"I've decided that I need to move back to the Northwest and my family and friends are
there and nothing is really holding me here and the weather is so hot and so dry and we're
just not working and I want to teach somewhere else and I've already packed the car and
I leave in 10 minutes." I hoped that if I blurted everything out in one nonsensical jumble,
this wouldn't be a long, drawn-out discussion where he convinced me to stay. Again.

"What? No. Bella, you're not leaving. We have plans. I want to marry you."

"James, we've been together two years and we've talked about marriage one other time
– when I planned on moving back to Seattle a year ago. You haven't mentioned anything
since then." Truthfully, I wasn't ready to get married and I didn't have any hopes of
marrying James, but it was a good excuse and an easy out. The idea of his promise,
backed up by nothing caused Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" to echo in my
ears and a giggle escaped my lips.

James shot me a nasty glare. "You think this is funny? You pack up everything, quit your
job, decide we're over, tell me you're leaving minutes before you do, and you have the
audacity to laugh?" Crap. So much for getting out of this break up without too much
anguish or painful words.

"A song just popped in my head. It was funny. I…um…" I knew my face showed my
embarrassment and the only thing I could do was nervously brush my hair off my face and
twist my t-shirt around my clenched hand.

"I do plan on marrying you. I just don't have the cash for a proper ring right now. I pay
this mortgage by myself, I have my car payments, everyone in the company just took
5% pay cuts so we could continue to keep the plant open. There's only so much money
right now. We will get married. I promise you. What do I need to do for you to stay?"

"Stop it. This passive-aggressive bullshit isn't going to work on me anymore. You do this
whenever I make a decision you don't like. I have this huuuuge mortgage… I am so sick of
hearing that crap. I've offered to pay half of it since I moved in, but you refuse me every
time. It's just another way you try to manipulate me. It's not going to work anymore.
And having money for the right ring? You expect me to believe that? You make almost
$100,000 per year. That 5% pay cut barely made a difference in your pay. If you
wanted to marry me, you would and you wouldn't use an excuse, especially one based on
financial need. Instead, you'd rather chase ass around town. I didn't want to make this
nasty, but you've led me no other choice." By this point, my face was red from anger.
James could tell a different Bella stood in front of him.

"Um, what are you going to do?" I'm glad he didn't continue to challenge me. I didn't want
to drive away angry, but rather with a sense of accomplishment.

"I'm going to look for another teaching job. It's going to be hard this close to the
beginning of the year, but I've made my decision. I've got a place to live: Alice's condo."

I've known Alice Cullen since attending our small high school, Forks High School. I was a
freshman when she was a senior. We weren't friends, but she was always very friendly
to me. When I went to college, I found myself in Alice's company again – she was
president of Kappa Gamma Zeta and Rose's big sister. She always had an innate ability to
get people to do what she wanted. I think it was because she was incredibly tenacious.
It was because of Alice that I finally decided to make this move back to Seattle. Alice
was moving back to Forks in a couple of weeks, after she married Jasper, the handsome
psychiatrist she had met six years earlier. I had called her a few weeks earlier to ask a
few questions about what I should wear to the wedding and we started talking about
what held me in Phoenix.

"If you don't like Phoenix, you are ready to break up with your boyfriend, and you think
you're teaching at the wrong school, move back to Seattle. My condo will be vacant.
Jasper and I decided not to sell it so we could have an overnight place for whenever
we're in Seattle, whether for a show, a late dinner, or work. If you allow us to stay in the
guest room when that happens—which I swear will happen once or twice a year—you
can rent my place for really cheap."

"Alice, I don't know if I'm ready to move back."

"Charlie will love having you within driving distance and away from that schmuck James.
Rose will be ecstatic. You know she's going to move in with Emmett when her lease is up?
But you'll love the place. I have a great view of the city. It's within walking distance of the
city library. Well, you've been there. You know how great it is. Please, you'll actually be
doing me a favor."

Alice had a point. "Well, let me think about it and I'll call you back. Hold on, Rose and
Emmett are going to move in together? I wouldn't want them to rush into anything!"

We both laughed at my joke. Rose had met her boyfriend, Alice's cousin, when he
visited UW's medical school while he was finishing his senior year at Chicago's
Northwestern University. I think they had met before Alice and Jasper met. We continued
to talk about the wedding and make fun of Emmett and Rose.

It didn't take long, but I quickly found myself ready to take Alice up on her offer. "I'm
going to do it."

"What?"

"How soon do you want me? I'm ready to break up with James and move back up to be
near everyone I love."

"Oh, Bella! I think you're making a wonderful decision. You can arrive anytime. I'm going to
be in Forks most of the time. I'll stay with Jasper or with my parents. Just let me know
when you can get here and I'll meet you outside with the keys. Oh, I am so excited! I
cannot wait to redecorate so it suits you!" I don't know whether I felt relief. I just opened
the Alice-hyper can. This could backfire.

"Your mind is made up, I assume?" James seemed to be accepting this.

"Yes."

James looked down and hunched his shoulders. Taking in a breath and letting out a slow,
long sigh he stood up, walked over to me, and hugged me. My body stayed rigid against
his, but I could still feel his rippling muscles underneath his thin t-shirt. I thought about the
last time I had ran my hands over his pecs, his six pack that's really an eight pack, his
triceps, his back muscles, and his perfect ass. He was going to make this hard.

James bent down and with his warm breath whispered into my ear, "C'mon, Bella. Our
bodies have always fit well. Let me hug you so that your body knows I mean you the
best." I relaxed. James was right and our bodies did fit nicely. We had enjoyed the most
satisfying sex life and he taught me pleasures that I didn't know I could ever enjoy. His
breathing became more shallow and he began running his fingers on one hand through
the ends of my hair while his left hand ran down my spine to my ass, which he cupped.
"You smell so good and you feel amazing. Let's get in one last fuck."

"Look, this isn't what I want. I will admit that you and I have an explosive chemistry in
bed, but outside of the bedroom, we're just explosion after explosion. I don't want to live
like this any longer." James dipped one hand under my skirt while the other grabbed my
hair and tugged lightly. He slipped his thumb down the front of my panties and he flicked my
clit. I tried to stifle the groan that escaped my lips. In the split second I lost myself, he slid
two fingers into me and my hips pushed against his hand.

"Your body doesn't seem to agree, Bella. Tell me to stop and I'll stop." James's hand
released my hair and snuck its way under my skirt where it began to remove my panties.

That was the final straw. I had to stop this. I needed to be resolute in my decision. I
whispered in a cracking and unsure-sounding voice, "Stop. I need to go. NOW!"

I pulled away, looked at him, and walked out the door. I pulled myself into my truck and
started the roar of the engine. I made my way through the streets to the freeway.
Before I knew it, I had exited the I-10 and was heading north on I-17 on my way
through Utah and Idaho. About an hour into the drive, my cell phone rang. Crap, I forgot
to call Rose.

Without looking at the Caller ID I blurted, "Rose, I forgot to call, I know. You are not
going to believe it. James took things well, but he tried to fuck me before I left. What an ass!"

"Ma'am, is this Miss Isabella Swan?"


A bright mask of crimson covered my face. I gulped, trying to compose myself. Thank god
this exchange took place over the phone. "Yes, this is Bella."

"Miss Swan, this is Forks Sherriff's Deputy Tyler Crowley." Tyler and I had been classmates
in high school and my dad was his boss. Why was he using these formalities?

"Tyler. What's going on?" Honestly, as I began to think about it, a sense of doom
washed over me.

"I am sorry to have to tell you this, especially over the phone, but your father and
stepmother were killed by a drunk driver early this morning on their way home." As fast as
blood had rushed to my face, it drained. In fact, I think the blood drained from my whole
body. My father. Charlie. Dead. This couldn't be correct.

"I'm sorry, but I am not sure if I heard you. Did you just say my dad, Sherriff Charlie
Swan, and his wife, Sue Clearwater, were killed in a car accident? Hello?"

Finally, Tyler answered, "Yes. Your father was a wonderful sheriff and a great man. I
looked up to him like a father. He talked of you all of the time. He was really proud of you.
Bella, how soon do you think you can be here?"

This changed everything. "Tyler, I was already on my way to Seattle. I am moving back
to the Northwest. I'll change my route a little bit. If I drive through the night, I can be
there in less than 24 hours."

"You don't need to hurry. Please be careful. Bella, take care. I'm here for you if you need me."

I pressed END and memories began to flood my mind. Charlie had been a wonderful
father. He had a tough go of it. Charlie and my mom, Charlotte, married when she was
22 and Charlie was 25. I was born within the year. But my birth took its toll on their
marriage. Charlotte endured a rough round of morning sickness, followed by an order of
bed rest. I was born 2 months premature and during labor, my mother died. My father
never seemed to move on. When he wasn't working, his mind always seemed to be
elsewhere. I often wondered if he was imagining the situation in front of him as if my
mom was by his side. I was always sad to see him alone. Things appeared to get worse
when his best friend, Harry Clearwater, died while I was in high school. For about a
month, my father was inconsolable. I didn't know how to help him or what to say.
Luckily, my dad and I were very much alike, so I just did what I would want if the
situations were reversed. I let him talk to me when he wanted to talk. Otherwise, I kept
my distance. And then one day, everything about him was different. His eyes had a smile
in them and he had a glow. I never thought I would be able to describe my father as
someone who had a glow about him. Turns out Harry's widow was the cause of my
father's happiness. They married a few weeks before I left for college at UW. I couldn't
have been happier. My father wouldn't be alone and a huge weight was lifted from my
shoulders.

I didn't have time to cry. I had a huge task ahead of me. My dad had worked for the
Sherriff's Department from the time he graduated from college. He had been Sherriff for
about 20 of those years. Between figuring out everything with his house and his
pension, I knew I wasn't moving to Seattle. Forks was my destination for who knows how
long. I scrolled through my phone's contacts list and pressed SEND.

"Rose, patch Alice into this call. We need to talk."


"Hold on, honey. You were supposed to call me and you don't sound good. What happened?"

"Rose! Patch. Alice. In."

"Okay, okay."

I heard the phone ringing followed by Alice's melodic sing-song, "Hi Rose! What's going on?"

"Alice, this is Bella and Rose. My dad died. Some drunk killed him and Sue as they drove
home. I'm on my way there now. I am not going to be able to rent your condo. I need to
handle things in Forks. I'm going to move into my dad's place. I'll keep you two updated
on everything. Oh, yeah. I broke things off with James." I thought back to my initial
description of the break up. Funny how different life was just a few minutes ago when I
had made a fool of myself.

EPOV

Did I hear my father correctly? I stammered out, "An intervention? You guys are kidding, right?"

"Edward." Carlisle had that serious look on his face with a tone to match. "It's been four
years since Angela died. We thought that if we gave you time and didn't say anything
that you would eventually start dating again. Instead, you seem to throw yourself deeper
into your work. Your mother and Mrs. Weber and I sat down and we talked about the
hours you're working. You're wearing yourself too thin. You spend 80 hours every week
at work and another 10 hours in the car commuting. Business is great. You could walk
away from that place for five years and it will run itself without a single hitch. It's time
you found yourself some adult companionship."

"Dad, I don't think this is appropriate conversation in front of the girls."

"Where do you think we got the idea little brother?" I hated it when Emmett referred to
me as his little brother; we were six minutes apart, although he was about 50 pounds
heavier and 3 inches taller than I am. His words finally hit me. I turned to look at my
daughters who sat on one of the couches. Their faces were beaming. This was their idea.

"What is this about, girls?"

"Daddy," Lizzie said, "We don't like seeing you alone. We want you to be happy. We think a
girlfriend would make you happy. Just look at how happy Aunt Alice is. She and Uncle
Jasper can't stop smiling. We've seen pictures of you from before Mommie's death. You
used to look like that. We want to see it for ourselves." I felt like I was raising two
miniature adults. Every time one of them opened her mouth to make some observation, a
profound statement would escape.

I didn't realize the effect my widower status had on the girls. At the same time, nothing
indicated to me that I was ready to date.

"I appreciate everyone's concern, but I'm not ready. I'm not closing myself off to dating,
but I need to slowly ease my way back into things. It's been ten years since I went on a
first date and I'm not ready for the mess that comes with dating." My heart still belonged
to Angela and no woman could or would replace her. Knowing that my daughters
wanted someone in my life is why I gave my family a ray of hope. In reality, I had no
interest in dating. As I said, dating is about games and a mess follows. Coupled with the
continued pain over the loss of Angela, I didn't expect to start dating anytime soon.

"Son, we're not going to let this go. We all love you dearly and your daughters have
made a very good point." I hated it when my mom used my daughters to further a point
or argument.

"Fine. Now, can we please enjoy our evening? I hear someone has a wedding next
week." I knew the change in subject would divert focus from me back to someone who
shone in it.

"You hear someone has a wedding?" I knew my comment would piss Alice off; she was
so annoyed that her response was so high only dogs could hear it. "Edward Masen Cullen.
If I hear you forget about my wedding one more time, I will personally run you down with
my car."

We all shuffled into the dining room, where a huge feast awaited us. It was amazing
how my mother was able to make a meal look so appetizing. I never understood why she
didn't have Victoria, my parents' longtime housekeeper, prepare our weekly dinner.

As we settled into our seats, Emmett opened his mouth and one of his usually immature
and crass remarks escaped, "Bro, you need to get laid. Get yourself some booty." I
glared at Emmett and, even though I knew the girls couldn't hear him and wouldn't
understand what he said, I made it known that I didn't think he should make such
comments around them.
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&#187; A Labor of Love <td> <a href='/u/2058400/lizconno'>lizconno
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value=30 >30. Chapter 29: Admissions<option value=31 >31. Chapter 30:
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Two</select> <INPUT TYPE=BUTTON Value=' Next > '
onClick="self.location='/s/5496816/4/A_Labor_of_Love'"> Rated: <a
href='http://www.fictionratings.com/' target='rating'> M - English - Romance - Bella &
Edward - Reviews: <a href='/r/5496816/'>2,239 - Updated: 06-21-10 - Published:
11-08-09 - Complete - id:5496816 <script type='text/javascript'>
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Wow! I am surprised people found this already. I posted this on a whim last night…

Anyway, I wanted to let you know a few things: I hope to publish about once a week,
but with work and life, that may not be possible, so please be patient; there will be
lemons, but this story is going to have fewer than I may like (believe me, a bunch just
wouldn't fit); my outline has over 30 chapters, so expect more than that; as I said, this is
my first FF and I am still experimenting with format/layout and author notes…so there
may be other chapters that are really author's notes *giggle*; and finally, I am really
excited about writing this and I look forward to your comments, feedback, suggestions…I
will try to respond to your questions, but I may not have time and I will try to
incorporate suggestions, but only if they work within how I have the story imagined in my mind.

Until the next chapter is up, give some love to other FF writers. I have posted my faves
on my blog: lizconno (dot) blogspot (dot) com

Also, follow me on twitter: lizconno

Or my wonderful beta & twestie: robpattz_addict

Or our deliciously smutty creation: DearRob

I think that's everything for right now. Thank you again!

Here's a preview of Chapter 3...

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight

BPOV
I passed the "Forks City Limit" sign and slowed my truck, just in case my father was
watching from heaven. He wouldn't want me to speed in his town. In deference to my
father, I realized that I should obey as many laws as possible as long as I remained in
Forks. I smiled at the notion, because I knew Charlie would get a kick out of the idea that
it took his death for me to finally start following laws; Charlie always had a wry sense of humor

I started thinking about what it might be like to live in Forks again. I shuddered slightly,
however, I suppose living the life of a spinster wasn't such a horrible thing. I could
always head up to Port Angeles and try my luck with the guys at the bars. A chuckle
escaped my lips as I pulled into my dad's driveway. I wondered where he left the cruiser.
And then I realized that he must have been driving it when… I couldn't allow my mind to
finish that thought.

I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and opened my car door. After the long drive
and due to my clumsy nature, I stumbled out of my car and up onto the porch and
grasped for the hidden key. I cracked the front door only to be hit by a wave of familiar
scents that reminded me of my childhood with my dad. Instantly, my chest constricted
and I crumbled in the doorway, consumed by the grief that I had stifled for 24 hours too long.
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&#187; A Labor of Love <td> <a href='/u/2058400/lizconno'>lizconno
<small>Author of 3 Stories</small> <INPUT TYPE=BUTTON Value=' < Prev '
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this.options[this.selectedIndex].value + '/A_Labor_of_Love';"><option value=1 >1.
Chapter 1: Change<option value=2 >2. Chapter 2: Endings<option value=3 >3. A
Quick AN & Ch 3 Preview<option value=4 selected>4. Chapter 3: Breakdown<option
value=5 >5. Chapter 4: Possibilities<option value=6 >6. Chapter 5: Nuptials<option
value=7 >7. Chapter 6: Flirting<option value=8 >8. Chapter 7: Lemonade<option
value=9 >9. Chapter 8: Uncertainty<option value=10 >10. Chapter 9: Alone<option
value=11 >11. Chapter 10: Interviews, Part One<option value=12 >12. Chapter 11:
Interviews, Part Two<option value=13 >13. Chapter 12: Brunch<option value=14
>14. Chapter 13: Commencement<option value=15 >15. Chapter 14: Moving<option
value=16 >16. Chapter 15: Comfort<option value=17 >17. Chapter 16: Games<option
value=18 >18. Chapter 17: Dates<option value=19 >19. Chapter 18: Surprises<option
value=20 >20. Chapter 19: Progress?<option value=21 >21. Chapter 20:
Revelations<option value=22 >22. Chapter 21: Dilemma<option value=23 >23.
Chapter 22: Declaration<option value=24 >24. Chapter 23: Tears<option value=25
>25. Chapter 24: Assurance<option value=26 >26. Chapter 25: Connection<option
value=27 >27. Chapter 26: Perspectives<option value=28 >28. Chapter 27:
Time<option value=29 >29. Chapter 28: Labor<option value=30 >30. Chapter 29:
Admissions<option value=31 >31. Chapter 30: Advice<option value=32 >32. Chapter
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Part One<option value=35 >35. Epilogue Part Two</select> <INPUT TYPE=BUTTON
Value=' Next > ' onClick="self.location='/s/5496816/5/A_Labor_of_Love'"> Rated: <a
href='http://www.fictionratings.com/' target='rating'> M - English - Romance - Bella &
Edward - Reviews: <a href='/r/5496816/'>2,239 - Updated: 06-21-10 - Published:
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A/N: I'm finally getting the hang of formatting on this site, so I hope that I won't have to
post another Author's Note as a Chapter! :)

Also, there will be instances of people drinking to the point of inebriation and there may
be instances of illegal drug use. I am not condoning either activity. And the occasions of
sex may include some stupid behavior, which again, I don't condone. (This applies to the
story, not this chapter.)

As always, thank you to robpattz_addict. She is my stupendous beta who has this
amazing knack to ask the right questions of me so I'm able to write coherent paragraphs.

So on to chapter 3.

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Widoward sprang from my mind and aren't
meant to infringe on her copyrights!

BPOV

I passed the "Forks City Limit" sign and slowed my truck, just in case my father was
watching from heaven. He wouldn't want me to speed in his town. In deference to my
father, I realized that I should obey as many laws as possible as long as I remained in
Forks. I smiled at the notion, because I knew Charlie would get a kick out of the idea that
it took his death for me to finally start following laws; Charlie always had a wry sense of humor

I started thinking about what it might be like to live in Forks again. I shuddered slightly,
however, I suppose living the life of a spinster wasn't such a horrible thing. I could
always head up to Port Angeles and try my luck with the guys at the bars. A chuckle
escaped my lips as I pulled into my dad's driveway. I wondered where he left the cruiser.
And then I realized that he must have been driving it when… I couldn't allow my mind to
finish that thought.

I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and opened my car door. After the long drive
and due to my clumsy nature, I stumbled out of my car and up onto the porch and
grasped for the hidden key. I cracked the front door only to be hit by a wave of familiar
scents that reminded me of my childhood with my dad. Instantly, my chest constricted
and I crumbled in the doorway, consumed by the grief that I had stifled for 24 hours too long.

As the tears fell fast and fiery from my eyes, sobs erupted from my throat. My father
may not have been an overtly affectionate man, but I always knew he loved me more
than anything. Thoughts and memories began swirling in my mind: the day Charlie won the
election to be sheriff; our equally awkward "birds and bees" talk; my first driving lesson
that ended when he scolded me for laughing nervously; and the look of pride and sadness
as I drove away on my way to my college dorm for the first time. Those memories
reminded me of the hole that seemed to open the second I allowed myself to mourn his
passing. My crying grew harder.

I don't know how long I huddled in the doorway, but at some point I felt a pair of warm,
strong hands, which I could tell belonged to Jake, as they securely lifted me from the cold
porch and brought me into the living room. Jacob Black, my childhood best friend, was like
a brother to me and a son to Charlie. As much as this death hurt me, Jacob must have
been aching with pain, as well. To make matters worse, Jacob married Sue's daughter,
Leah, two years earlier; it was like he lost two parents.

"Hey Bells," Jacob comfortingly cooed into my ear as he wrapped me in a tight bear hug.
His body felt toasty and all I could imagine was curling up in his arms.

"Jake. Thanks for coming. Shouldn't you be with Leah?"

I heard, "Hi Bella…" whispered from behind me. Leah stood in the door. As soon as our
equally ruddy and puffy eyes met, we ran to each other and hugged. My stepsister and I
weren't terribly close because of our age gap – she was 12 when our parents married and I
left for college – but we both lost our last surviving parent.

I closed the door and asked her, "Can you tell me what happened?"

"It was really bad. Mom and Charlie were driving around a curve in the road and as they
exited it, a drunk driver hit them head on." Leah tried with all of her might to continue, but
I could see she wasn't ready to talk, yet.

Jacob picked up the story and his young wife slumped on the coach. "The asshole was
speeding and they collided with such force that it was as if the cruiser hit a brick wall
traveling 100 mph." Leah let out a loud sob and a small tear trailed down my cheek. His
analogy managed to convey to me the destruction that must have resulted.

"What happened to the drunk driver?"

"He was ejected from the car on impact. Because he flew into some brush and it cushioned
his fall, he managed to escape with a few broken bones. I better not see the prick on the
street or I might be compelled to pummel him into the ground and then spit on his bloody
remains!"

"Jacob Black!" I didn't know Jake could be so hostile to another person, even though the
man killed Charlie and Sue. "I imagine he's been treated and released to the sheriff's
custody? I know my dad's men won't let him have a single moment's rest. He'll be reminded
of his crime every day."
Leah continued to yelp. With my eyes I ordered Jacob to comfort his wife. With a
resigned look and a sigh, Jake plopped onto the couch and put one arm around his wife
while the other stroked her shoulder. I wondered why I needed to prod him to comfort his
wife, but I had to tell myself that I would ask him what it meant after everything I would
need to do during the upcoming week.

I left the two of them and walked into the kitchen. It was nice to see that Sue had taken
care of my dad: the kitchen was clean and I saw fresh-baked goods on both counters.
Upon inspection of the fridge, I found it recently stocked. I decided to make us a pizza. I
began pulling out everything I would need. I guess I created such a loud racket because
Jake and Leah came running in to see what was wrong and why I was in the kitchen.

"Umm, Bells, whatcha doin'?"

"What does it look like? I'm cooking. What do you guys want on your pizza?"

"Honey, let's sit down. You're obviously in shock," Jacob suggested.

I glared at Jake and snapped, "Shut up, asshole!" Apparently his comment hit me the
wrong way.

"Hey, c'mon. What was that for?"

"Look, I need to move around, do stuff, something to keep my mind off of what's
happened. Cooking soothes most of my troubles, so this will have to help."

"Can I have mushrooms?" Leah inquired.

"Of course. Any other requests?" Leah shook her head. "Jake?"

Jake smiled and asked, "Do you have any sausage?"

Before I could answer him, we were surprised to hear a knock from the front door. Who
could be dropping by right now? I peeked through the peephole to the sight of short,
dark, spiky hair. My pixie-haired friend Alice stood on the other side.

I threw the door open and grabbed Alice into a hug. Alice said something like, "I'd
forgotten how high strung you can be!" but I squeezed her tightly and the words came
out sounding like gasps for air.

"Thanks for coming, Alice! I'm just making some pizza. Do you want to join us? You can
choose your topping."

"I'm trying to lose weight for the wedding. My wedding is next Saturday and I barely fit
into my dress! Oh, screw it. How often do I get to sit down with you for dinner?" I had a
feeling my fashionable friend purposely designed her wedding dress on the snug side to
drive Jasper wild as she had always been a lithe creature.

The four of us cooked, ate, reminisced, laughed, and cried. At some point, I looked up at
the wall clock and read 2:27. Time had flown by. I figured it was time to end the
gathering. With a yawn, I said, "Guys, it's really late and I am exhausted from driving.
Thank you for being here for me. I can't speak for Leah, but I found all of this comforting
and helpful."
Leah nodded and kissed me on the cheek as she and Jake walked towards the door. "I
love you," she sniffed. Jake left her side and walked out to my truck and pulled my bags
from the truck bed. "We'll be back tomorrow morning so we can get through this together."

"Thanks for getting my suitcases, Jake. I love both of you and I'm glad I have you guys
as my family."

Jake kissed me on my forehead, snaked his fingers through Leah's, and together they left.
I looked into the kitchen at Alice. She hadn't moved a muscle.

"I don't want Jasper worrying about you more than he already is, I'm sure."

"Nonsense. I told him I was going to stay with you," declared Alice.

With a mischievous grin I joked to my friend, "I think I may get lucky tonight!" Alice
laughed, which made me happy. "Okay, woman, let's go upstairs to my bedroom and sleep."

Due to exhaustion, the two of us rushed through our nightly routines and hopped into
bed. It was nice to have Alice near me. She comforted me by firmly gripping my hand and
rubbing her thumb against its surface.

"Do you still plan to live in Seattle? I think it would be great if you moved here. So many
people here love you. I really, really, really want you to live in Forks."

I chuckled. "Okay."

"What? You'll stay?"

"Yep. I was planning on it already. I had a lot of time to think during my drive through the
desolate terrain. I realized I'd rather remain here near you, Jake, Leah, and everyone
else I love. Rose has Emmett in Seattle, so she doesn't need me as much as I need you
guys," I responded.

"Ohhhh. I'm so excited," squealed Alice. "After I get back from my honeymoon, we'll find
you a teaching job. You are still going to my wedding next week, right?"

I had been enduring quite a bit of anxiety over her wedding. A lot of friends from high
school and college would be there, but I didn't have a date anymore. Until she mentioned
the event, I had forgotten about Alice's wedding and the stress that would accompany it.
Plus I was curious to see her brother, Edward, in person. I had seen photos of him over
the years and he didn't take a bad picture. He was, quite possibly, the most
perfect-looking man on the planet.

In a soft voice Alice inquired, "Bella? Did you fall asleep?"

I needed to stop thinking about Edward. I'd admired him from afar since middle school, but
I had never met him or seen him in person. "I'm sorry. I was just thinking about your
wedding. Of course I will be there. It would take a nuclear attack to keep me away!"

"I think you're being absurd, but I'll take it! Let's go to sleep. I don't want to look horrible
in the morning and have Jasper change his mind."

Alice hugged me and I quickly drifted to sleep.


~l~l~l~

EPOV

On my daily commute between Forks and Port Angeles, I often had a lot of time to think
and last week's family "intervention" consumed my thoughts. The week crawled by as a
result and I found myself ghosting through life at work and home. Because my family's
opinion always mattered to me, I dissected the suggestion.

Should I start dating? I remembered enduring a Sex and the City marathon while Angela
and I dated. In one of the episodes, the characters tried to determine how long to wait
after a breakup. If memory serves right, one-half the length of the relationship was an
appropriate time to wait. Angela and I had met 10 years earlier and almost five had
passed since her death.

I did the math. We had been together five years. Enough time had gone by. But I had
felt ready for more than a year; no one caught my eye. I didn't want to force anything. I
resolved to inform my family that I would know the woman when I met her. They would
have to settle for my decision.

On Friday afternoon, we had the wedding rehearsal. Elizabeth and Renee would serve as
flower girls and they couldn't contain their excitement as they marched down the aisle
Alice had created in my parents' backyard. A few weeks earlier Jasper asked Emmett to
be his best man, and tonight the two stood at the base of the gazebo as the girls
passed. Rose, Alice's maid of honor, followed Lizzie and Renee at a reasonable pace.

I watched Emmett's nervous expression as Rose neared him; Emmett looked as if he were
getting married, not Jasper. Figures she'd use the mood of Alice's wedding to subtlety
force Emmett to marry her. My disgust for Rose grew. And then Carlisle and Alice began
their steady advance towards Jasper. Alice beamed. I could tell she would be a beautiful
bride the next afternoon.

Something ached in my chest and I had to leave the rehearsal and return to my parents'
house. Mrs. Weber had already arrived to pick up my girls. Their retired grandmother
moved to Forks when Angela had become pregnant. Her presence has been invaluable.
She and my mother helped me care for the girls by swapping daily daycare duties.
Tonight, the girls would go home with her as they did every Friday night.

"Edward. You're looking well. How was the rehearsal?"

I walked to my mother-in-law and lightly hugged and kissed her. "Hello, Tia. I left before
they'd finished. It's still a little hard to be around so many happy people. I miss Angela
more during these times," I ruefully related to her.

"I know it's hard and it doesn't seem like it will get better." She continued, "But I promise
you Angela wouldn't be pleased to know that you are unhappy. My daughter loved you
so much and she wanted the best for you. I've never told you this, but I think you need
to hear it. You can't blame yourself for being alive."

I stared at Tia with a confused expression.

She seemed to answer my question before I had even formed it. "You think she's dead
because of you; that were it not for you, she would be alive. She wouldn't have gotten
pregnant, or died during childbirth. But she would be so proud of your girls. And she
would want you to be happy. When she was pregnant, Angela sat me down and
instructed me to," and she motioned with air quotes, "'kick Edward's butt' if you ever lost
her. Honey, I'm kicking your butt."

"Nana!" the girls shrieked. I didn't have a chance to digest Mrs. Weber's words before I
needed to say goodbye. She bent forward and tickled her granddaughters, who giggled
gleefully in response.

"Be good. Listen to your Nana," I instructed. My daughters nodded.

"Edward, my dahlings always behave," Tia asserted, using one of her favorite nicknames
for them.

We helped Elizabeth and Renee climb into their car seats. Tia's comments had surprised
me and I didn't know how to react so I forced a grin and waved as she drove away. In a
trance, I walked into Alice's already-booming party.

"There's my brother!" Alice cheered. My cousin flitted to my side and gave me a deep hug.
"I know this is hard for you, but I appreciate you making the effort. I want you to relax
and enjoy yourself. It's just the family tonight and tomorrow won't be too crowded."

My head bobbed in response as she steered me to our dinner table. She insisted that I sit
next to her. I didn't let her know it enough, but I appreciated the love my cousin offered me.

Conversation hummed around me as I considered the meaning behind Tia's words. I ate
the food placed in front of me, but didn't look at what it was or how it tasted. I was
preoccupied with our talk, as well as the one my family had forced upon me the previous
weekend.

"Tia and I have been talking and we feel it would be best for you to hire a full-time nanny
for the girls," my mother announced. "They're going to start school next year and it
would be good if you had someone trained in early childhood education to prepare them
for school and to guarantee they excel. Tia and I have loved taking care of them, but
we know we can find someone better suited for your family's needs."

I heard my mother's words, but I wasn't paying close enough attention to realize she had
declared that I drastically change the lives of my daughters and myself.

"Edward?" my mother asked.

"I'm sorry mom. Tia and I spoke briefly when she grabbed the girls and I can't stop
thinking about what she told me. Did I hear you correctly? Did you just suggest I hire a
nanny?" I questioned Esme.

"Well, yes," she answered as a crease surfaced across her smooth forehead. "We can't
take care of them forever. We need to be grandmothers to them, not mothers."

I frowned as her words hurt me more than they should. I knew my mother hadn't
intended to imply anything negative, but her response reminded me that I had stolen
their mother from Elizabeth and Renee.

"Just think, you can hire a hot nanny and get laid finally, bro," my brother chimed in.

"Emmett, that is not appropriate conversation," Esme warned.


Alice sneered at Emmett, "Don't ruin my party!"

"I'll consider your suggestion. Really. Although you didn't have a very detailed argument, I
think you may have convinced me that the girls will benefit from the influence of someone
better able to prepare them for school." I was surprised the words came out of my
mouth. Was I really going to let a stranger into my house and, more importantly, into the
lives of my daughters? "And Emmett, I will not become a tired cliché of the rich man who
sleeps with his innocent, but hot nanny."

"I think I know someone perfect for the job. You may have heard of Isabella Swan? She is
Sheriff Swan's daughter. Um, she went to our high school and then college with me and
Rose. We're all in KGZ together. Does that ring any bells? Anyway, she majored in biology
and elementary education at UW. She's lived in Phoenix the last couple of years, teaching
first grade. She just moved back here and I think this opportunity will be perfect for all of
you," Alice assured me.

Before I had a chance to react, Rose stated, "I think Bella would be perfect to care for
them. She's wonderful with children and she's a very patient educator."

Rose's opinion had little effect on me. If anything, I was more apt to ignore Alice's
suggestion and place this Miss Swan on my mental ignore list because she was Rose's
friend. Regardless, I realized I should listen to my family. "I'll begin interviewing people
next week."

Within moments, Alice wrapped her arms around my shoulders and squeezed tightly.
"Thank you," she whispered. I didn't know why she was thanking me. I hadn't agreed to
hire her friend, only to meet with multiple people.

Next to me, Emmett cleared his throat and I noticed that nervous expression had
returned. "I have an announcement," my brother anxiously stated. This couldn't be good.
All eyes whirled onto my brother and the room grew so quiet that we'd all hear a pin
drop. "Um, so the reason why I've spent so many Sundays in Seattle wasn't because I
was worried about having to deliver a baby and not being able to get to the hospital in
time. It was because I knew I couldn't bring Rose and the idea of spending that much free
time away from her was unbearable."

My brother, an incredibly imposing fellow who played college baseball and worked out
everyday sounded like the most pathetic sap. I chuckled and he ignored me.

"So we've decided to take our relationship to the next level. Rose and I moved in together
last month."

I groaned as I realized he was nervous because he had to tell us that they were living
together and he wasn't sure how everyone would react. But the second after he
announced the news, my parents congratulated them and Alice seemed ecstatic. I
remained in my seat with the same morose expression I plastered on my face during the
nanny discussion.

In just one week, so much in my world had changed. My family expected me to date, hire
a nanny, and accept Rose into our family. On top of all of that confusion, I wasn't looking
forward to being peppered with questions by the guests at Alice's wedding tomorrow.
A few closing notes: Chapter 4 is all BPOV and the last "transition" chapter because by
the end of it, Bella's and Edward's timelines will match up. Beginning with Chapter 5, we'll
have overlapping between BPOV & EPOV sections (so you can get both characters'
perspectives) because they finally meet. The POV overlapping won't always occur, but
expect it to happen more often than not.

Oh, my beta pointed out that my author's note suggested you could follow any or all of
our accounts on Twitter. I should've written that you should follow me (lizconno) and her
(robpattz_addict) and our joint venture (DearRob). *giggle*

Thanks for reading. If you enjoy, please leave a review and tell a friend! :)

<a class='positive' onClick='select_drop("review");' href='#'>Review this


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&#187; A Labor of Love <td> <a href='/u/2058400/lizconno'>lizconno
<small>Author of 3 Stories</small> <INPUT TYPE=BUTTON Value=' < Prev '
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this.options[this.selectedIndex].value + '/A_Labor_of_Love';"><option value=1 >1.
Chapter 1: Change<option value=2 >2. Chapter 2: Endings<option value=3 >3. A
Quick AN & Ch 3 Preview<option value=4 >4. Chapter 3: Breakdown<option value=5
selected>5. Chapter 4: Possibilities<option value=6 >6. Chapter 5: Nuptials<option
value=7 >7. Chapter 6: Flirting<option value=8 >8. Chapter 7: Lemonade<option
value=9 >9. Chapter 8: Uncertainty<option value=10 >10. Chapter 9: Alone<option
value=11 >11. Chapter 10: Interviews, Part One<option value=12 >12. Chapter 11:
Interviews, Part Two<option value=13 >13. Chapter 12: Brunch<option value=14
>14. Chapter 13: Commencement<option value=15 >15. Chapter 14: Moving<option
value=16 >16. Chapter 15: Comfort<option value=17 >17. Chapter 16: Games<option
value=18 >18. Chapter 17: Dates<option value=19 >19. Chapter 18: Surprises<option
value=20 >20. Chapter 19: Progress?<option value=21 >21. Chapter 20:
Revelations<option value=22 >22. Chapter 21: Dilemma<option value=23 >23.
Chapter 22: Declaration<option value=24 >24. Chapter 23: Tears<option value=25
>25. Chapter 24: Assurance<option value=26 >26. Chapter 25: Connection<option
value=27 >27. Chapter 26: Perspectives<option value=28 >28. Chapter 27:
Time<option value=29 >29. Chapter 28: Labor<option value=30 >30. Chapter 29:
Admissions<option value=31 >31. Chapter 30: Advice<option value=32 >32. Chapter
31: Seattle<option value=33 >33. Chapter 32: Finally<option value=34 >34. Epilogue
Part One<option value=35 >35. Epilogue Part Two</select> <INPUT TYPE=BUTTON
Value=' Next > ' onClick="self.location='/s/5496816/6/A_Labor_of_Love'"> Rated: <a
href='http://www.fictionratings.com/' target='rating'> M - English - Romance - Bella &
Edward - Reviews: <a href='/r/5496816/'>2,239 - Updated: 06-21-10 - Published:
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A/N: Thank you for reviewing my story! I appreciate all of your messages and I read them
all (even if I don't reply)! It's so rewarding and humbling to know people are reading and
enjoying my story.

Thank you to my "fuckawesome" beta robpattz_addict! *wink*

One more thing: Although Alice is Emmett & Edward's cousin, she's referred to as both
their sister & cousin. If you recall, she joined their family as a baby/toddler so they view
each other more as siblings than cousins. In the future, the terms will be used
interchangeably. I hope that clears any confusion you might have now or in the future. :)

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Widoward sprang from my mind and aren't
meant to infringe on her copyrights!

BPOV

The phone was ringing again. I wasn't prepared to have to tell another person that
Charlie & Sue had died, or listen to the copious amount of condolences from those who
did know. "Hello?" I asked into the receiver.

"How ya doin', girlie?" Phew. It was Alice. I didn't mind talking to her, but how was I, really?

This week had passed in a blur. Ever since Alice left Sunday morning, I had a flurry of
work to complete. There was the funeral and memorial service to plan, the meetings with
my father's lawyer to take, as well as the one with the sheriff's department, shopping with
Alice for my wedding attire, culminating in the closing chapter of my father's time on earth.

Jake and his father, Billy Black, who was one of Charlie's oldest and closest friends, helped
with the funeral preparations. Deep down, I knew I would have to plan my father's
funeral at some point, and its eventuality seemed sooner rather than later considering
his chosen line of work, but I never expected to have this duty while I was 24, or 34 for
that matter.
We decided the services would occur on Thursday, figuring enough time would be given to
all who knew Sue and Charlie so they could secure the needed time away from work. In
honoring my father's wishes, the funeral and memorial took place at the Quileute
Reservation. Sue was Quileute and Charlie ought to have been because he spent just as
much time at La Push with his friends as he did in this house. While Sue was buried in
accordance with Quileute tradition, my father was cremated and his ashes dispersed
among four locales: poured over Sue and Harry's adjoining plots; mixed in with the dirt
covering my mother's grave; thrown off the cliffs at First Beach; and encased in an urn for me.

Surprisingly, I hadn't expected to be emotionally and spiritually affected by the services,


but tears streamed down my face throughout. The stoic façade I crafted throughout my
life crumbled as soon as Billy stood up to give the eulogy. Dr. Cullen, who insisted yet
again that I call him Carlisle, and Esme, as well as Alice, Rose, Jasper, and Emmett drove
down to the Reservation to offer their support. As Esme wrapped her arms around my
sobbing shoulders, I thought about how beneficial her presence had been to me over the
last eight years. She truly felt like my mother. I expected to need Esme's nurturing as my
father's passing sunk in over the coming days, weeks, and months.

Following the somber activities, I returned home alone to a cold and quiet house. For
the umpteenth time since arriving the previous weekend, I broke down in tears. Were it
not for Alice's wedding, I'd probably be curled up in a tight ball on the floor.

I avoided Alice's question, and asked one of my own. "Aren't you supposed to be at your
rehearsal dinner, or performing last minute preparations with Rose?"

"Everyone left a few minutes ago. Rose is off with Emmett, getting some action before
she spends the night with me. I swear, those two are like rabbits!" Alice and I both bust
up with fits of laughter. She was right about Rose and Emmett. They never did seem to
have sex enough. When we roomed together in the sorority house, I was privy to far
more than anyone should have to endure – and Emmett had his own apartment, which
made all of it that much worse! "So," Alice continued excitedly, "We were talking during
the dinner and my mom urged Edward that he hire a nanny to take care of his twin
daughters. I suggested he consider you for the job, that is, if you're interested."

I had to admit, this was both a welcome and unwelcome surprise. On one hand, I needed
a job and I hadn't spent a second searching, but I figured I would substitute teach
because it was so close to the beginning of the year. As I briefly considered this
alternative career, I wondered whether I could be an effective nanny. Admittedly, it
would be nice for something to divert my mind from focusing on the pain my father's
passing caused. But I wasn't sure that I had the time that a full-time nanny position would
require because, after all, I had to decide what I would do with Charlie's house, I had to
file all of his pension paperwork, and I needed time to grieve even though I didn't want
to. Maybe there was something to this nanny work!

Why did Alice always have this knack for getting excited? Even if I didn't apply for the job,
it couldn't hurt to make an informed decision. Now that a part of me felt energized at the
prospect of caring for these two girls, I peppered Alice with questions. "Tell me more about
this job. How old are the girls? What are their names? What are they like? What would be
my time commitment? How does Edward's wife feel about having a nanny? Why do they
need a nanny? Share, share." I figured those questions were numerous and
open-ended enough to get Alice talking for an hour.

Instead, I was met with dead silence, which I never encountered when Alice was involved.
"Alice, is there something wrong?" I asked timidly.

"Did you forget that Edward's wife died in childbirth?" Crap. How could I forget that? My
mother also died in childbirth.

"Shit. I totally forgot. I'm sorry."

"It's okay, Bella. I'm sure if you weren't dealing with your own grief, you would've
remembered. You're the most selfless person I know, so don't worry.

"Now where were we? Oh yes, I was telling you about the job, the girls, everything.
Elizabeth – or Lizzie as she prefers to be called – and Renee are four, going on forty.
Esme and their other grandmother, Tia Weber, have shared caretaking duties since their
birth because Edward has been so busy with work. He really threw himself into work
after Angela's death and he's never really curtailed his workload since. So between
Edward's absence, spending time with their grandmothers, and growing up without a
mother, they've matured faster than most 4-year-olds. They're also super smart girls, so
their perceptive ways shouldn't be a huge surprise.

"You would live with them and Edward, but as I said, he isn't home much, so it would be
you and the girls for the most part. Um, you would feed them, bathe them, dress them,
teach them, and be there for them in the same way a mother would be. You wouldn't
need to feed Edward, but you could. He has a weekly service come in to clean, so you
wouldn't be required to maintain the house in that way. What else? You would have use
of one of the family's cars, you would have one day plus one evening off a week, the
pay would be very good, and you would have free reign of Edward's house and his
expansive library and grounds."

I continued listening to Alice describe the position and sketch an image of the house, the
girls, and Edward. She paused for a moment and hesitantly added another aspect to the
job. "Oh, there is one deal breaker. I know Edward's thinking of getting a dog, so you
may have a say in what breed he gets, but only because you'll also have a puppy to train
and take care of."

Wow. I knew my questions would get Alice talking, but I didn't think she'd give me a
monologue like that. She had details about the job that I didn't expect. "Has Edward
written a description you're reading from, or something? I'm surprised your description
didn't include details of what I was expected to do every day for the first month," I giggled.

"You asked. I just wanted to give you a thorough understanding of what this job entails.
Edward has high standards. But no, he hasn't decided on what a nanny in his house
would do. In fact, he hasn't actually agreed to hire one, yet." Alice's last statement
escaped in a whispered, sheepish tone.

"What?" I almost screeched at her. "You're telling me you've spent half-an-hour psyching
me up for this job only to crush me by saying there might not even be a job?" Okay I
wasn't crushed, or even shocked the job's existence was a sure thing, yet, but I liked to
make Alice feel guilty. The girl had no shame and she had taken it upon herself many
times over the years get me to do things I never would that often caused me oodles of
embarrassment.

"Well, Esme warned him last night that she and Tia needed to be grandmothers and not
mothers and that he should hire a nanny and that the girls needed someone to take care
of their educational needs and, and, and…" It was deliriously wonderful to hear Alice at a
loss for words.

"Alice, it's fine." I could see she was feeling far guiltier about this than she should and it
probably wasn't fair of me to me to do this to her. "Really. I was just giving you a hard
time. Don't worry about it. Just keep me updated, okay? Now, you should get yourself
some rest because I expect to see the most beautiful woman get married tomorrow and
I wouldn't want a lack of sleep to diminish your loveliness." I just hoped that my closing
words would have the positive effect I intended of them.

"If I hadn't told you lately, you're more than a sorority sister to me, but also my real
sister. I love you so much and I can't wait to see you tomorrow. In this little lovefest, I
forgot to tell you that Lizzie and Renee will be my flower girls. So keep an eye out for them."

"Alice, I love you. I can't wait to call you Mrs. Whitlock!" And with that, we ended our phone call

This was quite an interesting development. I had a job lead and it was with Alice's
gorgeous cousin. I was curious what Edward was like. Emmett was loud and boisterous in
all the best ways imaginable and Alice was sweet and generous. He and Emmett were
twins, so I imagined he must've had some of Emmett's traits. And because Dr. Cullen and
Esme – who had always been so wonderful to me – raised Alice alongside those two, I
had no doubt he would be just as giving. Based on my observations of the Cullens, I
wondered how he could be anything other than unique and marvelous.

I don't know how long I thought about Edward after Alice and I got off of the phone, but
when I looked at the clock next to my bed, those bright green numbers told me it was
Saturday and the hours until Alice's wedding were drawing far closer than I could endure.
I hopped off my bed, walked down the hall to the bathroom, and into a hot, steamy
shower. I figured the pulsating water on my back would ease the tension in my body. I
was happy to see her marry, but Alice's wedding wouldn't be one of my favorite events.
Not only would there be throngs of people – well any event with more than ten people
constituted "thongs" for me – but also gads of people from high school and college. I had
promised to stay in touch with a lot people and failed miserably with that task. Plus, many
of my high schools friends were friends only because I lacked any other alternatives.
Forks wasn't exactly the big city and there weren't a lot students in our high school.

With my shower complete, my hair towel-dried, and my robe tied securely around my
waist, I began digging through my bookcase for my yearbooks. I figured it would be smart
if I reviewed the faces and names of people who might be there tomorrow, especially
considering sleep seemed like a far-off concept.

I don't know when I fell asleep, but waking up with a yearbook page stuck to my face as
if superglue had been applied to the surface wasn't a pleasant way to regain
consciousness. I delicately peeled the page from my face, thinking the slow removal far
surpassed the band-aid technique of a quick rip. My eyes came to rest upon the clock face
and I realized I only had two hours until Alice's wedding. Jake and Leah would be here to
pick me up in an hour and I had tons to do. Crap, this was not how I planned on
spending the morning. I needed to change the day's carpooling plans. I ran around my
room and then down the stairs looking for my cell phone.

Where could that sucker have run to? When my search of the downstairs was fruitless, I
plopped myself on the couch and tried to retrace my steps. As I recalled, I sat in bed while
Alice and I spoke last night. Considering I hadn't come downstairs since then, the phone
must've been somewhere upstairs. Running upstairs, I began to scan the room and
wondered why I kept everything so tidy because it didn't help me find anything when I
needed it. I started to sweat, though I couldn't tell whether the sweat was from the
anxiety I felt over the impending nuptials and being around all of those people, or
whether it was from this far-more-difficult-than-it-should-be search. I dove for the pile
of yearbooks on my bed and started tossing them off the bed to resounding thuds when
they smacked against the wood floor. All of this activity was going to require that I take
another shower.

Instead of finding my iPhone by removing the clutter on my bed, Jake's familiar ringtone
sounded and the screen lit up, directing me to its location.

"Jake," I managed to sputter from my mouth.

"Bells, what are you doing? You sound out of breath," Jake responded in his comforting tone.

"I was searching all over the house and twice in my room for my damned phone. I swear,
I need a GPS device to locate this thing sometimes! Anyway, I was just about to call you."

Jake snickered. It was a well-known fact that I lost phones. When he heard I was
splurging on an iPhone, he told me I would regret it because I would lose it like all of the
rest and this one wouldn't be as cheap to replace. "Woman, you need to tie that thing
around your neck! Anyway, Leah and I will be there in about 25 minutes. We wanted to
stop by a little early so we could wrap our present to Alice and Jasper. Sue has tons of
wrapping paper for every type of event tucked away under the stairs."

"Um, about that Jake… You both are welcome over here, but I am going to head over to
the Cullen's house alone. I am running rather late because I overslept and I don't want
to keep you guys." I hoped Jacob would be okay with my plan. Leah barely knew the
Cullens and Jake wasn't the best about easing anyone into situations. The plan was that
we'd all go together so I could be an extra arm for Leah to latch onto during the schmoozing.

I heard Jake cover the phone so their conversation wouldn't be overheard. After hearing
the muffled exchange, Jacob cleared his throat and said, "Yeah, that's fine. We'll wrap
the presents and let you get ready. Do you want us save you a seat?"

"No, that won't be necessary," I assured him. "I promised Alice I would sit on Jasper's side
to try to even the numbers. Most of the guests from Jasper's side are family or close
friends because the journey here was a bit expensive and lengthy for a lot of his friends
back in Texas. Does Leah have her key to the house, or should I leave it unlocked?"

"Leah has her key. So hop in the shower!" Jacob instructed me.

"Okay…sheesh. If I hear you guys when I get out, I'll give you a shout out. Drive safely."
I pressed END and placed the phone next to my bed.

I walked to my closet and grabbed the dress I would wear today. Alice had asked me to
be a bridesmaid with Rose, who was serving as her maid of honor, but the idea of
standing there in front of all those people made me nervous and anxious. So I agreed to
let her clothe me instead. She decided on a slinky, flowing blue chiffon dress and matching
stilettos. Alice also made me promise to wear my hear a certain way and apply my
makeup how she wanted. We'd actually had two practice sessions earlier in the week. It
always amazed me what lengths I'd go to for that little pixie!

Just as I stepped into the shower, I heard Jake's booming voice call up to me. I didn't
bother to answer because I knew he wouldn't expect it. I quickly shaved my legs and
lathered and rinsed my body. Once I finished, I toweled off. After applying moisturizer
and sunscreen to my face and body, I not-so-expertly styled my hair as best I could
without the constant instruction of Alice. I threw on my robe and sauntered downstairs,
figuring it would be better to wrap Alice and Jasper's presents before getting dressed.
Once I completed that job, I returned to the bathroom and made myself presentable. No
matter how much I tried, I would never be able to replicate what Alice would do. After
slipping into my dress and shoes, I carefully stepped down the stairs and out the door.

I wondered to myself how I had allowed Alice to dress me in stilettos. Not only were they
impossible to balance on, thanks to my already-klutzy self, but they also pinched my toes a
little. It was too late to find any alternatives.

The often dreary weather of Forks was perfect today as if Alice could tell the future and
knew which weekend to hold her wedding. I drove through town and came upon her
family's lush, green property and turned in. Glancing at my watch, I realized I was
arriving minutes before she was set to walk down the aisle. Knowing Alice, her flower girls
would march down the aisle the second the clock ticked 1:00 PM.

The valet opened my door and I sprinted for the house, barely slowing down enough to
grab the ticket he held in his extended arm. Even though there was a clearly indicated
entrance to the backyard along the side of the house, I knew I would save time cutting
through the kitchen. My heels clicked loudly as I navigated the house's rooms. I tried to
keep myself upright and managed to make it out back without any unneeded stumbles or
tumbles. Moments after I settled myself into the last of the remaining seats, the music began.

~l~l~l~

EPOV

From my seat in the kitchen, I peered over the scene in the backyard. One seat remained
and I knew I would have to fill it if someone didn't arrive within the next 30 seconds.
Alice's instructions couldn't have been any clearer: the wedding would begin promptly at
1:00PM. Once all of the seats were filled, I was to notify the valets that they couldn't
allow any other guests into the wedding until after waiters began serving h'or d'oeuvres.
After I stopped the flow of guests into the wedding – Alice wouldn't consent to anyone
upstaging her perfect wedding by interrupting the nuptials with their footsteps or
whispers – I would signal my father that it was time to begin.

And then I heard a woman's heels skitter awkwardly across the floor. The noise sent jolts
of electricity through every nerve in my body and my heart felt as if it would burst from
my chest. Before I had a chance to search for the origin of the sound – or what had
caused my body to react in such a bizarre way – a blur of milky skin, rich chocolate brown
hair, and a flowing blue dress rushed past me. I was glued to my spot, unsure of whether
I would be able to carry out the simple tasks Alice had entrusted in me. Rather than
endure the hell from Alice I would surely face if I didn't start the festivities, I struggled to
my feet and followed her orders.

A few closing notes: I know I said Chapter 4 would be all BPOV, but I wanted to give y'all
hope that they are about to meet! So stick with the story. I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Posting Schedule: Beginning with this chapter, I will post every Monday evening. At least
35 chapters are outlined, so new chapters will continue well into 2010! Be sure to favorite
me or the story to guarantee you're notified when new chapters are up!

And I can't say it enough - THANK YOU FOR READING. If you enjoy, please, please,
please leave a review because they make my day! Anonymous reviews are allowed, so
review as often as you desire!

And please tell a friend (or forty...or post a link on Twitter and/or Facebook) about A
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A/N: I can't say it enough – thank you for reading & reviewing! Y'all are awesome. The
more reviews I get, the more I want to write! I do this for you guys!

There have been some plot-related questions sent to me or left in reviews: Check out
the FAQ on my blog at lizconno (dot) blogspot (dot) com for some answers.

As always, my badass beta fucking rocks, especially because she had to edit this during
her New Moon trip! Thank you robpattz_addict!

This chapter is dedicated to Vincy. You should know why, so thank you! =)

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Widoward sprang from my mind and aren't
meant to infringe on her copyrights!

EPOV

As I left the rehearsal dinner, the image of Angela's lifeless body burned itself into my
vision and I fought the nausea that sought to cripple me. The bile had been collecting in
my mouth and I didn't know whether I would make it home before I managed to lose
control of my stomach or my emotions. The second I pulled into the garage, I threw the
door open and ran to the bushes alongside the building. I heaved for a few minutes until
there was nothing left inside of me. Unfortunately, the emotions I had bottled up for
years came rushing out and I crumbled to ground, sobbing and gasping for breath. What
was it about Alice's wedding that had this effect on me?

"Edward," Alice solemnly began, "I know tomorrow will be tough for you. But I have a
feeling that my wedding will change your life forever and for the better."

I loved Alice and she knew of my pain more than any other person, but her non-specific
predictions had made me weary over the years. Although she told me I would go to
Stanford, meet my wife there, and have twins of my own, she was 11 at the time and
going through a tarot card-reading period of her life. She'd long since given up the tarot
cards, but she still liked to make non-specific predictions about everyone's futures.
Frankly, her forecasting skills were better than I chose to admit, but I could never
acknowledge this to Alice. If I made this disclosure, her already-absurdly high levels of
excitement would skyrocket and it would be impossible to be around her.

I knew I would regret inquiring, but I had no idea how something good could come from
my pain. "I haven't attended a single wedding since my own and I'm only going to yours
because if I don't you'd attack me into unconsciousness." I stifled a chuckle at the last part
– Alice hated it when I mocked her eagerness. "So what makes you think tomorrow will
change things?"

"I just have a feeling. You know I can tell the future," Alice announced with certainty.

"Little sister," I choked out as laughter burst forth, "you are too much." My snickers quickly
trailed off. I sighed, adding, "I would love for you to be right, but I have lived too many
years to know that you aren't a soothsayer."

Alice huffed and stormed off. I felt bad for offending her, but unfortunately, her
prophecy managed to consume my thoughts and I left the joyous affair with a frown on
my face as I tried to push that image of Angela from my mind.

I continued to cry until the sun began to peak over the mountains to the east. Could it
really be 5:00AM? Had I been lying in my side yard for over six hours? I pulled my stiff
body off of the ground and walked into the house. Exhaustion threatened to devour me,
as it had done for the last four-and-a-half years. Not a night passed during which I
slept anywhere close to eight hours. But I owed it to my daughters to try to slumber
through the night one of these days. At some point, this game of Russian roulette I was
playing would ruin everything I had built for them and I didn't want to be responsible for
pulling both parents from their lives. I wouldn't be able to completely refresh before
Alice's wedding, but I could rest a few hours before that pint-sized terror ordered us around.

I stripped my clothes from my body and looked at myself in the full-size mirror. Staring
back at me stood a pale man with dark, deep-set bags under his eyes. Where did the
happy-go-lucky man run to, the one who wooed Angela for a year until she finally agreed
to be my wife? Where had the easy-going guy disappear to, the one who shouted from
the rooftops when Angela informed me she was pregnant? I was a shadow of my former
self and I looked far older than my 31 years. Because of the image of what stood in front
of the mirror, all of this discussion around changing my life, and my brother's insistence
that I needed to get laid, my mind was clouded.

I walked into my bathroom and turned the shower up high. I would need a release to
clear my mind if I had any hope of capturing a few hours respite. Stepping into the
shower, I closed my eyes and tried to imagine happier times. I wrapped my left hand
firmly around my shaft and began stroking my dick, letting the sensations send shivers
down my spine. I moaned as I continued to run my hand from the base of my cock to the
tip, which I massaged. A drop of pre cum pooled under my fingers and I rubbed it into my
skin as I sped up my motions. I could feel a groan grow in my throat and I knew it wouldn't
take long for my orgasm to rip through me. I pressed my back into the wall and allowed
myself to come as my juices squirted against the shower door. I sighed loudly and
quickly washed my body and rinsed my mouth. I dried my body and paused long enough
to brush my teeth, but then I crawled into bed, not bothering to put on boxers or flannel pants.

At 10:30AM, my alarm wailed and I cringed at the sounds emitting from it. I liked these
Saturday mornings when I got to sleep in because the girls were with their grandmother.
Then I remembered which Saturday today was – Alice's wedding. Shit. I had 30 minutes
to clothe myself before Alice expected me at my parents. Not wasting a moment, a pulled
the suit and shoes from the closet that Alice had selected for the day. I didn't have an
official capacity for her wedding, but I had agreed to notify her when the ceremony
would begin, in exchange for being allowed to watch from inside the house and not
having to remain at the reception for too long. Although Alice wasn't pleased with my
proposal, she begrudgingly agreed because she understood what the day meant to me.

Once I arrived at my parents' house, Alice showed me what I would do. It didn't take a
rocket scientist to understand her directions, but she insisted on walking me from location
to location pointing out what I would do at each spot.

"I expect more people than there are seats. So keep an eye out. Remember, the second
the last seat is filled, check your watch. If it's almost 1:00PM, you can begin your duties;
if the audience is packed well before that time, just wait until 1:00pm. Got it?"

"Seriously Alice?" I responded. "I run a major company and you think I can't follow these
simple directions?"

Alice had always been a control freak, but she needed to calm down because no one's
wedding goes off without a single hitch. There was no way I was going to share this tidbit
with her, though.

"You know how important it is that my wedding is perfect. Would you please just tell me
you can handle this chore?"

I closed my eyes and sighed loudly, "Yes, Alice. You don't need to worry about me doing
my job to a 'T'."

She nodded and skipped up the stairs to where my mother and Rose waited for her.
Walking into the kitchen, I plopped myself down on a chair and stared into space until
Emmett woke me from my daze.

"Hey Bro," he greeted me with his booming voice. "Can you believe our little sister is
getting married today?" Emmett patted me on my back and smiled proudly. His grin was
contagious and I felt the corners of my mouth rise.

"Thank God Jasper loves her and knows what a handful she can be because otherwise,
I'd worry about him. Heck, I worry about him regardless."

Emmett laughed loudly at my comment and walked out back, greeting the guests who
began to arrive. I returned to my imageless daydream, leaving it only when the hum in
the backyard made me remember my job.

From my seat in the kitchen, I peered over the scene in the backyard. One seat remained
and I knew I would have to fill it if someone didn't arrive within the next 30 seconds.
Alice's instructions couldn't have been any clearer: the wedding would begin promptly at
1:00PM. Once all of the seats were filled, I was to notify the valets that they couldn't
allow any other guests into the wedding until after waiters began serving h'or d'oeuvres.
After I stopped the flow of guests into the wedding – Alice wouldn't consent to anyone
upstaging her perfect wedding by interrupting the nuptials with their footsteps or
whispers – I would signal my father that it was time to begin.

And then I heard a woman's heels skitter awkwardly across the floor. The noise sent jolts
of electricity through every nerve in my body and my heart felt as if it would burst from
my chest. Before I had a chance to search for the origin of the sound – or what had
caused my body to react in such a bizarre way – a blur of milky skin, rich chocolate brown
hair, and a flowing blue dress rushed past me. I was glued to my spot, unsure of whether
I would be able to carry out the simple tasks Alice had entrusted in me. Rather than
endure the hell from Alice I would surely face if I didn't start the festivities, I struggled to
my feet and followed her orders.

After notifying Carlisle that it was time to begin, I heard my girls start giggling excitedly
as they moved down the stairs, followed by Rose. A moment later, Alice and my father
followed and all of them met me in the kitchen where they would begin the procession. I
viewed the scene around me. Although Lizzie and Renee took more after me, their raven
black hair and olive skin tone came from their mother and the realization hurtfully tugged
at my heart, as it did everyday when I looked at them. The jade-colored dresses Alice
chose complemented their skin tone and their similarly-colored eyes, which were a shade
of green different than my own. I wouldn't admit it aloud, but Rose looked beautiful. Her
dress was a hue darker than the girls and was one of the three colors decorating Alice's
wedding, the other two being pink and silver.

When she moved out of the way, a gasp escaped my mouth as I viewed Alice for the first
time. I had never seen Alice look more beautiful. My obnoxious cousin had grown into a
perfectly lovely creature.

She beamed at my reaction and walked over to me, taking my hand with her delicate
fingers and whispered, "Thank you, Edward. Just seeing your reaction has made me the
happiest bride. But don't make me cry because my makeup is perfect and no waterproof
mascara is foolproof!"

I laughed and squeezed her fingers before releasing them. Alice nodded to the girls and
they began their descent from the kitchen to the backyard, with Rose close on their tails.
As soon as Rose's heels hit the bottom step, the wedding march began and Alice and
Carlisle exited. I closed the door behind them, returned to my seat, and moved my eyes
until they rested upon the figure of that mystery woman who seemed to awaken nerves
in me I didn't know existed.

The wedding began, but I had no idea how long it lasted because I couldn't remove my
eyes from peering at her. Everyone began clapping and she stood as Alice and Jasper
walked down the aisle, completing the recessional just past her seat. As I caught a brief
glimpse, her simple, yet amazing beauty caused me to lose my breath for a moment.

I walked outside and congratulated the happy couple, hoping to get another view of the
woman or to accidentally run into her. I looked around, but didn't see her. Pulling Alice
into a hug, I told my sister of my pride for her and thanked her for putting up with my
moods since she joined our family. I let her go and turned to her new husband.

"Jasper, welcome to the family! You have a supportive wife and partner who will go to
the ends of the earth to protect you, your life, and her family. We haven't had a chance
to get to know each other well, but I know Alice would only select a gem to love and
marry. Keep her close and love her more than you love yourself." I shook his hand and
smiled at both of them.

As I walked away, I felt the jolt of electricity that accompanied my earlier all-too-brief
encounter with the woman in blue. I turned to find her, but all of the guests began
surrounding Alice and Jasper and I couldn't locate her.
l~l~l~l

BPOV

About one minute into the service, I realized I should've eaten breakfast before leaving. I
felt jittery, as if I had had too much caffeine earlier. In fact, I first noticed the sensation
when I darted through the Cullen's house. And to make matters worse, I couldn't shake
this odd feeling that someone was watching me. I realized this thought was irrational
because the week had been full of turmoil. If anything, I figured the tension of being
around a bunch of people was making my body uneasy. I took deep breaths, hoping all I
needed was to relax.

Alice had planned a perfect service. The girls she told me about, Elizabeth and Renee,
marched down the aisle while tossing large fistfuls of pink rose petals up in the air and
around them, showering themselves and the grass-colored rug. I watched them carefully,
looking for some sign that these twins were little hellions I wouldn't want to tend to. But
the only thing I noticed was the joy emanating from them. If anything, their actions drew
me in and made me want to supervise their daily activities. I heard gasps from the other
guests and looked up just in time to see Rose wink as she passed me.

Yet the attendees weren't reacting to the sight of Rose, it was at the beauty who
followed. Alice wore a sleeveless, off-the-shoulder, floor-length, ecru dress made of rough
silk. A one-yard train trailed behind her and when the sun hit her dress at certain angles,
I noticed a rose pattern. Her simple veil was the same length as her dress and was
trimmed with the gown's material. When I looked to her face, I caught a glimpse of
delicate miniature pink roses securing the veil in place. She completed the look with a
bouquet bursting with regular- and miniature-sized pink roses. Looking at her, I
understood why everyone gasped. I had never seen the bride look more perfect.

Like Rose, Alice, who had a huge grin on her face, winked at me as she glided past me. I
turned and saw a beaming Jasper waiting for her under the cupola of the Cullen's
gazebo, where Emmett stood next to him, the smile of a proud older brother covering his face.

I tried to pay attention to the service and the vows, which Alice and Jasper wrote to one
another, but I couldn't ignore that eerie feeling that someone was watching me. I pushed
that perception from my mind and focused on the scene in front of me, managing to catch
the bride and groom in a kiss and embrace before they entangled their fingers and
walked down the aisle. We all stood and clapped and I turned to face them as they
passed. Despite my own unease, I was ecstatic for my two friends and joined in the praise
for them.

A moment later, Mike Newton, who had a thing for me in high school, came up from
behind me and gripped my arm as he spun me around and pulled me into a hug. The close
proximity of him stunned me, but I managed to squeeze him back, albeit rather weakly.
He guided me away from the crowd gathering near my seat to the empty area alongside
the gazebo.

With a smile, he excitedly proclaimed, "Bella! I haven't seen you in years. You look
wonderful. How are you? What have you been doing? Where are you living now? Are you
dating anyone?"

"Whoah, Mike, one question at a time."


"Sorry, I'm just so surprised to see you hear. I didn't know you knew Alice or Jasper."

"Mike, Alice and I may have barely known each other in high school, but she's one of my
best friends and we are sorority sisters from UW. As for Jasper, I met him about the
same time as Alice. But back to your questions. Um, I'm doing alright. What was the next
question?"

"What have you been up to over the last few years? The last I heard you were moving
to Phoenix. Are you still living there?"

I realized then that Mike knew more about my life than he was letting on. A few moments
ago he inquired where I was living; just now he slipped in the question wondering if I still
lived in Phoenix. A feeling of dread came over me as I became aware that he was the
one watching me during the ceremony. Apparently, Mike's misguided infatuation with me
hadn't subsided over the six years since leaving Forks. Come to think of it, he probably
also knew my relationship status and anything else there was to learn about me. This was
a tiny town, after all. It would probably just be easier to humor him and answer his
questions, rather than challenge him.

"Well, I was living in Phoenix until about a week ago. I have been teaching elementary
school and decided to move back. Unfortunately, I moved back a few days too late."

"I heard about your dad and Sue. That's rough. Is there anything I can do for you?"

Ugh, Mike hadn't managed to outgrow his obsession for me. "No, but thanks. You know,
there are a few other people I want to catch up with. Can I find you later?"

With a sad look on his face he responded, "Uhh, sure. Take care, Bella. Promise to save
me a dance during the reception?"

"Of course." Yeah right, when pigs fly I'll do that! I barely gave him a second glance
before I high tailed it away from him and joined the guests who surrounded the happy
couple. That jittery feeling returned as I moved closer to them. I'd have to wish them
congratulations later, because my body seemed to be telling me that I needed to find
some food.

I wandered around the backyard until I found a waiter with a tray full of delights.

"Miss, would you care for an h'or d'oeuvre? I have lamb lollipops on my tray, but there are
five other choices for you, as well."

"Oh, this is perfect. Thank you!" I grabbed a lollipop from the waiter's tray like a voracious
wolf and nearly downed it in one bite. It tasted heavenly. I needed to find that waiter
for another. Before I managed to fix my eyes on another lollipop, a different waiter
walked by, this one carrying a tray with smoked salmon on a thin piece of toast, topped
with capers and onions. I grabbed a napkin and an h'or d'oeuvre before the waiter had a
chance to speak. I smiled sheepishly and sauntered away.

Once I had downed the tasty delight, I looked for the bar. I normally didn't drink, but if
my encounter with Mike was any indication of how the rest of the afternoon and evening
would proceed, I would need a fair amount of liquor.

"Can I have an extra-dirty martini with extra olives and a shot of lemon vodka?"
The bartender, who had his back to me, jumped. "Of course, miss. You're starting a little
early though, aren't you?"

"Well," I chuckled, "Yeah. But I've already been hit on by this guy who followed me around
like a puppy dog in high school and I am worried about how the rest of the day will go. So
I need to start early and strong."

"Understood," he said with a knowing grin. "Is there a particular brand of vodka you would
like me to use?"

"No. Just something top shelf."

He placed the shot on the counter and I swallowed it instantly. "Another, please."

He laughed and poured me a triple shot. Clearly, this man could read my mind. I grabbed
the tumbler and poured it down my throat in three gulps.

"Thank you. That hit the spot." As the words left my mouth, he placed the martini in front
of me, which I quickly clasped. With a sly grin on my face, I nodded to him and placed a
hefty gratuity in his tip bowl.

I knew the Cullen's property well, having visited here many times over the years. I
carefully wandered to a bench that overlooked the creek that bordered the property and
sat down. A huge sigh escaped from my mouth and tear trailed down my face. I began
sipping my drink as my mind strayed to memories of my father. From behind me, I heard a
slight ruffling and I felt a jolt of electricity shoot through me. I turned around and glanced
up. In front of me stood Edward Cullen, a man who looked impossibly perfect and to
whom photo companies did a disservice, for pictures couldn't capture his beauty.

"I'm sorry to interrupt, but I saw you walk over here alone and you seemed upset."

He ran his hand through his hair and I think I felt my heart skip a beat with the motion. I
continued sitting on the bench silently, too stunned to open my mouth.

"May I join you?"

Edward Cullen noticed that I was upset and he wanted to sit with me? Was I dreaming?

"What?" Wow, smooth Bella…

"Did I surprise you? I'm Edward Cullen, I'm the other brother of the bride. I noticed that
you downed a few shots and then walked over here, seemingly upset. Do you want to
talk about it?"

"Yes. Please. Sit." Had I lost all ability to communicate?

Edward walked around the bench so we would both face the creek and he sat to my left,
our thighs lightly touching. The warmth emanating from him comforted me. As I gazed at
him, he took his left thumb and quickly brushed the tear from my face. His touch nearly
burned me, but I immediately longed for the feeling again.

He asked, "A penny for your thoughts?"

"My father just died and I feel so alone and I'm not ready to be around people and a
creepy guy was watching me throughout the whole ceremony and he pulled me into a
hug making me uncomfortable and, and, and…" I stifled back another tear as I realized
this virtual stranger wouldn't care about my mundane problems.

Edward stroked my shoulder as he cooed, "Shhh, shhh. There, there." In an instant, the
world and all of its problems drifted away. "Why don't you start by telling me your name."

I felt like a fool. Had I just unloaded onto him without sharing my name? "I'm Isabella." Did
I seriously introduce myself as 'Isabella'? I gave him a name that no one called me and I
was pretending not to know who he was? What was I doing?

A/N: The dress described as Alice's is actually *my* wedding dress. :) I've taken a pic of
the material and posted it on my blog because I don't do the rose pattern justice.

And if you enjoy A Labor of Love, please review it and tell your fanfic-reading friends
about it. They warm my heart and I'll send good kharma your way for it, especially
because I know there are many more of you reading than reviewing! :)

Thank you! Chapter 6 up next Monday (November 30).


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A/N: I have some of the best readers out there. Your support is overwhelming! I have a
deal to make with you as a result... (details follow in my closing A/N)

There aren't words to describe how appreciative I am of my beta, robpattz_addict, and all
of the feedback she gives me. So I'm just going to say, "Thank you!"

One other note: Excessive drinking follows. I don't condone it or the actions that may result.

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Widoward sprang from my mind and aren't
meant to infringe on her copyrights!

EPOV

After surveying the crowd for a few moments, I found the woman. I felt both the frown
creep onto my face and the clench of my fists form as I watched her hug another man.
Seriously? For the first time since losing Angela I saw a woman I wanted – no needed –
to know and she was already taken? I stood firmly in my spot and observed their
exchange. Her body language and the expressions on her face didn't indicate they had a
history. Maybe there was a chance for me, yet.

"Edward, what are you doing?" a voice, which I knew belonged to Billy Black's son, Jake,
called from behind me. Billy was Vice President of Employee Operations of Masen Mining,
the company I took over after my grandfather, Edward Masen, passed away seven years
earlier. Billy had worked there longer than I could remember, so when his son graduated
from Washington State, I gladly hired him.

What was I doing? Oh, hey Jake…I'm just stalking a complete stranger at my cousin's
wedding… I turned towards him, answering, "Hey, Jake! I was just staring off into space.
Did you enjoy the wedding?" I really didn't want to talk with him – or anyone else – right
now, but Carlisle and Esme would be disappointed if they knew I was rude to someone,
especially a longtime-family friend.
"Yeah, man! Leah," he motioned towards his much-younger bride, "and I thought it was
really special. Your girls were classic! They had a ton of fun throwing those petals about.
Where were you during it all? I didn't see you."

"Um, I watched from the kitchen. It's still…" my voice trailed off, unable to talk about my
pain with him.

Jake nodded. He understood and he knew pain, as well. His mother died when he was
young and it wasn't a secret that Angela had passed away while in labor. Not only was
Forks a small town, but also a town with loose lips.

He could tell my mind was elsewhere. "Well, I'll catch you later, man!"

"Huh? Oh, yeah. See ya, Jake," I mumbled after he walked away.

My focus remained on the woman wearing the dress the color of a perfect sapphire. She
quickly left that man's presence and wandered over to a waiter. I smiled as I watched her
quickly consume whatever he was offering. She had an appetite, which I liked. My grin
grew when she found another waiter and quickly downed one of his offerings, as well.
This woman didn't seem to care what others thought, that was for sure. Never before I
had seen a female hunt for food and devour it with such veracity. My curiosity was piqued.

She continued on her trek and I was transfixed. But rather than search for more food,
she walked straight to the bar where she ordered a shot of something, not wasting a
moment before gulping the concoction and grimacing. I was fascinated as she repeated
this action with what appeared to be a triple shot. It wasn't even 2:00 PM yet, so her
heavy drinking must've been triggered by something. I needed to know what made this
woman tick. I followed her as she walked from the bar, with what appeared to be a martini
in her hand, towards the edge of the property. Who was she and how did know where
she was going?

I knew my girls and the rest of my family would be occupied with photographs and
speaking with the guests, so very quietly, I followed her. She sat down on the bench
overlooking the creek that marked the border to my parents' property. I heard a sigh
escape her mouth and I think I caught a tear fall from her eye. I moved closer, but
stepped on a branch and jarred her from her daze. She turned and glanced at me.

My heart stopped. Her eyes were the same warm, chocolate-color as her hair and they
spoke volumes to me. As our eyes joined, I realized nothing could break the connection;
I was hers. But I had been right, a tear had escaped from her eye, and I ached at the
sight. This complete stranger managed to wrap me around her finger without speaking a
word. I would do anything for her…how could that be possible?

I realized I needed to say something. I began, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I saw you walk
over here alone and you seemed upset."

Did I sound convincing? Would she think I had been following her? She didn't respond.
Instead, she just continued to inspect me. I felt as if she could see through my
thinly-veiled attempt to talk to her.

Hrmm…now what? "May I join you?" I asked.

"What?" she asked in response.


Okay, this was going to be harder than I hoped. Maybe I needed to speak louder?
Maybe I wasn't making sense? Maybe Greek had escaped my mouth?

Take three. This time I made sure to enunciate. With a simple smile I asked, "Did I
surprise you? I'm Edward Cullen, I'm the other brother of the bride. I noticed that you
downed a few shots and then walked over here, seemingly upset. Do you want to talk about it?

"Yes. Please. Sit," she retorted.

I was failing miserably. I didn't know what to do, so I joined her as her body faced the
creek. My need to be near her resulted in my decision to sit so close to her that our thighs
lightly touched. I could feel the electricity surging from her body onto mine. Was I imagining
it? I reached over and wiped away her tear, almost ripping my hand away from shock when
I felt the burn that resulted from our skin meeting.

I didn't know what to do, so I asked the first thing that came to mind. "A penny for your
thoughts?" I cringed the second the question left my mouth.

And then, she spoke. "My father just died and I feel so alone and I'm not ready to be
around people and a creepy guy was watching me throughout the whole ceremony and
he pulled me into a hug making me uncomfortable and, and, and…" As she unloaded, more
tears ran down her face.

Wow. I realized my lame attempts at conversation hadn't been a complete failure, but
instead it was that this glorious creature sitting next to me was carrying the weight of the
world on her shoulders. As I digested her words, I wondered if it had been me who she
felt ogling her throughout the ceremony? I hoped not.

I wanted to hold her and let her know that I wouldn't let anything else harm her, but I
didn't even know her name, so instead I tried to comfort her by running my hand along
her shoulder – hoping the gesture wouldn't be too presumptuous – and said what I did
whenever one of my girls cried, "Shhh, shhh. There, there." Then I added, "Why don't
you start by telling me your name?"

"Isabella," she said simply.

"Well, Isabella," I began, "I didn't mean to interrupt…would you feel better talking about
it. Or I could leave…" Please don't ask me to leave, please don't ask me to leave.

"No," quietly escaped her mouth.

"Can I get you another drink? Or some more h'or d'oeuvres?" Fuck! She'd know I was
watching her for sure now. Maybe if I continued talking she wouldn't notice. "I'm pretty
sure the wedding party will be taking pictures for at least an hour, and the festivities won't
really begin until after they're done…" I continued, "Or maybe we can sit here and relax
while we stare out at the water?" I didn't know what she needed, but I needed to be next
to her, holding her, supporting her, and keeping her safe from any other harm that could
creep into her world.

"I would love another one of these," she said as she held up her martini glass. "And some
more h'or d'oeuvres. Any type of them you can find will do!" she added as a slight smile
escaped from her lips.

I tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear and ran my other hand through my own
hair as I stood up with a grin. Was I really being this casual with a woman I'd just met? I
didn't care. I figured if she didn't stop me, I would take advantage of the situation while I could.

"Umm, right. I'll be back in a few moments," I responded as I walked off towards the
house, a spring definitely accompanying my step. Before I lost sight of her, I turned and
sighed. Just a few hours ago, my life seemed to be on its autopilot of mediocrity and
predictability. Could this be the change of which Alice spoke last night? I wouldn't allow
myself to think about this prospect, because that would mean I believed Alice could
predict the future, so I decided to grab us some drinks and food, as I promised.

"Little bro! Where've you been? We wanted to get a picture with just the family!" Emmett
exclaimed. I chose to ignore his nickname for me because I didn't want to deal with this,
but I owed Alice the opportunity to have as many perfect wedding and reception photos
as possible. I didn't want her to have to spend a lifetime looking at them because her
partner had passed away too early.

"Where do you guys need me?" I asked my brother.

"Alice wants you down at the gazebo," he responded.

"I'll be there in a minute, if that's alright?"

"Don't take any longer," he warned. "I've been looking for you for awhile and I can tell
Alice was getting perturbed that you disappeared."

I nodded and headed towards the bar. As I neared the bar's counter, I asked the
bartender, "Can I get two extra dirty martinis with extra olives, three shots of lemon
vodka, and a Gibson on the rocks with extra onions? I'll be back in about 5 minutes for
them." The bartender nodded and I dropped a $20 bill into his tip jar, intending to double
it on my return trip.

As I continued crossing the lawn, I stopped to shake hands with people and greet them. I
didn't have time for such pleasantries; I wanted to get the pictures taken so I could return
to Isabella, but the life of a CEO always requires schmoozing. A few minutes and twenty
or more handshakes later, I navigated myself to the gazebo.

"Daddy!" my girls squealed with delight. "Did you see us? Did you think we looked pretty?"
Lizzie and Renee asked in unison. I kissed both on their foreheads and pulled them into a
tight hug. "What's that for? And you're smiling!"

I hoped these girls would start speaking by themselves one of these days, because their
knack for "stereo speak," as we called it, was unfamiliar to both me and Emmett, as well
as Tia, who was a twin herself. It was their only trait that reminded me that they were
4-and-a-half and not 14-and-a-half.

"Can't I smile when I see my girls? Especially when you're looking this pretty and after you
did such a wonderful job in your Aunt Alice's ceremony?" I asked.

"Oh, Daddy. It's more than that, your smile is different. I don't think I've ever seen a smile
like that," Lizzie responded. If only I could tell them why I looked so joyous.

"Okay," I said as I clapped my hands to divert their attention. "I hear it's time for a Cullen
family photo! Let's get this party started!" I reached down and tickled the girls, causing
giggles to fill the air, and then pulled them into me as I sat on the second step of the gazebo.
"Edward, don't move. You and the girls are perfect just as you are," Alice suddenly
announced…that little pixie always seemed to appear out of thin air. I think it was the
first time my cousin made such a declaration where I was concerned. I continued chatting
with the girls while Alice told everyone else where they belonged. The poor photographer
just stood and waited, knowing he wasn't in charge of any of this. "Okay, we're ready!"

The photographer took a quick succession of photos and walked over to Alice so she
could inspect them. I heard her voice of approval so I stood up and placed the girls on
the ground, grabbing their hands and walking them over to Tia.

"Now you're going to be with your Nana again tonight. You listen to what she says. The
caterers know to save you four pieces of cake so don't worry that you won't get any.
When Nana brings you home tomorrow, you'll stop by here and Granny or Gramps will
allow you to have one slice then. When they're ready, they'll return you home. If you
want to have a sleepover here, just have one of them call me. You girls enjoy
yourselves. Now give me a kiss. I packed another change of clothes, so grab your stuff
out of my car. I love you two more than life – don't you forget that!" My girls pulled me
into a hug and they kissed me on each side of my face. I tapped each on the nose and
watched as they walked away, hand-in-hand with Tia.

I hightailed it to the caterers' tent and grabbed a tray, some cocktail napkins, and four of
everything. Once returning to the bar, I found my drinks waiting on another tray. I
downed one of the shots briefly – I needed my own liquid courage – and dropped another
$20 bill in his tip jar. With my mission complete, a smile on my face, and carrying two trays,
I hiked back to the bench where my beautiful Isabella awaited me.

As I neared her, I announced my presence, "I'm sorry I took so long. My brother,


Emmett – have you met him? – cornered me and forced me to take Cullen family photos.
They turned out well, I suppose because the bride didn't demand any additional rounds.
I grabbed a few drinks and shots, as well as a hefty sampling of the h'or d'oeuvres. I
wasn't sure what you wanted, but I wanted to make sure we had enough here so you
wouldn't feel obligated to return to the festivities, that is, if you wanted to stay here with me."

And then she smiled the most glorious smile I'd ever seen. Just like when I first saw her
eyes, she took my breath away. The awkwardness I felt when we first met clearly left
when I walked away. We talked and laughed and shared. Something about her stories
seemed so familiar, but I was afraid if I gave too much thought to it, I would miss
something she said and I wanted to know everything about this girl. I realized the
wedding reception must've been well underway and people probably wondered where we
were, but I didn't care. I intended to keep this angel to myself for the rest of the
evening, and beyond if I could manage it.

l~l~l~l

BPOV

I couldn't figure out what to think of Edward's attention towards me. Why would this
gorgeous, or rather perfect human specimen want to talk to simple, ordinary Bella Swan?
None of this made sense to me. In fact, the realization that he didn't know who I was,
especially after hearing my name – although I told him my full name, which only my
grandparents had used – didn't compute. As he continued to talk to me, I scanned my
mind trying to determine why we hadn't met before.
Since Alice and I had become close friends, I had spent oodles of time with the rest of the
Cullens, but never him. I missed her college graduation because my Nana had died a few
days earlier, though Alice later told me Edward didn't stick around because his wife was
pregnant and he was busy with the family's business. But I attended Emmett's medical
school graduation and didn't remember seeing him. I tried to remember why he wasn't
there. And then it dawned on me – Angela had died a few months earlier and he had
thrown himself into his work far more than before, according to Alice. Surely he had seen
a picture of us around the Cullen house? Apparently he must've been far too preoccupied
to look at the pictures. Then why had he decided to single me out now?

I reasoned it was easier to just ignore the negative thoughts seeping into the forefront
of my mind and try to enjoy my time with him, however fleeting it would be. Crap, what
did he ask me? Oh, he wanted to know if I wanted a something more to eat and drink.
For some reason, I held up my glass and realized that moment that the alcohol I downed
just a few minutes earlier was already affecting my body. I realized I would have to take
a few deep breaths and try to calm myself while he was fetching us refreshments.

After a little time, I wondered why he hadn't returned. Apparently, asking whether I
wanted anything else was his ruse to get away from boring women. Truth be told, I didn't
do a very good job of trying to strike up a conversation when he was in my presence, so I
didn't blame him. I wished I had worn a watch so I could see how much time had passed,
but then I realized it didn't match my dress and Alice would've stopped the ceremony and
ripped my arm out of its socket if I had because she was such a control freak. The image
made me chuckle, or maybe the influence of the alcohol did that. Because Edward hadn't
returned and the idea of joining the party was the furthest idea from my mind, I decided
to enjoy the weather and the solitude of my spot alongside the creek.

Surprisingly, he returned balancing two trays of food and I couldn't contain my joy at
seeing the sight. He placed the trays on the bench. Damn, this man was gorgeous, I
thought…I couldn't focus on what he was mumbling…something about Emmett cornering him.

"Mademoiselle…" he purred as he pulled a cloth napkin over his forearm and I tried to
contain a snicker. How adorable was he? I beamed up at him as he handed my martini to
me and I didn't waste a second before I took a sip.

"Ooooh, it's extra dirty. How did you know?" I asked as I tried to contain my excitement.
This afternoon was shaping up as more than just a pleasant day for a wedding.

Edward moved the trays closer to the edge of the bench and squeezed in next to me. I
felt my heart start beating and my body had that jittery feeling again, only this time it
was stronger than it had been before and during Alice's wedding. I understood the origin
of my heart's pounding – Edward and my nervousness at his proximity was surely the
cause – but why did that damned feeling begin earlier?

"I guessed. In fact," he continued as he reached to his left with another glass in his hand,
"I asked the bartender to make two of them so we wouldn't have to procure you another
one anytime soon. And I also asked him to pour a couple of shots of lemon vodka for us
to share."

Edward's ability to seemingly read my mind was refreshing and unexpected. Why was he
single? Oh, right. His wife had died in childbirth. It was so easy to forget about that while I
sat in his presence. Whenever Alice spoke of him, a sad tone always colored her voice. I
needed to remember this. But I wanted nothing more than to enjoy this time with him,
however fleeting it could be, because my life had been so hard recently. Heck, from the
moment I breathed my first gasps of air, I had a tough go of it. I wondered if I should
tell Edward why I was at the wedding and who I knew? Shouldn't he know? After a few
moments of this give and take inside my mind, I decided to stop thinking and start talking.

"So Edward Cullen, why didn't I notice you at the wedding?" I asked.

"Well, honestly, I was present, but from afar," he answered. "I actually noticed you run
past me just as the ceremony started."

"How did you know it was me?" I inquired as a sly smile crossed my lips.

He chuckled. "First of all, Isabella, you're wearing the only sapphire-hued dress at the
wedding. I would remember if someone else wore something similar. You see, I deal with
colors for a living."

"Oh, really? Are you an artist?" I knew Edward's profession, but I decided to be Isabella,
the mysterious stranger at the wedding. I hadn't played the part of 'Isabella' for awhile, in
fact, it had been 3-4 years earlier since I last gambled with my alter ego. Could I manage to
still pull off this flirty act? Hell, I decided to try.

As we continued to talk, I found myself grinning widely at Edward. Every so often, I would
lightly stroke his arm or accidentally lay my hand across his thigh. I had missed playing
this game… He seemed so uncomfortable each time I touched him, but I didn't care. I was
getting drunk and I was going to have fun.

l~l~l~l

EPOV

A few minutes after I returned with our food and our drinks, Bella reached across me
and grabbed both shots of the lemon vodka. With each clutched in her delicate hands,
she threw them back in quick succession and grimaced as each burned on its way down
her throat. Though the exchange took a matter of seconds, the effects on me lasted longer.

First, I felt that already-familiar jolt of electricity surge through my body. Second, blood
rushed to my cock and my pants quickly tightened around it. Third, my breathing hitched
for a moment. And fourth, my heart rate increased dramatically.

Would she notice these changes? My heartbeat was so fast and so hard that I feared
Isabella couldn't miss its rise and fall reflected in my jugular. There was little I could do,
especially because she locked eyes with me while we chatted, looking away only briefly
while she spoke. I realized I had a more pressing problem, literally. I inconspicuously
rested my hands in my lap, hoping that the motion wouldn't draw her eyes down to my
growing dick.

Our conversation turned light and relaxed and I began worrying its easy flow was due to
her growing inebriated state. Shit, everything was causing me to fret. Fuck it, I needed to
relax so I took her lead and gulped down one-half of my vodka Gibson. I silently chuckled
when I realized how much vodka the two of us were imbibing.

And then my body couldn't take it anymore: Isabella started to casually touch my
forearm, run her fingers ever-so-lightly across my leg, and squeeze my knee. If my
mother hadn't taught me to be a gentleman, I would've pulled her to the soft grass and
taken her, ripping off her dress in the process. There was one other problem, there was
no way Isabella could be aware of the effect her contact had on me. Hell, she probably
didn't even realize she kept brushing her hands against me because she was drunk.

She tipped her martini to her mouth and my eyes focused on her pink, slightly-full lips.
Fuck, Isabella was glorious. Her tongue darted from the cage of her mouth and slowly ran
along her upper lip, cleaning the traces of liquor from it. I didn't know how much more of
this I could take… Isabella held the glass up and asked, "Would you mind getting me
another one of these?"

"Umm…," I stammered. "Would you be interested in returning to the party so we can get
you another drink, as well as some food in you?" I wasn't sure what response I hoped
for, but she needed to eat because she had all but ignored the treats I'd brought back.

"How about we make a deal," she began as she leaned her body into me so close that I
could feel her warm breath on my face. "Why don't we just leave and find somewhere
else to get my drink? And I promise I'll eat a little, too…"

Isabella wanted to leave. With me. . I inhaled sharply, unsure of how to respond.
"Suuure. Where would you like to go?"

"Where would you like to go?" she asked.

"It depends what you want," I responded. "If you wouldn't mind, we could head over to
my house. I have a fully-stocked bar and a fridge filled with tons of food. I live close.
How does that sound?" As soon as the inquiry left my mouth, I snickered.

"What's so funny?" A look of concern crossed her face.

"That – we keep answering questions with questions," I stated as my snicker turned into
a laugh. When Isabella joined with my laughter, I chivalrously took her hand and stood up
to leave. "Care to come with me?"

She met my question with increasingly louder laughter and tears that she carefully wiped
from her eyes. "Lemme slip these stilettos off first. I'll break my neck if I try to walk in
these a moment longer."

Rising to her heeled feet and still holding my hand, Isabella bent down to remove her
shoes. It didn't occur to me that she would need my support for balance, until she almost
lost it and I pulled her into me to prevent her tumbling to the ground. Her body molded
itself against mine and pressed against the now unmistakably visible lump in my pants. I
used all of my will power to stifle the groan that rose inside of me.

"I'm so sorry," I explained, full of embarrassment.

As she pulled slowly away from me, she growled, "Don't be."

A/N: A lot of Widoward POV there. Bella's drunk. She can't think coherently (and Edward's
slightly inebriated, too). *wink* If you can't wait until December 7, 2009 to read Chapter 7,
visit my blog for a deal I'm willing to make with y'all. (
lizconno(dot)blogspot(dot)com/2009/11/labor-of-love-my-offer-to-post-chapter(dot)html )

BTW: Chapter 7 is all EPOV, Chapter 8 is all BPOV. I won't always have alternating POVs
in a chapter or from chapter to chapter. Chapter 10 will be BPOV & EPOV.
Something to remember as this story progresses: what Widoward thinks and says may not
be in sync.

Please, please, please continue reading, reviewing, and recommending my story. :)


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&#187; A Labor of Love <td> <a href='/u/2058400/lizconno'>lizconno
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Chapter 1: Change<option value=2 >2. Chapter 2: Endings<option value=3 >3. A
Quick AN & Ch 3 Preview<option value=4 >4. Chapter 3: Breakdown<option value=5
>5. Chapter 4: Possibilities<option value=6 >6. Chapter 5: Nuptials<option value=7
>7. Chapter 6: Flirting<option value=8 selected>8. Chapter 7: Lemonade<option
value=9 >9. Chapter 8: Uncertainty<option value=10 >10. Chapter 9: Alone<option
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Interviews, Part Two<option value=13 >13. Chapter 12: Brunch<option value=14
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Chapter 22: Declaration<option value=24 >24. Chapter 23: Tears<option value=25
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Admissions<option value=31 >31. Chapter 30: Advice<option value=32 >32. Chapter
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A/N: Have I mentioned how fuckawesome you, my readers, are? I read all of your
reviews and unless you ask a question, I probably won't reply. But be assured – I *do*
read them! Also, welcome to all the new readers – and there are a lot of you (so please
review)! :)

And my beta, she's pretty fuckawesome, too. So thank you, robpattz_addict! (We'll be
singing some Bobby Long tunes tomorrow night! *squeeee*) Also, a big thank you to
kellyprovence, who rocks my world!

Without further ado, Chapter 7, which I think y'all will enjoy (and Vincy, too)! :)

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Widoward sprang from my mind and aren't
meant to infringe on her copyrights!

Chapter 7 – Lemonade

EPOV

Wow. This woman was drunk. I wasn't sure what to do. I figured it would be best if I took
her back to my place so I could sober her up with food and watered-down drinks,
because remaining here wouldn't do her any favors.

"I'm ready to head to your house," she said with a sly grin.

"Ok. Yeah. Umm." I continued stammering, "We should. Uh. Yeah." Isabella jerked my
hand as she headed towards the house, expertly avoiding the party, which sounded to be
in full swing. As we reached the house, I took the lead and guided her through the house
and the east yard to the garage, which held my parents and siblings' cars. I walked over
to my beloved hardtop Volvo C70 convertible. I held open her door, shutting it behind her
softly after she was securely in her seat.

I walked around the back, taking deep, slow breaths to calm my nerves. I began
wracking my brain for instances of when I was this flustered and I couldn't place a time in
my life when anyone or anything had this effect on me. I was the always-unflappable
Edward Masen Cullen, after all. Shaking my head, I opened my own door and slipped into
the driver's side. I revved the engine and reversed, quickly turning the car around and
driving faster than I should, but I knew the driveway like the back of my hand. At the end
of it, I peeked along the edge of the highway and when I knew I could pull onto it safely,
I gunned it, turning onto my own lot a few moments later.

Isabella sat silently throughout the brief drive, which surprised me because any other
person would show some reaction to my sudden wildness, even I was a tad scared at
how I maneuvered my car. I curved around the last set of trees before my house came
into view. I looked to the gorgeous creature next to me and watched as her eyes
widened with surprise.

"That's your house?" she asked.

Crap. She didn't like what it. "Uh, yeah," I responded timidly. "Is there something wrong?"

"No. It's…there are no words to describe it. I'd say, amazing, beautiful, huge, among
other things, but they wouldn't do it justice." Her awed tone was genuine.

Phew, I thought. Why did I immediately jump to the conclusion that she didn't like it? Why
did I keep jumping to such conclusions? What was it about this woman that made me
doubt everything?

"Thanks," I replied sheepishly. "I built it almost 7 years ago after my grandfather passed
away. He left all of us a fair amount of money and I used some of it to buy this land and
build a house I would want to remain in for the rest of my life. I don't know how much
you know about my family's business, but he was the CEO and I took it over after his
death." Why was I rambling about entirely irrelevant things? I should've just shut up after
thanking her.

She replied with a simple, "Oh." After I pressed the button to open the garage door, she
saw my Aston Martin Vanquish and added with a gasp, "Oh my!" And as we pulled into my
spot, she looked around at the other cars in the garage and another "Ooooooooh!"
escaped her lips.

I didn't know how to read her 'comments,' so I remained silent until I met her at her door.
Holding out a hand I asked, "May I?"

As she turned towards me, the look of shock left her face and a bright smile replaced it.
"Thank you, kind sir." Instead of dropping my hand once she was out of the car, Isabella
intertwined her fingers with mine. I began to relish the warmth resulting from her touch.

I led her through my kitchen and to the living room couch. She quickly settled herself into
the soft black leather and I felt my body relax in ways it hadn't in years. Isabella looked
perfect laying there, her creamy skin practically glowing. "What can I get you?" I inquired.

"I would love another shot of lemon vodka if you have it?"

I poured the drink and brought it to her. Smirking and using my paternal tone, I warned
her, "I thought you were going to eat something if you had more to drink. What would you
like to eat?" I handed Isabella the shot and she tipped her head back and drank it in one sip.
"You."

I coughed. What the fuck did she just say? Did she just say she wanted to eat me?
Fuuuuuuuck. I stood, glued to my spot. I found myself nervously running my hand
through my hair, not sure how to reply. She didn't give me a chance as she swung her
legs off the couch and stood, smashing her mouth to mine. As a groan managed to
escape my mouth, my lips parted and her tongue met mine. Although I tasted vodka, her
flavor was divine. Just as swiftly as she rose to bring her lips to mine, she ripped them
away. The absence of her lips from my own left me empty inside.

"Now, Mr. Cullen, why don't we move this party to your bedroom?" she queried. Again,
Isabella prevented me from responding. This time, though, she asked another question.
"Which way?"

She kissed me deeply again, taking my breath away. "Uhh, it's upstairs." I never had
game when I was younger and it was becoming more evident to me by the minute that
nothing had changed over the years. She took my hand in hers and pulled away from me
as she moved from the room.

"Where?" Her question was simple, but I could hear the desire in her voice and see it in
her eyes. Could I really be this fucking lucky to have this amazing woman in my house and
for her to want me? I decided not to question her – or myself any longer – so I grabbed
her ass, drew her to me, and raised her with one arm while the other yanked her leg
around my waist. As Isabella wrapped her other leg around me, I kissed her hard and
fiercely. She moaned into my mouth as our tongues danced.

For a moment, my mind wandered and I internally thanked Tia for taking the twins home
again this evening. I've always loved my mother-in-law, but in this moment, my admiration
for her was absolute.

I couldn't move quickly enough, practically sprinting up the stairs and down the hall to my
bedroom suite. Opening the door, I accidentally banged her knee into it as I walked
through. Shit. I had to ruin the mood.

"I'm so sorry, Isabella."

"Shush. Now get me to your bed, because I'm starving."

With my mouth devouring hers again, I kept one arm along her back as I kneeled on my
king-sized mattress, and used the other to guide me as I slowly placed her body delicately
on it. I planted my weight against her, my already rock-hard dick pressing into her.
Isabella moaned when she felt my bulge and my chest swelled with pride knowing that
this radiant woman was turned on by me.

My lips lefts hers and I began trailing them along her jaw and neck. A growl escaped
from me, my primal urge for her growing exponentially as each second passed. Isabella
purred beneath me and my dick twitched against her at the sound. As I slowly moved my
mouth down to her collarbones, I found myself nipping at them, wanting, no needing to
taste her and savor the moment.

"Edward," she whispered in a seductive tone. "Please."

What did I do? Did she not like it my tongue, teeth, or lips upon her warm skin?
"I need to feel you deep in me," she pleaded. "Please," she repeated.

Earlier in the day, I realized I would give anything to Isabella. The second she asked to
feel my skin, I knew I could never deny her anything. I raised my body off of her carefully
and tried to remove my suit jacket, which I had failed to remove earlier.

"No. I need to feel you."

What the fuck did she want? How did she expect to feel me and my skin if I didn't
extricate myself from her gravitational pull by sitting up? I just didn't understand this
woman, but I didn't care. I needed her just as much. She wrapped her slender legs
around my waist and her elegant arms around my neck. Then, Isabella thrust her body
against mine in a fluid motion and smashed her mouth into mine, kissing me deeply and
passionately. I didn't think it could be possible, but I felt my dick swell further as it begged
me to release it and plunge it deep into her.

"Now get up," she half commanded and half whimpered.

How? She was stuck to me like glue and this wasn't an easy position to rise from. I don't
know how I managed to maneuver it, but I brought Isabella and myself to a vertical
position, never letting an inch come between our pulsating bodies or mouths.

As I stood, her legs shimmied down my own and then she quickly placed her hands on my
chest, propelling me backwards. Her fingers ran up to my shoulders and she slipped my
jacket off, letting it fall to the ground. Isabella then untied my tie swiftly, followed by my
shirt, both of which she quickly removed from my body and threw to the ground. One of
her hands cupped my balls and cock through my pants and a sound, that could only be
described as a yelp, gurgled from deep inside of me. Before I realized it, my pants, belt,
and boxers became her latest victims, as they settled around my ankles. My cock was
finally free.

I kicked my shoes off so I could step out of my slacks and underwear. And then I heard
her gasp and followed her eyes, which were focused on my member. Confidence surged
through me because I knew I was very well endowed. I didn't give her much of a chance
to ogle before I drew her back against me so I could inch down her dress's zipper. It fell
to the ground and I found myself gasping when saw her perfect, full, round breasts,
which weren't covered by a bra.

I flipped Isabella around, and she pressed her back into my chest and ass against my
erection. Fuck, I felt more alive than I could recall as the meeting of our skin radiated heat
to all of my nerve endings. I reached my arms around, my right cupping her left breast
and my left circling her still-covered, but soaking-wet pussy. My fingers pressed into her
clit and a shiver shot through her. I smiled.

"Please," she mewed again. Anything you want, I thought. "Rip them off."

I hadn't spoken since apologizing for the door incident, but I wasn't sure whether I
understood her or not. Did she actually want me to ruin the blue lace thong? "I'm sorry,
did you just ask me to rip your panties off?"

Her reply was simple. "Rip. Them. Off." Afraid that I would piss her off if I didn't comply
with her demand, and turned on even more – if that was possible – I dipped my fingers
under the delicate material running along her hip and tugged hard, hoping that my action
was hard enough to remove the thong, but not too hard that I would hurt her.
"Fuck," we both sang.

I tossed them to the ground and inched my fingers back to her warm center, which spread
her lips allowing me access to her dripping pussy. I submersed one of my digits deep into
her and I was surprised by how tight she felt. She yelped as I curved my finger inside of
her and slowly stroked her g-spot.

"There. Yes," she whispered as her head flailed back into my chest. Isabella's legs began
to quake and I realized she was struggling to stay upright. With my finger still deep in
her and my right hand still playing with her splendid breasts, I carefully lifted up her
feather-light body. She screamed as my digit quickly thrust deeper, surprising her. "I'm
going to cum. Please don't stop…" The walls of her pussy tensed around my finger and
her body stiffened as it molded against mine. As her orgasm overtook her, my name
escaped from her lips. I moved to my bed and sat down, pulling her onto me so she could
ride out her orgasm as I buried my face in her rich brown hair.

A quiet, "Thank you," flowed from her lips. I pressed my mouth into her neck and left a
simple kiss there as I slipped my finger from her dripping-wet pussy. I licked my lips and
tasted a faint trace of salty sweat and laid down, guiding her on top of me. Then, I
wrapped my arms loosely around her. We remained silent, both of us on our backs, mine
against the mattress and her atop me, as her breathing and heartbeat slowed.

"You're welcome, Isabella…" I whispered into her ear as hugged her tighter into me. A
moment later, she slid from my arms and rolled herself onto the bed. I looked down at her
and found her disheveled hair only added to her beauty. Out of the corner of my eye, I
noticed my dick stood at attention, desperately needing a release. She must have noticed
it, too, because she bent down and placed a simple, yet chaste kiss upon my tip.
"Uhhhhhh…" escaped my mouth. I couldn't remember the last time I had felt someone's
mouth on me.

Isabella lifted her body from the bed and she straddled me, grinding her warm center
against my lower belly. Not a moment of rest had dried any of the moistness of her
pussy. When I looked up into her eyes, I saw desire. I circled my arm around her waist
and up her back, forcefully bringing her chest and head down to me so I could breathe
her in more. My lips parted as they met hers and our tongues met. Within milliseconds,
we both groaned into each other's mouths. Before she pulled away, I playfully bit her lip
and she gripped my hair, which sent shivers through me.

With one hand still in my hair and the other lightly running along the skin of my chest,
Isabella kissed and licked my face, neck, ears, and chest. Her teeth scraped along my
nipples and I gulped in multiple breaths, shocked by the sensation, which I had never
experienced before. I attempted to grip her waist, but Isabella shook them off, confusing me.

"Is something wrong?" I timidly asked.

She rocked her upper body away from me as she sat up with a Cheshire grin on her face.
"Absolutely nothing," she answered before she dove back to my chest. Wow. Isabella was
driving me crazy. I needed to touch her so I slid my hands to her back. She removed her
own from my chest, which saddened me, and reached around, snaking her fingers
through mine. I was pleased by her movement, even more so as she swung them above
my head and onto the bed. Before I became too comfortable with the intimate gesture,
she extricated her fingers and pushed her hand hard on my wrists.
"Look," she warned as she sat back up, "I would love to feel your hands on me, but
they're insanely distracting. I want free reign over your body so I can give you as much
pleasure as possible. Okay?"

Stunned by her unreserved comments, I just nodded.

Her Cheshire grin returned. "Good." She added, "Now may I return to focusing on your
chest and body?"

I nodded again, trying to stifle the laughter that fought to escape in response to the look
of sheer determination she had when she spoke the last part of her comment. She
ignored me and continued her assault on me. I sucked in air as her mouth moved past my
stomach and down to my desperate cock.

And then, without any warning, she took it so deep into her mouth that I almost came
that instant. Like the grazing of my nipples, no one had ever tried to deep throat me,
though I always doubted anyone could consume my generous length. Employing gentle
suction and steady pressure from her tongue, she slowly worked her wet, warm mouth
up and down my shaft, humming as she went.

Fuck, I wanted to ask her to stay and never leave, offer to give her anything she desired,
just so I could feel this again!

She moved her mouth slowly up me, scraping her teeth along me, which drove me crazy.
When she didn't dive back down, I whimpered.

"Don't worry, Edward," she said, her warm breath on my balls. And then she licked them. I
briefly shook from the electricity jolt and goose bumps covered my skin. Fuck. Yet again,
she was doing something no one had ever done. I knew I didn't have experience with a lot
of different women, but I had been with each woman for a long amount of time and I
thought we had experimented a lot. I was wrong. And then she did what I only saw in
porn – she sucked my balls into her mouth, massaging them with her tongue, as her hand
jerked me off.

"Isabella," I frantically said. "I'm about to cum." And then her mouth wrapped itself
around my dick as I felt my release. I came hard and long into her mouth as I gasped to
breathe. "Fuck," I grunted as she continued to suck me, licking up the last drops and then
swallowing my jizz.

She smiled and nuzzled her body next to mine, laying her delicate arm across my chest. I
tried to regain my composure and come down before speaking.

"That was, without a doubt, the most amazing orgasm and blowjob I've ever
experienced. You are incredible. Will you allow me to thank you properly?"

"I'm all yours." Isabella's words hit me hard and flooded me with emotion. If she only
knew how much I wanted to make her mine, even though I'd only known her a few hours.

I scooped her up on to my chest and kissed her sweetly. I felt Isabella relax so I rocked
her onto her back, intending to return the favor. Honestly, I wasn't entirely experienced
giving head to a woman, but I needed to make her feel as special as I did, or I needed to
try at the least.

I placed a few more kisses on her mouth and then scooped one of her breasts into my
mouth, sucking her nipple and biting it carefully. Her hands gripped my hair and a moan
escaped her lips. "Oh, yes…just like that." I moved to her other tit and repeated, while
my hand massaged the one I had just left. I continued for a few moments, but my desire
to taste her forced me to work my mouth to her pussy. I spread her lips with my fingers
and brought my tongue to her clit.

Because Angela and girlfriends before her only let me go down on them a few times,
which drove me crazy with confusion, I allowed my senses to take control of the situation.
Isabella's sweet aroma and juices drove me wild and turned me on, forcing blood back into
my briefly flaccid dick. I began exploring, running my tongue up and down her lips. Her
breathing hitched, which worried me. I looked up and pulled away, finding myself
mesmerized by the light pink glow which covered her body.

"Don't stop," she pleaded with me. Her words surprised me and made my cock harder.

I returned to her delicious treasure, trying to wrack my brain for an indication of what I
should do next. I flicked her clit with my tongue and she growled. I moved my tongue
down to her opening and drove it into her. The word 'heaven' came to mind as I tasted
her and felt her pussy clench lightly around it. I licked her clit again and pushed my finger
into her, moments before she started to orgasm. Her thighs clenched around my head as
she came. I continued drinking her in, not wanting to cease tasting her. I slowed my
tongue and removed my finger.

More than anything ever before, I had to have her, consume her, feel her, be one with
her. I scrambled up her body and began kissing her as I thrust my dick deep into her
waiting tight, dripping, and warm pussy.

"Edward," she shrieked. I stopped, worried that my desires had taken things too far.
"No. Keep going. You feel so fucking perfect in me. Please, never stop."

Her legs wrapped snuggly around me, pulling me deeper into her. We groaned in
succession as my dick spread her. I began slowly rocking my hips into her and she
matched each movement, slapping her body into me to draw me even deeper. I kissed
her deeply, slowly stroked her face, and wrapped my arm underneath and around her.
Like before, Isabella began gripping my hair and I felt another shiver run down my spine.
As if we were puppets being controlled by outside forces, we both sped up our connection.

I needed to devour her, I thought, as I breathed her in while kissing her. I had never
experienced a physical connection like this before. But I didn't have a moment to consider
this link as I felt the muscles of her body contract and her warm center clamp down on
me, her orgasm ripping through her fiercely, bringing my own on far faster than I
expected. I thrust one last time, diving deeper into her harder than all of them before
and I groaned as she screamed my name.

We both held each other securely as we rode out our twin orgasms, our heartbeats and
breaths in a synchronized frenzy. Once I was sure that we had both relaxed, I loosened
my grip and pulled out of her, which was met with a disappointed groan. I rolled off of
her and pulled her tight to me, our bodies intertwining.

Kissing her forehead, I said, "Thank you, Isabella."

She murmured, "Mmmm…" in response and quickly fell asleep. I heard her quietly snore
and mumble, "Edward."
My heart ached with pride as I ran the days' events over in my head. I knew I wanted
her by my side like this for an eternity. I turned my head and saw the alarm clock read
8:45, but I didn't care, I was tired and I wanted to join Isabella in her slumber. In the
morning, I planned to begin my quest to know everything about her, because I hungered
and yearned for this woman. I would make her a part of in my life. I realized I would need
to start by learning her last name…

A/N: Don't fangirl *squeeee* yet….there is still a ton of story to tell and nothing is this
easy. Just think – have you ever done something stupid while under the influence of
alcohol? (Is sleeping with Edward really stupid, though? lol)

Please continue reading, reviewing, and recommending my story. Just think, if the reviews
really pick up, I may have to start posting more often...hint, hint! :)

Chapter 8 will post Monday, December 14!

(If you can't wait until Monday for the next chapter, check out the lyrical "The University
of Edward Masen," by SebastienRobishaud. I plan on recommending a different FF each
week! If there are any you like, PM me - I always enjoy reading new stories.)
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Edward is a widower raising twin daughters. When Bella starts to work for Edward, the
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Chapter: 9
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11-08-09 - Complete - id:5496816 <script type='text/javascript'>
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A/N: Well, your reviews from the last chapter CRACKED ME UP. They were all awesome.
Most of y'all seemed to think Bella would be a coward the morning after. I have to disagree...

As always, thank you for your witty reviews. And I appreciate all the love you guys are
giving to 'A Labor of Love.' It's the support that makes me want to keep writing! Please
keep 'em coming! Oh, my beta and and I had a rocking good time at the Dallas Bobby
Long show last week (red shoes? *giggle*)! If you haven't seen him - RUN to one of his
shows. You will not be disappointed. And because robpattz_addict (my badass beta)
welcomed me into her house, this one is dedicated to her and her awesome family! (I like
the word "awesome," so shush! *snicker*)

One more note: You may notice I combine Twilight characters' first names to create
first/last names in this story. I'm going to try to continue this throughout my story. As such,
I'll be using some obscure character names, I imagine! :)

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Daddyward/Widoward sprang from my


mind and aren't meant to infringe on her copyrights!

Chapter 8: Uncertainty

BPOV

As consciousness slowly dawned, I realized my head throbbed far worse than it ever had
before. Although I didn't want to open my eyes, I needed to see what time it was. Ugh,
the light seeping through between my eyelashes was most unwelcome. Where the fuck
am I? The daze of sleep slowly receded and then I felt the arm wrapped around my
torso, the body pressed up along my back. Could this be any worse?

I closed my eyes, counted to ten, took a deep breath, and attempted to free myself from
the cage of this mystery man. Once I managed to shimmy my body away from him, I
looked down at him and gasped. I had slept with Edward Cullen? Why couldn't I
remember any of yesterday? Had I had that much to drink? I wrestled with my desire to
touch his alabaster skin and his rock-hard biceps that had been curled around me
moments before. He smelled divine, a non-specific scent I couldn't place, and it
momentarily clouded my already-unclear senses.

Most parts of me wanted to stay, but I realized I had just fucked one of my best friend's
brothers…at her wedding… This one-night stand was bad, very bad indeed. Thanks to
some seriously poor decision making, I blew whatever chance I had with the potential job.
Did I also ruin one of my few true

friendships? Rather than think about the fallout, I needed to get myself out of this house
undetected. I didn't want to see Edward's disappointed face when he awoke and it
became clear he hooked up with me. To make matters worse, Alice had confided in me
her worry: because he blamed himself for Angela's death, he hadn't dated or slept with
anyone since. Why would he break his vow of celibacy now?

I couldn't think about all of this. I resolved to leave his cozy, warm bed and sighed as I
glanced over him one more time. His bronze hair sat in a perfectly disheveled mess atop
his head and a small smile crept across his mouth. Sighing, I carefully swung my legs over
the side and rose, hoping not to jar him awake with the movement. I tiptoed across his
carpeted floor and rescued my dress, which sat in a pile mixed with his own. My panties
weren't included in the mayhem on the floor. I briefly looked around, but didn't see
them anywhere. It didn't seem like a great idea to leave any trace of myself behind. Did I
have any choice?

Walking to his bedroom door, I stepped across the threshold determined to find my way
to out of here. Would I ever find stairs? I passed numerous rooms, each larger than the
previous. Was it possible that his house was larger than the mansion his parents lived in? I
shuffled down the stairs, pausing only when I came to a second flight. Of course, his
house had three stories. I doubted we had spent any time on this level, so I continued
down until my feet made contact with the rich mahogany floor of the first story.

I had held my breath during my careful escape from his bedroom. But now, I let out a
loud exhale. I scrambled around, searching for my shoes – even though they were
stilettos, that much I recalled – and my purse so I could call someone to fetch me.
Although I didn't have time to look around and linger, I took in my surroundings. Edward
surrounded himself with the finer things in life: a shiny black baby grand piano, art lining
the walls, and a humongous flat screen TV in what appeared to be the family room and
another in the living room, alongside a bar. Sitting on the bar's counter was my purse.
When I grabbed it and turned around to exit, I saw my shoes slumped next to a
sumptuous couch. I picked them up and ran out the front door, pausing long enough to
ensure the house alarm was disengaged.

Less than two seconds after I stepped onto the porch, the wet, cold of the very early
morning hit me, penetrating my skin as it sunk into my bones. I shivered violently and
regretted not looking for a sweatshirt before exiting Edward's gargantuan house. Fuck
it…I would slip back in and find myself something, especially because I would be outside
for who knows how long. I returned to the living room and seized a blanket sitting on that
inviting couch.

Once I found myself outside again, I pulled my phone from my purse. Both Rose and
Jacob had called numerous times, leaving just as many messages. I didn't have time to
listen to them, but I knew the general theme would be something like, "Where are you?"
Since it was a few minutes past 6:00 AM, I had to weigh the costs and benefits of calling
each of them.

If I dialed Rose, she wouldn't be entirely surprised that I had slipped back into "Flirty
Bella" mode and managed to fuck a random guy. Plus, she would get here fast because
she and Emmett planned to spend the night at the Cullens' house. But did I want her to
know who I slept with? Wouldn't she share that information with Emmett? I could feel the
blush rush to my skin, embarrassed just by the thought of Emmett knowing. One other
drawback of calling Rose, she would take forever to get ready because that girl couldn't
fathom going anywhere without her hair perfectly coifed, her makeup drawn expertly, or a
stylish get-up covering (or barely covering) her body.

Jake, on the other hand, would be disappointed in me for my careless behavior. He would
judge me. Could I stand having him be disappointed in me? And then there was the time
factor, however long it may take Rose to get ready, it would take him longer. He lived on
the Rez, deep within its borders, and its speed limit was slower than that of Forks!

After this internal struggle and the understanding that Rose was my better option, I
steeled myself for the call I needed to make.

"Bella," Rose declared in a stern voice. "You better be calling me from the beyond
because we spent an hour looking for you and you're just now returning my call? And do
you know what time it is? I need at least 6 hours rest."

Ugh, this wasn't the reaction I expected. "Hi. Umm, so I guess I got a little drunk last
night and I went home with someone," I responded in the most pathetic, sheepish voice I
could muster. Maybe if I sounded bad, she would take pity on me without too many
questions and pick me up.

"Classy," she sneered. "What do you want from me?" She wasn't going to make this easy.

"Will you just come and get me?"

"Why don't you drive yourself? Oh right, your car is where you left it – at Alice's wedding,
or did you forget where you spent yesterday afternoon?"

Ouch. I regretted not calling Jake. He wouldn't ask questions until after he retrieved me.
It was too late for my contrition. I would need to suck it up and take her abuse.

"Rose, please. Look, take pity on me. I have zero recollection of last night and I'm
standing outside, shivering in nothing more than my dress and a blanket. I can't put on
my shoes for fear I'll break my neck and I seem to have lost my panties."

I heard her begin roaring with laughter and in the background I heard Emmett ask,
"What's so funny, baby? Is she alright? Do you want me to go fetch her ass?"

"Em, she's misplaced her underwear," Rose managed to announce between giggles. I was
so glad she found this funny. Maybe it meant she would pick me up sometime this century.

"Hello? Are you still there, or are you two dying from the amusement of my misfortune?"
I snapped in response.

"I'm sorry, Bella. It's just…" she wheezed, trying to catch her breath, "if you didn't have
bad luck, you wouldn't have any luck. Okay, we'll come for you. Do you know where you
are? Do you need me to bring you another set of undies?" And then her chuckling returned.
I decided to ignore her mockery. "Well, I could really use aspirin. A lot of aspirin. And
fresh set of panties would be divine. But here's the thing," I paused, not sure how to tell
her where I was without facing the expected commentary I would endure. It wasn't a
secret that she and Edward didn't get along. Plus, Emmett and Edward were twin
brothers. "So, umm, I'm standing in front of Edward's house…"

And then she bust up anew. "You're where?"

"Look, please don't tell…"

"She's at Edward's house. Bella fucked your brother," Rose announced.

"Emmett," I quietly concluded. I should've opened with Don't tell Emmett. Oh well.

"Fuck, yeah! My baby bro finally got laid," Emmett exclaimed.

Could this exchange get any more mortifying? Oh yeah, Edward could march out his front
door and order me off of his property.

"You're making me cry. This is too funny. Oh, my side hurts."

"I'm so glad to give you so much enjoyment, Rose. Now could you hop in the car and pick
me up?" I pleaded.

"Fine. We'll be there in a few minutes," she said.

"Wait, just you. I can't face Emmett. This is too embarrassing." But I was speaking to a
dead line. Rose hung up before I opened my mouth. Shit. I loved Emmett, but he would
never let me live this down. At least she said they'd be here in just a short time, which
meant Rose wouldn't go through her normal routine before leaving the house.

During our exchange, I stood erect on Edward's driveway, but who knew how long they
would actually take so I climbed a few stairs in front of the house and leaned against the
stairway railing. As they promised, Emmett and Rose arrived a few minutes later in his
sleek black Mercedes CL63 AMG, which the large Emmett looked a little ridiculous driving.

As his car neared me, I rose, watching it slow down. I could feel the crimson warming my
face. This was going to be weird.

"Hey guys. Thanks for doing this," I whispered.

"You fucked my brother! How the fuck did you manage to get him in the fucking sack?"
Emmett shouted. For a man around women and babies on a daily basis, he didn't refrain
from using 'fuck.' I smiled and shook my head. That boy was one of a kind.

"Hi Bella, how are you? I'm great, Emmett, thanks for asking," I responded, trying to keep
the growing grin from my face. "But to answer your question – I have no idea."

Rose chimed in, "Bella, you're such a whore. Here's a bottle of water and a few Advil. I
decided that I wasn't going to spare a pair of panties. You shall suffer a little longer
because I'm suffering by being awake this early."

I nodded a thanks at her and reached for the water and Advil. I gulped them down and
pulled the blanket tighter around me. Emmett could sneak it back to Edward's house some
other time, or I would hold onto it as a souvenir of my lone night with the heartbreakingly
beautiful man.

"Dude, you know he hasn't slept with a single woman since his wife died? That's fucking
insane that he would hook up with you. Not that there is anything wrong with you…" he
trailed off. "Shit, I should shut up."

Oh my god. This was so embarrassing.

"Ya think?" Rose asked between narrowing eyes. "Where'd you want to go? Home?"

"My dad's house would be great." It hadn't been my home for years… "And yes, Emmett,
I know about his lack of loving over the last few years. Alice had mentioned it to me.
She's been very concerned that he hadn't moved on, or at least sown some oats recklessly."

"Alice told you? Wow, my sister has a loud mouth. He told me last week that he was ready
to date, but that he hadn't met anyone yet. I guess he met someone." I watched Emmett
wag his eyebrows at me in the rearview mirror. Yeah, he was a ham.

"Well, you know," I began, "she thought I might have perspective. Charlie lost Charlotte
when I was born, so we talked about what it was like growing up without a mother, when
Charlie and Sue began dating, stuff like that. She wasn't telling me because she wanted
to spread gossip about Edward, or because she thought I would tell the world.

"I suggested she seek advice from Charlie. I know they talked because Charlie told me
about how uncomfortable the chat had been. Charlie always adored Alice, but talking
about sex and dating makes," I paused, realizing I had slipped. "Made him uncomfortable."

Just the brief mention of my dad started the floodgate of tears. And the crying reminded
me of the previous day's events – I got drunk in an effort to stifle the pain I felt over my
father's passing. Apparently, I swallowed so much alcohol that I forgot my whole
encounter with Edward. I sighed because I needed to push both events from my mind so I
could focus on the upcoming week.

Rose turned around and wrested a hand on my knee, trying to comfort me. "Honey, I
wish I had a tissue for you." She turned to Emmett, "Do you have any?"

He shook his head. "Sorry."

"Do you need me to stay with you this afternoon? I can figure out a way to get back to
Seattle later. Or you can drive me back and we can have some girl time – it's been a
couple of years since we spent quality time together. It will be good for both of us. You
can't believe what an annoying pain in the ass this one can be," she said as she motioned
her head towards Emmett, a smirk on her face.

Rose knew how to make me feel better, if only momentarily, and I giggled through the
tears. "Thanks, but I have tons to do. Besides, I need to go to bed early. Tomorrow
starts my serious search for a job."

"I joked with Edward that he could sleep with his nanny, so you're going to have to take
that job." I think Emmett was mocking me, but who knew with this guy. After waking up
in Edward's arms, I knew I couldn't interview for the position in his house. "I cannot wait
to give him shit for all of this. My control-freak of a brother lost control. He has sex at his
sister's wedding and it's the woman he's going to hire as his nanny."

I sighed, "Please don't say anything about this to him. He doesn't know who I am and I
would like to keep it that way. Besides, I am not applying for the job. I wouldn't be able
to face him after this. Also, please do not tell Alice. I don't know how she'll react and I
would rather be safe than sorry."

"Shit, Bella, he doesn't know who you are?" Rose asked with a disappointed look on her face.

"No. Can we drop this? We're almost to my house…"

The rest of the ride passed with nary a word from any of us. We pulled into the driveway
and I fished for my keys, which weren't in my purse. I smacked myself in the head, coming
to an obvious conclusion that eluded us all.

Already thoroughly embarrassed, I squeaked, "Uh, guys…my car is still at your parents'
house. And my keys are there, as well."

"Just use the key from above the door. We'll bring your car to you later."

"That would be a fantastic idea, Rose, but I, umm, removed the key and placed it on my
key ring. I didn't feel safe alone in the house with it out there."

"No problem, Bella," Emmett assured me. "I know where the valets left the keys. You
weren't the only person who will need to claim a car today."

"Guys, I can't thank you two enough. You put up with me far more than you should."

"Nonsense. You do the same for either me or Emmett." Rose flashed her megawatt smile
at me. It didn't reassure me, but her words had.

We spent the remainder of the ride in silence. When we pulled into the Cullen's garage, I
stepped out and Rose warmly gripped me. Emmett ran around and lifted us both into a
bear hug.

"Thank you for being my friends. I love you both," I said in my most appreciative tone.

We bid adieu after Emmett retrieved my keys. I shuffled to my truck and climbed in. Before
I realized it, I was home, completely oblivious to my surroundings. I let myself in the front
door and trudged up the stairs to the bathroom, shedding my clothes so I could take a
shower before crawling into bed to sleep off my hangover.

l~l~l~l

A few hours into my nap, I awoke to the phone ringing and a lingering feeling that I had
enjoyed a very erotic dream. I pulled my phone off my nightstand and saw Jake was
calling. Shit. I forgot to let him know I made it home safely.

"Hey Jake!" I purred in my most docile tone, knowing he wouldn't be peeved with me if I
used my velvety voice that always resulted in my getting my way.

"Bella, what happened to you? Rose shot me a text early this morning to let me know
you were all right. But it should've been you." He paused long enough to let out a
relieved-sounding sigh. "I'm just glad you're safe. Do you care to share where you were, missy
I stifled my giggles as I responded, "Missy? Since when did you become my caretaker?
And no, you don't need to know what I was doing or who I was doing it with."

"Oooh, so there's a who?" His nosy timbre pissed me off.

"Jake, this conversation is over," I hissed.

"C'mon. Don't be like that. I didn't see you after the wedding and Leah and I wanted to
spend time with you. Besides, there were two empty seats at our table. Both you and
Edward Cullen failed to attend the reception."

I drew in a quick, loud breath and my heart ceased beating momentarily at the mention
of Edward's name.

"Bella, are you alright?" Jake squawked, the worry evident in his voice.

"Umm, yeah. I uh, yeah," I stammered. "Thanks for checking in on me. I'm tired. I'm going
to go. Call me soon? I'll need to have you two over for dinner this week, okay?"

"Take care, Bells. I'll give you a call. But I would rather just the two of us have dinner. I
really wanted to talk to you about stuff."

There was that weirdness I had sensed the night I arrived back in town. Maybe he would
tell me what was going on when we sat down to eat. "K. You and me. Dinner. Gotcha.
See ya, Jake."

I hung up and reached for the bottle of Advil Rose left with me. I tossed a few into my
mouth and chased them with the glass of stale water that had sat next to my bed for a
few days. I pulled the covers back over my head, shielding my eyes from the sun that
crept in and threatened to worsen my already-pounding noggin. Within a few moments, I
was dreaming again of Edward Cullen and his mouth roaming my body.

l~l~l~l

The remainder of Sunday, once I decided to drag my ass out of bed, passed uneventfully.

On Monday, I resolved to contact Kate Garrett. Ms. Garrett ran a well-respected


employment agency in Port Angeles, which also placed people in Forks.

"Thank you for calling KGE. How may I help you?" The woman on the line sounded too
cheery and young, almost as if I expected the pop of a bubblegum bubble to follow.

"Yes, Kate Garrett please," I responded in a professional-sounding tone.

"May I tell her who's calling?"

"Bella Swan, Chief Swan's daughter." I knew name dropping was warranted if I sought
Ms. Garrett's help, rather than one of her minions. Kate Garrett Employment recommended
civilian employees to the Sherriff's Department of Forks over the years and as such she
and my father had a long-standing relationship.

"One moment, please," the chipper girl replied.


For a few moments, I endured the muzak typical of hold music. I zoned out while the
mind-numbing "melodies" drummed along. Images of Edward Cullen returned, just as
they had when I slept. Unlike my previous fantasies in which he licked and tasted me, this
time he was thrusting into me and my legs wrapped around his torso. His eyes thirsted
for me and his hips rocked into mine. If only I could remember what happened on
Saturday, I wouldn't have to suffer through these perfect illusions. The muzak ended,
pulling me from this memory, which was too good so I knew it had to be false.

"Ms. Swan, how are you this morning? I was sorry to hear about your father and step
mother. May I offer my condolences?"

"Thank you."

"Now what can I do for you?" Kate Garrett's clipped, no-nonsense tone assured me that
she would find me an adequate job.

"As you may have heard," I began pausing slightly, "I have moved back to the Pacific
Northwest, but I did so without procuring employment. My father always had success
with the people he hired from your agency, so I figured contacting you would be best."

"Tell me, Ms. Swan, what sort of experience do you have?"

"I graduated summa cum laude two years ago from the University of Washington with
degrees in both biology and elementary education. During college, I served as a research
assistant to Dr. Marcus Aro, studying the effects of growth hormones on the maturation
cycle of flowering plants grown under Gro-Lights versus conventional fluorescent lights,
which was funded in part by the Department of Agriculture. For the last two years, I've
taught first grade at a suburban elementary school in Phoenix. I have teaching credentials
in both Washington State and Arizona." I continued, declaring, "As you can ascertain, I
have a varied background and I bring solid references."

"That's impressive Ms. Swan. Can you email your resume this morning so I can begin
searching for appropriate placements for interviews?"

"Of course," I joyously responded, not expecting the exchange to be this easy.

"Ms. Swan, in order to find the most effective placements, I will need you to respond to a
questionnaire, which seeks to detail your willingness to perform certain tasks and which
areas of industry you would be amenable to working in. Where should I send it?"

"Thank you, Ms. Garrett. You can direct the correspondence to my email, which is – all
one word."

"In order to guarantee that all of your documentation is kept together, please send your
resume when you respond to the questionnaire. I will contact you by the end of the week
with potential placements. I look forward to speaking with you further, Ms. Swan."

"Again, thank you Ms. Garrett. I will forward both to you once I complete the form."

Moments after hanging up, I heard the familiar beep of my phone, directing me to the
awaiting email. I booted up my laptop and began the arduous task of ranking on a scale
of one to five things such as, "Willing to stand for 5 hours at a time," and "Willing to lift
40 pound bags." The list, most of which didn't apply to me, went on and on.
A/N: So she wasn't cowardly, exactly. Just the combo of low self esteem and no memory
makes for bad bedfellows. But if I were to awake next to Edward, I would NOT leave - no
matter what! =)

Chapter 9 posts December 21, 2009 (all Edward POV), followed by Chapter 10 on
December 28, 2009 (Bella & Edward POV).

Expect an Outtake on Christmas/December 25, 2009, which will be posted as a new story -
so if you haven't set up an author alert of me, be sure to do so!

And this week's recommendation - 'The Naked Guy Upstairs' by AngryBadgerGirl (links to
each rec can be found in the "Favorite Stories" tab of my author page)

Thank you for your support! Please continue reviewing and recommending. We're getting
SO close to 100 reviews. I promise to post more often than once a week if the number of
reviews grows quickly...*hint, hint* :)
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A/N: So I think we're all in agreement that Bella was insane to leave Edward's bed,
regardless of how confused she may have been. I mean, is no memory of the previous
evening reason enough to leave the bed of that Adonis and do the 'walk of shame'?

As always, thank you to my beta robpattz-addict and all of you who read and review.
We passed 100 reviews after last week's installment, which is awesome! Let's keep this up!

How did Edward react the next morning to finding his bed empty? Read on...

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Daddyward/Widoward sprang from my


mind and aren't meant to infringe on her copyrights!

Chapter 9: Alone

EPOV

My bed was cold, my arms empty. Where had she gone? After throwing on a pair of
pajama pants, I roamed the house, hoping beyond hope that she was curled up on the
living room couch, or reading the spines in the library, or helping herself to the food in the
fridge. I called her name a few times, but only deafening silence responded. Isabella was gone.

"I'm sorry. You deserve better," I said to no one in particular. The last 24 hours had been
confusing and Isabella's absence perplexed me more. Had I imagined it all? How much did I dri

I returned to my room and plopped on my bed, letting out a huge sigh. And there it was.
Peeking out from under my crumpled slacks on the floor, sat Isabella's torn blue, lace
thong. Jumping off my bed, I snatched them up. I felt like Prince Charming in the tale of
Cinderella – however warped the situation was – holding on to the glass slipper. But unlike
that tale, this had been real and I had the proof. I put them to my nose and inhaled
deeply. An intoxicating scent filled my nostrils: a mixture of her juices and …was that
mango? Huh, I hadn't noticed her sweet smell before. I wondered what else I missed
during our encounter and what I might never experience again.

That was unacceptable. I couldn't just bow and roll over because she was anonymous to
me. I resolved to hunt her down. A call to Alice was in order, even if she was on her
honeymoon.

The front door creaked open, and a wave of sound filled the air. The girls were home so
my quest for Isabella would have to wait, at least for the afternoon.

"Daddy! Where are you?" I groaned to myself as I became conscious of what a shitty
father I'd been. Had I even given Lizzie and Renee a second thought? I loved them more
than anything and would die for them, but too often their presence caused me to
ache…constant reminders of their mother. I seemed to fail everyone I touched.

Bounding down the stairs, I fought to wear the happy mask I always displayed when I
was around my girls. "Where are my princesses?" Tia trailed behind them as they carted
their backpacks into their room. Thankfully, their hulking bags no longer dwarfed them.
There was one less thing for me to feel guilty about.

"Nana let us stay up late last night and watch a movie," Renee squealed with delight. "It
was so good! But Lizzie fell asleep before it was over and she missed the ending. She was
drooling."

"I was not," Lizzie yelled in response. I had to giggle. These sibling tiffs reminded me of
me and Emmett when we were their age. My mind began to drift as the two
squabbled. Hrmm…would Emmett know Isabella? He and Jasper attended med school
together and I assumed she was a friend of Jasper…I'd have to give him a call tonight,
save Alice the annoyance of hearing from me.

I pulled myself out of my thoughts and tried to focus on the present, rather than
continuing on this fantasy of the perfect woman. "How were they? Did they give you any
problems?"

"Besides their evening surge of energy, the girls were perfect," Tia informed me.

"What do you mean, 'evening surge of energy'?"

"They're my granddaughters. I can't not spoil them."

Turning to Lizzie – who was normally the more compliant of the two – I inquired, "What
did Nana let you two do?"

"She swore us to secrecy." A sly grin grew on Lizzie's mouth.

This was how Lizzie was going to play it? This meant war. I grabbed her, pulling her into
me and she shrieked. "Sure you don't want to tell me?" I threatened.

"No. I'm not telling!" I began tickling her, knowing she'd fold in seconds. Its moments like
these that made me glad Lizzie was ticklish. "NOOOOOOO!" Her laughter filled the air and
she gasped to breathe.

Just then, I felt a tap on my shoulder. "Daddy, I'll tell." Oh, this was an interesting
development. I looked up to Tia and the surprise on her face mirrored my own. Neither of
us expected Renee to crack, but now we both focused on her. She was probably feeling a
little left out since she often held our attention. "Nana let us make sundaes because we
left the wedding before cake was served."

"Oh did she now? You're ruining my girls," I smirked at Tia. "When did you start the movie?"

"8:30 or 8:45. We watched 101 Dalmatians. It was Angela's favorite movie when she was a
little girl. We made the sundaes just before I began the DVD."

I turned back to Renee, while Lizzie still clung to my arms as she tried to regain her
breathing, "So how did you manage to stay awake during the whole movie?"

"Well," Renee began as she fidgeted with bashfulness, as if she had been caught with her
hand in the cookie jar. "I covered my ice cream with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.
She stuck with boring vanilla."

I just shook my head. My girls were a trip sometimes.

"Did you stop by my parents' house so they could each get a slice of wedding cake?"

"Of course. These two have the memory of elephants! They wouldn't let me forget," Tia joked.

"It had whipped cream," Lizzie began.

Renee interrupted, "And rapsberry filling."

"Rapsberry?" I cocked my eye at my daughter, who could never pronounce 'raspberry.'

"Daddy…," she huffed. "It was yummy."

"Yeah," Lizzie agreed. "It was yummy."

"Well, I am so glad you're home. I missed you," I kissed each of my girls on their
foreheads. "Now put your stuff away. Nana and I are going to talk for a little."

"Okay, Daddy," they chimed.

Tia and I walked down the hall to my home office and I shut the door behind us and
motioned to the couch for her to sit. I moved to one of the chairs and angled it so I would
face her.

"I've decided to take the advice of you and my mother. Tomorrow morning I'll give Kate
Garrett a call – she's the headhunter in Port Angeles I use – and see about finding a
nanny. I'm not promising anything, but I'm willing to interview a few people." I paused
before adding, "If I hire anyone, it will be on a trial basis. I understand what a sacrifice
it's been for you both, watching the girls every day, and don't get me wrong, I do
appreciate it more than you'll ever know, but welcoming someone new into the house and
entrusting a stranger with my girls is going to be…" I trailed off, fighting to find the right
word, "Difficult."

She extended her hand and reassuringly squeezed my knee. "Edward, give it a chance.
Do you trust Ms. Garrett?" She waited for me to respond, so I nodded. "Be very specific
of what you're looking for and when you're interviewing the women, pay close attention to
their questions."
"I have interviewed just a few people before," I sighed.

"Yes, Edward," Tia said dismissively. "This is different. These women should be asking
specific questions about the girls. Not the basics, 'When do they wake up?' or 'When do
they go to sleep?' But the questions that show interest in them, 'What are their favorite
books?' or 'What allergies do they have?' Do you see the difference?"

"Yep."

"Trust your gut. It's never steered you wrong. I need to get going. I'll be here Tuesday
morning."

We both rose and I gave Tia a warm peck on her cheek. "Oh, Tia, do you think you can
pick up the girls early on Friday? Maybe around 11AM? I want to try to interview people
that afternoon." My saintly mother-in-law nodded and smiled.

I followed Tia down to the first floor, but I found myself pulled by the unseen force of my
piano. A tune was bouncing around in my head and I needed to get it out and on paper.
I dropped to the bench and began sounding out the somber melody.

Lizzie crept up behind me and pulled herself up. She leaned against me and I continued to
play until it was time to begin dinner.

l~l~l~l

After a draining Sunday evening with my daughters where my mind kept wandering to
thoughts of Isabella and our mind-blowing time together, I readied them for bed. Most
nights – if I didn't get home too late – I would curl up with one of the girls and have her
read beginner books to me. Honestly, I was chomping at the bit until I could call Emmett,
but they insisted.

"But it's my night," Renee whined. "I haven't gotten to read with you for months!
Daddddddddy!"

I had to chuckle and acquiesce at her persistence. "You read to me Wednesday night.
That's not months." I let out a dramatic, albeit false sigh. "Okay. Pick out a book and I'll
meet you two in a couple of minutes."

The two of them clambered up the stairs as they animatedly discussed which book Renee
should choose. Let's get this over with, I thought to myself as I wondered which of three
preferred books she would pick. Would she ever outgrow her desire to read the same
stories night in and night out?

l~l~l~l

"You've reached the voicemail of Dr. Emmett Cullen. If this is an emergency, please hang
up and dial 9-1-1. Otherwise, please leave a message and I will return your call within 24 hours

Fuck. I wanted to talk to Emmett, not record some lame voicemail.

"Em, I need your help with something. It's 9 PM right now. If you get this before 10, call
me back. Otherwise, catch up with me tomorrow."
I hung up, but the idea of waiting until tomorrow to find out more about Isabella was gut
wrenching. How much of an asshole would I be if I called Alice? I wondered. Screw it. I'm
calling her.

"Hey, it's Alice and I'm on my honeymoon. I'll consider returning your call if Jazz and I
ever leave our bedroom."

Ugh. Did she really have to tell the world they were repeatedly having sex?

"Alice. This is your brother, Edward. I need you to call me back soon."

I wasn't satisfied with leaving a message for her, as well. I picked up the phone and
called her back. I didn't expect her to answer this time, either, but I had to make the effort.

"Hey, it's Alice and I'm on my honeymoon. I'll consider returning your call if Jazz and I
ever leave our bedroom."

"Alice. It's your brother, Edward. Again. This is an emergency. Call me back. Any hour." I
stopped, momentarily contemplating my next statement. "And change your goddamned
message. It's fucking obnoxious."

I know she'd just mock me once she heard the message, but I didn't care.

I collapsed on top of my bed and stared at the ceiling as the memories of last night
flooded my mind. I yearned to touch her again, to view that simple blush of her skin when
she first saw me… It was getting late and neither my often-gregarious twin, nor my feisty
cousin returned my call. I knew this would be a long, restless night.

l~l~l~l

Driving to work on Monday morning, I decided to bite the bullet and call Kate Garrett. I
wasn't sure how I felt about having a nanny, but if anyone would find me a reliable
employee, it would be this woman. I scrolled through my phone numbers and came across
her personal cell. Looking at the time, I wondered if it would be too early to call. Well, I am
the biggest employer in the Olympic Peninsula, I reasoned.

"This is Kate Garrett."

"Kate, it's Edward Cullen."

"Mr. Cullen. It's a pleasure to hear from you. How are things working out with Mr.
Cheney?" she inquired with a slightly distressed tone. I intimidated the woman because of
my high level of diligence and involvement with each employee search she oversaw.

"I need to hire a new employee and this one is going to require particular focus by you,
specifically."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, Kate, this employee isn't someone I'm hiring for Masen Mining. Umm," I stammered,
"I've decided to hire a nanny to help me care for my daughters."

"I wasn't aware you had children."


With comments like that, Kate was likely to lose me as her biggest client. Even though
she was based in Port Angeles and was removed from the gossip of small town Forks, she
should've known.

I sighed, "Yes. They're four-and-a-half-year-old twins. Do you think you'll be able to help
me or not?" My level of agitation due to a lack of a restful sleep, which wasn't exactly
abnormal, wasn't helping this conversation.

"Of course, yes, uhh, yes," she stammered. "Have you figured out any specifics of what
you're looking for?"

"Kate, I'll email you my job requirements later this morning. I expect to hear from you later
in the day with a list of qualified interviewees. The interviews will take place on Friday."

"But Mr. Cullen, that isn't a lot of time. I'm not sure I can come up with a list that soon
and schedule them for Friday."

"Will a bonus of $10,000 suffice if I hire one? Get me the list and schedule the interviews."
I didn't want to shell it out, but money does result in action. And this incentive far
exceeded all previous bonuses I had offered.

"That's so generous, Mr. Cullen," Kate gushed, laying on the gratefulness.

"Great," I said in an acerbic tone. "I'll email you my requirements. Fax me a list of
resumes by 4:30 PM."

I didn't wait for her response before I dropped her call. If my level of patience with Kate –
or rather lack thereof – was any indicator, then this was going to be a long day.

A few minutes later, I pulled my Volvo onto the Masen Mining property, which was nestled
in between Olympic National Park and Port Angeles, along Highway 101.

I hurried into the building and ran up the stairs. When I entered, Maggie, my assistant,
met me as she did everyday because the receptionist notified her of my arrival. I always
insisted on knowing the status of everything that had happened during my absence.
Some would call me slave driver. I considered myself exacting and thorough.

A frown was fixed on her face. "Sir, the investors are already here." The middle-aged
woman, who had worked for my grandfather, skittered behind me. This development
didn't please me.

"Fine. Move them into the conference room and take their refreshment orders. I need
them pleased."

"Of course, sir," she confidently answered as she abruptly shuffled off.

I entered the anteroom of my office and glanced at the family pictures adorning Maggie's
desk. Sighing, I said to myself, "I'm supposed to have that." The portraits of Maggie and
her husband, their children and grandchildren reminded me of what I should've had with
Angela. Could I find Isabella and have that with her? And then the guilt of thinking of
them in the same thought hit me. God, I'm such a fucking prick with everything, I thought
as I slammed my office door shut. I sunk into my seat, my shoulders hunched, and I
clutched my head as this war waged inside my mind.
I needed to get into the right mind frame for the meeting with the potential investors, but
first I composed the email to Kate with all I would require of a nanny, the primary of
which were a college degree and experience with younger children. My fingers ghosted
over the keys rapidly. Once it was sent, I grabbed the prospectus and strode to the meeting.

The Vice President of Development, Ben Cheney, stood at the head of the conference
table and had already started introducing the executives who were present to meet with
the Eleazer Investment Group.

"Oh, and gentlemen, this is our CEO, Edward Cullen."

I grimaced and took my place at the other end of the table.

Ben continued, but my mind wandered as it was focused on other things, specifically
Angela and Isabella. Occasionally, my ears perked at certain words and phrases as he spoke.

"Started in 1875 and family-owned through the generations…"

"We're the DeBeers of precious stones…" I hated that characterization. Ben and I would
have to have a discussion about that later.

"We supply 75% of the world's sapphires; we have a 51% share supplying emeralds,
and 28% of the rubies…"

"We've more than doubled our hold on the market over the last 15 years…"

"Our privately-held mines can be found on three continents and we have multi-year,
renewable deals as the exclusive source for distribution…"

"Want to increase shares of emeralds to 60% and rubies to 40% within the next two years…"

I removed my phone from my pocket when the vibration jerked me from my trance of
boredom and daydreaming. Kate had already responded?

Dear Mr. Cullen,

I have three candidates for you to meet. I will fax their resumes to you for review. If
they're satisfactory, please notify me at your convenience so I can schedule the interviews.

Sincerely,

Kate Garrett

Principle, Kate Garrett Employment

I shot Maggie a text. Please bring me the faxes from Ms. Garrett.

A few minutes later, Maggie peeked in. I motioned for her to bring the pages she
clutched. She crouched next to me and handed them to me.

"Thank you," I whispered.

"My pleasure, sir."


Reviewing the sheets, I found that one woman worked as a nanny for twenty five years,
but hadn't completed college; the other two were recent graduates of Washington State
University who had worked in preschools in the Pullman, WA area.

I supposed they would work … at least to interview. I replied to Kate.

Kate,

These three will suffice. Schedule them.

Sincerely,

Edward Cullen

CEO, Masen Mining, Inc.

As soon as I pressed "SEND," Ben's presentation ceased and the investors were shaking
the hands of him and other employees in the room.

"Thank you for coming out to visit us," I said. "I'm going to excuse myself. Mr. Cheney will
take you on a tour of the grounds. I hope to hear from you soon."

I swiftly exited and returned to my office to focus on work. My phone vibrated again.
Alice was calling.

"Alice…"

"What is so important that makes you think it's okay to call me on my honeymoon?" she
snapped at me.

"There was a guest at your wedding…"

She interrupted me, "Oh my God. Edward Masen Cullen, really?" she screeched. "Why
can't this wait until I return?"

I wasn't prepared to tell her about this, especially as I thought back to her
prognostication that my life would change at her wedding. Shit, I just needed to spill and
get this over with.

"I met someone there."

"Edward, that's wonderful," her tone suddenly warm and animated. "Tell me everything,"
she shrieked, forcing me to wrench the phone from my ear.

"Umm, I'm not ready to really talk about it, okay?"

"Why not?" again, Alice's voice changed and I could hear that the anger had returned.

"Look, I just need to know who she is and how to contact her. If I describe her, will you
know who she is?"

Even though Alice had been the focus at her own wedding, and any other bride would've
been overwhelmed on the day, not her. I expected she would have memorized what
everyone wore and contemplated how each outfit could've been fixed.
She whispered away from the phone, I assume to Jasper, "You're not going to believe it
– Edward met his lobster!"

"Ali, just answer his question and get off the phone. We can talk about this when we
return," I heard Jasper respond in the background.

"My what?" I asked her.

"Your lobster. You don't watch enough TV. It's Friends," she relayed dismissively.

"Sure, Alice. You're odd. Anyone ever tell you that? Anyway, she wore a sapphire blue
dress and matching shoes. Her hair is chocolate brown, she has expressive, rich brown
eyes, and she has a delicate blush coat her cheeks." Hopefully Alice wouldn't pull an
Emmett and give me shit for my description of her rosy blush. I can practically hear him
calling me a "pansy" or something.

Knowing Alice, she would've identified the woman just by the dress, but I couldn't contain
myself as I finally had the chance to discuss her, even if it was nothing more than what
she wore and how she looked.

She squealed, "Oh, Edward! I am sooooo proud of you. I'm sorry, but I never heard you
describe Angela this way."

A whoosh of air left my lungs. Why did she have to bring up Angela? This was hard enough
as it was. Did she think that just because I was ready to meet someone new that I wouldn't
still love my wife, or that I would be alright with negative words?

"Never mind." I hung up, regretting it moments later.

I needed to control my anger, especially where Angela was concerned. Not only did I still
not know who my mystery beauty was, but also I didn't have a way to find her. Alice
may have been my only link to her. I resolved that I would speak to Jasper once they
returned from their honeymoon. If he didn't know her, he could speak to Alice so I could
avoid this "lobster" talk and her over-exuberant response.

I couldn't focus for the rest of the day – or week for that matter. Emmett never called me
back, which wasn't like him. Over the next few days, I tried calling him a couple of times,
but like before, he neither answered nor rang me.

Friday rolled around and when I left at 11 AM in order to get home before the interviews,
I reminded Maggie where she could reach me.

"I'll be in the car for the next hour and then in my home office. Should you need to get a
hold of me, call, text, or email me."

"Of course, Mr. Cullen."

One of these days, I hoped that I would relax and trust Maggie. She could probably do
my job without me, considering how long she had been with the company and how much
information she had been privy to over the years. I resolved that if I hired a nanny, I
would try to calm down and have confidence that she didn't require constant supervision.

"Maggie, have a nice weekend."


"Thank you, sir."

During the drive home, the phone rang. The caller-ID indicated it was Kate Garrett, which
worried me. Why would she call minutes before the first interviewee was set to arrive?

"Kate, is there a problem?" I asked grimly.

"No, Mr. Cullen. I'm sorry for the late notice, but I have one more candidate for you."

"I don't have time for this."

"Again, I'm sorry," she emphasized. "But she's a new client of KGE and I think you'll agree
that she's perfect for you."

"Fine."

A/N: Well, it looks like Edward's hit a wall with finding Bella. Or has he...? Chapter 10 is
longer than this and will be from both POVs, as will Chapter 11 (longer length and both
POVs). As the story progresses, the chapters should get longer...as long as Edward and
Bella cooperate with me. :)

Some business: I will be posting an outtake on Christmas - Friday, December 25, 2009. If
you don't have me on author alert, then head to my author page that late
afternoon/early evening. (Note: It will be very M-rated.) Chapter 10 will post Monday,
December 28, 2009, followed by Chapter 11 on Monday, January 4, 2010. I was toying
with the idea of another outtake on New Year's Day, but I think we need more story
before that should happen.

This week's recommended fanfiction: I've got two because I couldn't decide... The Rain
Season by elusivetwilight and Facebook Friends by GreenPuma (this one has 12 pretty
quick chapters and will be complete at 14). As always, you can find links to them on my
author page under the "Favorite Stories" tab.

Oh, there is now a fan page on Facebook for A Labor of Love. Teasers will be posted for
each chapter a few days before they're posted. Check it out and Join (link is on my
author page)!

I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday! If you're enjoying the ride, keep
spreading the word. Reviews make me want to write. Maybe they make me want to post
more often, too. :P
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>5. Chapter 4: Possibilities<option value=6 >6. Chapter 5: Nuptials<option value=7
>7. Chapter 6: Flirting<option value=8 >8. Chapter 7: Lemonade<option value=9 >9.
Chapter 8: Uncertainty<option value=10 >10. Chapter 9: Alone<option value=11
selected>11. Chapter 10: Interviews, Part One<option value=12 >12. Chapter 11:
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A/N: I trust everyone has been enjoying their time off? Mine was - as usual - filled with
drama. The funny bits: fell asleep with my laptop on my chest and when I woke up, I
managed to knock it over with a heavy thud...and broke the swiveling things along one
side of the monitor's base (I'm feeling lopsided right now); and our flight to Charlotte was
canceled yesterday, meaning the red eye was the only option...and I had to be at work
about 1.5 hours after landing. Good times! Oh, enough about me. *wink*

Thank you to everyone who reviews. I know I'm a complete #respondfail...but a lot of it
is because I have a tendency to reveal too much, pissing off my wonderful beta
(robpattz-addict). So when I say it's not you, it's me - I MEAN IT! I do try to respond to
all tweets (I'm lizconno), but I'm bad at tweeting when I travel, it seems. (I *always*
respond to PMs, though.)

The important warnings: There are a few cringe-tastic moments this chapter (BFFs
share...that's all I am saying) and you're going to hate Edward for a bit (at least I do).
Just stick with me. I'm a sucker for HEAs, so expect one.

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Daddyward/Widoward sprang from my


mind and aren't meant to infringe on her copyrights!

Chapter 10: Interviews (Part One)

BPOV

After spending what seemed like a month – but turned out to be just a few hours –
slaving over the list from Ms. Garrett, I attached it and my resume in a reply to her
email. Contact with KGE didn't guarantee me a job, but I felt relief that something would
go my way following the tumultuous week since my return. I wanted to better my chances
of securing a satisfying job, so I resolved to contact Phil Dwyer, my principal in Phoenix,
by email to ask for a recommendation. Although I left Phil in the lurch when I resigned so
close to the commencement of the school year, good teaching positions in Phoenix were
easy to fill and we'd always had an excellent working relationship and spent personal time
together because of my relationship with his son.

Dear Phil,

I hope this note finds you well.

How is the upcoming school year looking? Were you able to fill my position easily? How is Jam

Things for me haven't been as positive as I hoped upon my return to Washington state. I
am not sure if you heard, but there was an accident that took the lives of my father and
his wife. It happened the night before I left Phoenix. I've tried not to dwell on my loss,
but honestly, I awake each morning feeling like I've been hit by a ton of bricks.

I appreciate how kind you've been to me over the last couple of years and I was hoping
that you would be willing to continue the charity. I've contacted an employment agency
to help me find a job because I've relocated to Forks – rather than Seattle – so I can be
closer to my friends, who are a great support system for me. Needless to say, any little
thing that can help me stand out from other applicants during my job search would be
beneficial. Which is why I am writing – would you be willing to compose a recommendation
for my file?

Thank you,

Bella

About fifteen minutes after pressing send, I heard the ding that notified me of a new
email. Damn, Phil had replied already!

Bella,

I am sorry to hear of your loss. Everything here is fine. I would be happy to write you a
rec. Please send me the information of where I should send it. Also, include your address
in Forks so I can provide you a copy.

My thoughts are with you,

Phil

A wave of relief washed over me. Phil wasn't peeved with me for my sudden exit from
Phoenix and he seemed genuinely supportive in his short reply. I shot him a quick
response with KGE's information, including the fax number, as well as my own address.

I moved my laptop to the coffee table and curled up on the couch to take a nap. My eyes
quickly drooped and I found myself in a deep sleep, dreaming of Edward Cullen. What
seemed like moments later, my phone's ring dragged me from my mind's carnal reverie,
just before my orgasm hit. Oh, whoever was calling me was going to pay. Glancing down
at the caller-ID, I saw Jacob was interrupting my potential release.

"What do you want cockblocker?" I growled.

"Um, Bells, what're you complaining about?"


"I was napping and let's just say I would've preferred if you called a few minutes later."

"TMI, TMI," he cackled. "So anyway, I was calling to invite you to dinner on Thursday night."

"Would this be the mysterious dinner between just us?" Yeah, Jake had managed to
rouse some major curiosity.

"Mysterious? Why mysterious?"

"Dude, you've been acting weirdly since I arrived. At first, I thought it had to do with my
dad and Sue, but I noticed it again at Alice's wedding. And then you said you wanted to
have dinner with just me. For a newlywed, that's some serious mystery."

He chuckled. "Fair enough. So whaddya think?"

"Let me check my social calendar. Oh, wait, I don't have an active social life." The
sarcasm dripped from my words.

"I'll take that as a yes. Why don't you meet me at that sushi place in Port Angeles? Say 6:00 P

"Sounds like a plan."

"I take the Masen shuttle to work every day, so would you mind driving me home after
dinner? It will give us more time to hang…" I remembered that Billy had convinced the
executives at Masen Mining to start a shuttle service between La Push and Port Angeles,
which had helped Masen fill positions with loyal employees. The initial expenditure was
quickly covered when Masen was able to expand its operations thanks to the increase in
productivity due to a larger potential employee pool. Billy was properly rewarded for the
idea and its implementation when the company promoted him to VP of Employee Operations.

"You've got a deal, Jake. But just so you know, you're paying for dinner."

"Ah, c'mon. How about we rochambeau?"

My best friend was such a cheapskate. I sighed, "Fine. But we're going best two out of
three and, just so you know, I'm picking paper every time."

"Nice try there. You aren't going to trick me and force me to pick scissors."

"You're going to lose, you know it, right?" I challenged. "I'll see you Thursday, mon frere."

"See ya, girlie!"

When I hung up, a smile lingered on my face. Jake always managed to make me feel good
and I realized how much I missed seeing him when I was in Seattle for college, followed
by my random decision to relocate to Phoenix.

l~l~l~l

The next few days passed uneventfully. I hadn't heard anything from Ms. Garrett's office
and I was worried. I resolved to call her in the morning because it was already past 5:00
PM on Thursday and I would be late for dinner with Jake if I didn't hop in the truck and
speed away.
Along the drive, I spaced out. Luckily, the skies were clear and I didn't face traffic that
could impede my progress along the 101 highway. I exited at Tumwater Truck Road and
followed it north to Marine Drive, turning left onto the street the overlooked the Port
Angeles Harbor. I'd always loved this restaurant for its view. As I neared, I kept my eyes
focused on finding a parking spot. Much to my surprise, Jake stood in one just in front. I
shook my head as images came to mind of my bulky friend threatening drivers within an
inch of their lives if they tried to take the space.

I rolled down my window and shouted to him, "What are you doing? Trying to get yourself
killed?"

He smiled broadly and moved to allow my access to the spot. He opened my door and
pulled me into a tight bear hug.

"How long have you been standing here?"

"Maybe 30 seconds. I arrived a few minutes ago, but someone pulled out and I took
advantage of the situation. Only one car tried to run me over," Jake beamed.

"Oh, that's something to be proud about," I mocked. "Booth or bar?"

"Booth, without a doubt."

I snaked my arm through his as he led me through the front door. We settled into our
seats and began the always impossible task of picking out what sushi and rolls we
planned to devour. I purposely ate little during the day in preparation for this feast. We
ordered our drinks – Jake got his customary large Asahi and I decided on a coke – and I
began staring at him impatiently.

"Spill."

"I have no clue what you're talking about, Bells."

"Whatever funny boy. What's going on that necessitated dinner without your wife, who
also happens to be my stepsister?"

Our waitress reappeared with our drinks and was waiting to take our food order, giving
Jake a momentary reprieve from my inquisition.

My normally garrulous best friend had turned taciturn, which pissed me off and he knew
it. But he remained silent.

"Why are you being so infuriating?" I inquired. "You invited me to dinner, not the other
way around. So would you care to share why we're sitting here?"

Jake began fidgeting where he sat. What could have him this on edge?

"So here's the deal. Leah informed me she's going off the pill because she wants to start
trying to have children."

"What?" I practically yelled. "She's a child and you two haven't been married for three
months, yet."

I watched my best friend cower in his seat in response to my reaction. "I know. She
hatched this plan about an hour after we received the call from Tyler about Sue and
Charlie. Leah said," and he motioned with air quotes, "'It was destiny.' I figured it was
just shock talking, but the next morning she threw her birth control pills out and started
demanding we have sex. All. The. Time. I don't know what to do. Sure, I'm more than
happy to have sex two to three times a day…"

"Jake," I cringed. "That's a little bit on the TMI side. Can you lay off the details a little?"

"Not really. I need advice and you're gonna need all the info in order to give me the best
advice possible."

A shiver passed through me. "Ugh, fine. Proceed."

Although Jacob smiled at my words and actions, I could see he forced the grin. This
situation really had him freaked out.

"So yeah, I'm a guy and having sex this often is awesome, but I've had to get creative to
avoid ejaculating inside of her."

"Did you just use the word 'ejaculating'?" Gross. I think this line of discussion topped my
list of 'Conversations I Never Planned on Having with My Best Friend.'

He ignored me and continued, "I've been doing everything in my power to abstain from
e-jac-u-lat-ing," he drew out the word intentionally, just to fuck with me and my
squeamishness. "I make sure she gets hers and I pretend to cum, but after I pull out I go
into the bathroom and finish myself off. She's not stupid, but we used condoms until a
couple of months ago, so I'm hoping she doesn't realize that my cum dripping out of her is
the norm, not the exception."

"Gah. Are you trying to kill me, I mean, did you have to go into such detail?" I shook my
head at the image that would forever be burned into my retinas as if I had seen it
happen. "Anyway, I've got a couple of questions I need you to answer, okay?" He nodded
so I continued, "When did you two start dating?"

"Right after I graduated from college – when she was 16."

"Why did you two decide to elope?" Jake knew I was still irked and hurt about their
wedding. The day after Leah graduated from high school, they flew from Seattle to Las
Vegas and married in the infamous Little White Chapel, without any friends or family. In
fact, they left notes for Billy and Sue, surprising them and everyone – myself included –
who had no idea they'd been dating.

"I married her because I love her. We eloped because it seemed like the right thing to do.
I don't know…" his voice trailed off at the end.

"Hrmm…did you guys talk at all during those two years about your hopes and dreams
before you ran off and married? I just keep hearing you mention all of these impulsive things."

Jake's head fell into his hands. I hit the source of the problem. "No. I just figured we'd
wait a few years, enjoy our time together. We still haven't discussed how many children
we want. And Bells, we're not impulsive. Okay, maybe eloping was, and this plan of Leah's
is impetuous, but we're not this irresponsible."

"Seriously? What are you thinking? God, Jake. I didn't know you were this stupid or immature."
"Fuck," he cringed at my accusation. "Did you have to be so mean?"

"I'm not being mean, I'm being honest. Just listen to yourself. You need to fix this before
you find yourself miserable and you're asking for help finding a divorce attorney. She's
trying to use the excuse of losing Sue to force you into having a child neither of you are
ready for."

"Why do you have to be right?" Jacob looked defeated.

"This isn't about me being right or wrong. This is about your happiness. Marriage is about
compromise and communication – two things you appear to lack."

"I guess. You've given me a lot to think about. Let's just talk about something else for a
bit. How's the job search going?"

I frowned. "Ugh. I contacted Kate Garrett with Kate Garrett Employment, but I haven't
heard anything. Our conversation was short, but I had the sense that I impressed her
and she would acknowledge receipt of my resume, at the very least."

"You haven't heard anything from her? That's really odd. I know Masen uses her – that's
how I got my job, well, there was also that connection I had thanks to Billy," he chuckled.

"Great, so you're saying I will only hear from her in cases of nepotism?"

We both laughed and continued our easy banter as we gorged on the sushi.

And then the bill came. "Ready?"

A sly grin snuck across his face. "On three?"

We chanted in unison, "One. Two. Three." And then made our selections; we both showed
'rock.' Repeating, I switched to paper, knowing he wouldn't switch. Ha! Jake is rather
predictable. This process was repeated two more times until I managed to win 2-1.

"Victory is mine!"

Laughing, Jake said, "Okay, okay. We had a deal. This one's on me."

The drive back through Olympic National Park on the 101 and across the 110 to La Push
was fairly quiet until a few minutes before we crossed onto the Rez.

"Hey Bells, thanks for listening to me."

"You're my best friend. Did you think I wouldn't?"

"I know, it's just with everything going on for you, I didn't want to burden you with yet
another problem, especially one this, umm, unique."

"Whatever," I said in a dismissive way. "Look, when you get home, you need to talk to
Leah. You are two of the few family members I have so you better not fuck this up, got
it?" I frowned at my friend, but trudged on. "Please, make her see that the stress of a
newborn is too much when you two are so young. And for the love of God, pound it into
her brain that it's just the shock of her mother's and my father's deaths that has led her
to believe she wants a child now."

"Yes, ma'am! I'm just going to have to make it clear what I want, ask what she wants and
then try to find a compromise if what we want doesn't equate, right?"

"Yep. But be sensitive to her. Remember, she's grieving and wanting a baby is her way
that she thinks she'll get through this." I reached over and mussed his hair while a broad
grin stretched across my face.

We pulled up in front of his house and he opened the door. "Thanks, Bella. Let me know
what you hear from KGE." He let out a big sigh and hugged me. "Wish me luck."

"Good luck and I'll let you know my news!" He slammed the door shut and I idled until I
saw him enter the house.

I returned to Forks and pulled into my dad's driveway. Shit, this isn't my dad's driveway
anymore, I sadly contemplated. I pulled my phone from my purse and looked at my missed
calls and noticed the voicemail messages that awaited. Rose had called. Huh, I had one
from KGE, which I needed to listen to immediately.

"Bella, I'm sorry that I've taken this long to get back to you. For whatever reason, your
email ended up in my spam folder and I only just discovered it. I have a position for which
I would like you to interview, but the interviews are being held tomorrow, Friday,
afternoon. If you get this message this evening, please call me on my cell at 209-555-5283."

Shiiiiiiit. I looked at the time and saw I had a few minutes before 9:00 PM. I ran into the
house and plopped down on the couch, needing to catch my breath before I called. I
didn't desire Ms. Garrett to think some perverted, heavy breather was calling. I chuckled
to myself at my joke.

A moment later, I dialed my phone.

"This is Kate Garrett."

"Ms. Garrett, this is Bella Swan returning your phone call."

"Bella, thank you for your quick call. First, let me offer my apologies."

"Don't worry about it. I understand these things happen," I assured her.

"Well, let me tell you about the job. I realize you've been a teacher for a couple of years
and that you'll probably have other options during this search. One of the wealthiest
families in the Olympic Peninsula is looking for someone to not only care for their children,
but also educate them. Compensation would be negotiable upon experience, but it would
include room and board. Again, I'm sure you were hoping for something different, but we
don't have these opportunities come around often. Would you be able to meet with the
father tomorrow afternoon?"

I thought about what she said. Having grown up in this region, I recognized that her
words were true – there weren't a lot of different opportunities in the region and this
could be a good occasion to hone my teaching skills until a position opened at one of the
three local elementary schools.

"I would be delighted to interview with him tomorrow," I responded.


"Great. You'll need to be there at 4:00 PM."

"Um, where?"

"Oh," she let out an embarrassed laugh. "Of course, do you know the Cullen residence
just outside of town on Highway 110? You'll be interviewing with Edward Cullen. I'll notify
him tomorrow to expect you. Please bring your resume with you in case I am not able to
get it to him beforehand."

Crap. I had already decided the morning after our dalliance that I couldn't face him again,
especially in any employment capacity. This would look bad if I suddenly changed my mind.
Suck it up, Swan. You can do this. It's just one hour of your life. Why did my
subconscious have to be right?

"Thank you, Ms. Garrett. I know the location and I'll be there at 4:00 PM with my resume
in hand."

"Good luck, dear."

Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.

I scrolled through my "Favorites" until I came upon Rose's name. I took a deep breath
before I made the call.

"What's up, whore?"

"How much longer are you going to call me that?" I sighed.

"Um, for the rest of your life," she snickered. "So what's going on? Did you ever find out
about the whole Jake mystery?"

"Yeah, but that's not why I'm calling. I just heard from Kate Garrett. She has an interview
for me."

"That's great!" I could hear the genuine excitement in her voice. "You don't sound
particularly enthused, though. Who's it with and what's it for?"

I didn't respond.

"Bella, honey, speak to me."

"It's as Edward's nanny…"

I could hear Rose's stifled chortle. "You were bound to run into him sometime. You live in a
small town."

"Yeah, at the grocery store, not at a job interview," I countered.

"I want to be supportive of your uncertainty, but I think you need to suck it up."

"Dude, are you listening to my thoughts?"

"What are you talking about?"


"My subconscious also told me to 'suck it up.'"

"Hearing voices are we? Just tell Edward that. You won't have to worry about that
interview lasting long."

"Ha. Ha. Ha," I deadpanned. "I can see you're being so supportive. I'm going to go. I'll
call you after the interview."

"Good luck. Really. If you need any words of encouragement beforehand, call me or
Emmett. I'll smack him around a bit tonight to make sure he doesn't make any
shacking-up-with-the-nanny jokes. Sleep tight, okay?"

"Thanks, Rose. Say hi to that big galoot for me!"

"Of course. Good night."

I shuffled around the house aimlessly until sleep called.

l~l~l~l

When I awoke in the morning, I began my routine of prepping for an interview. I threw
open the closet and began throwing shoes out until I found the pair I wanted, which
were, naturally, buried in the back under some bags. My best suit – which I wore to the
funeral – came back from the cleaners a few days earlier so I removed the cellophane in
which it was encased and selected a blue blouse to match the delicate pin strip of the black sui

I showered, shaved, and tried to make my hair seem elegant. Why did I even bother?
About 3:15 PM, I tripped my way to my truck – why did I decide to wear heals? Would I
ever learn? I was about as coordinated as an six-month-old baby trying to crawl. In
other words, I wasn't.

Once my truck came to a stop in front of his house, I took a big breath, exhaling slowly in
order to calm myself. Esme, who must've heard the crunch of the gravel, walked out to
the porch and appeared surprised, albeit glad, that I was his 4:00 PM interview. Hadn't
Ms. Garrett told him who would be coming?

l~l~l~l

EPOV

"Kate, is there a problem?" I asked grimly.

"No, Mr. Cullen. I'm sorry for the late notice, but I have one more candidate for you."

"I don't have time for this."

"Again, I'm sorry," she emphasized. "But she's a new client of KGE and I think you'll agree
that she's perfect for you."

"Fine."

I ended the call and felt the frown that now sat upon my face. I liked to prepare before
an interview and this development could wrinkle my veneer.
I noticed two cars parked in my driveway, my mother's – she would be greeting the
candidates – and an unknown one. After parking my own, I stepped into the house and
called for Esme.

My young-looking mother kissed me on the cheek and looked at me with a joyous glint in
her emerald-green eyes. "Good afternoon, my love! Was your drive pleasant?" She didn't
wait for a response, not even a word before she continued in a whisper, "The first
interviewee is here. Her name is Siobhan Ireland and get this – she's actually Irish. I think
she's pleasant and I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy meeting her. We spoke about our
matching shades of copper hair." My mother giggled because we both knew her hair was
aided by a professional stylist.

Being around Esme always helped me shed a little of the cool exterior I utilized for work,
which emerged when I took over Masen Mining as a 23-year-old recent college graduate,
the chip deep on my shoulder. That persona didn't defrost at all as I got older, especially
following Angela's death.

"Mother, you look lovely today," I complimented her. "Thanks for letting me know. I'll meet
her – Ms. Ireland is first? – in my office. Would you lead her up there in about five minutes?"

"Of course," her tender eyes dancing as she spoke. My mother was far too supportive of
this nanny-hiring business. I guess she looked forward to her reduced caretaking duties
with more jubilation than I expected.

Settling into my chair, I removed Siobhan's resume out of the folder sitting atop my desk.
Oh yes, she was the one without a college degree, I thought to myself. On my mental
demerit list, she had one mark against her. But to her credit, she worked as a nanny for
over 25 years and the experience would come in handy.

I heard the tap, tap, tap on the door and Esme poked her head in.

"Ready?"

"Yes." I motioned for her to bring Siobhan in.

My mother beamed with pride whenever she introduced me and it still managed to
embarrass me like a 10-year-old meeting his parents' friends for the first time. "Edward,
this is Siobhan Ireland. Ms. Ireland, this is Edward Cullen."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Ireland. Please sit." I extended my hand and shook her
warm, large, paw-like hand.

"The pleasure is all mine. Thank you for meeting me. And please, call me Siobhan," she
grinned, exposing a mouth of characteristically crooked teeth. The rotund, middle-aged
woman had her wiry red hair knotted into a bun on her head. Laugh lines marked her
genial, amiable face. Her body and clothing reminded me of Mrs. Doubtfire and I fought to
stifle a chortle at the thought.

"Tell me about yourself and your experience."

"I was born in Cork, Ireland and I'm the oldest of ten. I helped my mother raise them so it
would be safe for you to assume that I have spent all of my life raising children," she
giggled with her infectious laugh. "I married my late husband, Liam, when I was eighteen
and we moved to the United States when I was pregnant with our son, Jared. Now Jared
is married and his wife, Kim, is pregnant with their own child."

"Congrats."

"Oh, deary me. I've been carrying on talking about my family."

"No, I am glad to hear about them. It's important to me that the person I hire embraces
family. How did you get into the nanny business?"

"Well, Liam died of cancer just after Jared was born and I didn't have much experience
with anything else. I was lucky to find a family that didn't mind that I had my own child.
Once Jared and my charges were all in elementary school, I earned my Associate's
Degree. I wanted to complete my Bachelor's, but the combination of the cost and time
associated with it was more than I could give.

"So I stayed with that family, the Youngs, for fifteen years. After all of the Young
children graduated from high school, I took on a new challenge – the Collins' family. I
adored them!"

"But I see you've lived in the Chicago area. What brings you to Washington?"

Siobhan glowed. "Jared and Kim relocated to the Seattle area and I couldn't imagine
being thousands of miles from my grandchild."

"That's wonderful. But would you be able to commit the time I will require?"

"Of course, Mr. Cullen. As long as I am able to see my grandchild twice a month, then I'll be
deliriously happy!"

"Not a problem."

Siobhan and I continued to speak for another fifty minutes. She asked insightful
questions about the girls, Forks and the activities it offered, and about how I envisioned
the arrangement to work. My mother-in-law was right: their questions were more valuable
than their responses to my own. Although I had three more women to meet, I was
confident Siobhan would be my choice.

Seconds after my mother escorted her out, Esme was back with another tap, tap, tap on
the door. "Your next appointment has arrived – Jessica Stanley. Would you like a moment?"

"Nope, bring her in." She nodded and ambled out.

Esme didn't knock upon her return and leapt right into the introductions.

"Dear, this is Jessica Stanley. Ms. Stanley, this is my son, Edward Cullen." I inwardly
groaned as she referred to me as her son.

When I reached to shake Ms. Stanley's hand, she grabbed it with both of her own and
lightly rubbed as she smiled in what I assumed to be a seductive grin. Shit, was this how
it would be? I wasn't about to hire someone who flirted with me and would try to sleep
with me at the first opportunity.

After this initial exchange, as expected, the interview proceeded with gads of sexual
innuendo on Ms. Stanley's part.

"Mr. Cullen, your fingers are so long…" she growled. "I can only imagine all you're able
to accomplish with them."

"Umm, thank you?" I loosened my collar, uncomfortable with the comment.

"Your eyes are so green. I bet they can delve deep into my soul. And your
voice…mmm…there aren't words to properly describe it."

She fluttered her eyelashes at me and licked her lips more often than a horny cricket rubs
its legs together. Could she be any more obvious? This interview was bordering on the
obscene. When I managed to sneak in a question related to the position, Ms. Stanley
supplied stock answers and failed to ask my girls' names or ages, which I intentionally
omitted. Her only question was accompanied by a coquettish giggle: how close our
bedrooms would be. Seriously, she had to be fucking kidding, right?

Once I managed to get rid of her, I heard squeals from the foyer. I cracked the door
open, because I was mildly curious what mayhem my mother endured below.

"Oh. My. Gawd! What are you doing here, Jessie?"

"Mallory! I haven't seen you in months! Your hair looks great. The bangs work for you!"

"I know, right? So what's he like?"

"You aren't going to believe it, but Mr. Cullen is soooo hawt! He's a little stiff, but that's
not a problem…I know where he can use that stiffness!" Ms. Stanley howled to her friend.

I shook my head and returned my office door to its closed position. This giggly exchange
was annoying, as well as very inappropriate. Frankly, I wanted to hear as little of it as possible.

Tap, tap, tap. Esme opened the door as the cackles of delight managed to seep through
my attempt to concentrate.

"Mom, is it as bad as it sounds?"

"Worse," she shook her head while she attempted to conceal a smirk.

"This is not funny. There are two harpies downstairs, gossiping about my looks and what
they would do with me." I felt certain I was exaggerating, or at least I trusted I was.
"Bring on the next victim."

Victim number three – as I decided to think of them now – was a Lauren Mallory. She
spent most of her interview blowing smoke up my ass, much like Ms. Stanley. To make
matters worse, I recognized the dollar signs in her eyes.

"How often do you bring samples home?" She asked.

"Excuse me?"

"You're the CEO of Masen Mining. I did my homework. So how often do you bring jewelry
samples home?"
"Ms., um," I quickly looked down at her resume, as I didn't bother remembering her name
from the initial introductions, "Mallory, I don't think you understand why you're here.
Masen isn't hiring you, I am. I don't bring home 'samples.' I don't expect you to drive to
the headquarters. This job is about my daughters and my daughters only," I warned her,
as I ground my teeth to stifle the roar that fought to escape my mouth.

"I know. I was just curious." She didn't think there was anything wrong with that line of
questioning. Sadly, she continued along this dangerous path. "What's the square footage
of this house? It looks about 15,000 square feet. And how many acres are the grounds?"

I stood. This interview was over. "Thank you for coming in. Ms. Garrett will notify you of
my decision." I opened my office door, barely letting her through it before I slammed it.

I groaned when Esme informed me that the fourth, and final victim had arrived. My mind
was made up already. I didn't see the point of continuing this charade.

Tap, tap, tap.

"Yes?"

"This is the final interviewee. May I bring her in?"

"Mom, this is absurd. Must I continue to do this?"

My mother winced at my words. "She's standing next to me," she mouthed. Fuck.

I forced a smile onto my face and nodded.

Esme walked into my office, followed by a petite brunette. Suddenly, the electric charge
I'd noticed the previous weekend began to course through my body and a faint aroma of
mango began to attack my senses. When she drifted a little to the left, thus unblocking
my view of the woman, I gasped. The goddess was in my house again.

"Honey, this is Bella Swan." She turned to Bella while gripping her shoulders lovingly, "And
this is Edward, my son." Bella? What the fuck? She told me her name was 'Isabella.' And
why was my mother so chummy with her? I briefly searched my brain, having heard the
name already. Of course, she was the friend Alice and Rose wanted me to hire. No
fucking way. I wouldn't allow my kids near this lying slut.

"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Cullen."

"Sit," I spat.

My mother stomped across to me and stood less than an inch from me. "Do not be mean
to her. She is like a daughter to me and one of your sister's best friends," she hissed.

"I don't care. There's stuff you don't know…" I responded a little louder.

"I don't care. You will not embarrass me or your father by being rude to Bella – or anyone
for that matter. I don't know what your problem has been this week, but it's going to
stop. Now." I flinched at her words. My mother could see through my carefully-crafted
façade, which I wouldn't have had to create if this woman had been honest with me at
Alice's wedding.
"Fine."

Esme sauntered over to Bella and rubbed her shoulder before whispering something to
her. I watched Bella nod and saw the 'Thank you' that escaped her delicate mouth. She
then sucked at her bottom lip and began biting it. Fuck. Neither my dick, which was
already rock hard under the desk, nor my subconscious, which noticed more than just that
delicate mouth, would allow me to hate her.

A/N: Doesn't Edward totally suck? Don't worry: he's a good guy, so it won't last long. And
isn't he a petulant child with his responses of "fine"? I think I need to smack him around a bit.

If you missed it, I posted an Outtake on Friday. Check out my author page for the link.
Chapter 11, which has been incredibly difficult for me to write, will post Monday, January
4, 2010.

This week's recommendation: the very naughty "His Personal Assistant" by


NorthernLights17. Great thing about it (besides its frequent injection of lemons) - it's
complete. As always, it's listed on my author page under "Favorite Stories." And I love
suggestions, so please send yours my way!

Thank you for reading. Do me a favor - leave a review. My birthday is Saturday (January
2)...so even if you just want to say "hi" or wish me a "happy bday" - anything...reviews
are the BEST GIFT EVER!
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A/N: Welcome to 2010! I've enjoyed reading your reviews and appreciate them. I made
a few changes/additions to this chapter based on the feedback I received after the last
installment. So please continue to voice your opinions – they do count!

Thank you for the birthday wishes. I gorged on sushi, so it was a good birthday!

I've decided that, instead of thanking my fuckawesome beta (robpattz-addict), I'm going
to give you a glimpse of the abuse I endure. On my birthday, I was taking a nap. This
was the text message I received – again, on my birthday, "Stop sleeping! You're
supposed to be writing!"

Without further ado…

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Daddyward/Widoward sprang from my


mind and aren't meant to infringe on her copyrights!

Chapter 11: Interviews, Part Two

BPOV

Esme blocked my view of him as I advanced into the room, but I could feel him,
nonetheless. Once she shuffled to the side, my eyes focused on a series of distinct things,
all of which combined to elicit the smallest gasp from somewhere deep inside of me. My
nebulous memories of a conscious Edward couldn't compete with the reality: that unruly
disheveled mess of bronze hair on his head sang to me, just begging for me to trail my
hands through it; his strong forehead and brow, combined with his angular jaw, framed a
perfect set of lips, a nose with the tiniest bump in it giving its wearer character, and
almond-shaped eyes; and the vibrant, deep shade of green of those eyes bored into my
chest. While I was internally drooling over his Adonis-like face, a thousand different
emotions seemed to be reflected on it.

That initial moment after Esme revealed me to him, I thought I noticed pure joy and
longing. Then she said my name. And faster than the speed of light, anguish, anger,
fear, and every negative emotion imaginable crossed his face. Apparently, Edward's
memories of our lone night together were as I expected. I felt as if a sword had been
pushed, and then turned, through my gut. Why would I suffer from so much pain after
one night? It wasn't as if I hadn't spent more nights than I care to recall with nameless,
faceless men who I didn't remember bedding the night before. Maybe it was the guilt of
fucking Alice's brother? Maybe it was the lingering loss of my father? Maybe it was the
fear that I may have ruined any chance for solid employment in Forks or Port Angeles? I
couldn't figure out why this hurt, but I knew I ached to escape his gaze.

This situation called for a pep talk from my subconscious. Bella Swan, you can do this.
Just breathe, keep your chin up, and don't let him defeat you.

"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Cullen." I forced a sweet, yet professional smile as I
extended my hand.

"Sit."

He shut me down with one word and no handshake. Had our time together been that bad
that he found it necessary to be so fucking rude to me? I didn't feel like I had a choice, so
I followed his order and planted myself in the chair in front of his desk.

Esme stormed around to confront Edward and, although I couldn't hear what she said,
his severe gulp, which was evidenced by the deep bob of his Adam's apple, spoke volumes.

"Darling, I don't know what his problem is today, but don't let him control the situation.
He'll respect you more if you're the 'you' that I know you are," Esme whispered to me
after she moved away from him.

In a voice as small as I felt, I thanked her and turned my gaze back to Edward. I heard the
click of the door behind me, signaling the commencement of this interview.

l~l~l~l

EPOV

She continued to hold that lower lip in the clutches of her teeth as if her life depended on
it. My traitorous dick had already hardened at the sight. The strain made my pants
uncomfortable. But then my mind replayed that night when she gave me the greatest
physical joy of my life. I blocked the groan that threatened to erupt and weaken my
resolve. How could this woman, this virtual stranger, control my body from such a
physical distance? I couldn't deny that our time had been magical, but I now understood
it was magical like the fairy tales my girls enjoyed.

"Ahem." Isabella, Bella my mind spat, cleared her throat. "Sir?" We weren't going to
discuss the elephant in the room, it seemed.

I continued to gaze at her until I glanced at my watch and shut my eyes. We'd sat there
silently for 10 minutes. I did everything in my power to regain a clear head so I could
complete this interview, regardless of how Herculean it may be.

Why had she found it necessary to lie to me? What purpose had her actions served? My
internal battle of whys and hows ceased; these rhetorical questions wouldn't get the
answers they desired.
Surely, when I gave it thought, I realized I could've, should've, or would've known that
Isabella was the friend that Alice and Rose raved about. But in reality, when I heard
Rose mention that Bella was her friend, I tuned out the discussion and filed Bella's name in
the trashcan of my brain. Heck, if I had refrained from getting liquored up at Alice's
wedding, I may have recognized the name.

I struggled to consider whether I should thank Kate Garrett or tear her a new hole – she
neglected to tell me the fourth candidate's name, but she had plopped Bella in my lap. Shit!
Bella's pert ass in my lap made my already rock-hard cock jump for joy at the idea.

Without opening my eyelids, because I fretted I wouldn't be able to remain composed, I


dove into the first question. "Why do you think I should hire you?" There. No pleasantries
or pussy footing, no 'tell me about yourself', just the nitty gritty,
get-to-the-heart-of-why-we're-here.

"Honestly Mr. Cullen, based on your demeanor I can already see you won't. So I don't
see what the point of me answering your question is."

My eyes shot open at her response, shocked that she could read me that well and had
the strength – or was it utter stupidity – to make such a declaration. It was as if we had
begun a game of chess and she'd taken my queen. I recognized the irony of my musing as
I had determined previously on taking her as my queen.

Finally, I brought my eyes up to meet her chocolate orbs. I stared into them for a
moment, flabbergasted by what I observed in them: hurt, strength, warmth, fear,
tenacity, determination. My chest ached. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I needed to keep my emotions
in check. How could she affect me so profoundly?

I inhaled deeply and her mango fragrance instantaneously calmed me. In that moment, I
resolved to obeyed my mother's warning and I gave her sixty minutes of my undivided
attention.

l~l~l~l

"Edward. Masen. Cullen." My mother declared. My full name. Huh. This wouldn't be pleasant.

"You're still here," I stated in an exasperated tone.

"I've been waiting for you to finish meeting with Bella." She glared at me and I could tell I
was about to get one of the more vociferous reamings in my life.

"Can we do this another day? It's been a long one."

"Your father and I expect you at our house in an hour for dinner and we're going to have
a long talk." The expression in her eyes informed me this was not an option.

"Should I bring anything?"

"Edward, this isn't a social dinner. Don't be late."

My mother didn't pause for my response before she stalked out to her car.

The last time my parents sat me down for a "talk" was a month after Angela died and I
still hadn't met my daughters. They had been right to speak with me, but the encounter
had been less than pleasant and I had hoped to avoid any more of these in my life.

Forty-five minutes later, I sulked in my car in front of my childhood home. How bad could
this be? I had never met Bella before Alice's wedding, so I doubted my parents were that
close with her.

Carlisle knocked on my window. "Son, how long do you plan to sit out here?"

I nodded at him and exited my car.

"How mad is she?"

"We're both angry with you. Come inside. There are some things you need to know," my
father cryptically stated.

All I could do in response was nod. Again. I've been doing a lot of that today in lieu of
answering people. Maybe I should change careers and become a bobble head.

My father led me to the living room where my mom was already sitting. I couldn't tell
whether she was melancholy or infuriated.

"What's for dinner? It smells great in here." Maybe diverting their attention to something
other than discussion of Bella would earn me favor.

My mother let out a noise that sounded like a cross between a huff and a sigh. "Don't
pretend you're here to eat, Edward. There are other priorities right now. We're going to
sit down and go over what took place this afternoon at your house."

"Son, would you care to share what happened? Because as it I understand it, you
managed to embarrass your mother and myself and disgrace our name. Bella is one of
your sister's best friends, she's very close with your brother, and Jasper counts her
among one of his good friends," my father explained. "Furthermore, I have known her all
of her life and we have welcomed her into our house countless times over the last six or
seven years."

"So I've gathered from Mom's reaction this afternoon."

"Do not be flippant with either your father or me. You refused to shake her hand and
then you demanded she sit." She turned towards my father and added, "Oh, I forgot to
mention he wore a frown and 'sit' was the only word that managed to escape his mouth.
No 'welcome' or 'pleasure to meet you' or 'thank you for coming today' – nothing."

"There's more to this than either of you know." Did I really want to share with my
parents what happened? It was clear there were cracks in the dam already and the
revelation of my one-night stand would surely open the floodgates of disapproval.

"Would you care to enlighten us?" My father asked.

I briefly weighed the consequences of revealing this secret, realizing I hid little to nothing
from my parents. This would come out some time, secrets always managed to…

"Well, umm," I stammered.


"Edward," my mother crisply prodded.

"I guess it's just easier to tell you the whole story to help you understand," I began as
they impatiently gazed at me. "I met her at Alice's wedding. There's this inexplicable
gravitation to her that confounds me."

I paused and closed my eyes as the memories washed over me. How MUCH do I tell
them? An urgency to reveal my feelings - both physical and emotional – about her and the
night bubbled from deep inside of me. I'm closer to them than anyone else, so fuck it.

"She was perched on the bench overlooking the creek and I could see she was crying. I
was drawn to her. I don't know if I felt the need to comfort her or what. No, it was more
than a draw. I felt alive the moment she first crossed my path, before the ceremony
started. There was something unseen and unsaid that passed between us.

"Jealousy flared within me when I saw her converse with another man. Like, 'That's my
woman'. I was instantly possessive over her. Then I watched her drink a lot of liquor in a
short amount of time and I was curious and worried. So I followed her. I didn't want to
disturb her, but my heart ached for her when I saw her light sighs while she cried. I wiped
her tear away and my thumb was met with a sensation I felt throughout my whole body.
Before I realized it, we were talking and drinking and she was getting drunk, really drunk.

"I only intended to try to sober her up by feeding her, but when we went back to my
house, one thing turned into another and we slept together." My voice cracked at the last
part. It had to be obvious that I seemed to be at least a little bit ashamed at my reckless act.

I expected both of my parents to yell at me. Instead, my parents managed to shock me.

"Honey, I owe you $5. You were right."

"That's my boy!" my father exclaimed.

"Would you two care to clue me in to your secret?"

My dad just laughed and shook his head while my mother talked. "Well, Alice told us about
her prediction for you at her wedding. But she shared the whole prediction with us."

"There was more than something about my life changing for the better?" I shook my head
at them.

"Yep." My mother continued, "Turns out Alice predicted that your life would change
because you would meet someone. Your father bet me that Bella would be the 'someone',
while I concluded that Alice's prophecy would result in nothing."

I considered wringing my cousin's neck when she returned. All of the Cullens – myself
excluded – were shameless,I considered momentarily. Come to think of it, it was
agonizing enough to discuss my sex life with my parents, but to learn they had talked
about it to one another? Gah. A shiver ripped through me. This was possibly the most
embarrassing moment of my life. I mean, what was next…them teaming with Emmett to
order me porn? I cringed at the prospect.

"And why didn't you consider sharing this bit of information and your wager with me?"

Victoria, my parents' long-time maid, poked her head in the room. "I'm sorry to interrupt,
but dinner is ready."

"Thank you, Victoria." My father held out his hand to my mother before he answered my
question. "Honestly, we didn't think there was much to it. And we didn't really see you
before the ceremony began, or at the reception for that matter. Come on, we can discuss
it over dinner. Oh, and by the way, you're not out of hot water for your behavior during
the interview."

"I figured as much."

As we sat down to dinner, I kept my mouth shut. After a few minutes of tense silence at
the table, my mom resumed the earlier discussion.

"How much do you know about Bella?"

"I don't know. I learned a lot about her during the interview. Even though I was angry
with her, I spoke with her for over an hour."

"You never told us why you acted so disrespectfully towards her." I was hoping my
mother had forgotten.

"She told me her name was Isabella, not Bella. And, honestly, it was the greatest night of
my life. But when I woke up, she was gone. No note, nothing. I've spent the last week
agonizing over how I would find her. I called Alice and she didn't help. And that ass I call
a brother – didn't even bother returning my call."

"So?" my father asked incredulously.

"The second I saw her, the short temper you and my employees all have endured this
week washed away. I felt that amazing electricity rolling off of her and onto me; I
immediately relaxed in her presence. Then mom said her name and instantly I realized
what a fool I had been. She knew who I was. The only conclusion I have is that she's
come here to worm her way into my life. It may sound stupid to you, but it's how I feel."

My father, whose face became sad at my declaration, took over the discussion. "Edward,
did you know she grew up without a mother?"

"No." Even though I didn't want to admit it to them or myself, that revelation made me
want to find her, scoop her up, and comfort her. I felt a little disgusted with my actions earlier.

"She could be really good for the girls. Charlie Swan, who just died, was her father. Can
you imagine that man's man raising a girl? Just think how the talk about sex went." We all
laughed at the image of Charlie going into a discussion of the birds and bees. Oh god, I
was going to have to do that with my girls. That was something I would dread. "Cut her
some slack. Charlie's death is hitting her hard. She was a mess at his funeral. Although
she's close with the Blacks, she doesn't have any family. The grief she must be
experiencing, coupled with the alcohol, should be taken into consideration."

"You have a point, dad."

"Of course I have a point," he said smugly. "But you need to make an informed decision
about her. This isn't about what you feel. It's how you think her presence may or may not
benefit the girls."
Was Carlisle Cullen born perfect? I couldn't think of a time when my father hadn't made the
right decision or pronounced 'doing the right thing'.

"Look, her mother had a rough pregnancy and Bella was born two months premature and
she almost didn't make it. That girl's a fighter. But her mother wasn't as lucky. The doctor
in the hospital that night, Laurent Didyme, shouldn't have lost her and Bella's life never
should've been in jeopardy. When Charlotte's blood pressure dropped, Didyme froze. I
was at the hospital on a surgical consult and they called me in.

"It was too late by that point. I performed an emergency C-section. Somehow I managed
to save Bella. Her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and getting her to take a
first breath didn't happen easily.

"Even though I'm not a pediatrician, I took a special interest in her and remained her doctor
until she went to college. We had many conversations through the years and the two of
you have a lot in common. The most tragic of which is that she lives with the burden of
thinking she killed her mother."

I took in a sharp intake of breath and shuddered as I fought to keep the bile from rising
up my throat. Bella had been robbed of a carefree childhood. No one should have to
perceive they're responsible for causing another's death, least of all an innocent child.
Seems like I should heed my own admission. Why can't I?

"Why is this the first time I'm hearing about all of this? We live in a small town and
everyone talks."

"You were a young child when this happened. And a lot of the details and her thoughts
regarding what took place were never available for public consumption." My father
smirked, "Remember that whole thing about patient doctor confidentiality? I'm only
sharing this with you because I want you to see her for who she really is."

"Tell us, regardless of whatever deception you might feel and what your father has
shared, what did you think of her?"

"She's smart, feisty, caring, inquisitive, friendly, and she put me at ease…even if I did want
to kill her." Hearing the words escape my mouth, I realized there was more to this.
"Honestly, she's everything I hope Lizzie and Renee become."

"I doubt you would ever be so lucky to find someone so perfect for your family." My
mother had a point, even if I didn't want to admit it. Still. "You need to make this right, or
this discussion will have a second part. Apologize to her. And Edward, hire her." My
mother's ominous warning hit home.

"I know. I'll make an offer. But guys, if you'll excuse me. I am going home and calling
Emmett. He has some apologizing of his own to do."

My parents hugged me and told me they were proud of me, even if they weren't proud
of my earlier behavior. They expected I would fix this, simply because I had to. I wasn't
sure whether I could forgive what I saw as her deception yet, but hearing my parents'
words helped me see the big picture.

l~l~l~l

"Hey Bro," Emmett shakily greeted me.


"Don't 'hey' me, asshole." This wasn't the first time, nor would it be anywhere near the
last, when I referred to my brother as an "asshole" and actually meant it. "Why didn't you
return my phone call?"

"Because I knew why you were calling."

"What? How did you know?"

"Okay, I assumed. But I was right, huh? You wanted to learn about Bells. And I
understand you had the interview with her already?"

"I recognize we have some freaky twin connection, but how do you have knowledge of all
of this shit? And 'Bells'?"

"Heh. Yeah. Bells. It's one of the many names I have for 'Little Miss Munchkin'," Emmett
chuckled. I could see the connection between her name and 'Bells', but I was afraid to
ask about the origins of 'Little Miss Munchkin'. "But my connection isn't of the twin variety,
it's courtesy of Rose."

"Oh. So basically your girlfriend finds it crucial to share my personal business with you?" It
wasn't a secret Emmett and I didn't see eye-to-eye on the subject of his girlfriend.

"This is not about your distrust or dislike of Rose. And you know what, Bella's my friend,
also. So although Rose told me about your interview today, it was Bella who divulged the
existence of your, umm, encounter."

Wow, just when I thought I was warming to Bella again, I uncover another piece of
information making me reconsider that thawing. "What did she tell you and who else do
you think she's told?" I snapped at him.

"Dude, not much. The morning after you guys played doctor," my brother chortled at his
juvenile description, "she called Rose to come and pick her up. We drove over and
brought her home. Look, she was mortified so the odds that she shared the details of
her whereabouts that night are slim. I've known her for years and I don't think I've ever
seen her quite that red with embarrassment before."

She was ashamed by our night? I frowned. Was I that bad in bed? Did she regret it? Is
that why she didn't bring up our earlier meeting during the interview?

While I fretted over these questions, I appreciated what she had done wasn't any worse
than my own decision to share the basic details with my parents. Would or could I stop
judging her? It was imperative that I erased my mind of that night and instead focused
on what she told me during her interview and what my parents had said. If I were to hire
and live with her under the same roof, I would need to focus on that beautiful, fiery,
warm woman I met earlier in the day.

My brother and I continued discussing my brown-eyed Bella. My Bella? Could this day get
any more confusing?

l~l~l~l

BPOV
The drive home transpired much like the previous one from Edward's house – without
incident, but my mind was entirely oblivious to my surroundings. I sat in my car with my
head resting on the wheel before I found myself pounding it lightly, up and down, up and
down. What was I doing? Did I honestly think Edward would take me seriously and
consider me for the position after my despicable behavior that night? But really, I had no
idea whether my actions had been despicable. I would donate my left kidney to
remember, if anything so I could determine what brought on his ire this afternoon. When
my brain throbbed from the repeated self abuse, I resolved to enter the house and put
everything out of my mind and relax.

Once I crossed the threshold of my father's home, I kicked off my heels in the living room,
flung my jacket along the stairs, shimmied out of my suit's dress in the upstairs hallway,
and peeled my thong and bra from my skin outside my bedroom. I turned around and
peeked at the littering of clothes I trailed through the house and thought about how it
reminded me of a couple's frenzied actions of lustfully ripping off each person's attire on
their way to the bedroom to fuck. I could really use a good fucking, and preferably it was
one I wouldn't forget because of drinking too much alcohol.

Rather than changing into sweats and a tee, I decided to do something about my need
for release and relaxation. I opened my bedside drawer and took out my pretty pink
vibrator and turned its dial, hoping its batteries were still alive. The questionable
replacement for a man sprang to life and I grinned. Honestly, a pool of wetness had
flooded my pussy during the interview and I found myself pressing my thighs together as
I fought against my oppressive carnal desire for Edward Cullen.

I reclined my naked body on my bed and closed my eyes. With my PPV – as I dubbed the
pretty pink vibrator – gingerly humming, I trailed it down my chest and across one of my
nipples, which sprang up in response. Mmm, that feels sooo good. My free hand dipped
down to my warm opening to gauge my wetness. Not a drop had dried. Fabulous.
Images of Edward swarmed through my mind as I dragged my moist fingers across my
pubic bone and up to my full breasts. After the PPV elicited a few soft moans from the
attention it paid to my nipples, I plunged it deep and hard into my center and screamed
from the motion, imagining it was Edward's hips that pushed his dick fiercely into me.

It had been a couple of weeks since I last masturbated and I desperately needed to let
go. I turned up the PPV's speed and started an agonizingly slow pace. In and out, in and
out. Ohh, Edward. Just like that… I picked up speed as my longing to cum increased.
Yes, you know just what my body wants… With each successive thrust, I pushed it
deeper. Ungh…harder, Edward, keep pumping me! I rubbed my clit to help push me over
and just before I unleashed my orgasm, I pinched my swollen clit. My muscles clenched,
pulling the PPV further into me. The actions tipped me over the edge as I came hard. A
sound similar to a purr passed across my lips. Thank you, Edward… With a hiss, I removed
the vibrator and began a restful slumber.

l~l~l~l

What was it about my phone ringing when I was asleep? Without opening me eyes, which
were still closed from my orgasm-induced nap, I slapped my hand along my bedside table
as part of a blind hunt for the offending device. Once in my hand, I tapped the touch
screen until the ringing was silenced. With it in my hand, I raised it to my ear.

"Hello?" the voice whispered. Rose.

"Rose? What's wrong?" I whispered back for some inexplicable reason.


"Edward just called Emmett and he's reading him the riot act for not calling him back this week.

"So?" I asked. Why would this affect me and why is she whispering?

"I ordered Emmett not to call him."

"Rose, I'm in the dark here. Can you just explain what you're trying to say?"

"Okay, so you know how you forbid Emmett from telling Edward who you were? Well, I
know my man. He's like a little girl who has been told a secret and then is instructed to keep
it to herself, but instead informs the object of said secret of its details. So, out of
deference to you, I directed Emmett to keep it in his pants, so to speak."

"You are too much. I love you dearly, but he should be allowed to speak with his brother."

"Now he can. Edward knows who you are now."

"And what if it took longer for him to find out?"

"Well, he didn't. So it's a moot question." I chuckled at Rose's logic. She was too much.

"And why are we whispering?"

"I don't know why you're whispering, but I'm doing it so Edward doesn't detect my
presence while Emmett gets the goods on Edward's opinion of you, from both the
interview and your night of enchantment. He's doing intel for you, girlie!"

I could already feel the flush of my cheeks. I groaned at the idea of Emmett's misguided,
albeit sweet, notion that he would tap his brother for information. Guess he didn't have a
censor switch, either. I wasn't the least bit surprised.

"Enchantment? Nice," I said sardonically. "I'm going to rue the day I asked this question,
but would you care to share what Emmett's learning?"

"Let me call you back when they finish so I can get the four-one-one. Okay?"

"Make it soon. I may chicken out and not want to know what he said."

Rose snickered. "Okay, girlie. But from Emmett's end of the conversation, I can assure
you that you'll want to hear it."

I regretted my inquiry already, but she had ended the call before I could voice it to Rose.

After dressing in my sweats and plodding down the stairs to the living room, I plopped
myself on the couch and gnawed on my fingernails, preferring them to eating a real
dinner. My stomach was in knots while I waited for her return call. And then the phone
rang with Emmett's caller-ID on the screen.

Before I said anything, Emmett bellowed, "Bella! I have such good gossip for you."

"I just realized why you're a gynecologist – you're more of a woman than your patients.
Fuck Emmett, you're like one of those old biddies that sit around a table while they knit
booties for their grandchildren," I guffawed. Heh heh…Emmett sometimes made it too easy.
"Shut it." Too bad, Emmett didn't sound pissed off. "So here's the deal, our parents ate
dinner with him and made him explain his behavior towards –."

"No. No, no, no, no, no. No." I buried my head in my hands in a misguided attempt to make
all of this go away.

"Ohhhh, yeah," he said in a titillated tone. Where's a blanket for cover when I need it?
This is a disaster.

"Noooo. Oh. My. God. I can never face Esme and Carlisle again. I will die from the
embarrassment."

"Ha, ha, Bella. My parents are going to think you're a little whore." This time it was
Emmett's turn to burst out in laughter.

I heard Rose smack him in the head for that comment. Good. She definitely had my back.
"Be sure to thank your girlfriend for that whack."

"Ow. Hey baby, c'mon. I was only joking," he whined. Yeah, Emmett was a total girl.
"You know that, right Bells?"

"Sure. Whatever. Continue spilling." I attempted to use a flat tone in my voice to make
him feel guilty, or to hide my definite interest in what Edward had to say.

Emmett resumed speaking, "Okay, so you impressed him during the interview and he
thought your night together was hot. And relax about my parents. Apparently, they were
betting about whether you and Edward would hook up at Alice's wedding." Could my
level of humiliation increase anymore? Wait, Edward enjoyed our time together? What
was his deal then?

"Thanks, Em. I appreciate your help. But do me a favor, promise me you won't talk about
all of this with him again? Oh, shit. I have an incoming call." I pulled the phone from my ear
to look at the number. "Umm, I don't know who it is. I'll call you guys back later."

I clicked over to the other line. "Hello?"

"Ms. Swan?"

"Yes?"

"This is Edward Cullen." Holy motherfucking shit! This was unexpected! His voice was all
caramel and I felt that damned flutter I sensed whenever he was near.

A/N: Okay, so not of a lot of interview dialogue. I know, I know. You feel cheated. But
this chapter never would've been finished otherwise – this was what had been so difficult
for me to write. It's tough to make Daddyward/Widoward nasty…unless he's being nasty
in bed! *growl*

Next update (Chapter 12) will be Monday, January 11, 2010.

This week's rec is "The Cannebean Betrothal" by ItzMegan73. Because last week's rec –
HPA – was one frothy delight, I decided to switch it up a bit. This might be the most
unique and informative FFs I've come across. There are only 14 chapters, but I find it
enthralling.

Thank you for reading, reviewing, and recommending. One question: my beta and I were
trying to come up with a name for masturbation. My choice was orange; she suggested
diet lemonade. Hit "Review this Story/Chapter" and tell me what you think…
<a class='positive' onClick='select_drop("review");' href='#'>Review this
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A/N: Nothing too major to say before this one, other than thank you, thank you, thank
you to all of you who read and enjoy! (Sorta long A/N at the end.)

So this week in the tales of how my lovely beta, robpattz-addict, abuses me: she decided
to announce over twitter that she was whipping me to get me writing (or something like
that). Honestly, I kinda liked her dominating self. What can I say? *blush* :P

And with that...

Disclaimer: As always, Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Daddyward/Widoward sprang


from my mind and aren't meant to infringe on her copyrights!

Chapter 12: Brunch

EPOV

"Kate."

"Yes, sir. I didn't expect for you to call this soon. Have you made a decision?"

"I'm going to offer the position to Ms. Swan. She was the final candidate."

"I recall. I'm so glad you liked her. I really think she's an incredible find. How much would
you like me to offer her?"

"Actually, Kate, I would like to call her and make the offer myself."

"Oh." Kate sounded offended. Frankly, I didn't care.

"Don't worry. You'll still get your bonus," I sneered. Everyone seems to be greedy.
"No, it wasn't that. I'm just surprised you wanted to call her. You haven't done this
before," she timidly replied.

"I really appreciate your help, but I think it would be best if she heard from me. Have a
lovely evening, Kate."

"Thank you, s-"

I pressed END before I let her finish her thought. I clutched my phone in my right hand, as
if my life depended on it. Time to man up and apologize to Bella. No, I should wait until
the morning. It's too late tonight to call. I wouldn't want to seem rude…rather, more rude.
Fuck it.

I punched the numbers listed on her resume into my Blackberry. After talking with both
my parents and Emmett, I tried to see her through their eyes. I still questioned her
intentions – and Emmett's judgment considering he chose to have Rose in his life – but I
had to trust that Carlisle and Esme argued in her favor based on evidence, so to speak.
The line rang and a moment later, I heard her soothing voice.

"Hello?"

"Ms. Swan?"

"Yes?"

"This is Edward Cullen."

And then I was met with silence that lasted an indeterminable amount of time. In
actuality, it was probably a beat longer than I would've expected her to reply, but the
stillness made me uncomfortable and I wondered whether it was best to reconsider making
this call.

"Uhh, hi," she croaked. "It's, umm, a surprise to hear from you, Mr. Cullen. I expected a
call from Ms. Garrett."

"I hope it's not too late in the evening. So, Ms. Swan-"

"Please call me Bella," she interrupted.

"Um, sure. So Ms. Sw- Bella, I must apologize for my behavior during your interview."

"What are you talking about?"

Seriously? I was a Grade-A ass. I concealed my laugh with a cough. "I appreciate your
words, but let's be honest, Bella. I was rude and there wasn't any excuse for the way I
treated you. My actions have made me an entire embarrassment to Carlisle and Esme
and I wasn't fair to you. So please, accept my apology."

"Wait, you call your parents 'Carlisle' and 'Esme' – not 'Dad' and 'Mom'?"

"I'm sorry?" I paused. Was she unwilling to forgive me? "Uh, I don't call them by their
first names to their faces."
"I used to do the same thing with my dad, but a few times I called him 'Charlie' and I think
the only thing that saved my life was his knowledge that he'd have to call one of his
deputies to come and arrest him." She spoke of her father with a certain amount of
reverence in her voice.

"You miss him, don't you?"

When I heard a few sniffles come from her, I decided to return to the reason for my call.

"So I'm, uh, sorry for how I treated you." Why was it so hard to say 'I'm sorry'?

"Really, it's okay."

"It isn't."

"Mr. Cullen-"

This time it was my turn to interrupt. "Edward."

"What?"

"Call me Edward."

"Edward, thank you for calling. Was there something else you wanted?"

Oh, that was a loaded question. There was so much I wanted of Bella and for Bella. My
dick sprang to life in response and quickly became hard. We – me and my cock – were
facing some difficult times if she ends up accepting my job offer.

"Well, actually yes."

More silence.

"Edward?" Hearing her speak my name caused my dick to strain against my pants. Again.

This woman does things to my body without even trying. And then it was like the clouds
parted on a particularly stormy day – she wasn't even trying. I was repulsed for all of the
negative thoughts I'd had today.

"Uh, yes. Sorry," I sputtered. "So my other reason for calling was that I would like to
offer you the job as my nanny."

"What? Are you serious?" She sounded genuinely happy and I grinned from ear to ear
because it was my words that did brought that joy to her voice.

"Yes," I chuckled. "Um, so based on your experience I think $50,000 annual salary, plus
$2,500 to redecorate your room, would be sufficient?"

"That's, that's just too generous. I can't accept that."

"Well, that's what I'm offering." Was I trying to buy her forgiveness? Maybe a little.

"I'm going to have to decline then."


What? Nooo...this wasn't supposed to go like this.

"Bella, please don't be difficult. You're the woman I want." Shit, did I just say that?

She let out a loud and troubled-sounding sigh. "Okay."

"That's fantastic." I tried to contain the exuberance in my voice. Bella would be living
under my roof. "As I said, you'll have $2,500 to redo your room to your liking. Your
bedroom will be on the third floor and there's a queen-sized bed in it. However you wish
to spend the money, is fine with me. But I imagine you'll want to buy bedding that you
like, as well as matching window coverings. Um, you can paint the room if you'd like. What
else? Oh, there's a TV and DVD player in there, and a couch. It's a good-sized room. The
closet's pretty big, as is the attached bathroom and there is a dresser," I babbled.

I wondered what Bella was thinking of me after this display of verbal diarrhea. I shook
my head and waited for her to speak.

"That's actually super helpful. I would've suggested keeping the money and I would
bring my bedding from my house, but it's not mine. My bedroom hasn't been mine since I
left for college. Whenever I visited, I always stayed on the couch. I really appreciate
this. You can't even imagine."

"Since it's getting late, would you like to get together tomorrow for brunch and discuss
more of the specifics?"

"That would be great. Where should I meet you?"

"Oh, umm, I was thinking that you would come over here," I sheepishly suggested. "And,
umm, I would make us brunch."

"You cook?"

"Well, not really. I was going to pick up lox, cream cheese, and bagels. I figured I could
handle that."

She giggled. Oh, it sounded delightful. "That sounds great. Can you add capers and lime
wedges to that list?"

"Of course."

"What time?"

"10 AM?"

"That sounds perfect. I'll see you then, Edward."

"Goodnight, Bella."

I hung up and ran a victory lap around the room. Bella would be in my house tomorrow
and she'd be working for me. I'd have ample opportunities to make her mine. Why had I
spent hours hating her? I'm such a stupid fuck, sometimes.

Before I could head upstairs, I had to make one more call.


"Edward, how'd it go?"

"Hi Dad. I apologized, offered her the job, and came to the conclusion that I was an idiot
for hating her."

Carlisle snickered. "No comment. But I'm glad you hired her. Bella's a wonderful woman."

"We had a nice chat and we're having brunch tomorrow to discuss more details of the job."

"Son, just tread carefully. I can sense your feelings for her aren't entirely of a business nature."

"No comment." I was almost as fond of the statement as my father. "But I'm going to keep
it in my pants. Don't worry."

"Have your mother or I told you lately that we're proud of you?"

I could feel the rush of blood to my face from the slight embarrassment. "Yes, Dad. I
know you are. Thanks for setting me right this evening. Pass along my best to Mom and I'll
talk to you tomorrow."

"Goodnight, Edward."

l~l~l~l

BPOV

As soon as we hung up, I squealed with delight and started to dance and jump around
the room. And then my klutziness kicked in as I managed to kick a leg of the coffee table
and I tumbled to the ground. I hit the floor with a thud and hurt my butt, but I didn't care.
I had a job! And it was with Edward Cullen, the man who set my loins on fire!

After regaining my composure, I called Rose.

"Whore, when were you planning on calling me and Em back?"

"I'm giving you ammunition with this, but, guess what?" I couldn't contain my excitement
and didn't allow her to respond. "The call I received while I was talking to Emmett. Well,
it was Edward. He called to apologize for being an ass and he hired me. Thisisfuckingawesom

"Dude, calm down."

"Rose. I. Have. A. Job."

"Just a few hours ago you thought you ruined the interview and then you forced Emmett
to pump Edward for info."

"I did no such thing!"

"You're too easy," Rose snickered. "But seriously. Give me the details on the job."

"Well, um, so, um, yeah." I stammered. "I sorta took it without finding out much more
than the pay rate."

"How do you manage to get yourself out of the house in the morning?"
"Hey now!" I shouted.

"I'm not deaf woman!" she shouted back. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're smart. We both know
it. Blah, blah, blah. Bella, we both know I only give you a hard time because I love you."

"Uh-huh…whatever. So anyway, he's paying me well and he is giving me an allowance to


redecorate the room."

"Shit, you know Alice is going to have a field day." Oh, yes. My friend, the interior
decorator, is bound to have far too much fun with this. "Have you told her about you
and Edward, yet?"

"First of all, there isn't a 'me and Edward'. Secondly, she's on her honeymoon. I'm not
interrupting that porno-in-the-making. And third, were you asleep when I made you
promise not to share the details of our indiscretion – or its existence for that matter?"

Rose continued to giggle. "Porno-in-the-making? For someone who is as free with sex as
you are, Bella, you sure are frigid. Now stop changing the subject. Job. Details. Spill."

"You changed the subject."

"Bella…"

"Fine," I huffed. "He offered me $50,000 annually and the $2,500 allowance."

"And?" I could just see Rose stamping her foot on the ground as she impatiently awaited
more information.

"That's it. But, before you say anything, we're meeting for brunch tomorrow to go over
everything."

"Bow-chicka-bow-wow."

"Shut up!" I squealed. "On that note, this call is OVER. I'll call you tomorrow when I know more.

"See ya, whore!"

I wanted to kill Rose sometimes, but at least she kept me laughing…even if it was at my
own actions.

Though I knew better, I resumed my dancing around the room and then continued it up
the stairs and down the hall to the bathroom so I could wash my face and brush my
teeth. Note to self: don't use water when dancing. I left puddles around the sink and my
tee was drenched, but I didn't care. My future included living in the same house as
Edward Cullen! And nothing could erase the shit-eating grin spanning my face.

l~l~l~l

Sleep escaped me as I tossed and turned because of nerves I anticipated would cripple
me during my meeting with Edward. Was it a meeting? What should I call it? I just prayed
that whatever he told me about the job wouldn't cause me to regret my decision to
accept the position without all of the details. Swallowing my pride and going to Rose with
the reality of a mediocre possibility wasn't an option.
Once light began filtering through my sheer curtains, I sought out my phone. 6:30?
Seriously? I flipped over and shoved my face into the pillow, praying sleep would
overtake me again. I repeated the motions at least a hundred times, finally giving in to
the day around 8:30 – half-an-hour before when I was due to rise. Yep, I was having one
of those 'Fuck my life' moments. Let's hope it's a moment and not one of those days!

I dragged my body down the stairs and started brewing some coffee. The caffeine would
be required today. Trudging back up to my room while my dad's old coffeemaker
percolated, I dropped onto my bed.

Seconds later my phone broke the silence. Motherfucker! Who in the hell would call at this
hour on a Saturday? Suuuure, I was awake, but come on.

"What?" I groaned into the phone when I saw Jake was calling.

"Hello to you, too."

"In what universe did you think it was a good idea to buzz me this early on a Saturday?"

I heard Leah's voice in the background. "Mrs. Black would like to speak with you." Okay,
that was not a name I expected to ever get used to.

"Bella! Tell me how the interview went. Jake and I have been waiting to hear from you
for eons," she said. I thought children couldn't differentiate between units of time. Turns
out 18-year-old child brides exaggerated, too.

I sighed, "Put the phone on speaker and I'll briefly tell you about it. I've got a meeting to
get ready for."

"Whaaaaat? A Meeeeeting?"

"Leah, I don't have a lot of time. Just get on the speaker so I can be spared telling this twice."

Some shuffling and muffled voices later, both Leah and Jacob cooed, "Did you get the job?"

"Yes," I droned. "He offered me a lot of money, but not too many particulars. I'm meeting
him for brunch in," I looked down at my watch, "eighty-two minutes to be specific. Now I
need to get going so I can shower and dry my hair before I leave. I intend on making a
good impression by arriving early."

They both congratulated me and then Jacob chimed in. "We're going to let you off the
hook this time, but we expect a full report tonight. Dinner at our place?"

"If agreeing gets you off the phone, then I'll be there. 7:00 work for you two?"

"Perfect," they called out in unison. I found their saccharine sing-song sickening.

"Bye guys!"

"See ya!"

It was time for a yet another serious pep talk. Bella, calm the fuck down. You don't have a
single reason to be nervous. You've got the job. Sure, you two have a sordid history,
what with the anonymous sex and the bizarre-o interview…My inner voice apparently
chose to fail me when I needed her reassurance most.

I tossed my pajamas into my clothes hamper and trotted into the bathroom. I shoved
the shower's temperature lever all the way to 'H' and began my two-minute wait, complete
with tooth brushing and a glance in the mirror.

"Fuck, Bella…you look tired," I spoke to my reflection while the toothpaste drooled from
my mouth. Rather than focusing on the image in front of me, I resolved to clear my mind
of all negativity and hopped in the shower with my toothbrush still lodged in my mouth. I
ran my fingers through my waves only to snag a flurry of tangles. Fuuuuck, why didn't I
brush my hair before sticking my head under the spray? Wow, that positivity kick lasted
all of about 1.7 seconds. I pouted for a bit and finally resumed the sudsing of my hair and
body. I didn't want to leave the security and warmth of my shower, but eventually I
pulled myself from it.

After wrapping a towel around my head and my robe around my torso, I returned to my
bedroom and threw open the closet doors. What sort of look did I hope to accomplish
today? I tore a bunch of shirts from their hangers and grabbed a pair of jeans, thong,
and bra – casual cool would be the way to go. I slipped my undies and jeans on while I
fretted over the top. Going with blue, but short sleeve or long, v-neck or crew? I dragged
a short-sleeve, v-neck over my head and peered in the mirror. I was satisfied with my
decision and saw my wall clock read 9:15. Damn, not a lot of time to do my hair or wand
on some mascara. Rushing out of my room, I stubbed my toe and I collapsed on the floor
rolling in pain. Would I ever outgrow my klutziness? Doubtful.

Because time was limited and limping to the bathroom took far too long, I coated my
lashes with mascara and threw my hair into a high ponytail. I rushed down the stairs and
out the door where I was rudely shocked to find I was without shoes. This morning
continues to get worse and worse. I returned to the house and smelled the coffee that I
forgot to pour. No time, no time. Ignore the tempting aroma. Before I managed to kill
myself or burn down the house, I flipped the switch to OFF and grabbed a pair of flip flops.
A little too casual? Perhaps, but I didn't care in light of my aching toe.

Twenty minutes later, I crossed onto Edward's property and weaved through the trees
that sheltered it from the highway. As his house came into view, Edward walked out to
the porch and waved. The smile on his face was one of those panty-dropping grins you
only hear about, but never see with your own eyes. I'm totally fucked.

l~l~l~l

EPOV

Orange juice? Check. Champagne for mimosas? Check. Come to think of it, I should
probably shelve the Moët for another day…wouldn't want a repeat of Alice's wedding…at
least for now. Fresh fruit salad? Check. Bagels, lox, and cream cheese? Check, check, check.

What am I forgetting? Already, my anxiety had led to sweaty palms and more hair
fussing than normal. Now it seems my mind decided to go the way of my hands and fail
me. I ambled into the family room and situated myself on my piano bench. Just perching
my body in front of the instrument calmed me enough for my focus to return. Yes!
Prepare coffee, slice limes and onions, and spoon some capers into a bowl.

I felt infinitely better after I readied everything for the brunch. Now, I just needed one
Bella Swan. Providing she didn't run late, she was bound to arrive within the next ten to
fifteen minutes. Like clockwork, I peered outside the door every sixty seconds until her
truck meandered at an agonizingly slow pace across my property. Could she get here any
faster? I stepped out and raised my hand in greeting. Once she stopped, I wandered
around and opened her door.

"Good morning. I'm glad you could make it."

"I'm sorry for the flip flops," Bella expressed with a frown. As she swung her legs out, she
pointed to the shoes that matched her blue top. Fuck, she was in blue again.

"Umm, you think I'm dressed any differently?" I smiled at her, attempting to shove her
worries away with the smile on my face.

Bella's eyes swept from my similarly-clad feet, up past my jeans and crewneck tee, to my
head. Her face calmed infinitely and she beamed at me. I felt my cock twitch slightly,
trying to decide if this was the right place and time for it to propel itself between her
warm, wet folds. Learn some control, I implored my other head.

"So what're we having?"

"Uhh," I stammered. Didn't we already discuss this last night?

"Oh yeah, bagels and cream cheese." And then she blushed and my dick began to press
against my jeans' zipper. "Sorry, I'm a little nervous."

"You and me both." Did I just admit to being nervous? We would never make it to day
one. An agitated chuckle and more hair fussing later, I stated, "Follow me. I've set up our
breakfast on the back patio."

I held the front door for her before leading her through the house and another door,
whereupon she gasped lightly.

"I thought the view from your parents' house was pleasant, but this is sublime."

"Well, the weather seemed too perfect to pass up. Please, have a seat." I motioned
towards the table and fought the urge to reach a hand out to touch the ends of her hair.
Was it as soft as I recalled? "If you wait here, I will go grab the food and drinks."

"Do you need help?"

"No, you're my guest. Sit." I flinched at the word – it was the same way I addressed her
the previous day. "That came out wrong."

She just chuckled, thankfully. "I insist." Nodding my assent, she trailed behind me.

In a rare moment of thanking Alice for her insistence that I choose our grandparents'
silver trays among their belongings, I grabbed two with a smile on my face. Sometimes
that pain in the ass had good ideas.

We returned to the back porch and dug in. Bella took cream and sugar in her coffee. Was
she drinking it to please me? "I can make tea if you would prefer it."

"Edward." My chest swelled at the sound of my name rolling off her tongue. It wasn't the
first time she had this effect on me and I prayed to whatever God took away Angela that
this was His way in making it up to me. "This is all perfect." Turns out it was her turn to
reassure me.

I nodded and we ate, easing into light conversation. Her lilting laugh at the stories of
Lizzie and Renee regaled me. Please stay. Don't ever go. As much as I wanted this
morning to continue until the end of time, we had business to delve into and I preferred to
talk about the particulars before Tia returned with the girls.

"Right, so I asked you over here not only to get to know you better, but also so I could
tell you more about the job." When she expressed her understanding, I continued. "I've
already told you the salary. You'll be an employee of me personally, but I'll talk to the
administrators of Masen Mining's 401(k) to determine whether we can add you to the plan.
I don't expect there to be a problem. You'll be paid on the 31st of each month and I'll
deposit 5% of your after-tax income into the 401(k). That's, of course, in addition to your
salary."

The look she gave me made me want to cower in a corner. I guess I wouldn't have to
worry about the girls misbehaving around Bella – the expression was downright
terrorizing. "Edward, you are being too generous. Stop. I will not accept it." Even with a
tone to match the smirk on her face, my name being spoken by her elicited the same chest
swelling as when her voice was soft.

"Fine, fine. Would you acquiesce to participating in the 401(k) if the money came from
your paycheck?"

"Yes."

"Good. I'm glad we can agree. Now, some other aspects of the job: when you are driving
the girls, you will always use my Lexus SUV. In fact, you are welcome to make that your
primary vehicle for as long as you stay with me." Did that sound bad? "I meant, as long as
I employ you."

"Sounds reasonable. I don't exactly have seating for the girls and their car seats in the truck."

"Oh, you probably are wondering about your hours?"

"Yeah, that might be helpful."

"Well, Tia – the girls' grandmother – picks them up on Fridays for sleepovers around
noon. They remain there until about 1:00 on Saturdays, which means they should be
home soon! You'll get to meet them."

"I can't wait." Her responsive grin would've lit up the backyard if the sun wasn't shining.

"Where was I? I work from my home office on weekends, so once they leave on Friday,
it's your time. You wouldn't be expected back until bedtime on Sunday. You could remain
here or go to your place in town, or whatever. And if you decided to stay here, you
could come and go as you please. Feel free to date, whatever." Please don't date
anyone, please don't date anyone.

"Honestly, Edward, this all sounds great. I don't know if you need to hear it, but I would
still love the job if it's mine."
"Of course!"

"Great, so when do you want me to start?"

"Did you want to start moving in next weekend? I'll be here to help with everything. In
fact, I can take Friday off…"

"That would be great. All of it."

Once we finished our chat, Bella assisted with the cleanup and accompanied me as I
toured her around the house. Just as we exited her room – her room! – the girls' shouting
two floors below announced their arrival. Lizzie and Renee spent an hour getting to know
her before she excused herself. I was slightly devastated to see her leave. But at least I
knew all of my girls would carry on famously. My girls…huh. I like the sound of that.

"Give me a call if you have any questions. Oh, and my assistant will call you on Monday."

"What about?"

"Tax stuff, the 401(k), direct deposit…boring stuff. But if you want to head to Port
Angeles to do all the paperwork, I can arrange my schedule so we can have lunch."

She smiled that gorgeous smile again. "I'm in. But only if we go for sushi." Bella walked
out before I could respond. She loved sushi, too? Bella Swan, you are perfect.

l~l~l~l

BPOV

I looked to my left and to my right, shocked to see expensive cars surrounding me. I grew
up with the knowledge the Cullens were wealthy, but I couldn't anticipate such a gross
display of it through the autos they drove.

My door opened and a hand reached out to take my own. "May I?" As I turned and
angled my head up towards its source, the deep, yet bright green eyes of Edward Cullen
gazed at me.

My mind was in a haze, but I feared that if I shook my head in attempt to clear it, he might
misinterpret the motion as my way of turning him down. Instead, I muttered something to
him and delicately placed my fingers in his upturned palm. The initial contact almost forced
me to rip my hand away; a shock akin to that of static electricity jolted me. Once I stood, I
slid my fingers to join his, reveling in the warmth of our connection. He led me into his
house and into a room with a bar attached, asking whether I desired anything. Did I?

"I would love another shot of lemon vodka if you have it?"

He nodded before pouring it and bringing it over to me. Edward instructed me to eat, but
there was a tinny quality to his voice, and I wasn't sure whether he was speaking or if I
imagined this warning. Before I could stop myself, I downed the drink and then informed
him that I would eat him. As if a demon possessed me, I rose from the couch where I
suddenly noticed I'd been sitting and crossed the short distance between Edward and
myself and kissed him fiercely while I snaked my leg around his waist. As if taking my cue,
he gripped my other thigh and lifted me so I straddled his waist. His long fingers deftly
cupped my ass as he walked us to the staircase and up a couple of flights. The
never-ending hallway passed by me as I gawked, until my knee slammed into a door jam,
as if a finger and thumb snapped me into consciousness.

"I'm so sorry, Isabella."

"Shush. Now get me to your bed, because I'm starving."

Were those words spoken by me? Before I had a chance to consider whether the
salacious comment was my own, Edward passionately pressed his mouth to mine. Fuck,
he tastes good. Oh! His hard cock poked me and I moaned before I started begging for
him to touch me.

When did we lie down? My eyes glanced down to our bodies, which were still very much
covered. More words and sounds erupted from me and before my muddled brain could
make sense of everything, I pushed him off of me and forced myself up behind him, but
our bodies continued to touch.

A flurry of movement led to a pile at our feet, my dress on top of his suit, him whipping
me around, so one of his hands could massage a breast while his other circled my clit
over my panties. Did I wear a pretty pair today?

A jolt of that already-present electricity coursed through me and I shivered in its wake. I
needed to feel the tear of the material as it was forced from my skin.

"Please," I begged. "Rip them off."

"I'm sorry, did you just ask me to rip your panties off?" Why was he asking and not doing?

I whined, "Rip. Them. Off." Before I had to ask again, the friction created by the rough
lace rubbed against my clit and we both groaned at the movement. While the sensation
sunk in, Edward plunged one of his dexterous fingers deep into my pussy and stroked my
g-spot. I couldn't stand or focus and my tongue wouldn't respond. I was about to lose my
footing and I needed Edward to return me to his bed. As if he could read my thoughts, he
lifted me up, forcing his finger deeper inside of me. Holy shit!

"I'm going to cum. Please don't stop…" And then it hit. "Edward," trailed from my mouth,
followed by an even quieter "Thank you."

He moved us to his bed and he held me tight against his chest while my heart rate
returned to normal. I took the opportunity to take in my surroundings, or at least try.
The muscles of his arms were sinewy and he smelled of man and it was divine. Honestly, I
didn't give a shit about the surroundings, other than his body.

Blinking my eyes, I felt the haze of the alcohol again as just a second earlier I laid in his
arms and now my mouth was running along his neck and torso and I ordered his hands
off of me.

Gripping his cock – truthfully, the largest I had ever seen or imagined – I moved my
tongue over the tip, lapping up the pre cum that dripped from it. My Greek God moaned
in response, spurring me to take his length into my mouth, which I inched further and
further back until I took all of it in. I sucked and licked and hummed and dragged my
teeth away while he writhed and groaned.

Yep, Edward…you'll rate this a ten on a scale of one-to-ten. Wait, this is an eight. Let's
make it a ten! Agonizingly slowly, I lifted my jaws from his generous length and he
whimpered. My mouth wrapped around his balls and my hand grasping his penis, I
continued to work my magic. Now you'll rate this a ten and as your best blowjob ever.
When I heard him squeak that he was about to cum, I positioned my mouth along his slit
and pressed my tongue into it before pulling his head back into me. His salty, sweet
juices erupted and I sucked and licked until he was dry.

I curled my body around him so that I could clutch Edward's delightfully sweaty body.

"That was, without a doubt, the most amazing orgasm and blowjob I've ever
experienced. You are incredible. Will you allow me to thank you properly?"

"I'm all yours."

Shit! Edward abruptly grabbed me into him and began brushing his lips against my own
before rolling me onto my back. Oh, yes, Edward Cullen was about to go down on me. Or
so I thought. Instead, he littered my neck and chest with kisses. Keep moving down,
down, down… He paused on my breasts, nipping at them and biting my nipples, while I
yelped with delight. I threw my hands into his hair to slow and steady his ministrations –
he grazed too fast. But it didn't matter because he was finally listening to my silent
pleas. Edward's face hovered above my wet pussy and I held back the urge to shove it into
his lips. His warm breath caused me to shiver and then he tentatively licked me. I gasped
at the sensation and he ceased his movement.

"Don't stop," I pleaded. And for seconds, minutes, hours? – I didn't know how long,
Edward plunged his tongue into me, along my lips, and across my clit. I could feel my
impending orgasm, but suddenly he sank one of his exotically-lengthed fingers into my
center. I ached to cum, but I also ached for the friction that he just introduced to continue
for a lifetime. My body lost the battle of holding on as all of my muscles clenched before
my release.

But he left me wanting for more because his finger and tongue soon retreated from my
folds. In a most unexpected maneuver, he rapidly submerged his huge member into me.
"Edward!" And then he stopped. "No. Keep going. You feel so fucking perfect in me.
Please, never stop." Afraid I would be required to force him to fuck me, I snaked my legs
around his torso and drew him closer to me. The action spurred him on as he began a
slow march toward another round of orgasms. I joined him with each thrust, matching
his movements.

Our eyes met and unknown urge overtook us both as we began kissing and holding each
other close. Edward's hands ran along my face and mine pulled at his hair. Our horizontal
dance sped up, my legs around his middle, his arms gripping me against his chest. And
before I realized what was happening, we both came, grunts and shouts escaping from our
lips. Edward collapsed onto me and our quickened breathing and heartbeats became the
lone sounds in the room…

When I awoke from the dream, my sheets were twisted around my feet. Those sheets
weren't needed – my body was covered in a sheen of sweat and my appendages tingled
from the orgasm I'd just had. That's when it dawned on me: this morning's brunch
managed to jostle my subconscious memories of what happened that night Edward and I
were together. Enclosed in the cold darkness of my room, I felt weightless and sated. My
lips curled up with the memory. Yes, we both enjoyed ourselves.
A/N: So we finally got Bella's take on their night of pleasure. Ooh, la la! Now there are
some of you (*cough*Misty*cough*) who want lemons ALL THE TIME. It's not going to
happen. I know we've had a few chapters of citrsusy delight, but the story is about more
than sex, you dirty, dirty, readers!

In response to the last chapter's reviews: *I* do not own my own PPV...some of my
favorite names for masturbation: lemon spritzer, limeade, lemon tartlets, cherry delight,
fingered citron...you guys are awesome!

The next chapter should be up next Monday, January 18, 2010. However, if you've been
following me on twitter, you know I've had a bout of writer's block. Let's hope it passes fast!

This week's recommendation comes courtesy of M_Loves_Lemons (btw-check out her


FFs, as well): "Mr. Horrible" by algonquinrt. I *thought* it was incomplete because the
author is on permanent hiatus (her author page explains), but the awesome M let me know
it's complete, minus the Epi. It's fun...the link is available on my author page under the
"Favorite Stories" tab.

So I love that you're reviewing. But I know there are HUNDREDS of you out there who are
lurking...reading, but not reviewing. Stop in and say "Hi!" We hit 200 reviews after the last
installment, let's shoot for 350 with this one!

Question for y'all: What would you have for brunch with Daddyward/Widoward (and you
can't say him, because we can't share that!)? Hit "Review this Story/Chapter" and tell me
what you'd eat…THANKS FOR READING!
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&#187; A Labor of Love <td> <a href='/u/2058400/lizconno'>lizconno
<small>Author of 3 Stories</small> <INPUT TYPE=BUTTON Value=' < Prev '
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navigation' Name=chapter onChange="self.location = '/s/5496816/'+
this.options[this.selectedIndex].value + '/A_Labor_of_Love';"><option value=1 >1.
Chapter 1: Change<option value=2 >2. Chapter 2: Endings<option value=3 >3. A
Quick AN & Ch 3 Preview<option value=4 >4. Chapter 3: Breakdown<option value=5
>5. Chapter 4: Possibilities<option value=6 >6. Chapter 5: Nuptials<option value=7
>7. Chapter 6: Flirting<option value=8 >8. Chapter 7: Lemonade<option value=9 >9.
Chapter 8: Uncertainty<option value=10 >10. Chapter 9: Alone<option value=11
>11. Chapter 10: Interviews, Part One<option value=12 >12. Chapter 11: Interviews,
Part Two<option value=13 >13. Chapter 12: Brunch<option value=14 selected>14.
Chapter 13: Commencement<option value=15 >15. Chapter 14: Moving<option
value=16 >16. Chapter 15: Comfort<option value=17 >17. Chapter 16: Games<option
value=18 >18. Chapter 17: Dates<option value=19 >19. Chapter 18: Surprises<option
value=20 >20. Chapter 19: Progress?<option value=21 >21. Chapter 20:
Revelations<option value=22 >22. Chapter 21: Dilemma<option value=23 >23.
Chapter 22: Declaration<option value=24 >24. Chapter 23: Tears<option value=25
>25. Chapter 24: Assurance<option value=26 >26. Chapter 25: Connection<option
value=27 >27. Chapter 26: Perspectives<option value=28 >28. Chapter 27:
Time<option value=29 >29. Chapter 28: Labor<option value=30 >30. Chapter 29:
Admissions<option value=31 >31. Chapter 30: Advice<option value=32 >32. Chapter
31: Seattle<option value=33 >33. Chapter 32: Finally<option value=34 >34. Epilogue
Part One<option value=35 >35. Epilogue Part Two</select> <INPUT TYPE=BUTTON
Value=' Next > ' onClick="self.location='/s/5496816/15/A_Labor_of_Love'"> Rated:
<a href='http://www.fictionratings.com/' target='rating'> M - English - Romance - Bella
& Edward - Reviews: <a href='/r/5496816/'>2,239 - Updated: 06-21-10 - Published:
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A/N: There are a bunch of important announcements this week, so please read each.
Other notes will appear at the end!

1) MsKathy has organized a drive to get a plethora of FanFic authors to contribute


one-shots, outtakes, etc. into an anthology in support of ongoing aid for Haiti.

For your $5.00 donation, you can get all of the stories. My contribution is a o/s that is
both sad and real, with a little lemon thrown in. Please go to her blog for details:
http:/mskathyff(dot)blogspot(dot)com/2010/01/haiti(dot)html

2) Nominations for the Second Indie TwiFic Awards commenced today (through January
28 at midnight).

If you like my story (or any others with fewer than 1,000 reviews or 30 per chapter),
then please nominate it in the following categories: WIP AH Story that Knocks You Off
Your Feet or Best Use of a Parent. Please visit the link to nominate:
http:/www(dot)theindietwificawards(dot)com/nominations(dot)aspx

3) Southern Fan Fiction Review reviewed A Labor of Love last week.

*squeeee* Wow, the review is awesome and I am floored, humbled, and entirely
grateful. Please check it out:
http:/www(dot)southernfanfictionreview(dot)com/2010/01/labor-of-love-by-lizconno(dot)html

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Daddyward/Widoward sprang from my


mind and aren't meant to infringe on her copyrights!

Chapter 13: Commencement

EPOV

Sunday and Monday were like any other Sundays or Mondays, with the exception of one
thing – Bella. Whether I wanted to forget it or not, her presence in my life had become a
necessity. She would influence every decision I would make in my personal and professional
life. The rational part of my brain kept wondering the same thing: how could this woman,
who had shared little of herself with me, affect me this profoundly after such a short
amount of time?

The second I saw Maggie on Monday morning, I instructed her to contact Bella about
filling out employee and tax documents. Although we could go over the paperwork on
Friday, this would be an excuse to see her earlier. Brunch had gone better than expected
and I found myself missing her moments after she left. What didn't help matters was
seeing her with Lizzie and Renee that afternoon – it cemented things for me. The path of
my life had shifted irrevocably.

Although I would treat her with the utmost respect as an employee, I would make it my
goal to show her my growing admiration with the hope that one day she would see me
the way I saw her – as part of my future and as my partner for life. I wished I could
erase my earlier doubts of her, which managed to color my treatment of her on Friday.
Maybe this would be the one bump in the road to our eventual 'happily ever after'? Only
one person could help me with my quandary, but she was still on her honeymoon and I was
still peeved at her for sharing her prediction with Carlisle and Esme. I guess I could call in
secondary reinforcements for advice.

"Son."

"Dad, do you think I can join you, mom, and the girls for dinner tonight?"

"Of course. You know Victoria always makes too much food for the four of us – just in
case my workaholic son wants to make an appearance. When do you think you'll be done?"

"Umm, I expect to leave around 6:00 so I should be there by 7:00. Is that alright?"

"Sure. Is there a particular reason you'll be joining us for dinner?"

"I need some advice about Bella."

l~l~l~l

BPOV

Friday. The day loomed like a shining beacon of my impending idiocy and made me
question my decisions since leaving Phoenix.

Friday. The day I would begin moving in with Edward.

Okay, not moving 'in' with Edward, but living under the same roof. Although I couldn't wait
for the prospect of waking up every morning to those eyes that penetrated my soul and
the face that would make angels weep because of its entire perfection, a big part of me
felt trepidation at the prospect. Neither of us mentioned our one-night stand. I didn't
know how I would be able to work for him without blushing: between hearing about our
night from Emmett, being around Edward's nervous graciousness, and the images from
my exceptionally vivid dream, I realized our night was more than just two hurt souls
coming together to grieve.

But now I would wonder many things, some of which were easier to answer than
others. Who would mention our sexy time first? Would we get a replay of it? How much
time would we spend together away from the girls? How early did he leave for work?
Would I see him before he drove to Port Angeles? Would we eat dinners together after
his long days in the office? Should I cook something special for him each night, or would
he want whatever I fed the twins – if anything at all? And the most important question of
all: why couldn't my mind concentrate on Lizzie and Renee – the two who should be the
focus of my thoughts?

My dinner with Jake and Leah went as expected, I suppose. Their sickeningly sweet,
lovey-dovey shtick gave me an opportunity to lose myself in my own thoughts without
seeming rude. Hopefully, Jake didn't think I was a bad friend for not asking about his
problem where Leah was concerned, but considering how they were practically humping
each other in front of me, I figured everything had worked itself out. Jake agreed to
seek a PTO day from work on Friday and help me move. I figured everything I would
need would fit easily in the bed of my truck, considering I left Phoenix less than a month earlier.

Had it really been less than a month? The ache in my chest, which I had successfully held
at bay for more than a week, erupted with more force than before. My father – my world
– was gone. The fire within burned and my tears burst forth.

"I'm sorry, Dad. I'm sorry I wasn't here to tell you how entirely I love you. I was trying
to come back. You were always right – I deserved better and I should've stayed in
Washington, or at least returned Washington a year earlier. Why did I insist on being
stubborn and not listen to you?"

The tears continued until sleep overtook me. After napping for an hour or two, I had the
distinct displeasure of waking to lashes that were glued to one another due to my earlier
sobs. I stumbled to the kitchen sink to wet a towel to release them. When I checked the
time on my phone, I noticed the alert to the missed call and awaiting voicemail. Maggie,
Edward's assistant, called in order to schedule an appointment to fill out my tax
documents. She hoped I would be free on Wednesday at 10:30. I immediately phoned
her – almost two hours after she called – and let her know the time would work for me.

How long had I dozed? This grief-induced snoozing didn't bode well for my nanny duties
with Lizzie and Renee. I wonder whether I could work my fits of tears into their sleep schedule?

l~l~l~l

EPOV

I left work early and managed to dodge traffic so that I pulled into my parents' driveway
almost half-an-hour early. Like Friday night's dinner, I sulked in the car until Carlisle
roused me from my thoughts with a knock on the Volvo's window.

"You coming in?"

I nodded so my father turned and disappeared through the front door. After pulling a
deep breath into my lungs, I followed his lead.

"Daddy!" Lizzie and Renee sang in chorus as they tackled me in one of the most
heart-warming hugs. I was thankful for having such admiring girls. How I dreaded
puberty; surely their loving disposition now would have a 180-degree turn and result in
little hellions who I would be forced to ground until they turned 21.
I kissed them each on the forehead and squeezed them tight before releasing them.
"What did you and Granny do today?"

The girls gave me a play-by-play of their day, and then they began nagging me about
getting a dog. I didn't recall mentioning to the girls whether we might adopt a puppy, so
I knew my mother must've been to blame. When I looked up at Esme during their giddy
discussion of what they would name the dog, she wouldn't meet my gaze. I decided then
that she would be responsible for training the dog, whether she wanted to or not. That'll
teach her!

After we gorged on Victoria's homemade spaghetti, garlic bread, and Italian salad, my
parents and I retired to their living room to discuss my conundrum, while the girls joined
Vic in the kitchen to make some sort of dessert that I was sure would rot everyone's
teeth. As soon as I was sure Lizzie and Renee were out of earshot, I announced my
reason for coming over.

"I'm worried about living under the same roof as Bella."

"Are you now?" my mother asked, while concealing a grin. These two drove me crazy.
They knew what I wanted to discuss before I did.

"Mother… I can't stop thinking about her. Everything about her calls to me."

"Edward, I know I've told you to tread lightly, but you're both adults," my father stated.
This man was beginning to give me whiplash. "Would a relationship between the two of
you be such a horrible thing?"

"Uh, yeah. Two reasons: Lizzie and Renee."

"Bella's got a good head on her shoulders. She's going to put their concerns first. If you
two decide to succumb to your obvious chemistry, it will only enhance the growing bond
you two are developing."

"I may not agree with your father," my mother began before turning towards my father,
"And we're not betting on this, so stop encouraging him," she smirked as she focused
back to me, "But you two have something between you that you need to figure out. Your
happiness is one of our greatest concerns. If she brings joy to your life, then don't avoid
it because you're concerned about what may or may not happen and how your
daughters may or may not be affected. You've blamed yourself for Angela's death and,
as a result, you've been alone for so many years, Edward. That's had an adverse effect
on the girls. Start living, dear."

This back and forth with Carlisle and Esme proceeded for another hour. I prayed this talk
would somehow squelch my desire for Bella, but I found myself more confused than
before. Had my family been correct with their lame attempt at an intervention? Was it
time for me to move on with another woman?

Eventually, Lizzie tottered in and declared dessert was served.

"Thanks for watching them," I whispered to Victoria when I joined my girls at the kitchen table.

Smiling, she responded, "You know how much I love your girls. Don't give it another thought."

Well, there was one thing I didn't have to focus on. I wasn't sure what to do about Bella.
My father was correct – we had chemistry. The only question was whether I could – or
should – stifle it.

l~l~l~l

BPOV

Packing had progressed about as well as I expected it to – not at all. My father's


admonishing rang throughout my head: Isabella Marie Swan, don't wait until the last
minute. You'll regret it. Sometimes I hated it when the 'father knows best' words spoke to
me through my conscience. Even though my father could no longer hug me, his words would.

I tried to justify my procrastination to myself that I was moving across town and that I
wouldn't be at Edward's seven days a week. I replayed brunch with Edward in my head.
Maybe I would stay there every night, after all this house hadn't been mine since I left for
college.

l~l~l~l

When Edward made me promise to lunch with him after filling out my tax forms, I figured
he was being polite. But when I arrived at his office Wednesday morning, he met me at
reception with a crooked grin on his face. Each time I saw him, I noticed more features I
missed the previous time. His bronze hair was an organized mess that he ran his fingers
through frequently. Did he even realize he was doing it – or what the action was doing to
me? It was fuckhawt and the resulting wetness that amassed between my thighs made
me blush and bite my lip as I stifled the dirty thoughts I was having. My eyes lingered on
his face for a moment before they scanned the rest of him. Edward's suit disguised his
chiseled chest that I had spied through his t-shirt at our earlier brunch, but it couldn't
conceal the slight bulge at his crotch. I smiled. Focus, Bella.

He silently led me through the first floor to the elevators, motioning for me to enter first
after the doors opened. We stood on opposite ends of the small space, stealing nervous
glances. Edward balled and released his fists repeatedly, increasing my anxiety.

"I must be keeping you from something. You don't need to babysit me."

"What are you talking about, Bella?"

"Your hands…" I trailed.

He gazed at his fists and immediately relaxed them by wringing his hands. "Sorry, nervous
habit," he sheepishly laughed.

"I know what you mean, I bite my lip." Did I have to reveal all of my tells before my first
day of work?

"Huh, I noticed. I guess we won't be going to Vegas anytime soon."

Me. Edward. Vegas. Butterflies flapped wildly in my stomach at the idea.

"You know, I meant we both must be horrible gamblers," he added.

"Of course." Oh, the idea was nice while it lasted…


The awkward quiet returned as he escorted me from the elevator and into his office
suite. An attractive woman in her 50s or 60s stood and took my hand. This must be Maggie.

"Bella, it's so nice to meet you. Edward has told me so much about you." Umm, weird.

"Maggie has worked tirelessly for Masen for close to forty years. I'd be lost without her."
She beamed at his words.

"I'm sure we'll have more opportunity to talk in the future. For now, I know Edward has
plans for you." To me, Maggie's comments seemed to have a double meaning. But I am sure
it's just wishful thinking or the overactive imagination of my sexual needs. She returned
to her work and Edward sauntered into another room.

"So yeah. This is my office."

"It's very nice," I said while I looked around. Two of the walls featured floor-to-ceiling
windows that looked out on the Olympic National Park. "Are those Maples?" Did I seriously
just ask that? I was nervous and sometimes that resulted in me making banal small talk.

"What?" He followed the direction of my eyes and he seemed in another world for a
second before he continued. "Yes, Bigleaf Maple. You know there are many species of
animals that aren't found anywhere else in the world."

Was this one of those times I should stroke a man's ego and pretend to either have no
knowledge or feigned interest? Nope, I wasn't going to be that woman who played dumb.

"Edward," I chuckled, "I did grow up in Forks and one of my college degrees is in biology.
Thanks to Charlie, I spent many a night under the stars wondering whether the creeping
sounds belonged to a bear or an adorable marmot."

"So why did you ask?"

"Another one of those nervous habits…" The flame of embarrassment warmed my face
and ears, but I ignored it. Edward didn't and he gave me that panty-dropping grin again
and winked at me.

l~l~l~l

An hour of awkward small talk and tax forms later, Edward directed me to his sleek, silver
Volvo. Like a gentleman, he opened my door for me and my hand lingered on the cool
metal. Edward, unintentionally, placed one palm over my knuckles while the other gripped
the handle as he prepared to close the door safely. The most extraordinary, and yet
frightening surge of electricity passed between us. My eyes shot to his and the
expression on his face acknowledged he felt it, too. What the fuck?

The tension following our jolting touch was palpable and I didn't know how to relieve it. So
I said the first thing that came to mind. "Did you know the fingernail on the middle finger
of your dominant hand grows faster than any other?"

Uproarious laughter erupted from Edward. "That, dear Bella, is rather random." Dear
Bella? That wasn't the first time he made such a comment. I pushed it out of my mind, just
as I had when he discussed the potential of my dating and other terms of endearment
slipped from his mouth. He was probably used to using those phrases around all of the
women in his family.
"I'm a veritable font of knowledge. An ex-boyfriend's parents called me 'Shit Head' because
of all the shit I had stored in my head."

"Seriously?"

"I swear to God. I wore the name with pride."

"Ms. Swan, you are an odd duck."

"And that is a fowl statement."

He guffawed at my retort. The tension had been erased and I think we both realized the
beginning of a beautiful relationship was blossoming.

I directed him to the restaurant Jake and I frequented over the years and when we
walked in, my blush coated my face for a third time after the hostess greeted us.

"Mr. Cullen. How was your weekend? Your normal booth?"

"Hi Emily. The weather was great out so my weekend was fabulous. Is Sam slicing and
dicing today?"

"Where else would he be?" she smirked.

I watched the exchange and waited for my chance to interject. "Do you mind if we sit at
the bar? I always love watching the artistry of a sushi chef."

"Not a problem. Emily, you heard the lady."

"Follow me."

Once we were seated, I jokingly snarled at Edward. "Your normal booth? When were you
planning on telling me you came here regularly?"

His amusement turned his normally emerald-colored eyes a shade darker. "You seemed so
sure of yourself and who was I to stifle that?"

"You ass!" I exclaimed while mock slapping him across his arm. Even with a layer of
clothing, that spark swirled around us. Shit, was that comment over the line? "Oh! I
didn't mean to call you an ass."

"Bella," he laughed. "I deserved it."

l~l~l~l

EPOV

Rehashing our breezy ease of conversation during lunch and after consumed me. From
the moment I encountered her on Wednesday when she ogled my dick and its rapid
growth, to the sheer joy I savored when our hands touched, I wondered how I would be
able to stay away from her.

It was easier to be around Bella during the brief interlude in which I despised her.
So much about Wednesday afternoon forced me to question our arrangement. Before I
could change my mind, I felt the vibration of my blackberry alerting me of a text. It was Bella…

Are you ready for me and the tornado that accompanies one of my moves?

I smiled as I typed the reply.

You just missed the girls. :( But I was born ready for you.

I regretted my wording (and that damned emoticon) as soon as I pressed SEND. She
could read so much into my words. I continued to fuck up where Bella was concerned. It
also didn't help that Maggie sensed my infatuation due to my insistent blathering and
made a few comments of her own. I sighed and steeled myself for many mornings and
nights of furious masturbation.

We're just turning into your driveway. Don't say I didn't warn you…

Who was "we" and why were they accompanying her?

Her truck came into focus and I recognized Jacob Black sitting alongside her. Did he think
he would come between me and my woman?

"Hi Edward! You know Jake, right?"

"Hey man," he held out his hand with a wide grin across his face. I wanted nothing more
than to pound my fist into that face.

"Hey," I gritted through clenched teeth as I gripped the outstretched hand. I'm so firing
you on Monday.

I moved my eyes to Bella and suppressed a deep groan when I spied her short denim
shorts and snug crewneck. Her alabaster legs were longer than I remembered and just as
lean. I wanted nothing more than to run my fingers and tongue along the smooth and
fragrant skin. In under 1.6 nanoseconds, my cock would start to visibly press against the
zipper on my pants. This needed to be addressed.

"Shit, I'll, uh, be back in a few moments. Go ahead and start unpacking." I pulled out my
phone as if I received an important email that required my attention and ran into the
house and up to my office. In my mind, I cycled through as many non-sexual images as I
could bring forth. My anger at seeing her with Jacob Black returned and my hard on
disappeared.

I stomped back outside to find them flirting and joking. What does this asshole have on
me, other than a bunch of muscles? I grabbed a box. The quicker we did this, the earlier
Bella would drive him home and I would have her to myself.

A/N: I'm sorry for the short chapter. My writer's block didn't pass until late in the week and
I figured it would be better to get a chapter to you on time, rather than make you wait
two weeks until the next. But the next is written and in beta mode. And I think it's pretty
funny. Yep, we're moving away from a lot of angst for a little bit as E&B's story develops.

I want to thank all of the readers for continuing to support my story. Your reviews last
week continue to crack me up. (Creative brunch suggestions, too. Some included
incorporating Edward. Nice work!) And of course, a big, wet kiss to robpattz-addict for
her continuing support, friendship, and beta'ing skills.

Chapter 14 will post next Monday, January 25, 2010 as expected. Now some of you know
I quit my job this week (I think it contributed to the evil writer's block) and my mojo has
been flowing since. Be sure to join the Facebook Fan Page for teasers (posted every
Friday evening).

This week's recommendation: "Bare" by stella_luna_sky. It's almost complete…and just


lemme tell you this – Artward…need I say more?

If you missed any of my earlier recommendations, I now post them on my blog. The link is
on my author page. One more thing – MissVDub was the person who first told me to read
last week's rec, Mr. Horrible. But it was a few months ago and I didn't realize it was
complete for all intents and purposes. So thank you, MissVDub! :)

Question of the week: Do you like sushi, and if so, what's your favorite type? Click
"Review this Story/Chapter" and tell me!
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A/N: Well, my dears...we're here for another installment of A Labor of Love. I'm posting
this early today because I have a job interview during the time I'd normally post.
Attorneys are gossipy ones and word spread like wildfire that I quit in a blaze of glory. I
haven't even sent out a resume yet!

But enough about me. Let's talk about you. A lot of you guys like sushi, which makes me
very happy. I sent a picture text to my beta this week of some sushi I was about to
devour. Her reply, "I think I vomited in my mouth a little." She doesn't know what she's missing.

Just a reminder: Nominations for the Second Indie TwiFic Awards continue through
January 28 at midnight. If you like my story (or any others with fewer than 1,000 reviews
or 30 per chapter), then please nominate it in the following categories: WIP AH Story
that Knocks You Off Your Feet or Best Use of a Parent. Please visit the link to nominate:
http:/www(dot)theindietwificawards(dot)com/nominations(dot)aspx

Thank you to all who have already nominated, those who review, those who recommend,
and those that read (keep it up!). A big, wet kiss to y'all! And of course, a thank you to
my beta, robpattz-addict, who almost faced a firing squad this week. But I'm going to be
nice and not tell you why I wanted to kill her! :)

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Daddyward/Widoward sprang from my


mind and aren't meant to infringe on her copyrights!

Chapter 14: Moving

BPOV

"Okay, Jake…where are you?" I chanted the question while I paced around the living
room. For some odd reason – odd, whatever – I was anxiously anticipating my move to
Edward's house this morning. Before I managed to wear a path in the wooden floor of
which my father took great care, I heard a car's honk outside.

Peeking out the window, I cringed when Jake pulled up in that ancient Volkswagen Rabbit
he rebuilt when we were in high school. I never understood why he held on to that thing,
especially after securing a well-paying job with Masen and insisting on living on the Rez,
which wasn't very expensive.

The door clicked open and my best friend strode through.

"Did you manage to pack, or is this morning going to entail organizing all of your things
into boxes?" So Jacob was familiar with my propensity to procrastinate.

"Asshole," I muttered while grinning. "Just for that, you're carrying all of the boxes to the
truck."

"I can deal with that. I didn't work out yesterday. I wouldn't want these guns to
atrophy." Jake hammed it up with a bodybuilder pose.

"Fuck, Jake. When did you get so…big? You're huge! How did I never notice this before?"

Based on the expression on his face, I managed to embarrass him, but unlike me, his
bronze skin concealed any hint of a blush.

"What does Leah think about this change?" I inquired.

He fiddled with the hem of his shirt before answering hesitantly. "Well, she, uh, likes it."

"You are so weird."

"What do you want to know?" He sighed in defeat.

"Based on the hinky way you're behaving, apparently I don't want to know anything. I
suspect I'm going to be inundated with more traumatizing dreams involving my best
friend and my stepsister." I mocked him with a fake shiver and gag. He guffawed. Our
brief moment of awkwardness lapsed. "So shall we get this party started?"

"It's only a party for you. I'm doing all the work."

"Jake, if you hadn't figured it out by now, I keep you around to lift all of my heavy things,
repair my truck for free, shit like that."

"You better start watching your mouth, Bells. Your summer is coming to an end and you're
going to be around little kids all the time."

"Fuck, don't I know. I have no idea how I'm going to deal with that shit." I stuck my
tongue out at him before I continued. "Asshole damn cock fuck bitch cunt twat fuck shit
hell pussy dick shit fuck shit. Getting it all out of my system there. Happy?"

"And you call me weird?"

I flipped him the bird.

"No, no, Ms. Swan." He wagged his finger. "You can't do that, either."
Giving him my best death glare and pursing my lips together, I pointed up the stairs. "Move it."

"Sure, sure. I can take a hint."

I shook my head and smiled. My best friend always managed to lighten the mood, even
when it was already jovial.

l~l~l~l

A little more than three hours later and just after noon, Jake and I rolled down the
highway bordering Edward's property.

"Can you send Edward a text for me?"

"Sure I can." Jake didn't make a move for my phone.

"You know, I could kill you sometimes. Will you send Edward a text for me?"

"If you killed me, then who would you have to order around?" I squinted my eyes at him
when he flashed me one of his thousand-watt smiles. "What do you want it to say?"

"Umm… type, 'Are you ready for me and the tornado that accompanies one of my moves?'"

A minute later, the familiar triple-tone notification sounded.

"He said, 'You just missed the girls. But I was born ready for you.' Oh, and he included a
sad face."

"No he didn't! What did he really say?"

"I'm not kidding. Look." I snatched my phone from Jake's hand and blushed the moment I
read the message. He was born ready for me? What was with these comments Edward
kept slipping in? Was he trying to make amends for his douchey behavior towards me
during the interview? If so, this wasn't the way to accomplish it. I wish Alice would get
back so we could talk about all of this. As much as I loved Emmett, he and Edward didn't
have the bond that Edward shared with Alice.

"This is what I want you to write, 'We're just turning into your driveway. Don't say I
didn't warn you dot dot dot'"

"Do you want me to write 'dot dot dot' or do you want me to include an ellipses?"

Before I answered, I heard the 'floop' sound as a message sent on my iPhone. "Do you
want me to remain your friend?" I stuck my tongue out at him again. It felt good to be so
lackadaisical. "Have you been to Edward's before? It dwarfs his parents' house." Just
then, the behemoth peeked between the trees.

"Holy fucking shit!" Jake's draw dropped in shock.

"I know, right? It's absurd. And it's just Edward and his two daughters who live there."

"Can you ask him if he'll adopt me?"

"Stand in line, buddy!" I brought the truck to a stop and poked my head out the door
when I saw my gorgeous employer. On his body, Edward wore a slightly snug undershirt
and gently worn jeans. A good part of me wanted to run my hands along the curves I
could make out: his pecs and his tight ass cheeks. My face warmed up in response to my
naughty thoughts. I guess that dream will serve as my downfall. I now had very distinct
images of all of him. "Hi Edward! You know Jake, right?" A strange look crossed his face.

Always polite, Jake also greeted Edward and attempted to shake his hand. After glaring
at Jacob for a moment, Edward mumbled a "Hey" and mirrored the motion.

The Edward from my interview is back, apparently. Before I moved more than a few feet
from my truck, he stammered, "Shit, I'll, uh, be back in a few moments. Go ahead and
start unpacking." And then he was gone.

"What the fuck was with that?"

"I have no idea. I was going to ask you the same thing. You have worked for him for a
couple of years."

"Bella, my job is in the same building and sure, I'm employed by the company he runs, but
I don't work for him. I barely know him."

"Maybe he's the weird one."

Jake snickered. "Agreed."

Just then, Mr. Moody returned and snatched a box from my truck's bed. Oh, lordy…what
was stuck in his craw?

While Jake unloaded the truck, I followed Edward into the house and up the stairs.

"Hey, what's wrong?" I gingerly placed my hand on his forearm in a comforting manner.
What I didn't expect was to be met with that foreign, electrical reaction again.

"Nothing."

"Edward, would you please put the box down." I waited for him to comply before I
continued. "Look at me." He turned and, if I didn't know better, I would think Edward was
about to cry.

Instead he spat a "What?" at me. The tone and the word slapped me across the face. His
grimace disappeared immediately. "I'm sorry. It's just I, uh, got some bad news right
before you arrived."

"Do you want to talk about it?" I cooed while reaching my arm out to console him.

When my hand made contact with him, Edward sheepishly smiled at me and took a
calming breath. "No, just offering made all the difference." He paused. "Where do you
want this box?"

"Anywhere you want." I stroked his back and almost allowed a coquettish giggle to pass
from my lips after feeling that thing again. Admittedly, it was jarring the first couple of
times I sensed it. But now? Now, it comforted me. I hoped Edward felt similarly.

l~l~l~l
EPOV

I wanted to chuckle when Bella inquired about the source of my mood. What's bothering
me? Well, you brought another man into my house. Isn't it obvious? She probably saw
through my lame excuse that I had received bad news, but I resolved to avoid it all.

"So how long have you and Jake been together?" I prayed my question seemed like small
talk and not part of my developing ulterior motive to break them up.

"Since we were babies," she deadpanned before she spun her head away from me to
hide her amusement. "He's my best friend and has been since before I can remember.
Jake's actually married to my stepsister." Phew. I wouldn't have to fire him on Monday.
That probably wouldn't go over well with Billy.

I exhaled deeply. Shit. She quirked her head as if she heard, forcing me to think quickly.
"Let's get back to this move, huh?" Bella nodded and trotted down the stairs. Every few
steps, she reached for the banister to steady herself. I smiled at the sight.

l~l~l~l

"That's everything. I'm going to drop Jake back at his car and I should return in an hour to
start organizing my room, if that's alright with you?"

"If you want, I can drive you both and we can get some pizza?" I suggested. Honestly, I
didn't want to let Bella out of my sight if I could help it.

"That sounds great man, but Leah will be expecting me. I told her I would be home
around three o'clock. Why don't you two go, instead?"

"Great idea," I agreed. "Bella?"

"Sounds good to me," she said. "Which car should we take?"

Jake looked at Bella quizzically. "How many cars do you have, Edward?"

"Five."

"You have five?" Bella and Jacob exclaimed. Apparently, Bella's recollection of my garage
and its contents was nonexistent. I frowned when I realized that also meant she wouldn't
have remembered our night together.

"Uh, yeah? Let's take the Lexus."

We all walked towards the garage, the doors already raised. Jake's pace quickened when
he caught a glimpse of the Vanquish.

"No shit, is that a Vanquish S?" I nodded to Jake. "Let's see. 2006, 520 horsepower,
5.9-liter V-12 engine with top speed of 204 miles per hour. Man, you have got to let me
drive this sometime." Seems Jake was a car buff.

"I'll just need a copy of your driver's license and proof of insurance beforehand," I
snickered. "Yeah, no problem man. We'll take her out when the weather's good."
"Dude, it's the car James Bond drives." I tried to contain my laughter at Jake's giddiness.
"Oh, is that a Maserati?"

"Maybe you and I should leave Jake to play with these toys while we get some food?" I
grinned at Bella. "Umm, Jake, didn't you say you needed to get home? Edward's cars
aren't going anywhere. They'll be here the next time you come over."

The next time he comes over? I liked that idea – Bella and I hosting Jake and his wife for dinne

"Come on. She'll understand," he whined. "What type is it? It's…" Jake paused as he ran
his fingers along the length of the car, "Beautiful."

"It's a 2009 Gran Turismo S. I'll have to check the book, but it's a 4.7-liter V-8 engine and,
I think, has a top speed of 180 miles per hour." He looked like he was going to kiss it.
This was one weird man. "Should we leave you alone, maybe chill some champagne for
you, dim the lights a little?"

"Edward, I mean this with the utmost respect: shut the fuck up."

Bella and I howled with laughter.

"You'll have to forgive my friend. He has a thing for cars. He continues to drive this
disgusting vee dub Rabbit he built from scratch. When we were in high school. Eight years ago

"Don't hate Bugs," Jake scowled.

"What?"

"Yeah, you heard him correctly." Bella giggled, "Jake named his car after Bugs Bunny. He
couldn't come up with a better name for his Rabbit."

"Bella, what I told him," Jake said as he threw a thumb in my direction, "goes the same for you.

"Then maybe you'll want to use that thumb to get yourself back to La Push?" There was
that feistiness that Bella premiered for me at her interview.

Using my most pejorative tone I stated, "Okay, children. Let's break up the fight." They
both turned and glared at me. "You guys ready to go?"

Jake snorted and Bella left us without a word. She must've caught a glimpse of the Lexus
in the other end of the garage because that was the direction she had gone.

"So I see the Lexus and the Volvo. What's the fifth car?" Jake asked.

"My grandfather's 1964 Jaguar XKE Convertible. It's cherry red and has all of the original
parts, except those changed out during routine maintenance. I'm the second owner." I
beamed while speaking of my grandfather's pride. He passed along more to me than my
love of business and Masen Mining, but also a reverence for special cars.

"What's the mileage?"

"Boys, will you please hurry up?" Bella bellowed over to us.

"The lady doth protest too much." We joined her at the Lexus, which she had already
boarded. As Jake and I opened our doors, I continued. "3,834 miles."

"No shit."

"Maybe I should pour some champagne and pop in some Barry White for you two," Bella joked.

"Well, I do like brown-eyed brunettes." I nearly smacked myself in the face with that
admission. Of course, Bella was sure to see a picture of Angela soon and she'd see that
Angela also sported brown eyes and hair.

"Perfect, I'm partial to – what color eyes do you have?" I glanced into my rearview mirror
so Jake could see the green. "Yeah, so I'm partial to green eyes. But I'm not too picky on
the hair color, so you'll do," Jake joked.

"Should we drive down to Oregon so you two can get married?" Bella inquired.

"Oregon?" I responded.

"Yeah, there's a tribe down there that has legalized gay marriage." She continued,
"Otherwise, we have to drive to Iowa. And that'd take a couple of days to get there."

"Thanks for the info, Shithead." Jake smirked. "She once had a boyfriend -"

"He knows, Jake. Thanks for trying to embarrass me, anyway." Bella pouted.

"Okay, children."

"Shut it," they both snapped at me. I could see why they were friends. They had an
easy rapport that I envied a little bit. Truth be told, I wanted a similar relationship with
Bella, albeit one with physical intimacy, too.

Our drive continued with more small talk and as we neared Bella's house, she started
directing me.

"I know how to get there," I assured her.

"How do you know where I live?"

"We live in a small town and your father resided in that house for as long as I can
remember." And my answer was entirely truthful. "No, I haven't been stalking you."

"So you say…," she commented. Was she kidding? "I'm joking. It wouldn't take much to
stalk me, but why you would want to is beyond me. My life is rather boring."

l~l~l~l

"Pizza still okay?"

"Do you mind if we call ahead and then take it back to your house?"

"Bella, you live there now. You don't have to refer to it as my house. I want you to feel
entirely comfortable there."

That gorgeous blush crept onto her cheeks. "Kay."


"So what do you like on your pizza?"

"This is going to sound weird, but I like my pizza without cheese. Mushrooms only."

"Please don't tell me you're one of those women that is constantly on a diet."

"No," she chortled. "I just have a thing about cheese on my some of my food. Don't get
me wrong, I love cheese, but I prefer it by itself."

"Why don't we get two pizzas – one for each of us."

"Sounds great. I'll call Gino's."

She liked Gino's pizza, fantastic. I think it was time I made a list of what made a woman
perfect, because I would be able to check off so many things about Bella that made her perfect

"They said it would be ready in about 10 minutes."

"Huh?" Shit, I was lost in my thoughts again. If I'm not careful, she's going to get
suspicious of me – that either I'm entirely enamored with her or that I'm a raving lunatic.
Neither prospect would be acceptable.

"They said the pizza would be ready in 10 minutes."

"Great. We'll hurry it home."

"I should text Leah to let her know Jake's on his way." She fiddled in her bag before
pulling out the phone as if she victoriously discovered a buried treasure. Looks like Bella's a
little messy? I guess she won't get a checkmark for cleanliness on my list. "What should I
say?" Bella wondered aloud to no one in particular. "Oh, I know. 'Sorry we kept Jake so
late. Turns out it was love at first site for J & Edward. I had to give them some *private*
time, even.' She should like that." She stuck her tongue out and bit it lightly while she
concentrated on typing the message. It was adorable.

We sat in silence until Bella's phone lit up and beeped. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw
a smile light up her face.

"What did she say?"

"'Thanks for letting me know. And tell Edward he can keep Jake.'"

"She's pretty funny." We pulled into Gino's parking lot and I let the car idle while Bella
remained inside. When I came back a few minutes later, that look of concentration was on
her face again. I opened the door and heard the dings and bleeps of a video game, as
well as some 70s lounge music.

"Whatcha playing?"

"Flight Control. It's totally addictive." She turned her screen off and turned towards me.

"Oh, so we were talking about Leah before we stopped for our pizza," I hedged.

"She's a good kid. I wish we had spent more time together when I was younger. Let me
just send her one more text." Bella brought her screen back up and typed furiously fast.

"What are you saying?"

"Umm, well… 'Edward wants to take things slowly. He said he's going to court Jacob. Hee
hee. Thanks again.'"

"I want to take things slowly? You think you're pretty funny, don't you?"

Before Bella could respond with something snarky, she received another text. "She said,
'Oh gawd. No problem. Talk to you soon.'"

"You said Leah's 'a good kid'. What did you mean by that?"

Bella shook her head a few times and I swear I could hear her roll her eyes. "She's 18.
Turns out Jacob and Leah were dating secretly for a couple of years and eloped before
anyone knew about the relationship."

"No shit. How'd they manage that?"

"I don't even want to know. I've been privy to enough icky details of their marriage to last
me a lifetime."

"You gotta admit, it's kinda weird that your best friend married your much-younger stepsister."

"Uh, you think? It was pretty funny when Charlie and Sue, my stepmother, found out."
She continued, "So my dad threatened him over the phone, warning him that if he
stepped foot on Forks soil, he would shoot him. Whenever my dad would go ballistic, he
always did it in this quiet voice, but with the added foreboding of gunfire.

"I received this frantic call from Jake. He wanted assurance that my dad wouldn't actually
take action. Considering this was how I found out they were married, I let him sweat it out a bit.

"Charlie calmed after a few days, but he didn't welcome Jake into his house for a few
weeks. I enjoyed hearing Jake squirm whenever we spoke."

"Your dad sounds like he was a good guy. I didn't know him well."

Sadness crossed Bella's face for a moment and I prayed her hurt over her father's death
would lesson soon. Luckily, her mood changed a few seconds later. "Hey, do you think I
can borrow this car tomorrow?"

"Bella, I've already told you that you should treat the Lexus as yours." I paused,
wondering whether I should let my curiosity get the better of me and torture me or just
ask. "Where were you planning on going?"

"Alice and Jasper are supposed to come back tomorrow and I want to see them. I figured
it would be a good chance to get used to the car before I am driving the girls around."

"That sounds like a great idea." I maneuvered the SUV into the garage and grabbed the
pizza from Bella's clutches. We trotted inside and I dropped the boxes on the kitchen
counter. "What would you like to drink?"

"Honestly, I would love some water. Should I take these into the dining room?"
"Actually, would you mind if we pulled out a couple of TV trays and watched the
preseason game in the family room?" I asked, hoping she wouldn't acquiesce just because
it was what I wanted to do.

"I just hope the 'Skins destroy the Patriots," Bella growled.

"You know football?"

She chuckled. "Yep. Let's get in there before these get cool. I'll tell you all about it."

Add another check to that list.

I trailed behind her like the whipped man I swiftly was becoming. I paused in the hallway
closet and balanced the trays in one hand while I carried our waters in my other. She
reached for one tray and I set up the other, then swapped them. "There you go. Oh,
here's your water." I opened my own and made myself comfortable on the couch. Bella
placed our pizza boxes on each and sat down.

"So Charlie and I had a few rituals."

"What was it like growing up without a mother?" I bit my tongue as soon as the words
left my mouth. Not only had I revealed that I learned about her past, but also I may
have reopened some wounds that never fully healed. I was such a fucking idiot.

"What? How'd you know that?" She asked…accusingly?

"Carlisle told me. I'm sorry for your loss. For not knowing her and for Charlie."

Bella bowed her head. "Thanks," she whispered.

"So tell me about these rituals." I attempted to return the subject to the original
discussion by delicately prodding her while I tuned the TV to the pregame festivities.

"Umm." Bella stalled.

"If you don't want to talk about it, it's okay."

"No, I just need a moment. Things are still difficult." Bella began chewing a piece of pizza
while she contemplated how to continue. "So our rituals. If we could find a football,
baseball, or basketball game on TV, we watched it together."

She still appeared sad, but her eyes were bright again as she spoke reverently of her
father. I hoped that my daughters thought of me the same way when they are women.
You might want to spend less time at the office, my subconscious yelled at me.

"I take that back. We didn't watch all of them, but most. There were certain teams'
games we never missed. The Seahawks, the Mariners, the Sonics, the Huskies. While I was
in college, my dad and I attended every home game for the Huskies. I think he was more
excited about the prospect of sitting in the student section than about me going to school
there. He painted his face and was just as raucous as the loudest person out there. It was
a bit mortifying."

"Saweet!"
"He would even cover his mustache with the makeup. It made him look like he had a swollen
lip." Bella's distant look and the smile on her face let me know that these were memories
she wanted to have, wanted to remember. "So where was I? Yeah, so we watched all of
the games together. I will admit to being a bit rabid myself. But only in the comfort of my
own home."

"Do you mind if we continue that tradition here?" I asked.

"You want your girls to learn sports?"

"It would be awesome."

"They'll make some guys very happy when they get older," she added.

"Well, my girls will not be dating anytime soon. In fact, until they leave for college they're
going on group dates only."

"Group dates?"

"Yep. I recall what I was like as a horny teenage boy. They aren't getting alone with
those. So group dates. If they want to have sex, they're going to have to have group
sex. Group sex or no sex. It should deter them."

Bella busted up.

"I'm serious."

"I'm sure you are."

"Shut up," I pouted, as I pushed my bottom lip out.

She continued to laugh. Between wiping tears, Bella continued. "So sports. I will begin
schooling them this weekend if that's alright with you. And I promise to stifle my yelling
and cursing."

"That might be good. I don't want to be known as the father of the two little girls with
sailor mouths. Did you and your father have any other rituals?"

"Oh yeah. Our father-daughter bonding also occurred every evening at 7:30. 'This is
Jeopardy. Now entering the studio…'" She delivered it in her best announcer voice. "So
that's the origin of my random knowledge. Let's just say I am a Trivial Pursuit guru."

"The more I learn about you, the more I think you're curious."

"Huh?" Bella gazed at me confusedly.

"You're a curious little thing, aren't you."

She realized I was making fun of her. "Shut up." She stuck her tongue out at me. "Third
time today for that. Jake was the focus of my two earlier ones."

"Really mature. I think you'll fit in with the girls perfectly." And Bella then did something I
didn't expect: she stuck her tongue out again.
"I wasn't sure what it was going to be like being around you. You always seem so serious.
And all the stories I've heard about you, well, you come across as a person with a stick up
his ass." She looked horrified and her hand shot up to cover her mouth. "Oh my god. I did
it again. I shouldn't have said that."

"Bella, it's true. So don't worry."

"Do you mind if we watched Jeopardy every night, too? Alice will tell you all about my
dedication to the show at some point, I suspect."

"That sounds like a great idea. I already have a feeling you're going to have a good
impact on the girls' lives."

Our eating, watching, and joking continued throughout the game. At one point, I looked
over at Bella and noticed she'd completed her entire pizza. If I wasn't mistaken, she was
eyeing mine, as well. Wow, that little thing downed her food with reckless abandon.
Fucking hot. One more check.

l~l~l~l

BPOV

Rather than unpack some of my things, I relaxed on my new bed and almost fell asleep.
This bed was quite possibly the most comfortable thing on which I'd ever rested my body,
and I'd been in many a bed over the years. A soft knock roused me from my reverie.

"Bella? Will those sheets – oh, I guess I have the answer to my question. You're already
making use of them."

"I want to marry this bed. It's heavenly." Edward walked into my room and sat on the
edge. I propped myself up on my arms behind me.

"Yep, you're certifiably insane I've decided," he said. I mocked an angry expression before
letting it melt into a smile. "Anyhow, I just want to remind you to make this your home.
This room is entirely yours and you can decorate it anyway you want. Feel free to paint
the walls, whatever you want. The girls rarely come up to the third floor, so you
shouldn't have to worry about your privacy being invaded. I'll leave you so you can
continue to do whatever naughty things you want to do to that bed, after you two get
married of course."

I stifled my laughter. "Yes, I want the bed to remain innocent, after all. And thank you,
Edward. I really appreciate everything."

"Of course." He stood up and walked to the door, giving me that panty-dropping smile
before he exited and closed the door. Yep, I'm even more fucked than I thought I was
last week.

Oh Edward, why do you have to be funny, and smart, and sweet? You're making
everything that much harder. I preferred the idea of working for a complete ass. Sighing,
I rolled off the bed and proceeded to get ready for bed. Unpacking could wait until the morning.

l~l~l~l
"Just keep the handlebars straight and peddle hard. I won't let go."

"Daddy, you promise?"

"Of course. Now are you ready, Bells?"

"Uh-huh."

"That's it. Keep speeding up. Good girl, you've got it. I'm going to let go."

"Noooooo. Daddy, don't let go!"

"Shhh, I'm still holding on."

"No you're not. What do I do, Daddy?"

"Peddle faster, Bells. You're doing it. Go straight."

"Dadddddddy! You let me fall! My knee hurts!"

"Shhh, shhh…I'm here, darling. You did such a great job. I'm so proud of you."

"You let go. Why'd you leave me?"

"Oh, baby. I was with you the whole time."

"Then why am I bleeding?"

"You fell, honey. You're going to fall down every so often. You just have to get up,
brush yourself off, and keep going forward."

"Daddy, please don't ever leave me again."

"I won't. But just think how much stronger you'll be if you get back on this bike and ride it
all by yourself, like a big girl."

"I'm not ready to do it by myself. Please hold on this time."

"Okay. Let's try again. You ready?"

"Yes, Daddy."

"Look, you're doing it by yourself."

"You promised not to let go, Daddy."

"You promised!"

"Bella?"

"Daddy, you promised!"

"It's alright, you're safe. I'm here for you." Warm, solid arms were wrapped around me
and I sensed breath on my forehead, where a spot seared with heat. Hands stroked my
hair and came to hold my face. "You're alright, Bella."

"Daddy?"

"No, honey…it's Edward. Shh, everything is alright."

"Edward?" I was confused. The haze of my nightmare began to lift and I wrestled to free
myself from his grip. Instead he held me tighter, securely.

"Bella, I've got you. You're safe, so safe. I won't let anything harm you."

"Edward?" His words suddenly hit me. We were in my dark bedroom. I was encased by my
twisted sheets and his warm embrace, while he sat along the edge of my bed as he held
my body close.

"You had a nightmare. But you're here, in my house."

"I'm sorry to have woken you."

"Don't be. Your well being concerns me." He continued to stoke my face and hair. Before
my conscious mind connected with my body, my head leaned into his soft caresses. I
yearned for him to kiss me, to let this lead to its inevitable conclusion. And then I realized
what I wanted. I shook my head in an attempt to clear the haze and bring myself into
the present. "Bella? Are you okay?" He must've thought my movements were directed at him.

"Umm, yeah. I'm sorry."

He chuckled. "You already said that, dear. Look, do you want to talk about it? I can make
us some aperitifs…" Aperitifs? What sort of appetite was he trying to induce? I think
Emmett may have been right in his description of Edward in all of his
'Edward-has-a-stick-up-his-ass' stories.

"Umm, yeah. That would be nice." God, I sounded like a complete idiot.

"I'll be back in a few moments." Before exiting, Edward turned and headed to the
bathroom and flicked the light on, allowing a soft glow to flood the room. It was enough
to help us see, but not too much to burn my tear-stained eyes.

"Edward, thank you."

"None of that."

A/N: Awww, they had a moment! Okay, so those who know me may notice there are some
similarities between the author and Bella. *wink* And for those who wonder, the group
dates - that's the plan of my beta. She has three daughters...need I say more?

Next week's chapter will post, of course, on Monday, February 1, 2010. There's a little
less (a lot less) humor in that one. Oh, if only life could always be funny...

This week's recommended story: "Tides" by lambcullen. I thought I'd already rec'ed this
story, but apparently not. It's AWESOME. Quick summary: Bella's moving into the house
her grandfather left her in his will...because she just discovered her husband was gay.
Oops. Edward is, as usual, devastatingly handsome. You can find the link in my Favorite
Stories tab from my author page. And this story will be added to my blog list of rec'ed
stories, as well.

Be sure to join the Facebook Fan Page for teasers every Friday night!

Welcome to all the new readers I picked up this week. Where've you been hiding? :) Click
"Review this Story/Chapter" and tell me how you heard about my story! :)

Question of the week: Do you have a particularly bad moving story? Why don't you Click
"Review this Story/Chapter" and tell me about that! :)
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&#187; A Labor of Love <td> <a href='/u/2058400/lizconno'>lizconno
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this.options[this.selectedIndex].value + '/A_Labor_of_Love';"><option value=1 >1.
Chapter 1: Change<option value=2 >2. Chapter 2: Endings<option value=3 >3. A
Quick AN & Ch 3 Preview<option value=4 >4. Chapter 3: Breakdown<option value=5
>5. Chapter 4: Possibilities<option value=6 >6. Chapter 5: Nuptials<option value=7
>7. Chapter 6: Flirting<option value=8 >8. Chapter 7: Lemonade<option value=9 >9.
Chapter 8: Uncertainty<option value=10 >10. Chapter 9: Alone<option value=11
>11. Chapter 10: Interviews, Part One<option value=12 >12. Chapter 11: Interviews,
Part Two<option value=13 >13. Chapter 12: Brunch<option value=14 >14. Chapter
13: Commencement<option value=15 >15. Chapter 14: Moving<option value=16
selected>16. Chapter 15: Comfort<option value=17 >17. Chapter 16: Games<option
value=18 >18. Chapter 17: Dates<option value=19 >19. Chapter 18: Surprises<option
value=20 >20. Chapter 19: Progress?<option value=21 >21. Chapter 20:
Revelations<option value=22 >22. Chapter 21: Dilemma<option value=23 >23.
Chapter 22: Declaration<option value=24 >24. Chapter 23: Tears<option value=25
>25. Chapter 24: Assurance<option value=26 >26. Chapter 25: Connection<option
value=27 >27. Chapter 26: Perspectives<option value=28 >28. Chapter 27:
Time<option value=29 >29. Chapter 28: Labor<option value=30 >30. Chapter 29:
Admissions<option value=31 >31. Chapter 30: Advice<option value=32 >32. Chapter
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<a href='http://www.fictionratings.com/' target='rating'> M - English - Romance - Bella
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A/N: Have I mentioned how entirely awesome y'all are? Well, you are! Thank you for your
kind words this week. It's what keeps this writer going! And y'all had some bad moving
stories. Maybe I should've asked for happier memories?

Oh, I got the job so beginning next week, updates will post a little later in the day. And if
the site doesn't send out email alerts like last week, check to see if I've updated. I always
post on Mondays!

My beta, robpattz-addict, rocks my world!

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Daddyward/Widoward sprang from my


mind and aren't meant to infringe on her copyrights!

Chapter 15: Comfort

EPOV

Crying and moaning awoke me from a sound sleep. Trying to gain my bearings, I
wondered where it originated. I briefly worried that one of my daughters was wracked by
a nightmare. But then two thoughts came to mind: they were neither home, nor could I
hear their cries from the floor below. I looked to my nightstand and saw the baby monitor
was off. And then it dawned on me. Bella slept a few rooms away and those tears
must've belonged to her.

Not bothering to turn the light on beside my bed or to cover my bare chest, I rushed to
her room to confirm the origin of the sounds. Sure enough, I heard Bella calling for her
dead father. Without wasting a moment, I pushed through the closed door and pulled her
into my arms.

"You promised!" Bella sobbed.


"Bella, honey. I need you to wake up. You're having a nightmare. Bella?"

"Daddy, you promised!" She blubbered in response.

Why wouldn't she awake? I dragged her into my arms, praying that I could get through to her.

"It's alright, you're safe. I'm here for you," I croaked.

Unable to control myself, I kissed her hair and her forehead as I willed her into
consciousness. I couldn't endure seeing or hearing her pain. It killed me. So I did the only
thing I knew to do – I held her tighter against my body and continued to nuzzle my head
into her hair. I tried soothing her with my words, but I prayed my touch would give her
the strength to escape from this agony.

I added, "You're alright, Bella," as I caressed her hair and cradled her closer.

"Daddy?" she asked tentatively. The confusion in her voice convinced me I was breaking
through.

"No, honey…it's Edward. Shh, everything is alright," I cooed.

"Edward?"

Although she sounded like she understood who spoke to her and protected her with his
arms, she seemed unsure of how I had come to hold her.

I continued to comfort her, "Bella, I've got you. You're safe, so safe. I won't let anything
harm you."

"Edward?" she asked again. I wanted to shake her and yell, Yes my love, it's Edward. The
only man who will take care of you half as well as your father did. But instead, I bit my
tongue and pulled her closer.

"You had a nightmare. But you're here, in my house," I confirmed the unspoken questions
I was sure she had.

Bella ducked her head and softly struggled to pull away, but I wouldn't free her until I
was convinced she felt safe and secure. Instead, she surprised me with her next words.
"I'm sorry to have woken you."

Why did she think sleep meant anything to me when she was tormented? "Don't be. Your
well being concerns me." I brushed my hand over her hair and cupped her face up to me
before I trailed my fingers along it. She responded by relaxing her body into me and for
the faintest of moments, I thought she looked as if she wanted me to kiss her. My
dormant dick didn't disregard her movement, and began to grow. I fought to control it,
but knew Bella would sense the expansion, so to speak, if I didn't move away from her. I
gripped her shoulders and held her in front of me.

"Bella? Are you okay?" I needed her assurance almost as much as I needed this immediate
physical distance from her.

"Umm, yeah. I'm sorry."


Why did she keep apologizing? What would it take for me to get it through her thick skull
that I didn't want her to express regret over this exchange?

"You already said that, dear," I almost spat at her, angry that she believed it necessary
to ask for forgiveness. Instead, I concealed my words with a light laugh. "Look, do you
want to talk about it? I can make us some aperitifs…" Wow, did I just sound like the most
uptight, conceited asshole, ever.

"Umm, yeah. That would be nice." Phew. I worried – no expected that instead of
agreeing, she'd ask me, What the fuck is an aperitif? This woman never ceased to amaze me.

Although our eyes had adjusted to the dark, I figured she'd prefer a little light to guide
her. As I moved to her bathroom, I assured her, "I'll be back in a few moments," before I
turned on the light in her bathroom and left it slightly ajar.

After I left her room, I heard her add, "Edward, thank you."

I poked my head back in and grinned at Bella. "None of that," I assured her.

Racing down the stairs, I rushed into the kitchen and grabbed one of those silver trays
that had already come in handy. When I noticed the clock above the oven read 2:57, I
wondered whether I should bring some food with me. I figured I'd grab some brandy and
two snifters. What mixes well with brandy? Shit if I know… I scanned the recesses of
my memory to come up with how movies and entertainment had portrayed brandy and
came up with squat. Wow, I was a complete failure when it came to coming off as suave.
I suggested an aperitif, but I didn't even know what one was.

Fearful that Bella would be asleep already when I returned, I threw open the door to the
refrigerator and grabbed whatever I saw: some cheese, grapes, and strawberries. I
washed the fruit and sliced what I now saw was Muenster. I tossed it onto the plate and
attempted to arrange it into some organized pattern, but I was a guy – what did I know
about presentation? Before heading back upstairs, I stopped in the living room to grab a
bottle of brandy and the snifters. Balancing all of them on the tray, I bounded back up to
Bella's room.

"Mind if I come in?" I asked while peeking my head through sizable crack.

"He went downstairs to get us drinks and he came back a ghost's head?" she joked with a
giggle. It was glorious to hear that melodious sound again. "Yep. Mi casa es su casa!"

"Well, it is my house," I laughed.

I grabbed the doorknob while pushing through and reentered her room. In the few
minutes since I left, Bella had risen. Any remnants of her earlier tears were gone and her
hair was brushed. Although she was just as beautiful while in pain, seeing a refreshed
Bella managed to steal my breath and almost forced me to my knees. My goddamned
cock seemed to be thinking on his own again and he stirred from within my pajama pants.
I'd have to do something about that soon.

"So what do you have there?"

"Well," I began. "I have grapes, strawberries, some cheese, and most importantly some
brandy. I figure if the alcohol doesn't help you sleep, maybe you can stuff your mouth
and pass out from that."
"That's really sweet. Thank you, Edward."

I nodded as she shifted a little and patted the space next to her. After placing the tray
on the spot, I joined Bella on her bed. I pulled my limbs into a cross-legged position and
she mirrored me while I poured some brandy. First, I offered Bella a glass before
pouring my own. She swirled the amber-colored liquor before taking a sip, followed by a
sour-looking expression.

Bella coughed. "That's foul! How do people drink this swill?"

I followed her lead and took a swig, forcing the mouthful down. "Wow. You're right, this is
disgusting." Yet for some strange reason, I gulped more down. "The second drink isn't as bad."

"Bottoms up!" she exclaimed. "It may not be 'as bad', but it's still pretty bad." After taking
a few more tentative tastes before placing the snifter on the tray and chomping on some
food, she added, "These strawberries are wonderful."

I listened to the sucking sounds she made as her mouth wrapped around another piece of
fruit. All I could think about was thrusting my dick into that mouth of hers and letting her
tongue run along the shaft. Again? I needed to get control of this situation, but I didn't
know how to…other than throwing her down on the bed and having my way with her.

Get a hold of yourself, Cullen! Without any other choice, I tossed onto my stomach to
conceal my cock.

"Did you want to talk about your dream?" I asked.

She nodded apprehensively. "Ever since Charlie died, I've been having these dreams.
They're so vivid, so real. In most of them, I'm reliving some part of my life, some
pleasant memory from when I was young."

"That was a pleasant memory?" I frowned.

"Well, that's the thing. They were pleasant. Take this dream, for instance. In it, my dad
was teaching me how to ride a bike. And like most kids, I fell. Granted I fall more than
most people just by walking, but with bike riding, I wasn't bad and only lost my balance a
few times when I was learning. Charlie kept pushing me, challenging me to stay up. But
unlike reality, the dream was bittersweet."

"How so?" I inquired.

"I rose to the challenge. I didn't tumble from my bike after the first crash. And then I was
riding like the wind, assuming my dad held on as he reassured me he would. But when I
turned around to smile towards him – to see the look of pride in his eyes – he wasn't
there. He was gone. All I could do was cry for him, call to him. And then the adult in me
realized where he had disappeared to. He was dead. No matter how much I called for
him, he wouldn't return."

Tears had started to stream down her face and I did the only thing I would ever be able
to do with Bella. I elbowed the tray from myself and moved towards her before cradling
her into my arms. Like before, she made an attempt to push me away, but I held her
tight. We faced one another, our position incredibly intimate, and I wiped away her tears
with one arm as I draped the other along her waist. My self control escaped me and I
kissed her forehead before moving my mouth where I allowed it to hover by her lips.
Before I realized what I was doing, her soft mango scent drew me in and I positioned my
body flush against hers. My rock-hard cock sprang up and tented my loose pants. Bella
drew in a quick breath and gripped my bare shoulder. Her eyes gave me the permission I
sought. I licked my lips and then brushed them against her own. I placed a couple more
kisses and cupped her cheek with one hand while my other one splayed along the small of
her back.

She sighed contently with her eyes closed and a small smile on her face. That action acted
like two fingers snapping in front of my eyes.

What am I doing? I'm kissing my daughters' nanny. Apparently sleeping with her when
she was a stranger wasn't good enough. I need to continue to ruin this, this relationship?

Just as fast as it started, I stopped it. I jumped off of the bed. Bella's chocolate brown
orbs flew open in response to the movement.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that," I stammered. Those eyes that sang to me
trailed down my body and focused on the obvious bulge in my crotch region. "I should
leave. Shit, I'm so sorry, that was entirely inappropriate."

"Edward, it's okay. Really. You were comforting me. I understand there was nothing
more. Don't worry about it."

"Really, it's late. You need your sleep. You uh," I scanned the room, avoiding eye contact
at all costs, "have a lot of unpacking to complete tomorrow. I'll let you get to that."

I ran out of her room without another word or glance in her direction.

l~l~l~l

Minutes later I was panting against the back of my locked door, questioning my sanity.
Surely I had to be crazy to endanger our working relationship by kissing her. What was I
thinking when I decided to inch myself that close to her? I knew nothing good would come
of it. Anger coursed through me, but so did my never-ending, always-growing desire for Bella.

Although I felt dirty at the thought – Bella was my employee and she was just a few
yards away from where I stood – my throbbing cock needed release. Who am I fucking
kidding? My sex drive and the necessity for masturbating this often is because of Bella. I
whacked off a few hours ago, but I felt like a 15-year-old, rather than a 31-year-old with
two kids. I'd be lucky if in ten years I could still get it up this many times a week, let alone
in one day. All of those men who're prescribed ED medication just need Bella Swan to solve
their problems. I growled at the thought. They need their own Bella Swan, this one was mine.

I stripped my pajama pants off my legs and angrily threw them towards my bed. The light
material insured they wouldn't fly well and they fanned out across my floor. I walked over
to them and ripped them off the floor. On my way to the shower, I dropped them where
I aimed a moment before. I stomped through my bathroom door and cursed myself as
soon as I realized the sound of my steps may be disturbing Bella. What an insensitive,
careless fuck I could be when I'm frustrated. I nudged the water to HOT and stood under
the still-frigid water. The shock to my system did nothing to my hard on.

I faced the stream of water and the tiles that lined the back of the shower. My body bent
slightly at the waist, I placed one palm against the wall a little above my head, the other
around my dick. Meanwhile, the water began to scorch the skin of my back and steam
around me, but the temperature – again – did little to quell my desire for Bella.

Down and up and around the head, down and up and around the head, down and up
and around the head, down and up and around the head, down and up and around the
head, down and up and around the head, down and up and around the head, down and
up and around the head.

The torture that preceded release continued as the momentum towards my orgasm ceased.

"Fuck!" I yelled right before pounding the wall once.

I couldn't cum. Why would my body play this cruel trick, make me yearn for Bella so
desperately only to deny me release? Images, scents, tastes of her flooded my mind. I
continued stroking my painful erection, pleased by the realization that I was getting closer.

One, two, three more pulls and "Bellllllllllla!" I hollered. I prayed she had fallen asleep and
missed my emissions.

After my breathing calmed, I dried myself off and looked for my pajama pants. I slipped
them on and then the sheets over my body and returned to my earlier slumber, although
one not as sound as before.

l~l~l~l

BPOV

I couldn't deny it – the kiss with Edward was confusing, but it was also incredibly sweet
and comforting. When his lips met mine, I noticed the sparks of that electricity we shared
all throughout my body. His light sweeps across my mouth calmed me at my core and for
the first time in years, I noticed I felt safe. I couldn't deny that our physical connection
was intense, but I would have to ignore it. I was here to do a job, not him.

But his reaction baffled me. Based on his recoiling from my presence, I would need to
assure him everything was alright. And it looked like the time had arrived in which we had
no other choice but to discuss what happened at Alice's wedding.

Tomorrow. All of this would happen tomorrow. Well, later today…

l~l~l~l

I awoke a little after 9:00 and immediately grabbed my phone.

After a ringing a few times, I was met with voicemail. "Hey, it's Alice and I'm on my way
back home so just leave a message," her voice chirped.

"What up, girlie? I hope you and Jasper had a wonderful honeymoon and I want to hear
everything about it today. Lunch? Let me know ASAP!"

I also sent her a text with a similar message. She probably had a gazillion voicemails and
wouldn't listen to them until tomorrow, so I figured it would be best to cover my bases.
No sooner had I sent the message than my phone alerted me of a call. When I peered at
the caller-ID, I was glad to see who was telephoning me.
"Are you in Forks, yet?"

"Yes," Alice answered. "When can you be here?"

"How soon do you want me? And why didn't you take my call?"

"Sorry, my hands were full with luggage. Jazz took three trips and I had to put him out of
his misery by grabbing a couple of the light bags. Can you be here in an hour?"

"How about two-and-a-half? And why do I have this feeling you took twenty bags for a
two-week trip?" I asked.

"We'll see you just before noon and I'll make sure Jazz leaves all of the bags together so
you can be proud of how few bags I took," Alice snickered.

"See you in a little bit."

"Bye, Bella!"

I lingered in bed for a few moments to replay the events from my bedroom. A small smile
curled on my face when I thought back to our kiss. Running my fingers along my lips, I
recalled the way his lips touched mine, the way they warmed me, the way they soothed
me. Although his action surprised me and I enjoyed it, I realized I wouldn't be so lucky to
be the recipient of another kiss anytime soon. That made me sad.

Memories swarmed my mind. His chiseled chest was peppered with soft bronze hair that
I managed to run my hands through. And more hair trailed down his muscled stomach to
below his waistband. When my eyes followed the path, his flimsy pants revealed a long
and thick penis that I remembered from my dreams. Other observations surprised me.
Across his left pectoral muscle sat a black tattoo. Although I couldn't be certain, but the
letters 'A', 'R', and 'E' and the date '11/26/2004' circled the Cullen family crest. He
permanently branded himself with his own memories. My slight euphoria over our kiss
quickly subsided as it was replaced by sorrow for both him and his daughters.

With a heavy heart, I kicked my sheets off my body and dragged myself to the bathroom.

l~l~l~l

Half-an-hour later, I was showered, shaved, and wearing a simple light-blue summer
dress that hit me a few inches above my knees. I grabbed a pair of sandals and exited
my room. When I ventured a peek towards Edward's door, I saw it was closed. He was
still asleep, or avoiding me because of his embarrassment. I hope it was the former and
not the latter. Whatever. I had a mission and it was food.

I reentered my room and grabbed the tray. No need to be messy just because Edward
has a woman come in and clean twice a week and because I'm still in the process of moving in

Once I made it into the kitchen, I looked in the pantry to determine what I could make.
Holy shit! It was like a grocery store in there – anything I could imagine wanting was
there, and what wasn't there could be whipped up from scratch. Considering I knew
there were fresh strawberries in the house and assuming there would be whipped cream,
I decided homemade pancakes or waffles were calling me. I took all of the ingredients out
of the pantry and fridge and placed everything on the counter.
I began tossing open the cupboard doors, seeking a waffle maker, a whisk, anything. Like
that pantry, the meticulously-organized cabinets contained every possible device one
could think of using for cooking. Never before had I looked forward to a job before, but I
thoroughly loved to create delicacies in the kitchen and it seemed that I had a limitless
supply of directions to go.

Finally, I found what I wanted most – a waffle maker, but it was wedged in the very hind
corner of one of the cupboards. I'm surprised; I'm sure the twins would love waffles.
Once the batter was made, I set out to make my first meal in Edward Cullen's home. Quiet
footsteps alerted me that someone was nearing. I turned to find Edward entering the
kitchen, utterly surprised to find the mess I had created.

"Oh, you're awake. I figured you'd still be sleeping," he said.

"No, I woke up," I paused to look over at the clock, "an hour-and-a-half earlier. I've been
having my way with your kitchen. I'll be sure to clean up the mess when I'm done."

"Don't worry about it," he grimaced. Wow. He was being short with me.

"I'm making Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. If you give me a few
minutes, I can make you one. I was also thinking we could talk this morning." I smiled,
hoping to calm him after I made my ominous declaration. Nothing ever good comes from a
'we need to talk'-type announcement.

He was frowning. "That's Angela's waffle iron."

"I'm sorry. I don't have to make them. I can make pancakes." Why was I apologizing so
much to him for things I couldn't change or didn't know?

"That won't be necessary," he stated abruptly. Mmmkay.

"Hey, don't worry about last night. It was -" but he was gone. "Nothing," my voice trailed.

Moments after Edward exited, a haunting melody broke the silence that he left behind.
Edward played his piano. The melancholy I had experienced earlier returned tenfold as
the strains broke my heart. Silent tears fell while I shuffled around the kitchen. His
mercurial moods confused the shit out of me. So I made the choice of cooking myself a
waffle and packaged it to go. The quicker I could get to Alice's the better. I needed some
advice with dealing with this man.

A/N: Can I hear a little *squeee*? Sober kissing is a start (and we got a little bit of citrusy
delight)! But with these love fools, it's probably one step forward, two steps back. Thank
you for putting up with this short chapter. It's really part one (or two). The rest of the day
will post next week (yep, Monday, February 8, 2010) and we'll have a little Alice POV.

This week's rec: "The Lost Boys" by hwimsey. I have a few issues with the writing, but
it's a good story. There were moments I yelled at Bella and Edward, but I do that with my
own story! So stick with it. Based on the commentary at the end of the last posted chapter,
it's complete minus a (possibly) forthcoming epilogue. So check it out...link's under the
"Favorite Stories" tab on my author page (and can be found at
http:/lizconno(dot)blogspot(dot)com/2010/01/recs-end-of-ll-chapters-updated-011909(dot)html).
So tell me: How much do you want to smack Edward for putting a stop to the kiss? Why
don't you click "Review this Story/Chapter" and tell me about the naughty things you'd do
to him to teach him a lesson! :)
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<a href='http://www.fictionratings.com/' target='rating'> M - English - Romance - Bella
& Edward - Reviews: <a href='/r/5496816/'>2,239 - Updated: 06-21-10 - Published:
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A/N: Hidy-ho fanfictioners! If you hadn't heard, this evil site has started cracking down
on smutty fanfiction (the ff(dot)net police went after the awesome Tarasueme). What
does that mean for A Labor of Love? Nothing at this point, but I am being proactive and
posting it at Twilghted. Should anything happen to the story, forcing me to pull it, I will
notify y'all!

The initial nominations for the second Indie TwiFic Awards have been posted. Guess
what? A Labor of Love is among the nominees: AH story that Knocks You Off Your Feet
(WIP) and Best Use of a Parent! First-round voting begins on Saturday, February 20,
2010! You can check out the competition at
http:/www(dot)theindietwificawards(dot)com/ValidatedStoriesByCategories(dot)aspx

Picked up a bunch of readers this week! Awesome & welcome! Thank you to all who read
and a special thank you to all who review. Just a reminder - I can't respond unless you
have a question. (My beta will kick my ass...she threatens to flog me in reviews, even!)
But even though she makes ominous warnings, robpattz-addict is a huge asset: she's a
sounding board when I question my plot and my writing; and she's always supportive
(despite intent to inflict seriously bodily harm on me).

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Daddyward/Widoward sprang from my


mind and aren't meant to infringe on her copyrights!

Chapter 16: Games

BPOV

As I pulled the Lexus into their driveway, Alice and Jasper ran outside to greet me.

"Driving Edward's car, I see?" Alice sang with a smug smile. Damn her and her damned
psychic abilities.
"Yeeessss," I sighed through gritted teeth. "Now get over here and give me a hug."

Alice skipped to me and squeezed me tight. After we finished embracing, Jasper lifted me
off the ground and spun me around.

I blushed. "Umm, that wasn't the welcoming I expected."

"We both missed you," she beamed. "And Jazzy has been doing that to everyone."

"What can I say? I am the happiest man alive!"

"Well, if you're the happiest man alive, then I'm the happiest woman," she cooed to him.

I found myself making a vomiting sound and accompanying motions with my body and
tongue. Why did it seem that I was surrounded by newlyweds? Just shoot me if Rose
and Emmett ever become like this, I thought with a sly grin on my face.

"I know you want what we have. But don't worry, it'll happen," Alice confidently informed
me. "Now care to share what you're doing with the Lexus?"

"Why don't you tell me about your honeymoon first? And show me the luggage – I want
proof that you took less than everything and the kitchen sink!"

Grabbing my hand, Alice dragged me into the house to display the luggage.

"Count them," she challenged. "Oh, don't bother. Seven bags. For both of us. Aren't you
proud?"

"Did you spend the whole time in your bedroom?" I jokingly asked.

"Damn near," Jasper answered. "Girl wore me out. We only left for meals."

"I can't hear you!" I stuck my fingers in my ears like a petulant child. "Seriously, though.
Please don't give me these images!"

"Then don't ask," Alice chided.

"I was being facetious. What is it with everyone sharing their sex secrets with me?" I
shook my head and continued, "Jake's been doing the same thing. I think I'll be plagued
by sex nightmares of them and now you guys for the rest of my life."

"I'll let you two ladies catch up," Jasper said as he bent down to kiss Alice's head. "If you
need me, I'll be in my office catching up on messages."

After Jasper left, the two of us chatted and giggled. A lot had happened in two weeks and
I realized I missed my friend immensely. I continued to ask numerous questions about the
trip and Alice could tell I was stalling. Even though one of my main goals in seeing her
today had been to get some answers in dealing with Edward, the idea of discussing him
scared me.

"Spill." With one word, Alice cut through my façade.

"Edward hired me?" I intended to make a statement, but it came out as a question. I
knew she wasn't speaking about the car.

"When did you and my brother sleep together?" My mouth dropped and my eyes bulged.

"What?" I stammered. "Who told you? I'm going to kill Rose."

"Thank you for confirming it for me." Her smug expression returned.

"You evil woman. Did you even have a clue about us?" I asked.

"I had a feeling, of course, but the most I could get out of Edward was that he met
someone at the wedding," she explained.

"Wait, you've talked with Edward about us?" I blushed furiously.

"So there's an 'us'?" Her excitement radiated off of her.

"What? No, no. But what did you and Edward talk about?" I buried my head in my hands.

"Oh, don't worry. He called me on my honeymoon and asked about a woman he spied. He
described you. Otherwise, he didn't reveal anything. Neither did I, though. But I knew
what happened, of course."

"Alice, why am I hearing about this now?"

"Did you really want me to intervene, Bella?"

"Well, no. But still, you should've told me Edward was asking about me. It could've
changed things."

"It is what it is. Now, care to ask what you need to know?"

"One of these days, I'm going to torture you for information about my future seeing as
you know everything."

Alice stifled laughter. "If I've told you once, I've told you a million times – the future is
subjective. I can't always tell what's going to happen. Though you know I've wanted you
and Edward together for years. It wasn't until my wedding that I sensed your paths would
finally cross."

"You know, sharing is caring," I stated with as much conviction as I could muster when
using the cliché.

"I'll remember that."

"God, Alice. I don't even know what I want to ask," I mumbled.

She nodded with understanding. "Would it be easier if you told me everything that took place?"

"Umm, I guess?" I frowned.

For the next twenty minutes, I gave Alice the PG-13 version of my time with Edward.
Every few moments, she'd interject to make a comment or ask for clarification. When I
was complete with my tale, we sat in silence for a few moments while Alice let my words digest
"Oh, Bella. I had no idea how confusing things had become in such a short amount of
time. If you hadn't figured it out already, Edward is complicated."

"No shit," I muttered.

"I think it's necessary that I explain to you everything about him. I've told you tidbits
about his past, and you know he confides in me, but I haven't broken his trust. Well,
today that's going to change."

"Alice, I don't want to know his secrets."

"You may not want to know, but you need to know. Where to begin…" Alice continued to
sit next to me without moving a muscle or making a noise. Then she suddenly began her
monologue. "Edward was a driven child. He decided when he was a teenager that he
wanted to follow in our grandfather's footsteps at Masen Mining. He was so driven that
he denied himself many of the pursuits in which most teenage boys revel. Everything for
Edward was about what would get him into Stanford. He studied and he played sports. He
didn't have his first girlfriend until the end of his senior year and they broke up when he
left for Palo Alto. Edward was a virgin until his sophomore year!"

"Shut up!" I scoffed. "That gorgeous specimen must've rejected the advances of many a girl."

"Yeah, well, while Edward was ignoring the female species, Emmett was getting ass
wherever he could, which was everywhere. But I digress. Okay, so Edward had two
girlfriends in college before Angela. Although I think he loved her dearly, I believe Edward
felt marrying her was the natural progression of events. Sort of like, 'I've graduated from
college so now I must get married.'"

I nodded in understanding, so Alice continued.

"Well, then our Grandpa died and Edward had his wish far sooner than he expected – he
was in charge of Masen Mining. He and Angela hadn't married yet, but it was a matter of
months before they exchanged vows. Granted, it was a nice ceremony and they
obviously loved each other, but there wasn't heat, chemistry, je ne sais quoi. They
weren't each other's lobsters."

"What is it with you and that phrase? I curse that damned


Phoebe-comparing-Ross-and-Rachel-to-lobsters episode of Friends," I guffawed.

"You know you love it." She stuck her tongue out and continued. "Where was I? Oh yeah,
lobsters. From my standpoint, everything about their relationship followed some
mythological checklist Edward constructed about life. 'And three years after marriage, our
first child ought to be born. One year later, we should move into a bigger house.' You
know what I mean? But when Angela died after giving birth to the girls, a part of Edward
died with her."

Silently, I pondered what her words meant. Did it really matter that Edward was broken?
After all, I was an employee, nothing more. Fuck it, I wanted to know everything about
this man who reminded me of Brontë's Rochester.

"Part of him died?" I asked timidly.

"Well, maybe 'died' isn't the right word. But he's not the same man he was before. Don't
get me wrong, he's neither better nor worse…" Her voice quieted as she pondered a
more accurate word to describe her brother. "He's just different."

"Well, that explains it," I smirked.

"Bella, I haven't had to explain this to anyone before. You need to be patient if you
want answers." She glared at me, but her expression was full of compassion. "Edward's
life was about a plan, meeting his goals, living the life he thought society expected of
him. With Angela, he had that life. They prepped for their twins with the expectation that
a perfect existence waited for them. But then she died and Edward suddenly had twin
daughters and an empty house. Angela was gone and it was his fault…he failed, or so
he thought. In his mind, if he hadn't married her, impregnated her, she'd be alive and
happy. I'm sure Charlie looked at what happened with Charlotte similarly."

I tried to contemplate all of this, but she continued.

"Edward turned off after that. He stopped feeling, experiencing, trying. His life was
about going through the motions. Edward wasn't a bad father to Lizzie and Renee, but he
hasn't been a good father. He hasn't been there for them. But don't fault him. It's
because he doesn't know how to be a father. He doesn't know how to live anymore. He's
been insulated in his own mind. The world continues to spin around him, but he's not a part
of it. What he needs is someone who will reawaken him, help him see that life isn't about
plans. I know you're there to care for the girls, but he needs a friend and the best thing
you can be for all of them is be that friend."

"I would love to be his friend, but that may not be entirely easy."

"Why not?" Alice asked.

"Well, I didn't tell you about the move into his house."

"And?" Even though we were sitting in the living room, I could picture Alice uttering that
one word as if she stood above me with her hands on her hips and her foot tapping
impatiently on the ground.

"Everything went well. Jacob helped me and those two hit it off, which I didn't expect.
But before Edward learned that Jacob and I were just friends, he seemed to get a little
possessive." I paused at the memory. Admittedly, I enjoyed the feeling that Edward
wanted me so instinctually, but I didn't place a lot of faith in it because I wasn't entirely
sure it was genuine. "And then later in the night, he woke me from a bad dream. Edward
comforted me and before I realized it, we were kissing. It was sweet and provided me
solace. But then he freaked out and ran from my room. When I tried to bring it up this
morning and assure him that everything was okay, he snapped at me."

"I'm going to give you the advice my father always gives us – tread lightly," Alice nodded
as she spoke.

"Hrmm…tread lightly?" I had zero idea how to interpret the words.

"Yeah, just be careful where Edward is concerned. I know you can do this, Bella."

Just then, Jasper strolled into the room as if Alice's words were some sort of cue.
Unfortunately, his entrance prevented me from prying more information about what 'tread
lightly' entailed. Also, I had a bunch of questions about how Edward acted after Angela's
death. Sometimes that little pixie infuriated me.

"Are you lovely ladies ready for lunch?"

The three of us retired to the dining room where Jasper had prepared a feast. They had
been gone for two weeks and returned this morning from Seattle. When did he have time
to restock the fridge with food? I shook my head with a smirk as I dove in, my uneaten
Belgian waffle long forgotten. In between bites, they breezily exchanged anecdotes from
the trip. While my mouth was stuffed with a crab cake, Alice conned me into a blind date
with a client who she thought would be perfect for me. I'll never figure out how she
manages to wrap all of us around her pinky.

l~l~l~l

Alice POV

"I'm so glad we're living in the same city again." I pulled Bella into a secure hug and kissed
her on the cheek. This girl had been a fixture of my life longer than my soul mate and I
was determined to remind her of her importance to me, especially now that she no
longer had Charlie. "Don't forget that I'm – no, we're – here for you anytime. You're
family, Bella."

"Thank you," she said as her familiar blush returned.

Jazzy and I stood in the doorway watching Bella trip her way to Edward's SUV. The
second the car left our sights, I kissed Jasper on the cheek and returned to the living room.

"What do you think you're doing?" he asked with an accusing tone.

"Those two belong together. I'm just doing what I think I need to do to help them realize it."

He sighed and plopped down onto the couch waiting for the proverbial shit to hit the fan.
Although he trusted me, he didn't expect my conniving to go as smoothly as it always did.
I grabbed the phone, ready to put my plans into motion.

"Hello?"

"Edward, we're baaack!" I squealed.

"How was the trip? Did you bring the girls any presents?"

"It was great, and of course. What kind of aunt do you think I am?" I giggled.

Edward let out a slow exhale in response. "Well, I hope you'll have time to come over in
the next few days and tell us all about it."

"Of course. But that's not why I was calling."

"Oh?" He asked with surprise.

"I am not sure if you're aware," I began. "But Bella's birthday is in a couple of weeks and
I want to throw her a surprise party. I'm sure you know her father passed recently and
this birthday will probably be particularly hard." Edward murmured with agreement so I
continued. "I thought a big surprise party might help her forget."
"I think that would be really nice. But how did you plan on achieving any element of
surprise? You're not exactly the most circumspect person I know." Oh. No. He. Didn't!

"I'll ignore those words. Don't you worry about the details. Just let me have the party at
your house and everything will go swimmingly."

"You are such a conniving minx, Alice. Okay. You worry about everything and just tell us
when to be there. And by the way – you're responsible for the cleanup, too."

I chuckled. "I can live with that. Just clear your schedule for Saturday, the twelfth. Bella
knows how my mind works, so she won't expect anything the day before."

"Yes ma'am!"

"And Edward, you sound happier." I threw in the words and hung up before he had the
chance to protest. Every little bit of encouragement I could give these two, the better.

One call complete, now for the second. Jasper shook his head. He knew where this call
was heading after sitting through a lunch in which I schemed.

The second the line picked up, I started speaking. "Royce King. It's Alice Cullen Whitlock.
How are you?"

"Alice," he exclaimed. "I was hoping to hear from you this week. You never cease to
amaze me with how on top of things you are."

Royce was one of my biggest clients. He lived outside of Port Townsend in a house my
mother had designed and I now decorated. A former Microsoft executive who cashed
out when the stock was near its peak, he was considered by most of Washington as one
of the most eligible bachelors. He had money, looks, brains, and was relatively young.
But he was an incredible ass. Luckily, he paid his bills in full each month, so I forgave him for it.

"Are you still single?" I asked.

"I am. You know no one has been able to tame this wild beast." Ugh, I wanted to puke at
his words. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, one of my best friends just moved back to the Pacific Northwest and I was thinking
you two would make a perfect couple." Heh, heh, heh.

"Tell me about her," he ordered.

"Her name is Bella. She's gorgeous, sweet, smart. You'll adore her."

"Do you have a picture?" Perfect, he took the bait.

"Hold on," I said. I texted him the best picture I had of Bella on my phone. "I just sent
you a photo."

"She's breathtaking," he whispered. This was too easy. "When were you thinking of
setting this up?"

"Free next Friday night? You can meet her at my place where she'll get ready and then
drop her off at her house afterwards."

"Do you think she can be ready by 6:00PM?"

Hook, line, and sinker.

"I'll let her know. And Royce, I know you won't be disappointed," I assured him. He
wouldn't be, but Bella would be – this man was all kinds of wrong for her.

"You haven't disappointed me yet, Alice."

We hung up and I turned to see a look of disgust on Jasper's face. "I hope you know
what you're doing."

"Don't I always?" I challenged.

"That's what I'm scared of. I just hope this doesn't blow up in your face."

"Trust me, my love. The date will go as I expect, and so will Bella's birthday."

"Alice, you're lucky I love you," he noted while shaking his head.

Now that the events were scheduled, I needed to get to work on sandwiching Bella and
Edward together...

l~l~l~l

EPOV

She didn't think the kiss was a big deal? How can she not realize what she does to me?
Ever since Isabella Swan crossed my path, I haven't recognized myself. I swooned over
her for a week and then brooded; I reveled in her presence and found myself avoiding
the rest of my life in order to spend time with her. Instead of talking with her, as she
requested, I spat words at her and accused her of using one of Angela's never-used
appliances. Oh. That's how she wouldn't know of my intentions. I continually sent her
mixed signals.

After my quick retreat from her presence – and those seemed to be the only kind I
managed to perform – I poured my heart into my music. The tune erupted from my
heart. Without a doubt, Bella would hear the melody. Would she grasp that the
harmonies spoke of what I could not?

Apparently Bella ignored the meaning because not a moment after I began to play, I
heard her covered feet pad across the floor and out the front door. With a crash, my
hands slammed on the keys. I'm such a fucking failure!

My temper tantrum, which rivaled that of one of my girls, passed briefly and I began a
new song. Like the other, my feelings for Bella inspired this one. But unlike that earlier
number, this one had infected me from deep within my core from the moment I first tasted
her. I continued to play, composing as I went along, finally writing everything down. Once
the last 1 refrain was transcribed from the sounds in my head, my telephone pulled me
away. Perfect timing!

Alice wanted to host a surprise birthday party for Bella. I could think of nothing better
than to give her this song as a gift, for she had inspired it. Later this week, I would have
to sit down at a recording studio so she would be able to listen to it whenever she chose.

Just then, I heard a car pull into the driveway. She returned. The tension I'd been holding
in my shoulders immediately drifted away. Instantly, I jumped from the piano bench,
intent on apologizing for my earlier outburst.

"Where is she?" Lizzie demanded. I looked at my watch. Tia returned them every week at
the same time.

"Who?" I knew who the girls expected to find, but I enjoyed being difficult because they
often ganged up on me in the same way Emmett and I had when we were young.

"Dadddddddddy!" Lizzie stomped up to me with her lower lip protruding. This little girl was
exactly like me at her age. With each passing day, I felt more and more sorry for the way
I acted towards Esme. And unlike Esme, I had someone else caring for them on a daily
basis. Oh, the debt I owed my mother for not maiming me! "You know who we want."

I couldn't contain my laughter any longer, especially after spying Tia at the door with
Renee, who looked ready to cry. Motioning for both of them to come to me, I crouched to
the ground and grabbed them into my arms before squeezing them with all of my love. I
chuckled, "Bella's just out to lunch with Aunt Alice. She should be back soon." And just as
soon as the words escaped from my mouth, another set of tires crunched along the
graveled driveway. "See?"

The girls ran from my arms to the open door. Nice to know where I stood in the pecking order.

"Bellllllllla!" They yelled in unison.

"Girls, give her some breathing room before you tackle her!" I bellowed.

As soon as she appeared in the doorway, a huge smile spread across the faces of the
Cullens, myself included.

"You must be Bella. I'm Tia Weber, maternal grandmother to these pushy broads." Tia,
who also grinned as widely as we had, extended her hand in greeting. "All I've heard
about since picking up the girls yesterday was 'Bella this, Bella that'. You have made quite
an impression on them. I'm so glad Edward found you. When you have a chance, we'll
have to sit down and swap stories."

Swap stories? This did not sound promising.

"Mrs. Weber, you have two wonderful granddaughters. Between you and Esme, you
have made my job easy."

"Please, call me Tia. Lord knows we're going to get to know each other well."

"Well Tia, I look forward to swapping some stories." The two shared a knowing look that
managed to confirm for me what I always suspected – women could communicate telepathicall

I looked around only to realize members of the female species surrounded me. In fact,
most of the people in my life were women. Yep, if I hadn't known it before, I did now – I
was fucked.
"Did you two have fun last night?" My girls ignored my question, focused on Bella instead.
I cleared my throat as loud as I could. Suddenly, all four faces snapped in my direction. "I
asked whether you two had fun last night."

"Yes, Daddy. We watched Up with Nana," Lizzie announced.

Renee added, "And she fed us hot dogs and french fries."

"Correction, I fed them turkey dogs and baked sweet potato fries." Tia stated.

Ugh, it sounded better when Renee described their meal.

"Did you guys have lunch, yet?" Bella looked at them expectantly.

"No, I planned to make lunch for them once they returned," I said.

"Well, I made tons of waffle batter." She looked to me and I grinned when I realized
where she was going. "Would you all like some Belgian waffles with strawberries and
whipped cream?"

"That would be lovely," Tia announced.

"Yummy!" The girls screeched.

They all ran into the kitchen to prepare lunch. It was easy to indulge them and I hoped to
continue to do it for a lifetime, even when they had their own children to pamper. I just
hoped I could add Bella to the list of people I would regularly spoil.

l~l~l~l

After we ate, I reminded Bella and the girls that Bella didn't officially start until Sunday
night, so they should allow her to return to her room to unpack or whatever she chose to
do – this was her free time.

They both let out the largest sighs in response to my warning. My little drama queens…

"Who is in the mood to play a game?"

"Can we play Clue Jr.?" Lizzie wailed?

"No, I wanna play Chutes & Ladders!" Renee yelled.

Great. Just what I wanted with this afternoon – a fight over what game to play. "Girls,
why don't we play both games."

"Fine," both pouted. I shook my head at these two. There was no pleasing them.

I tossed a coin to select which game would be first and then we spent the afternoon
having a great time.

"Edward, can I speak to you for a moment?" I turned around to find Bella standing
anxiously in a tight tank top and short cut-offs. If I didn't remember my girls sat next to
me, I am fairly certain my dick would've made a very visible appearance.
I followed Bella into the hallway and asked, "What's going on?"

"I was thinking of starting dinner. Is there anything I should avoid?"

"Bella," I paused as I search for the right words. "I don't want you to cook." She looked as
if I slapped her across the face. Smooth, Cullen. Way to find the 'right words'. "That
came out wrong. I meant, you don't have to cook. It's your day off."

"I know, but I want to cook for you." Bella wants to cook for me? Oh, she probably
meant me and the girls. Shit, I'm such a fucking idiot. "Yeah, I have a feeling the girls
would prefer it if I cooked."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Well, umm," she stammered.

"Spit it out."

"That's just it. The girls told me that your cooking is – and I quote – yucky. So I have a
feeling they would rather spit out what you make."

This wasn't a secret – I was a horrible cook. There was a reason I prepared only two or
three meals a week for them. "What do you mean I don't cook well?" I frowned. But I
mocked outrage because I suspected that precious blush, which I already loved, would
sneak across her skin.

Predictably, Bella turned a deep crimson. "I didn't mean to offend you…"

I attempted to stifle the roar of laughter that threatened to rear its ugly head. "Bella,
you're too easy. I know I can't cook worth a damn. I wouldn't wish my cooking on my
worst enemy."

"Oh, okay. So does that mean I can prepare something special?"

"We normally get take-out. Why don't you wait until tomorrow? We can pick something up
instead. Let you rest." I smiled, hoping she would see the genuine concern I held for her.

"Mind if I select where we eat?"

"I wouldn't have it any other way. Now, if there isn't anything else, I have two demanding
girls in there. If you're free in about ten minutes, we could use another person to play
Chutes & Ladders."

Bella beamed. "I'll be back in five!"

l~l~l~l

BPOV

Dinner from Hunan's was heavenly. I had forgotten how much I missed the crab rangoon
and Mongolian beef from my childhood. In fact, ever since I returned from Alice's,
Edward's mood seemed to shift from moody to content. After her advice, I viewed my
arrangement with Edward differently. Not only would I be this man's nanny, but also I
would do everything in my power to be his friend. But before I could be his friend, we
needed to erase any tension from "our night."

After he had bathed the girls and tucked them into bed, he joined me in the family room
where I tinkered away on the piano. I ceased playing when I spied the look on his face.

"Oh, don't worry. You can play as much as you want. But you might want to take lessons
first." He cocked an eyebrow as he smirked.

"So that's how it's going to be, huh?"

"Bella, I just call 'em like I see 'em."

"So I see." I sat for a moment, contemplating how to broach the subject, but there
wasn't an easy way to begin. "Edward, I was hoping we could talk. I tried to bring this up
this morning, but you didn't seem to be in the mood."

"Right." He sighed, his mood visibly altered as his mouth mashed into a straight line.
"What would you like to discuss?"

"Alice's wedding and what happened between us at it, as well as the kiss last night."

I waited for him to respond, but he didn't.

"So we slept together and although my memory is fuzzy, I'm pretty sure we had a good
time. I don't regret what happened, but we're both adults and I don't want that night to
influence our working relationship. Honestly, I was drunk and needed comfort and you
provided it. Just like last night – I needed comfort. I don't know what else to say. Other
than those things happened and let's move on from them. I just want to clear the air."

l~l~l~l

EPOV

"Sounds good to me. Consider the air cleared." I felt like she stabbed me in the heart. In
Bella's mind, my actions towards her were nothing more than consolation. But she was
right about one thing, I didn't want the night we shared to ruin what we were building.

I needed to rethink my means of wooing her and double my efforts. Would she find it too
extravagant to receive earrings for her birthday? If so, I could always cover my ass by
reminding her I run a jewel business. Now I had two goals to accomplish over the weeks
leading up to her birthday: record her song and scour for the perfect sapphires for her.

A/N: Poor Edward...did you like Alice's POV?

Thank you again for reading and reviewing. This week's recommendation: Scotch, Gin
and the New Girl by jandco & withvampsofcourse. It's fun, frothy, and finished! :)

Next chapter will post on Monday, February 15, 2010. I'm tired...first day of work was chaotic.

Please hit "Review this Story/Chapter" and tell me the best (or worst) thing that
happened to you today! :)
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>11. Chapter 10: Interviews, Part One<option value=12 >12. Chapter 11: Interviews,
Part Two<option value=13 >13. Chapter 12: Brunch<option value=14 >14. Chapter
13: Commencement<option value=15 >15. Chapter 14: Moving<option value=16
>16. Chapter 15: Comfort<option value=17 >17. Chapter 16: Games<option value=18
selected>18. Chapter 17: Dates<option value=19 >19. Chapter 18: Surprises<option
value=20 >20. Chapter 19: Progress?<option value=21 >21. Chapter 20:
Revelations<option value=22 >22. Chapter 21: Dilemma<option value=23 >23.
Chapter 22: Declaration<option value=24 >24. Chapter 23: Tears<option value=25
>25. Chapter 24: Assurance<option value=26 >26. Chapter 25: Connection<option
value=27 >27. Chapter 26: Perspectives<option value=28 >28. Chapter 27:
Time<option value=29 >29. Chapter 28: Labor<option value=30 >30. Chapter 29:
Admissions<option value=31 >31. Chapter 30: Advice<option value=32 >32. Chapter
31: Seattle<option value=33 >33. Chapter 32: Finally<option value=34 >34. Epilogue
Part One<option value=35 >35. Epilogue Part Two</select> <INPUT TYPE=BUTTON
Value=' Next > ' onClick="self.location='/s/5496816/19/A_Labor_of_Love'"> Rated:
<a href='http://www.fictionratings.com/' target='rating'> M - English - Romance - Bella
& Edward - Reviews: <a href='/r/5496816/'>2,239 - Updated: 06-21-10 - Published:
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A/N: Have I mentioned how much I *heart* my readers? Well, I do... :) I also *heart* my
beta, robpattz-addict!

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Daddyward/Widoward sprang from my


mind and aren't meant to infringe on her copyrights!

Chapter 17: Dates

BPOV

After Edward and I finally had our talk, we settled into a cozy routine. In the mornings, I'd
rise with Edward – well, not with him – and prepare breakfast while he showered. So the
girls would get to kiss their daddy before he left for a long day at work, I would awake
them while he wolfed down his toast, coffee, or whatever else I decided to make. Then
the three of us would munch on our own food while discussing our daily plans. Already,
we had a typical day: a nature walk around the property, even when it rained; sessions of
learning how to cook, reading a book or twenty, and basic math; and lunch – which I
needed more than the girls, I suspected – and a nap.

I always made enough dinner just in case, but his parents, his siblings, and even Edward
informed me that it would be a rare occasion that he showed. However, Edward
surprised me every night by appearing just before it was served. The four of us would
crowd around the kitchen table and Lizzie and Renee would swap turns informing Edward
of their favorite activities from the day. From these discussions, it became clear Lizzie was
partial to math and Renee wanted to lengthen our hikes outside. Like a proud mother, I
beamed at their words praising each undertaking. And in an unexpected move that
Edward continued beyond the first night, he would help me clear the table and rinse the
plates before loading them into the dishwasher.

I didn't think Edward could astound me more, but he managed to. He helped me bathe the
twins, dry their hair, and listen as they read a book aloud. We silently pleaded with one
another for the other to read with Renee, but we both endured that damned rotation of
Where the Wild Things Are and two interchangeable Dr. Seuss stories. After the
torture, we would hysterically laugh over making it through another night while we
trudged downstairs only to crash on the family room couch. Sometimes we'd talk. Other
times we'd watch TV or a movie. Occasionally, we'd play footsie while we each read.

The safety and familiarity I developed quickly with these Cullens helped soothe the ache
in my heart over the loss of my father. I was lucky.

l~l~l~l

On that first Thursday evening, Edward and I reclined on the sofa while images flashed
across the TV screen in front of us. Neither of us focused on it. Instead, we immersed
ourselves in a discussion replete with lulls that were neither tense nor awkward. For
some reason, I ventured to mention Rose and their tenuous relationship.

"Have you ever wondered why Rose despises you so entirely?" I inquired.

"Not really." He sighed and shrugged and turned his focus to the TV. But I couldn't
continue to let this cloud sit between Edward and Emmett. Rose was my best friend and
one day she and Emmett would marry. Whether Edward wanted to admit it, she would
always hold a place in the lives of the twins.

"Edward." I spoke his name with a slight edge in my tone. His attention returned to me
and an expectant expression stared back at me. "It doesn't matter to me whether or not
you care. But I care. So you're going to hear this."

"Fine." He sounded resigned to listening.

I took a deep breath before beginning. "Do you remember what you told Emmett the day
you first met Rose?"

"Of course." He stopped while he considered whether to continue. "I told him she was
with him because of his money." It surprised me that he divulged the gist of his
comments, knowing that Rose was one of my best friends.

"Right," I confirmed.

"How did you know about that? Did Emmett tell you?" Confusion spread across his face.

"No. Rose did. She overheard you. And instead of proving to you she wasn't a gold
digger, she wrote you off. Because she has to see you occasionally, rather than ignore
you as she would prefer, she treats you with contempt."

Edward didn't respond so I threw caution to the wind and continued.

"They've been together six years and they only just moved in together – because of
Rose. Emmett's been asking since we were juniors in college. They're not married for the
same reason. Rose may hate you and say she doesn't give a damn what you think. But I
know her better than almost any other person and she's been holding back because of
you and your opinion of her. She was brought up comfortably and she's an accountant.
Rose doesn't depend on Emmett for anything other than love and emotional support.
You're standing in the way of your brother's happiness. You realize that, right?"
He frowned. "And what do you propose I do?"

"I don't know, Edward. I just want you to make an attempt, for Emmett. Trust his judgment."

Nodding in acquiescence, he changed the subject. "Do you have any plans for the weekend?"

"Well, I plan on staying here if that's alright?"

"Bella," he sighed. "Of course. You can remain here as often or as infrequently as you want."

"Good. It's…umm…easier to stay here. I don't have images of Charlie flash in my mind at
everything I look at or touch. I know, I know. I'm avoiding, but…"

"Time heals all wounds. Just give it time." Edward reached for my hand and gave it a
light squeeze. I returned the gesture with a weak smile. Whenever Edward wasn't having
a bipolar moment, he was incredibly sweet.

He spoke again. "So you're just hanging around here all weekend?"

"Actually, I'm heading over to Alice's tomorrow afternoon so she can perform one of her
patented agonizing makeovers on me before I head out on a blind date."

If I wasn't mistaken, a green pallor colored Edward's face. I probably imagined it.
"Really? What's his name?"

"Umm," I bit my lip while I tried to remember his name. "Reece King."

"Do you mean Royce King?"

"That sounds about right."

"What is Alice thinking?" Edward mumbled under his breath, but I caught it because of his
proximity.

"Have you met him before?" I asked.

"No, but he's pretty well-known in this region. Child prodigy graduates from CalTech at
19, gets hired by Microsoft, retired by 35. Yada, yada, yada. Isn't he a bit old for you?"

"How old is he?" Frankly, Alice hadn't shared much with me other than he made a lot of
money off of his Microsoft options – and that he was hot and brilliant.

"At least forty. And he's known as a lothario," Edward sneered. Oh ho! Bipolar Edward
was back. What the fuck is his problem? "What did you two plan to do?"

"I think Alice said dinner and a movie. Typical first date stuff. I shouldn't be back too late,"
I declared.

Edward "harumphed" and returned to the TV. Was he my father now? A few minutes after
this bizarre conversation that I initiated, I left Edward and climbed the stairs to sleep. I
really didn't want to fight with him and I think any further discussion would only result in
just that.
I curled up in bed and cried myself to sleep, upset by our exchange and the memories of
my own overprotective dad they trudged up.

l~l~l~l

EPOV

Royce King? What game was Alice playing? She could've set Bella up with any guy other
than that snake Royce King and it would've been better. I'm going to fucking kill Alice.

And thinking about this has been tormenting me – fitful sleep on Thursday and at work
today I'm distracted. Something, well my inner subconscious, tells me I need to
investigate further. But asking Bella is out of the question. Our situation is too tenuous
and too new to destroy with my jealousy. Plus, that asshole has probably already picked
her up. That leaves the only alternative: calling that Benedict Arnold known as Alice.

"Well, well, well. It took you long enough to call me," Alice chimed. "So what do I owe to
this phone call?"

"Don't play games, Alice."

"Fine. You've heard about Bella's date."

"Royce King." I spat. "Seriously? What were you thinking? How do you even know him?
Why would you fix up that snake with sweet, innocent Bella?"

Alice interrupted before I could continue with my litany of interrogatories. "Are you going
to keep lobbing questions my way, or are you going to let me answer?" I remained silent,
which Alice correctly took as my submission. "First of all, Bella's not as angelic as you
think. Yes, she's a wonderful girl. But I've been a first-hand witness to Bella's supposed
'innocent' past. She's a big girl who can handle herself with that so-called 'snake'. I set
them up because I think they'll have a good time with one another."

"That's bullshit, Alice. And you know it."

"Whatever. Anyway, he's a client. And he's single. He's attractive, Bella's beautiful. I
figure someone ought to give her a good time because she's had a rough go of it recently."

"Level with me. I won't sabotage the date. But please tell me why you fixed them up," I
ordered.

"Honestly?"

"Yes, honestly."

"To kick you in the ass, Edward. Ever since I got to know Bella in college, I knew you two
ought to be together. But you were married."

I growled, "Alice. Do. Not. Go. There." A few weeks earlier, she challenged my affection
for Angela by calling my mystery woman – whom we both knew to be Bella – my 'lobster'.
A portion of me questioned when I would be able to forgive her for it. But I knew deep
down, Alice's intentions were good.

"Anyway, I resolved to fix you two up, but you managed to circumvent all of my attempts
to get you into the same room, until my wedding. Admit it, you want her. Why else would
you be calling?"

"Fine. The second I saw her I wanted to make her mine."

Alice squealed at my admission. "Was that so tough to concede?" Alice rhetorically posed.
Even though I didn't expect to answer her, it was tough to speak. "So maybe knowing that
Bella is out with another man will get you to act. Don't declare your love -"

"I'm not in love with her."

"Keep telling yourself that. As I was saying… You don't need to declare your feelings to
her, but you need to stop denying what's in your heart and get your woman. You
deserve that happiness, as do the twins and Bella. So get out there and rescue her from
his clutches!" The last part she practically yelled at me.

"Hold your horses, missy. I just can't barge into the restaurant – where are they
heading, by the way?"

She giggled, "Probably the sushi place she loves." That gave me an idea.

"How long ago did they leave your house?"

"Edward. Do not go there and embarrass her," Alice ordered.

"I won't. How long?"

"I don't know. Fifteen, twenty minutes."

"Good." My mind ran with the idea. "I'm not going to do anything but collect the pieces
after her disastrous date."

Alice squealed again. My cousin sounded like a little girl on Christmas morning who spied
under the tree the Barbie dream house she'd been begging for. I had to laugh at her reaction.

"I've got some conniving to do. Thanks for the 'kick in the ass', Alice. Even though I don't
act like it all of the time, I do appreciate your friendship and I love you…even when you're
being a nosy biddy."

"I'm happy to help. Call me when you need more encouragement. Oh, don't forget –
Bella's birthday party is next Saturday night," she confirmed.

We spoke of the details for a few minutes. I told her about the sapphire earrings I chose
for Bella: two pale, round-cut, half-carat sapphires surrounded by a ring of one-point
diamonds. Alice warned me they would be too flashy for Bella, but I assured my cousin
they exuded class and were delicate, just like her. And because I was confiding
everything, I told Alice about the song I had composed and my plans to premiere it. My
hyperactive cousin shrieked in excitement. Apparently, she approved entirely.

Luckily, Alice allowed me to put my plan in motion and released me from the squeal-fest.

"Nikko's," the voice answering the phone said.

"Emily. It's Edward Cullen."


"Mr. Cullen. Were you planning on coming in again today?" Emily asked.

I chortled. "No, but my friend, Ms. Swan – do you remember her from last week? – will be
dining there with a date tonight."

"Of course, Mr. Cullen. It's not often someone with that simple gorgeousness walks
through our doors."

"Fantastic. Anyway, I would like you to put their meal on my tab. Even if either one
insists, they shall not pay. And do not tell them I'm responsible for the bill."

"Of course, sir."

I added, "Be sure to add a 25% gratuity. I have a sneaking suspicion neither of them will
be happy about someone else playing."

I chuckled to myself as my plan developed. Knowing Royce King's reputation, the


hothead would blow his top when he learned someone else had paid the tab and
prevented him from displaying his wealth, especially on a first date when he was doing his
best to impress. With my brain calmed a bit, I returned to the work I'd virtually ignored all
day and evening, with the intention of driving the few miles into town to further my plan.

l~l~l~l

BPOV

For two hours, I sat glued to a chair while Alice poked and prodded me and then forced
me into a red dress and black stilettos with ruby-colored jewels on the heels. I would
never purchase either of these. Luckily, I could return them to Alice when this date
ended. While she fluffed and buffed me, I considered various escape routes.
Unfortunately, every way I could break away from the jail of Alice makeovers included the
loss of hair, eyelashes, or something similarly heinous. I was stuck until my date arrived.

And then the yellow Ferrari parked in front of Alice's house. I stifled the laughter brought
on by this ostentatious display. I would never date a man like this. Why had I agreed to
this? From the upstairs window, I watched Royce's swagger as he approached Alice's
house. Granted the man was very attractive, but everything about him screamed that
he was an ass. His hair was dark brown and shaped into a fauxhawk. A deep tan, which
I presumed was artificial, coated his visible skin, which was covered by an
expensive-looking tuxedo shirt and charcoal slacks. He capped the look with shiny leather
loafers that could almost pass for patent leather. You're in your late thirties or early
forties and you're trying to look like a wealthy 20-year-old skater. Get a clue! A second
giggle threatened to escape.

I heard the commotion downstairs that accompanied his entrance and then Alice bellowed
that Royce had arrived. I rolled my eyes at her announcement. As if I couldn't tell he was
here. Let's get this show on the road. I walked carefully and slowly to the stairs and
gripped the banister as I took each step.

When one stair remained, I moved my eyes from below me to Royce. His piercing blue
eyes sent a chill down my spine and I visibly shuttered. I gave him a nervous smile as
Alice ran through the introductions. Everything about this man screamed "RUN!" to me,
but I remained planted on that bottom stair. After the usual pleasantries, I allowed him to
drape my sweater across my shoulders and escort me to his awaiting steed. My internal
joke resulted in a chortle I had to choke on, lest he learn I'm mocking him.

"So what is this, a Porsche?" I assumed that question would hit a nerve and based on his
rambling answer, I was correct. He launched into a babbling diatribe about the virtues of
Ferraris and the shortfalls of Porsches. My mind wandered back to last night and the odd
exchange with Edward. Why was he so adamant about me not going on a date with this
ass? Yeah, Royce sounded absurdly conceited, but he seemed harmless.

Following his speech, a tense silence settled in the car. Thankfully the speed of his
beloved Ferrari – and his desire to display its power – brought us to Port Angeles in only
thirty minutes. We arrived at the sushi restaurant and I had the pleasure of listening to
him extol the virtues of Royce King, complete with descriptions of himself in third person
point of view. I fought the urge to roll my eyes each time he did it, but instead I covertly
pulled a pen and paper from my purse and made ticks each time he talked about himself
or his wealth and accomplishments. When the focus of our meal turned to me, I bit my
tongue to prevent myself from launching into a scathing condemnation of him.

"Royce likes to work out at least 45 minutes a day. How much do you work out, Bella?" he
inquired.

"Why?" I responded.

"Well, I notice you're slender, but you lack tone and definition in your arms. We ought to
get you into a gym so we can change that."

It should have surprised me that he had to gall to make such statements. Frankly, it
should've shocked me that he failed to see that I checked out of our date the second I
settled into the sumptuous leather of his car. The only thing that surprised and shocked
me was that Alice thought we would make a good pair.

By the time we completed our food, I sought the courage to request we end the date
early. But instead, I cowered in my seat when he erupted in a fit of yelling and cursing at
our waitress.

"I don't give a fucking shit if someone wants to pay our goddamned bill! Give! It! To! Me!"
he bellowed, the veins of his neck straining against his skin.

"I'm sorry, sir. The man insisted that he handle the bill," the timid waitress replied.

"This is fucking unbelievable. Look bitch, get me your manager!" Needless to say, I was
mortified beyond belief and I wanted to disappear as all eyes focused on the commotion
at our table.

"Royce," I said in my most-soothing tone as I hesitantly stretched my hand across the


table to calm him. "Don't worry about it. It's not a big deal." He ripped his arm from my
hand and turned his glare on me. His blue eyes froze me in my place and I whimpered silently.

Just then, I saw Emily walk towards us. I silently pleaded with her to forgive us. She
winked at me. What? "Good evening, Ms. Swan." I gave her a weak smile, surprised that
she remembered my name. She turned towards Royce. "Sir, I understand you're upset
that your meal has already been paid for. One of our regulars always handles Ms. Swan's
meals." Just then, I realized who covered the tab, but I didn't understand the why.
"This is bullshit." He turned to me, "Bella get your sweater. We're getting out of this
fucking hell hole," he shouted.

Swiftly, he stalked out of the Nikko's, not waiting to see if I trailed behind him. Despite my
better judgment, I allowed him to open my door and I sat. He drove the few blocks to the
multiplex and huffed when he realized we'd missed all of the mid-evening showings, with
the exception of the shoot-'em-up flick, Judgment for All. Frankly, I didn't care what we
watched, as long as I could escape his words and his temper.

After we entered the movie theatre, he motioned to the concession stand but I shook
my head due to the worry that someone would raise his ire there, as well. We found the
screen and he selected a seat along the back, secluded from the ten or so people littered
close upfront. As soon as the previews ended and our movie began, Royce began running
his index and middle fingers along my bare arm. I shuddered in response, which he took
as an invitation to continue.

"Royce," I lifelessly said. Again, he misinterpreted my intention and with one hand he
began groping my breast while the other rested on my groin. He capped off the
movements by shoving his tongue in my mouth. I fought off his advances and loudly
slapped him. "Get your hands off of me, you pig!" Jumping up, I rushed past him after
stomping heavily on his foot that sought to block my retreat.

"Bella, what's the problem?" he called after me.

"Leave me alone, you fucking asshole!"

I ran from the theatre and slipped my sweater on my shoulders as I considered where to
head. As if I found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a bright green and white
logo beckoned me. Pushing through the doors, the barista greeted me and asked what I
wanted.

"Um, how about a vanilla latte?"

"What size, miss?"

I nearly smacked myself in the head as I realized my Starbucks faux pas. "Grande, please."

"It'll be just up."

I smiled and sunk into a cushy chair by the window where I could spy the movie theatre.
Giggling, I watched Royce exit and curse some nonexistent person. He got into his car
and pulled the door shut with a loud thud before backing up, almost causing an accident,
and speeding from my sight.

"Your latte is up!"

I grabbed the drink and returned to my seat and pulled my phone from my purse. Looks
like I would need a ride.

"It's Alice. Leave me a message." That may have been the shortest and least descriptive
outgoing greeting ever.

"Alice. Are you insane? Royce and I have nothing in common. I left him at the theatre
after he tried to maul me. I'm stranded in Port Angeles. Call. Me. Back." I sighed after
pressing END. Next attempt.

"You've reached the voicemail of Dr. Jasper Whitlock. If this is an emergency, please
hang up and call emergency personnel at 9-1-1. Otherwise, please leave a detailed
message and I will return your call within 24 hours."

Rather than leaving a message, I hung up and sought another option.

"Hey, hey, hey, it's Jacob. You know what to do. So do it."

Seriously? Were the heavens plotting against me?

"Jake, that blind date I told you about was disastrous and I'm sitting in a Port Angeles
Starbucks, in desperate need of a ride. Please call me back."

Maybe Leah would pick up. But like the previous three attempts, I reached her voicemail.
I took a long, cleansing breath and steeled myself for my last realistic option – Rose and
Emmett lived too far to call, it was too late to call Esme or Carlisle, and Billy didn't drive often.

"Hello?"

"Oh, thank god!" I exclaimed.

"Bella, what's wrong?"

"Umm," I paused and bit my lip. This was embarrassing. "I hate to impose, but could you
come pick me up at the Starbucks across from the multiplex in downtown Port Angeles?"

"Of course. Sit tight. I'll be there soon."

"Thank you," I breathed before hanging up.

Ten minutes later, the familiar silver Volvo pulled into a parking space directly in front of
the building. When he strode through the door, I blushed while my eyes raked over him.
The man's beauty never ceased to surprise me.

"Uhh, Bella?"

His words broke me from the fantasy that included me mounting him and having my
sweet, slow way with him. "Oh, Edward. Thank you for coming to my rescue."

When he noticed I appeared fine, he began laughing. Laughing! What the fuck? "Wanna
tell me what happened?"

"Not really, but I guess I will. There are no words to describe how entirely horrible Royce
King acted. What would possess Alice to think we'd be a good match?"

l~l~l~l

EPOV

If only Bella had a clue as to what Alice was up to. I smirked at her after visually
determining she appeared unharmed by the snake. I pulled out a seat at a table next to
her and made myself comfortable. What I didn't expect was to hear how little she
enjoyed the date. Honestly, I was tickled pink. And when she thanked me for dinner and
snickered while retelling Royce's reaction to not being able to pay, I nearly fell over as I
howled at the image.

When Bella got to the description of their encounter at the movie, I internally growled at
the image of that asshole laying his dirty paws all over my woman. I'm going to find you,
Royce, and make you pay for hurting Bella. But she sensed my ire and calmed me by
smiling softly at me and stroking my hand with her delicate one. She gripped my fingers
briefly and I grinned back at her, all traces of anger gone. And when she detailed how
she slapped and ground her heeled foot on his, I fought the urge to high five Bella.

"So that brought me here. And five phone calls later, you arrived," Bella declared.

"Five?" I was fifth on her rescue list?

"Well, I phoned Alice first. Considering she was responsible for this mess, I figured she
would need to cart her ass up here and rescue me. But she didn't answer, so I called her
other half, thinking Jasper would convey the message," she said. I telepathically sent
Alice and Jasper a 'thank you' for not answering. "And then I tried Jake and Leah, but
their voicemails picked up, as well. That's why I called you. And you never stated how
you managed to get here so fast."

Before I answered her, the events of the last hour replayed in my head. Should I tell Bella
I stalked her? Well, stalk is such an extreme term. Sensing she might need me to come to
her rescue, I waited in my car – out of sight – outside the theatre. And when I watched
Bella stomp out, I resisted the overwhelming temptation to run to her. Instead, I
resolved to remain rooted in my seat until she sought my aid. And when she did, I pumped
my fist in the air in triumph like some movie hero who vanquished an infestation of aliens.
Wow, the littlest nugget from Bella was turning me into such a freak.

"Edward? Earth to Edward…" Bella waved her hands in front of my face.

"Sorry. What did you ask?"

"How'd you get here so fast? It takes about an hour to get here from home." She called it
'home', not 'your house'. I sighed contentedly.

"I worked late. Because both you and the girls aren't home, I decided to get some things
done at the office. You called just as I was getting in my car. The timing couldn't have
been more perfect," I added.

Bella seemed to accept my story. I led her back to my car and back home while her scents
swirled around me and infected my senses.

l~l~l~l

Rich, chocolate-colored hair fanned out across my chest and pillow. As I ran my hand
through it, the smell of mango wafted to my nose. I breathed in deeply as I gained my
bearings. My fingers lingered on the tips of the long hair until I became aware of the
warmth that radiated below. Shifting my fingers to the source, I traced along the supple
flesh. It was unmistakable who possessed the round breasts and pert nipples.

Bella.
My palm continued its trek along her creamy skin until I cupped her warm, wet core. I
shuddered as my touch confirmed what my memory stored – her pussy was bare and oh,
so inviting. For fear of disturbing the sleeping beauty in my midst, I carefully removed my
hand and body from her orbit and gazed upon her.

Fuck, her grace never ceased to dazzle me.

But there was more to Bella than just her outward appearance. As I peeled away each
layer of her personality, I wished to delve in further. And today, I wanted nothing more
than to delve into the moisture between her folds.

Bella continued to sleep peacefully, her lips puckered into a pouty expression and my
name escaping in chants from between them every few moments. The sight and the
sound affected my cock as it roared to life, standing at attention and ready for battle. I
bent down and sniffed her like a fine wine as my nose traipsed along her neck and
collarbone. Halting at her breasts, I drew a nipple between my teeth and lightly suckled it
before returning to my hike down the hills and valleys of her body.

A kiss here, a lick there, and a nip, nip, nip and the promise land spread out in front of me.

I drew in a deep breath as her smell intoxicated me like the most potent drug. Dipping my
tongue to her slit, I ran it along the edges as I sought refuge between its walls. Then her
clit rose from its shelter like the island that rose from the mist in Brigadoon. I teased it
with my mouth, alternating between soft bites and deep stokes of my tongue. When Bella
stirred below me, I thrust my fingers deep inside her pussy and was met with fierce
groans and moans.

My digits and mouth set about to establish a rhythm. While my fingers pounded in, my
tongue splayed across her warmth and licked up; when they retreated, my teeth scraped
along her nub; as they curled along her soft spot that drove her crazy, my tongue swirled
along the insides of her lips. As my speed increased, her breaths became labored and
shallower. Every muscle in her body arched or tensed and release washed over her.

I continued my ministrations until I sensed she had returned from her high. After kissing
her sweet center one last time, I positioned myself above her and looked into her
glorious brown orbs. I stilled my hips and silently asked for permission to plunge my painful
erection into her. She nodded and just as I lined up my head at her entrance…

Darkness…

It was all a god damned dream. I sighed and shuddered at the chill around my groin. Like
a fucking teenage boy, I'd had a wet dream.

Would I ever make my dreams with Bella a reality? I ripped off my sticky pants and threw
them to the floor before wrapping myself in my sheets. Alone.

A/N: Are we getting closer to some 'bow chicka bow wow' action? Tune in next Monday,
February 22, 2010 to find out!

Until then, check out two stories I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE: "Illegal Contact" by
GreenEyedGirl17 and "The Gentleman from Washington State" by Betty Smith (located at
http:/www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/s/5720172/). I just *might* be her new beta, so read it
(lol)! :)
And finally, initial nominations for the second Indie TwiFic Awards have been posted.
Guess what? A Labor of Love is among the nominees in *two* categories: AH story that
Knocks You Off Your Feet (WIP) and Best Use of a Parent! First-round voting begins on
Saturday, February 20, 2010, so head on over to
http:/www(dot)theindietwificawards(dot)com/ValidatedStoriesByCategories(dot)aspx to
support me and other fledgling writers! :)

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this chapter, so please review! Sayonara!
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A/N: Just want to say thank you to all of my readers and reviewers. Your reviews
always manage to bring a smile to my face. And to my beta, robpattz-addict, I'm forever
indebted!

Disclaimer: Ms. Meyer created Twilight. LL and Daddyward/Widoward sprang from my


mind and aren't meant to infringe on her copyrights!

Chapter 18: Surprises

BPOV

As I returned to consciousness, I thought about the previous night and the disaster that
was my first – and only – date with Royce King. Rather than focus on it, my mind began
analyzing the conversation with Edward and our ride home. He seemed giddy? Each time
I glanced at him through the corner of my eyes, a goofy grin was affixed to his face.
What was that about?

After we entered the house, he mentioned that he was wide awake and that he planned
on staying up.

"Want to watch something with me? Or talk?" he asked shyly.

"Sure. I'm not really tired, either. Of course, it may have something to do with all the
caffeine I pumped into my body," I chuckled.

We began talking about anything and everything. Before I realized it, our discussion had
turned serious and the two of us spoke of heartbreak.

"How have you been doing?" Edward asked.


"At the most non-related things, I fight back tears that threaten to spill over. I guess it's
never easy saying goodbye to someone before it's their time."

My statement must've hit a nerve, for Edward tensed up. Sensing his unease, I did
what seemed to soothe him earlier – I caressed his hand with my own.

His eyes closed and he took a deep breath. "No, it's not." Although I didn't expect him to
open up to me this early, I wondered whether he was about to discuss his loss of Angela.
"I'm sure you know a great deal about Angela's…" he swallowed, "death. It really hit me.
Just a few hours before it happened, my always-vibrant wife had been mocking my
frazzled handling of her water breaking and getting her to the hospital."

Although Edward seemed a million miles away, he continued. "They say women glow when
they're pregnant and Angela wasn't an exception. But that day, something seemed off,
which may have been the cause of my bungling. After Lizzie was born, everything
seemed to move in slow motion and then Ange was gone. I couldn't make sense of what
had happened in such a brief amount of time. Everything about her pregnancy had been
better than routine. It was perfect." His voice lowered to a whisper, but I could hear the
despair in it.

"After that, I vowed that I would never put another person through that again. I may
love again, but I will never marry and allow a woman to have my child. I contemplated
having a vasectomy, but my sex-crazed, caveman of a brother focused on the
post-procedure-lack-of-sex I could have afterward. But he convinced me with his 'medical
opinion' that a slight snip off target and I'd be maimed. Then he detailed the possible side
effects, which included swelling, ice packs, and an assload of pain. Regardless, to this day.
I still consider getting one. I mean, were it not for me and my fucking sperm, Angela
wouldn't have died." I ached to hug him and assure him none of this had been his fault.
But I knew he would still blame himself, so I remained silent, allowing him to continue to
unload. "I won't – no can't – ever put another person through that."

Poor Edward. I frowned, unable to find the right words to say in response. Life sure was unfair.

My phone's ringing pulled me from my memories.

"Hey Rose."

"You went on a date with Royce King? Don't you ever listen to me?"

I was confused for two reasons: she wasn't calling me a whore and I had no idea what
she referred to. "What are you talking about?"

"Royce. I told you about him a few months ago."

"I have no idea what you mean, Rose." Honestly, I didn't.

"The asshole who tried to paw me."

I felt bad for thinking it, but Rose could use those words to describe many men in the
metro Seattle area. "Can you refresh my memory a little?"

"Remember that client who tore my dress as he tried grope me? I know I told you about
him. For about a split second I considered not telling my bosses about his advances
because he was one of our biggest accounts. But my underlying desire to kick his ass
pushed through and I reported him to the higher ups. Luckily, I wasn't the first employee
he made advances on, so Mr. Riley agreed to drop him as a client. I was surprised,
considering Riley is such a bloodsucker when it comes to our bottom line."

"I wish I had spoken to you beforehand. I never would've let Alice convince me to meet
up with him. Especially because his shitty reputation was accurate."

"Oh Bella, what did he do?"

"It's what he tried to do. But I didn't let him and managed to escape his clutches. I should
kill Alice."

"Wait in line. I'm going to cripple her for doing this. When I get a hold of her for putting
you in harm's way…"

I admired my friend's willingness to stand up for me, but I needed to steer this direction
elsewhere.

"So what else is going on, Rose?"

"Nothing much. The real question is what's going on with you. Have you and Edward
starting humping like rabbits, yet? I'm running out of reasons to call you a whore."

"There's that snark of my best friend that I expected when I answered the phone."

"Bella, so I should take your reluctance to answer my question as confirmation that you
and Edward are fucking like two dogs in heat?"

I was glad we were talking over the phone and not in person, because I'm certain that
Rose would've used my now-heavy blushing as evidence that something was actively
happening between me and Edward. Already, I had to endure a shitload of innuendo
because of the kiss.

"Remind me why we're friends again?" I chuckled. I gave her the replay of the date, but I
decided to leave out the heart-to-heart Edward and I had because it was too private.
After promising to allow me to tell Emmett the play-by-play, we hung up and I roused
myself from bed.

l~l~l~l

EPOV

Alice joined me and Bella for lunch and we both gave her a piece of our minds for setting
her up with Royce, but for different reasons. When I thought back to how he had treated
her, I ground my teeth together as the ire made my blood boil.

"If you knew he had tried to attack Rose, why would you have risked Bella's safety?" I sneered.

"I'm sorry, Bella. I had no clue about that. Rose doesn't tell me everything, especially
something that may make her seem weak. Really, I hadn't heard anything about the
incident." Alice bowed her head, her shame evident.

"Look, I'm just worried that you've lost your psychic ability. What were you thinking? Me
with Royce? You couldn't have possibly saw the two of us together in the future." Bella
tried to lighten the mood, but I didn't find it appropriate.

"Bella," I began. "Why aren't you more annoyed about what happened?"

"Because I am fine and nothing happened. Sheesh, you thought it was funny last night,"
Bella chided.

And I did, but that had been before I learned of Royce's attack of Rose. If Alice hadn't
had a one-track mind and focused on her wedding and nothing else for the last few
months, I'm certain she would've had knowledge. She and Rose were as close as sisters.

Once I was certain Alice had expressed a sufficient amount of contrition, the three of us
talked of less upsetting topics.

"Now that you're living in Forks, have you and Mom decided what you're going to do
about your business?"

"Actually, I was wondering the same thing," Bella mentioned.

"Mom, Dad, Jazz, and I sat down this week and discussed the topic. We made a few
decisions, one of which included plans to move our hub to Port Angeles. Do you think
you'll want to carpool with us?"

"You're aware how early I leave and how late I return?" I asked skeptically. My cousin
worked hard as a designer, but she didn't keep long hours at the office. "Plus, how were
you planning to get to your appointments?"

"Oh, I hadn't thought about that. Crap. Well, that's not that important. Anyway, this
week we're going to look at a few spaces. Bella, do you think you and the girls would like
to head up there one day and join us for lunch? Maybe you can come, too, Edward?"

I didn't have time to hang out with Alice and my mom. But when Bella said she'd be
interested, I immediately expressed my desire to eat with everyone – a little too exuberantly.

l~l~l~l

On Monday morning, Alice phoned to confirm plans for Bella's upcoming party.

"Have you completed your plans for her birthday?"

"What do you mean, Alice?"

"The earrings, the song. You know."

"Yes," I groaned, annoyed at her nagging.

"When are you going to make your move?" Alice sounded like a squealing high school girl.

Did I want to answer her question? Not really, so I kept it vague. "Soon."

"You are so irritating sometimes, I swear!"

"Was there a point to this conversation, Alice?"


"Of course." Alice began explaining the plan for Saturday night.

The girls and I would tell Bella that we were going to dinner so she would think we
weren't home when she returned from dinner with Jacob and Leah. And then my bizarre
cousin detailed the agenda for the party. I shook my head while I considered whether
this gathering would go off as she intended. Surprisingly, Alice informed me that she and
Tia had worked with the girls over the weekend for a few hours choreographing a routine
from Bella's favorite movie. I couldn't wait to watch my girls sing and dance to some
tune. Come to think of it, I couldn't wait to find out what flick Bella loved that included
singing and dancing.

l~l~l~l

Towards the end of the week, I met my girls – all five of them – for lunch at a local burger
joint the twins loved. I arrived at the restaurant a few minutes before them, anxious of
how Esme and Alice would analyze every exchange between me and Bella. Additionally, I
worried that they would gang up on me to make snide comments aimed at embarrassing
me. Something about those two when they got together turned them into a two-headed
Emmett.

Every time the door opened with a heavy creak, I jerked my head in its direction.
Eventually, my girls, minus Bella, walked through the entryway. I must've had a crazed
look on my face, because Alice snapped her fingers in front of my face to get my attention.

"Relax, buddy. She's parking the car. Yes, before you ask, we all rode over in the Lexus.
I wedged myself between their seats."

I think Alice continued to blab away, but my eyes shot to the front when Bella arrived. Her
long, wavy, chocolate-brown hair swirled around her face and shoulders and a glow lit
her from behind, giving her an angelic appearance. When our eyes met, she beamed
and my heart skipped a beat at the vision in front of me. Bella's legs were bare – and
barely covered by a short denim skirt and her top pushed her tits together enticingly. I
raked my eyes along her body and cringed when I sensed the hardening of my dick.

What do I do? Should I deal with my stiff cock, which I was certain I could alleviate
rapidly, or would it be better to adjust myself discreetly and whack off once I returned to
the office? If I waited until later, I could moan and groan without fear of discovery. Shit,
sometimes I was incredibly glad my grandfather had installed that bathroom in the office.

When did I turn into such a letch?

l~l~l~l

BPOV

The familiar wetness brought on by naughty thoughts of Edward returned with full force
as I sauntered through the restaurant's doors. Did I dress to get a rise, so to speak, out
of him? Maybe. Did I expect to be met with his hungry expression? Not at all.

Part of me wanted to believe Edward wanted me. And when he looked at me this way,
nothing would've convinced me otherwise. But the other part of me knew the reality of his
life – we wanted different things. I hoped to marry one day, have my own brood, and live
a quiet life. Allowing myself to consider a future with him would lead to nothing but
disappointment, as was made crystal clear when he detailed for me how he felt about
marriage and more children. Despite warnings from Alice, his self hatred managed to
surprise me. I was resigned to be his friend and nothing more. I sighed, deciding to focus
on the people in front of me.

l~l~l~l

A few days after lunch, Jake and Leah picked me up for dinner. Upon returning to the
house, the lights inside the house were off, but a light glow burned above the porch.

"Huh, Edward and the twins must still be out," I theorized to Jake and Leah. Glancing at
my watch, I noticed it was near their bedtime. "I was hoping you'd get a chance to meet
Edward," I motioned towards Leah, "and the twins," I announced to both of them. "I
knew you should've stepped in when you arrived to get me."

"Don't worry about it, Bells. One of these days…" Leah trailed off.

Dinner with my stepsister and best friend was pleasant. Although they attempted to make
a fuss over my birthday – the first without my father – I shut them down as soon as
they announced the reason for the so-called festive occasion to the hostess at the
restaurant. When the waiters started a half-hearted round of Happy Birthday, I shrank
in my seat. I never appreciated the hassle or the attention that accompanied such an event.

"Lemme find my key. Jake, can you hold the balloon and my gift?" I dug around my purse
and shook it, in hopes of hearing the familiar jingle of my keychain. After zeroing in on
the sound, I fished them out and clicked the lock on the front door.

"This is so weird. Where could they have gone," I wondered aloud. "I think the switch is
over here somewhere. Yep, here it -" I flipped on the light, and finished my thought. "—is."

But my word was drowned out by the shouts of "Surprise!" by my friends and family who
were gathered in the foyer of Edward's house. Alice stood amidst the group, bouncing
up and down with a goofy grin plastered to her face. Without a doubt, she dreamed up
and planned this party. Revenge against that feisty pixie shall be sweet! I pursed my lips
and glared at her as the customary warmth rushed to the surface of my skin.

"Happy birthday, Bella!" Leah and Jake jingled behind me as they crushed me into a vice grip.

"I can't believe you two took part in this, this…" I flailed my arms around my body at a
loss of words to describe the ostentatious display Alice prepared, worried that use of
such a description would hurt her feelings.

Looking around, I realized all of the people I loved had come out for the party. Come to
think of it, I couldn't be too annoyed at Alice. Rose pushed her way from amongst the
crowd and squealed when she pulled me into a hug.

She whispered into my ear. "I tried to rein her in, but you know how Alice gets. Just
enjoy yourself, okay?" Rose gripped my elbow and led me into the family room where the
bulk of the decorations resided. She held my hand as we walked around and I greeted
each person individually.

After about two hours of mingling and joking, Alice jumped up on her brother's piano and
clanged a fork against her glass. In response to her actions, Edward glared up at her.
Honestly, I suspected he was annoyed that she was standing on his beloved grand.
"Okay, everyone! It's time for the cake," Alice shrieked as she tried to regain control of
the gathered bodies. "Clear a path to the table in the corner!" Luckily, the din of the
party drowned out the bulk of her words. But when she stepped down, she jerked my
arm to the table with the cake.

In front of me sat a sheet of what I expected to be buttermilk icing over a chocolate cake
with a layer of raspberry filling – Alice knew my favorite. Small blue and purple flowers
adorned the edges and in the upper left corner a bouquet of roses decorated the cake.
That section was mine! Alice shoved a cake knife in my hands and clapped hers excitedly. I
sliced through it in a grid pattern, but passed on the duty of dispersing the pieces. Let
Alice deal with that. When I took my first bite, I groaned in pleasure.

And to make matters worse, Alice then instructed everyone to move to the living room
where my presents awaited me. My sugar-induced buzz faded fast. There stacked along
every surface of the room, including an extra table brought in for the event, were
presents. I sighed and closed my eyes, wishing that when I opened them they would
have disappeared. Unfortunately, I wasn't that lucky.

"Oh, Tia just informed me it's time for the girls to give their present so they can head to
sleep," Alice smirked as my suspicion grew. "Hit it!" Just then, the opening notes of So
Long, Farewell erupted from the speakers.

Lizzie and Renee began singing the song from my favorite part of my favorite movie, The
Sound of Music. I beamed. The girls had continued enchanting all of us as they moved up
the stairs. Once they reached the top and finished their performance, we all clapped and
I ran up to give them a warm hug.

"Thank you. This was such a wonderful present. How did you two know?" I inquired.

"Aunt Alice and Nana did it all," they chimed.

A warm hand splayed across the small of my back. "Go back to your party. I'll get them
ready for bed." Edward's whisper in my ear made me shiver and wetness pooled in my
panties. Fuck, he was hot. Thankfully, he was gone as fast as he appeared, inadvertently
rescuing me from having to compose myself in seconds. I glanced down at the gathering
to see everyone focused on anything but me, so I peeked into the hallway bathroom on
the second floor.

Just as I exited, Edward joined me again by returning his hand to the curve above my
ass. "Don't worry, I'll divert Alice's attention long enough so you don't have to open
everything until everyone has left." I nodded and allowed him to direct me down the stairs.

Some time later, the revelers slowly dispersed after wishing me one last happy birthday.
Alice paused at the entryway and jerked me into a fierce embrace. "Don't be cross. I
just wanted to bring you joy."

I cocked an eyebrow. "Please. Alice Cullen pass up an opportunity to throw a party? It


was all about you," I deadpanned.

"No, no. Really, Bella," she insisted and I smirked, proud that I made her feel guilty, if only
for a moment.

I slapped her on her butt. "Now go home and do some dirty things to your husband.
Tomorrow, you're coming back here to clean up this mess."
"That was one of my provisos for hosting the party! I'm glad we're of the same
mindset," Edward grinned.

"Yep, I'll be here bright and early and I expect to open presents with you. Don't think
Edward successfully steered me from them."

I shoved her out the door and shut it behind her before collapsing against it with my eyes
closed. Edward placed a finger below my chin and I opened them meeting his intense gaze.

"I never got a chance to tell you and now it's after midnight, so it will be appropriate.
Happy birthday, Bella. I hope twenty-five brings you all the joys you can imagine." A few
tears escaped my eyes and streamed down my face. This would be the first year without
my father. "I didn't mean to make you cry. C'mon, let's piss off Alice and open up all of
your presents right now."

A small smile broke through my tears. Edward took my hand and led me to the living room
while we chuckled at his plan.

l~l~l~l

A gazillion over-priced presents and sore-ribs-from-laughing-hard-at-them later, Edward


and I meandered into the kitchen for a second helping of cake and water. I was surprised
that he didn't purchase anything for me. Not that he was supposed to buy be something,
but considering he hosted the party and had been this generous already, I expected
something. And I'd be lying if I wasn't the least bit disappointed.

Just as I took a bite, Edward pulled me from the counter where I was hunched over the
piece of the scrumptious cake.

Food still in my mouth, I attempted to question him. "Whrf arf we going?"

"What was that?"

I swirled my tongue around my mouth for all remnants of food and swallowed audibly
before I spoke again. "I asked, 'Where are we going?'"

"You'll see," he smirked with that panty-dropping grin.

He led me to his piano and seated himself on the bench. Not really sure what was
happening, I remained next to it with an awkward look on my face. As if sensing my
unease, Edward motioned for me to join him, which I quickly and joyfully did. As soon as I
situated myself next to him, Edward reached towards the strings of the piano and
grabbed something.

"You didn't think I'd let your birthday pass without getting you something special?

l~l~l~l

EPOV

A megawatt smile flashed across Bella's face when my hand revealed the tiny box, which I
swiftly pushed towards her.
"Edward."

Clearly, Bella was searching for the right words. Her head shook gently and she bit her
lip. Aww, her nervous tell. Our eyes met momentarily before she focused on the gift in her
delicate hands. Carefully, she untied the box's ribbon before opening it. With a
perplexed expression, she slid the jewelry case out of its confines before opening it with a gasp

"They're beautiful, but too much."

"First of all, I have more money than I can spend in a life." Should I have mentioned that?
I continued to downplay the significance of the earrings. Really, this was a way for me
to woo her. But was I ready to reveal my feelings to her? "And secondly, it wasn't like a
spent of wad of money on them, anyway. I, you know, own the supplier." I added
sheepishly, "However, I did select the stones and the setting."

"I will cherish these, not because of their pulchritude or value, but because they came
from here." Bella placed her fingers over my heart and I relaxed infinitely.

"Will you wear them?"

"Always."

Just then, Bella removed the earrings she wore and replaced them with mine. I couldn't
wait another moment to reveal the other surprise.

"I have another present for you."

"Edward," she warned. On cue, because I anticipated her protest, I launched into the
song I wrote for her.

While I played, I sought every ounce of love and devotion I possessed for her. When
the sound from the final note quieted, I remained silent, as did Bella. Fearing the worst, I
twisted my head and watched as tears slowly streamed past her rosy cheeks.

I tugged at my hair and ran my fingers through it in response to her reaction. "Damn it, I
made you cry again. I'm so, so sorry. Can you forgive me?" I snaked an arm around her
waist and crushed her to me, hoping the hug would earn the forgiveness I sought.

In the softest voice, Bella sniffled, "Was that for me?"

"Yes." I wiped away her tears and kissed her hair. "I wrote it for you and here," I shoved
the CD towards her, "I recorded it in case you want to listen to it again."

Again, I pondered whether I should reveal my feelings. Fuck it, I'm doing this. "Bella, I
don't have the strength to stay away from you anymore."

A/N: Progress? Can it really be happening? *smirk*

First-round voting for the Indie TwiFic Awards began on Saturday, February 20, 2010
and continues through Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at Midnight EST. I would be honored if
you took a few moments to vote for A Labor of Love. It's up for two awards: AH story
that Knocks You Off Your Feet (WIP) and Best Use of a Parent.Head over there to vote!
http:/www(dot)theindietwificawards(dot)com/vote(dot)aspx
As always, thanks for continuing to show my little story love. Spread the word to anyone
looking for new fic to read!

The next chapter - which is a little shorter than you might want - will post next Monday,
March 1, 2010.

This week's recommendation: "How to Save a Life" by . I came across this thanks to
raves by AngstGoddess03 via Twitter. It's ser