Chapter Eight: Cottage on a Beach
The warmth against the front of my body. My nose and mouth buried in the crook of her neck, her hair tickling my eyelids. My arm wrapped around her waist, her hand holding mine firmly against her stomach. They were the greatest feelings in the world. I fell asleep like this, and it was just so much better waking up this way. I let out a breath and allowed myself to pull her closer, sneaking a kiss onto her sweet neck. Bella sighed contentedly and turned around in my arms. She was smiling, pushing herself into my chest though her eyes were still closed. Mine were partially opened, but I smiled widely as she wrapped her legs around mine and actually slipped her hand a little ways up the back of my shirt. I gasped, but relished the feel of her hands against my skin.
I breathed in heavily, and let it out in a tiny, tired moan. Bella’s eyes fluttered open, looking up at me. ”Good morning,” she murmured, her lips curling into the sweetest little gin. I flashed her a wide smile.
”Good morning,” I murmured, wrapping my arms around her tightly. We both settled back in, feeling completely comfortable and at ease in each others’ arms. The smell of her hair was strong in my nose and I opened one eye, glaring at the light pouring in the window, and the time flashing on my clock.
Despite the fact that I had made plans for today, I really did not want to go anywhere. I was completely fine with lying here in her arms for the rest of the day. Bella sighed again, her lips lightly grazing my collarbone and it sent my heart into overtime.
”Aren’t we supposed to do something today?” she mumbled sleepily. I grunted, causing her to laugh and then stretched out, my feet escaping the blankets and my hand hitting the headboard. We both looked down to the foot of the bed, our toes and bare legs sticking out underneath the blankets which were wrapped around our limbs, the legs of our pyjama’s hiked up to the knees.
Bella started to sit up, but with a moan and a whiny ‘no,’ I pulled her back down, holding her tightly in my arms.
Bella laughed into my chest and lay there, half on top of my, my arm around her, just staring at the ceiling. I couldn’t help but feel like Bella just… fit there, in my arms, right by my side. It’s like we were two halves that were meant to be together. And, as cheesy as that may sound, it felt right. Which, was why today was the day I was planning on telling her that. I couldn’t stand being here, watching her, how beautiful and amazing she was, and not being able to do anything about it. She had a little over a week left, and I was going to tell her exactly what I was feeling and make the most out of the few days we had left.
”Breakfast time!” she exclaimed suddenly, jumping off of me and the bed and skipping out of the door to the kitchen. I grumbled before tumbling onto the floor and following after her. There was a clatter in the kitchen and I rushed around the corner, peeking around the island to see Bella sitting on the floor in front of the oven, wrestling with the pots and pans to get a frying pan out of the drawer. Her pants were rolled up to her knees and her dark curls covered her shoulders. I chuckled at her and she turned to look at me innocently before continuing her business.
I opened the fridge, still trying to wake up as I pulled out some eggs and cheese, a few onions and ham. Bella placed the frying pan on the burner, greasing it and turning up the heat while she started beating the eggs. I took out a knife and began chopping up the green onions. Bella was humming to herself, perhaps forgetting that I was here, so I began whistling with her. She giggled but continued humming while I started cutting up the rest of the food before we mixed it together and poured it in the frying pan.
By then we were full out singing the song, dancing around the kitchen in our pyjama’s and then serving up food, leaning over the island while we ate and staring at the tele in the living room.
”Where are we going?” Bella asked me when she was finished her omelete.
”I’m bringing you down to my Mum and Dad’s place, by the coast,” I said forking the last bit of egg into my mouth. Bella snickered.
”‘Mum’ he says,” she mumbled, walking over to place her plate in the dishwasher. I rolled my eyes but grinned at her all the same. We spent the next hour gathering up all the dirty dishes and filling up the washer before we turned it on. We put all the garbage together and I brought it out to the dumpster while Bella got changed.
”Are we staying for the night?” she called to me when I walked back inside.
”Yeah, Mum’s got a couple of rooms, so I don’t think she’ll mind. Besides, it takes so long to go down there, it’s almost pointless to see them for a few hours just to get back here before it’s too late.” Bella poked her head out of the guest room door. I could see from her bare shoulders that she wasn’t wearing much, and her hair was damp, proving she’d just gotten out of the shower. I felt my cheeks grow a little hot so I walked past into my room. I pulled out my duffle bag and threw a change of clothes into it, along with a book before I went to knock on Bella’s door. She answered, dressed in a pair of black jeans and a long red sweater, her sleeves rolled up to her elbows and a silver belt was tied around the top of it. I tore my eyes from the neckline of her shirt to her agitated eyes.
”What’s wrong?” I asked concernedly. Bella was holding a set of clothes in her hands.
”I haven’t got a small bag to bring these clothes in,” she said frantically. I grinned and held out my opened bag.
”I figured as much, use mine, it’s not like we’re taking a lot.” Bella smiled thankfully and threw her clothes into it, then snatched it from my hands and escaped back into the guestroom. I sighed and went back to dress myself. I did it simply, a pair of dark jeans and a grey v-neck sweater. I rubbed my hands through my hair and picked at a few pieces, hoping to get it into some sort of order, though that was nearly impossible. I was on my way to the bathroom to wash my face when Bella came out of the hallway, drawing a quick breath a looking up to me. I lost my own breath. she was stunning. She was now wearing a long necklace of black and white beads and a pair of flat, silver shoes. Her dark hair was dried and curling around her shoulders and face so perfectly, it took everything in me to stop leaning forward and to keep moving down the hall.
”Um, I think we should get ready to leave soon,” I croaked out, taking the bag from her and walking quickly to the living room.
”Wait, I want to make something for your parents, since they don’t know we’re coming,” she said sweetly, rushing to the kitched cupboards and looking inside. I’m disappointed to say that the only thing she found was flour and cocoa.
”Can we pop to the store before we go, I don’t want to use up all of your mothers’ things,” she said, smiling at me. My heart stuttered and I nodded, swallowing hard as we both walked to the door. I grabbed my dark coat, and she grabbed hers. I took extra care locking the door behind me to try and clear my thoughts.
Bella had been in this store so many times since she’d been here that she ran ahead of me and grabbed a cart, zooming to the right aisles before I even got through the doors. I was trying to follow her laughter and find her among the baking supplies but laughing so much myself made it hard. Eventually she stopped running and I found her concentrating hard on a bag of icing sugar. I snuck up behind her and wrapped my arms around her waist. She jumped and yelped, but blushed a bright red when she saw me. I pointed at her face and laughed, but stopped abruptly when she smacked me with the sugar. It only took Bella ten minutes to find everything she needed and to get check out. Then, we were on the road and on our way down to my parents.
I popped in a CD when Bella pulled out her book.
Of course, the fact that the first song was a love song didn’t help at all. I changed it, suddenly feeling a lot more nervous.
”You’re a part time lover and a full time friend, the monkey on your back is the latest trend, I don’t see what anyone can see in anyone else but you…” Nope, can’t deal with that one. I knew where it was going. I changed it again.
”You’re captivating while evading all the questions I have for you like, ‘What exactly makes you tick?’ When the guilt sets in tell me what are we going to do?” Well, this one wasn’t so bad so far.
”Your tongue is wet with a top secret passion, I hope I am the cause of it. I’ll navigate this unsturdy vessel filled with a soft sea of pillows and blankets”
I jumped. ”Jesus!” and quickly changed the song. I was a bright red and glanced at Bella who was watching me curiously from over the top of her book. I shot her a quick smile and turned back to the road. The next song was Beatles, which was excellent, except that it started in; ”Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.” I groaned again and changed it.
”All you need is love, Edward,” Bella mumbled, not pulling her eyes from the page.
”Yeah I know,” I mumbled. ”Love is all you need.”
The next song was holding promise for about a minute.
”How long have I been in this storm? So overwhelmed by the ocean’s shapeless form. Water’s getting harder to tread with these waves crashing over my head.
”If I could just see you everything will be alright. If I’d see you the storminess will turn to light.
”And I will walk on water, and you will catch me if I fall. And I will get lost into your eyes, and everything will be alright… and everything will be alright.”
”Goddamnit,” I mumbled, reaching to change the song. Bella’s hand caught mine, small and warm but fitting around my own perfectly. This song was hitting too close to home for me, but Bella said; ”Leave it on, I think it’s gorgeous,” so I left it. The song was beautiful. We were silent as we listened to it, but not for long after. Bella finished one chapter of her book before setting it down and watching things out the window.
”What do we talk about now?” she asked quietly as a smal shower of rain started. I shrugged and stole a glance at her.
”I’m not sure, we know pretty much everything about each other,” I said. It was the truth, we’d talked so much before, there wasn’t much more to say now.
”Tell me a secret,” Bella said smiling widely at me. I grinned but kept my eyes straight ahead.
”Well… I never listen to the radio if I can help it,” I said. Although, my usual favourite CD wasn’t being very helpful to me today. ”What about you, tell me a secret now.” Bella sighed and sat back down into her seat.
”There’s a good reason why I don’t like sleeping alone,” she said. ”It is because I’m more comfortable with someone there, but I have some sort of insomnia when somone isn’t in bed with me. Not always in a romantic sense, but I need to have someone there for me to fall asleep.”
”What do you do at home, then?” I asked. This was news to me!
”At home it’s really hard. I didn’t get a lot of sleep until I met you, because we talked until so late at night, so it was a lot easier to handle. Here I’ve had either you or Rosalie. When I was with my parents they were close by, so it was pretty simple to get to sleep. But, at my own house? Not so easy. I think I’ll get a cat when I get home, I think even that will help me sleep.”
”Wow,” I murmured. ”It has to be our cat, though,” I said. ”We are married. We share possession of everything, or something.” Bella rolled her eyes and laughed.
”Okay, you can help pick him out,” she told me. I grinned and we continued a more lighthearted conversation for the rest of the ride.
I brought Bella to a small convenience store once we reached Mum and Dad’s small town. She picked up the fresher ingredients there and then we continued down towards the beach to my parents’ house.
”Edward!” Bella exclaimed, stepping from the car with an armfull of groceries. She stared at the cottage in awe. ”This is where you grew up?!”
”Yep,” I smiled. ”I think they’re gone out, their car isn’t here…” I tried the door before pulling out my key and unlocking it myself. ”Yeah, they’re definitely out.” Bella moved quickly, finding the kitched in the small house and then pulling out a few mufin trays from underneath the oven. She found a glass bowl and we immediately set ot work, fixing a batter for the cupcakes and one small cake she was planning for Mum and Dad. I stared in awe of Bella, how at ease she was in a kitchen, whipping up a batter in a little over the time it took the over to preheat. She poured out the cupcakes and placed them into the oven in the shortest amount of time I’d ever seen.
”Nice work, soldier,” I said, saluting her. She laughed lightly and reached up to wipe a bit of batter form my cheek.
”I’ll say, you didn’t do a bit of work,” she countered. I shrugged.
”It can’t be helped, I’m still completely knackered.” Bella let out a loud laugh.
”Hah! ‘Knackered’ he says!” She gets a kick out of the way we say things here. After cleaning up the dishes and leaving them on the drainboard to dry, Bella pulled out the chocolate treats and placed them on a rack to cool. There was still no sign of Mum and Dad, so I took Bella’s hand carefully in mine and smiled sweetly to her. My heart started pulsing erratically. I brought her down the small hallway to where we’d be sleeping that night, but I brought her there for a different reason.
I opened the door, greeted by the small bed and large desk. Carefully I brought Bella inside and stood her next to the bed. I smiled at her, studying her features and her beautiful face. C’mon Edward, you can do this.
”This is where I read your letter for the first time,” I said to her softly, tapping my desk. I reached into the drawer and pulled out the glass bottle it had come in, the wax still around the top. I passed it to her and saw a faint blush on her cheeks in the growing darkness.
”Did you find it around here?” she asked quietly. I nodded and took her hand, leading her to the porch where we dressed quickly, then outside and across the road to the beach.
”I’ve told you about how I found it before,” I murmured slowly as we walked along the sand, the cold ocean air biting our cheeks and blowing our hair around our faces. ”But I’m not exactly sure if I told you why I was out here.” I Bella shook her head and I stopped, reaching the spot where months ago I had found her bottle.
”I came out here to clear my head because for a long time I’ve felt like something was missing, and it really bothered me beacuse no one else felt that way. So naturally I assumed everyone else found it already.” Bella leaned in to me, taking my coat and wrapping it around her back, trapping both of us inside its warmth.
”And I think the thing that was missing was love,” I said quietly, leaning my head into her hair, holdng my arms around her to keep the jacket closed. ”And if I’m going to be honest to both of us, then I have to admit that it hasn’t felt like a part of me is missing since I met you.” She looked up at me, an expression glittering in her eyes that I couldn’t pick out straight away. ”Since I met you, I feel whole and I feel love,” I confessed.
There was silence for a moment before Bella reached up on her toes and crushed her lips strongly with mine, and then there was no stopping us. Our mouths and tongues moved together in a frenzied fashion, each of us wanting more to taste. Her hands roamed aggainst my back under my coat, sending chills up my spine.
Somehow, and I’m not completely certain how, we wound up at the door to my parents’ house. I was fumbling with the key to the door while Bella kissed my neck, pinned in between the door and myself. At one instant what she was doing felt too good and I dropped the keys, returning to kissing her and holding her myself. We both let out pleasured moans.
”Ahem?” a voice cleared behind us. We froze and Bella stared into my eyes, our bodies still dangerously close. She glanced over my shoulder, squeezed her eyes shut and knocked her head against my shoulder. I turned slowly, afraid of what I’d see. My father stood maybe three feet away from us grocery bags in his arms and one eyebrow raised in a questioning manner. My mother stood at the end of the walkway, her eyes wide and mouth open in shock. The bags dropped from her arms, oranges rolling across the lawn.
”Oh! Hello,” I said nonchalantly, chuckling nervously. ”You’re home then?”
”Yes…” my father said in an irritated tone. I felt my cheeks grow hot, definitely a bright red. Bella was hiding behind me, her eyes wide in shock, or fright, I’m not sure. We both stepped aside as Dad unlocked the door and went inside with his groceries. I jumped before hurrying down to the end of the walk way and gathering up Mum’s things. Bella followed behind me, taking her bag from her and filling it back up while I found the rest of the oranges. We went to the trunk of their car and pulled out the rest of the groceries. Bella went inside while I placed a hand on Mum’s back, leading her inside.
”I’m really sorry, Mum, that was completely unacceptable of me,” I tried to explain. We’d probably be driving home tonight after all. Dad was standing in the kitchen, looking curiously at the things Bella had baked.
”What’s all this, then?” he asked, sounding a slight bit happier than he had been. Bella blushed lightly as she put the bags down and I smiled at her.
”Mum, Dad, this is my friend Bella,” I said softly. They turned to her, smiling nicely. I’m certain they weren’t entirely mad, Mum had wanted me to find someone forever. ”We were hoping we could spend the night down here with you guys, to visit before she has to go back home.”
”Where do you live, Bella?” Mum asked.
”In America, on the coast,” Bella replied. I watched my parents’ eyes widen.
”How did you two meet?” Dad asked. I smiled and took Bella’s hand, she looked really nervous.
”In a message in a bottle,” I said. ”Remember the last time I was down? When I went for a walk on the beach I found the bottle she sent, and once Emmett and I got back into town I wrote her a letter back, and we’ve been talking ever since.”
”Edward,” Mum began. ”That was months ago! Why haven’t we heard of her before?!” I shrugged and smiled.
”She was a secret,” was my response. Mum and Dad both smiled and got to work putting away their groceries.
”I’m sorry for seeming so shocked, Bella,” Mum began, closing the fridge door. ”I’m just not used to coming home to my son, let alone with a girl pressed up against a door!” We all laughed, though for Bella and I it was with a blush. ”Who do we thank for the cakes?” she asked.
Bella smiled but didn’t seem like she knew what to say. ”At home Bella owns a catering business, and she makes specialty cakes for different occasions. They’re really impressive, so she wanted to make something for you guys,” I explained. Then, I pulled out the picture of our ‘wedding cake’, passing it to Mum and Dad.
”That’s just one of them,” Bella explained. ”I can make things more complicated than that, it’s really not as good as Edward makes it out to be.” My parents looked at it with awe.
”Bella, this looks amazing!” Dad exclaimed. ”I can’t believe you do something like this all by yourself…” Bella blushed again.
”My friends own the business with me, they help out a lot, I owe them so much…” She had the most adorable smile on her face as she thought about them, I couldn’t help but stare, her lips looked so inviting and warm…
I glanced up. The parents were watching me over the top of the photograph with wide eyes. Bella didn’t notice, she was staring at the cupcakes and playing with a bag of icing sugar. Then, the most horrifying thing happened. They turned the picture over.
”The Cullen-Swan Wedding Cake?” Dad asked with humor evident in his tone. Bella’s head shot up, a frightened expression matching my own. ”Is there something you’re not telling us son?”
”It’s just a joke, Dad…” I mumbled, taking the picture away from them. If you ask anyone in my office they’ll tell you she’s my wife. My parents laughed. Mum stole a glance at Bella’s hands.
”I believe you,” she said. ”You’re much too old fashioned to let her go without a ring.” Oh God, was my face ever going to be so pale again? Bella asked Mum something about mixing bowls and various other kitchen goods, and once Mum pointed them all out Dad led me to the living room. I brought Our bag down to my room before joining my parents.
”I’m shocked, Edward!” Mum said in a hushed tone as the sounds of glass clinking together sounded from the kitchen. ”I haven’t seen you in months and then I come home and you’re pressed up against this lovely young woman on our front step?” An electric mixer started up.
”I’m really really sorry, Mum,” I answered, leaning a bit forward on my seat. ”Honestly, it wasn’t supposed to be like that, for you guys, but that seriously, was the first time I’ve ever even kissed her. I suppose I couldn’t help myself. I really, really truly like this girl, more than anyone I’ve ever known. She’s about to go home in a week, and that’s going to kill me, because I’ve spent so many months talking to her and getting to know her, and then actually having her here, it’s so much better than thousands of miles away, I don’t know what I’m going to do…”
Dad smiled and patted my shoulder. ”I believe you. She seems like a really extraordinary girl. I can tell she means a lot to you.” I smiled warmly at him.
”I think she’s just lovely,” Mum said happily. ”She makes you happy, and that is what I want firstly.” I grinned at her and moved to give her a hug. After a few more moments of explaining Rosalie and Emmett to them we settled down, turning on the evening news. Their eyes quickly bcame fixed on the tele, so I stood up quietly and moved to the kitchen, leaning against the doorjamb.
Watching Bella brought a smile to my face. She’d found an apron somewhere and had it tightly tied around her waist, her hair tied up on the top of her head. She was holding a bag filled with melted chocolate and was drawing hearts onto a baking sheet. The entire surface was nearly covered. When she finished she picked up the sheet and placed it in the freezer before turning back to the table, where the cake was covered in what I assumed was a weird sort of icing, it looked like the cake had been carved out of it. She pulled it towards her and began drawing the hearts on it again, a pair each in different positions along the one side.
When she finished she put down the bag of chocolate and took the cake, placing it on the cupboard near the sink. She wiped an arm over her forehead and took in a deep breath. I took that as my moment to move inside, while she stared out the window. I stepped up behind her and placed my hands on the cupboard, trapping her near me. She turned to me and smiled tiredly.
”Edward,” she began quietly. ”I’m really sorry, for the way I acted down at the beach. That was really forward of me, and I understand if it was never in your intentions with me coming here…” I cut her off by leaning in a little closer, both of our eyelids starting to close.
”Bella,” I murmured. ”I’ve wanted that every since you got here, and maybe a little bit before that. I didn’t mind at all.” Then, I leaned in again and kissed her. This time, it was soft, and slow. Bella let out a soft smile and smiled against my lips, raising her arms around my neck. I opened her mouth with my own and wrapped my arms around her. We were like that, for a few moments before we both broke apart. It was better than if one of my parents came storming in. Which, they did then. At least we were only holding each other.
”Alright then, Bella,” Mum said, unaware of our positions. ”How about you and I get dinner together for everyone, all right?” Bella smiled and let go of me.
”Sure, just let me finish icing these,” she said, picking up another bag of white icing and quickly, expertly twirling it along the top of the little chocolate cakes. She took the tray of them and moved it out of the way before cleaning up the mess she’d made. Mum kicked me out of the kitchen and the two of them got started.
An hour later Dad and I were allowed back into the kitchen where we sat down to one of the bst meals we’d had in a long time. Bella sat by my side, one hand on my leg. It send thrills up and down my spine and I couldn’t help but smile all through supper. Occasionally she’d rub my leg, or give it a squeeze whenever she was told of something embarrassing (supposedly cute) of my childhood.
I called Emmett when my parents walked down the hallway to bed, and while Bella changed in the bathroom. I told him that we’d gotten here safe and sound, and when he asked this time if I’d done anything about how I felt about Bella, he wasn’t disappointed. He promised to tell Rose, who was bound to be calling as soon as we got home. I hung up the phone and peered into the kitchen as I moved down towards my room. The cupcakes each had two of the chocolate hearts placed in the icing on top of them and looked simple and sweet. I smiled and pulled off my shirt, turning on the light in my room to find my pyjama’s.
I settled into bed with my glasses and a book, the bedside lamp the only light once Bella shut off the bathroom light. She peered into my room seconds later, her long hair hanging over her shoulders, clad in those little shorts and grey t-shirt again.
”Um, where am I supposed to sleep for tonight?” she asked me quietly. I grinned and held open my arms for her. She grinned and laughed quietly to herself, shutting the door behind her. She climbed over me into the tiny bed, trapped between myself and the wall. I put down my book and glasses, turned off the lights and turned towards her. Our legs automatically wrapped together and I felt her small hands on my cheeks, pulling me in for the first of many sweet kisses before we could fall asleep in each others’ arms.