Along Came a Spider 2/C6

A/N: A special shoutout to one of my pre-readers, AnakinSmom. She shared Deedee’s toast with me many chapters ago, and after some slight tweaks, I was able to work it in during their Mexico trip. Thank you, L! My thanks to Team Spiderward for all you do. xx

Song inspiration for this chapter: “Hotel California,” Eagles and “We Should Be Friends,” Miranda Lambert

(Playlist for this story can be found on my YouTube channel, if you search for “ghostreader24”)

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. The NHL owns anything that sounds familiar. I’m here having fun.

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Chapter 6

At the sound of a knock on our villa door, I hurry from my comfy spot on the balcony, peek through the peephole, then open it immediately.

“Hello, Deedee. Come in.” Waving her inside, I close the door behind her, noticing she’s dressed in a bright sundress and sandals. “You look nice. I love that dress.”

“Hey, Bella. Thanks. Are you ready?”

I’m a little underdressed in comparison to her. I hope whatever she has planned for our day together will be compatible with my vacation uniform—flip-flops, a bikini under shorts, and a T-shirt. I’m mixing it up today by wearing one of Edward’s shirts tied at my waist.

“I just need to grab my purse, then I’ll be good to go,” I share, walking toward the coffee table in the living room area.

“I told Jess and Angela to meet us in the courtyard, but they said they may look around in the boutique while they wait. Are you okay with them joining us?” Deedee asks, leaning against the kitchen island.

“Sure. The more the merrier.” After adjusting the purse strap across my body, I slide on my flip-flops. I’m curious about our agenda, hoping for something low-key. “So, what are we doing today? I have my fingers crossed it somehow involves any combination of tacos or margaritas, but the pool or beach will work too.”

“Uh . . .” I don’t miss how Deedee’s smile falls a little. “Unfortunately, you could be disappointed by what I have planned, but I hope not. Last night, Marcus and I were having dinner at one of the restaurants here at the resort, and I excused myself to use the restroom between courses. While I was in the ladies room, I overheard two women talking about visiting the Witches Market in Mexico City. Are you familiar with it?”

“No.” I shake my head. “I have no idea what that is.”

“It’s this huge outdoor market or bazaar with stalls where people sell cures for any ailment you can imagine,” Deedee explains. “There are amulets to ward off or attract spirits, and plus, you can purchase services, such as a cleansing from a curandero to get rid of bad spirits. They sell anything and everything. I’ve only heard about it, but have never been.”

“Magic potions and voodoo dolls?” I raise my eyebrows skeptically.

“They have those too.” She chuckles. “It’s the full spectrum—Shamanism, Black Magic, White magic—everything. Unfortunately, that one isn’t close to here.”

“You said Mexico City? I promised Edward we would have dinner together when he returns this evening.”

“Not a problem. You’ll be back with plenty of time to spare,” Deedee promises. “Fortunately, we don’t need to go to Mexico City. The ladies in the bathroom were chatting about finding a similar shop off the beaten path near here. I was hoping you would be interested in checking it out with me. I arranged for a driver through the concierge.”

I’m a little surprised with her plans since that isn’t how I anticipated this day would go. “So no cooking classes about tacos or sampling tequila here at the resort?”

“Bella, where’s your sense of adventure? This will be fun. We can do those things another time.”

“Actually, eating tacos sounds like a lot of fun, and this place doesn’t make a bad margarita. I can turn it into a whole day,” I counter, because I’m not a fan of leaving the property. Everything we could want is right here, steps from our door or a phone call away.

“Come on. Aren’t you at least a little bit curious? We could do something easy like a tarot card reading,” Deedee suggests, as if that sweetens her proposal.

“Are you sure this isn’t a tourist scam? Do I feel my wallet vibrating?” I tease, clutching the small purse sitting at my hip. “You know I have a background in science, right?”

“Yes, of course, but that’s all the more reason to check it out—alternative treatments. I know you’re open-minded. Who knows what we’ll find? What if we find a love or sex potion you can use on Edward?”

I snort at the idea. “Oh, Deedee.”

“Please, for me, Bella?” she pleads. “I told Jess and Angela we were shopping, but I think when they figure out where we’re going, they could end up bailing on me, and I know you won’t do that.”

I don’t want Deedee experiencing something like this on her own, and she could be right about Jess and Angela abandoning her. It’s also an opportunity for us to do something together, which I’ve been wanting to do. While I wouldn’t select this activity, it’s what she wants to do and I can go along for her.

So, I concede and muster a touch of enthusiasm, holding up my finger and thumb with the smallest of spaces between them. “I’ll admit, I’m a tiny bit curious.”

“Yes! Thank you, Bella.” Her smile is full of relief. “I knew I could count on you.”

Looking down at my clothes, I wonder if I’m dressed appropriately for this event. “Should I change my clothes, if we’re going off the property? My outfit screams tourist.”

“You’re fine. Perfect.”

“In that case, let’s go. Your adventure awaits.” I grin. Following her out of our villa, I pull the door closed behind us. “Are you and Marcus enjoying your time together in Mexico?”

“Yes. As I mentioned, we had dinner last night, and dear Lord, I don’t know what’s gotten into him, but I like it.” She laughs heartily as we walk in the direction of the main courtyard. “He’s more relaxed than he’s been in years.”

“It could be the free-flowing tequila everywhere,” I suggest, knowing first-hand it works for me. “Or the ocean. Or the sunsets. Everything just tastes better here. What is it about this place? It’s like that Eagles’ song where you never want to leave.”

Deedee smiles. “I agree, but that sounds more like someone who is in love to me.”

“There’s no denying I’ve got it bad. All of this without Edward would be incredible, but with him? It’s off the charts. Next level,” I share. As we meander along the path toward the main pool, the bar comes into view and I recall Edward’s parting words of advice this morning. “Oh, hey, do you mind if we stop and grab some water to take with us? Edward has been encouraging me to balance my tequila intake with water and staying hydrated.”

“Sure, that’s a great idea,” she agrees, looking out at the waves crashing softly along the shoreline. “I don’t think this trip could have come at a better time for Marcus . . . or us. While I’m enjoying our time here, it’s nice to see Marcus unwind and connect with his teammates. I think he’s finally settling into a good place with the team. It’s always a gamble switching teams, but I still believe moving from San Jose was the right choice.”

Her mention of switching teams gets my attention, especially after my recent conversation with Edward.

“Was it a trade?” I wonder.

“No. At the end of last season, Marcus was an unrestricted free agent. He had several offers, but the one from Royce was one he couldn’t refuse. So, we’re in Dallas for the next three years.”

I nod, recognizing the term she used is one that will apply to Edward at the end of this season. I just don’t know what that will mean for him at this point, as he always warns me not to think too far ahead.

Deedee continues, pulling me from those thoughts. “We also had a long talk last night about something we’ve been avoiding for a while. I think . . . don’t tell anyone, but after we return home, I think we’re going to look into adopting.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful.” I reach out, squeezing her arm gently in support.

“Thanks. Marcus said he discussed it with Edward the other day.”

I shake my head. “He didn’t mention it to me, but we’ve been our own kind of busy since our arrival.”

“Definitely love.”

“Right? Maybe a little lust too.” I giggle, as we approach the bar and slide into two open spots.

“We’ve been trying to have another child for years, and the stress has been . . . a lot since it hasn’t happened. After our heart-to-heart, I think we’re both open to our options moving forward, but there’s a part of me who wonders if there isn’t something alternative at this shop that could tilt the odds in our favor,” Deedee shares hopefully.

I shrug. “I suppose it’s possible. While Western medicine primarily focuses on the physical, I’m a believer in how Eastern medicine expands the picture to include a patient’s mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects. I wouldn’t say it is necessarily an alternative solution, but maybe more of a complementary addition to what you may already be doing. Edward is a passionate advocate for the power of positive thinking, which is a major key to his success.”

“Speaking of thinking positive thoughts . . .” she starts.

“Oh, boy.” I grin.

“That’s a loaded segue, right? Well, you don’t have to answer, but I’ve been meaning to ask, any thoughts about moving into my neighborhood?”

“I . . . I don’t know. Maybe soon?”

Her eyes brighten and she releases a little squeal of happiness. “Bella, that’s exciting.”

“I know. I would love for us to find a home smaller than Edward’s, but I just can’t balance a new home search with everything else going on at the moment, especially with my new practice. While we each have our own homes, it’s something we’ve discussed, but maybe Edward is right. I should move in with him, even if it’s only temporary until we find something else.”

Deedee nods. “Well, I hope it isn’t temporary and that you both are our neighbors for years to come. Have you told Edward? It sounds like this could be a new decision for you.”

“Not yet, and you’re right, it is. I was leaning in this direction in the days prior to this trip, but that’s because our relationship is changing rapidly—deepening in every way.”

“Oh, I like the sound of that.” She smiles.

I hesitate sharing how it’s changing exactly, knowing Deedee is good friends with Rose, but I feel like I can trust her. Deedee is probably one of the few hockey wives or girlfriends I can see myself growing closer to with the more time we spend together. Before I have a chance to share, one of the bartenders I recognize interrupts us.

“Hey, it’s my favorite rock star. Good morning, Dr. Swan.”

I chuckle. “Is it still morning?”

“At least for a little while longer.”

“Oh, Bella. I’m not sure if it’s good that he knows you by name.” Deedee laughs, bumping my shoulder playfully.

“I’m turning into a regular, and if you keep hanging around with me, everyone here will know you too.” I tilt my head toward her. “This is my friend, Deedee.”

“Nice to meet you.” He wipes his hand, then gently shakes Deedee’s. “I’m Romeo.”

“Of course, you are,” Deedee says with a snicker.

There’s no denying Romeo is easy on the eyes with his tan, muscular body, just out of bed freshly tousled blond hair, and crystal blue eyes. While he’s sporting that scruffy beard I’m always requesting from Edward, it’s his killer perfect smile that draws even the most unsuspecting guest.

“Are you ready for today’s daily special? It’s spicy pineapple,” he tempts with a flavor of margarita I haven’t tried yet.

Fuck. I love a spicy and sweet combo. As if he can sense my willpower crumbling, he places two napkins in front of us.

“Or I can also make your favorite jalapeño cucumber margarita?” Romeo offers.

We watch as he rubs a fresh lime around the rim of two glasses before dipping them in a bright red spice that’s rapidly becoming my kryptonite—Tajin. They put it on everything here and I’m not-so secretly addicted.

“Damn, I love that one, but the pineapple one sounds great.”

Deedee raises a challenging eyebrow. “He knows your favorite margarita?”

I wave off her concern. “It’s a lucky guess. Everyone loves it.”

“Sure it is. Does he know your first name?”

Romeo’s smile widens and he looks between us. “It’s Bella. You just said it moments ago, but I like Dr. Swan better.” He winks. “And for the record, it’s on your account too, but I have yet to guess correctly what type of doctor the beautiful Dr. Swan is.”

“No hints,” I warn Deedee, then wave toward the glasses. “What’s in this one?”

“Fresh pineapple chunks, a slice of jalapeño, sugar cubes, and a little more of your favorite spice in each glass,” Romeo shares while adding the items, then muddling them before reaching for a cocktail shaker and a variety of bottles. “Then mix together pineapple, lime, and orange juice with ice. And of course, the secret ingredient—tequila.”

Giving the cocktail shaker a quick shake, he pours the mixture between the two glasses, adds more ice, then garnishes the rim with a pineapple wedge and jalapeno slice.

After setting the margaritas on the napkins in front of us, he encourages, “Give it a try. I want your professional opinion.”

I look over at Deedee. “We have time to at least try it, right? I mean, Romeo went to all this trouble.”

“Eh. I guess Jess and Angela can wait a little longer. We shouldn’t waste tequila. That’s some sort of crime, isn’t it?” Deedee teases.

“Exactly. This will undoubtedly add to the fun factor for our day, and I suspect I may need it. Thanks, Romeo.”

“My pleasure.” He grins.

I hold up my glass. “What should we toast to?”

Deedee chuckles. “Have you heard this one? One margarita is all I can take. Two at the very most. Three, I’m under the table. Four, I’m under the host.”

“I love it! Cheers!” I giggle, clinking our glasses together. After a small sip, I hum my satisfaction and lick the lingering spice from my lips. “Mmm. Oh, this is delicious with the perfect amount of heat. Maybe I have a new favorite.”

“Because I’m that good, Dr. Swan, and not just behind the bar.” Romeo wiggles his eyebrows.

“Do I need to remind you again that I’m not here alone?”

He rolls his eyes dramatically at the mention of Edward. “Unfortunately, you keep reminding me of a guy who I’m beginning to wonder even exists. He isn’t here now, and until he puts a ring on your finger, I’m going to remind you that you have options.”

I shake my head at his playful persistence. “I do want to ask you something—the reason why we’re here. We’re going on a little off-site adventure today.”

Romeo leans his forearms against the bar and nods, as if he already knows what I’m going to ask. “You need something to go? Is it sports-related? Because we have nonalcoholic options—cold bottles of water and a few flavors of Gatorade. I can grab a few bottles for you to take with you or add them with ice into a small soft-sided travel cooler. We have several of those stored out here under the bar.”

“Well, not sports, but I think we should take bottles of both. The cooler sounds great. Can you pack enough for four?”

“Sure. Anything else? Need a guide for the day? I can be an excellent host.” He winks, referring to Deedee’s toast.

He’s smooth. A little too smooth.

“No. I believe we’re all set. So, you’ll have to focus your never-ending charms on someone else today.”

“Well, my offer still stands.” Romeo grins, then leaves us to enjoy our margaritas while he prepares our travel cooler.

Looking out at the ocean, my thoughts return to our conversation from before. After another sip from my glass, I lower my voice. “So . . .”

“Yes?” Deedee prompts.

“Just between us?” I start.

“Of course,” she reassures.

“Edward and I—we’re trying . . .” I let that hang until she fills in the blank quickly.

“For a baby?” Deedee whispers hopefully.

“Yes,” I confirm. “Don’t tell Rose. I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up too soon or put us under any unnecessary pressure.”

“Oh, Bella. That’s a huge decision. I promise. My lips are sealed. How are you feeling?”

“Nervous. Excited. It’s as if I’m getting everything all at once. Things I’ve wanted for years, and that’s overwhelming. I feel as if I’m reprioritizing everything constantly.” I laugh. “I want to appreciate each of these changes because they are such monumental steps in our relationship and my life. But there are times when it feels as if I’m drinking from a firehose.”

Deedee chuckles. “Are either of you thinking of marriage?”

“Yes, but I’m wondering if we should just elope or have something really small and intimate sooner rather than later.” I smile. “Edward is ready now.”

“I can see that.” She nods. “It’s written all over him, but you should do whatever suits you both. Not everyone needs an elaborate wedding. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money. It can be challenging to plan for anything around the team’s schedule. Most couples wait to marry during the off-season. You can always celebrate with a wedding reception later to include everyone. Or not.” Deedee shrugs, laughing.

“Marcus and I eloped. It was a spur of the moment decision, but when you know, you know, and we didn’t want to wait. Us dating . . . raised a lot of eyebrows with our families—obviously, because of race. But he was a rural boy from a little town in Wisconsin that can barely be found on any map, and me—a city girl from Oakland, California with more urban swagger than should be allowed.”

I chuckle. “Wow. That is a big difference. Edward and I grew up in relatively small towns, but ended up living in bigger cities as adults. The culture shock for you and Marcus must go both ways.”

“Right? There are so many differences between us—the size of the cities where we were raised. The weather—he loves the snow and cold. Me, not so much. Hobbies—that man will hunt and fish all day, if he isn’t playing hockey. Those things bore me easily. Education—for me, the more, the better; for him, it was a way to play hockey. He never graduated from college.”

I nod. “It was the same with Edward. I believe he was there for a year with an undeclared major.”

“Sounds familiar.” Deedee laughs. “But one way Marcus and I don’t differ is how we were raised. Family has always been important to both of us. It’s our foundation. My dad was not happy when Marcus entered the picture, especially being a professional athlete and the pitfalls that accompany his profession. I have a great relationship with Marcus’s parents, as if they’re my own, and they have always been welcoming to me. We were thrilled when they moved to San Jose to be closer to us once we found out I was pregnant with Alec.”

“That’s great.” I’m a little envious of her situation since I’m still struggling to connect deeper with Edward’s parents. Maybe we just need more time together. Or maybe the reality is that Carlisle will never accept me, no matter what I do.

Deedee releases a steady sigh. “Unfortunately, our parents haven’t followed us to Dallas, but visit often. I know mine won’t leave California, but I thought Marcus’s might. It’s why I’ve been so grateful for Rose and her friendship once we moved this past summer. Even though it’s been eight months, I still feel like an outsider, but Alec’s friendship with Eric is a bonus. Their connection is unique, acting as if they’ve known each other forever. It’s as if they’re brothers, both on and off the ice.”

After another sip, I nod. “There are two years of difference between them, right? I remember Rose explaining how Eric is playing with older kids.”

“That’s right. Alec is eleven and Eric is nine. It’s difficult to believe when they’re close to the same size, but there’s no denying those genetics. Emmett is a big guy and Rose is tall too. But I believe Eric’s passion for the sport and natural talent is probably from Edward, which will go a long way in the future.”

“I loved seeing them in action while the guys were on their recent road trip.” I smile, remembering my time with Katie too. “It was a fun evening.”

Romeo returns with our mini cooler, setting it next to me on the counter. “You’re all set, Dr. Swan.”

“Thank you so much.”

“Sure. Can I get you anything else? Another margarita?” he asks.

“I think we’re good—this one is helping to soften all the edges.” Once Romeo moves on to help another guest, I ask, “So, how did you and Marcus meet?”

Deedee snorts. “It was a digital oops.”

“What does that mean?” I wonder.

“He was texting a friend with a new number, but erred adding it to his contact list, transposing two of the digits,” Deedee explains. “Even though we realized his mistake after a few texts, it didn’t stop there. Marcus continued messaging me, and we became friends. He was funny, charming, and handsome—still is. At the time, Marcus was playing hockey for the University of Wisconsin, and eventually, I accepted his offer for him to fly out to California, taking me on our first date while I was in college.”

My thumb brushes back and forth along the beads of condensation forming on the outside of the glass. “Was it a long-distance relationship?”

“For a little while, but after playing two years of college hockey, Marcus was ready to make his debut. Until he shared that San Jose had selected him right out of high school, I had no idea moving to California was ever in the realm of possibilities, but it had been the plan all along. Out of all the places he could have gone, and knowing what I know now about hockey, it still boggles my mind. I took it as a sign that we were meant to continue building our relationship. Once he left Wisconsin, there was no turning back, and everything blossomed from there.”

“That’s wonderful.” Looking between our almost empty glasses, I down the last of my margarita and reach for the cooler. “I guess we’re ready to go?”

Deedee smiles, finishing off the last of her drink. “You know I’m ready.”

With a final wave to Romeo, we depart the beach bar, walking up the stairs toward the resort’s courtyard.

“Where did you go to college?” I ask.

“Stanford.”

“That’s impressive. What did you study?”

“Physics.”

“Oh, there were so many times during my own schooling that I could have used your help. Physics wasn’t easy for me. I’m always reminded of that when Edward and I are playing air hockey. I swear he cheats with his puck tracking.” I chuckle. “Did you graduate?”

“Absolutely. My parents are educators and always stressed the importance of education. Until we moved to Dallas, I worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. I’m still consulting for them part-time, but without family nearby, I need to be available to support Marcus and Alec in any way necessary. So, I’m mostly a stay-at-home mom now. I love it probably more than I should.”

“But as a physicist, you’re open to something like . . . witchcraft?” I wonder, as we turn the corner.

She nods. “Similarly to when you were mentioning Eastern versus Western medicine, my education proved that everything can’t be explained. So, maybe there’s something to it. Maybe not. I can’t just discount it. What if there’s something there waiting for me to find? An herb. A potion. A message. I feel this pull or something urging me to check it out. I can’t explain it.”

“Did they ever debate the mental health benefits of tacos and tequila at Stanford?” I tease.

Deedee laughs. “Only on Tuesdays. My friends and I found this great little place near campus that we visited regularly. It was amazing—hey, look who it is!”

Following her gaze to the pick-up area beyond the courtyard, I see our guys climbing into a shuttle bus. While Edward is waiting to board, he’s talking with Vladdy when he notices our approach, ending their conversation instantly.

“I’ll take the cooler and locate our ride,” Deedee offers.

“Great. Thank you.” Handing off the cooler, I grin at the unexpected sight in front of me. “Hey, stranger.”

“Hello, beautiful.” He reaches for my hand and twirls me in place before pulling me close. “Nice shirt. It looks . . . familiar.”

“You like it, huh?”

“More than you can imagine.” Edward kisses my lips, then licks his. “What is that?”

“Spicy pineapple margarita. Apparently, I’ve reached VIP status at the main pool, and VIPs are required to sample the daily special,” I confirm proudly.

“Interesting.” He smirks. “I didn’t know that was a thing.”

“You may have overlooked it, since it was only in my brochure.” I tilt my head for another brief kiss, then notice his teammates watching us. “Hey, guys.”

“Hey, Doc.” James smiles, returning his attention to the others boarding the shuttle bus.

“Hey, partner.” Vladdy holds up his hand for me to smack a high-five. After I do, he nods toward Edward. “We need a rematch with Spider and Sly. I think we can beat them this time.”

I laugh. “After my showing, I think I should retire from tennis, and you should find a new doubles partner. I’m positive you can find someone better than me.”

“Never. No retiring. It’s a life sport. Maybe I can give you a lesson? Spider could use a few too,” Vladdy taunts while his eyes dance with teasing mischief.

Edward slides his arms around me, giving me a hug from behind. “Do you hear that? He’s chirping me off the ice too. Now, I’m going to have to kick his ass today.”

I giggle. “How do you kick someone’s ass while zip-lining?”

“Vladdy said on the last run, pairs race down two different lines,” Edward explains.

“What does the winner get?” I ask.

“Yeah, Vladdy. What will I get?” Edward prompts.

Vladdy thinks for a moment, then suggests, “Winner picks the loser’s next tattoo. Tonight. No backing out. We find a place and do it.”

“Are you sure you want—” I start.

With a widening grin on his face, Edward says, “Deal,” before I’m able to be the voice of reason.

Vladdy chuckles, removing his phone from his pocket. “I need to search the internet for Spider’s next tat. See you later, Doc.”

With my nod, Vladdy climbs on board and James turns fully toward me. It takes everything I have to keep my expression neutral to his appearance with fresh bruising around his left eye and along his cheekbone.

“Whenever, you’re ready, Spider.”

“I’ll be right there,” Edward promises James, tugging me farther away from the bus until a large plant blocks anyone’s view of us.

As soon as we’re alone, I release a deep gasp I was holding. “Oh. My. Goodness. James has a black eye? Is that from . . . Ben?”

“No, Vladdy—on Ben’s behalf. Everything went down last night while we were busy with the photo shoot. When Ben unexpectedly announced he was going home and leaving Mexico early, Vladdy got pissed at James and things got heated. Someone suggested Angela should be sent home instead, which prompted Jess to declare that she would leave with her. No one is willing to do that to Fin. He’s already a nervous wreck and hasn’t had a solid shit in two days.”

“Holy smokes. Jess and Angela are going with us today. This should be interesting. I hope it’s a drama-free experience. Maybe say a little prayer for me. Thank goodness Deedee and I already had margaritas to take the edge off.”

Edward nods. “Just so you know. Angela denies anything happened with James and said she used his bathroom because the others in the house were occupied.”

“Wow, and James still maintains that isn’t the case?” I verify.

“Yeah. Even without the details, I believe him. James doesn’t forget things like that. With what little he shared with me today, I think she’s lying. But, what can we do? Supposedly, Angela and Ben have broken up, and she moved her luggage in with Jess and Fin. And thankfully, Ben agreed to stay. So . . . maybe exercise some caution with what you share or what you acknowledge around Jess and Angela.”

“Thanks for the heads up. I haven’t had any issues with them at past events, but this throws a bit of a wrinkle into our growing friendships. They’re both friends with Rose. So, I thought they would be okay, but maybe not?”

“James said some of his clothes—shirts and boxers—are missing and he thinks Angela took them,” Edward shares.

“It could have been the other woman—the bartender James mentioned,” I suggest.

“Doubtful.” He shakes his head. “I guess Angela was wearing a dress last night, which was an oversized black button down men’s shirt with a belt. James believes the shirt is his and confronted her about it. Angela says she bought it prior to the trip, but that’s what triggered everything. They were all kicked out of one of the resort’s bars.”

“Damn.”

Edward shrugs. “All I know is that he’s missing at least a shirt, and according to him, she’s wearing one exactly like it days later.”

“Bella!” Deedee yells from the other side of the courtyard.

I peek around Edward and she waves toward a waiting SUV.

“Our driver is parked right over here.” Deedee points.

“Okay, thanks. Give me a minute.”

“Sure.”

“All of that is a lot to process. I’m glad we missed it.” I smile, looking up at his handsome face. “Other than that, how was your team meeting this morning?”

“Good, but I like this one better. It’s a great surprise. I didn’t think I would see you until tonight.” Edward leans close and plants a kiss on a ticklish spot of my neck.

At my giggles, I warn him half-heartedly, “Stop. You have to go. I have to go. Everyone is waiting for us.”

“They can wait.” He kisses my smiling lips before nodding in the direction of my waiting ride. “Where are you going?”

I snort. “Harry Potter World, but with a Mexican twist, and that doesn’t mean a fresh lime in my margarita. Or even the existence of a margarita, unfortunately.”

“Oh? Are you interested in making some magic?” He wags his eyebrows suggestively. “Good news, my wand has chosen you.”

“You know that I’m always interested in you and your magical wand, but this is Deedee’s idea. She’s curious, and while I’m skeptical, my interest is piqued as well. Maybe I’ll find a love potion and keep you under my spell.”

“No need. I’m already there.”