A/N: This was supposed to be the last chapter, but I’m waving a white flag as Edward says we aren’t close to finished yet. Thanks to Midnight Cougar for being my rockstar every week. xx
Song inspiration for this chapter: “Marry Me,” Train
“Forever can never be long enough for me
To feel like I’ve had long enough with you
Forget the world now, we won’t let them see
But there’s one thing left to do”
(Playlist for this story can be found on my YouTube channel, if you search for “ghostreader24”)
Disclaimer: Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond own the adorable little mouse whose needs inspired this very adult version of their story. Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.
The next two months fly by, and we adjust accordingly when Bella starts her job at the Post Office and I continue with my normal work schedule at the station. I do my best to meet her for lunch whenever I’m working days and not out on a call. On rainy days, we sit in Bella’s truck, but that usually leads to steamy windows and abandoning our lunch. On the occasional sunny day, we sit at a picnic table behind the building, drawing out our time together until we’re both forced to return to work. The most difficult times are when I’m working evenings or overnights, and it feels like we’re missing each other by only a handful of hours.
During my downtime at the station, I work on our plans for my grandmother’s property, but I’m easily distracted with other thoughts of not how I want to propose to Bella but when. After our trip to visit my parents, I know she’s on board to have kids in the future, but I never got a definitive answer on how she feels about marriage. I’m a little concerned since her parents never married, but after “meeting” her mother over speakerphone a month ago, I understand their relationship a little better. Bella warned me that she and her mother couldn’t be more different, like kale chips and Oreos—and Bella knows my preference for cookies, especially hers.
After a brief introduction, I realized early in the conversation that mothers with personal limits weren’t in the cards for either of us. Renée was in the middle of brewing her latest batch of Kombucha when Bella called, but it wasn’t enough of a distraction to stop her questions or offer advice for either of us.
While pomegranate juice and its attributes were detailed for Bella, Renée didn’t think twice about asking if I was taking zinc supplements to boost my sperm production, but I was too stunned by the question to reply. Bella jumped in on my behalf and offered that my swimmers are currently on lockdown, which sent Renée down an entirely different path, suggesting her favorite vegan and PETA-certified condoms that she and her life partner, Phil, use.
I checked out when the conversation turned to colon cleansing, shaking my head and walking to the kitchen for a beer. When I returned, Bella was busy assuring her mother that she was perfectly fine, but that didn’t stop Renée from promising to send Bella a special moonstone for her to wear, with instructions for energizing the stone and boosting her feminine energy. The call didn’t last much longer after that, because Renée had to visit a friend who’s been troubled with insomnia, and she offered to do a sage burning for her. Once Bella ended the call, she joked, saying if her mother didn’t send me running nothing would.
There is no way I’ll let Renée channeling Mother Earth or even the Chief with his intimidating stare drive me away, which is why I visited with him recently, sharing my intentions about Bella. He wasn’t surprised when I asked for his blessing rather than his permission to propose to her—which he gave, but not before enjoying making me squirm a bit. Ever since then, my relationship with the Chief is improving, as he’s invited me to join his next fishing trip or to visit La Push with Bella, which feels like a win. So, maybe Bella is right and married life is softening him a bit. It is a huge relief, which now only leaves asking Bella. I’m ready to have her as my wife and hope that’s what she wants too, but there’s only one way to find out.
After trading shifts with Emmett and working since around two this morning, I’ve been watching the clock nervously for the past hour in the lounge, biding my time. Garrett and Emmett are the only ones who know what’s about to go down and offer their support, which boosts my confidence only marginally while I pace back and forth. Bella doesn’t know about my trading shifts, so she thinks I’m still working.
When the alarm on my phone goes off, I make my way to our bunk room, nearly tripping on the stairs, and collect my grandmother’s ring box from my locker. I stash it in my pocket and grab the envelope containing my words, keeping it in hand. There will be no misplacing anything today.
I walk the short distance from the fire station to the Post Office with about fifteen minutes left before I know Bella is scheduled to leave work. There’s only light foot traffic this afternoon since many are collecting their mail from the walls of mailboxes in the lobby when I arrive. Since I’m not one of them, I open the door to the counter area where Bella is currently helping a customer. She quirks a smile, her eyes following me when I take my place in line behind the two customers waiting for her assistance, then her eyes move to the envelope in my hand before returning to her customer.
Unlike a year and a half ago when I was waiting in line and listening to every conversation between Bella and her customers, today I can barely hear a thing over the pounding in my ears as I rehearse in my head everything I plan to say. The opening and closing of the door behind me is the only thing that draws away my attention while Bella helps the customers ahead of me until I’m next in line.
Vicky emerges from somewhere in the back and moves to the other end of the counter, tapping on her computer screen and preparing to take over, since Bella will be leaving soon. When she looks up and sees me waiting, a growing smile threatens to take over her face when I subtly shake my head, silently begging her not to call me over. My relief is instant when she walks back around the corner, looking for something as Bella’s customer departs.
“Next in line, please,” Bella says with a smirk.
“Hey.” I swallow around the expanding lump in my throat as my mouth goes dry at what I’m about to do.
“Hello, handsome. This is a surprise.” She wiggles her eyebrows. “I thought you were working. Are you on a break?”
“No, I’m here on official business.”
Vicky takes her place back at her station. “I can help whoever’s next in line.”
Bella’s smile fades slightly. “Okay, what can I do for you?”
“I’m in need of a stamp for this envelope.” I hold it up in my hand, but she can’t see it’s addressed to her yet. “Not just any stamp will do, but if I find the right one, then I think I’ll need a lot more of them.”
“Oh?” She tilts her head in question. “Well, what did you have in mind?”
I blow out a deep breath, because here we go. “I’m looking for something… for a celebration. Would you have anything appropriate?”
Bella nods, opening her drawer and searching through its contents. “We have the Let’s Celebrate stamp. It’s great for greeting cards, invitations, or gift-bearing envelopes. It works for any occasion.” She sets a book of the brightly colored confetti stamps on the scale between us.
I barely glance at them, already knowing what I’m wanting and focus on her. “No, that’s not it. I think I’m looking for something… more romantic.”
“Like florals?” she suggests, returning the celebration stamps to her drawer and finding two other selections. “We have forever stamps in a couple different boutonniere designs, and depending on the weight of your envelope, the two-ounce corsage designs may work for you.”
I shake my head. “No, those aren’t what I had in mind either.”
She places the stamp books with flowers back in her drawer, and while she’s searching her inventory, I run a hand through my hair nervously and amend my request.
“What about… love stamps? Do you have any with hearts or maybe something a little more… matrimonial?”
There is a loud gasp from beside us and the other voices in the room go silent.
At my last word, Bella’s voice softens and her hands start to tremble. “What?”
I set the envelope on the scale between us, and after reading her name on the front, her hand covers her mouth, while I reach in my pocket and retrieve the ring box.
“I also have a small box meant to accompany my envelope.” I open the lid and turn it around for her to see. “I don’t think shipping it will be necessary, though.”
“Oh my God.” She squeals, vibrating with excitement and dropping her hand.
When her eyes flick between mine and the ring, she nods her head instantly, and I don’t get a chance to ask before she blurts out her answer. “Yes! It’s a yes!”
She jumps up on the counter and swivels her feet to the other side. I chuckle with relief as I assist her in sliding from her perch until she’s standing in front of me without the counter between us.
“I haven’t asked,” I remind her.
“Oh my God. Okay, okay, I’m sorry. I’m sorry—ask.”
I lower to my knee and hold out the open ring box. “This is where I fell in love the first time I ever saw you and hoped to impress you with something as simple as a love note. My world hasn’t been the same since that day, because now it’s full of love, laughter, and a best friend I’ve found in you. I hope you’ll agree to be by my side—as my wife, for the rest of my life. Bella, will you marry me?”
“Yes!” she says excitedly.
I grin, removing the ring from the box and sliding it on her ring finger. “A perfect fit.”
The room erupts in applause with offers of congratulations from the small crowd that has gathered around us on this side and behind the counter.
Bella rushes toward me, hugging me tightly and kissing my lips. “It’s beautiful,” she says, when she pulls away to look at the ring on her finger.
“It was my grandmother’s and now it’s yours.”
I peck her smiling lips once more. “Like me.”
Bella lifts the envelope I brought from the counter. “What’s in here?”
“A love note of sorts—actually, a wedding invitation—from me to you.”
“Edward—” She holds it to her chest, speechless.
I explain, “I’ll leave it up to you what we send to everyone else, but I wrote this one for you.”
“Oh, I-I can’t believe this.” She looks around the room and catches Vicky’s knowing grin, waving her hand with her engagement ring in her direction. “Vicky, did you know?”
“No, but Edward’s never here to see me,” she teases. “Congratulations, you two.”
“Thanks.” Bella giggles, kissing my waiting lips. “I love you. So much.”
“I love you, too. Are you ready to go home?”
“You aren’t working?”
“No, I traded shifts with Emmett so we would both have the afternoon and evening together after I proposed.”
“Okay, wow. My mind is kind of blown right now. Let me close out my station, grab my things, and we can go. Can you help me back over?”
I lift her with ease, returning her to the other side of the counter.
As Bella’s tapping the screen, she asks, “Are we driving home together or—?”
“My car is at home, and I can drive. How about we meet at your truck?”
“Okay, I’ll hurry,” she promises.
I lean over the scale and press my lips against hers before turning to walk toward the door. Removing my phone from my pocket, I text both Garrett and Emmett that SHE SAID YES!
When I make it around the building to the back parking lot, Bella’s waiting by her truck and staring at her phone. She looks up briefly and runs toward me, jumping into my arms.
“Oof.” I grunt, but hold on to her tightly.
“I’m so happy,” she says between kisses. “I already texted Angela, but we should take some pictures to send to your parents. Do they know?”
“They have an idea or two and so does your father.”
I shrug, trying not to make a big deal out of it. “I asked for his blessing before proposing.”
“Oh, Edward. You—” Her eyes well with unshed tears, then she smashes her lips against mine once again, pulling away only when we’re gasping for breath. “This is just… one of the best days of my life.”
“I need to read this.” She holds up my wedding invitation.
“You can read it on the way.” I open the driver’s side door of her truck, waiting for her to slide into the middle seat, then take my spot behind the wheel. “Where are your keys?”
“Oh—” She locates them in her purse, then drops them into my waiting hand. “There you go.”
Her truck rumbles to life, and while I drive us home, Bella opens the envelope, lowering her voice and reading my handwritten words out loud.
“I, Edward Anthony Cullen, invite you, Isabella Marie Swan, to the celebration of our love as we unite in marriage for all our friends and family to witness on the date and at the location of your choosing. As my best friend and lover, I can’t wait for the day when I can proudly call you, my wife.”
“Wow. I—” Bella stares at the note at a loss for words, then holds out her left hand, focusing on her ring.
I grin and wink when she looks up at me, unable to resist teasing her. “That’s twice in less than twenty minutes that I’ve rendered you speechless. Soon, we’ll be adding breathless to that list.”
“As soon as we’re home.”
“No, when do you want to get married?”
“Yesterday? Bella, I can’t wait, but for you, I’ll wait as long as you need.”
“Weddings are expensive—maybe if we do something small…”
“Hey, let’s not worry about all the details just yet and enjoy today. I get to call you my fiancée now, and I know the perfect way to celebrate.” I wiggle my eyebrows, hold our entwined hands to my lips, and kiss the back of hers.
Little did I know this celebration would be the first of many to come, and we weren’t the only ones. Our firehouse family would grow over the next year by leaps and bounds, as love was in the air and baby fever was about to take over Station-2.
If you give a postal worker a love note, she’ll wonder about the identity of the author when it’s delivered by an unintended mail carrier.
After a visit from a sexy firefighter, the mystery surrounding the note will add to her curiosity, but it won’t be solved any time soon, when she has no choice and accepts another job far from home.
Her secret admirer will hold on to hope for their paths to cross again, and when they do, he will find that being near her again is better than he ever anticipated.
Visiting her during his breaks and getting to know each other will be the best parts of their days, until one day she unknowingly makes his favorite childhood cookies, giving him the sign he needs to move forward.
She’ll hold back nothing as she tempts and teases him when they’re alone, testing his resolve, until a few adorable photos of him with a friend’s new baby causes an unexpected shift in her world.
As they grow closer, they’ll understand that the intimacy between lovers isn’t only about a physical connection, but the everyday interactions through the simplest moments and sharing of new experiences.
Through private conversations, their relationship deepens with the reveal of a variety of secrets, and with a new confidence, the truth of their adoration for one another is undeniable.
After another wonderful evening together filled with fun and flirting, she’ll realize that she’s never been loved like this before, and for as much as he wants to be everything she needs, she wants to be that for him too.
With constant reminders that every day together is precious, she’ll consider their future options, and after the first step of moving in together, everything will start falling into place.
When he opens his heart and shares treasured memories of a time long past, a trip to visit his parents will further satisfy her growing curiosity about other areas of his life.
In a moment abundant with shock and awe, she finds a kindred spirit in all things naughty, and the natural affinity between the two most important women in his life surpasses all expectations.
Brimming with courage, her normally reserved firefighter confirms a wish for their future, overwhelming her in a rush of love, but later, respect and admiration, when she experiences first hand insight into the perils of his job.
He’ll arrive at her work unexpectedly one day, proposing they spend the rest of their lives together…