A/N: Major thanks to purplec305 for pre-reading and Midnight Cougar for beta-ing. Thank you for your support and taking this journey with me. xx
If you haven’t already, I would suggest reading my one-shot Mr. Perfect before continuing with this one, because we are going to pick right back up with Bella. Enjoy!
Summary: Love blossoms as Bella’s very own Mr. Perfect takes her on a trip of a lifetime.
DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m just here having fun.
“It is a good rule in life to never apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.” – P. G. Wodehouse
I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling for the past three weeks. Life is unbelievably great.
I was shocked when Edward showed up at my work and swept me off my feet. I won’t ever forget his words from that day.
He wants me.
Bella Swan: former college student and airport security worker.
Even the thought alone makes me break out into a silly grin I can’t contain.
After Edward’s airport declaration, he immediately asks me out on our first date, as if offering to accompany me on a trip anywhere in the world isn’t enough.
He plans the entire date and doesn’t let me know where we are going until we arrive at our destination.
As silly as it sounds for two people who live in Seattle, neither of us has been to the Space Needle since elementary school. Edward makes reservations for us at the restaurant up at the top, and we have the most romantic meal while the lights of the city sparkle all around us.
It is a magical night full of soft touches and easy conversation. We talk about our trip and possible destinations without settling on one in particular. I like so many of his ideas: wandering through the ruins and monuments of Italy, soaking up the sun on sugar sand beaches of Mexico, or searching for our royal roots in England. This is going to be a difficult decision.
For our second date, we decide to spend a Saturday and wander around Pike Place Market. I sample everything vendors offer from mini donuts to smoked salmon to cherries covered in chocolate, while walking hand in hand with Edward browsing unusual jewelry, arts, and crafts.
Don’t get me wrong. Nothing could be better than spending time alone with Edward; however, my excitement is short-lived, and my casual and relaxed vibe evaporates as the day progresses.
My problem is Esme has invited us to dinner this evening, and I dread facing the Cullens. I haven’t seen them since I walked out of the hospital chapel over a month ago. I am sure they hate me for my involvement with Emmett, and now that I am actually dating Edward, I am apprehensive about having dinner with them again, even though I know it is inevitable.
“Mom! We’re here!” Edward closes the front door and squeezes my hand in reassurance, but I’m not sure that anything can save me at this point.
I feel underdressed in my T-shirt, jeans, and chucks. “Maybe we should have stopped by my place and I could’ve changed clothes.”
“You’re fine. Stop stressing. It’s a casual, family dinner.”
The house is as warm and inviting as I remember, and the smells permeating the air are positively divine.
I expect Esme to round the corner, but that’s not who shows up.
At the sight of me, she’s already seething and barely able to contain her venom. “Well, look at what the cat dragged in.” She crosses her arms over her chest.
Standing before me, in all her glory, is none other than Rosalie herself. She’s wearing an all-black, long-sleeved dress this evening. Everything is skin-tight with the exception of a boa collar that dances with her every breath. Her blonde hair is pulled tightly in a bun at the top of her head while large, gold hoops hang from her ears and chime as she moves her head. It’s difficult not to miss the knee-high Stiletto boots, which make her even taller and more intimidating.
She puts a hand on her hip that’s already popped out to the side. “Have you come to try and steal my fiancé again or have you finally settled for second best?” She shoots Edward a look. “From what I know, he’s too good for the likes of you.”
Her words hurt, but I know I need to face the music.
“Rosalie, that’s not what happened. It was a misunderstanding.”
“Oh, really? A misunderstanding? So, you’re not a liar and a thief? Please tell me which part I’m getting wrong?”
“Bella! Please come in, dear!” Esme comes barreling toward me with her arms open wide for a hug.
I’m surprised she has zero hesitation in approaching me, but grateful for the interruption as I return her hug. “Hello, Esme. Thanks for inviting me.”
Esme is always so generous and kind. I feel a bit of relief, as it seems she isn’t holding anything against me. She treats me as if we are long-lost friends, which isn’t the awkward interaction I expect at all.
She takes a step back and directs us toward the dining room. “We are so happy you could join us. I think we are almost ready to eat. Come find a seat at the table. Emmett brought his friend, Gordon, to cook for us.”
I go to follow her when Rosalie leans in towering over me, and whispers so only I can hear. “This isn’t over by a long shot, bitch.”
She turns on her heel and walks ahead of me.
“I had no idea they would be here, Bella.” Edward apologizes and rubs my back, soothing my tense muscles.
“It’s fine. I knew I would have to face them sooner or later, and it looks like it’s going to be sooner.”
I continue into the dining room to find Carlisle seated at the head of the table with Jasper and Alice on each side of him. Rosalie takes the spot next to Emmett who is sitting beside Jasper.
“Hello, Bella,” Carlisle greets me, as I take the seat next to Alice directly across from Emmett.
“Hello, Carlisle.” I smile and look over at Jasper.
“Hello, darlin’, it’s great you could join us.”
“Hi, Jasper. Thanks.”
Edward takes the seat beside me as I look over at Alice.
“Hi, Bella. I’m glad you’re back. I missed you,” she says, giving me a warm smile and a quick hug.
Esme takes her seat at the opposite end of the table from Carlisle, and I can’t help letting my eyes glance over at the man sitting opposite me.
It’s a bit surreal to have lusted after him for so many months from afar, but now, here I am, sitting in his childhood home, getting ready to have dinner with him and his family.
Emmett has a smirk on his face as he looks between Edward and me. “Well, isn’t this cozy. The gang’s all here.”
“Hello, Emmett,” I say softly, but deflate a bit at his tone.
“Surely, you can do better than that, Bella. After all, weren’t we going to be married? What no hug or kiss for your former fiancé?”
Rosalie snorts and sips from her wine glass.
I try to clear the lump in my throat. “I owe you an apology, Emmett. I never should have deceived you or your family, and I’m truly sorry that my lies hurt you or them.” I look around the table, hoping they will all be able to forgive me.
“I tried to come clean with you, Emmett, but unfortunately, I failed. Then I got caught up with the idea of becoming your wife after you proposed to me.”
Rosalie laughs. “You knew you weren’t anything to him, yet you led him to believe something entirely different.” She waves her hands all around. “You took advantage of the Cullens’ generosity and deceived them, as well. What kind of person does that?” She huffs. “Thank goodness I showed up when I did.”
“You’re right, Rosalie. What I did was unacceptable. I’m asking for everyone’s forgiveness and a second chance to show you that’s not who I really am.” I feel my eyes start to well up with tears. “It was never my intention—“
She cuts me off. “Oh please! Save the tears for someone who cares. Do you really think you deserve a second chance? Where have you been for the past two months? Emmett deserved your apology long before now. He’s only getting it tonight, because Esme invited us to dinner and your hand has been forced. However, had you known we would be here, I would bet anything you would have tucked tail and ran.”
I can’t deny she’s right. I’ve been avoiding everyone except Edward. However, this is my chance to make things right, and I’m not going to blow it.
“My apology is all I have to offer. Take it or leave it.” I say it with as much conviction as possible. “Edward and I are in a relationship now, and I can’t deny my feelings for him.”
Edward’s hand finds my leg, and he gives it a squeeze of support.
I feel my voice getting stronger. “I’m certainly not going to let either one of you ruin our chance at happiness together. What I thought I felt for Emmett quickly fizzled and turned out to be nothing more than a schoolgirl crush.”
“And when did you figure that out, hmm? Maybe when you were in Emmett’s apartment with Edward pressing you against the island? Or was it the point where his tongue ended up down your throat?” Rosalie asks.
Emmett chuckles. “Security cameras can be a great thing, but you should already know that, right Bella? Being that you work in airport security and all.”
Rosalie turns to Emmett. “Weren’t you unconscious in the hospital then, Emmett?” She laughs. “Apparently, she was busy cheating on you, as well.”
She focuses on Edward, raising a perfectly groomed eyebrow in his direction. “You have interesting taste in women, Edward. I would have never guessed this was your type: a liar, a cheater, and a thief.”
Edward speaks up. “I think we’ve all heard enough from the prodigal son and his mouthpiece. What are you doing here, Emmett? Aren’t you actually here looking for your own second chance? Or is it third or fourth by now? I’ve lost count. Or maybe you couldn’t wait to attack a woman who only ever cared about you, but you were too much of a self-centered ass to ever notice anyone but your own reflection?”
Rosalie jumps in again. “You don’t know—”
Edward cuts her off. “I don’t know? I don’t know? That’s rich! I’ll tell you what I do know. I know I’ve never seen two more selfish people in my life than the two of you.” He looks over at Emmett. “Where were you when Dad had his heart attack? Huh? When we called and left messages, only for them to go ignored. We live in the same city for Christ’s sake, and you couldn’t be bothered to check in or stop by the hospital for a visit, or even afterward when he was allowed to come home. Not a card. Not a note. Nothing. You couldn’t even pick up the phone for your own father.”
“That’s not fair—” Emmett starts.
“Not fair? Let me guess. Your job is so important that you couldn’t miss a meeting. We wouldn’t have a clue the stress you’re under. It’s funny, Emmett, because when Alice called your office trying to track you down, your secretary said there weren’t any meetings. Guess what else she told us?”
He stares at Emmett, waiting for a response, only to be given a shrug of indifference from him.
“She said you were on vacation with your girlfriend in Fiji. Now, how is that more important than your own father is? Here’s another good question for you. How is your vacation more important than your mother and the stress she was under not knowing if the love of her life was going to make it or not?”
Edward pauses, waiting for Emmett to say something. Anything. Only to be met by more silence.
“Where are all of your excuses now? Hmmm? How many times have you ignored invites for family dinners, because you just didn’t care? You couldn’t be bothered. I find it interesting you’re only here to attack, embarrass, and humiliate someone for sport. You have no other reason to be here. None of them in the past was good enough. And if your own father’s life isn’t a priority on your list, then what is?
“You both should be ashamed of your behavior. Because in the big picture, what Bella did was a drop in the bucket compared to your past Emmett.” He looks at Rosalie. “And you’re not any better than he is or this wouldn’t be your first family dinner. If you’re so important in his life, why haven’t we met you before now? How long have you been engaged?”
Edward waits for an answer from Rosalie, but instead, it comes from Emmett.
“Eight months. And to be fair to Rose, we became engaged right before she got a job in New York. Her time is already limited, which add it to the physical distance between us, and we have enough strain on our relationship. I certainly don’t need to introduce her to my family, which is another source of stress in my life.”
“Excuse me.” A man in a chef’s coat appears next to the table. “Dinner is ready. Shall we start with the first course?”
Emmett nods and clears his throat. “Sure, Gordon. Let’s get started.”
“Finally. I was starting to think we would never eat the way this conversation was going.” Carlisle looks over the plate in front of him and his face becomes confused. “What is this?”
“The first course this evening is a white asparagus risotto with violet artichoke, sweet corn, bay leaf, and tarragon fondue. Enjoy.” Gordon and his team slip back into the kitchen to prepare what I can only imagine are several more courses.
I lean over to Edward and whisper, “A chef for a family dinner?”
Edward shakes his head and whispers back, “This is all Emmett.”
“Is this rice?” Carlisle wonders aloud.
“It’s a type of pasta, dear,” Esme shares, trying her own portion.
Alice doesn’t let us lose our place in the conversation before the interruption. “I can’t believe you, Emmett. We are the ones to cause you stress? I can’t imagine how. You choose never to be a part of vacations or holidays. Heck, you didn’t even come to my wedding.”
I can hear the hurt in her voice, and find her hand in support.
“What did we ever do to you to deserve this sort of treatment?” she asks, her eyes filling with tears.
“I’m very busy, Alice, building my career. Sometimes, we have to make sacrifices. I have a lot of responsibilities—”
Alice cuts him off and scoffs. “And we are such an easy sacrifice for you to make.”
Jasper looks over at Alice. “Second chances are a wonderful thing.” His eyes focus on me.
“Bella, we happily accept your apology, and hope to see a lot more of you in the future.” He grins.
I hear heavy sighs from both Emmett and Rosalie. I guess they had hoped the family wouldn’t welcome me back.
But too bad for them, because I also hear, “Yes, Jasper is right, dear,” from Esme, and an, “Absolutely,” from Carlisle.
I return Jasper’s grin, and look toward Esme and Carlisle. “Thank you.”
They nod and raise their wine glasses, then when I glance at Rosalie to see her sour reaction, I notice she has barely touched her food.
The kitchen crew comes back in to remove our dishes, then returns with Gordon and the second course.
“All right. Next, we have sautéed diver scallops with bacon puree, braised leeks, glazed pearl onions, and brown butter powder. I’ll leave you to it,” Gordon tells us. Then he and his assistants disappear back into the kitchen once more, while we all stare at the dish in front of us.
“Did he say powder?” Carlisle pushes his fork around the various items on his plate.
“Carlisle, just try it,” Esme urges, cutting into her scallop.
The scallops are delicious and don’t taste fishy at all. They are soft but chewy without being tough or rubbery.
“Carlisle, do you remember that trip to Northern California? When we went to Half Moon Bay?” Esme asks.
Carlisle nods. “Did we have scallops then?”
“Yes, at that little restaurant overlooking the Bay. They were good, but I don’t think as delicious as these.”
“Was that Sam’s Chowder House?” Carlisle tries to recall.
“Yes, I think that’s right.” Esme nods, then focuses on me. “Bella, it was so nice right down on the water. You will have to have Edward take you some time. The sunset was remarkable.”
“Esme, that sounds wonderful. I haven’t had the opportunity to travel much, and have never left the State of Washington. A trip like that would be a real treat.”
“I’ll bet,” Rosalie mutters. I’m not sure if everyone hears her comment, but I certainly do. I watch as she pushes her scallops around her plate.
I don’t think she’s tried most of what has been put in front of her, but maybe she’s just a picky eater. If I had to guess, this meal would cost a fortune at a restaurant, let alone having it as a private dinner. Perhaps she’s used to this kind of cuisine or service. I haven’t a clue of what most of it is; however, I’m not going to let the opportunity to try something new pass me by.
Gordon reappears with his crew and clears away our second course, then promptly returns with the next one.
“For our third course, we have Wisconsin veal tenderloin with braised savoy cabbage, chanterelles, and celeriac.”
Carlisle turns to Gordon. “English please.”
Gordon doesn’t miss a beat. “Beef with cabbage, mushrooms, and celery.”
“Thank you. Now that I can understand.” Carlisle begins by slicing a piece of his beef, but pauses. “Who puts celery on a steak?” He chuckles. “Your chef friend is a little odd in his choices, Emmett. I’m not sure he’s going to make it. The restaurant business is a tough one.”
Emmett sighs. “Gordon is an old friend of mine, and for your information, Dad, he’s already made it. He has restaurants around the world.”
Carlisle pauses eating. “I noticed he had an accent. What is that Australian?”
“No, he’s British.” An exasperated Emmett tells his father, as if it should have been obvious.
I’m really starting to fill up between the risotto and scallops, but do my best with my veal.
Rosalie barely touches her plate, only to try the vegetables, leaving the veal to go cold.
Alice tries to move the conversation in a new direction. “Bella, have you and Edward decided where you are going to go on your trip together yet?”
“No. We’ve been discussing a few possibilities, but haven’t settled on one.”
“Well, I’m sure you will figure it out soon. Jasper and I went to Italy for our honeymoon about five years ago, and it was such a romantic trip. I would highly recommend it.”.
“Alice, you should show Bella some of your photos,” Esme suggests. “They are amazing.”
I perk up. “I would love to see them, Alice.”
Edward leans in and chuckles. “Now, you’ve done it. She will talk your ear off for hours.”
“I heard that, Edward,” Alice tells him, and scoots her plate away.
We all do our best to finish the third course, some more than others, when Gordon and his team reappear to remove our plates and present us with the fourth course.
Gordon describes the dessert in front of us. “Finally, we have for you a banana bread pudding with crème fraîche, butterscotch, and lychee sorbet. I want to thank all of you for the opportunity to prepare this meal for you this evening, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.”
Emmett stands and gives Gordon a hug with a few pats on the back. “Thanks, man.”
“Sure. Are we on for rugby on Sunday?”
“Absolutely. I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to kick your ass.”
And just like that, Emmett shows us that he has time for everyone else, except his family. I don’t think he even realizes he’s been doing it for what sounds like at least the past five years.
“Banana bread and butterscotch was all I could make out of that description.” Carlisle winks at me. “Let’s hope it’s good.”
I notice Edward passes on his serving when they go to put it in front of him.
However, I dig in to my portion and find it to be the most amazing combination of flavors. I’ve never had lychee, but it’s a very sweet fruity mix with a bit of tart.
I finish my dessert as Rosalie downs another glass of wine. Apparently, she drinks her dinner. I’m really not surprised with a body like hers. I would imagine she has to be very careful what she eats.
At this point, I doubt we will ever get along. I suspect her bark is worse than her bite, though, and I’ve already taken the brunt of that. I hope Emmett makes an effort to reach out to his family more in the future. I get the impression he thinks he doesn’t need them, but he couldn’t be further from the truth. Hopefully, he will figure it out one day before it’s too late.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed by me that Rosalie and Emmett have refused to acknowledge my apology. However, I’m so grateful the rest of the Cullens easily welcomed me back into their lives, and I can’t wait to continue to be a part of this family.
A/N: I plan to update weekly on Thursdays and will post teasers in my Facebook group, Kay Richard’s Bonfire on Sundays. You can find the link in my bio. This story is completely written and will be thirteen chapters. There also might be a couple of futuretakes too. I hope you decide to come along for the ride. Please, let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!