A/N: I am thankful to purpleC305 for pre-reading and Midnight Cougar for beta-ing. Bella and I think you are sweeter than all of the chocolate in Paris. Thank you. xx
DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m just here having fun.
“Just add three letters to Paris and you have Paradise.” – Jules Renard
“Oh, Edward, look!” I point toward a restaurant. “Let’s go have fondue. I’m starving.”
After returning from our trip to Versailles, we decide to spend the evening wandering around the Latin Quarter neighborhood. It’s filled with tons of shops that cater to a wide range of tourists. I can hear so many different languages as we pass various groups.
“Sounds good. I could eat.” He winks and grabs my hand, leading me toward the restaurant.
I blush with his words, because it wasn’t but a few hours ago his head was buried between my legs and he was feasting on me.
“Food. I’m talking about food,” I clarify.
“I was too.” He leans in close to my ear and whispers, “You and your dirty mind.”
“Me! I think we both know who the instigator is here.” I laugh.
We make our way inside Heureux Comme Alexandre, which from my best translation means “Happy as Alexandre.” The restaurant is charming and cozy with a small dining room, and I start to regret not making a reservation. Fortunately, the wait isn’t too long since it is still early in the evening, and before we know it we are seated at a quaint table for two.
“Have you ever had fondue?” I ask, sitting across from Edward.
“Yes, Mom made it for us a few times growing up. I think she’s willing to cook anything once. How about you?”
“No, I’ve never had it, but always wanted to try it.” I check out the tables filled with food next to ours and can’t wait to make our selections.
“Well, now you will get your chance. What should we order?” Edward looks over his menu while I study mine.
“How about a cheese fondue to start then maybe the bourguignonne? And of course chocolate.” My excitement builds.
“Bourguignonne? Is that the fondue with oil or wine for cooking meat?”
“I think it’s the oil.” I grin. “Let’s drink the wine. I’ve had so much champagne during our trip I’m ready for either a red or white. This trip has been one wonderful, continuous celebration. I can’t help myself.”
Edward chuckles and shakes his head. “You and your champagne. Mom did a broth with spices when she prepared our fondue for cooking the meat. It was good, but I’m looking forward to this.”
We do our best to order everything in French, and our host, the owner, Alexandre, seems quite amused by our attempt but speaks great English.
“You are Americans, no? Wait. Let me guess. From California?” He smiles.
I giggle. “Close. Seattle, Washington.”
“Ah, and how about a red wine to pair with your dinner. Let me find the house red for you to sample.”
When Alexandre returns, we have no trouble with his selection and order a bottle with our meal.
Edward and I are nibbling on salads of olives, tomatoes, and cucumbers when our first course arrives. We dive in dipping chunks of bread and potatoes into the creamiest melted cheese.
“This is delicious.” Edward moans. “I didn’t realize how hungry I was.”
I nod my agreement. “I need to learn how to make this. Maybe Esme kept her recipes.”
“I’m sure she would share those with you. You know, she really likes you, Bella.” Edward watches my face for a reaction.
I’m a bit hesitant. “I like her too. I’m just sorry we started off on the wrong foot. I’m thankful everyone forgave me. Well, almost everyone.”
Edward sips his wine and reaches for my hand. “Ignore Emmett and Rosalie. I do. It’s all in the past, but you have to admit, it makes a very unusual ‘how they met’ story.”
I lean over and kiss him lightly. “I’m more partial to this part of our story. This trip has been amazing. I can’t believe we only have tomorrow then we are headed back to the airport. It seems too soon.”
Alexandre reappears and changes out our empty cheese fondue pot for one with oil. He sets an assorted plate of raw meats and another of vegetables before us.
“Is this duck?” I wonder.
Edward looks over to where my fork is pointing. “I think so. The others are chicken and beef.”
“That’s what I thought. I’ve never had duck. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Is it Donald or Daffy?” I joke.
“You did great with the oysters last night, and those were new to you. So I’m sure you won’t have trouble with this.”
Over the course of an hour, we finish our bottle of wine while we leisurely cook our cubes of meat and vegetables in the hot oil only to find the duck to be our favorite. Edward manages to eat most of the meat while I favor the vegetables, and confirm I’m saving room for what comes next: the chocolate.
“You are on your honeymoon, no?” Alexandre asks. He sets a bowl filled with grapes, oranges, apples, bananas, and strawberries in front of us, then a perfect bowl of warm chocolate fondue.
I’m thinking I only need a spoon, but focus back on his question feeling playful from the wine and shaking my head. “No, first date,” I tease, which causes Alexandre to smirk.
“No one will believe that story, Mademoiselle, when you act like lovers.” He winks.
“It’s our first trip together,” Edward explains. “And unfortunately, it’s almost over.”
“Ah, and you chose Paris. Well, it looks good on both of you. You should return for your honeymoon,” Alexandre suggests with a knowing grin.
Edward looks over at me with a twinkle in his eye. “We just might.”
What buzz I’m feeling from the wine quickly fades and now I’m sober as a judge, as I watch Edward’s face change from playful to concerned.
He’s already thinking marriage?
Sure, I was considering all of the possibilities for a future together on the train earlier today, which included marriage, but I’m shocked Edward is even joking about making a commitment. I thought those were supposed to make men run for the hills.
Apparently, my cabaret dancing was better than I thought.
He smirks. “You need to breathe, Bella.”
I look around us and take a few deep breaths while I watch him pierce a strawberry with his fondue fork then dip it into the chocolate.
“Open.” He holds it near my mouth.
I comply, wrapping my lips around the tasty morsel and pulling it from his fork.
He looks down, carefully considering his next words.
I suspect he’s going to backpedal or brush off his comment as a teasing joke.
“I can’t help how I feel about you. How I’ve always felt about you. We have plenty of time, and this week has been a fabulous way for us to get to know each other better.”
I process his words as he continues to feed me pieces of delicious chocolate-covered fruit, keeping me from responding to his comments.
He looks up at me, and I can tell he’s hesitant. “I don’t want to scare you off or suggest too much too soon—”
Chewing the last bite he fed me, I nod hoping he will continue.
“I’m going to have a hard time going back to our lives once this trip is over.”
My brow furrows in confusion wondering what exactly he’s saying.
“I want to be able to see you more often than dates once or twice a week.” He runs his hands through his hair. “I’m just going to say it. I think we should move in together.”
I finally manage to find my voice. “Move in together?”
Edward nods. “Yes.”
I point between the two of us. “You want us to move in together?”
A small smile starts on his face. “Oui.”
I feel a smile begin to grow on my face as well. “The two of us.” I think for a moment. “Where would we live? My place?”
Edward shrugs. “Or we can find a new place together.”
I nod my head. “My place is small, but could work for a while. Won’t Esme be upset? You moving out of their basement apartment. I mean, I don’t think I could live there with her and Carlisle being upstairs.”
He laughs. “I know. You can be quite loud sometimes.” I feel him squeeze my knee under the table. “It could make for some awkward dinners, I would imagine.”
I look down at the strawberries and imagine my face just as red.
“Hey,” Edward says softly. “I don’t ever want you to be embarrassed. You are the best lover I’ve ever had, and I know you are going to claim to be inexperienced. But Bella, it’s as though you were perfectly made for me. Everything about you calls out to me and I’m helpless to the pull between us.
“Mom and Dad will understand. I haven’t always lived with them, but for me, this feels like the right thing for us. The next step we should take together. Just…think about it. If you think it’s too soon, then I’ll wait until you’re ready, but I want you to know I’m ready now.”
Alexandre takes that moment to check on us. “Are you all set?”
Am I all set?
Is this it?
Me and Mr. Perfect, riding off into the sunset together?
Edward speaks first. “Yes, thank you. Everything was delicious, one of our best meals in Paris. Let’s just settle the bill.”
“Very well.” Alexandre leaves a small tray with a receipt on the table. “Whenever you’re ready, Monsieur. Thank you for coming in this evening. I hope we will see you on your next trip to Paris.” He winks in my direction.
My mind is a jumble, but I manage a quick smile. “Thanks.”
Edward leaves enough euros to cover the bill and stands from his seat, offering a hand to help me. He’s quick to change the subject and our location sensing my trepidation. “Ready? Let’s go continue to wander the streets of Paris. Maybe you can find some souvenirs.”
We wave at Alexandre as we depart, and I slide my small hand into Edward’s larger one as we begin to window shop.
My head is spinning while I try to take in the sights in front of me, but I can only think about us living together.
Can this really be happening?
Are we both on the same page and ready to take another step forward together?
But is this the right one?
What if he can’t stand living with me?
Or I’m too messy?
What if this doesn’t work out?
Then I’ve lost my apartment and even worse, I’ve lost him.
My mind churns with scenarios, but I feel the need to finish our conversation and pull Edward into a nearby alley for some privacy.
I stop him by smashing my lips to his. Edward is stunned at first, but quickly wraps me in his arms and returns my kiss with equal enthusiasm.
I break away first, panting while my eyes find his hopeful ones. “Let me think. And talk for a minute. Edward, are you sure? What if—”
“Bella, I’m sure you’re playing out numerous what ifs in your head, but this decision is easy. Look at our relationship. There is this natural ease between us. I’ve never had this before and I don’t want to lose it. I’m at a point in my life where I’m ready for more. With you. I want this. I want you.”
I start pacing in front of him, knowing I need to get my concerns out. “Have you ever lived with someone before? Not just a roommate, but a woman who you are involved with?”
Edward sighs. “No.”
I continue pacing as my arms flail occasionally while trying to make my point. “What if we have a fight about something? I don’t know. Me leaving clothes on the bedroom floor or dishes in the sink. Or making a mess in the kitchen.
“You may not realize this, but women have tampons and long hairs which could be anywhere at any time. It’s not always the perfect picture we try to present. It can be the little things that push people apart.
“What if I drive you crazy with all of my books and…and you decide you’re sick of living in a library.
“Or you don’t like cats. Tucker and I are a package deal. Maybe you hate cat fur or just cats. What if you’re a dog person and don’t know it?
“What about money? People fight about that all the time. Why would we be any different? I know we both have jobs, but we would need to split—”
He reaches out and grabs my hands, pulling me between his legs, while he leans against the wall. “Stop. You’re overthinking this. Just say okay.”
The twinkle in his eye returns and melts away any of my other objections. I have zero resistance when it comes to him and giving him what he wants.
I want this. He wants this. I need to take a leap of faith and jump. I shouldn’t think about all of the what ifs. I should only focus on building a life together and this is a first step. If we can live together, we can do anything.
“Okay,” I say just above a whisper. My excitement slowly building.
“Okay?” He gets that crooked grin I love knowing he’s getting his way again.
I stand a little straighter with my final decision firmly made. “Yes. Let’s mix our things: socks, clothes, books, the works. I hope you don’t regret this step. Oh, God, what if I snore?”
“Oh, Bella. You don’t.” Edward lifts me up, as I wrap my arms around his neck, then he spins us in a circle before planting several more kisses on my lips.
I shriek with delight. “Are you happy?”
“Very.” He sets me down and grabs my hand before stepping back out on the street. Edward gives my hand a squeeze. “Where should we go next? Are there any particular shops you want to visit?”
“Yes, there are a few I have in mind. Come on.” I hustle us along knowing Shakespeare and Company is nearby, so I decide to lead us there first. I’m such a book lover this stop is an absolute must, even though I know it’s not Edward’s thing.
The store is quaint, small and smells like old books. I think I could stay here forever.
“So what’s the story on this place?” Edward smirks at his wittiness.
“You’re funny. The original store was opened by a lady, Sylvia Beach from New Jersey, then closed during the German occupation of Paris,” I explain to him. “It was a gathering place for writers like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce. Fortunately, this location opened about ten years later by another American, George Whitman, under a different name, but he later changed it to Shakespeare and Company as an acknowledgement to the original shop and its owner. I think it was originally more of a lending library than store. People could borrow books like Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which was banned at the time in both the United States and Britain.”
We roam through the labyrinth of books as my fingers itch with the need to touch every spine.
“What’s with the beds?” Edward asks.
I chuckle. “The beds are for aspiring writers, Tumbleweeds as they were called, to sleep for free in exchange for helping around the bookstore. Unfortunately, George passed away in 2011, but his daughter, Sylvia Whitman, named after Sylvia Beach, still runs the store today with the help of a partner. George lived a hobo life during the Great Depression, moving from place to place, and learned quickly to be grateful for the kindness of strangers. He lived by the ethos, ‘Give what you can, take what you need.’ I should find that book. The one that talks about the history of the shop.”
I finally locate a copy of Shakespeare & Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart and know I can’t leave here without one of their great mugs too. I pay for my treasures and snap a couple of selfies with Edward both inside and out.
We continue wandering through the Latin Quarter. I purchase both of us a key ring with the Eiffel Tower on it, even though Edward claims our lingerie trip includes all the souvenirs he will ever need, and we manage to locate a chocolate shop I was hoping to visit.
I am not like a kid in a candy store. I actually am a kid in a candy store when we enter Alain Ducasse’s Le Chocolat. I have no idea how to make a selection; I want to try everything: the ganaches, the pralinés, and the truffles. Edward suggests an assortment, which will be perfect for me. I purchase two boxes that should fit nicely in my luggage, allowing me to take a taste of Paris back with me to Seattle.
When we step back outside, evening has turned to night. I’m thrilled the stores are all open late, and mesmerized by the twinkling lights of the city that create a magical glow.
Edward is such a gentleman and insists on carrying my packages as we walk hand in hand. I can’t imagine anything more romantic than strolling the streets of Paris with Edward.
I keep thinking I should pinch myself that I must be dreaming.
Is this really my life now?
I look over and marvel at Edward’s handsome profile. My heart and stomach both flutter with the possibility of spending my life with him.
His words make me nervous to believe or even hope for forever with him. However, I’m extremely excited for us to live together. I’ve never had a roommate, but if I had to pick one, Edward would be my first choice.
He catches me looking at him and smiles. “Are you ready to head back to the hotel? It’s getting late.”
“Sure. We’ve had a busy day.” I fight off a yawn that’s threatening to escape.
“What are your plans for tomorrow?”
I shrug. “I was thinking we could visit a few museums and shops in the morning, but I left the rest of the day open to whatever we wanted to do.”
“Good, because I already made plans for tomorrow afternoon. A surprise for you. Let’s find a ride to the hotel.” Edward grins then leans down, placing a kiss on the top of my head.
We locate an available taxi, and with all of my packages in hand, make our way back to the hotel. With his arm wrapped around me, I cuddle up next to Edward, his divine scent drawing me closer. We both listen to the lull of the engine while the driver weaves through busy nighttime Paris traffic. I’m not surprised when my eyes become heavy, and my blinks start to slow when the sounds of the city finally fade away.
It’s been another amazing day in paradise.