Sunday, August 19, 2012 | By: Drotuno

Coming Home Chapter 173 - Bella


Seattle... Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 1:14 P.M.

I opened the passenger door of Alice's car and climbed out, with Rose piling out behind me so she could take my seat.

Our laughter spilled out into the air as Alice finished her story. "Yes, my first grader turned to me and said, 'That's what she said!'"

Giggling, I shook my head. "Thanks for lunch, ladies."

"Bye, Bella!" they chimed together, making me laugh as Alice beeped the horn once before pulling out of the driveway.

When I pulled open the front door, I could hear Edward on the piano, although the music faltered for a moment before picking back up at the beginning of my song. Smiling, I dropped my bag on the couch and looked around for the kitten. Seeing nothing, I headed through the living room to the library, figuring I'd find her in with Edward.

"Hey, babe," I said with a smile as I walked into the room. I started to ask if he'd had fun with the guys when movement on the floor drew my attention down. When I saw not only Edward's new baby but a small, black ball of fur, I gasped.

Dropping to my knees, I held my hand out to the puppy and let him sniff my fingers. He licked a couple of times, his little tail wagging furiously as he gave a little yip. Carefully picking him up and cradling him to my chest, I turned my head slightly so he was licking my chin, not my lips.

"Edward," I breathed, "what did you do?"

As the puppy attacked my chin with doggy kisses, I felt the heavy charm on his collar hitting against my chest. I held the puppy out a little so I could reach the heart attached to the little blue collar.

"I promised you a surprise," Edward answered softly.

When I was finally able to see the thing, my heart skipped a beat in my chest. I was afraid for a moment that I wouldn't be able to breathe.

Will you marry us? was engraved in the silver heart.

Taking a shuddering breath, I felt tears well in my eyes as I turned the collar around so it faced Edward. I was having trouble processing it...

...until I saw him get down on one knee in front of me, opening an iconic little black box as he asked, "Well, will you?"

I didn't hesitate, not even to look down at what I knew had to be a ring. As the tears fell down my cheeks, I nodded. "Yes! Of course I'll marry you!"

Edward's grin was as big as the one I knew was on my face as he stood and pulled the ring from the box. I finally looked down as he reached out and took my left hand, leaving me holding the new puppy with my right.

The ring was gorgeous – platinum or most likely white gold, round diamond in the middle with five smaller diamonds inset into the band on both sides. I watched as Edward slid it onto my finger, where it fit perfectly.

"It's gorgeous," I breathed, swallowing around the lump in my throat as I looked back up at him.

Edward shook his head. "It's pretty, but it's merely window dressing on the most gorgeous woman I've ever seen."

When I grasped his shirt with my newly-adorned hand and pulled him to me, the yipping puppy between us began wiggling to get down. Chuckling against Edward's lips, I pulled the animal from between us and set him down, freeing up my other hand.

"I love you," I told Edward, my voice low and a bit husky as I slid both arms up and around his neck.

Edward wrapped his arms around me, tugging me closer. My eyes stayed open and locked on his as he brushed his lips across mine once, twice, lingering a little on the third kiss as we breathed in one another. Finally, when I thought I would combust under his heated gaze, he groaned and slid one hand from my waist to the back of my neck. His fingers tangled in my hair, and he angled my head to capture my lips once more, deepening the kiss this time as my eyes fluttered closed.

Kissing Edward was a sensual experience. Every touch, every taste, every movement...he surrounded my senses and consumed me from the inside out as his tongue dipped and stroked, teasing my own. Just when I thought I might pass out from lack of air, he pulled away. Barely giving me time to catch my breath, he leaned in, capturing my top lip in a suckling kiss before moving to the bottom, nipping at it gently before pulling away again, leaving me breathless once more.

When he leaned his head down and pressed his forehead to mine, his emotional, "I love you, too," had me in tears once more.

He drew back, raising an eyebrow as he reached up to brush the drops from my cheeks.

"Happy tears," I explained with a watery chuckle, sniffling my suddenly runny nose.

Edward chuckled, pulling me down with him as he sat, scooting back until we were leaning back against the love seat. "Fine," he said, grinning. "Happy tears are allowed."

I laughed and then turned my attention to the animals, who were currently involved in some sort of chase and attack game. "How did you know?" I asked, looking from the puppy to Edward and back again.

"Oh, Isabella," he huffed, shaking his head. "I know you, sweetheart. It was written plain as day across your face yesterday when you looked at him – and it is a him, by the way."

Grinning sheepishly, I said, "I didn't think you'd noticed." I shrugged. "I couldn't help it. He looked so damn lonely there all by himself. But it was about you and about getting the kitten we'd talked about, so I convinced myself that he would find a good home."

Edward smiled. "And he did. The lady at the shelter said he was six weeks old – and he's yours to name. Any ideas?"

Pursing my lips, I gave it some thought. We had Cookie the kitten, named after the first thing that had really brought Edward and me closer. Thinking back over our beginning, I tried to come up with some appropriate names.

Nothing at all seemed to fit until I remembered a line from Edward's first letter back to me. He'd said, "I would blow up a building for peppermints!" I had found that particularly amusing since there he was, a sergeant in the Army, and he was saying he would go to that extreme for some little red and white candies.

"Peppermint," I murmured, chuckling from amusement. "But call him Pepper for short since he's black with a few specks of white."

Edward grinned. "Those little candies were the best," he said, tightening his arm around me. "I didn't expect you to send them, but you did." Looking at the puppy, he smiled. "Pepper is fitting, I think."

"You think they'll be okay together?" I asked, watching as Cookie and Pepper rolled around on the floor, yipping and meowing at one another. "I mean, the saying is they fight like cats and dogs..."

Edward nodded. "I looked it up last night to be sure. They're both very young, so they'll grow up together and be friends. Besides, they'll have us," he said, looking down at me and smiling. "We'll help them together."

Together... Yes, I loved that.

"Together, then," I agreed with a nod, smiling as I leaned my head on Edward's shoulder.

Edward's quiet, "Always," was like a warm caress, reaching to my very core.

I looked from the playing animals to the new ring on my finger and then around at the room that had truly become ours two months ago when Edward had come home for the first time. It had seemed as if that day would never get here, yet it had. We'd faced so much together already, and I knew we would end up facing even more as the years went by – always.

As I looked around, I wasn't sure even "always" would be long enough. But for now...

It was perfect.



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