Esme was shocked to see Edward kissing Bella’s hand, but was also extremely excited. She had been so worried about him over the years. The death of Maggie had been rough on him, taking away all the light from his eyes, except when he looked at Elizabeth. She had hoped that over time he would find someone that would not only be good for him, but a positive influence for Elizabeth; however, he never seemed attracted to anyone. It was encouraging to witness the sparkle in his eyes as he interacted with Bella. Esme felt that the two of them were a good fit.
“Miss Bella, can you sit beside me at dinner?” Elizabeth begged.
However, Bella didn’t hear her, still overwhelmed by the kiss on her hand that Edward had placed there. Her heart was racing, and the back of her hand tingled where his smooth lips had touched her skin. Her mind was imagining what those lips would feel like as they kissed down her neck, along her collarbone, and like a screech along a record, she was snapped out of her reverie by Elizabeth trying to gain her attention.“Miss Bella,” Elizabeth pleaded again, this time pulling on the edge of her blouse.
Bella finally looked down at Elizabeth, her whole body in a bright pink blush. “Of course, if it’s okay with your father.”
Edward had also been in a trance since laying his eyes on Bella. When he kissed the back of her hand, chills shot through his body. Every cell was tingling and his heart was racing. Bella’s blush only enhanced her pale skin, and delicate features. He was slightly taken aback by his attraction. He truly hadn’t felt any type of female enticement since Maggie, and was surprised by his current emotional and physical response to Bella.
It wasn’t that he didn’t notice the women around him, because he noticed how some of them were trying to garner his attention with low-cut blouses and short skirts. Bella had on a modest top in a soft white material and a flowy pink skirt that was past her knees. Looking down at her tiny feet, he could see she was wearing a simple pair of pink flat shoes. She was dainty, feminine, and perfect. Her modesty was more appealing than anything the scantily clad women would wear.
“DADDY!!” Elizabeth screamed. She had asked her father several times about allowing her to sit beside Miss Bella at dinner, but he just stood there with a weird look on his face.
Esme elbowed Carlisle and nodded towards where Edward and Bella were standing. Carlisle looked over and a gigantic smile broke out. He had not seen Edward look at any woman this way before and reminded him of how he looked at his precious Esme. It appeared that his once emotionally stunted son was besotted. Could Bella be the woman to repair Edward’s broken heart?
Jasper had been watching the interaction between Edward and Bella and he couldn’t be more excited at the prospect of Edward’s interest in Bella. Ramming his elbow into Edward’s ribs causing him to snap out of his Bella induced trance. “What the hell, Jasper?”
“Your daughter is trying to get your attention, asshole,” Jasper chuckled.
Edward shook his head slightly getting rid of the fog and looked down at Elizabeth who had her arms crossed and tapping her foot. “What is it LadyBug?”
“I asked if I could sit beside Miss Bella,” Elizabeth said.
“Of course, sweetie,” Edward said.
“Dinner is ready,” Esme announced, as Carlisle offered his arm to her. Emmett and Jasper did the same to Rose and Alice.
“Daddy, you have to give your arm to Miss Bella,” Elizabeth insisted. “Your momma raised you gooder than that.”
“Elizabeth Cullen, come over here right now,” Esme said motioning for Elizabeth to come to her.
“But, Memaw,” Elizabeth whined.
“Carlisle, dear why don’t you take everyone in the dining room. Me and Miss Elizabeth are going to go have a little talk,” Esme said.
“Certainly, Bella may I escort you in?” Carlisle asked with a smirk. He was anxious to see to see how Edward would react.
“I would be honored,” Bella answered, even though she was looking forward to the possibility of having her arm wrapped around Edward’s. They walked into the dining room where Esme had worked her magic in sitting a stunning table. Carlisle pulled the chair to the left of his for Bella. “Thank you,”
Bending down and kissing her on the cheek. “You are very welcome. We are glad you could come tonight.”
Edward was the last in the group to get into the dining room, excited with the prospect of sitting beside Bella and getting to know her. However, his hopes were dashed when he saw her sitting beside of his father on one side and Elizabeth’s booster seat on the other. “Fuck,” he grumbled under his breath.
Shuffling his feet he took the only empty seat between his mother’s and Emmett. Sitting down he looked across the table at Bella who was having an animated conversation with his father. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. He may not be sitting beside her, but sitting across from her afforded him an unobstructed view. He was captivated by her every move. Who was this woman? It was apparent that his father knew her very well as did his brothers and their wives, and they all appeared to love her.
“She is something else,” Emmett whispered to Edward. “The sweetest soul you will ever meet.”
Edward turned and looked at Emmett. “How long have you known her?”
“Hmm, I guess about five or six years.”
“Yeah, she was,” Emmett started but was interrupted by Esme and Elizabeth walking in the room. Elizabeth’s eyes were red, indicating that she had been crying.
“Sorry everyone, but Miss Elizabeth has something she would like to say,” Esme said, patting Elizabeth on the back.
Fiddling with the sleeve of her top, Elizabeth lifted in her eyes, but not her head to everyone in the room. “I am sorry I was rude,” she cried.
“Very good Elizabeth, now go sit beside Miss Bella and let’s have a good dinner,” Esme encouraged.
After Elizabeth’s apology, dinner was wonderful, and full of lively conversation and laughter. Bella was very attentive to Elizabeth and her bombardment of questions. She was around children all the time, but there was something special about Elizabeth.
“Miss Bella, Memaw and Daddy are putting me in a rattis room so I can rattis at home,” Elizabeth confessed.
“Are they? They must love you very much to something as special as that,” Bella said.
“Do you want to see? Oh, please come see.”
“I would, if it is okay with your Daddy,” Bella answered.
Edward had been quiet during dinner because he was too busy listening to every word that came out of Bella’s mouth. “I, I mean we would be honored for you to come to take a look.”
“Wonderful,” Bella said as her face broke out once again in bright red. All during dinner, she kept stealing glances toward Edward and she could have sworn that he was staring at her. She was going to have to go to the bathroom and splash some water on her face to calm down the heat she frequently felt rising to her cheeks.. “If you show me the way, I can drive my car to your house.”
“Silly, Miss Bella, you don’t have to drive, we just go on the path,” Elizabeth giggled.
“Bella, Edward and Elizabeth live behind us, there is a path that connects our home with theirs,” Esme said, turning toward Edward. “Why don’t I walk over with you, that way I can walk Bella back while you put Elizabeth to bed.”
Edward couldn’t help but frown at this suggestion, because he wanted to spend some time alone with Bella. Now his mother was going to tag along. Damn, can’t he seem to get a break?
“Yeah! Come on Memaw and Miss Bella,” Elizabeth screamed, scurrying out of her booster seat and holding out her hand towards Bella.
Bella got up and took Elizabeth’s tiny hand and was taken out of the back door to the lighted path that went through Carlisle and Esme’s massive yard. Esme had caught up to them and had taken Elizabeth’s other hand. Elizabeth was on a never-ending sentence about the yard, a frog she saw, the next-door neighbors cat and pleading with her daddy to let her have a puppy.
Edward walked behind the girls, grumbling under his breath about not being part of the conversation and wanting to hold Bella’s hand. Once they were through the gate and to the back door of the house, Edward was allowed to unlock the door. As soon as the door was opened, he was pushed away again as Elizabeth took Bella up to her playroom that was being converted into a dance studio. Standing in the doorway, he heard Esme and Elizabeth explain what was happening to the room.
“It is going to be the bestest ratiss room. If you need a place to ratiss you could come over anytime,” Elizabeth instructed.
“Thank you, sweetie, I will keep that in mind,” Bella said.
Esme looked up at the clock and saw it was getting close to Elizabeth’s bedtime. “Hey, LadyBug, it’s close to bedtime. Why don’t I help you get ready while your daddy shows Miss Bella around?”
“But I am not tired,” Elizabeth whined, however, a large yawn followed.
Bella bent down to Elizabeth’s level. “Ballerinas need lots of rest if they want to be the best.”
“Really? Okay, but you will come over again soon?”
“I would love to come over,” Bella answered.
Elizabeth wrapped her tiny arms around Bella’s neck and squeezed tight. “Goodnight, Miss Bella.”
Bella wrapped her arms around Elizabeth’s tiny body and the warmth of the child’s hug caused her to wonder if this is was what it would have felt like to have the hug of a child that she knew she would never have. Bella looked up at Esme, her eyes full of unshed tears and mouthed, please.
“Alright, LadyBug, give daddy a hug and off to bed,” Esme encouraged.
Elizabeth ran over to Edward, who picked her up and hugged her tight, then placed kisses all over her face, causing her to break out into a fit of giggles. Placing her back down, she took off to Esme, but before she left the room she turned. “Goodnight, Miss Bella, sweet dreams.”
Bella nodded, not trusting her voice not to crack. After Esme and Elizabeth left the room, Bella reached up and wiped the tears away. When they were gone she turned toward Edward. “She is a little angel.”
“She is. She was my saving grace after Maggie died. I really don’t know if I would have survived if it hadn’t been for her,” Edward admitted. “Come let me give you a tour.”
The house was beautifully decorated, Bella could see Esme’s touches in every room. At the end of the hall, there was a set of double doors and when Edward opened them, it led into his bedroom. The centerpiece of the room was the massive four-poster bed covered in a rich, gold bedding.
Edward couldn’t tear his eyes off Bella as she looked around the room and then stared at his bed. Fuck, this was too much. “Bella,” he whispered.
Bella had purposely not looked at Edward because she knew that it would be too much. However, when he whispered her name in that deep throaty voice she had to turn. His once crystal green eyes were now darker and more alluring. He took a step towards her and she backed up one step. He advanced again and she once again stepped backward until she was against the wall.
Running his hand up her bare arm, caused it to break out into goosebumps. Licking his dry lips in preparation for a kiss, he saw that she had done the same, and realized that they were both on the same page. Leaning slowly toward her lips, he was excited to know if they felt as lush and warm as they looked.
“Edward, Elizabeth needs you,” Esme said coming up the hall.
“Fuck,” Edward groaned, cock blocked by his own mother.