July 18, 2017
Bella couldn’t stop looking at her ring. She had never seen anything quite as beautiful. Looking over at Edward, who was sound asleep, she wondered how she had gotten so lucky to find a man as loving and generous as he was. She could care less if he had money, hell she had more than enough to live nice and comfortable for the rest of her life.
She was still reeling from the contents they had found in the box at the jewelry store. The pieces were exquisite, priceless, and she loved every one of them. Edward smiled at each piece, and she thought that he was imagining what his grandmother looked like wearing each piece. It was indeed a tremendous find for Edward, then he turned to her and gave her one of his crooked, devilish smiles and informed her that the entire collection was hers. He only wanted the pocket watch that had the Cullen Crest on the back and inside a picture of his grandparents. She had tried to argue that it was too much, but he called it his engagement present to the future Mrs. Cullen.
“If you don’t like it, I will buy you whatever ring you want,” Edward said, his voice raspy with sleep.
Bella startled at discovering that he was awake, and brought her ring to her chest, covering it with her other hand. “Oh, no. I love it.”
Edward reached out and pulled her towards him. “Do you know how much I love you?”
“Yes. I’m still numb with surprise and joy over the fact that it is happening so suddenly,” she explained.
“Why wait, I know what I want, and you are it for me,” Edward said as he ran his fingers down her arm.
She laid her head down on his chest and listened to the firm, steady beat of his heart. Her skin quivered from his touch, smiling that he was going to be hers forever. After they slowly indulged in the pleasures of the flesh, twice, they got up and dressed to go back to the house. Edward had texted Emmett and Jasper, telling them what he needed them to accomplish today. He left the list of the locations where his grandfather had stashed items throughout Lake Como and the surrounding areas.
Ben drove them to the house, and before they got out of the car, he checked the area to make sure it was safe. Today, he had planned to install some state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, enabling them to be better equipped to protect his Boss and Bella. He hadn’t been informed of anything from the boss this morning, but he had seen the stunning ring on Bella’s left hand. The way they were looking at each, it was obvious to anyone that they were in love. God, he wished he could find someone to share his life with, though he was going to wait until Aro Volturi was taken down.
Edward wanted to check out the attic and basement today. He also wanted to secure the secret room before the renovations started. They walked up the steps to the attic and stopped at the landing. Using the skeleton key that they found yesterday, Edward turned the key in the lock and opened the door, its hinges creaking with age. Just like the rest of the house, everything was covered in thick sheets and dust.
Bella looked around the large room and couldn’t wait to see what was hidden under the sheets. Grinning from ear to ear in anticipation, she glanced over to Edward, “well, let’s get dirty.”
Wrapping his arm around her waist and grinding his semi-hard cock on her ass. “I love it when we get dirty.”
Bella turned around, her brown eyes blazing with desire met his. “I love getting dirty with you as well, but we have work to do, sir.”
“Fine,” he pouted.
They began working together, removing the sheets, carefully trying not to disturb the years of dust that had collected on them. There were lots of finely made furniture pieces, cedar chests, and large metal chests. Edward had hoped the keys that he had found in the safe in the secret room would unlock the uncovered pieces. He didn’t want to damage any of the treasures they were uncovering.
Bella ran her hand over the wood and smiled. She loved every piece and could see them once again in the main part of the house, once the renovations were completed, and it had been brought back to its former glory. “What do you think of pieces?” She asked, wondering if he felt the same way as she did.
Edward studied her face before he answered. He loved them, but her feelings were more important than his. He could tell by the soft look in her eyes that she loved the furniture. Just another thing they had in common. Moving closer to her, he reached out and pulled her to him. “I love them, but I love you more, so you tell me, can you see these pieces placed throughout the house?”
Bella sighed and laid her head under his chin. “I love you more too, but to answer your question, these pieces are exquisite and pieces of your family’s heritage. I think they should be moved downstairs once the renovations are done.”
“Alright, let’s get started going through the chests. I hope these keys will work,” Edward said.
One by one, they found the correlating keys that unlocked the chests. When they were done, Edward began on inventorying the large metal chests, while Bella went through the contents of the wooden ones. He found a treasure trove of knives, guns, and gold coins.
Bella opened the nearest chest, sifting the items around and finding a box with a floral design on it. Pulling the box out, she sat it on another chest and opened the lid. There was tissue paper covering whatever was within the box, and after she lifted it out of the way, she gasped. It was a wedding gown. No, it was Edward’s grandmother’s wedding gown, and it was stunning. The top of the gown was lace, with long sleeves and a high neckline with the bottom in all lace over a satin base. Bella could see herself wearing it for her wedding to Edward.
“Did you find anything?” Edward called out as he wiped down the barrel of one of the guns he found.
“Yes,” Bella murmured, closing the lid, waiting breathlessly for his reply. “I found something I really want. Do you mind?”
“As I have told you, what is mine is yours. What is it?” He asked, looking at the large box. He flashed a smile to her anxious face.
“Ah, a dress,” Bella hedged, hoping that it was still wearable and that it would fit her. She could almost see Edward’s expression when she walked towards him in the gown.
“Can I see it?”
“I want to see if it is still intact. We passed a dry cleaner on the way here. I might have Ben take me there while you continue with your search,” Bella said. She wondered if Rose could come to meet her, then she remembered that they hadn’t told them. Fuck.
“That is fine. I want to go through these two chests and see what is in there. I am going to have to have all these items shipped back to the states,” he advised waving his hand over the knives and guns he had out on the sheet. He had thought that he would have special cabinets commissioned in his study to hold them all.
Bella stood and turned to Edward. “When do you want to tell everyone about our engagement?”
“Are you ready to do it, because I would have done it as soon as you said yes?” Edward smirked.
“Yes. We could do this evening. Maybe we could tell them at the villa and then take them out to dinner afterward,” Bella explained, her mind racing with the thoughts of the dress in the box.
“That sounds perfect,” Edward replied. He stood and came over to her. “I looked into what we needed to in order to get married here, and it isn’t very hard. The only issue will be with the church; however, I think I might be able to convince a priest to do our service.”
“Convince?” Bella wondered.
Wrapping his arms around her. “As we already have seen, my grandfather’s name still has a lot of power and influence in this town, and I feel sure that it applies to the church as well.”
“I am confused. How?”
“Money, my love, money. I ran across a notation in grandfather’s journal that he made a contribution to Como Cathedral for some much-needed repairs and additions.”
Bella giggled. “It still amazes me that the church doesn’t refuse the money from a well-known mafia family.”
“Because they know that we keep their church coffers filled,” Edward replied, then bent down and captured her lips in an all-consuming kiss. He finally backed away, his chest heaving because of the lack of oxygen. “Go see what they can do with the dress.”
“Okay. I love you, and I will be right back,” Bella murmured, her eyes filling with emotion.
She carried the box down the stairs, and when she got to the ground floor, she found Ben installing a camera to one of the walls.
He turned when he heard her footsteps and smiled. “Hello, Ms. Swan.”
“Ben, how many times do I have to tell you it is just Bella,” she urged.
“No can do, Ms. Swan,” he grinned.
“Fine. I need to go to a dry cleaner. I saw one on the way here,” Bella explained.
“Seth is on his way here now. We need to wait until he arrives before we can leave,” Ben disclosed.
“Why?” Bella questioned, her frown creased her forehead.
“One of us always has to be near the Boss,” he answered.
Fuck, why had she not thought of that? God, she was thankful for Seth, Ben, and all the other family members who were willing to give their own lives to protect the love of her life. “Thank you.”
“No need to thank us. We are honored to be part of the Cullen family,” Ben proclaimed, meaning every word. He knew without a doubt that he would be dead if it weren’t for Edward. He had found him in a vacant warehouse, where the Volturi had taken him when he refused to work from them. They had beat him to near death and left him to die on the cold, dirty, concrete floor. Just as he began to give up, a pair of shiny dress shoes appeared in front of him. With the last bit of strength he had left, he looked up and saw a young man in a dark suit, then the world went black. Not remembering what happened next, he had awoken in a clean bed, with his injuries bandaged. A monster of a man was in the room and proceeded to question him about who he was and why he was in the warehouse. Once he told the man, who he found out was Emmett, why he was there, Emmett informed him who had rescued him. At first, Ben was leary, but after he heard what Aro had done to Edward’s family, he knew that he wanted to be a member of the Cullen family.
Ten minutes later, Seth came into the house, and Ben let him know what else needed to be done and where Edward was in the house. He helped Bella into the car and headed towards the dry cleaners.
Once they arrived, Ben carried the box for Bella into the shop. They were met by a short, elderly woman with white hair, not grey, but snow white and crystal blue eyes. She was stunning, even at her advanced age.
Buona giornata, signorina. Mi chiamo Aurora, come posso aiutarla? The lady greeted her with a warm smile. (Good day, Miss. My name is Aurora, how can I help you?)
Buona giornata, Aurora. Mi chiamon, Isabella e ho un vestito che speravo di pulire e vedere se può essere modificato se necessario? Bella advised as she took the box from Ben and laid it on the counter in front of the lady. (Good day, Aurora. My name is Isabella, and I have a dress that I was hoping to get cleaned and see if it can be altered if needed?)
Aurora opened the box and shook her head. She recognized this dress, but how did this young woman have it, because the last time she saw this dress, it was on Maria Cullenello on her wedding day. Maria had been a childhood friend of hers. They grew up together and played together every day. When they turned eighteen, Maria’s father informed her that he had arranged a marriage to Caius Cullenello. Maria and Aurora both were frightened. Everyone in Lake Como knew Caius and what he did for a living. Maria confided in Aurora about her concerns. But Maria’s doubts disappeared after she met Caius. The first time Maria and Caius laid eyes on each other, they fell in love. A grand wedding was planned with all the community invited. Maria could have had her dress made by the top designer of the time, but she wanted her friend to design and make her dress.
Bella couldn’t understand the expression on Aurora’s face. It was almost like she saw a ghost. “Stai bene?” (Are you okay?)
“Sì. Come sei arrivato in possesso di questo vestito?” Aurora asked. (Yes. How did you come in possession of this dress?)
Bella thought for a moment and wondered if she should tell her the truth or makeup something. There was something about Aurora that made her want to tell her. “My fiance is Edward Cullenello. He is the grandson of Caius Cullenello.”
Tears filled Aurora’s eyes. “Maria ed io eravamo amiche d’infanzia.” (Maria and I were childhood friends.)
“Veramente?” Bella exclaimed. (Really?)
“Sì e ho fatto questo vestito per lei.” Aurora declared. (Yes and I made this dress for her.)
Bella’s hand shot to her mouth. How was it even possible that the woman before her had made Edward’s grandmother’s dress? This had to be fate. “Pensi che l’abito possa essere riportato al suo antico splendore?” (Do you think the dress can be brought back from its former beauty?)Aurora took the dress out of the box and placed it on a hanger. Checking for signs of age and dry rot. Other than the fact that it had yellowed from being in storage, it was in excellent condition. “Sì e ti sembrerà bellissimo.” (Yes, and you will look beautiful in it.)