Chapter 27 ~ The End of the Beginning
"Are you all packed?" Edward's breath tickled my ear as he whispered into it, snuggling behind me on the bed. Our bed. The one we shared in our new, rented home.
"Pretty much," I said, gripping his hand in mine and wrapping it more tightly around my waist. "You know, apart from bathroom essentials I'll need in the morning."
He sighed as he settled in behind me. "So, Rose and Emmett, huh?" He was referring to the "Save the Date" notice we'd received in the mail that afternoon. They were headed for a June wedding.
I smiled and shut my eyes, waiting for sleep to take me. We had to wake at four in the morning to be at the airport in plenty of time to catch our plane, and I needed rest. I was never good at sleeping on airplanes and we had two long flights ahead of us.
"I can't believe she's being so traditional. A June wedding, for Christ's sake." I snorted while yawning, putting an interesting punctuation on the end of the sentence.
"I think it's nice," he said. "Maybe true love can make even the most nontraditional girl a bit old-fashioned."
I chuckled and looked back at him, over my shoulder. "Yeah. Don't get your hopes up, bub."
"What?" He chuckled, as well. "You've been married. Obviously you're not opposed to the idea."
"The idea of it, no."
"Oh, I see. It's just the notion of marrying me that you find distasteful?"
I turned over and looked up at his smirking face. "A—I haven't heard a proposal, yet. And B—Let's let the concept of co-habitating sink in fully before we start talking about rings, okay?" I turned back over on my side. "Besides, I haven't met your parents yet. I think I need to see what kind of genetic defects I might be dealing with here."
I felt the vibration of his chuckles. "You have a valid point there, actually."
I sighed and snuggled more deeply into his chest, basking in the feeling of us just being us—laughter included. "I wish I was meeting them on the way to Europe, though, instead of the way home. I'll probably be all tired and irritable from traveling."
"Tired and irritable? You'll fit right in."
We both chuckled and lay quietly for a few minutes before his hand moved across my arm.
"Are you okay?” he asked. “Comfortable, I mean?"
I knew what he meant. I had a hard time lying on my left side for long periods of time since the accident. The cast had been off and all the stitches removed for months, but I still got sore on occasion.
"I'm fine, at least for now."
"Well ... Do you want to switch positions?" I heard a little something in his voice, which made me open my eyes and turn toward him.
"What do you mean?"
He bent to kiss my nose, lightly. "Well, I was thinking maybe you might like to lay on your back for a while." He moved his hands over my tummy and dropped his lips to my neck, letting me know his intention.
I giggled as his nibbles sparked goosebumps on my flesh. "Edward, we have to get some sleep."
"Well, I'm not tired yet," he said against my skin. He pushed my T-shirt up, giving his hands access to my breasts. He grinned down at me. "Wear me out a little."
Postcard from Barcelona
To Rosalie Hale (soon to be McCarty!)
Hola from Barcelona! Sorry, no chance to mail a card from Madrid. The museums there were wonderful, but I love Barcelona even more and am so happy we'll be here for an entire week! It just seems to be so very Spanish here. The food, the museums, the MEN! Holy cow, if I were single I'd be in hog heaven right now.
Speaking of which, Spain has an unnatural attachment to ham...
Spent the day on a topless beach north of Barcelona called Calella. E spent the day alternately gaping at the "scenery" and trying to cover me up from the prying eyes of others.
People here are wonderfully friendly. They are also quite publicly affectionate. In the extreme. E often seems a bit embarrassed by this, which is amusing, since he has no problem when it's US showing the affection. I mean, this from the man who was all-consumed with joining the "Mile High Club" on the way here. I don't fully understand his obsession with sex in tiny public bathrooms in the sky, but I'm thinking of setting up an appointment with a strict Freudian Analyst upon our return to the States.
We're going to Montserrat tomorrow. I wonder if a day at a monastery will instill some spirituality in the boy and break him of his incessantly carnal nature. Care to place a wager?
Love to Emmett (and you, of course),
Postcard from Rome
To Jasper Whitlock
Hello! I hope all is well.
The next time you speak to him, would you please tell your friend Edward that not everyone in Italy has ties to the Mafia and that not every Italian man is out to get into my pants? I would really appreciate it. As would everyone in Italy. I'm afraid we're just playing into the stereotype of the "Ugly American" right now.
Or at least E is. I am of course making friends wherever I go.
You must bring Alice to Italy, if only for the wine. I don't need to tell you how fun she is when she's drunk and even table wine here is better than most anything we get at home. Of course, she will also love the beautiful architecture and the art everywhere. Just don't bring E along, unless you want to be bombarded literally ALL DAY LONG with jokes about Baby Gap in the Roman Forum.
Postcard from Rome
To Alice Brandon
Okay, I just told J he needs to bring you to Italy. You can thank me later.
And really you MUST come here with him. I mean, I loved being here with you & Rose, but having someone male to snuggle with while looking at the ancient sites at night is just unreal. E has been so sweet I can hardly stand it (though he keeps trying to speak with a god-awful Italian accent. I don't have the heart to tell him this is not a turn-on for me). We're off to Venice tomorrow, then to Florence. I can hardly wait!
Postcard from Venice
To Alice Brandon
OMG. Whoever told you that Venice is just a stinky sewer, populated with pigeons, does not have a romantic bone in their body. I mean, yes, there are plenty of pigeons and the canals do tend to take on a certain ... stench at the hottest part of the day. But these things can be overlooked when you're sitting in a gondola, being serenaded by a gorgeous Italian Baritone voice and kissing the man you love as you drift under ancient bridges.
Additionally, I have never seen such beautiful architecture.
Hope you are keeping Jasper on his toes. Love you!
Postcard from Florence
To Rosalie Hale
Hello my beautiful friend!
Florence is just as stunning and wonderful as I remembered it to be. So happy we’re going to stay here for an entire week this time. Last night, we walked through an older and more residential part of town—an area you, Alice & I did not visit. It was so awesome to just hang with the locals. We saw an old building, built for one of the Medici's mistresses. The food was way better on that side of town too, which is really saying something, as you can imagine. I think I've gained 5 pounds since we arrived in Italy. E says it's OK though cuz it makes my boobs look bigger. Sheesh ... men.
We took a pasta-making class a couple of days ago so now E is insistent that we'll never eat store-bought pasta again. We'll see how long that lasts, but I do think I'll have all of you over for a home-cooked pasta meal when we return.
I hope you and Alice are moving forward with the planning of the wedding. Sorry I can't help yet, but I will do everything I can when I get home. That is, so long as you don't make me wear some god-awful orange taffeta dress during the ceremony.
"You are really going to have to get a grip on your jealousy issues, Edward."
He dropped his jacket on the back of the Louis XVI-style chair in the sitting room of our luxurious hotel suite. With its rich fabrics in shades of beige, ivory, gold and rose, the room was an elegant mix of the contemporary with period furniture and fixtures. The Hotel Le Meurice was by far the most extravagant of the places we'd stayed on our trip and a fitting place to spend our last week before heading home.
"That man was totally flirting with you, Bella."
I sighed heavily. "That man was sixty years old, at least!"
"So? He looked good for his age."
I walked over to him and grabbed his white, button-down shirt in my fists. "Even if he was flirting with me — even if any of the thousand or so men you have accused of flirting with me over the past six months have been flirting with me — isn't my behavior what really matters? You think I’m going to drop everything and leave you because some attractive old man with a French accent flirts with me?" I stepped on my tiptoes to kiss him softly and then dropped my hands and walked toward the large doors that led to a balcony. "Besides, Edward, if I got jealous every time some floozy flirted with you, I'd spend the rest of my life angry."
I opened the large doors and my breath immediately caught in my throat. "Oh my God," I whispered.
Edward walked approached me from behind and wrapped his arms around my waist. "Beautiful, isn't it? I knew you'd love it."
That was an understatement. Seemingly, the entire city of Paris lay at our feet. Below us the Tuileries Garden was spread out like a wondrous fairytale land where fairies and sprites surely flitted from tree-to-tree at twilight. Farther up on the horizon, the rooftops of centuries-old buildings glinted in the afternoon sun. We could see so many of the famous sights of Paris: the Louvre at one end of the garden and the Arc de Triomphe, the Obelisk of Luxor. In the distance, we could glimpse the Eiffel Tower.
"Can we stay here forever?" I asked. "You can go to school in Paris, right?"
"Sure. Of course, I might have to improve my French-speaking skills."
"Yes, your French is almost as bad as your Italian." I grinned.
"You've never complained about my French skills before." He squeezed me tightly and kissed my cheek as I giggled. "Luckily, I had you to save my ass in Italy. I don't know what we'll do here."
I sighed, dramatically. "We'll just have to wander the streets of Paris, lost and alone ... You know, together." I ran my hand along the smooth skin of his arm as he continued to brush soft kisses along my cheek. We were swaying together, as if listening to music only we could hear.
"I can think of worse things," he whispered huskily in my ear.
"Hey, if it was good enough for Hemingway..."
"Yes, and he didn't have the luxury of staying at Le Meurice."
We swayed together for several moments, almost dancing in the sunlight of the clear, cool afternoon.
"I can't wait to see this at night," I said, taking his hand in mine and gripping him tightly to me. "Can we have dinner out here?"
"We can do whatever you desire, Isabella. Your wish is my command."
His lips whispered across my neck. One advantage of my new, short hair cut was the easy access he had to my neck. I shivered in his embrace.
"I can't wait to see you out here at night,” he said. “The only thing that could rival the beauty of this view is your face in the light of dusk."
I smiled and turned in his arms, wrapping mine around his neck. "Such flowery words, Teddy. I think the romance of Paris is already rubbing off on you."
He chuckled and buried his face in my neck. "I'd like to rub something off on you."
I threw my head back in laughter. "Aaaand, he's back!"
~~THE END - N.F.E.~~