“Alice, I don’t understand why I need to pack sexy lingerie,” Bella grumbled on her phone as she folded her clothes for her trip to Las Vegas. “Edward isn’t coming with me to this conference. He’s got to work and he’s terrified that Tanya is going to kidnap his kids. I’m terrified she’s going to kidnap his kids. That woman has a first-class ticket on the crazy train.”
“Trust me,” Alice sang.
“I’m not going to be set up, Alice,” Bella snarled.
“Bella, really? I know that you’re in a committed relationship with Edward. Just let me have my moment,” she giggled. “And make sure you bring heels. No ballet flats. You’re going to VEGAS! Not some coffee klatch.”
“Fine, fine,” Bella grumbled, tossing in a pair of black stilettos, along with a pair of nude heels, too. “You’re meeting me there?”
“We’ve got a sweet set up in a suite at The Cosmopolitan. The conference is Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with a welcome gala on Wednesday night and another party for the authors on Friday,” Alice said. “You’ll do awesome. You always do. Yes, you’re nervous, but you get over it and become like your heroines in your stories.”
“That’s because they’re confident and poised. I’m not, Ali. I’m a hot mess,” Bella grumbled.
“Stop, Bella. You’re not a hot mess. You’re smart, funny, sexy, poised and confident,” Alice snapped. “I don’t know why you think you’re not.”
“I’m second guessing everything, lately. I’m working with a new counselor, been seeing her since Edward and I had our disagreement. Being back in Tampa brought back a lot of insecurities and I’m struggling with that,” she sighed. “It’s getting better. Edward is quick to tell me that I’m special and that he loves me. The kids are amazing, treating me like their mom.”
“Bella, you are, for all intents and purposes, their mother,” Alice whispered. “They love you. Edward loves you.”
“I know, I know,” Bella breathed. “I’m sorry. Just a huge insecure moment.”
“Get over it,” she giggled. “You are going to kick ass and take names. The artwork, swag and paperbacks are sweet. The panel you’re presenting at is sold out. It will be a great trip. Take a breath, fuck your boyfriend and then meet me at our suite. I’ll be there by two tomorrow.”
“My flight arrives at four. I’ll get there when I can,” Bella said. “Thanks, Alice. Love you.”
“Love you, too, girlie,” she chuckled. “See you tomorrow.”
Bella ended the call and finished packing her belongings, including sexy lingerie, though she knew no one would see it. As she finished packing, she heard the lock disengage and squeals of Liam and Lucy. She zipped up her suitcase, greeting the twins with hugs and kisses. Edward kissed her tenderly as he maneuvered his body into the kitchen. He pulled out plates and opened the pizza boxes. “Already, terrors, come get dinner.”
“Bella, can’t you stay with us,” Lucy asked, her lip quivering. “Daddy said you’re going to a conference in Vegas.”
“I am, sweetie. I’m meeting some people and promoting my books. Plus, I’m spending time with my best friend, Miss Alice,” Bella replied, playing with Lucy’s curls. “I’ll be back, I promise, on Monday.”
“You promise? Pinky promise?” Lucy asked.
Bella hooked her pinky with the sweet little girl and hugged her tightly. “Pinky promise.”
“I told you she was coming back, Lucy,” Liam said, idly playing with Bella’s ponytail. “She didn’t believe me.”
“I love you guys. Why would I leave permanently?” she asked, giving them both Eskimo kisses. “Just like your dad must go to medical conferences, I’m going to the conference and then I’ll be back.” Both twins hugged her and snuggled against Bella.
Edward took pictures with his cell phone, his heart growing with love for the gorgeous woman who loved his children like they were his own. He was feeling the same way as his twins, but he had a surprise up his sleeve. It was only a matter of time before it came into play.