Author: ChocolateLover82 PM
A fortunate encounter while wandering the city may lead Edward to realize that, perhaps, not everything is lost. But is he ready? AH, ExB.Rated: Fiction M - English - Hurt/Comfort/Romance - Edward & Bella - Chapters: 28 - Words: 197,585 - Reviews: 697 - Favs: 484 - Follows: 456 - Updated: 07-02-12 - Published: 05-26-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7023561
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Hello there, pretty ladies.
So... this is it, the final, final chapter of LB. I'm marking it as complete and NGL, it feels weird after being involved in this for so long. :-(
Many, many thanks to my pretty beta Songster and for all her help in making this something worthy of reading. For realz. I never say it enough, but I love her and all her magic.
I don't own Twilight. After a year, we already know this.
Okay, one more time…
I open my eyes and look around the room, a bit disoriented from my nap. With sleepy eyes, I focus on the clock near the bed and realize that I've been out for twenty minutes. Wow, it's been a while since I napped that long in the middle of the day.
The reason for that makes me smile though.
I look around a little bit and see the room bathed in sunlight, a few bright streaks moving down the walls. There is movement on the sheer curtains, from the open windows, and when I feel a soft breeze hitting my feet, I wiggle them. It's summertime and the days have been hot as hell lately, but we get some respite some late afternoons and that's when we spend them walking around Paris, as the sun is not so strong.
I smile thinking that this has been a routine for the last few years since meeting Bella that hot afternoon in August. We often walk hand in hand to the park, around the zoo or to the market, often reliving those first dates after we first met.
I feel so comfortable lying in our bed that I don't even want to attempt to move from this spot. It's not like I could though, there is someone very important keeping me from making sudden moves.
I roll my head to the left and find Bella's sleeping face. She has been exhausted lately, and I'm glad she finally let herself to take a break. I could see it was already taking a toll on her and knowing her, she wouldn't have said anything until it was too late. She asks for help when she needs it, but at the same time, she pushes herself too much.
It makes me remember that night when she had her own show at Fashion Week, nine months after our first Christmas.
"No, lift that side, it's not supposed to touch the floor." I hear Bella say to her assistant, Jess.
We're back at Fashion Week, only this time we're getting ready for Bella's show. Mine had been two days ago and like last September, she was there supporting me through and through. Now it is my turn to be by her side… that is, when she's not moving around.
After getting things ready with Chelsea and the contacts she provided, Bella started working on her clothing line. Much as I had anticipated, there were a lot of tears and fights between the two of us; she was overwhelmed and excited and scared to death. Bella then would apologize in tears for her behavior, and I'd try to calm her down, telling her stories about my own beginnings.
That would do the trick.
After months of preparing a collection that she deemed worthy of showing, she had her first fashion show. It was small, but it created enough buzz around town to be in a few magazines and attract buyers and investors after a few months.
During all of this, I tried to help her more with the business aspect of things. After Tanya found Jess, her new assistant, things went a little more smoothly.
It's now September, and along with three more designers tonight, Bella is launching her new collection for the next season. This is the first time things are happening this big for her, in a show this publicized.
In the beginning, her clothing line had been very low key, mostly getting clients by word of mouth. She had been happy about that, as it allowed her to really get to know her clients and their styles. However, everything changed back in May, after an interview on new designers in Classique, Chelsea's magazine. That same week, a famous French actress was photographed wearing one of Bella's creations, so that coupled with the interview, put Bella on the map instantly.
I still think it was something planned by Chelsea, even though she denies it.
I watch Bella give orders to people, looking so confident as she moves around the room. However, from the way she keeps fingering her bracelet, I know she's more nervous than she's letting on.
I see her rummage through a makeup bag, and I take the opportunity to get close to her. I've barely touched her all day.
Encircling her waist with my arms from behind, I rest my chin on top of her head. She instantly relaxes against me.
"Hey, how are you doing so far?" I see her close her eyes in the reflection in the mirror in front of us. She looks so tired.
"As good as I can. I'm so nervous, and there is so much to do still. Remind me why am I doing this?"
She always asks this when things get to be too much.
"Because you love it and if you didn't do this, you'd be sitting up on your balcony, wondering why your flowers are still dying." I always give her silly answers that make her forget her nervousness.
"Hey! It's not my fault that the damn flowers don't survive. I do everything by the book." She pouts but smiles anyway. She's really not so bad, and Alice is always giving us advice on flowers.
"I know, baby, I know." I kiss her neck and she shivers.
Her assistant Jess comes to get her after a minute and I give Bella a quick kiss, before letting her go to do her own thing. I understand her nervousness, but after seeing her collection, I know she'll do great
It turned out I had been right; her show was a success that night.
I watch Bella as she faces me, and I see that she has her right hand tucked under her cheek as her left rests in the space between us. Carefully, I move my left one to take it into mine. I trace her ring carefully, drawing little patterns on her skin, and when she sighs, I smile. She always reacts to my touch, as I do hers.
I look at her and I can't believe it's been seven years since we met on that August afternoon. So much has happened since then. Good and bad.
I move my eyes to roam the rest of her body: I notice the soft rise and fall of her breathing, the dip of her hips, the way her legs look in those shorts and how the sunlight plays on her skin. She looks so beautiful; I can't believe it sometimes. Like everyone else, she has changed over the years; she has become more confident, not only with her talent in designing, but also with the way she dresses and interacts with people.
Like I did, everyone falls in love with her instantly.
The magazines adore her and she's often featured there, not only for her collections, but also for her personal style. Everyone wants to know what she'll wear next and where to get it, if it's not one of her own creations.
Bella says it's stupid and shakes her head often, but I feel so smug about my pretty wife, I only shrug. She's not so self-conscious about being photographed around Paris anymore, and she has even been able to take advantage of that a few times. When she loves a new designer, she makes it a point to tell everyone about them and wears their clothes often.
I bring her hand to my lips to kiss the ring. Each morning when I wake up and her face is the first thing I see, I'm thankful that she said yes to me all those years ago. I start to move and get closer to her, but the second I move from my position a tiny whimper reminds me that we're not alone.
I look down to my chest and see our baby boy stirring for a second and then settling back to sleep with a deep sigh.
Our three-month-old baby boy.
He loves to sleep on my chest; the beat of my heart lulls him to sleep in seconds after Bella feeds him. I love feeling him there and watch as he moves slightly up and down in tandem with my breaths. It also makes me feel good that I can do something for him and give Bella the break she needs.
He rests his cheek on top of my heart, with his little fists curling on my shirt and his bottom lifting a little up in the air. It's mesmerizing to watch him sleep: the little pout, similar to Bella's; his soft coppery hair brushing my chin, similar to mine. It's amazing to think that we did that; we made a person.
Even when we're tired, we often watch him sleep for a while, as he settles between us in bed. With hushed whispers, Bella and I talk about his future, what will his personality be or smile seeing his cute mannerisms.
Often times, I put him to sleep on my chest and when he's out, I move him to lie next to me in bed as I draw. The only sounds in the room are of his soft breathing and the pencil tracing the paper; it's so calming that I sometimes fall asleep for a bit. One time, when I opened my eyes I found Bella standing by the door, watching us and smiling. When I looked at the baby, I realized we were both matching each other's positions: arms lifted above our heads.
We now have a photo of that moment in our room.
My right hand had been resting protectively on his back all this time, to keep him from slipping, not that he would. We're used to this routine now, the both of us. He always grips my shirt fiercely,and if by some miracle I fall asleep, my body instinctively moves to protect him.
"Don't worry, little guy. I'm not moving anymore." I kiss the top of his head, feeling the soft fuzz of his hair against my lips. Bella loves to kiss him over and over again.
Okay, I do too.
He's such a cool little baby, calm so far, at least compared to the babies I've met. He loves to watch the activity around him and gives people the most serious expressions when he doesn't know them, like he's trying to read them. I can't wait to see how his personality will develop over time.
Apart from his hair, so far he looks like Bella, but I know as time passes we'll see more definitely whom he takes after. Sue and Charlie visited us last month, and he couldn't stop talking about how much our son looked like Bella as a baby, so I know I'm not the only who sees the resemblance.
Charlie and Sue first came to Paris when Bella had her first show in Fashion Week. Charlie had finally given Sue her Parisian trip and they'd stayed in Paris with us before traveling through Europe. Ever since then, they come to visit us or we go back to Seattle as much as we can.
This time though, they came and stayed for a month here in Paris, to help Bella with the new baby, and in time to celebrate our wedding anniversary: six years that at times feel like a second.
Six years since I saw Bella walking down the aisle in the gardens of Jardin des Plantes. We were just in time for the end of summer. We didn't want to wait much longer, and Bella really wanted to marry in the gardens.
As she walked down the aisle to me, with her father by her side, I couldn't stop grinning. It wasn't solely from anticipation of the new start to our lives, but it was also remembering the first time I had taken her to the gardens and how, under our tree, I took my time touching her body.
Bella blushed when she reached me a few seconds later at the altar. She might've been thinking the same thing.
"Did he wake up?" I hear Bella's sleepy voice.
"No, just a little stirring." I squeeze her hand a little and turn my face to look at her.
She looks a little better today; sleep is so valuable these days. I let her have that as much as she can.
"Good." She yawns and smiles.
"Did you sleep okay?" I ask her. She can go back to sleep; I'll take care of things.
"Yeah, just a little nap, but I might go back to sleep again though." She looks at me as if asking is that okay.
"Good, you need to sleep. It's a good thing you're not working at the moment. I don't want you passing out somewhere, Bella." It has happened before.
"It was one time, Edward, and here in the studio. I would never drive while I'm this tired." Now she's the one squeezing my hand.
This is a sore subject for us. Two years ago, a man fell asleep while driving and hit Mom's car on her way back home. Thank God nothing really bad happened to her, and all she did was spend time in the hospital for a few days. It was really scary for all of us. She had just dropped off Marie at her ballet academy, and things could've been so much worse.
Ever since, whenever either of us is too tired to drive back home, we call the other and take the car service from our workplace. I'll be damned if I worry about the costs as long as it means my wife gets to our house safely.
Once Bella started to get successful, she needed a bigger studio, which we found a couple of blocks away from my own. It's a beautiful building where, in the beginning she occupied two floors. In time, she expanded to almost the entire building and Mom was thrilled to being able to help her decorate it.
When Bella opened her studio, we had been together for less than a year, but spent so much time moving back and forth between our apartments that we finally decided to move in together. Funnily enough that had been the easy part, then it was time to decide where exactly to live. We decided to look for a new place, something with enough space to house both our studios. Bella had been sad to leave her tiny apartment above the bakery. It had been her home since she got to Paris after all, but we wanted to start somewhere new. Just us.
We ended up finding a big apartment not very far from either of our workplaces, so every day we could still walk home from work. In the afternoon, we would go to the bakery and chat with Laurent or even Henri, who started dating Kate after meeting her at one of our dinner parties. Bella had been ecstatic about that development.
I had been relieved.
So, going home late after work wasn't an issue at the time; but after a few years, we decided to move to a bigger place, a house north of Paris. We still used the Métro from time to time, but with the baby now, we much prefer use our own cars.
We also love our house, so taking a bit of extra time to get to work each morning is a small price to pay. Three stories high, five bedrooms, a solarium, a large studio and a ridiculously big backyard and we were sold on this place. This year we will be building a new addition to the yard: a playhouse. It won't be like Marie's cabin, it will be something– special.
We are also much closer to our families, and that was also a plus for us, since play dates for the kids are a common thing these days.
My parents couldn't be happier about that either, doting on their grandchildren.
Emmett and Rose got married less than a year after Bella and I did. The surprise came when less than a year after that, they were having kids, yes kids. It turns out Emmett comes from a family with twins all over the place, so of course, that was what he and Rose ended up having: two mischievous little boys, that are now four years old.
Rose adores them, but sometimes she just wants to hit Emmett for impregnating her with two little balls of energy. One often distracts their parents with cute tricks, while the other takes the opportunity to wreak havoc. By the time they see what's going on, it's too late.
We all find that little teamwork funny, especially the time when Emmett had to spend a weekend cleaning the kitchen of all the chocolate the kids had smeared all over; something we still haven't figured how it happened, but I pray to God our son is not that bad in a few years.
I rub my hand on Bella's and soon after, she goes back to sleep. She must be really tired if it took only this. I look down at our son and chuckle lightly when I notice him making the same little pout Bella is right now.
"Daddy?" I smile when I hear that. It never gets old.
Standing in our doorway is our three-year-old daughter, the daughter I couldn't believe I'd love this much before I saw her being born.
We took our time before starting a family. It wasn't a conscious decision that things happened that way. We waited until Bella was firm on her feet, and I had started my new line. I had been wanting to start something new for a while, and I finally did it a year after getting married. It was great on a personal and professional level, but it meant more work and long hours.
During that time, we took the opportunity to be newlyweds, to do things without that much responsibility waiting for us at home. We focused only on each other, working together, traveling whenever we could, spending a lot of time naked in bed. It was great.
Not that we don't do that anymore, but now there are curious little people around the house, little people who don't knock.
And then, it was time. We were happy in our lives, both personally and professionally, and adding a little one to the mix was more exciting than scary at that point.
I didn't think I could love Bella more than I did up to that point, but those months seeing her body change, knowing our baby was growing inside of her, it took my feelings to another level.
For years I've known we'd be tied forever, of course, but after she got pregnant and I witnessed the effort that is childbirth, saw how fucking strong my wife is, well, I had no words anymore. As the years go by, telling her that I love her doesn't cover it enough, so I try everyday to show her with my actions.
Until that point I hadn't thought about Renata that much, but that day I cursed at her and my stupidity from that time. I could've missed this.
"You can't sleep?" I whisper and she nods, rubbing her eyes with her fist.
"Then come here." I softly let go of Bella's hand and pat the small space between us. "Come sleep with us."
She smiles lazily and comes to climb on the bed.
I chuckle when I notice her pink pajamas with the words 'Princess Gigi' on the front. We made that for her, not only because that is her name, but also because it's her favorite character of a book: 'The Dancing Princess'. The funny thing is that Rose wrote that book just for her and keeps adding a new book to her collection with each birthday.
The series shows a princess of the forest, and every time she dances, flowers grow at her feet, their colors according to the princess' mood. It's a very pretty story, and I love to read it to her, except when it comes to exactly where the princess lives: inside a tree. It made Gigi want to have something like that in our backyard. I wasn't very happy with Rose at that moment, but after seeing how much Gigi loves those books, I can't be anything but grateful to my sister. So this year we're building a cabin shaped like a tree.
Gigi buries herself on Bella's chest, which makes her wake up for a moment. She looks down and smiles at our daughter.
"Hi there, little princess. Couldn't sleep?" Gigi nods. "Okay, come here."
Gigi wraps her arms around Bella's waist, resting her head on her chest, and like our son, she's out in seconds.
"These kids," I whisper.
"I know, but don't we do the same? I love resting my cheek above your heart."
"Yeah, and I love resting my head against your boobs," I whisper and chuckle when she tries to swat me, but Gigi stirs.
"Edward, the kids are right here." She's laughing lightly.
"Sorry, but it's true. Besides, they're asleep."
"Men." She rolls her eyes and then closes them again.
She goes back to sleep, and I look around the bed, taking everything in.
Right on this bed are the most important people in my life; this is how I want to see them, peaceful and happy. Safe.
With my left hand, I touch Bella's cheek, then I move to touch our daughter's hair. It turns out she has my coloring, and it really doesn't look so bad on a girl. She's actually gorgeous, and I can't even think about her teenage years… and boys.
With my right hand, I rub our baby's back, feeling the buttons on his little outfit. I grin when I think that right now, loose buttons are the least of our worries and they certainly don't change our lives these days. Things are much simpler.
It has been interesting seven years with Bella. We fight, we make up, we succeed and we fail, but the important thing is that we do it together. The good and the bad.
That first year, after going to Seattle for the first time, I went to therapy to talk about everything that had happened. It was good to hear the thoughts of someone impartial, but after a year, he concluded that I really didn't need the sessions anymore. I was not perfect, and the fact that I was okay with that, that I could make mistakes like everyone else and not freak out, was enough for my therapist to discharge me.
If I'm too overwhelmed sometimes, I make an appointment to see him again, mostly just to talk, but that has happened less and less over the years. Now I only meet him for lunch to catch up. Emmett thinks it's weird that I'm friends with my therapist, but what can I say? I like the guy and he's easy to talk to, obviously.
I glance around the room, my eyes passing photographs of us together here in Paris or at the house in the south of France. There are also some with the rest of the family and our friends. I close my eyes and think about the ones in the rest of the house: Bella pregnant, Bella's first show, the opening of her studio, at award parties for either of us. As I promised Bella years before, there are also some of Renee, even in the kids' rooms. Bella always talks about her.
When I open my eyes again, I see the artwork our daughter often regales us with; she doesn't need reasons to give us something every week. She has her own little drawing table, right next to us in our studio. Bella took a photo of us working one time. Gigi and I had the same expressions when we concentrate.
I sigh in contentment when I think that this is my life now: mornings eating cereal with our daughter as Bella feeds the baby; walks to the bakery with Gigi skipping and then stuffing her face with pastries; weekends at the zoo with the rest of the family, doing more running than taking in the sights though.
Even when our time alone is considerably less than when we first got married, Bella and I do find the time to spend time together: short trysts at my studio, long lunches by the fountain, mornings at the marketplace after getting someone to care for the kids.
I move my left hand once again to touch Bella's cheek. This woman changed my life in so many ways, and the proof of that is right on this bed.
She showed me that 'I love you' means so much more than caring for that person: it's being proud of their accomplishments and sharing their burdens when they need you to; it's not necessarily agreeing with them all the time, but still going to bed at night and wrapping them in your arms; it's being scared shitless at giving them everything you have, but still doing it because it's so fucking worth it.
It's not controlling, but finally letting go.
I sigh and move my hand to caress our baby's head, settling myself in bed, ready to watch over my family's sleep. Looking at them, all I can think about is that life is happy, life is great, and life started on a hot afternoon by a Parisian fountain.
And that's all she wrote.
We're leaving these kids with their warm summer days in Paris. :-)
I still have outtakes to post, but this is it for them. I don't have a schedule for posting those, but you'll know it when you find a teaser on Pictease or Fictionators on Mondays. If there is anything specific you would like to read, let me know and I'll see what I can do.
What can I say that I haven't said before? I love your gorgeous faces. Thank you so much to everyone who read, reviewed, alerted, favorited, tweeted, rec'd or even talked about LB. The fact that this story made you even comment about LB, warms my heart like you wouldn't even believe. I never thought 500 reviews were even in the horizon and I've loved every single one of your words throughout this journey.
Thanks to the lovely girls at The Perv Pack's Smut Shack who rec'd LB for not only their Lemon Report, but also for their Team WussPerv. I still can't look away from those lovely words, JS.
Thank you so much to Ange de l'aube and the pretty banner she made for this story. I can't even express how much I love it.
Thank you to everyone who rec'd and voted for LB for The Lemonade Stand last week, I was grinning like an idiot at seeing this between such great stories.
Thank you to everyone who nominated LB to different awards. It's so humbling that you considered it to be among amazing stories and that you took the time to do it.
And thank you to all of YOU, pretty ladies for stopping by every time, whether you let me a few words or not. I love you all. I want to name every single one of you, but I don't want to miss anyone here.
You are gorgeous beyond words, ladies.
And what else is there for me? Well, you'll get the outtakes and the odd O/S here and there because I can't really control those, lol. I also have an idea for a new story that I started last year, but pushed to the second place to write LB… and also a few more things. Nothing will be posted until I get a good number of chapters written though, I don't wanna make you wait for updates.
So, if you are interested, put me on alert. If not, it has been my pleasure to have you read my words.
You can PM me or tweet me any time you want to ask questions or whatever. As a lot of you know, I do my best to answer all your words as soon as I can.
And that's it. This damn AN is, once again, super long, so thanks again and have a gorgeous time, ladies. I'll see ya around. ;-)