The Other Twin
Life rarely turns out as you expect it will.
Thanks to Isabella, my life turned out far better than I ever dared hope.
My doomed battle to win her sister could have been the only 'relationship' I ever experienced, if she hadn't stumbled into our lives.
Back then I'd had no idea how to let go, or how to move on, and if my Bella had not found me, I'd probably be some recluse living alone in the wilderness, remembering a distorted but enhanced image of Annabella, mourning her disappearance from my life until the day I died.
I shudder at the knowledge had Isabella never existed, maybe I would have kept taking Annabella back, only to lose her to Jacob over and over until one of us jumped off Dead Man's Bluff in the dead of night, to ensure nobody saved us.
It would probably have been me.
No, I would never desert Emma.
She still needs me even though she is eighteen now.
A legal adult.
Free to do whatever she chooses.
She has chosen college so soon the noise and weirdly pierced people she hangs with will no longer come here any more and in a weird way, I will miss them and their chaos.
Some nights when she has her music on at full blast, and her friends with the black lipsticked lips and unnaturally coloured hair outstay their welcome and my tolerance level, I wonder how such a sweet little princess ever evolved into this strange looking but confident girl who never lets anyone else's opinion interfere with her life.
She raises my blood pressure regularly by introducing us to the latest weirdo she is dating. Even if I like them, they never last long. She likes playing the field, and keeping her freedom for a few more years yet.
Emma is a strong independent female who knows what she wants and whoever she ends up with in the end, I will know for sure he will be her choice and hers alone.
She won't take any crap from him, and I like that.
Maybe one day she will want to meet Annabella properly and try to get to know her, but I doubt it. She loves the family she has, and loves my Bella in particular. They forever have their heads together, planning Emma's future, marking the dates my wife will be going to visit the off campus share house where Emma will live. They have decided Bella will stay over for a weekend each month so they don't let their bond weaken.
Our sons have been easy; too easy, I fear.
I am always waiting for one of them to announce he's knocked up his sixteen year old girlfriend, or he's dropping out and backpacking through a warzone, but Bella laughs at my fears and tells me whatever happens will happen whether I worry or not.
And I look at Charlotte, our little afterthought, and thank God my second wife took no notice of me when I banned further pregnancies.
She wanted another daughter and of course, that was what she got.
I suppose she deserved to experience a simple, straight forward pregnancy with a single fetus.
She wanted some normal in her life.
Naturally Charlotte has us both wrapped around her little finger, and her grandparents think she is God's Gift. We named her for Charlie, seeing Emmett and Rose named their son after Carlisle.
Charlie is sad sometimes that he never did get any natural grandchildren from Jacob and Annabella but in my heart I know that was for the best.
I know she has always blamed Renee for ruining her life by giving her away.
I don't know however if she knows she did the right thing leaving her own daughter here to be raised by us.
Emma is aware that she was carried by my first wife but she accepts that my Bella is her mother, though she never did call her Momma until her little brothers Edward and Elliott started to babble, and she decided she wanted to be first to claim ownership, and dropped the "no Mamma" crap.
Maybe on some level she knew what took us so many months to figure out.
That my Bella was not Annabella.
Except for that faded scar on Annabella's wrist, the two looked so much the same.
I still wonder if it was the scar that Emmett and I think we saw on the footage, or whether it was just a trick of the light; maybe a shadow of the pushed up sleeve?
I guess we will never know the truth for sure.
Annabella withdrew her custody application willingly enough after I told her I knew what she did; I knew her secret; but then, she never really wanted Emma anyway.
I didn't go into detail or even mention Renee and the car; I just watched her eyes flash and handed her the papers to sign. A woman like her probably has many secrets she would rather nobody knew.
Maybe she just agreed to shed the child she had always seen as a burden once again, forever.
All I know is, if that was my Bella in the footage then she had a very good reason to do what she did. It has never altered by trust or my love for her.
She has made an imperfect man's completely fucked up life perfect, and given him the children he longed for and would die to protect.
In return I gave her my trust, my heart, my soul and my children.
I also gave her our song. Well, part of a song. The other versus were wrong so I edited it.
I sang it to her at our wedding, but only the parts that fit us.
"You're in my heart, you're in my soul
You'll be my breath should I grow old
You are my lover, you're my best friend
You're in my soul
My love for you is immeasurable
My respect for you immense
You're ageless, timeless, lace and fineness
You're beauty and elegance
You're a rhapsody, a comedy
You're a symphony and a play
You're every love song ever written
But honey what do you see in me?
You're in my heart, you're in my soul
You'll be my breath should I grow old
You are my lover, you're my best friend
You're in my soul..."
I will love her to the day we are parted by death and if she goes first, I always have Dead Man's Bluff as an option, because I would not want to even try to live without her.
We both love our children but they will grow up and have their own lives, and even when they all leave home, we will still have each other.
In fact, I look forward to that day, because we have never experienced what it is like, to be just us alone, just Edward and his Bella.
I woke up with a gasp.
Another glimpse of the past.
Over the years I've been catching up on all that I had forgotten, at least, I assume that's what I'm seeing.
Last night was all about the day Mom and I went to the breeder's house and chose
Anna, the puppy. I wanted to name her Deefa, that was all the rage at the time; Deefa Dog, but Mom insisted this dog had the same eyes as someone she once knew; someone named Anna.
Now I know she named the pup after my sister.
Sadly Annabella and I have never bonded or become friends.
She and Jake travel a lot, on Edward's dime, but he likes it that they are far, far away and one day they will spend all of the divorce settlement and be broke and hopefully, unable to ever return here.
For us, money will never be an issue.
Even Esme was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, so money will never be an issue.
She owns her own island, for Heaven's sake.
Edward and I went there for our delayed honeymoon when the twins were two years old, and I managed to come home with a baby on board.
My little much planned 'accident'.
Edward was fine once he got over the fear it might be twins again, but it wasn't, and everything worked out for the best.
Charlotte is the bonus baby of the family and everyone adores her.
Her middle name is Renee, after my Mom.
The more I remember, the more I miss my Mom.
She may have been scatterbrained and erratic and always did everything on impulse, but she had a good heart.
No taste in men.
How many times did she date some loser and end up crying on my shoulder when he never called?
Then she met the biggest loser of them all, that cocky baseball champion, Phil Dwyer.
He was only in Phoenix for a week but what a trail of destruction he left behind. He saw Renee for what she was the first night they met.
A single Mom desperate for some adult company of the male variety.
He was at our house every single day, with flowers and chocolates and all the slimy moves necessary to lure her into his bed. And he pretended to like me, and to like our dog, even though I knew it was all for show.
That man truly was an idiot. Who throws a ball out the front of a house so close to a highway, for a dog to chase after?
I know he was responsible for our darling dogs death.
He had a girl in every town and Renee would have been just another notch on his bedpost if I hadn't removed the rotor arm to disable her car so it would not start. I stopped her throwing herself into his arms.
I wish I'd never replaced that rotor arm, again, then she would never have been able to go out driving later that night, looking for him long after the team bus had left town, to tell him she forgave him for killing Anna. I'd fallen asleep by the time she left. If I'd been awake I would have locked her in her bedroom like some wayward teenager. How could she even consider driving a car after drinking? And she knew she was a hopeless driver when the road was wet.
If I had treated her like a child, she would never have died.
I guess you can't save some people, even from themselves.
Her actions brought about her death just as Annabella and Jacob's jump from that cliff almost did.
Driving drunk in the rain was just as dangerous.
Why hadn't she taken better care of herself and not done anything that reckless?
She'd never have crashed, but then, I would never have opened that lockbox and gone to Forks, and to Edward.
I guess everything in life happens for a reason.
I jump out of bed and scribble a quick note to update Jasper on my newest memories.
He will never give up on me until he has helped me recall every single day of my life as Isabella Swan.
For me, my life as the second Mrs Edward Cullen is a much better story.
Thanks for reading, and reviewing.
Bless your cotton socks.