Here's the epilogue requested by TwiFanFictionRecs (and several other readers). I hope you enjoy this small glimpse of the future for theses two. Thank you all for reading and the love you have for this story. I'm truly humbled by your responses.
Not beta'd or pre-read. Enjoy!
Volturi City, Volterra
Feriae Sementivae, 421 BC
Isabella let out a low groan and gripped the sheets in her hands as another contraction ripped through her. She clenched her eyes shut as she rode out the pain and then sucked in deep gulps of air when it subsided. "How much longer will this agony last?" she asked the midwife, Irina. Though she hated the whiny edge to her voice, she could not help it after sixteen hours of labor. She also wished there were fewer ladies maids sitting and watching her progress. Six other women staring at her laboring seemed excessive.
"We are getting close, now," she responded as Isabella yelped and bore down again for the next contraction. Isabella was exhausted, sweaty, and throbbing with pain. She dearly wished Edward was here with her, but Irina and Esme had banished him from their room. Birthing was women's business and there was apparently no place for a man in the room.
A sharp spike of pain in her back caused Isabella to scream out. This was not the same kind of pain she'd been enduring for hours. All of the women in the room looked at her with alarm.
"Isabella!" Edward yelled and threw open the doors. "Beauty, what is it?" He swiftly moved to the bed.
"Your highness, you cannot be here!" Irina protested.
He glared at the midwife. "Do not tell me what I can and cannot do. I am the crowned prince and this is my wife and my child. She needs me!"
Isabella grabbed Edward's hand, squeezing as hard as she could. "Edward," she whimpered and tugged him closer. He knelt next to her in their bed, heedless of the scandalized looks from the other women and Isabella lifted her arms to cling to him. She rubbed her nose into the crook of his neck.
"What is it, my love? Tell me how I can ease your pain." His words were soft in her ear and she panted against the piercing spasm in her back.
"My back," she moaned and Edward instantly caressed his hands there. Isabella drooped in his arms as the cramping subsided with his gentle massage.
"She needs water," he barked out. "The princess is dehydrated from her exertions."
Irina countered his order. "Your highness, I disagree. The water could make her sick to her stomach. You must trust me, I have birthed more babes than I can count."
Isabella groaned again, fingers digging into Edward's shoulders as another contraction hit. "I'm here, beauty. Use me as you need, my love," he soothed, still tenderly rubbing her back. His touch was never anything but loving when it came to Isabella.
Edward shifted his eyes to pin Irina with his icy, black glare. "Give the princess water, now," he ordered. "You may have birthed babes, but I've seen men die in battle from exhaustion and dehydration. I know the signs and the princess's muscles are seizing from lack of water. If she perishes, I will kill you."
"Listen to the prince," Esme commanded causing a whirl of activity from the maids as they all rose to fulfill the request.
"Mother?" Edward asked in an alarmed voice.
She shook her head. "I do not see anything, Edward. I do know that you have seen more death than any life should and I believe you know what is best for Isabella."
Finally a cup of cool water was delivered by a young, light haired maid to Edward. "Thank you," he murmured, gratefully accepting the cup. He focused on Isabella. "Beauty, drink this. It will help." Wearily she lifted her head. Edward held the cup to her lips and she began to drink greedily. "Slow, my love. Your body will reject the water if you drink too much too quickly."
Isabella paused and looked up at her husband, tears of fatigue shimmering in her eyes. "Thank you, Edward," she whispered.
Edward lowered his head to brush his lips across hers. "You are my heart. I would do anything for you, beauty."
Isabella's answering smile was interrupted as she gasped. This time the contraction felt different. There was a building pressure between her thighs. "This does not feel the same." Edward quickly handed the water back to the maid, gathering his wife in his arms once more.
"Is there an urge to push, your highness?" Irina asked and moved closer to the bed.
"Aye, there is. Is it time at last?" The midwife smiled and nodded. Isabella clung to Edward, shifting her knees into a wider base. Edward stared wide-eyed at his wife, but kept his arms around her to support her weight.
"When the next contraction hits, push with it, princess," Irina instructed.
Isabella took several deep breaths as she waited, anticipating the coming tension in her muscles. When it swept over her again, Isabella grunted and pushed down with her abdomen muscles as hard as she could.
"Good, your highness. You are doing very well," Irina praised as she positioned her hands between Isabella's legs. "I can feel the babe's head."
The contraction lessened and Isabella drew breath again. "Water, please." The maid held out the cup and Edward grasped it, holding it while Isabella drank. He passed it back as she readied herself to push again. Isabella inhaled and pushed once more as hard as she could, feeling the shifting of the child again.
"Excellent, princess! The shoulders are free. One last push and the babe will be out."
Isabella rested her forehead against Edward's chest and groaned as she gave one long, last push. She felt the child fall from her and a small, squeaky cry filled her ears. Isabella looked up at Edward in astonishment.
"Congratulations, your highnesses. You have a perfect baby girl." Irina announced and Isabella burst into tears.
"I want her. Please, can I hold her?" she sobbed.
"Of course, princess. We need to cut the cord binding you to her and then settle you back to deliver the afterbirth. You can have her while that happens, she will need to nurse. My prince, would like to hold your daughter while I cut the tie?" Irina asked.
"Aye, I would." Edward answered in a gravelly voice. He sat back on his heels, careful that Isabella kept her hands on his shoulders to keep herself upright. The midwife passed the softly squalling baby through Isabella's legs, placing her in his outstretched hands. His beaming smile was infectious as Edward looked at his daughter for the first time. "She's beautiful," he said and looked up at Isabella. Her eyes were glued to their child and her smile was gorgeous. "Thank you, Isabella. You have given us a perfect daughter. She will be a mighty Empress one day."
The cord was cut and Edward tucked his daughter close to his chest. She calmed instantly, comforted by his heat. Cradling her with one arm, he reached for Isabella's waist to help her lie back against the pillows while fresh sheets were placed under her to catch the afterbirth. Isabella eagerly held her hands out and Edward rested their daughter into them. New tears fell from her eyes as Isabella held her daughter for the first time.
As if on cue, the babe began nuzzling into her mother's chest and Isabella lifted the baby to her breast. Edward settled next to his wife and daughter, shifting behind Isabella's back so that they were both in his arms. He pressed his lips to the top of Isabella's head and she sighed happily, leaning her cheek on his chest.
"What shall we call her, my beauty?" Edward quietly asked and stroked his finger along one of the baby's tiny hands. Still hungrily nursing from her mother, the child curled her fingers around her father's much larger finger. Isabella's heart stuttered at the sight. In spite of her exhaustion, she could not imagine a more perfect moment in her life.
"I have a fondness for the name Olivia, since he father and I did meet in an olive grove. What do you think, my love?"
"I believe Olivia Esme Renee Cullen sounds like the ideal name for a future Empress." Edward replied and kissed Isabella's cheek.
North Swan, Volterra Empire
Veneralia, 421 BC
Isabella snuggled her sweet Olivia into her cradle after finishing her evening feeding. "There, little one. If you would be so obliging to your mother and father to sleep for several hours, we do have an anniversary to celebrate."
She smoothed the blue silk of her toga with nervous hands. She and Edward hadn't been intimate in the two months since Olivia's birth. Isabella finally felt healed enough, but worried that Edward's interest in her waned. He had been the doting father and husband, but had not pressed her all for anything more than a kiss. He even made himself scarce when she bathed or changed, leaving Isabella insecure about her postpartum figure.
Isabella knew her breasts were fuller from her milk production, but her hips and waist were, too. She was still softly rounded at her middle and worried that Edward found her less than appealing. But, she was determined to share at least an enjoyable meal with the company of her husband for their wedding anniversary.
Isabella walked the familiar halls of her childhood home in search of her mother. She found her in the kitchens where one of the cooks was finishing up the requested basket of food for the picnic Isabella had planned.
"There you are, dearest," her mother said with a kiss to Isabella's cheek. "Ready to enjoy your night with the prince?"
Isabella suppressed the desire to sigh at her mother's continued infatuation with the fact that her husband was the prince of the realm. "Yes, mother. Thank you again for agreeing to care for Olivia while we are have a few hours to ourselves. She is sleeping and should be well fed, the greedy girl."
Renee laughed. "I'm happy to have the time with my granddaughter. It is wonderful that you were able to visit and bring her."
Isabella smiled at her mother as she picked up the basket and went in search of her husband. She found Edward standing on a veranda overlooking the family olive groves. "Hello, Edward," she greeted, taking in his finely dressed form. She was conflicted. On one hand, her husband was devastatingly handsome in his red and gold toga, making her body heat with desire. On the other hand, it made her even more painfully aware of the changes her own figure had undergone.
"Beauty, you look stunning," Edward replied with an easy smile. "I see you have plans for us tonight?"
She inclined her head. "I thought we might dine in the groves tonight if it pleases you. My mother and father have agreed to watch over Olivia for a few hours."
Edward plucked the basket from her hands and offered her his arm, still smiling. "I am always pleased to spend time with my lovely bride."
The couple strolled into the trees, following a path that Isabella knew by heart. She'd walked this way more times than she could remember. It led directly the tree she'd always thought of as theirs. The one where Isabella had met her handsome soldier.
When they reached the tree Edward stopped and set the basket on the ground next to it. Then he pulled her into his arms. "Happy anniversary, beauty," he whispered with a small nip of her earlobe. Isabella shivered as wanting filled her body. "Are you cold, my wife?" His lips drifted along the length of her neck. "Shall I find a way to keep you warm?"
Isabella sighed and gripped Edward's arms to hold herself up. She leaned into his body, aching for more of him.
"Please, beauty, tell me I may have you in some way tonight. I fear I will go mad if we cannot."
She melted into his arms with a shaky laugh. Relief washed through her at his heated words. "You do still want me," she breathed.
Edward snapped his head up, looking at her in surprise. "Of course, beauty. Why ever would you think I did not desire you?"
"You haven't indicated you wished to couple with me since Olivia's birth." She averted her gaze and lowered her voice. "You turn away or leave anytime I disrobe or bathe."
Edward deftly grabbed up Isabella, wrapping her legs around his waist and kissing her hotly. She threaded her fingers into his hair and moaned into his mouth. "I did that so I would not attack you, beauty." He shifted her lower so his body aligned with hers. "I ache for you, my love." Isabella whimpered at his hardened length grinding where she most needed him. "Are you healed, Isabella? Can we join together again?"
"Yes," she sighed. "Please, Edward. I need you filling me."
Edward groaned and lowered them so he was sitting with Isabella straddling his lap. He leaned back against their tree, looking at her with hungry eyes. He trailed his fingertips up to where her toga was clasped in place and released the fabric. The silk fell loose in his hands and he lowered it, exposing Isabella's smooth skin.
Edward roamed his eyes over the pale expanse of her flesh before flicking them up to the road behind them. Sitting up, he unclasped the cloak around his shoulders and swept it over hers. "Your beauty is for my eyes only," he told her in a hushed voice and kissed her. His hands made quick work of the rest of the fabric covering Isabella's body and she reveled in his touch.
He teased the dark curls between her thighs and was rewarded with Isabella's sweet sounds of pleasure. Lightly probing her slick heat, he slid one finger inside her. Isabella moaned and clenched around him. "Please, my love," she begged. "Do not tease me, I need you too much."
His thumb brushed across that spot guaranteed to drive her wild. "I never tease when I touch you, beauty." Edward stroked deeper and Isabella rocked her hips into his hand. She mewled as delicious tension coiled low in her belly. Edward drew his knees up and reclined Isabella against them. His cock strained at the sight of her displayed for him while he brought her to the brink.
Bending his head, Edward ran his tongue over one peaked nipple and was rewarded with Isabella's wanton cry of pleasure. He kissed his way across to her other breast and gave it the same attentions, careful not to stimulate so much that he caused her milk to flow.
Placing his lips at her ear, he whispered, "Let go, beauty. Tis only you and me and the pleasure we seek together. There will be much more to find tonight, I promise you."
Isabella stiffened in his arms as she called his name and fell over the edge into ecstasy. When she surfaced again, it was to Edward's intense stare, causing her to blush.
"You are exquisite in your pleasure, beauty. Tis a sight I could watch over and over, yet never grow weary of."
Isabella sat up, capturing Edward's mouth and sliding her hand over his erection before moving to pull away his clothes. When he was bared to her, Isabella wrapped her hand around his cock, stroking the velvety soft skin. She smiled at his moan. Holding his darkened green eyes with her own, Isabella lifted her hips up and over the head of him, easing his hardness into her body.
Edward's groan was long and low, as he found heaven in his wife's sweet and slick heat. She rolled and swiveled her hips over him, loving him in the most carnal way she knew how. Her cries echoed among the trees surrounding them as Isabella felt herself propelling toward the edge once again.
Edward caressed his hands over her skin, tantalizing her nerves as he met each of her thrusts with ones of his own. He drove deeply into her welcome tightness, desperate to help his beauty find her release again. He needed to feel her pulsing around his cock before he could find his own completion.
He knew she was close as her sweet sounds became more frantic and her muscles gripped him tighter. He drove harder into her body, one hand slipping between them to rub where she needed the stimulation.
"Yes, Edward! There, right there. Please…" Isabella keened and bucked her hips wildly. Her words spurred him on, his movements intensifying as he focused solely on giving his sweet beauty her climax once more.
A breathy gasp of pleasure fell from Isabella's lips and her body fluttered around Edward's cock. He drove into her liquid heat a final time, allowing her body to milk his own pleasure from him. He called out her name as he tumbled over the edge and it echoed loudly.
Afterward, Edward gathered Isabella close to him, cradling her in his arms. He pressed small kisses to her temple and hair. She sighed happily and snuggled into his embrace. "I love you, Edward," she murmured.
He smiled at her words. "As I love you, beauty. Happy anniversary, my bride. Thank you for giving me the fantasy I'd dreamed of for so very long."
Isabella peered up at him with a coy grin of her own. "You are welcome, my husband, but you should know that you are not perhaps the only one of us who had the same desires."
"Well then, we are well matched in all ways, my beauty. I knew you were the lady for me from the moment I spotted you by this tree."
"Aye, my heart has always been yours," Isabella answered. Though the moon rose high in the sky and the lovers knew their time was drawing to a close, Edward dipped his head and kissed Isabella once more under the tree where love had first sparked to life between them.