Chapter seventeen

Monday 26th of November


The house was filled with the delicious scent of a cooking turkey and roasting vegetables, the sound of the twins running around and Anna singing to get everyone's attention. Now and then, a small cry would come from Talia but she would quickly fall asleep again as soon she was in someone's arms.

"How was the concert?" Carlisle asked Edward and his brothers as they sat in front of the fire, waiting for the big bird to be finished.

"The best one I've been to in ears," Edward smiled and Bella's heart soared: she had given him a very early Christmas present, tickets to Simple Minds, which he could share with his brothers.

"Kind of you to send them off," Esme smiled and Alice agreed, admitting that she had enjoyed having the house mostly to herself while Jasper had been at the concert. She showed no signs of shame when she admitted that as soon Shawn was asleep, she had opened a bottle of wine and downed it rather quickly, though she had ended up with a small hangover the morning after.

"When the cat's out of the house," Alice shrugged with a smile.

"The mouse comes out to play," Jasper added as Alice put Shawn down on the floor, letting him crawl around, now and then pulling himself off the floor to take a step or two, steading himself against a chair or table.

"You're awfully quiet today, Rose," Esme noted after the laughter of Alice's confession died down. "Is something bothering you?" the mother hen in Esme came forth and her eyes filled with worry.

"Just thinking about something Lauren showed me the other day," Rose shrugged, not really looking at anyone.

"Lauren? Isn't that your cousin?" Carlisle asked.

"Distant, a very distant cousin. We only speak around the holidays because I feel its rude to ignore her just because we live after different standards: I believe in love and the size of the heart, she believes in money and the house, and other, well, things."

"Sounds like a woman with high goals," Esme said with a shake of her head.

"She's been single for a year now, a record for her, but only because she's been trying to blackmail her last conquest."

"Sounds charming," Jasper muttered, rolling his eyes.

"Right," Rose laughed, "It surprised me when she told me the name of her last conquest: Philip Dwyer. They were engaged to be married until she learned that she wouldn't be able divorce and take everything from me. She broke it off but didn't want to leave empty handed. While she packed her things, he left, traveled I believe, leaving her more than enough room to snoop around and she found something she thought she could blackmail him with. Turns out, he didn't care, told her to go public with it if she wanted to do but she wouldn't get a penny from him."

"Sounds like Phil," Bella whispered, mostly to herself, but Edward heard and nodded in agreement, wrapping an arm around her waist where they stood in the opening between the living room and the dining room.

"Do you know what she found? Is it juicy?" Alice asked in excitement, almost vibrating in her seat where she sat.

"I know, she told me everything, and it's almost too juicy to share with the fainthearted," Rose said, almost looking smug and Bella's scalp prickled, as if something was about to happen.

"Don't taunt us like this, Rosie," Esme chided, hungry for some gossip as well, "Now tell us!"

"I can do better than that: I can show you," getting to her feet, Alice and Esme sent each other looks of bewilderment but Rose soon returned from the hall, holding a file in her hands. "I believe you all will find this very interesting," she smiled, giving the file to Carlisle to look through.

Bella moved over to the small loveseat where Carlisle and Esme was sitting, Edward right behind her all the time, his arm around her waist.

As Carlisle opened the file, Bella felt herself go pale, her stomach dropping and she wished for the floor to open up and swallow her up, taking Edward with her so he wouldn't have to endure the pain they would most likely feel.

"Edward, care to explain what this is?" Carlisle asked in a calm voice.

Bella gripped Edward's hand tightly with hers, but neither of them said a word.

"Tell me!" Carlisle roared, his voice echoing through the room and soon, Talia's cries came from her crib in the corner. Bella untangled herself from Edward, tears in her eyes as she scooped her little baby girl into her arms, cooing soothing to her in effort to calm her down.

"You bought her?" Esme asked, disbelief and disgust clear in her eyes.

"All I wanted was the land," Edward started, taking confident in wrapping his arm around Bella as she joined him with Talia, "Phil, the shrewd bastard, wanted to get rid of Bella and forced her to marry the man he could persuade into taking her along with the land."

"So you bought her," Rose stated in a cold tone, her eyes equally cold.

"We both wanted something and we both got it by getting married, just like Phil demanded: I got the land we needed, and wanted to forth with our plans, and Bella seized the possibility to get away from Phil."

"Jasper," it was Esme's turn to speak and she turned harshly to her son, "As your brother's lawyer, did you know of this?"

"I witnessed their wedding and signing," Jasper said softly.

"I can't believe this: everything is a lie," Esme cried and Carlisle wrapped his arms around his wife in an effort to calm her down.

"Esme," Bella whispered softly, tears in her eyes as she hugged Talia close to her chest.

"You lured my son into a loveless marriage!" Esme cried loudly, making Talia whimpered.

"Our story isn't a fairytale," Bella sniffed, "But I love Edward with all of my heart: he gave me the freedom I longed for and the family I've desperately earned for since my dad died."

"Son, I thought we had raised you better," Carlisle sighed disappointedly, his arms around Esme as she cried.

"I know what," Edward started, brushing the tears from Bella's cheeks, "I don't care what you think about our marriage and how it all began: I love Bella more than I've loved anyone in my life and she's given me the greatest gift in the world: a healthy and perfect daughter. And for your information, every contract but our marriage contract has been destroyed! Ok, so it all started like a fucking business deal, a transaction between Phil and me, but I know that if I had had the time, I would have managed to get Bella to go on a date with me and I know I would have fallen for her, just like I already have."

"Just so you know, I loved the attention you gave me long before you met with Phil," Bella murmured softly, gazing up at Edward as he ran a hand over Talia's back.

Rose looked smug, Alice looked shocked, and both Carlisle and Esme looked hurt beyond repair.

"I don't see the problem," Emmett said as the silence and tension built in the room, "Yes, they have a fucked up start at their marriage but from what Edward's told me, and showed us all, he loves Bella more than anything and they've been through a lot since Bella came into our lives: they've gotten through it and if that doesn't prove that their love is strong, I don't know what can."

"Shut up, Emmett," Rose murmured.

"No Rose!" Emmett snapped and Bella took pleasure in seeing her shrink back in her seat. "I don't know what's changed, if it was that fucking Lauren or just because you've decided to be a bitch, but you used to be friends with Bella, like a month ago!"

"I think you all should leave," Edward sighed as Rose refused to acknowledge Emmett, and Carlisle still tried to calm down a hysteric Esme.

"Not before they've all gotten some food with them: it's enough to feed and army," Bella murmured, carefully giving Talia to Edward before hurrying to the kitchen.

"You know," Bella spun around to see that Alice had followed her, "I really don't care either. I'm a little hurt that Jasper didn't tell me anything, but then again, he's Edward's lawyer and isn't allowed to speak about it to anyone, even me."

"I appreciate it," Bella smiled sadly as she took the perfectly cooked turkey and roasted vegetables.

With Alice's help, they quickly divided the food into boxes for everyone to take with them home.

*** C R S ***

Friday 18th of December

"Where will we be celebrating this year?" Bella asked as they lay in bed.

After thanksgiving, they had barely heard from Esme and Rose. Carlisle had slowly gotten to terms with the facts, realizing that it was water under the bridge.

"I don't know. Jazz talked about letting Alice take it this year, to make sure that we all get together, like always, but I don't know," Edward murmured as he wrapped his arms more tightly around Bella, their naked bodies close.

"Do you think Esme would host the Christmas dinner and "forget" to invite us?"

"Maybe," Edward said softly, "I've see many sides of my mother through the years, though I've never seen her act like this before, then again, I guess she's never experienced this before either."

"I guess not. Maybe we should invite everyone and just celebrate with those who shows up? Then we can invite Bree and Sam, and little Benjamin: it feels like forever since we last saw them."

"I met them at the store last week. Sam looked tired, admitting that he's been taking extra shifts to pay you back for you kindness but I told him to stop, and reminded him that Bree and Benjamin will always be the most important in his life."

"How can I possibly been so lucky to have met you?" Bella smiled softly, tiredly, as she pecked Edward's lips before snuggling into his chest and falling asleep.

*** C R S ***

Wednesday 23rd of December

"Thank you for inviting us!" Bree smiled brightly as she rushed into the hall, arms filled with bags of presents and a fuzzy Benjamin on one arm.

"Of course," Bella smiled, taking Benjamin from her just as Edward joined them, taking the bags from Bree, giving her a kiss on the cheek, before taking them into the living room to put them underneath the tree.

"When this Christmas is over, I can finally relax," Bree laughed as Sam stumbled through the door, a bag in one hand and a diaper bag slung over his shoulder.

"When this Christmas is over, I'm going to sleep," he huffed, putting the bags down.

"We've fixed the guest room for you," Edward informed them as he came back to the hall, picking up the discharged bags and leading the way for Bree up the stairs.

"A bird told me that you've been taking extra shifts," Bella said with a raised eyebrow to Sam as he took Benjamin from her.

"I had to."

"Why?" Bella pushed.

"I want to pay you back for everything you've done for us and I don't feel comfortable living in your apartment for so long without paying rent."

"Why don't we talk about this next year and just enjoy Christmas, the presents and all the food?" Bella suggested as she heard Bree and Edward head down, a fuzzy Talia with them.

"Sounds like a plan," Sam sighed, giving her a kiss on the cheek just as Benjamin decided he needed more attention.

Thursday 24th of December

"If I take another bite, I'm going to pop," Bree groaned as she leaned back in her chair, making Bella and Edward laugh as Sam took her hand in his.

Christmas Eve, which had looked sad and lonely for Bella and Edward, had turned into a feast with Bree and Sam.

"Delicious dinner," Edward praised, leaning over to kiss her on the lips, softly.

"Thank you," Bella smiled, a light tint of pink to her cheeks as she took in the praises of her steak.

"Why don't you two check on Benjamin and Talia while we clear the table and get the coffee going?" Edward suggest, leaving no room for argument as he started to gather the dishes and Sam picked up the steak and carried it to the kitchen.

"Have you heard anything from Alice and Jasper, are they coming tomorrow to open the presents?" Bree asked as they climbed the stairs.

"I don't think so," Bella murmured as they entered the nursery, Benjamin and Talia sleeping peacefully side by side in the crib. "Esme has apparently come up with some strict rules about visiting us during Christmas. Emmett and Rose are fighting, Rose meaning she did the right thing outing us, Emmett meaning she had no right."

"I can't see how the two of you met is any of their business, no matter how twisted it was: you clearly love each other so for me and Sam, at least, it doesn't matter. He could have picked you up from the street, bought you at slave auction like one of the books I've read, or whatever floats your boat, but it doesn't matter how you met when you love each other."

"Tell that to Esme and see if she is willing to see it like you."

"Well, she'll come around, but she needs time from what I've understood."

"Time," Bella laughed, "She's blowing it out of proportions! And at Christmas. It's a time to spend with family and friends, those you love, and she's keeping the family away from us. Edward is acting as if he doesn't care but I know it's eating him up not seeing and talking with his brothers, especially now: they have some funny traditions, like snowball fights in the middle of the night and sneaking down, though Carlisle and Esme knows it, to watch Home Alone."

"Sounds like some funny traditions," Bree mussed as the went back to the living room, taking a seat near the fire with a perfect view of the tree.

"What sounds like funny traditions?" Sam asked as Edward and he joined them.

"Bella was telling me about some traditions Edward has with his brothers," Bree smiled as Sam sat down next to her.

"I think I ate too much," Edward murmured softly to Bella, "I think I'm going early to bed." She watched him say good night to Bree and Sam, and her eyes didn't leave him as he walked up the stairs.

"If you don't mind, I think I'll go for a walk before going to bed, burn off some of the food I've consumed," she laughed lightly.

"Take your phone with you," Sam called after her as she went out to the hall to get dressed for the cold winter weather.

Her walk wasn't long and she soon found herself standing on Carlisle and Esme's steps, knocking on their door, butterflies in her stomach as she waited for them open: it was already late but she hoped they still were awake.

"Bella?" Carlisle asked surprised as he opened the door for her to come in.

"Is Esme still awake?" Bella asked, unsure if it was a good idea to show up at their door on Christmas Eve.

"She is," Carlisle nodded, offering to take her coat but Bella kept it on, making it easier to escape Esme's wrath if she wasn't willing to listen to Bella. "She's in the living room."

"Esme?" Bella said softly as she entered the living room.

"What are you doing here?" she demanded to know when her eyes landed on her, "I thought I made it clear that I didn't want to see you again."

"I'm not here for me," Bella said softly, walking further in, "But I'm here for Edward." something flashed in Esme's eyes and Bella knew she was willing to listen.

"What about Edward?"

"He's hurting," Bella said, "He acts as if everything is ok, just fine, but I know he isn't. Tonight, he went to bed early, claiming he had eaten too much but he had barely touched his food: this fight is troubling him. I can't stand to watch him like this, not at Christmas, not ever. Please, Esme, please just too look past everything about how Edward and I met and got married, just for now, at Christmas."

"I can't look past it," Esme snapped.

"But can you please just pretend that nothings happened, just for one day so Edward can be happy? The other day, when Talia laughed for the first time, he smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes: please, do it for him."

Esme didn't speak and Bella knew she wouldn't be able to get through to her. Sighing, Bella left her alone and was about to walk out the door when Carlisle joined her at the door.

"I will talk with her," he murmured as he wrapped her in a tight hug, giving her a kiss on the cheek before letting her out.

Back home, Bella shred herself off her clothes and crawled into bed with Edward, wrapping her arms around his torso as he was lying with his back to her. She kissed his shoulder and she felt him stir under her touch.

"I love you," she whispered before falling asleep.

Friday 25th of December

"Get up, lazy pants: its Christmas!" the pounding on the door drove Bella out of her warm and comfortable sleep.

"What is that?" Bella groaned, pulling the covers over her head as if it would keep the banging out.

"That, my love, is Emmett," Edward grumbled, his hold on Bella tightening as the banging on the door continued.

"What is he doing here?" Bella mumbled as she snuggled into his chest.

"I have no idea," Edward turned on to his back, releasing Bella, and stretched his arms over his head as Bella climbed out of the bed, shivering as the cold air of the room hit her heated skin.

"Get dressed," Bella threw a pair of pajama bottoms at Edward with a t-shirt before pulling on her own pajama and robe.

Opening their bedroom door, Bella was met with a beaming Emmett, standing in front of her in his Batman pajamas and a black robe.

"About time," he beamed, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and leading her down to the living room.

The was filled with the delicious scent of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked bread. Underneath the tree was a pile of presents, grown three times in size since the night before, and everyone was gathered around it, sitting on the couch, in chairs and on the floor, a fire roaring, mixing with the soft sounds of Christmas songs.

"What are you doing here?" Bella asked, bewildered.

"We're here to celebrate Christmas, of course," Alice smiled, bouncing Shawn on her lap. Bree and Sam was sitting among them, Benjamin fuzzing in Sam's lap as Talia was soundly sleeping in Bree's arms.

"We were reminded that family should be together during Christmas, no matter what," Carlisle said with a smile as Edward came down the stairs, his hair standing out in odd angles.

"Ready to open presents?" Emmett asked, vibrating in his seat on the floor by the tree, Anna in his lap as Alex and Damian sulked next to Rose, forced to behave.

"You did this?" Edward asked as he came to Bella's side.

"She's a keeper," Carlisle announced as the presents were passed around.

*** C R S ***

"We've gotten a Christmas card, I believe," Edward announced to Bella as he came to join her in the living room after everyone had left.

"Who's it from?" Bella asked, curiously, as she rocked Talia in her arms, soothing her into sleep.

"Don't know," he plopped down next to her under the blanket, pulling her close before opening the envelope.

We have been blessed with a son.

Please join us to celebrate the birth of our son, Charles Edwin Dwyer, on Sunday 10th of January, 2016.


Phil & Sue Dwyer.

With the note was a picture of Phil with a beautiful dark haired woman and an adorable baby boy in the woman's arms.

"He looks happy," Bella mussed.

"He does," Edward agreed.

"Think, that man is the reason we're were we are right now," Bella smiled, "Maybe, just maybe, he isn't so bad after all."

"Maybe not."

"Oh, there's something important I have to tell you," Bella rushed, turning slightly in his arms.

"And what is that?"

"I love you, Edward Cullen."

"I love you too, Bella Cullen, I love you for opening my eyes and giving me the best present a man can wish for: a small family of my own, a beautiful daughter."

Monday 28th of December

"Are we there yet?" Bella asked impatiently, making Edward laugh once again on their little drive.

"Be patient and you will see," Edward grinned though Bella couldn't see him, "It's a surprise and though I know you hate them, you will love this. Don't you agree, baby girl?" Edward cooed to Talia and she cooed back, kicking her feet in the car seat behind him.

"Can you at least tell me if it's any further? We've been driving for what seems like hours now!" Bella whined, huffing and crossing her arms over her chest.

"We've barely been on the road for an hour, so just relax, or at least try."

Bella tried her best to stop pestering Edward with questions as they drove, but when the road started to get bumpy and Edward slowed down, she couldn't hold it in any longer. Question after question spewed out of her mouth.

"We're here," Edward announced when the car came to a stop and Bella reached up to remove the blindfold Edward had forced her to wear, but he quickly stopped her. "A few more seconds and I will remove it myself."

She listened to him open the car door and get out, the sound of his feet on the snow as he moved to the back door, Talia coos as he lifted her out and then, the sound of her car door being opened, the rush of cold air hitting her layered body.

"Careful," Edward said sternly as he helped her out with one hand, chuckling softly when she hit her head on the way out. "Now, look," Bella squinted against the light when he finally removed the blindfold.

"Oh my," she murmured as she took in the English stone cottage inspired house, looking magical surrounded by snow cowered threes and hills.

"Merry Christmas," Edward smiled brightly, Talia resting her head in the nook of his neck, her head covered in a brown cap and the rest of her body covered in a red overall.

"This is… is this… what is this?" Bella stammered, turning back to the house.

"This will be our new home very soon," Edward informed her, urging her on to move closer, "It's not finished yet but there isn't much left: plastering the walls, making sure the windows don't leak heat and so on, a little pain job here and there."

"We're moving?" Bella asked as Edward pushed the front door open.

"I thought it would be a good idea to give ourselves a fresh start, especially now that we have Talia and the truth about our marriage is out. Here, we can make new memories with the family, though only happy memories are allowed to be made."

Bella could only nod as she took in everything. As they entered the hall, she took in the grand staircase that started on the left well, then took a right turn. To the right was a spacious room, perfect for a dining room. To the left was the living room, a large stone fire dominating a windowless wall while a large window faced the front and the back of the house, letting lots of light in.

"The kitchen is large, larger then the one we have now, with room for a small island and kitchen table by the window facing the back yard. There's five bedrooms upstairs, one large one for us with a private bathroom, and four smaller ones for guests and possible kids. There's two smaller bathrooms upstairs and a tiny one behind the stairs down here. What do you think?"

"I-I think this is wonderful," Bella whispered, "But where are we? I feel as if I've been here before."

"This is the land I bought from Phil. I changed the name on the paper and as from January 1st, everything on this land will belong to you, just as it should have from the moment Charlie passed away."

"I thought you wanted to make a park or resort of some kind."

"I did, we had the plans ready and everything but over the year, I didn't feel like chopping down a lot of trees just to let people litter around here. This summer, I found a contractor and the building started in the beginning of August."

"How have you been able to keep this to yourself?" Bella had to ask, amazed as she walked through her new dining room and to her new kitchen. The cabinets on the walls and the counters were up, all a soft honey colored oak against creamy white walls.

"Jasper knew, but only because I needed a lawyer I trusted to draw up the papers and as I said, if you sign the papers, from January 1st, all this will be yours."

"I already have everything I need," Bella whispered, turning to Edward with love shining in her eyes. "Against the odds, I got everything I've ever dreamed off."

AN: it saddens me and it delights me to tell you all that this is the end of Against the Odd. Because of it's a happy ending, I've decided to answer a few questions I as a reader would have asked.

What about Esme? – Esme never really could forget the truth about Bella and Edward's marriage, but as time went on, she learned to look past it and as days went by, she thought of Bella more and more as a daughter again.

And Rose? – Well, Rose firmly believed she had done the right thing, even when Emmett threatened her to take the kids and leave her if she couldn't find it in her heart to do as Esme and look past it all, and go back to being friends with Bella, especially considering how much he missed having his family gathered. She did however put it behind her, though she still firmly believed, and quickly became good friends with Bella again, Bella being the one to let Rose cry on her shoulder when she learned she was expecting twins, again. One of each, Cara and Toby.

Bree and Sam – after five ears of hard saving, particularly hard when Bree learned they were expecting again when Benjamin was four, they bought a small house not far from Carlisle and Esme, accepted into the family as their own flesh and blood.

Paul and Maggie – Paul was too much of a chicken to ask Maggie if she would marry him, so she did it herself only weeks before she was supposed to give birth to their son, Christian. Instead of a romantic proposal like every girl wish for, and every man secretly wish for, she had him show up at his own wedding. They had barely gotten the rings on their fingers and kissed when Maggie's water broke.

Bella and Edward – well, what about them? They had a perfectly normal marriage with ups and downs. They laughed, they cried and they loved each other to bits. The new house quickly filled up as Bella learned, two years after she discovered she was pregnant with Talia, that she was expecting again. It ended with a small melt down, Bella crying about how she didn't want her children to have their birthdays so close together, afraid it would ruin the magic for them. When they learned they were expecting twins, two girls, Edward was on cloud nine, until Bella reminded him of boys running after them as they grew older. He asked their doctor, all serious, when they could start the sex change of his three daughters. In the end, it wasn't so bad having three girls under his roof, especially not when Theo joined their family of five when the twins, Maria and Charlotte, where three and Talia five.

DevilsWriter… Merry Christmas!