Well, here we are. It's officially the end. As always, we don't own Twilight. Hope you enjoy! See ya at the bottom...
"Push, baby. Push! Come on, Bella. You can do this!"
I move the hair away from her forehead and kiss her. Those chocolate-brown eyes I love so much focus on mine, and I give her what I hope is a reassuring smile before whispering, "I love you. You got this."
She nods her head but never breaks eye contact as she grasps my hand, grits her teeth, and pushes through her contraction. The nurse counts to ten before Bella relaxes her body but not the grip on my hand.
I kiss her again. "You're doing so great. Not much longer, okay?"
"I'm so tired, Edward. I just want this baby out so I can sleep and eat a bacon double cheeseburger."
"I know, sweet girl. Soon, I promise. Emmett already has strict orders to head straight to the diner as soon as he hears the baby cry," I assure her, chuckling.
"Come on, Bella. You can do it! Put a little power to it!"
Speak of the devil.
Emmett firmly stands his ground just outside the door to the delivery room. Just like when Rosalie delivered, he's of no use inside the room but is the perfect cheerleader from where he is with the door slightly opened.
"Push it out! Push it out! Waaayyyy out!"
I can't help but laugh at our friend. Even though he's a tad bit on the annoying side, he's kept his part of our deal to help me like I helped him when our situations were reversed. I'll be forever grateful to him and Rose.
"Edward, another contraction's coming!"
Bella's anguished voice catches my attention, and I watch her push with determination.
"Stop pushing. The baby's head is out," the doctor announces. "Mr. Cullen, would you like to help deliver your baby?"
I look at Bella to make sure it's okay for me to move, and she smiles at me. Like me, she's tired but excited, knowing we'll soon be holding our child.
My hold on her hand stays until I'm standing between her legs. I can see a tiny, squished face and a smattering of hair covered in yucky stuff. It's the most beautiful thing in the world.
The doctor instructs me to place my hands under his before telling Bella to push one more time. Once the shoulders are out, the rest of the baby follows quickly.
"It's a boy!"
A loud wail announces his arrival as I hold our son up. Bella gets a brief look before the nurse takes him, leaving me free to cut the umbilical cord. Once he's clean and swaddled and in Bella's arms, I finally allow myself to breathe. The doctor and nurses fade into the background, and my tunnel vision is focused on two of the most precious people in my life.
With tears in my eyes, I lean down and kiss my beautiful son. Without even thinking, I turn to Bella and ask, "Now, will you marry me?"
She surprises me by laughing, her own tears spilling over when she closes her eyes.
Did she really just say "yes"?
"Of course I'll marry you, Edward."
Adrenaline courses through me at the sound of those words, and I'm kissing all over her face, trying not to upset our son.
I feel like rushing her to the church to get married right now, just in case this is the baby-haze talking. We've discussed marriage on more than one occasion over the years, and her answer has always been "someday", but never an absolute "yes". I've never felt rejected, though. Not once have I doubted her love or devotion. I know she was hurt badly, not only by Jake, but by the entire community, and it took her a while to forgive, forget, and move on. As much as I want to be her husband, I'd never push her into doing something she wasn't ready for.
Somehow, life has happened, and in the past 6 years, we've been busy with babies. I suppose we've done things backwards, and we've definitely heard about it from everyone, including our families, but that hasn't stopped us. We've always done things our way, and we don't intend to stop. It's worked for us this long.
Now that's she finally agreed, I'm going to make her my wife as soon as possible.
"I promise I'll make you happy forever." I can't keep my hands off of her. She laughs when I finally pull back and look deeply into her eyes, making sure she's really saying what I think she's saying.
"I know you will, you silly man. Now, go get the girls. I know they're dying to see their baby brother."
"Are we all ready to go?" I ask, snapping the baby carrier into its base. The girls have already hopped into the back of the SUV and buckled themselves into their seats, and it's a full house. I teased Bella the day we were bringing Jackson home from the hospital, pointing out there was still one seat unused. The look she gave me was murderous. We had agreed we'd try one more time for a boy, and if we got him, which we did, we'd be done, which we are, but it's always fun to get her riled up.
"I think we've got everything and everyone. I just need you to swing by the bakery so I can pick up the rolls I baked yesterday." Bella's been going back in to help her mom and Alice at the bakery a few days a week, slowly working her way back up to full-time. It's really a great arrangement. Her mom being around to help with the kids makes it so much easier on Bella. Sadie goes to school now, and Annie is enrolled in the preschool program at church, so Bella just has Jackson during the day. We try to make it work where one of us is always around. The amazing part about being surrounded by family and friends is that there's always someone around to fill in the gaps.
Rose and Emmett live a few miles from us, and she stays home with their three boys—Matthew, Lucas, and Hayden. Rose is always so great about lending a helping hand when needed, and we always reciprocate when they need it. It's been give and take with the four of us since Rose had Matthew. I think it became evident early on that it takes a village to raise kids.
"Is Matthew going to be at the church picnic?" Sadie asks. I try hard not to roll my eyes at her continuous questions regarding the seven year-old Rico Suave. I know it's too early to worry about kissing and dating, but Sadie often announces proudly that she's going to marry him. Bella just laughs and goes along with it but always looks over at me and winks, because she knows it kills me a little every time those words leave her adorable little mouth. I just can't stand the thought of my baby girl marrying someone. I'm not ready for that . . . for any of it. I want her to play Barbies and dress up and sleep down the hall for the rest of her life.
"Yes, Matty will be there," Bella answers.
I glance in my rearview mirror to see Sadie's face light up as she looks out the side window. I love that she's happy, but I wish she wasn't so enamoured by a boy . . . at six. She's going to make me prematurely grey.
As we pull up outside the bakery, I leave the vehicle running while Bella gets the rolls. It's the perfect time for me to lay down the law before we get to the church picnic. I glance back to see Jackson soundly asleep and secretly wish babies stayed that quiet a little longer.
"OK, listen up, Cullens." The girls sit at attention. "There will be no playing by the cars. No eating sweets before your meal, even if your Gigi tells you it's OK. Remember, I'm a cop, and I have eyes in the back of my head. I see everything. I know everything. Nothing gets past me."
Both of them have mischievous grins they're trying to hide, and I have to stifle the laugh that's trying to escape.
"No calling names. No running through other people's picnic areas. And no kissing boys!"
The girls fall into a fit of giggles just as Bella hops back in with the rolls. "What's so funny?"
"Daddy said we can't kiss boys," Annie says, lying over on her sister as she continues to laugh.
"Well, I agree. What else did he say?"
"The usual," Sadie replies. She's had a similar talk on many occasions. Our girls are precious, but they definitely have their mom's eccentric personality. We never know what they're going to do . . . or say.
This fact is illustrated later when I hear the girls talking to their friend, Janie, about having babies of their own.
"I don't know if I want to have a baby when I grow up," Sadie declares.
"But, why not? Babies are so cute," Janie says.
"Babies are cute, but they stink, too." Annie adds her two cents worth.
With a very serious look on her face, Sadie explains. "My mama grew a beard when Jackson was in her tummy."
"A beard? Like my daddy's?" Janie asks.
"No. Her beard was on her nu-nu! I don't think she knew it was there, though. I mean, her belly was so big, there's no way she could see it."
The lemonade in my hand drops to the ground as I quickly grab Sadie and distract her by pointing to where my parents are walking toward us. She and Annie both squeal as they run to greet them, leaving poor Janie still sitting on our blanket with her jaw hanging open.
"Janie, don't worry about what Sadie said about her mama. It was probably just a shadow or something. Not a real beard, OK?" I'm hoping, if I play it off like it's no big deal, she'll forget Sadie ever opened her big mouth; thereby saving my wife the embarrassment of having everyone know she relaxed her shaving standards while pregnant.
I'm just thankful Emmett isn't here yet to witness this.
It's a rare fall day that actually feels like fall here in Texas, and now that we're home from the picnic, I'm ready to kick back and enjoy it. Not that the picnic wasn't fun. It was. I just prefer to lay low with my family. Football is playing on the portable TV, and I just finished my second beer while relaxing in the swing on the back porch.
Baby Jackson is nestled in my right arm, and Bella's feet are propped up on my lap, while she takes a much needed nap. I couldn't get up if I wanted to, but there's nowhere else I'd rather be.
Sadie and Annie are fishing in Mr. Miller's pond, which is now in our backyard, but we still refer to it as "Mr. Miller's". When he passed away a few years ago, we decided it was the perfect piece of land for us to buy and build our new house on. We built a deck for the girls to fish on the shallow side and something that resembles a diving board on the deep side.
I can see the girls' wild chestnut hair blowing in the wind, their giggles floating up on the breeze, and it makes me think of their mother.
Looking down at her beautiful sleeping face, I can't help but smile. The first time I met Bella, unofficially, was when Charlie put her in jail for driving Jake's truck off into this very pond. The thought makes me chuckle quietly. I was attracted to her from that first moment. Where the town saw her as a crazy, scorned woman, I saw her as beautiful and passionate. She was everything I never knew I was looking for, and I had to make her mine.
The sun makes the diamond on her left hand sparkle, and I'm reminded of when she finally said yes. The first time I dropped down on one knee and proposed, I had a gut feeling she might say no. She was six and a half months pregnant with Sadie, and I wanted her to know how much I truly loved her, but I knew she was hesitant about jumping into marriage. I could tell the moment I asked that she wasn't ready, and I meant it when I said I'd wait for her forever.
Even if she hadn't agreed to marry me, I'd still be sitting right here, doing this very thing—loving this crazy, beautiful life we've built together.
Well, that's the end, folks. Hope you've enjoyed this story. We've enjoyed writing it and we've loved our interaction with all of you! Thank you so much for your readership, reviews, rec's, tweets, shares, faves and follows! You make this writing business fun!
A HUGE thank you to our beta, Geekchic12! She stepped in when we needed her and she's done a fabulous job! If you don't read her stuff, you should! She has a new WIP that's posting regularly titled "All Yours"-"A summer fling. A surprise pregnancy. A high school sweetheart back home. Life is complicated. Years later, can two co-parents keep old feelings out of the equation when circumstances force them under the same roof? Will they want to?"- Go check it out and tell her Jiffy Kate sent you. :)
We have a new one coming soon, so keep us on alert! We hope you'll come along for another ride. :)
Have a great weekend! We love y'all!
-Jiff and Jenny Kate