Chapter 21

One Year Later

I pull the throttle back gently, easing us towards the dock as Charlie finishes the last of the one beer Otis allows on our frequent fishing trips. He always waits until he's caught something, the celebratory gesture an old habit.

"Good day," Charlie says easily, looking up at the sun, and although hearing him speak is a daily occurrence, it doesn't make my heart leap and my eyes well up any less.

"It really was," I agree, and notice M on the dock, hands on hips, waiting to help me tie the boat. We butt against the planks and Otis throws the rope out before readying Charlie for disembarking.

"How'd you do today, C?" M asks as he jumps aboard, grabbing Charlie's gear as Otis unhooks the wheelchair from the safety locks Edward had custom installed on our new boat, the Manoeuveres Astucieuses II.

"Four rainbow trout and a walleye," Charlie says slowly, while M just waits and lets him take his time.

"How'd you do, B?" M turns my way and I frown. "That good, huh?" he laughs. "C, you keep beating her like we discussed, and I'll break you out of here for a nice steak dinner." I swat M on the arm and he high fives Charlie, before turning back to me with a nod towards the house."E's waiting for you inside."

"When are you leaving?"

"An hour or so." M moves to pile the fishing gear on the dock and I lower the ramp for Otis, who wheels Charlie off the boat. "You go on, I'll help O."

"Thanks, M." I call out and hurry off the boat, anxious to have as much time with Edward as possible before he's gone for a week on business in Spain. I walk swiftly up the numerous steps that lead to the house, running perpendicular to the lengthy wheelchair lift Edward had installed as soon as we bought the ridiculously large house in Highland Park.

I wave at Alice as she moves her brushes over the canvas, looking at the water pretending to paint our landscape, but I suspect she's really painting the blond man that lounges at her feet. J looks up as I stroll past and smiles, his attention quickly returning to the girl he moved in with within weeks of meeting. The arrangement works out well, J doesn't seem to miss having his own home and I like the idea of Alice being protected at the studio which she has no desire to move out of.

Upon Edward's permanent relocation to Chicago, things moved quickly for most of us. Edward and I started house shopping, with Edward insisting we find a place big enough where Charlie would have his own area, complete with physical therapy equipment, hospital amenities, and live in quarters for Otis, who couldn't turn down Edward's substantial salary even if he wanted to, which he didn't. The thought of continuing Charlie's care was foremost in his mind, and between Otis and the specialists that come to work with my father weekly, Charlie has made huge strides in his recovery. He'll never be the man he was, but moving him in with us has had a positive effect on both of us. I get to see him daily, and he gets to sit by the water, fish, and feel like he's living life once again.

Pausing at the top of the stairs, I look back at the dock, watching how good and caring M is with Charlie. Our friendship has grown into a tight one, and my grin widens, knowing that he'll eventually break Rose, who is fighting his relentless pursuit of her. I think back to when she called Edward and me stupid for not admitting our feelings to one another, and I can't wait for the day when I can relay that back to her when she finally caves. If the way she watches him when she thinks no one is looking is any indication, I'll be able to utter that phrase to her soon.

After kicking off my shoes onto the top of the backdoor pile, I don't even have to call out to find Edward and head directly to the elevator and inserting my code that will take me to the bottom floor, two stories below the ground.

The lift descends slowly, and I jump a little in place, anxious to get to him. Any time we have to spend apart has always been awful, but this will be the first trip he's had to take without me since we married. Rose and I have a big show coming up, and even though Riley has taken on more responsibility, allowing me to work less now that I'm expecting, I still try to do as much as I can.

I reach the open metal door and my breath hitches at the sight of Edward, surrounded by his second love after me. The thrill that shoots up my spine at the sight of his art is something that will never get old, nor will the sight of him, period. My heart thumps in my chest as it has from the start, and it's almost like he can hear it because he turns his chair to face me even though my bare feet haven't made a sound.

"Did Charlie have a good day?" He smiles and opens his arms, my body instinctively heating as I straddle him.

I nod, pressing my head into the crook of his neck as he strokes one hand up and down my back while the other falls against my expanding stomach. "Do you have to go?" I ask, whining playfully.

"If I could put off this meeting, I would. I hate leaving you."

"Soon I won't let you. International playboy is about to become homebound daddy."

He laughs and kisses my head. "I can't wait." We sit like that for a little while, until he reminds me he has to finish packing.

Regretfully, we leave the vault, securing the door and riding the elevator to the fourth floor, where our rooms are. I sit on the bed as I watch him carefully fold his clothes, only to have to refold them as I pull them out one by one.

"I'm going to have to punish you, young lady, if you keep that up."

"Promises, promises."

His eyes light with fire, and I yelp as he leaps towards me, careful to land on the bed next to me and not on top of me. His mouth is on mine and I throw my arms around him before he quickly turns me onto my side and begins to pull my stretchy pants down my legs while fumbling behind me to free himself. It doesn't take much for me to get worked up lately, I seem to have a constant need for him and he slips inside easily, pressing himself up against my back as we both call out at the feeling of him filling me. He lifts my leg up slightly to change my angle, and begins to pump his body inside mine. I'm like a ticking time bomb, and all it takes is for a few thrusts and his rough fingers working me over until I'm shouting out, pulling at his hair as his head rests on my shoulder, his body moving faster behind me until he slams himself hard against me, moaning his release into my ear, hot and breathy.

"I love you, Mrs. Cullen."

I stretch like a cat as he pulls himself out of me. "Don't you mean Mrs. Cullen Masen Black?"

"That's going to be quite the mouthful for Junior, there." Edward swats my ass as he gets off the bed and heads into the bathroom. "Can I trust you not to unpack my stuff now that I've satiated you?"

"Who says you did that?" I protest, as he shoots me a look before ducking into the shower. I contemplate joining him but don't feel like getting up. I rub my stomach, smiling at what life and a year since I've met Edward has brought me.

I watch Edward finish packing until M's voice calls out over the intercom that it's time to go, J has pulled the car around.

"You'll be okay?" he says as he leans down to kiss me, and I hum against his lips. "Alice is going to stay with me until you all get back, and Rose is coming for dinner."

He kisses me once more and I roll over onto my side as much as it will allow, watching him turn to go.

Just as he reaches the door, I see he's failed to repack something I pulled out. I grab it quick and call out to him.

"Oh sweetheart," I swing the black ski mask around my finger, "you forgot your hat."


Well, that's it kids. It's been great fun for me, reading your thoughts, guesses, frustrations and shouty caps!

And now, for the very serious, always mortifying, rambling and chaotic A/N:

First things first: you guys are awesome. Thanks to you, I have an audience. If you didn't read and tweet and FB and review, this would be sitting in cyberspace somewhere as a little bit of nothing. I don't take any of you, or the time you give my silly thoughts, for granted.

Next, put your hands together for Lolypop82 for that fuckawesome banner! Wow! I couldn't have conveyed what I wanted, or had it executed so flawlessly, without her. Thanks, babe!

LayAtHomeMom is one of a kind, ladies. Laugh out loud gifs as comments, hand holding, and an always critical eye that I wouldn't be able to work without now. Nope, just can't imagine posting anything without her input. She always makes me strive for better, and get the logistics of Chicago correct. I heart you hard, Pal. Thank you.

And finally, to my always patient, funny, and kick ass beta, Carrie ZM. She held me up this go around when I was struggling so hard to bring this to you. She's the one that kept telling me to just MAKE it fun, DO something fun, HAVE fun. Not everything needs be reinventing the wheel. You are my rock and best friend. It's that simple. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for guiding me through this, and the real life hits I took these last few months. I love you so much, if I could, I would insert pizza confetti, weird balding men emoticons, and that weird bunny in a martini glass you love to use right here to show you. Also, you're the best manager a girl could ask for ;) HAHA

I will see you beautiful people around!