~A/N I cannot say enough to convey my appreciation to all the readers of this story. Talk about an experiment gone right, this was an amazing journey for me. I thought I'd give Paul and Bella whirl, like 123, quick and done. My original idea was fifteen chapters. I have to credit the guest reviewer who warned me not to make this a sappy, boring love story way back in the beginning. I accepted the challenge and ran wild with it. I might have lost some readers along the way that did not like the dark times, but I think many of the diehards stuck it out. I have to gush over some of the stats because this is by far my most successful endeavor: over 1200 reviews and counting, almost a 1000 followers and well over 240,000 views. A year and a half ago, I'd never shared a word of my writing with anyone, not counting my last technical writing teacher in college. So again, many many thanks. Will I ever write a Paul story again? Not sure, I do have several one shots in Sketches and Silver Bells, but not sure if I'll write a MC with him again or not. I might write an OW with a similar character though. I've learned to never say never, because in the beginning, I was only going to write one fanfiction because I didn't have any other ideas.
Copyright disclaimer: Twilight and all recognizable characters are sole property of Stephenie Meyer.
Epilogue: You Are My Home
Leah slapped Quil in the head with her cool rag. Bella giggled despite her pain.
"I swear to God, Ateara. I'm going to ban you for the birth of our son, if you don't shut up."
Quil had been trying to keep her spirits up with inappropriate humor, but he was annoying his mate more than anything. The months behind them had been full of surprises. Of course, Carlisle came to attend to Leah and within three days, she was thriving. She wasn't sure if the pregnancy would stick after how ill she'd been, but by the first ultrasound, their hope was renewed. It appeared to be a perfectly normal pregnancy and come to find out, she and Bella were only days apart with their due dates.
Sue suggested her close friends' midwife clinic for delivery. Bella liked the idea of not letting her baby out of her sight after what happened with Aaron, but she wasn't sure if she could have a natural delivery. The midwife watched her closely and gave her the facts about v-bac births. She and Paul decided to at least try.
Life with their families and the pack was great. Cyrus was a new man with Paul's donated liver and no one could even tell he'd given up half of his to save his father. Mitch was 100%, he had a few weeks in a rehab facility after fully emerging from the coma, but there was no permanent damage. He and Kai had a place close by and were talking about getting engaged. Dee and Embry had already run off and eloped in Vegas. It wasn't a surprise. They were very happy and the mental health clinic would soon open after months of planning.
Aaron was a beautiful one year old. He'd just had his first birthday the week before. He was already running, jumping and acting like a daredevil. Paul complained she tried to wussify him but no such luck, he was all boy. Emily and Sam were expecting a baby in about six months. Jacob was back in school, working but still taking care of the pack. Bella gave up worrying about his love life, because he told her he was certain when he truly was the man he wanted to be, the rest would fall into place. All the other imprinted wolves were happy, but no one else was in a rush for marriage. The younger ones were all finally able to focus on school and being teenagers again.
Quil begged Leah to make it official, but she wouldn't say yes yet. She teased him, said she still wanted to make sure they'd work out. Bella knew the truth, Leah just didn't want to get married big and pregnant, but she was going to propose to him as soon as Quil the 6th was here. There was a huge debate about what he'd be called. Leah vetoed Six as a name, so it was still up in the air.
As far as the Cullens fate, unfortunately Edward and Alice were still at large. She knew it drove Paul insane, but Rose passed him some information about someone that might help him eventually with the hunt. Paul healed up quick from the surgery. The pack waited for him to be on top of his game before launching a surprise attack, but the real surprise was that the house was already engulfed in flames when they arrived. Rose and Emmett confessed Esme and Carlisle wanted some control over ending their existence.
Rose was brave, she was ready to accept it might also be their fate, but Paul said, that Bella said no. She didn't want them destroyed. He added they could never come back under any circumstance or the pardon was rescinded. She handed him the secret contact which he kept to himself and also a very long emotional letter of apology she'd written for Bella.
Jacob questioned whether the fire actually destroyed the doctor and his wife, but Rose swore to him they were most definitely in there. She lit the match herself per their request. She also passed a cooler off to Jacob. Carlisle had explained the serum to Sue and her doctor friend. "For the pack if anyone ever needs it again."
Leah yelled at Paul, "Why don't you two go out for a beer or something and come back when the babies are crowning."
Bella had to wait for her contraction to pass before she could laugh again. They were getting worse, but obviously Leah's were a little harder than hers. She had been in labor about five hours longer than Bella. Paul thought she was joking when she told him it was time, since the entire pack knew Leah's water broke and she was in labor since the middle of the night.
"No joke, I can't control it if our babies want to come the same day." She was thankful the birthing center had two suites. Quil asked to come stay in their room since Leah became increasingly angry at him every time she felt a pain. Bella tried to stay out in the common area with Sue and Renee, but she was soon needing her privacy, so Quil would have to tough it out with Leah. Her father had just left with Aaron. They were going to go fishing with Uncle Billy. Bella gave him a million and one safety advisories.
"Bells, believe it or not, Billy and I have taken a kid or two fishing. We know how to keep him safe. We'll be careful, just get my granddaughter here safe and sound." He kissed her goodbye.
Paul asked her if she was annoyed with him like Leah was with Quil. "No, so far, so good. I'm just glad that this birth's going the right way. Our girl's full term and healthy. I can't believe how easy this pregnancy went."
"Yeah, well I still can't believe it's a girl. You sure that ultrasound's right? I don't picture myself raising girls."
"Nonsense, you're going to be great with her."
The contractions picked up quickly. He only got on her nerves once when he said he had a bet going with Quil who would deliver first. "The guys are outside. The pot's up to almost two hundred bucks. You sure you're not feeling the urge to push, because Quil swears Leah's about to push."
"Paul." She was not in the mood. It wasn't about making him some pocket change. She was trying to get through each contraction one at a time.
In the end, Quil and Paul agreed to split the money, because technically Leah edged her out by twenty-two minutes, but as soon Morgan Marie Lahote entered the world wailing, nothing else mattered. She was gorgeous, like her brother. Her hair might be a tiny bit lighter, but it was hard to tell. She definitely had plenty of it. The next hour was a whirlwind of activity, both midwives had their hands full tending to two moms at once. Both mothers and babies were perfectly fine and healthy. The birth center was filled to capacity with visitors. Once Bella and Leah were able to get up, Sue had a dinner celebration set up for them. She, Emily, Kim and Kai had cooked enough for everyone. They had to eat and drink before they could go home. Renee had been in charge of decorations, Bella laughed, she knew her mother wouldn't have been cooking. She pointed out how great the room looked in bright, cheerful colors.
Of course, everyone gushed over the babies that shared the same birthday. Once they all gathered round, Quil announced what they would be calling Quil the sixth.
"Everyone, I'd like to introduce all of you to the Sixth generation Quil, who will affectionately be called Nero. Nobody laugh or Leah will get up, all postpartum and kick your asses."
Bella thought Nero Ateara had a nice ring to it. Whatever they decided was fine by her. He was so adorable. She and Leah put them close together. They'd both had their first feeding and seemed to be resting soundly, despite all the noise.
Paul congratulated Quil in front of everyone and he did the same. "One more thing, bro."
"When Morgan's older, keep your little Nero away from her. I know what the women are doing over there. They're already matchmaking, but no way in hell am I ever letting your offspring near my little girl."
"Oh, come on man. The Ateara/Lahote combo would be a perfect match."
"Never. Over my dead body."
"Paul, your daughter isn't even two hours old, could you drop the worries over who she might date? Come over here and hold Aaron. Trig is going to get our family picture."
It was the last warm day of the season according to the weatherman. It had been an especially long, warm summer and was late September. Leah and Bella were under a canopy, so the babies wouldn't get too much sun which was surprisingly shining brightly. The guys were all playing football. They were making a bonfire later and cooking out on the grill. It was a fantastic end of summer/first of fall celebration. The transition from mother of one to mother of two had it's challenges. Number one was getting enough rest, but alone time with her husband was also high on the list. Bella never took for granted the blessing of having both of her children, happy and healthy. It took a long time to heal completely and not dwell on those lost four months. She would never forget that pain, but they were grateful for all the happy times now.
At least, Morgan was getting a little better at night. Leah complained Nero never gave her a break. "It's like I'm a human pacifier. This kid doesn't want to leave my tit. He's a pig just like his father."
Bella laughed. She and Leah really bonded during the pregnancies and hung out all the time. The babies would grow up thinking they were related for real. Paul said that was a good deal. He'd tell his daughter Nero was her brother and she could never date him.
She told him his great fear just might happen for real some day, since he worried about it so much.
Leah nodded, so Bella would see Paul with Aaron on his shoulders for a celebratory dance. He'd scored the first touchdown. "He's a really good dad, girl. Who would have thought, huh?"
"I did. I always believed he would be. Quil's great too. I'm so happy for you both."
Leah reminded her that time they caught the two men cuddled together reading baby care books on the couch. Quil had his arm around Paul and they were totally engrossed in their study. Bella managed a picture to forward to the entire pack. "I worried for a moment we'd lost them both, that they were on the brink of a love affair."
They both laughed hysterically. The guys all looked their way, oblivious to what was so funny. "Jake says the guys still make kissy noises at them if they get too close."
Bella was actually really surprised when Paul told her there was something he had to do. He acted like it was an emergency, but swore he'd be back before the bonfire. Mitch and Kai were hanging around, so he knew that she'd have a helping hand.
"This sounds mysterious. Should I be worried?"
"Hell no. It's no biggie, don't worry." He kissed her and said he'd be back super quick.
She didn't have anything to worry about. Rachel had been the only thing that threatened them a while back, but Jacob helped her move to Hawaii with Rebecca. They hadn't seen her around in at least six months when she came over to apologize profusely about her loathsome behavior.
Bella still felt a little tense about Paul's abrupt departure. She couldn't wrap her mind about what would take him from their precious family time.
He'd waited for so many months. He hardly believed the day would ever come. Paul wasn't even sure the number Blondie gave him was legit. He left a message without knowing if it was real or in working order. Much to his surprise, his phone buzzed when he was in the middle of the game.
This is your chance! You game?
The details came in later about where to go and how they'd coordinate. Paul met up with the leech at the rendezvous point. "You sure they're sulking around? I didn't think he'd ever come back to Washington."
Jasper said, "Trust me. Those two are far too meddlesome and curious not to try and sneak a look."
"You think, he still thinks he can get to Bella?"
"I don't know, but as long as he's around, do you want to live with that hanging over your heads?"
"Hell no. I promised him an ass kicking and I never forget." They quickly went over strategies. Edward would be a formidable opponent because of the mind reading. Jasper gave him tips on how to avoid that.
Just like Jasper predicted, Alice and Edward were snooping around the ash pile that was their old residence. They both looked up when they realized their private mourning had been interrupted.
Alice looked completely shocked to see her former mate, "Jazz, you came back? I knew you would."
He gave her a chilling smile. "Sure darlin', whatever you say. I'm here for ya." That was Paul's cue. Jasper launched his attack on Alice. She never anticipated it.
Paul went on the offensive to take down Cullen. He argued a bit, said he hadn't bothered Bella in over a year. It was the last time he ever planned to be in Washington.
Paul agreed with him. "That's right, it is."
He phased and let the wolf do the rest. Edward might be a cunning, mind reading vampire, but he was no match for a protective husband and father that kept his promises. He would not get away with what he'd put them through. He had so much confidence in his abilities, that he didn't even tell the others. He wanted it to be a one on one encounter. As long as the broody one took out revenge on his former mate and it wasn't two against one, he'd be fine. Turns out, Southern men held grudges similar to headstrong wolves and Jasper Whitlock didn't like to be made a fool of. He said he'd sacrificed decades to do exactly as Alice wanted.
An hour or so later, he was in the middle of something he never would have predicted he'd be a part of. Paul lit the match over the pile of rubble. Alice and Edward burned nicely except for the terrible stench. Jasper extended his hand. Paul shook it.
"Thanks for the heads up."
He stared in the vampire's orange-red eyes. He wasn't living off the land any longer.
"I assure you, I reside far, far away. I've found a region that suits me. I won't ever return."
Paul decided to trust that. Jasper's advice helped him get the jump on Edward.
"Okay, but this is the only pass you'll ever get. If you're caught hunting in our region, the pack won't give you a second chance."
Jasper swore an oath to obey. Something about his southern mannerisms made him see like a man of his word.
Paul returned to his family just as the food was being served. Bella was furious. He was gone far longer than he planned. "I was about ready to send out a search party. Where the hell were you?"
He kissed her puckered lips. She made them that way when she was angry. Paul told her to please forgive his absence for the night and he'd tell her everything tomorrow. "Come on, Blue. Let's have a good night. I don't want to fight. Come here, my little M&M. Did you like your first day at the beach?" Paul grabbed up Morgan and started blowing kisses to her belly to get her smiling ear to ear which would hopefully calm her mother some.
"She had a great time, but she slept mostly. It was your son that wore us out. He thinks he's ready to dive head first in the ocean."
"Cool, that's my boy. I'll have him on the surfboard next season."
"You will not. He's too small."
Paul kissed her again. "Mommy, you worry too much. Hmm, that kiss tasted good. Whatcha drinking?"
"It's strawberry lemonade."
"Oh, I like it. You know how much I miss sexy time, baby?"
"Well, too bad, because I'm still mad at you, so tonight's out of the question." She had no idea he was out taking care of their family, but he didn't want to spoil the festive mood by talking about bloodsuckers. Jake would be furious when he found out, he'd gone rogue.
Bella lightened up as the night went on. Before he knew it, they were home. He helped her bathe both kids. He read Aaron a story, so she could feed Morgan and get her sound asleep. He hoped it was for the night or at least a few hours. He had celebratory plans. He was right about missing sexy time. They rarely got to be alone. Paul started the laundry and did a few other things around the house to make him look better in her eyes.
She finally got Morgan to stay down in her crib. She grabbed him by his hand. "Okay, kids are asleep, but I'm exhausted. I'll give you five minutes, but that's all I can guarantee."
He needed way more than five minutes to make up for their limited time alone. "Five minutes? Oh, hell no, Blue. I have ways of waking you back up. On the bed now and let me work my magic on you."
Forty-five minutes later found them both equally satisfied. "Oh my gosh. I didn't think I had it in me. That was amazing. I needed that."
"You don't know the half of it."
She asked if he'd check the kids one last time. They'd only been putting Morgan in her crib for about a week now and it made her nervous.
He came back and told her they were both sleeping sound. They cuddled in the middle of the bed and Paul was ready to reveal a surprise.
"Hey, tomorrow would you like to take a trip out to the job site?"
"Sure, what's going on? I haven't been to see one of your houses in a long time. Are we taking the kids or should I call Mom?" Her parents were blissfully happy, talking of making it legit soon. One time, Renee almost panicked and took off because she was scared of being loved so completely by Charlie. Bella talked her down and neither of them ever spoke of it again.
"Yeah, the kids can go. It involves them too."
"Um, we're all proud of you sweetie, but the babies really don't appreciate your brickwork quite yet. They're a little young."
"I get that, smartass, but one day they'll be thankful that their Poppa built them a helluva house."
She sat up in the bed. For a second, her boobage distracted him. Oh yeah, he bought them a lot and started building their dream home. That's what he needed to tell her.
"You're not joking? We own a house?"
"Half a house, but it's getting there, that's why I'm ready to show you. I need your input from here on out."
She was worried they couldn't afford it, since she barely worked while the babies were so small and so crazy close together. Paul explained now that his dad had a real job and was healthy again. He'd repaid him some money, not to mention he wasn't shelling out all the extra money to help him with doctor visits and medications.
"Mr. Cameron gave me a deal I couldn't pass up. Jared and Kim have a lot near us, but they'll probably wait a bit longer before they build."
"I love that neighborhood. I always have."
"I know, that's why I took a risk and bought it before telling you."
She wanted to know details like square footage and bedrooms. "Oh and how many bathrooms?"
"Two and half."
"Yes, that's amazing and the kids will each have their own room, plus a spare. I'm so excited. I wish we could see it right now."
He pulled her on top of him. "No way. We aren't waking those kids, so if you're that wound up, I have some suggestions that'll burn off that excess energy."
She returned his affection. Maybe she wasn't bluffing for a change like when she'd pass out on the couch while he did the dishes. Bella told him she had her second wind and was ready to give him all the gratitude he deserved.
"A house, a wife and two kids... you know what you are, Paul Lahote?"
She climbed over his torso and playfully swatted his chest. "Haha, no, that's not what I was going to say."
"Okay, I give up, Blue. What am I?"
"A family man." He flipped her pinning her underneath him, so he could show her just how much happy that made him. "Are you really taking me to our new house as soon as we get up?"
"Of course. I told you, I need your help, especially with the kitchen."
"I might be tired after all this extra activity, but wake me up, okay? I don't want to oversleep."
"Don't worry. I wouldn't dream of going to our new home without you."
~Thanks again so very much for reading.
I would love hearing from everyone that enjoyed the story. To those that admit to having read more than once, I heart you big time. Funny, but during the final edit, "Won't Go Home Without You" started playing on my music shuffle. I think it's a sign. :)