This futuretake is dedicated to an incredible lady who supported the story from the time I first posted it. Nic gave me her time, pre-reading the chapters except for the first, keeping me on track, and turning me into a friend and fan.
Especially for your birthday, Nic - November 4th, 2015.
Thank you so much to the people who helped me along the way. In chronological order - AudiR8, VampyreGirl86, Beach, Hadley, Nic and Ipsita - and to those who read, favorited, pimped, and sent me such beautiful reviews, mwah!
Edward - September, 2018
Bella's text arrives as I'm getting in a cab after another long day at the Disney studios.
"Can we Skype tonight?"
"Sure, about ten?"
"Are you going out?"
"Yeah, to dinner with people from the studio."
When there's no response, I get agitated. She knows I hate open-ended texts. No one I know ever says goodbye anymore, and it makes me feel grumpy and old. I couldn't even afford a cell phone when I was Bella's age.
Annoyed, I call her. "Are we finished, or is there more to this conversation?"
"I'm sorry." She sounds down, like something isn't right.
"No, I'm sorry. Are you okay, Bella?"
"Yeah, I'm just…"
"How's your grandfather?"
Marcus is recovering from an episode that rocked the whole family. He'd already had a series of stents put in to open up his arteries, then spent a week in the hospital while they assessed if he was strong enough for a heart valve replacement.
Everything went well until he and Marie were leaving the hospital, and he arrested in the elevator, still on the cardiac floor, the best possible place in the world for his heart to fail. He got the new valve, but he's still coming to terms with his mortality. Bella knows she nearly lost him, and she's determined to find time to visit him in Lafayette. We're driving down there this weekend.
"He's doing okay. I just feel very possessive of you at the moment. I'm really missing you."
I hate hearing her say this. "Oh, baby, I'll be home on Friday."
"I know, but I was watching the video for 'Whisper' last night. It makes me emotional."
Sometimes I forget how hard this is for my wife. Living in a new city where Garrett and Kate are her only family, she sees Esme, but she has no close friends near her age. I can't compare my life to hers. While I've been away, I've either had the band with me or been entertained by studio executives, and I've been used to this way of life for a very long time.
In some ways, my absences have been good for us. She's encouraged me to live my dream while she threw herself into her studies. It's just gone on for too long, and I want to come home.
Bella has managed to finish her Master's in Social Work, fast-tracked over two years, while somehow fitting in the first half of a legal degree. She will now concentrate on the rest of her Doctor of Law degree with less pressure. The amount of work up until now has been brutal, especially when she's had to fit in her internships by working long hours over the vacations, effectively giving her no break.
I don't know how she's done it. She's a marvel, my wife.
The punishing schedule she took on has meant her friends from college are no more than acquaintances. Groups of these people have come to our home, arguing cases, researching, and quoting statistics. I quite enjoyed it, but Bella banned me early on, telling me I was "too much of a distraction," so I've been relegated to my studio on nights when they meet.
It really doesn't worry me since that was my main pastime before she moved in, but I love the way she wants to make it up to me when they leave.
"We'll watch it together on Friday night and laugh at how stupid I look."
Chuckling, she replies, "Yeah, okay, but you never look stupid to me."
Now I'm feeling emotional. "Do you know how much I love you, Bella Masen?"
Still laughing, she says, "Same here." I wonder if she is trying to hide that she's crying.
"So, are we Skyping?"
"No, I'll probably get teary. I'm going to have an early night instead. You should too."
After a long pause, she answers, "Because I want you in peak form Friday night."
"Are we celebrating something?"
I like this. It creates an interesting visual. "Well, then... I will be."
"You better be. See ya later, handsome."
"See ya later."
Smiling as I end the call, I am now sitting in the back of a cab getting an erection. Trying to channel my thoughts into something nice I can do for her, I decide to bring flowers. I haven't done that in a while.
Looks like I'm hitting hit the gym every day this week too.
I let myself into the apartment, and my wife comes sliding down the hallway in socks a la Tom Cruise from Risky Business. She's wearing a new black silk robe, and her hair is tied up as if she's just come out of the shower.
"You're early!" she calls out in surprise.
"Got the earlier flight." Trying to sound casual, the smirk gives me away.
"You're here." Her eyes sparkle as they land on the flowers I bought her. "They're for me?"
Bella is so naturally beautiful right now, I want to squeeze her, but I nod and let her enjoy her bouquet.
"They're gorgeous." She smells them, then looks up, placing her hand on my jaw. "Thank you. You already know much I missed you."
I can't hold back a second longer. Wrapping her in my arms, I feel the length of her spine and smell her hair. Discovering she's naked under the robe, I lean back and raise an eyebrow. "Is this what you are wearing tonight?"
"No, I haven't had a chance to dress yet."
As soon as I show her my pout, she smiles and kisses me, softly at first, slowly revealing her hunger with her tongue and a whimper. The silk robe is so luxurious and sensual that I could fuck her where we stand without taking it off, but she pushes on my chest.
"Have a shower, and I'll put the flowers in water."
This girl… She's gonna make me wait.
Grumbling to myself, I turn toward the bathroom. This is not the way I imagined my arrival. When I saw that bill come through for "Fleur of England" and checked out their website, I thought she was playing with me, making "plans" for my return, filling my head with fantasies and whipping up my expectations.
I'm used to these purchases appearing on my credit card before birthdays or any number of anniversaries we celebrate. Ever since I've known her, Bella has dressed up in the bedroom, and if expensive lingerie is my wife's one extravagance, then I've wholeheartedly encouraged it.
I love the way she follows up with other clues, single words and cryptic phrases sent to keep me fixated on our reunion. She makes sure by the time I arrive at the apartment, I have only one thing on my mind.
Sitting down to take my shoes off, I'm disappointed, hardly proud of these petulant thoughts, but damn it, don't I provide the things we share? It's never been any different. She pays for herself from the royalties from "Whisper," and I pay for us. I guess I've been spoiled, and that black robe is nice and all, but it wasn't what I was hoping for.
As I throw my shirt in the hamper, I realize she could be cross with me because I've forgotten a significant event, but what is it? I've been wracking my brain for days now.
When I turn on the shower, I can't think of anything specific, probably because every day has been a celebration since Bella came into my life.
I was so wrong about marriage, never imagining the joys of having a partner I adore. Each time she tells me how she feels about me, she owns me. She is the reason I leave her, encouraged to follow my instincts. She is also the reason I come home early, desperate for her love, her voice, her hugs, her body.
I'm washing my hair when I hear Bella humming. Rinsing the shampoo in the hope she's joining me, I get a glimpse of the black of the robe and the towel she's holding. Disappointed again, I turn the water off.
When she hands me the towel, I notice the swell of her breasts, enhanced by a certain kind of bra. I'm still locked on them when she takes the towel from me and starts drying my hair, a smile spreading across her face.
"What?" I ask, smiling right back.
"I love your hair," she says as she rubs my head, then she watches herself, dabbing my skin gently while her other hand traces the same path. I'm getting very turned on, and I pull on the sash of the robe.
Fuck me… My mouth gapes open.
Skin-colored silk and lace. My dick jumps at the sight of her tits in the bra, perfectly round and pushed up. The top half is see-through lace, featuring her beautiful nipples. The panties are a work of art, made from the same transparent fabric, but the section between her legs is shiny silk. It's like a beacon, enticing me to look there.
I do. I can't take my eyes off it, and now I can't keep my hands off her either.
"Are we going somewhere tonight?" I ask, hoping to God the answer is no.
"I thought we'd stay in," she replies, trying to finish drying me, giggling when my erection gets in the way. She slips out of my embrace, takes off the robe, and hangs it on the back of the door. "You coming, big boy?" she asks, glancing over her shoulder, leaving me standing there with a dick ready for action and a view of her ass in those see-through panties.
This girl… One day I will stop trying to anticipate her.
"Looks like it," I say to myself, grinning as I flip the towel over the glass and follow her. She's pulling down the covers, and I approach her from behind, trying to be gentle when I'm already bending her over in my mind. Caressing her arms, I kiss her neck, and she stops what she's doing, leaning on me. Exploring the bra, I groan when her nipples start to strain against the lace.
"God, you're a beautiful woman."
She hums as her fingers thread into my hair. This encourages me to keep going, so I bite the fleshy part of her shoulder, hearing her moan. When she pushes back on my erection, I surround her with my arm and hold her in place as we sway together. With electricity coursing between us, I slip my fingers into her panties.
"Edward," she whispers, pressing her head against my shoulder. "That's so good."
Turning her head, she kisses me, and a rhythm sets in. We move as one: our hips, my fingers, her breathy sounds, and her tongue on mine as she pulls on my hair.
Knowing her body so well, I squeeze a nipple, and she shudders as her knees buckle under the weight of her orgasm. Fuck, I love this, knowing I'm the one who makes it happen.
She turns around and kisses me passionately, and I get my hands on her beautiful ass. Maneuvering me to sit down, she takes the panties off and lowers herself, rubbing her pussy up and down my dick. Feeling her ass while watching where we're connected, I know if I don't take control, she's going to break me doing this, and I'll come all over us. Just as I'm about to pick her up and roll us over, she lifts up and sinks down on me, making me cry out.
"Lean back," she commands, and her tits scrape my chest. I close my eyes when she she kisses my neck, her breath hot on my skin. The rhythm returns, and my hips rise in perfect synch with her downward movements. "I love to fuck you," she says, with a sultry voice and a smile matching mine. We're getting this tempo so right these days.
Pulling the front of the exquisite bra down, I suck on her tits, and feel her clench me. The harder I suck, the more her pussy tightens, and her sounds turn husky. It's so erotic that her orgasm pulsing around me makes me explode inside her.
We stay locked together for a while, kissing softly, and then lie down, snuggling. Multiple orgasms still make her sleepy, but her face in my neck and her arm and thigh draped over me is incredibly comforting. She whispers she loves me as she falls asleep, and I kiss her hair, using this precious time to enjoy the feel of her body.
Bella instructs me to park in the visitor's section out front right next to the sign that says "Brookdale Senior Living Solutions."
"Why are we parking here?"
"He's not living in the apartment at the moment."
After the ubiquitous pump of hand sanitizer, Bella leads the way. We find Marcus asleep in a hospital-like room, with Marie sitting next to him, watching television.
"Marcus?" she calls to her husband, attempting to wake him up. Bella tries to intervene, asking her not to disturb him, but Marie continues until Marcus opens his eyes, surprised to see his granddaughter standing next to his bed.
"Oh, you don't have to come visit me, girl."
"I wanted to, Grandpa," she says, hugging him softly.
Marcus looks at me, questioning who I am, and then smiles. "Edward."
He's changed since the last time I saw him. The bone structure in his face is more pronounced, and his eyes look sunken. "How are you feeling, Marcus?"
"I want to go home." Marie takes his hand and gives it a squeeze. "I'm sick of all the tests."
"It won't be long now, my darling." She tries to reassure him, rubbing his arm.
"You said that last week," he grumbles and then looks at me. "I can't sleep in this place."
Without knowing the ordeal he's going through, I respond, "There's nothing like your own bed." He huffs, then looks past me to the doorway.
"I thought I saw the Porsche!" We turn around, seeing Garrett, Kate, and Alex come in. "You should have said you were coming down. We could have driven together." Alex goes straight to Bella with his arms raised, and she picks him up, kissing his cheek.
I just look at Garrett and smile, relieved he's no longer my manager. Watching him make a grand entrance is now amusing, rather than irritating.
Only now can we laugh about the day we were all weary of living in hotels, and Garrett proposed the idea of taking the show overseas. After a collective sigh, the others asked if he was crazy, with Rose getting worked up enough to kill him, so I stopped the bloodshed by firing him.
Surprisingly, Garrett said he was relieved once everyone settled down. With baby number two on the way, he said he was tired too, admitting he thrived on the thrill of the initial success more than the pressure of staying on top.
Jesus, he wasn't the one rehearsing and performing every day.
We wrapped up Little Girl Blue after a run that surprised all of us. No one saw us returning for repeat performances and selling out again, nor did we ever dream of the ridiculous amounts of money we made.
We played the final two weeks in St. Louis, and Bella and Esme flew down for the last performance. The whole cast celebrated with a late supper at 360, the rooftop restaurant of the Hilton where we were staying. Everyone else was talking about long vacations, bigger apartments, private schools. I was flying directly to LA for another two weeks work.
"So, forty next year, Edward. Are you two making plans to start a family yet?" Emmett asked, during the meal. We'd had this question a few times lately from Bella's family but never from our friends.
"I never expected to be married, let alone have a child by the time I was forty. We're too busy for kids, Em. They'll wait."
Bella's bare foot had been right beside mine, playing around with my ankle, and now it was gone. She was already moody, frustrated by getting her period the one weekend we had together in a month, so I'd been treading on eggshells with her all night. When I frowned at her, concerned I'd said the wrong thing, she placed her knife and fork on her plate and leaned back in her chair.
"I'm full," she announced, sweetly smiling as her foot returned, so I figured I wasn't in trouble after all. It was a great party, and when they nudged us out the door at 2:00 am, even Alice was drunk, something I hadn't seen for years.
Alice Brandon is my new manager. She's earned the title and money as the only woman, apart from my wife, whom I can totally trust.
Garrett is now showing photos of Alex to his parents. Soon Marie and Marcus have their hands on Kate's belly, feeling the baby move.
Marcus' face lights up, and he asks, "Did you find out yet?"
Nodding, Garrett looks disappointed. "It's a boy."
"Another boy," Marcus states, shaking his head.
"What's wrong with boys?" I ask, wondering why they are reacting this way.
Bella has the answer. "It's just weird. Everyone has boys."
"Huh, what about Emily?" She was the flower girl at our wedding.
"She's a Swan, Edward. There are no girls in the Baker family except Mom and me."
Wow, I had no idea the odds were so stacked against females in this family, but nothing surprises me anymore. Personally, I couldn't care less. I'll be happy with healthy.
"I'm going to have a girl," Bella announces, beaming at me, rocking Alex in her arms.
"Good luck with that," Garrett retorts as I look at my wife, whose eyes are telling me something. Maybe she's been thinking about this again. I don't ever bring up the subject when she already has so much on her plate, but I'm ready whenever she wants to start trying.
"Don't leave it too long," Marcus says to Bella, clutching Marie's hand, and I try to squash a stray thought that he might not be around to see our children born.
After an interminable hour of Garrett monopolizing the conversation, telling us all about the new artists he's going to be managing, I don't blame Marcus for saying he's tired. We leave them and head over to see Renee and Charlie.
They ask about the picture, and I'm happy to say the Walt Disney Company has surpassed my expectations, embracing my style of classical jazz fusion, and they've given me access to the most incredible musicians in the country. I'm proud of what we've done for this movie.
This week, they took me to Pixar to view the new animation work, where outlines are becoming fleshed out characters. Straycats has a cast drawn from the thirty-seven species of cats and one meerkat who thinks he belongs. It's a feel-good movie, and I've enjoyed the process of collaborating on the jazz numbers, but the big orchestral pieces are all mine.
I still feel like I need to justify the breakup of my business relationship with Garrett, so I tell them about the amazing job Alice has done dismantling Little Girl Blue. She freed me up to go straight to LA and finalize the score for the picture. Both parents are thrilled that I'm going to be home a lot more now.
Charlie asks what my plans are now the show has come to an end, and I mention a new project with Disney, which could mean another year of writing time. I'm careful to say that nothing is definite yet. Bella isn't excited like I thought she would be, asking questions about the time I'll need to spend in LA. She doesn't stop until I assure her that it will be no more than a few weeks here and there. For the most part, I'll be composing at home.
Bella and Renee disappear upstairs, leaving Charlie and me watching football, and when the game is over, I have to go find them to say we should get going. Bella and her mother both look like they've been crying, but I pretend not to notice. Once again, I get the feeling that I've missed something. When I asked Bella if we were celebrating, she definitely said, "Maybe," and I still haven't had the guts to ask what I've forgotten. My wife is too nice to put me in my place, and sometimes she should.
Bella hugs Charlie goodbye, but she lingers with her arms around Renee, and they rock for a while. Sometimes I feel cruel taking their only daughter away with me, but I'm blessed to have such good in-laws. I want to be just like them one day when we have our own kids.
"Are you alright, Bella?" I ask as soon as we take off.
"Never better," she responds honestly.
"Is there something I've done wrong?"
"No," she says, surprised by the question, placing her hand on my thigh. "Why?"
Shaking my head, I'm not sure how to answer, so I go with the obvious. "You seemed upset about the new Disney thing."
"No, it's fine. Just don't go committing to anything big unless we talk about it, okay?"
That's fair enough. I shouldn't have sprung it on her for the first time in front of her parents anyway.
"Okay." I grab her hand and kiss it, knowing that if it's important, she'll tell me eventually.
When I bring her hand back to my thigh, I can feel her eyes on me, and when I glance at her, I feel both self-conscious and vain. Without speaking, she conveys how much she loves me.
"Thank you so much for taking me today, Edward," she says, moving her hand on my thigh.
"My pleasure, baby."
Once we're home, we go in different directions. I head to the living room in search of music, and she goes to our bedroom. She says she doesn't have to study tonight, and I feel like dancing. Scanning through my CDs, I find what I'm looking for - a plain paper cover with my handwriting. The selection of songs is my journey, the memories of finding my own style of music.
The first track was the start of my love affair with Otis Redding, called "Your Feeling Is Mine." The beat grabbed me initially, then the unusual chord changes and bridges stayed with me for days after I heard it. It's one of those songs that makes you dance with your hips, and that's what I'm doing when I hear Bella.
"Play that again," she calls out, coming up the hallway, and I take in what she's wearing. Bright blue, it's like one of her baby dolls, only it stops at her hips with barely-there matching shorts. It doesn't look tight, but boy, does it fit. There's more see-through lace too, but it's hugging her cleavage, modesty covering her nipples this time. "It's so cool." She dances toward me, mirroring my movements, making me smile at this gorgeous woman who just happens to be my wife.
"What do you call this outfit?" I ask smirking.
"It's a short set," she answers, running her hands over my chest, still swinging her hips. "Do you like it?"
I nod, feeling her ass, and I note that the shorts don't do much of a job of covering her cheeks. "Do you buy these outfits for me?"
"Yeah," she answers, putting her arms around my neck. "Well, they make me feel sexy."
This girl… what a win that is for both of us.
The track changes to another Otis Redding song called "That's How Strong My Love Is," and we keep dancing as she pushes her thigh between mine.
"What is this music? Have I heard you play it before?" she asks, looking up into my eyes.
"They're songs that pulled me out of my cocoon of strict classical music. I thought I was heading into R&B before I discovered a certain kind of jazz." As the song finishes, I say, "This next one is another favorite."
"Ah, I love this," she says, surprising me when she knows the words to "Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay."
"Otis Redding wasn't right for me: not enough room for piano. Doesn't mean I can't appreciate it." I take her hand from my neck and spin her out a few times, making sure I get a look at the rear of those shorts before I clutch her tightly to me when she comes back.
"Then I found this, and I thought I was home." The original "Georgia On My Mind" by Ray Charles plays, and we dance with my cheek resting against her temple. She's not very tall without her shoes, only slightly higher than my shoulders, but she's always felt like a perfect fit for me. We don't speak during the track, and she rubs her hand over my abs, eventually under my t-shirt.
I could stop right now and carry her to bed, but I'm not quite finished yet.
"Is this Dave Brubeck?" she asks.
"Yeah, a light switched on when I heard their interpretation of 'Georgia.'" It made me appreciate the freedom of jazz and led me to Nina Simone." Kissing her forehead, I add, "I might not have ever done anything about it if I hadn't met you, and I would never have been truly fulfilled."
Bella runs her fingers around my ear, giving me a look of appreciation, and says, "I don't think that's true, but I love you for feeling that way. This music has magic, Edward."
"No, you're the magic. You're the best thing that ever happened to me."
Her eyes soften, and she says, "Make love to me." Without hesitation, I pick her up, leaving the music playing and the lights on, lost in the passion of her kiss by the time we reach the bedroom.
Since Bella's college schedule is lighter now, she's not coming home exhausted and immediately hitting the books. Still organized and certainly committed to her third year of law, she leaves at the same time every morning with her driver, using the library before class. It didn't take her long to realize it was convenient to work in a roomy comfortable vehicle with access to the Internet.
She says I distract her when she's studying at home, and the hours spent in the library and car seem to be enough for her to complete her research and revise. It's a good thing because she's constantly horny, and I'm reaping the rewards of these honeymoon-like pursuits. With everyone else away on vacation, it's just us, and the sex is becoming addictive.
I fill in my days practicing for my upcoming performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and re-organizing my studio. Going through the pieces I've started over the years, nothing inspires, so I decide to visit my parents. My father is still mentoring Bella, and her grades have been exceptional, so I want to ask him how she did in her recent internship. He organized it so he should have some feedback by now.
Feeling numb as I pull into the driveway of the house where I grew up, Edward Senior opens the front door, holding his arm out for me to come in without even a word of welcome.
"Is Mom here?" I ask, knowing where she is from the delicious smell of roast coming from the kitchen. It brings back a distant fond memory. Bella doesn't cook much, except for the occasional breakfast. She hasn't had time, and Alice has trained her to order amazing food, so I don't associate this household activity with my wife. From the woman in front of me, however, it's very comforting.
"Edward!" She comes over, holding my cheeks like I'm the kid who hasn't visited them in years, although Bella and I were here together before I left for St. Louis.
"You wanted to see me?" My father interrupts, sitting at their table, taking a sip of the tea he was obviously drinking when I arrived. I kiss Mom's cheek, and she invites me to join him, offering me a cup of coffee. Accepting, I know I'll probably need it.
"Yeah, I just wondered if you've had any feedback yet on Bella's internship."
"Are you actually interested in this?"
Fucking hell, he's a charmer. No, I've driven halfway across town to chew the fat with you, old man.
"Of course I am. She's my wife."
He drains his cup slowly and waits for Mom to take it before he answers me. "They have the same opinion as I do. Bella is not cut out for the courtroom. They will eat her alive."
I take this as a personal affront, feeling the hackles rise. "Don't you learn that sort of thing? She's only in year three."
"You don't learn it, Edward. You're born with it. Where do you think your showmanship came from? You inherited that directly from me. You could have been a devastating barrister if you'd only listened to my advice."
Oh boy, he will never give up.
I take a deep breath and say quietly, "I wanted to be a musician."
"And you could have done that as a hobby. You didn't need to choose it as a career."
"Christ, Dad, let it go. It's been over twenty years. Can't you enjoy my success?" I make a mental note to avoid the trap of interfering in my children's choice of career. This issue is a wound in our relationship that won't heal.
"Just once I'd like to hear you acknowledge my success. I didn't have the opportunities you did, son."
"Here we go…"
"Oh, stop it. You two are so much alike!" Mom interjects by motioning for Dad to carve the roast, and it guts me, thinking she sees similarities between me and him.
He gets up obediently, and I sigh, trying to focus on the reason I came here. "What are you saying, that Bella is wasting her time?"
"No, of course not. She would be wasting her time sitting around a court of law when she's a brilliant researcher and innovator. Hell, I would have killed to have her on my team for some of my big cases, but she needs someone with clout and flair to plead to a jury or panel. Her job is over by then, and we're not talking about grievances that arise from greed or anger between a few parties. They affect the greater society. Bella has an innate ability to analyse the evidence and find precedents to give an attorney the best chance at success. It will take many years to prove these cases before they ever go to court."
It is heartening to hear him talk about my wife in such glowing terms, and he does have experience she could benefit from.
"So where do you see her working?"
"She did very well in her Leadership and Development specialty for her master's, so I'm expecting a senior role in one of the agencies is where she could influence change. Once she's ready to take on the system legally, if I'm still around, I would be happy to plead the case for her."
Jesus, in some ways, he knows her better than I do. Does he see her as the child he never had?
"Thank you, Dad. I'm sure she would be thrilled to hear that."
"I've already made the offer. She's an incredible young woman, Edward, and she deserves our support."
Now I'm speechless. It actually feels like his approval of my wife could bind us together in a common goal for once. Mom puts down a plate in front of me, and I thank her, smelling a different version of what my life could be like, spending time with these two over a meal as if things were normal.
Surprisingly, it doesn't feel as bad as I thought.
Once I fill them in on where I'm at with the Disney movie, Mom asks me if we now have time to start a family. I expect Dad to jump down her throat and say it will be years before Bella will have time, but Bella has already told him that I'm going to be the child's main caregiver, and he actually agrees it's the logical choice for our careers and ages.
What spell has my wife cast over him?
As I drive back to the apartment, I think about our current situation and wonder if it's time to bring up the subject of babies again. Since I'm at a crossroads in my life, I'm sure a little forward planning wouldn't hurt. Rehearsing what I'm going to say, I think I'm ready until I see her bouncing in the door and lose my nerve when she sits in my lap.
"What's up?" she asks, and when I frown, she explains. "You've got that look on your face like you have something to tell me."
This girl... she reads me like a book.
"I had lunch with my parents today."
"Oh… how did that go?" she asks, biting her bottom lip.
"Not that bad actually."
She beams at me and says, "That's wonderful," then she nuzzles my neck.
I guess it's now or never. I can use my mother's question innocently.
"Mom asked me today if we are thinking about starting a family."
"Mmm, what do you think about the idea?" she mumbles and kisses my jaw.
"It's growing on me again. What is stopping us now?"
Using her most sultry voice in my ear, she answers, "Nothing," then nibbles on my earlobe. This is going to get out of hand quickly if I don't stop her, and I want her definition of "nothing."
Moving her back, I'm about to ask her to clarify when she smirks and says, "I stopped taking the pill that weekend in St. Louis."
"Yep, you told Emmett you were disappointed that you were turning forty before you had a child."
Maybe I did say that. "Oh, Bella, I never meant it literally. Please don't do this because of my age."
She shakes her head slowly as if it's been decided. "You said we're too busy, but everyone's busy, and they still have babies. We are currently in a unique position. I have more time, and you can work from home. Edward, we have enough money to hire Mary Poppins to help us. Anyway, I think it's already a done deal. My boobs are sore. Mom said that was her first symptom."
I gasp as my heart starts pounding. "How… when… how is this possible?"
Shrugging, her face lights up, and she touches my jaw. "Take away contraception, and that's what happens, probably the weekend you came home. I'm going with the night we were dancing."
"Are you overdue? Have you bought a pregnancy test?" When she nods, I gush out a breath and almost beg, "Please take the test. I wanna know now."
After the sweetest kiss, she gets up and walks down the hallway. It seems like she's gone forever, and I'm pacing by the time she comes back.
"Well... are we pregnant?"
A smile spreads across her face, and she wraps her arms around me. "What do you think of the name, Georgia Masen?"
Oh my God, this girl…
Heavily pregnant was not the way my wife wanted to join me on the red carpet for the June 5th premiere of Straycats.
"What the hell am I going to wear?" she asked.
"Alice will help you find something," I offered, knowing nothing about maternity eveningwear. They went off together and came back with a box. Bella growled when I asked her to model the dress, so I stayed out of it.
"Why do I have to get a medical clearance? I'm perfectly fine. Stupid airlines, we're going first class for Christ's sake."
"I know, but those are the rules."
She stormed off muttering.
"I'm so sick of exams! Why do they have to be now?"
"Are you sure you want to go, babe?" It was a bad question. She glared at me, daring me to say more. I shut up.
And so it went on. There was no way I could convince her that it would be easier if she stayed in Chicago. No, she was coming to Hollywood, and nothing was going to stop her. We had to stay at the Hotel Bel-Air, with a spa. She insisted. Someone good had to do her hair and makeup. It was so unlike her, but I enjoyed it. I'd been known to assert myself with hotel managers who failed to have my room ready on arrival or when things weren't up to standard. I wondered if it was my child inside her bringing out the demanding queen.
Actually, I was hoping she wouldn't stay home because I wanted to show off the bump to the world. Well, it was more than a bump. She was huge and glowing with pregnancy.
We had to obtain written clearance from the doctor before she could fly. She couldn't get comfortable on the plane. Her ankles were swelling. Still, she soldiered on, blown away by the incredible suite with views of the canyon, relaxing in the spa, bikini-clad and magnificent. She charmed everyone at dinner that night.
The pool here is so beautiful that I excuse myself to swim and relax while the hair and makeup artist goes to work in our room. On my return, I hear her grumbling to herself when I enter the apartment.
"I look ridiculous!"
Following the sound of her voice, I find her standing in front of the mirror in her evening dress, looking more beautiful than ever. Her hair is the softest updo, enhancing the essence of her femininity. The dress is strapless, highlighting her beautiful curves, and yet full and floaty.
When Alice showed me the necklace, I wasn't sure, but now I see that it's perfect. A row of diamonds would have been my choice, but this funkier creation of sapphires, opals, and diamonds is more suitable for my young wife's blue dress.
"Stunning," I say as I admire her. I'm the one who looks ridiculous, standing in a towel next to this goddess.
"Yes, really," I answer, kissing her hand. "And I have something for you."
Lifting the necklace from the box, I drape it round her neck, and she gasps.
"Thank you. It's gorgeous. Oh my God, it's really gorgeous! Thank you so much."
"No, you're gorgeous. The two of you are," I add, smoothing my hand over her belly.
"Don't make me cry, Edward Masen," she says with a laugh, placing her hand over mine.
"Uh… can I kiss you?"
She giggles and nods, kissing me with the gentlest passion.
A hundred photos and interviews take up our time on the red carpet. We have kept Bella out of the public eye during the pregnancy, and the press has been gracious, so tonight everyone wants the details of the birth of our child. My involvement in the film is secondary to the designer of Bella's dress. Bella is sweet and excited, happy to say she has no idea of the child's sex. I really don't know what is going to happen if it's a boy because she is convinced she's having a girl.
By the time we sit down for the showing, Bella is exhausted.
We have two more days in LA before we come home. Again, she's uncomfortable on the plane, feeling the weight of the baby causing her pain. By the time we land in Chicago, a pattern has emerged, and it's apparent she's having contractions, so we go straight from the airport to the hospital. I'm beside myself with worry, thinking I've caused the baby to come early because of my stupid event, and I'm furious when I find out that Bella's obstetrician is out-of-town.
They confirm that Bella is in labor and place her in a wheelchair. I had planned to push her to the maternity suites myself, but now I've got two suitcases to deal with and an orderly with attitude who looks at them and raises his eyebrows. While a nurse prepares Bella for the birth, she gives me the job of calling Renee. I have to admit the baby is coming at thirty-eight weeks, and I leave the room so my wife won't see how upset I am.
"Don't worry about it," Renee says, without any concern. "Bella was born around thirty-eight weeks. She'll be fine. Do you want us to come up?"
"I… I don't know."
"We'll get in the car, Edward. Calm down."
I guess in a family where having babies is commonplace, they're used to this, but I'm not.
When I return to the room, Bella has a strap around her, connected to a monitor. She's on her own and crying, pressing the button to summon a nurse. I can see her pain has progressed.
Why have they left her like this?
"Do you need pain relief, baby?" I ask in a panic, and she nods. Racing out of the room, I yell for somebody to get in here. A nurse comes walking down the hall, asking me to wash my hands.
I feel like I'm about to explode. I tell the woman that Bella requires an immediate epidural, but she ignores me, methodically checking the readings on the machine before examining her again.
"No time. This baby's ready to be born."
The look of fear from Bella makes me go directly to her. I want to hold her, but I'm worried I'll cause her more agony. Instead, I keep kissing her temple and smoothing her hair.
A woman in different colored scrubs arrives, attempting to explain what's going to happen, but I can't hear her properly when Bella is screaming through her teeth. She tells her to pant, not push, but Bella yells back, asking her how she's supposed to stop.
Christ, the classes we've done haven't prepared us properly because this feels like chaos. I'm supposed to be playing her favorite music, rubbing her back, and feeding her ice when I'm actually helpless, watching her face turn bright red as she squeezes the life out of my hand.
"I'm sorry, baby. I'm so sorry," I tell her sincerely.
"Now, Mrs. Masen," the woman commands. "... and hold your breath."
It goes on and on, coaxing her to hold back, demands to push, counting to ten. I try to help her lean forward.
And then it happens. It's like Bella has given up. She can't keep holding her breath anymore, and a gritty sound from somewhere deep escapes her. I'm ready to run up the hallway alongside her bed, holding her hand on the way to a C-Section, when she lets out a massive breath.
Bella closes her eyes and breathes out like they've achieved something, but I'm not sure what stage this is. They're talking quietly, working on something between her legs, but there's no sound of crying yet. I'm too afraid to look.
Bella clutches my wrist, and my heart stops when they lift our child. The most joyous sound fills the room – a cry and my wife's laughter. "A girl," the woman announces.
Tears stream down Bella's face as they place our baby on her chest, and she leans up to kiss me. It's crazy how much love I feel for them both already – separate, but still one.
Bella is shaky. Georgia is shaky, slippery with birth and changing color by the second. It's raw and bloody, this miracle of breathing air and turning pink. As they wipe her down, I smile, amazed at the ferocity of the noise she makes.
Maybe she'll sing like Rose.
Bella tucks a cloth around Georgia and talks to her. The miniature hand that sticks out stops fluttering, and Georgia stops wailing. Bella is crying, kissing Georgia's head, and I feel courageous enough to place my hand on her tiny back, feeling her heat through the cloth.
"I love you," Bella says, holding my cheek, and I circle her wrist.
"I need a stronger word, baby," I respond, kissing her forehead.
The clock on the wall says it's just past 8:00 pm. At midday, we were boarding a flight as a couple expecting, and now we're a family. Too soon, they take Georgia aside for newborn tests, and I feel overwhelmed and exhausted, although I've done nothing.
After a first attempt to feed, they ask me to sit down and give me our baby. Bella is unsteady but able to walk to the shower with the help of a nurse. It seems like only minutes ago she was screaming in pain. Women are so strong. Resisting the temptation to unwrap my child, I decide to introduce myself instead. It turns out to be more emotional than I expected.
"Hello, Georgia, I'm your dad." Breathing out to steady myself, I go on. "I'm gonna be around a lot so we need to get along." Then she yawns, and I break down. "I have wanted you for so long." The force of the tears is overwhelming. "I just didn't realize it until I saw you."
Wiping my eyes, I'm glad she won't remember her father bawling when she was born. A few deep breaths bring me back, and I study the fine dusting of hair on her head.
They move Bella and Georgia to their room, and I call both sets of parents, laughing as I give them the news. Then I call everyone I know, reveling in the joy of my good fortune. Alice and Jasper offer to bring Bella's bag that sits in our apartment, packed for the hospital.
Joining my family, I find them both asleep, Bella with her lips on Georgia's head, and I record the moment on my phone. Eventually, tearing myself away from the sight, I climb into bed behind Bella, surrounding both of my girls with my arms.
Happy birthday Nic, FicWhisperer!
Big love for all you did for me and for this story. You're amazing.
The songs for this chapter, Edward's early influences, as well as all the others are on my profile page. Check them out and see if you can connect with another time when this kind of music was breaking barriers :D