Without A Smile: Future Take
Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see, and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say "Listen to me"
Children will listen.
A child wasn't the only one listening as Bella sang. Edward was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, the sounds of Bella singing to their daughter soothing him. Everything in him wanted to go to her and watch as she nursed their child, but he was also content to lay there and listen to her voice coming through the baby monitor. Besides, the other kids would be home from their grandparent's house soon, and then his rest would be over.
No sooner had Edward had that thought and the front door opened and he heard his oldest yelling for him, "Dad, we're home."
When Edward and Bella first got together, she was pretty convinced that she didn't want children. His advice was not to think too hard about it. He was hopeful that she wouldn't close the door completely, but if it was something she never felt comfortable with, he could do without. She was his number one priority.
However, it was less than a year after their wedding that Edward and Bella found themselves parents to not one, but two children.
Alice and Esme had convinced Bella it was time for them all to join forces and open up their own theatre. With Bella's experience, Alice's design skills, Esme's connections and fundraising know-how, the Cygnet Children's Theatre opened with only a couple months of planning. Bella initially intended to keep working at Cullen Inc., but Edward convinced her that one job was enough. He didn't want all of her time being tied up with work.
For their first production, the Cygnet Children's Theatre decided to do Honk! A musical based on the story of The Ugly Duckling. One of Bella's favourite foster kids, Bree, was back playing the lead role. Until she had to drop out because of trouble at home. When Bella finally found where Bree had been living, she also discovered that Bree and her little brother, Riley had been placed into separate residences. Riley hadn't talked in years, and no one wanted to deal with him. At seven years old, he had been put into a big group home and was being picked on and neglected without Bree around to look out for him.
A ton of paperwork, red tape, and a lot of home visits later, Bree and Riley were together again and living comfortably with Edward and Bella. Bella took to motherhood the way she did everything else, with spirit, organization and a lot of singing.
Bree and Riley had a pretty sad story, and because of the abuse inflicted upon him before being removed from their parents, Riley's vocal chords were damaged. The whole Cullen family banded together to start learning sign language to make it easier for him. However, with the right doctors and training, he slowly began to get his voice back. After a couple years, he was feeling comfortable enough to talk all the time, although his vocal chords still got tired easily.
But once Riley started talking, he and Bree started lobbying for something they both really wanted: a baby.
At first, Edward was surprised. He figured they would be content to be the only kids in the family, especially after being bounced around from home to home all the time. But they insisted that they needed a baby to make their family complete.
After the initial shock had worn off, Bella turned to Edward and said in her nonchalant way, "Sure, why not?"
That was one of the best days of Edward's life. Followed by a couple of wonderful months of baby-making.
Now he was the proud father of two preteens and a newborn daughter.
"Dad?" Riley's soft voice carried up the stairs, a marked contrast to the heavy stomping of his feet. Edward didn't know much about Riley's birth family, but they must have been tall because at ten years old the kid was all legs and arms and looked like he wasn't going to stop growing any time soon.
"Are Mom and the baby awake?" Riley asked when Edward met him at the top of the stairs.
"She's feeding little Annie right now if you want to go see her."
Riley quickly turned and headed to the baby's room. Edward following close behind. The sight that met him warmed his heart.
Annie Grace was tucked snuggly against Bella's chest. She had obviously fallen asleep while nursing and Bella was often reluctant to put her down afterwards because Annie didn't often stay asleep. The baby had curly hair like Edward, but it was definitely redder, much like her namesake. While Riley went over and sat beside the rocking chair, Bree came into the room and gave Edward a hug.
"Hi, Dad. How's the baby doing?" She whispered.
"Oh, she's great. Mostly keeping your Mom busy. How was your weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's?"
"Busy as usual. I worked a lot on that song we've been writing. It's easier to practice there these days because I don't have to worry about waking Annie or Mom up."
Edward looked down at his oldest daughter. She may have come to him when she was ten years old but to him, that didn't make her any less his. At almost thirteen, she was as tall as Bella and still growing. People often thought she and Bella were sisters because they both had dark hair, dark eyes and looked close in age. However, Bree and Edward had a bond that can only come from being the oldest orphaned sibling to someone who wouldn't talk. They also shared a love for the piano.
"Good thinking. You want to play it for me later?"
"Won't it disturb the baby?"
"We can't walk on eggshells around Annie all the time. Besides, she is going to have to get used to how musical this family is, and maybe if we keep her up a bit more during the day she will let your Mom sleep more at night."
At a month, Annie still had her days and nights mixed up, and Bree and Riley had been spending a lot of time at their grandparents so they could get some sleep. Annie also had a strong set of lungs on her.
Looking over, he could see Bella running her hand through Riley's hair as he sat beside the rocking chair.
Riley had no desire to be on stage, but he loved helping Bella out behind the scenes at the theatre. They often joked that they should have called it the Cullen Family Theatre because there were so many Cullens involved. It really was a family affair. Bella was adamant that kids from all over the city should be able to participate, and they even had a special camp in the summer run by volunteers, for kids who couldn't afford to pay for the regular camp.
They all looked over as Annie started making waking-up noises. Riley moved the nursing pillow so Bella could stand and then she handed Annie over to Riley's waiting arms.
"She's really cute Mom, but you know you still need to have a boy too."
Bella laughed. "I do, do I?"
"Sure," Riley said. "Bree and I are two years apart. You don't want Annie to not have a little brother to look after, do you?"
Bree laughed as she walked away down the hall to her room. "She will be spoiled terribly if she's the only baby of the family!" She yelled back over her shoulder.
Riley looked down and kissed Annie's head while he said softly, "We could name him after Poppa Liam."
Edward and Bella exchanged a sad look as he walked over and took her in his arms.
"They do have a very good point, my love. This one is going to be so spoiled."
"Ugh. Talk to me when I'm not so exhausted and sleep deprived." Bella said, but she laughed.
After growing up and being bounced from foster home to foster home, Bella never thought she would have such an amazing family of her own. Knowing what Riley and Bree must have gone through in the system and being able to give them a stable and loving environment was a dream come true. Little Annie was like the icing on the cake. Bella often felt that it would be selfish to wish for more, but dreaming a little couldn't hurt she often told herself.
Edward smiled down at Bella, because what else could he do? She might be a crazed, show-tunes, singing wife (which was a thousand times better than personal assistant), but she was still the most adorable person he had ever met.
And she always made him smile.
A/N: This is officially it for our couple. I hope everyone enjoyed this little peak into their future. A final thank you to SunflowerFran and Darcysmom again for their Beta skills. I can't help tinkering away until the last minute so all mistakes are mine. A big hello to all the new readers and followers who found their way to this story recently through the TwiFanFictionRecs blog. And thanks to the ladies who run that blog for recommending this story.
Have a wonderful summer everyone and hopefully I will see you again soon.