This is it, folks. It's the last chapter from these two!
I wouldn't have made it this far without Iris, MidnightCougar & SparklyMeg. Big hugs, ladies. You've helped me so much.
"I'm so excited for you!" Jess' squeal makes me look up, which is about two seconds before she's jumping into my arms with hers wrapped around my neck.
I giggle. "Thanks, Jess."
"Let me see." She pulls away, instantly going for my ring finger. "Oh, it's beautiful. So elegant. I love it." It's not a huge ring, and it isn't flashy, but it's perfect. A diamond-cut stone surrounded by smaller ones sits perfectly on my finger. I smile every time I look at it.
"I do, too," I murmur, looking down and loving the butterflies that flutter in my stomach as I look at my ring. Again.
"So..." She takes the empty seat on the other side of my desk. "Tell me all about it. How'd he do it? Did he get on one knee? How was the sex after?"
"Jess," I mock-scold through my laughter.
"What? Let me live vicariously through you!"
I sigh. "It was perfect."
She rolls her eyes. "Of course it was. You're a wedding planner; it couldn't be anything other than perfect."
My heart flutters just thinking about it. "He thought of everything. We flew home, saw my parents during the day, and then stayed in a fancy hotel at night. He booked a nice restaurant for dinner, and then we went on the Space Needle." I smile. "As we approached the top, he walked me over to a quieter area. We were both facing the skyline, watching the view, and he murmured my name. When I turned around, he was facing me, and yes, he was on one knee." I look down at my hand. Again. "It was so romantic. I couldn't have planned it better if I'd tried."
"Look at you. You're positively glowing."
I grin. I can't help it. "I still can't believe it." I straighten my left arm, twisting it so the ring on my finger catches the sunlight.
"Yes, yes. It's very pretty. And it looks amazing on you. And you're marrying the man of your dreams." She winks to make sure she knows I'm kidding. And props to her, 'cause I've rammed this down her throat so many times. "When do we get to start planning?"
"How about now?" I open my top drawer and pull out a few bridal magazines.
Jess squeals. "I knew it! But what makes you think you'll need all this? You have half the suppliers in the city eating out of the palm of your hand."
I shrug. "It's part of being the bride, right? I want to make this different. I mean, I don't want to 'work' my own wedding."
She nods. "Okay. Well, then you get the wine, I'll get the ice cream, and I'll be at your place at 7:00. And tell Edward to make himself scarce for the night."
"Maggie's taken a shine to you." I giggle as we leave the florist, hand in hand.
Edward rolls his eyes, pulling me close and letting go of my hand, only to wrap his arm around my shoulder.
It always amazes me how perfectly I fit against him.
"She's old enough to be my mother."
"Well, she certainly wasn't acting like it!"
He grins. "It's very nice of her to reduce the cost of the flowers. It says a lot about you."
"About me? It says a lot about her."
He shakes his head. "No. The fact that she would cater for such a large wedding and only charge you the shop price speaks volumes about you."
He stops walking, turning me in his arms. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing. I just…"
He kisses me softly but still manages to leave me breathless.
I smile. "You'll think I'm silly."
"I just… Do you think it's getting a bit out of hand?" His face drops, and I realize how it sounds. "I still want to marry you! God, I can't think of anything I want more. But with all the press, the family input, and special treatment from suppliers..." I blow out a big breath. "It feels like it's growing out of control." I shrug. "Like it's more about the wedding, about putting on a show, you know?" I huff, chuckling low. "Does that even make sense?"
His fingers brush under my chin, gently tilting my head so I can look up at him. His eyes, eager and determined, roam my face as if he's looking for some answers.
"I thought every girl wanted the big white wedding. The dress? The fancy hotel? The fancy grub?" He grins, making me laugh.
I shake my head. "I'd always imagined something smaller," I admit. "Somewhere we can marry outside if the weather's nice enough. Maybe near some water? And then maybe… somewhere fancy for a meal. I can't deny that part."
"Why didn't you say so? I thought you wanted all that."
I shrug. "I thought you did."
Soft and perfect, making my heart flutter.
"Bella, I just want you."
I cringe when I open the front door and find the apartment in darkness. I should've been home hours ago, but I was caught up with an appointment that ran on for over an hour. It wasn't the first time this week, and I know it won't be the last, which is making me very unpopular.
I kick off my shoes, drop my purse, and flick on the hall light before heading straight for the kitchen, hunting for any leftovers.
I'm halfway into the kitchen when I spot the shadow sitting at the kitchen table. He's still, has his shoulders hunched, and is radiating tension.
"Shit, Edward! You gave me a heart attack!"
"I know I'm late. I'm really sorry. It just went on and on. The couple didn't know what they wanted, and I didn't notice the time. It just got away from me…" I ramble, getting quieter as he turns away from me.
His silence says more than any words can. His back is like a stone wall blocking me out. His hair is the victim of his stress, sticking up in all kinds of directions.
"I... I... I…" His shoulders start shaking as he tries to hold back his sobs.
"Edward? What's wrong? Are you okay?" I turn him to face me, noticing how pale he looks. All color has left him, leaving his skin hollow and gray with big black circles under his eyes. Silent tears fall as he looks at me.
I tremble as my hands roam his body, looking for something that could be causing this. Something sits heavy in the pit of my stomach, dread making it lurch with every breath. "Talk to me."
"I went… to see my mom after work."
Shit. "Did... Did something happen?"
He wipes his eyes with his arm. "I... She seemed okay. I mean, she forgot a few things, but that's normal, right?"
I stroke his arm. Esme's been deteriorating, but she still has her good days. "Yeah. The doctors told us she could still have some good days."
"When I was leaving, they took me aside. She's getting worse, Bella. Soon… They don't know if she'll even be able to remember me—" He chokes out the last word, sobs winning and breaking free. Tremors wreck his body as he slips into my arms, both of us falling to the kitchen floor where we stay for the next hour.
Slowly, his sobs fade, and I can feel his breathing return to normal. We sit in silence, with Edward not knowing what to say and me not knowing how I can even try to make him feel better. His mom is deteriorating before his eyes, and there's nothing he can do.
Finally, when my limbs start to ache from sitting in the same position for too long, I try to move us. "Edward? We should go to bed."
He nods against my shoulder but doesn't move. "I want to ask you something."
"Can we move the wedding up? I mean, is something like that possible?" He looks up at me, his eyes searching.
"I'm sure we can manage."
We help each other to our feet, and he pulls me in for a tight hug.
"I just want to get married while my mom still knows who I am."
Winter in Chicago is cold. Not the kind of cold where you might have to put on a coat, and not the kind of cold where your fingers get slightly numb if you forget your gloves. It's the kind of cold that seeps through the many layers of clothes you've piled on, crawling into your veins and chilling you from the inside. The wind's bitter, with huge gusts that almost knock people off their feet, and when paired with the rain, sleet, or snow, it's enough to send anyone running indoors with tingling ears and a numb face.
But we make it work.
We barely notice the weather, our attention taken with the deterioration of Esme's mind. We visit more, desperate to prolong our time together, but at the end of each visit, we're left feeling despondent. We know our time with her is even more limited than it was at the start.
It's subtle, but the changes are there — when she stops mid-sentence as she forgets what she's talking about, when she repeats something, when she repeats something more than once…
And what breaks Edward's heart the most is how it's taking her longer to recognize him.
In comparison to the despair I see in my fiancé's features, a bit of cold weather is nothing.
It's after one particularly difficult visit that I find myself almost crawling over the console to try and comfort Edward. We're pulled over, and the car's still running, blasting out warm air. He huffs, turns off the radio, and flops back in his seat with his eyes closed.
I don't know what to say.
I don't know if I should say something.
I sit quietly, tears forming in my own eyes as I watch his silently fall down his cheeks.
I place my hand on his. "Edward—"
Before I can finish, he opens the driver door and gets out, walking around to the front of the car where he stops and leans on the hood. The snow has stopped for now, but the wind is still bitter enough to chill you in seconds. Cold blasts inside, making me shiver, but I still follow him outside.
He's leaning back on his hands, his face looking up to the sky. I wrap my arms around myself as if they'll warm me.
"You didn't even put your jacket on."
I shrug. "I'm hoping we'll be back inside soon."
He sighs and looks at me. "Come here." He opens his arms, wrapping them around me but says nothing.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes. No… You know the worst part? We can't do anything. Anything. We have to sit and watch it eat away at her. We can't stop it. And she doesn't even know it's happening."
I hug him hard. It's all I can do. I can't offer any words of comfort, 'cause he's right. I can't tell him it'll be all right or that everything will be fine. It won't.
"I'm so sorry," I whisper. "I hate that this is happening."
"I know," he murmurs, kissing my forehead. "I'm so glad I have you. I can't imagine going through this alone. You've been amazing."
"I haven't done anything."
"You've done more than you know."
The ceremony and reception will be taking place in one venue. After weeks of seeing venue after venue — mainly my fault — we both agreed on a small, quirky venue close to the water. The bonus for me is that I've never planned a wedding here.
This place is ours.
Creativo Loft is a small venue which specializes in small weddings; nothing over one hundred. It's the perfect size, and the studio loft has a vintage feel I fell for right away.
It's snowing on our wedding day. It was never something I envisioned when I thought of my wedding, but I just have to smile as I look outside. It's dreamy, like something from a postcard, and the wedding planner in me can't help but think about how perfect the photos will be.
Although I might be my own something blue.
"Honey, your car's here." My mom enters my suite through our adjoining door. She gasps, holding her hands to her heart. "You look wonderful." She shakes her head, wiping underneath her eyes. "I know every mom says this, but you're the most beautiful bride."
I smile. "Thanks, Mom." I take a deep breath and give myself another once-over in the mirror. "I think I'm ready to go."
"Your dad's waiting downstairs with Jess by the cars."
As we take the elevator and walk through the lobby, I can feel all eyes on me.
But there's only pair I can't wait to see.
The low hum in the background quietens as the string quartet begins to play the processional.
She's five minutes early.
Of course she is.
Of course the wedding planner can't be late to her own wedding.
My heart feels like it's in my throat. I struggle to swallow, my mouth going as dry as the desert, and I'm pretty sure I'm sweating.
But it's the best kind of nerves, because when I turn, she's walking down the aisle with a smile I know matches my own.
My eyes don't leave hers until she's standing next to me, her body shaking with nerves, excitement, or probably the same mixture of both I feel.
The ceremony is short yet simple, both of us deciding to opt for the traditional vows. Both our voices are clear as we recite them, and when we're announced as Mr. and Mrs. Cullen, I pull her into my arms and kiss her soundly before I'm given permission to.
She smiles against my lips, making me smile, but I don't pull away.
And neither does she.
"Man, I hate having a wife that likes to dance so much." I turn to find my brother standing next to me. He's taken off his bowtie and popped open the first few buttons on his shirt. I laugh, and he points his finger at me. "You laugh, but she has your wife right now. It won't be long before Bella has you up there. And you're a worse dancer than I am."
My eyes fall to my wife. She's currently being spun around the floor by Rose. She has the bottom of her dress held in one hand and the other held high above her as Rose spins her. They're both laughing, and I love that they get along so well.
She fits in, like I always knew she would.
Emmett puts his empty glass on the bar top. "I'll have another since you're buying."
"It's an open bar, dumbass."
He grins. "Which technically means you're buying."
I add his drink to the order and turn to face the dance floor while we wait.
"She looks happy," he says quietly but loud enough for me to hear.
I don't need to know who he's talking about. I'm already watching her.
Sitting by the side of the dance floor is my mother, watching the two girls dance with a wistful smile. She's had a good day; she's remembered where she is, who we are, and why we're here. She's different, though; quieter, happier to watch what's happening around her than take part in it. But I don't care.
I'm just glad she's here.
"She's having a good day," I reply.
"She wouldn't have missed this for the world."
I nod. "I know. I just... I didn't want her worse, you know? The thought of her sitting at my wedding and not knowing why she was there or who I even was… Now, she still knows me and knows Bella, and she knows how happy we are." I look at him. "Is that selfish of me?"
"No. Of course it makes sense to want her here." He shrugs. "Plus, who knows…"
He doesn't have to finish.
Who knows how long we have with her.
He sighs shakily, clapping me on the shoulder. It's a happy day, built with underlying sadness.
"I know," I murmur. "I know."
"Did I ever say thank you?"
It's almost the end of the night, and I finally have my wife in my arms. The music is slower, and the dancefloor is emptier than it has been all night now that the number of guests is dwindling. She smiles up at me, her arms around my shoulders and her fingers running through my hair. Her hair is falling haphazardly around her shoulders, a victim of the dancing she's taken part in tonight. Her lips are bare of the pale lipstick she wore when I first kissed her as Mrs. Cullen, and there's a faint black line under her eyes where her mascara has run, following tears of laughter and some of sadness.
She looks magnificent.
I lean down and kiss her softly. "Yes."
We spin in a slow, awkward shuffle, neither of us bothering to do anything more. "For this. For being there for me. For moving the wedding up."
"You don't need to thank me."
"Not many would sacrifice their wedding day—"
"Sacrifice?" She scoffs. "This isn't a sacrifice, Edward. This is one day. I still get every other day with you."
She gasps as I kiss her, catching her off guard, hoping it conveys everything I can't find the words for. "Not everyone sees it that way."
She rolls her eyes, goes onto her tiptoes, and kisses me. Once. Twice. Three times. "We changed the date, brought things up a bit, and had to rearrange some travel for my family. It's not a big deal. Anyway, haven't I already told you that you knew some shitty people?"
I smile. "I believe it's been mentioned once or twice."
"So, Bella Cullen, is this a day a wedding planner should be proud of?"
She chuckles. "Definitely. We couldn't have had a better day if I'd tried. I think I'm biased since I'm the bride, though. And I got to marry you."
I grin. "Since when have you been such a smooth talker?
"Hmm... Since now that I'm trying to sweet talk you into bed. Is it working?" My gaze drops to her lips as her tongue peeks out to wet them. She smiles confidently. I give her what she wants, what we both want. When she moans, I pull back, knowing we can't continue here.
"You should know by now I'm a sure thing when it comes to you."
"Good to know."
The song finishes, and Bella pulls away from me. "Where do you think you're going? I wasn't finished…"
She grins that cheeky grin I love and twirls, her dress fanning around her. I laugh at her playfulness as she crooks her finger. She's utterly adorable.
"I requested a song for you. I hope that's okay."
I reach her and pull her into my arms. "Another chance to have you in my arms? That's always okay with me, Bella."
She smiles, cupping my cheek in her delicate hands. "I was hoping you'd say that."
The room goes silent, and I wait. And keep waiting. Bella's grinning. Emmett's grinning. Hell, even Rose and Jess are grinning.
Then I hear those opening riffs, and my eyes fall back to my bride who's walking back over to me.
"It's tradition," she whispers.
"Sex On Fire"
Lay where you're laying
Don't make a sound
I know they're watching
All the commotion
The kiddie like play
Has people talking
Your sex is on fire
The dark of the alley
The break of the day
Head while I'm driving
Soft lips are open
Them knuckles are pale
Feels like you're dying
Your sex is on fire
With what's just transpired
Hot as a fever
I could just taste it
But it's not forever
But it's just tonight
Oh we're still the greatest
Your sex is on fire
Your sex is on fire
With what's just transpired
Your sex is on fire
With what's just transpired
Thank you for sticking with me on this story. Nothing more from these two! I hope you enjoyed it!
I've also written an entry for the .Seduce. Contest, which is a great contest with amazing entries! You can find them on my favourite authors link!
I have a few ideas for stories I'd like to write, but nothing started just yet. When I do, I'll have a chunk, if not all of it, pre-written so I can post once a week. Thank you again. I wish I could hug you all!
Thank you again. I wish I could hug you all!
Until next time! xoxo