Thank you to Robstenfanpire for being my beta on this story.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any of the characters in Twilight. I'm just borrowing them to have some fun.
Chapter 40 – The Intervention
"Move to LA with me." It's a request I've heard time and time again over the last four months and he knows exactly what my answer will be as well as I do.
"You know I can't." I give the standard reply as I carry on loading the dishwasher.
I feel two strong hands wrap around me from behind as I stand up. "Move to LA with me," he appeals once again, in his seductive voice, right in my ear.
I close my eyes and sigh, allowing my head to fall back against his chest. "Please, Edward, don't make this harder than it is. Besides, you'll be back here in a couple of months." The end of August is fast approaching. Edward and I have been together in Forks all summer, since Vanessa was born. It's been a wonderful four months, but now his work beckons.
He turns me in his arms and looks down into my eyes. "A couple of months away from you is too long," he protests. "I'm going to miss you all so much."
I can't bear to see the hurt and pain in his eyes and I look down leaning my head against his chest. "We'll Skype every day."
"Not good enough, Bella. Nessie changes every day. I'm going to hate not waking up next to you, not being able to help Embry with his guitar, not playing chess with Jared, and I'm going to really miss Kim's impromptu ballet performances in the living room, more then I'd ever admit to her." I know his words are true.
In the last few months, Edward has become an important part of this family. He helps me around the house and all of my children have bonded with him. We are all going to miss him while he's in LA working on his next film. For the next two months I go back to being a single mom and I'm not looking forward to it. But I can't move to LA. The place where Kim ended up in hospital. The place where a photographer could be waiting around any corner. Besides, Edward will be working long hours, so he'll not be around much anyway.
"The kids start school in a couple weeks," I say.
"There are schools in LA," he replies, his voice breaking on the words. I know what this is doing to him. I feel it too, but I'm so scared. Besides, we have to get used to these separations. His next job could be filming in Europe, or worse, Australia.
I know I'm being stubborn, and probably unreasonable, but the idea of living in LA really frightens me. When I think about it my blood runs cold. How could I take my kids to the park? What about grocery shopping? Here in Forks, since James has been locked up, we are never hassled. The locals have gotten used to seeing Edward around with me and the kids. A few people still act a little star struck, but they're not people we see often. We had a little interest from the press when we first left the hospital with Vanessa, but after that we've been left alone in the main.
Talking of James. He was sent down for fifteen years, after effectively admitting to everything when arrested. He was threatening to plead not guilty for a while, forcing us to go through the stress of a trial, but in the end some cleaver bargaining from the DA around the charges his sister was to face convinced him not to go ahead. She is currently out and living her life, as there really wasn't any proof she knew what her brother was up to, but it's not the life she wanted to live. No one in LA will touch her now the story of has got out.
"Please, Edward," I beg as my eyes fill with tears. I try to hold them back, but Edward's leaving date is loaming and I'm dreading it. I hate hearing the hurt in his voice and I hate the thought of him not being here. But I can't be there. I just can't. "Maybe after this project." I try to placate him.
He pulls back and lifts my chin to look me in the eye. He studies me and I see unshed tear in his eyes also. "I want everything with you, Beautiful, you understand that don't you? I see you moving in as just the first step of us getting our forever. I need to know you want that too."
I don't know what to say. Of course I want forever with this man. I just wish I wasn't so scared.
"I love you, CM." It's all I can offer him at the moment. "Please tell me that's enough for now."
He sighs and pulls me back into his embrace. "For now, Beautiful."
I know we need to move forward, and forcing him into a situation where he won't be able to see his daughter every day borders on cruelty, but I have four children whose best interests I have to put first. The older three only moved here a year ago. They are settled. Can I really justify uprooting them again, so soon?
Tonight is a big night though. It's exactly a year since Edward and I met, and we are celebrating. The LA gang is up visiting and we have everyone over for a late summer barbeque. We've been lucky and the weather has held off. Edward has been helping me to marinade the meat all day, a pregnant Rose is coming over early to make up her potato salad and check there are enough virgin cocktails for us non-drinkers. Alice offered to make something, but was quickly shut down. It would appear her cooking skills are as good as my fashion knowledge.
We also have my family over, Charlie and Sue are bringing salad items and my sister is bringing dessert. She does a mean cheesecake. Billy and Sarah are also coming over. They met Edward soon after Vanessa was born, when then came up to meet her. It was great to see them interacting with Nessie in the same way they had the other three children, and I know they are going to spoil her as much as they do the others. Sarah was a little star struck by Edward at first, getting all flustered and tongue tied, causing Billy to roll his eyes and whisper to me that she'd seen all his films. She's since gotten more used to him, but she still gets her fan girl moments when I see her remember he isn't just Edward, the guy who helps to care for her grandchildren, but is actually Edward Cullen, famous movie star.
Ang and Ben have been here most of the day with their boys, helping us to set up, which I think involved them putting the beer on ice and making up pitchers of various punches and cocktails. Jess was due to be here earlier, but one of her ladies went into labor, so she is likely to be late. I'm really looking forward to having everyone who is closest to Edward and I together to help us celebrate. To top everything off Alice arranged for Esme and Carlisle to fly in last night as a surprise. They are currently helping Ang and Ben check the wine and beer are cool enough out on the back patio whist the kids play.
I'm just managing to pull myself together as there is a ring at the door, and I wonder which of our guests it will be. I pull away from Edward wiping my eyes and taking a deep breathe.
"You ready for this?" asks Edward.
I smile at him. "Bring it on," I say.
The afternoon has been passing well and Edward seems to have put his worries to one side and is playing the role of the perfect host, making sure drinks are topped up and people are fed. He's currently talking earnestly with Charlie and Billy. If I was a betting person, I would guess he was ensuring my dad will be keeping an eye on us while he's in LA. Charlie has got over his aversion to Edward. The whole James situation helped to show him that Edward will do anything to keep me and our family safe and after reading several internet stories linking Edward to his ex, Tanya, at times when Charlie knew Edward was in Forks he understands not to believe the internet rumors any more
My family and Edward's family are getting on so well. Ang and Esme seem to be giggling together a lot, and Alice, Rose and Jess seem as thick as thieves. I have my feet up, a virgin mojito in hand, as I survey our back yard. I smile as Embry tosses a football to Emmett, who is swiftly tackled by Jared. Emmett is so large he doesn't even flinch slightly from, what I know to be, Jared's hardest tackle. He just sweeps Jared up under his other arm and carries him into the touch down zone, to many cries of cheating. The game breaks up soon after, having been declared a technical draw and I see Embry, Emmett and Jasper wander off together, probably doing some male bonding. I'm so glad my sons' have such good male role models in their lives. With the loss of their dad, it was a worry I'm pleased to see arrested.
I'm broken out of my musings by Carlisle coming to sit next to me. "Penny for a thought?" he asks.
"I was just enjoying my extended family," I smile at him.
"But you're a little worried?"
It would appear Edward inherited his knack of being able to read me like a book from his father.
"I'm worried about when he goes to LA. I'm going to miss him. The kids are going to miss him."
"Then go with him, or at least visit." He says it likes it's the most simple thing in the world.
"That scares me as much as him going without me."
"Which part scares you more? Making the commitment to him, or being in LA?" I look up as Charlie and Billy join us, taking the seats next to Carlisle.
It's a no brainer, and I look between the eyes that so resemble mine; those that resemble the man I gave twenty years of my life to, the man I will always love; and those that resemble the man who has become so important to me, the man that I now love. I register concern and confusion in all three sets. "I'd commit to him tomorrow if our lives could be like the last four months. But what if they are like the previous four months? I can't put my kids through that."
"But James is gone now, you've also been down to LA to see Alice and Jasper when they got engaged." Charlie looks puzzled. "From what you said that trip went well. Is LA really still this big frightening place?"
"No, you're right, it all went smoothly that time. We went through the celebrity exit at the airport, so didn't come in contact with any fans or photogs, and it was nice to be back at Edward's house, to see him on his home turf. But that was only for a few days, and I only took Vanessa, not the whole clan."
"But you told Sarah and Sue you went out and partied, even had your picture taken. You went to the park with Nessie, visited Rose and Emmett, even went to the beach. And you survived?" says Billy, who had obviously overheard my conversation with my two surrogate moms, when I filled them in on the finer details of my trip. It seems the ball game wasn't as interesting as he had been making out.
"I suppose I'm kind of getting used to being looked at and photographed when I'm with Edward, and I admit is wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but that was for a short period, and I wasn't with the kids."
"So you'll be visiting Edward over the next few months?" asks Carlisle. "I know he'd love to see you and the kids, he's told me how much he is going to miss you all."
I'd not really given it much thought, but now he mentions it, it's so clear that I can't go two months without seeing him in the flesh. "I suppose so. Two months is a long time," I relent.
"And the kids?" pushes Charlie.
I chew my lip. I'd not really allowed myself to consider taking them back to LA But I can't see any way around it. "I suppose so. It's not really fair on them to stop them coming, to stop them seeing him, but the idea really scares me."
"You know he'd keep you all safe, don't you? He'd not let anything happen to you or the kids again," says Carlisle.
"I know, but he can't control everything, and we can't live like prisoners either."
"And if a visit goes well, I suppose we'll have to get used to the idea of you moving down there at some point," says Charlie, with a little twinkle in his eye.
"I don't know," I mumble. "I never thought I'd admit to this, but I've enjoyed being back in Forks. Besides, I can't take the kids away from their grandparents now." I smile at Charlie and Billy, but the smile Charlie returns is full of sorrow.
"You can't live your life for us, Bella. You need to do what is right for you and your future. Of course we'd miss you all if you did ever move away, but we'd cope. We did when you and Jake were in Miami, and LA is a lot closer than that. At least you'd still be in our time zone."
"I'm with Charlie on this. I know it would make Esme, and me, the happiest people alive if you, Edward and the kids were to live as close to us as you do to Sue, Charlie, Billy and Sarah, but we also know you have your own lives that you need to live."
We are interrupted by a cry from the baby monitor. Nessie has been down for a nap, but it would appear it is time for a feed. I get up and wave to Edward, letting him know where I'm going and wander up to the nursery.
I'm sit in my old rocking chair that I bought up with me from Miami. I've nursed all my children in it and I'm so glad I kept hold of it to keep the tradition going with Vanessa. I look down at her in my arms, stroking my hand across her short soft hair, the same color as Edwards. Her eyes are currently blue, but Esme tells me Edward's were at birth also, and developed their green color when he was about three. She still has to grow into her features, but Edward is convinced she has the swan nose and ears. I don't see my ears as being any different than anyone else's, but he assures me they are, usually while nibbling on them and whispering words not suitable for child consumption.
We are only five minutes into the feed when there is a knock on the door. I wonder who it could be. Edward wouldn't normally knock, so it must be one of our guests. I briefly check I'm not flashing too much boob and call them in.
I'm surprised to find it's Rose.
"I need to talk to you, but it's been hard to get you on your own." She seems a little pissed off and I wonder what's bothering her. But being Rose she gets straight to the point. "I'm here to tell you to stop fucking about with Edward."
I'm shocked by the tone of her voice, as well as the words. I've no idea where this is coming from, and I have no idea how to respond to her. So instead I just look at her in shock.
It would appear, though, that I don't need to respond yet as she's not finished. "He's one of the really good guys out there, and you can't keep pushing him away. Every time you do it, you kill him a little more. He's willing to give you everything, but you won't even consider making a sacrifice for him. It's not fair, Bella. Do you realize how much you're hurting him? All he wants is to have you, Nessie and the others by his side. It's killing him having to leave you." As she talks she paces across the room, occasionally stopping to scowl at me.
Nothing she says is new to me, but I didn't realize other people were picking up on how upset Edward was.
As she finishes talking she falls down onto the love seat under Nessie's window and I turn to her, a little cross by her intrusion and assumptions.
"Rose, I appreciate you looking out for Edward, but this is between me and him. Don't you think this is hurting me too? I'm dreading him going, but I can't move to LA. Mine and my kids' lives are here. Besides it would mean so many sacrifices. It's too much, I can't do it."
"So that's it. Every time he needs to be in LA, you're just going to let him go? His work is there, Bella. He needs to be there, but he also needs you. Help me to understand. Why can't you go to LA? Because I've been talking with Jess and Alice and none of us can figure it out. We understand you're afraid, but surely the risk of losing him is worth overcoming your fear for." Her voice has lost its anger and she now just sounds frustrated and confused.
Her words shock me. Am I at risk of losing Edward? Would he eventually leave me if I keep pushing him away?
"Look what happened last time I took the kids to LA, Rose? Kim ended up in hospital. What sort of life will they have there? How would I take them to the park, school, bike rides? We're safe here, away from the press and the madness."
Rose rubs her obviously pregnant belly. "I'm bringing up my kids in that madness, Bella. Does that make me a bad mom? Am I putting them at risk? I don't believe so. There are parks in the gated communities, there are fantastic schools, that are safe and protected, and the press only gets bad when a new story breaks. What happened to Kim, I'll admit, was scary, but it shouldn't have happened and there are ways to protect against it happening again."
"I know I'm probably being irrational, but I can't help my emotions. My kids will always come first. Their lives are here. They have friends and family here. They are settled."
Rose leans forward on her seat, resting her arms on her knees. "Have you spoken to Embry, Bella? Have you asked him, or the others, how they feel about this?" Her words confuse me. I've not spoken to them about another possible move, partly because a move was not a possibility, but also because I'm sure I'd know their views. They love being near their grandparents and spending time with their cousins and round Angela's. They have made some great friends here in the short time we've been here. Kim has Paul, Jared has Frankie and Joe, whist Embry has Alex and the band, which is now four strong and writing their own music. There is no way he'd want to give up all the hours of practice they have put in and start again.
As I ponder Rose ploughs on. "Do you know Embry's been talking to Jasper and Emmett? There's a school in LA he's been looking at, a specialist music school. That boy has so much talent, he needs to be somewhere they can nurture it. This school has the best facilities, and the teachers are second to none. It's the sort of place a boy like Embry would flourish."
I look at her confused. "Are you telling me Embry wants to go to school in LA? Why hasn't he spoken to me about this? I'm his mom. He can talk to me about anything."
"Emmett also says he was concerned you wouldn't have the money for him to go. He's been in contact with them to see if they do scholarships. He spoke to Jasper about how to put together an audition tape." She pauses for a minute. "He was also afraid you'd say no. He's heard you talking to Edward about not wanting to go to LA. He's worried about Edward leaving and not being around, about losing him like he lost his dad." Her words are quiet, the previous anger replaced by sadness and concern. "Don't let that happen, Bella. Those kids all love him. Don't push him away to protect them. It will be them you hurt if you do."
I'm stunned by her words. I don't know how to respond. My whole perspective has been thrown. It is like the world as I understood it has been turned inside out and the view is a polar opposite of the one I thought I understood. Am I risking my kids' happiness more by my stubborn refusal to even consider a move to LA then I would be by taking that risk?
The door gives a small creak and I look up to see it being pushed open again, and we're joined by Ang and Jess. "Sorry to interrupt," says Ang, "but we thought Rose could do with some back up."
I look at my two best friends. They're here to back up Rose? What the hell. They're supposed to be on my side.
"You agree with what's she's saying? You think I should move to LA? You don't want me to stay here with you?" To say I'm hurt that Ang seems to be wanting to get rid of me after only a year would be an understatement.
Ang looks at me sadly. "I've loved having you here, Bells, but it's time. Forks has done you good, but you need to move forward and you can't do that here. You belong with Edward. I'd much rather see you happy on skype then be able to see you miserable face to face."
Jess comes over and crouches down in front me, looking me straight in the eye. "I know what it's like to be afraid, Bella. I know I don't show it much, but when my marriage broke down, it hurt. I didn't know if I could open up again. Why do you think it's taken me so long to trust Dr. Sex? But he's asked me to move in and I've said yes, and when he asks me to marry him, which he will," she says with a raised eye brow and a smirk, "I'll say yes to that also, even though it scares me silly."
I lift Nessie up onto my shoulder to burp her as I look around the room. I understand what they are saying to me, but it's a big step.
"So you are all in agreement? You think I should to move to LA?"
They all nod at me, but Ang has more to say, "But more than that, Bells. You need to give Edward all your heart. Commit to him completely. Don't hold back, you will only regret it."
"What are you saying?" I ask.
"You know you love him, you know your forever is with him. Listen to your heart for once, not your head. Jake was a good man, a loving man. All he ever wanted was for you to be happy. He would approve of you making your life with Edward." She smiles and her words hit home. Edward is my life and I have been holding back from him and hurting him. Not only that, I've been hurting myself, and it would appear I've been hurting my kids. It's been for a lot of reasons, good reasons, but in that moment none of them seem valid.
The simple truth is, Edward is my forever.
"Could you please take Nessie down with you," I say, handing her to Jess who is still crouched at my feet, her hands resting on my knees. "I just need a moment to think."
Jess take's Nessie and Ang gives me a reassuring hug, whispering in my ear, "I know you'll do that right thing," before they all leave the room together.
I collapse back into the seat and think about my options. My head is still trying to argue with me, but I try and listen to my heart. My heart that beats for Edward. It will kill me to be apart from him. I know in my heart that where he is, is where I belong. If I move I'm going to miss my family and friends here in Forks, but I have friends in LA now too. How can I keep hurting Edward when I proclaim to love him so much? I need to show him how much he means to me. I need to show him that I want us to be together forever, that I will never leave him again, and there is only one way to do that. My mind is set as I walk purposefully towards the stairs, ready to grasp my future.
I pass through the house and notice everyone is gathered on the back patio, sipping wine and beer. I spot Kim talking animatedly to Alice and Jasper, I assume about some aspect of fashion I'm deficit in. Those two are like peas in a pod when it comes to dressing up and shopping. Rose's little one, Bree, who recently turned four, watches on animatedly. She becomes Kim's shadow whenever they come to visit, and Kim loves having the younger girl around, telling me it's good practice for when Nessie is older.
Nessie herself is being held by my dad as he talks to Esme and Carlisle. Sue and Sarah are with Jess, Ang and Rose and I assume they being filled in on our conversation upstairs as their heads are close together. Embry, Jared and Emmett are near the fire pit with, Ben and his boys, seeming to be involved in some sort of eating competition, as Billy watches on, an amused expression on his face. I know Jared idolized Emmett to a degree, having watched all his films with Jake so I'm not surprised to see then together.
I look around, trying to find the one person I need. The person who completes me, who makes me whole. The person who is my rock, who healed me, who brought me back to life. And who will continue to do this, if I will only let him.
Then I spot him. He's standing to one side on his own, looking over the group. He has a soft smile on his face, but there is a sadness about his eyes. A sadness I know I put there. In that moment, I understand what he said a year ago today, about wanting to take that sadness away from my eyes. I feel the same. I can't bear that he's hurting because of me, but I know how to make it right.
I take a deep breath to calm my nerves. This could all back fire. It could all be too much, but it's what I want, what I need, and I hope he feels the same.
I exit the house, by eyes fixed on my Cocktail Man, and make my way past our family and friends, until I'm right in front of him. I only have eyes for him, but in my peripheral vision I spot Jess jab her elbow into Rose's ribs, and their eyes follow me across the deck. As I get closer Edward spots me approaching. His eyes are curious, as I capture them with mine, feeling drawn to them, like they are a lantern guiding me home. Neither of us look away and I know he senses something is coming.
I stop right in front of him and take his hands in mine, smiling as I do. This man has bought me so much happiness. I just hope I can do the same for him.
"Beautiful?" he questions, quietly, squeezing my hands in his.
I take a big breath and start.
"Edward, my Cocktail Man. You've given me so much and I know I don't deserve you …" He looks like he's going to interrupt, so I silence him with a small shake of my head, "…You are a wonderful father, friend and lover." I give a cheeky smile as I think of all the ways this man brings me pleasure and I feel a blush rise up my cheeks as I hear my father clear his throat. I give him a brief glance before looking back into Edward's eyes and sinking down onto my knees in front of him, still clutching his hands in mine, both for support and to hopefully show him my love.
As I lower I hear a slight gasp from behind me and I suddenly realize a hush as descended over the garden. I can hear birds chirping in the distant trees and the rustle of the leaves as the wind moves them. And my heart; well, my heart is beating so loudly I'm surprised the birds are not frightened away.
I look at up Edward and I see love and awe in his eyes, as well as confusion. I plough on before I can lose my nerve, determined to finish what I need to say. "Would you, please, also consider a new role, that of husband? Edward, will you marry me."
"About fucking time" I hear from behind me from a voice that sounds like Emmett's and a chuckle goes around our friends.
A couple seconds pass and Edward doesn't move. I start to worry it's all too soon. He's not ready. It's not what he wants, and then he's sinking to his knees, joining me on the deck. I see tears in his eyes as he brings me in for the hug of my life and I hear his words in my ear. "Of course, Beautiful. I love you, of course I'll marry you." He repeats the words over again until they finally sink in. I'm going to marry this beautiful, wonderful, supportive man. We will be together forever.
I pull away and he cradles my face in his hands before joining our lips in the happiest, most loving kiss I've ever received. As we pull apart a cheer goes up from our friends. Then Charlie's voice breaks through.
"Perhaps now would be a good time to show her that little something you've got in your pocket Edward." I look at Edward, puzzled, and his eyes open wide with realization before he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small, blue box. Opening the hinge he shows me the most exquisite engagement ring I've ever seen.
"I've been carrying this around for weeks, but I didn't think you were ready. I was afraid you'd never be ready," he admits.
"I wasn't," I confess. "But I was a fool. Thank you for waiting."
"Forever," he replies.
A/N - So that's the last chapter. It feels strange to mark this complete. I've been working on it for over a year now and I never thought I'd be able to write a full chaptered story like this. Back then I was a stay at home mom with some spare time on her hands. Now I'm back in work and finding time to write is harder, but I've thoroughly enjoyed doing this and so will be keeping it up (check out The Man in the Elevator for my next adventure). Thank you to everyone who has stuck with me throughout this adventure. I've learnt a lot along the way. In particular to everyone who has reviewed this story, especially in the early days. It means so much to hear from you, to know what you do and don't like (I did a double check for any 'whilst's' that might have crept in, especially for you Esme incognito), and to just know you are there. It's what has kept me going.
I will be posting an epi, but I've only just started to write it. I have a good idea of what I want it to show and when it takes place. If you have any requests, however, I might be able to work these in. Just let me know.