For those of you who read the Get Your Southern On contest entries, this is my contribution. I am tickled at the results … first place in public vote and third place for the judge's choice. I've decided to break this up into smaller, drabblish chapters and it will be continued. The contest contribution is the first six or so chapters, roughly. I don't know how long it will be, but I do have it planned. Thank you to Bridget for betaing this for me and for Clo, who created the banner.
Up next will be the epilogue … it will be a future take, snapshots of their future.
One Year Later …
"I don't understand. This dress fit me perfectly a month ago," Bella said, trying pull up the zipper. "Alice, help me! I have to look good for this premier."
"You could be holding some water weight," Alice said, trying to tug up the zipper, but it wouldn't budge. "Hmmm, do you have your second option?"
"ALICE!" Bella wailed, turning around and glaring at her. "This was my only option. I didn't pack my second option because this was the one I wanted to wear. It's sexy, classic and a bit naughty. Edward says it does wonderful things to my ass. He can't keep his hands off it."
"Well, it's not going to fit. Bella, I'm sorry," Alice said. "You must be getting a little too comfortable now that you're married. Packing on the pounds."
"But, I haven't …" Bella snarled.
"You could be pregnant," Alice said offhandedly. Bella blinked, staring at her best friend, agent and confidante. "When was your last period?"
"They've been wonky due to me going off the shot," Bella shrugged. "I think the last time I had a period, it was about two months ago? With the end of the school year, our anniversary and planning this trip to Los Angeles, my body's been off."
Alice rummaged through her bag and pulled out an unopened pregnancy test. "Pee on this. While you deal with that, I'm going to find you another option down in the gift shop. There was this gorgeous evening gown down there that might be perfect for you." Alice swiped her wallet and Bella stood there, frozen in her place. "BELLA! Snap to it. I'll be right back. Pee on the stick!"
Bella nodded dumbly, walking into the bathroom. She removed her dress and put on a robe, peeing on the pregnancy test. She set the timer on her cell phone and she gripped the edge of the counter. Edward was out with the twins, Charlie and his parents. They were not going to the premier due to its rating. Edward was coming as Bella's date, but they were planning a trip to Disneyland while they were in California.
"Bella, I have the dress. I got a size larger than you normally wear and I can make it work," Alice said, walking into the bedroom. She saw Bella in the bathroom, sitting on the edge of the tub and twisting her wedding set. "Sweetie, are you okay?"
"Just nervous," she whispered. "If I was pregnant, wouldn't I have morning sickness or something? More symptoms?"
"Sweetie, everyone handles pregnancy differently," Alice said, placing the dress on the bed and kneeling in front of her. "I was nauseous and I thought I was pregnant. I'm not. That's why I had the test."
"Are you and Jasper trying?" Bella asked.
"Not actively stopping," Alice shrugged. "Not like you and Edward. You guys are like bunnies."
"We were like that even while we weren't trying," Bella deadpanned. "Well, except …"
"You don't have to say it. It was a scary time in your relationship. It made you stronger, that's for sure," Alice smirked. The alarm on the phone rang and they both looked at the counter. "You ready?"
"No," Bella whispered. "We're just now gelling as a family."
"You have nine months to get used to the idea," Alice giggled. "And the twins have been asking if you and Edward are going to have more babies. They want a little brother or sister."
"How do you know?"
"The twin terrors share a lot with their Aunt Alice," Alice said, helping Bella to her feet and guiding her to the counter.
"Edward should be here," Bella gasped. "He should know if he's going to be a daddy. Again."
"He will, sweetie," Alice cooed, hugging her friend. "Now, let's see if you've got a bun in the oven." Grabbing the test, they flipped it over and saw the results.
xx TOTGA xx
"The tuxedo fits like a dream," Esme sang, smoothing her son's suit coat. "Though, I have to ask why you're getting ready separately from Bella?"
"Bella had to do some movie-things. The limo will be here in a few minutes and we're going to ride over to the theater and walk the red carpet together," Edward explained, tightening his bow tie. "Are you sure you're okay with watching the twins?"
"Fine," Esme said, waving her hand. "We're taking the kids to the tar pits and then to a movie at the theater near the hotel. You have fun with Bella and enjoy the premier. From what I've read, there have been nothing but great reviews. It's not going to win any awards, but it's entertaining." She kissed his cheek. "Love you and have fun."
"Love you, too," Edward said, smiling crookedly. He picked up his wallet and cell phone, heading down to lobby. Bella was already there, talking to Alice. She was wearing a different dress than she'd packed. It was an emerald gown that was gathered just below her breasts with an elegant belt around her waist. He walked over to his wife, sliding his arm around her waist. "You look ravishing, Bella. I like this dress better than the other one." Bella looked at him, her face flushed and she practically glowed. Leaning forward, he kissed her.
"We need to go, Bella," Alice said.
"You're riding with us?" Edward asked.
"In the front seat. I'm acting as your agent, handling the press and photographers. Bella, remember what I told you about how to pose," Alice snickered. "And show that bling!"
"It's borrowed bling," Bella deadpanned.
"Whatever!" Alice retorted. "Let's go."
Edward offered Bella his arm and they got into the waiting limousine. The drive to the theater was slow-going because of traffic that was being diverted. The red carpet had closed numerous roads and caused snarl ups along the route. As they drove, Edward noticed that Bella was antsy, shifting and moving in her seat. "You okay, sweetness?" he asked. "You're awfully squirmy."
"Sorry," Bella whispered. "I'm very, very nervous. I'm worried that I'm going to make an ass out of myself. I have to talk to reporters, about me, and about my stories. They're probably …"
"No, stop it," Edward said sternly, taking her face in his hands. "Whatever you think, it's not going to happen, Bella. Just be you. I love you and so will everyone else."
"Kay," Bella murmured, threading her arms around his neck and melted against him. He was everything she needed tonight. The soothing balm to her soul and the voice of reason. "All of my old insecurities are coming back. I don't know why, but yeah … freaking out."
"You're going to do amazing, sweetness," Edward smiled, leaning forward. "Can I kiss you?"
"I'd be pissed if you didn't," Bella giggled. "Kiss me, Dr. Superhero. I need those super lips." Edward eagerly complied, brushing his mouth over hers. Bella relaxed and lost herself in the mouth of her husband until Alice chirped over the intercom that they were at the theater. "Say you love me," Bella ordered.
"I more than love you, Bella," Edward said, adjusting his tuxedo. "I adore you and I would do anything for you." Bella kissed him again, shocking the hell out of him with her aggressiveness. "Wow."
"Yeah," Bella smirked. "And I love you more than words can express, Edward. I probably couldn't have done this without you, baby."
The car door opened. Edward slid out, offering Bella his hand. She stood up and was shocked by the sheer amount of people. Alice pushed them up the red carpet. Cameras flashed and the crowd cheered. Moving past the gobs of people, Bella began her nonstop interviews. She also posed for pictures with the lead actors, director and producer. They went into the theater, sitting down in the balcony. "Better now that you're done with the red carpet?" Edward asked.
"Yeah, but now I have something else to share," Bella murmured. She took his hand and twined their fingers together. "You said something about my dress. Alice bought it in the gift shop in the lobby. The original dress we'd purchased, the black asymmetrical dress, wouldn't fit. So, Alice suggested something." She reached into her clutch and pulled out a small white stick. Looking at it, Edward's eyes widened. "I didn't figure it out until Alice said …"
"We're pregnant?" Edward breathed, blinking up at his gorgeous wife. "A baby?"
"Yeah," Bella blushed. "We're going to have a baby. It's still pretty early, I think. I mean, I didn't really notice, but my belly is firmer and rounded. So, it makes sense. We'll have to go to the doctor to more information, but simply, we're pregnant."
"Oh, Bella," Edward cried, tears streaming down his face and holding her tightly. "A baby. We're going to have a baby!" He kissed her. "I'm so happy, Bella. Our family is growing and complete. The twins are getting their baby brother or sister."
"You knew, too?" Bella asked.
"They were bugging me every possible time about having siblings," Edward snorted, wiping his face. "Now, they are getting their wish." He pressed his hand to her belly, feeling its hardness. "You told me right before we have to sit through an erotic thriller? When all I want to do is peel off this dress with my teeth."
"After the movie, Dr. Superhero. You can worship me after the movie," Bella purred, kissing him.
Three teasing, torturous hours later, that's what he did. He worshipped her, showering her with his affection and loving the mother to his children.
xx TOTGA xx
Five Years Later …
"I hate that you're leaving, Bella," Sarah pouted. "But, with the popularity of the books, movies and other craziness, it makes sense. People are not signing up for your classes because of your popularity and not because of the content."
"The doctor said I need to take it easy and this seems like the best time to take a step back, Sarah," Bella said, resting her hand on her distended belly. Her first born, a baby boy, Caleb, was born and he was an easy baby, as well as an easy pregnancy. This second pregnancy wasn't nearly as easy. Bella was pregnant again with twins, two identical girls and it was wreaking havoc on her body. Liam and Lucy were helpful. They were in eighth grade and picked up a lot of slack around the house.
"Well, you better not be a stranger, Bella. After you have these babies, you better bring them by for a visit," Sarah said, hugging her dearest friend. "Do you need help out to your car?"
"Nope, my older kiddos are …" Bella began.
"Are here!" Liam said. He was now taller than Bella and looked so much like Edward. The only difference was in the eyes. Liam's eyes were a bright blue. He was gangly and awkward, but he was going to be a striking young man, once he grew into his feet. "Dad's pulling up around the back, Ma. Lucy's with him. She's dealing with some boy drama."
"I thought she wasn't allowed to date," Bella sighed, rolling her eyes. "Both of you agreed to wait until you went to high school." Liam smirked, looking so much like Edward. "Liam … what aren't you telling me?"
"Nothing," he sang.
"We need to have words, little man," Bella growled. "And where's Caleb?"
"With Grandpa Charlie," Liam answered, picking up a box and moving it out to the hallway. "They're fishing."
"He's either fishing or watching television," Bella sighed. "Retirement has made him lazy."
Voices distracted her. Lucy was grumbling with Edward, hissing about Hunter and how he was being a jerk. Bella crossed her arms, looking at her son. He just shrugged, picking up another box and placed it in the hallway.
"Call me, Bella," Sarah said, hugging her again. "Love you, sweetie."
"Love you, too," Bella smiled, waving at her friend. Lucy and Edward made their way into the office. Lucy was petite, with long reddish blonde hair and green eyes. She was still adjusting to her body. Lucy had developed a large chest and was already a D-cup, but had the mentality of a young girl, but the body of a woman. Though, she had moments where the ugly teenager reared its ugly head.
This would bone of those times.
"Dad, Hunter asked me to the homecoming dance and I want to go," Lucy said. "We're not dating. We're going as friends."
"Then, go with other people, as friends," Edward said. "I don't want you …"
"Other girls are dating, Daddy," Lucy snarled. "Avery and Mackenzie …"
"Are not my children, Lucy," Edward snapped. "I don't think you're old enough to date, Lucy. Neither is your brother."
"But, you're not making a big deal that he's going with Mackenzie," Lucy argued back. Bella blinked and looked at Liam. He was blushing and walking faster out Bella's office
"Freeze it, bucko," Edward barked. "You're going out with Mackenzie?"
"Nope," Liam squeaked, his voice cracking.
"You asked her on the first day of school, moron," Lucy said, crossing her arms over her chest. "You've been making out under the bleachers every lunch period."
"LIAM!" Bella yelled.
"What? It's just kissing," Liam shrugged, stuffing his hands into his shorts.
"Kissing leads to other things," Edward hissed. He pinched his nose. "We'll talk about this later. We need to get your mother home. But, neither of you is dating or going to be dating anyone anytime soon." He walked over to his wife, caressing her cheek. "No stress, baby. I'll handle this."
"Okay," Bella nodded. Working together, they finished emptying out Bella's office. Liam was quiet and silently stewing. Lucy was also quiet, but resigned to whatever punishment they were going to receive. Edward helped Bella into the car and turned in her keys to Sarah. They drove back home just as Charlie pulled up with Caleb. The squirmy four-year-old hopped out of the truck. "Peanut!" Bella smiled. "Did you catch any fish?"
"I caught three, Mommy," he said. Caleb was a perfect combination of Bella and Edward. He had dark brown hair, but shockingly green eyes. He also had the sweetest little disposition, charming everyone that he met. "Can we have fish for dinner?"
"I don't think so, bud," Edward snorted. "Your mom doesn't like the smell."
"It's the only thing that makes me sick," Bella grumbled.
"That's what I said," Charlie said. "I have the fish that Caleb caught in my cooler."
"How's Sue?" Bella asked. "You made an honest woman out of her yet?"
"I've asked her and she said yes, but we don't want to make a big deal out of it," Charlie said, his face flaming. "Actually, it's happening this weekend at the courthouse. Jenks is going to do it for us."
"Huh," Edward said, arching a brow. "And when were you going to tell us?"
"After it was done," Charlie said. "Like I said, I didn't want make a big deal out of it. Sue had a big wedding when she married her first husband and she didn't want to relive that."
"I want to be there to see my dad get his happily ever after," Bella said, putting her hands on her hips. "Tell me where and when. Don't fuck with a pregnant lady."
"Yes ma'am," Charlie chuckled.
"Mommy, you said a bad word," Caleb giggled, hiding his face in his mom's leg.
"Sorry, peanut. Mommy's filter is nonexistent. Blame your sisters," Bella deadpanned. "Where and when, old man. And we're taking you out to lunch after. Or dinner. Or brunch."
"Okay, okay," Charlie laughed, kissing Bella's cheek. "Now, go inside, baby girl. You're looking flushed. I don't want you to get sick. The doctor …"
"Told me to take it easy," Bella said. "I'm going."
After that, Edward spoke with Charlie and they made arrangements for Charlie's wedding. It was happening at the courthouse on Friday afternoon. They planned to have a late lunch with Charlie, Sue, Carlisle and Esme. Seth and Leah were also coming for a late lunch, with Lucy, Liam and Caleb. They both were working and couldn't get the day off so last minute.
The rest of the week went by slowly. Lucy and Liam were both grounded, losing their cell phones and the ability to go to the homecoming dance because of their shenanigans. It made for a very tense house, which was not good for Bella's precarious condition to begin with. Since stopping work, her blood pressure was slowly, but steadily rising and Edward was concerned. He talked about putting her on complete bed rest. She pleaded with him so she could attend her father's wedding, but Edward said he'd be watching her carefully.
On Friday, Bella and Edward met Charlie and Sue at the courthouse. Carlisle and Esme were there as well, acting as Charlie's witnesses. Charlie was wearing the same suit he wore to Bella's wedding. Sue was wearing a dark navy-blue shift with a white belt around her waist, holding a bouquet of blue hydrangeas. In Jenks' chambers, since he became a judge, it had been decorated with white toile and more blue hydrangeas. He looked nonplussed. "Some little pixie girl, Alice, had this delivered and set up," Jenks said blandly. "But, it does give this place a better aroma."
"What does it smell like without the flowers?" Esme asked.
"Desperation," Jenks grinned.
"You haven't changed at all, Jenks," Edward snickered.
"Nope. I just have more power. Be afraid. Be very afraid," he sang, wiggling his fingers. "Now, Chief, are you ready to get hitched?"
"It's been far too long," Charlie said, blushing warmly. "So, yeah."
Jenks directed them to stand and they took each other's hands. Bella was crying, clutching Edward's arm as she watched her father get remarried. Edward was checking her pulse, hoping that she wasn't working herself into a fit. She was calm, but just hormonal. When Jenks pronounced Charlie and Sue husband and wife, they applauded as they kissed. Charlie was blushing, almost hiding behind Sue's hair, but he was smiling and happy, genuinely happy.
They went out to eat, meeting up with Seth, Leah, the kids and Alice and Jasper. Sue hugged Alice, thanking her for the decorations. Alice beamed, saying it was the least she could do. Settling into the private dining room at a local Italian restaurant, they celebrated Charlie and Sue's new marriage. However, as the day progressed, Bella was getting more tired and uncomfortable.
"I'm taking you home, sweetness," Edward said. "Mom, Dad? Can you watch the kids tonight?"
"Sure, sweetie," Esme smiled.
Hugs were handed around and Edward helped Bella into the car. He drove them back home, checked her blood pressure and saw that it was elevated. He arched a brow and Bella harrumphed, stuck in bed for the foreseeable future. "These are the last children we're having, Edward."
"Yes, dear," he said, helping her out of her dress and into some loose clothing.
"Did you just say 'yes, dear'? Really?" Bella growled.
"You need to stay calm, love. Please?" Edward said, caressing her cheek. "I'm going to call your obstetrician and see what she wants you to do." He pushed her back into bed, handing her the remote control and placed her computer on the mattress.
"Phone, too?" Bella asked. "In case I need you."
"Got it, sweetness," Edward murmured, kissing her forehead. He got her cell phone from her purse and put it next to her. Bella was working on her computer, presumably working on her edits her latest novel. She wanted to get them done before their baby girls were born. However, Edward was concerned that time would not be as long as they had hoped.
The obstetrician called back, asking Edward to bring Bella into office the following morning. Edward told her the symptoms and she was just as concerned as Edward. She was worried that Bella maybe developing preeclampsia and it would need to be monitored closely.
The next morning, Edward helped Bella into the car and they went into doctor's office. They were immediately ushered into a room. Bella was examined and the doctor was worried. She agreed with Edward's prognosis and put Bella on bedrest until the twins were born, which was for another four months, at the longest. However, if Bella's condition worsened, they'd have to induce labor.
Edward was aware of the dangers of preeclampsia, but stayed calm for his wife's sake. When they got home, Edward helped Bella upstairs and settled her into the bed. "This is bad, Edward. This is really bad," she whimpered.
"It's not good, but you're going to be okay if you take it easy," Edward said, cupping her cheek. "Please, relax."
"Last children, Dr. Superhero," Bella retorted, pointing a finger at him. "You're getting snipped. Capische?"
"Yes, sweetness," he said, brushing his lips over hers. "Now, watch some bad daytime television, work on your edits and just relax."
xx TOTGA xx
Five Years Later …
"I can't believe my babies are graduating from high school," Bella said, looking at her two oldest children. They were dressed in maroon gowns and mortar boards, with white and black tassels. "I'm not old enough to have children in college."
"We're not in college yet, Ma," Liam snickered. His voice was deep and had a slight southern accent. He was taller than his father, but looked like a spitting image of him. "But, soon."
"Don't remind me," Bella deadpanned.
"Mom, you still have me," Caleb chirped, hugging his mother's waist. "I can keep you young."
"You're the reason why I have gray hairs that need to be covered, Caleb Daniel Cullen," Bella snorted. "You inherited my clumsiness, Peanut, and you've broken more bones than I ever knew you had. It's good your father is a doctor."
"And your sister will be a doctor, too," Lucy said, winking at Caleb. "Following in Dad's footsteps, going to Dartmouth and majoring in pre-med. I'm glad that I'll have you to experiment on, squirt." She ruffled his hair.
"Mommy, here are the flowers for Lucy and Liam," Bailey said, skipping toward Bella. Bailey was the older of the two twin girls. She was all personality and sweetness. She and her sister, Alyssa, were the spitting image of Bella, with icy blue eyes. Alyssa was the quieter of the two sisters, but still adorable nonetheless. "They're from Mommy and Daddy."
"Thank you, Bailey," Lucy smiled.
"Where's Alyssa?" Bella asked.
"With Daddy," Bailey nodded. "They're coordinating with Nana, Papa and Grandpa. Something about tickets?"
"We probably don't have enough tickets for everyone that we want to come," Bella sighed.
"That's because we've got too many people who love us," Liam smirked, slinging his arm around his sister's shoulder. "We need to go, though."
"A picture first," Bella sniffled, holding up her phone. She snapped a few photos.
Edward strolled in, carrying Alyssa. He was dressed in a sleek suit and his unruly hair was somewhat tamed. Some greys were mixed in, but he still looked like the man that Bella fell in love with almost twenty-two years ago. "I think we got the ticket situation figured out. Leah is going to stay with Alyssa, Bailey, Grace, Caleb and JJ. Alice and Jasper will be joining us, along with Mom, Dad, Charlie and Sue. Plus, us, we're covered."
"I wanted to see sissy gadi … grad …" Alyssa whispered.
"Graduate," Edward said, kissing her cheek. "I know you do, but we don't have enough tickets. But, Auntie Leah is going to be with you."
"Otay," Alyssa nodded, wriggling in Edward's arms. He put her down and she skipped over to Bella and held her hand. Liam and Lucy hugged their parents before driving to the high school – the same high school that Edward and Bella graduated from – thus solidifying their legacy.
"Leah will be here in about ten minutes," Edward said. "You guys know the rules. Treat Aunt Leah respectfully. She's in charge."
"We know, Dad," Caleb nodded. "I think this will work out better. We can set up for the party."
"Party? What party?" Bella asked. "We're having a party."
"Aunt Ali said that Lee and Lucy are having a party. She arranged for it all," Bailey said. "It's tonight."
"Oh, goody," Bella deadpanned. "Remind me to kill Alice. I love her, but …"
She and Edward shared a look. They were planning a graduation party for their oldest children, but it was going to be closer to their departure to college. Lucy was going to Dartmouth, like her father. Liam was staying closer to home and going to University to Tampa, majoring in English Literature, with a minor in journalism.
"I hear you," Edward sighed. The doorbell rang and the kids squealed. Leah greeted the kids and with a few moments of hugs, kisses, hellos and goodbyes, Edward and Bella got into their Porsche SUV.
Edward was the chief of staff at St. Joe's, as well as one of the leaders in pediatric trauma surgery. He wanted to continue working with Elijah, but doing the office thing was not challenging for Edward. His decision was made when Edward saved a kid who was in a huge car accident. His unending patience and stubbornness helped the kid and he finally discovered what he was destined to do. With Bella's blessing, he started a new fellowship after Caleb's birth and worked his way up through the ranks, until he became the youngest chief of staff in the history of the hospital.
"I still can't believe that our babies are graduating," Bella murmured. "It seems like yesterday we were saying our vows and they were still little kids."
"Well, they've grown up into something special," Edward smiled, twining their fingers together. "And you had a huge part of that, Bella. You are the mother they should have had from the beginning."
"I'm grateful to be a part of their lives, period," Bella sighed, leaning across the console and kissing her husband's lips. "I love you, Dr. Superhero."
"I love you more, sweetness," he said. "Thank you for being everything, for our children, for us and for our future."
"I do try," Bella snickered. He parked the car in the lot and she wrinkled her nose. "The last time we were here …"
"Was a month ago," Edward laughed. "Remember the end of the year choir concert?"
"You know what I mean," she said, rolling her eyes. "I still feel like it's a major case of déjà vu whenever we come here. Granted, the memories since our ten-year reunion have been good ones, for the most part, I still …"
"I know, Bella," he replied. "Now, we've got three other kiddos to get through this high school."
"Well, let's focus on the two we're graduating today," Bella snickered.
They kissed and got out of the car. They met up with their friends and family, handing out tickets to the graduation. They settled in the bleachers, watching the graduation. Liam sang the National Anthem. The valedictorian and salutatorian gave their speeches and the ceremony moved swiftly after that, reading everyone's names. After everyone's names were read, Lucy gave a closing speech, thanking the school board, teachers, friends and parents for everything they've done to ensure their success. With a smirk, she moved her tassel to the other side and squealing congratulations. She tossed her cap into the sky, with the rest of the graduating class doing the same.
Liam sent a text to his parents, saying that he and his sister would meet everyone back at home. It was a madhouse on the field. Bella wanted to see her babies, but she understood. They got into their car and battled traffic out of the school, heading back to their house, which was complete bedecked in everything graduation. Bella rolled her eyes, but grinned and bared it. People from the hospital, friends from University of Tampa and some fellow students from the high school were already at the house.
They changed into more casual clothes and once Liam and Lucy arrived, there were loud whoops and sporadic clapping. Lucy hugged her parents and beamed excitedly. Liam kissed his grandparents before slinging his arm over his father's shoulder. "Can I have a beer, Dad?" he asked.
"You graduated from high school, Liam. Not college and no, you can't have a beer," Edward deadpanned.
"I figured I'd try," he shrugged.
"You're an idiot, Lee," Lucy said, but wriggled away and ran into Hunter's waiting arms. They started dating during their freshman year and have stayed a couple all throughout high school. They both were heading to Dartmouth in the fall. It was very reminiscent of Edward's relationship with Tanya, but they were different. Lucy was nothing like his ex-wife and Hunter adored Lucy. He even spoke to Edward about possibly asking Lucy to marry him. Edward said that he respected and cared for him, but they needed more time. Hunter understood and gave Lucy a promise ring.
Liam was a ladies' man, having numerous girlfriends, but none for very long. He said that he wanted to go into college with an open mind and unattached.
The phone was ringing in the house. Caleb picked it up. "Hello? Cullen residence?" He listened to the caller. "Hold on. Let me get my dad … DAD! Someone's on the phone for you."
"Peanut, I don't think China heard you," Edward quipped. Caleb rolled his eyes, handing the phone to his father. "Hello? This is Dr. Edward Cullen."
"Dr. Cullen, I'm calling you in regard to Tanya Denali," said the voice over the phone.
"Who are you?" Edward asked, his hackles raising.
"My name is Christian Ross and I'm the warden at the prison where Tanya was being held," Christian said. "On her intake paperwork, she didn't have any next of kin, but I know that she had children with you. They are technically her next of kin."
"Tanya relinquished her parental rights," Edward said coldly.
"We know that, but … sir, there's no easy way to say this, but Tanya's dead," Christian muttered. "She was always a vocal and unstable inmate. Her mouth got her into trouble and she was found in her cell, stabbed to death."
"She's dead?" Edward whispered.
"We found her this morning," Christian sighed. "Both of her parents have passed away and you're the only family she has left. Well, your children."
"She may have been their incubator, but she's not their mother," Edward growled. "Look, I'll pay for whatever funeral services, but just make it happen. I don't want to be involved other than paying for it."
"I understand. I'm sorry for your loss."
"She got what she deserved," Edward said. "Thank you for letting me know and send me the bill for whatever is done for her." He hung up the phone, leaning heavily against the counter in the kitchen.
Bella walked in, seeing her husband. He looked troubled. "What's wrong, Edward?" she asked.
"Tanya's dead," he said blandly.
"Oh," Bella breathed. "Are you okay?"
"I don't know what to feel," he shrugged. "I guess, vindicated. She got what she deserved."
"I agree," Bella spat. "That woman was a menace." She walked over to Edward, sliding her arms around his waist. "I'm sorry that we got that news on the day the twins graduated."
"It seems fitting. That chapter is finally closed, sweetness," he sighed, leaning his cheek against Bella's hair. "I love you and thank you for being here, knowing what I need."
xx TOTGA xx
Five Years Later …
"We were always careful, Hunter," Lucy hissed. "I can't believe I'm pregnant. I'm not ready to be a mom. I'm in my second year of medical school!"
"Even condoms aren't full proof, Lucy, but I want to be with you always," Hunter whispered. "You know that, Luce."
"But, my parents will kill you," Lucy grumbled, pressing her hands to her still flat tummy. "My dad still thinks I'm a virgin."
"You haven't been a virgin since junior prom," Hunter snickered, waggling his brows. She smacked him. "It's true, but we're adults. We had sex, made love and we created something beautiful. I love you, Lucy. I want what your parents have. And I think we do have it." He cupped her cheek and reached into his pocket. He opened a box, holding it out to her. "I've had this in my pocket since … well, since forever. I bought it the summer between our freshman and sophomore year."
"That was almost three years ago, Hunter," Lucy whispered.
"I want to marry you. I want to create a family with you. I want to love you forever, Lucy," Hunter whispered. "Marry me, Lucy."
"Yes," Lucy beamed, throwing her arms around his neck. "A million times yes." They kissed and fell onto the ground in a heap of arms and legs. Hunter pressed the ring onto her finger, kissing it reverently. "It's beautiful, Hunter."
"I'm glad you like it," Hunter said shyly. "I've been paying it off for three years."
"We do need to tell my parents," Lucy sighed, leaning back. "And we need to figure out what to do with medical school. I don't want to give up my dream of being a doctor. My dad was my superhero growing up and I want to be just like him."
"We'll make it work," Hunter whispered. "We've always made it work."
"Let me call my brother. He'll know what to say," Lucy said. "He can sashay the parentals. He'll have our back." Lucy looked down at her finger, wriggling it and smiling softly at the sparkle that now adorned her left hand. "I love you, Hunter. I can't wait to be your wife." She pulled out her cell phone, snuggling into Hunter's arms. He protectively held her belly as Lucy dialed Liam.
"Luce, I'm up against a deadline," Liam said by way of greeting.
"Liam, don't be an ass," Lucy grumbled. "I need your help."
"Let me guess, you're knocked up?" Liam chuckled, teasing his sister. The silence on the other end of the line answered his question. "Wait, you are?"
"Yeah. You're going to be an uncle, Lee," Lucy tittered. "But, I'm fucked, dude."
"No, you fucked a dude," Liam deadpanned.
"And said dude is sitting next to me, Lee. He's your best friend. The guy I've been dating for seven years," Lucy retorted. "He proposed and it was really sweet, but we're scared. I'm scared. I'm scared about my future as a doctor. I'm scared about how Mom and Dad are going to react."
"Okay, Mom and Dad will support you," Liam said. "And you'll still be a doctor. We'll all help you, Lucy. I love you, sis."
"I love you, too, Lee," Lucy sniffled. "You'll be there when I tell Mom and Dad?"
"I wouldn't miss it," Liam said.
A week later, Hunter, Lucy, and Liam arrived at the house down in Tampa. Lucy and Hunter lived in Chicago where Lucy was attending medical school at University of Chicago. Hunter was working as a financial planner, using his major in finance for good. He was already the apple of his boss's eye and was getting some fairly big clients. Liam lived in Chicago as well, working at the Chicago Tribune. However, they periodically came home to see their parents, who still lived in Tampa with their younger siblings, Caleb, Bailey and Alyssa.
"Lucy, you're going to wear the band down," Hunter quipped, taking her hand.
"Sorry," she muttered. "I'm just terrified about my dad's reaction. When he gets stressed out, the vein pops out of his forehead and I'm … I don't want him to have a heart attack."
"Lucy, Dad's barely forty-five. He's in excellent health. He's not going to have a heart attack," Liam said, pulling up the rental car and parking behind their mother's car. "If anyone would have a heart attack, it would be Hunter's dad. He extolled the virtues of waiting until marriage."
"My dad is a hypocrite. I was born out of wedlock," Hunter snorted. "I think he was trying to control me with his super strict views on premarital sex. Well, it didn't happen. And while I'm freaking out about the baby, I'm not upset about being a dad. I love your sister and I think your parents will know that."
"Well, might as well get this over with," Lucy said, getting out of the car. She paled, leaning against the hood of the car. "Oooh, I hate morning sickness." She stumbled away from the car and Hunter slid his arm around her waist. They let themselves into the house. Caleb ambled down the stairs, grinning crookedly. "Hey, squirt. You're not wearing a cast. Congratulations on staying in one piece."
"Well, at least I'm darker than a ghost, sissy," Caleb snorted. "I think the white walls are darker than you."
"Don't make me drop kick you," Lucy deadpanned.
"And I'll hold you down," Liam laughed. They hugged and he ruffled his hair. "Where are the brats?"
"Some birthday party," Caleb replied. "Nana and Poppa are picking them up. Mom and Dad are in the back." He walked toward the garage. "Can you tell them that I'm going to the baseball field. Playing a game with the guys." He left, closing the door and ambling down the driveway with his glove and bat.
"I don't know if I can do this," Lucy whispered.
"We're doing this," Hunter nodded, tugging on Lucy's arm.
On the patio, Bella was typing on her laptop and Edward was reading some medical journal. "Hey Daddy," Lucy whispered. Edward blinked up, grinning happily and got up to hug his daughter. He kissed her cheek, enfolding her into a warm embrace. "Hey Mom." Bella cupped Lucy's cheek and smiled softly at her.
"Hunter, it's a surprise to see you," Edward said, shaking his hand. "And Liam, I've missed you, son."
"Me, too," Liam smirked.
"Mom, Dad, can we talk?" Lucy asked.
"Is everything okay, pretty girl?" Bella asked, holding Lucy's hand. "You seem pale."
"Well, living in Chicago has significantly decreased my vitamin D intake," Lucy giggled nervously. She reached for Hunter's hand. They saw the sparkle on her left ring finger.
"What's that?" Edward asked, capturing her hand. "A ring?"
"Hunter proposed and I said yes," Lucy smiled. She got up and sat down on his lap. She needed to be near him. Hunter kept her grounded. "But, that's not all." She looked at her fiancé, her nausea coming back with a vengeance. She gulped, trying to keep her meager lunch from hurling over Hunter's face. "I'm pregnant."
"You're what?" Bella asked.
"I'm pregnant. It would appear that being on the pill and using condoms is not full-proof," Lucy said. "But, we're getting married and having this baby. I know it's not ideal … I'm sorry." Tears began falling down her cheeks. Hunter took her in his arms, holding her as she sobbed.
"Why are you apologizing?" Bella questioned, crouching in front of her daughter and wiping her tears away. "A baby is a wonderful thing. The timing isn't ideal, but …" She blinked over at her husband. He was sitting in shock, his eyes glassy and his mouth hanging open.
"But, Daddy is having an aneurysm or something," Lucy squeaked.
"He's not having aneurysm. He's fine," Bella said, getting up and elbowing him the stomach. "Edward!"
"A baby?" he whispered.
"I'm sorry, Daddy. I know that I'm the responsible one. If anything, I expected Liam to have this problem with all of the sex he's had," Lucy said, gesturing blindly at her brother.
"Hey!" Liam laughed. "No glove, no love!"
"Regardless, I am sorry. We made a mistake, but we love each other and we're going to make it work," Lucy said, looking at her father. "And I'm not giving up my dream of being a doctor, Dad. It's a speed bump, but …"
"Luce, stop. You'll work yourself into a tizzy," Edward said. "Baby girl, I'm sorry about blanking out. You have to worry about more than just yourself now." He helped her to her feet and held her tightly. "I love you, Lucy. I'm proud of you. We'll support you, no matter what."
"Really?" Lucy whispered.
"Really," Edward replied, kissing her forehead.
"We love you, pretty girl. And we're happy that you and Hunter are getting married. You look at each other like Edward looks at me. Like you're the only woman in the world," Bella breathed. "You take care of her, Hunter. Or, I'll kick your ass."
"Understood, Mrs. Cullen," Hunter mumbled.
"You called me Bella since you were nine, Hunter. It doesn't change now," Bella snickered.
After the Alyssa and Bailey came back and Edward collected an injured Caleb from the baseball fields, they had dinner and celebrated the engagement of Lucy and Hunter. However, the pregnancy was kept quiet for the time being. Once dinner was done, Hunter and Lucy went up to her room while Liam met up with some friends from high school. Edward and Bella were out on the patio, sitting on the same chaise lounge. Bella was twisting his wedding band. "I can't believe what happened today," she whispered.
"Me, neither. We're too young to be grandparents," Edward snorted. "But, Hunter is a good guy and he's really stepping up. He talked to me as we were doing the dishes. He wanted to propose long ago, but Lucy's schooling prevented him from doing it." He tightened his hold around his wife's waist. Her body had changed from her two pregnancies, but she was still gorgeous and Edward's dream girl. "I see a lot of me in Hunter."
"Really?" Bella asked.
"He's loving, loyal and determined," he replied, pressing a kiss to Bella's temple. "He was determined to not let Lucy get away."
"Hmmm, definitely like you," Bella purred.
"Yeah, because the one that got away is now in my arms and I'm never letting her go," Edward said.
"Just like Hunter," Bella smiled, brushing Edward's hair from his forehead.
"Just like Hunter," Edward smirked. "But, we're still too young to be grandparents, sweetness."
"Oh, Edward," Bella sighed, rolling her eyes. "You're lucky I love you."
"As I love you, baby," he responded, kissing her lips sweetly. "As I love you."