A/N #1: So this is the very last chapter. I apologize again for the wait, but the story is now marked complete after writing it for over a year. Please see us at the bottom for notes from both of us… Deb :)
Chapter 29 – Epilogue
Unknown Island off Florida Keys
Bella's window slipped closed, leaving the cheers and noise of the reception behind us. I shook my head, taking a long, slow gaze around me. Her soft laugh met my ears, and I turned to face her.
"You wanted a deserted island," she pointed out with a teasing lilt to her tone. She glanced around. "Although, technically…this isn't deserted. It's a private rental."
Grinning, I shook my head again. "I did. Did Dad help you with this?"
She laughed, walking to me to cup my face. "Let's just say I had all sorts of help."
Her mind had been an amazing place to be all damn day. Our wedding day. She was nerves and love, hope and awe. All day she'd been reminiscing about her life, her past, how she'd gotten to this point. More than one time her father had crossed her mind, giving her the hope that he was seeing her marry, seeing her so very happy. From the loss of him, to her mother's downward spiral, to living on the streets – zooming forward to this moment, I'd viewed Bella's life through her eyes as she dressed, walked down the aisle, and recited her vows to me. I'd watched my pretty girl fall in love with me all over again.
My Bella felt beautiful and loved and whole today, though she'd felt that way for some time. She was grateful, if not a bit overwhelmed, that she never need worry about where her next meal or roof over head would be. That particular habit died hard with Bella. A year of running and struggling was difficult to let go. However, Bella had fit in with my family almost instantly. She'd been there for us when she barely trusted us.
As I stood in the sand facing her on the "deserted island" we'd both wanted and teased about since the beginning, I kissed my wife.
She hummed against my lips at that thought, pulling back and smiling up at me. "I like the sound of that."
"Mm, me too," I said, resuming my kisses.
We'd been so busy this last year. I'd finished at NYU, while she had one more year. We knew for a fact that our lives would always be wrapped up in the protection of sixxers. I'd graduated a sociology major with a minor in business. I still didn't know what the fuck I was going to do with it, but for the time being, I was working with social services at my dad's hospital in New York. He and I located, helped, and guided any sixxers we came across in the Manhattan area. There had been a few, but really, I pushed a lot of papers and helped people along the way get the care they needed.
We'd been so busy that the "deserted island," despite Bella's ability to go any-damn-where at any time, had just never happened, and then it became our joke for the honeymoon. To get away, we usually slipped to Charlie's cabin in Montana; it worked for the spur-of-the-moment escape. Leave it to her and my dad to find the perfect place, which I'd left up to them, because she needed to be able to open the window and he was paying for it.
"Umm," Bella hummed against my lips. "Really it was Esme."
Chuckling, I nodded, shrugged, and then shook my head. "Don't care. We're here. I can only hear you, pretty girl, and you're now Mrs. Cullen. I'm not sure there's a happier man alive right this second."
Bella laughed beautifully and took my hand, tugging me to the small cabana behind us. She was still in her wedding dress, and I was still in my tux, though my tie had been undone long ago. Once through the open French doors, I stopped, my mouth open. It was perfect and simple, with a large bed and candles and more food, not to mention another bottle of champagne and our suitcases. We were here for a week, not that we couldn't go wherever we pleased, thanks to Bella.
Bella grinned, glancing down at the floor and back to me. "Where else do you want to go, Edward?"
Shaking my head, I chuckled. "Nowhere without you."
Once again, Bella's mind centered around how lucky she was, and I smiled, taking a seat on the edge of the bed. My brow furrowed as I shook my head slowly.
"C'mere, pretty girl," I whispered, pulling her to stand between my legs.
Her wedding dress made her look like an angel, and my fingers trailed over satin and lace and shiny beads. There was a comb-like thing in her hair with blue stones of some sort in them, a few curls spilling around her face. It was those my hands itched to remove, but instead, I toyed with those soft curls.
"Tell me why you think you're so lucky," I said softly, meeting her warm gaze.
"You want me to tell you or show you?"
Grinning, I shrugged. "Either, or…both?"
Bella chuckled, cupping my face and leaning in to kiss me, and her mind showed me our beginning. There was disbelief and fear when I'd first found her, and then there was inadequacy and embarrassment at how I lived, how my family lived, but throughout all of that, she saw that I'd never judged her on any of it. And before I could argue that I'd lived pretty much the same way with my birth parents, she kissed me to shut me up.
"I know, Edward. You've told me, shown me." She smiled warmly, pressing a kiss to the middle of my forehead. "I'm lucky because you saw something in me when I didn't."
"What did I tell you about that, Bella?"
"That shit circles around. I know. I get it."
Chuckling, I pulled her closer. "I knew what you were going through when I first saw you. I could see it all over this beautiful face. I saw it in your mind when I caught up with you in Central Park. It was unfair. It's unfair for anyone to be in that situation, but as much as I hated it, I had to be grateful for simply the opportunity to find you." I smiled up at her. "I was yours the second you fell asleep on my shoulder the first night you stayed at the penthouse."
Bella grinned. "You've told me that, too."
"You had a fuck-ton of fear – and understandably so, since you were in a house with strangers – but you felt comfortable enough with me to let your guard down."
"Because you came for me when you didn't even know me," she whispered incredulously. "All of you, but you…" She trailed off shaking her head. "You never lied to me, Edward. You always kept your word. But mainly, you knew what I needed when I didn't even know myself."
"A perk to mind reading," I teased her, laughing and wrapping her up in my arms when she went to push away from me with a giggle. "Oh, no, pretty girl. Not so fast." I held her close, pressing my forehead to hers. "We're both lucky, I think. And as scary as things got, I wouldn't change a thing."
"I love you," she said simply. "And I want out of this dress."
Chuckling, I nodded, turning her around in front of me. The skin of her back called to me, so I couldn't help but press kisses to her spine as I reached for the buttons or zipper or whatever the hell it was keeping me from the rest of her. That thought made her laugh and glance at me over her shoulder.
When the dress loosened, I turned her back around, swallowing thickly as my powers shifted into the room. A candle thumped to the top of one of the nightstands, and it made me jump, a bit embarrassed.
"Hey," Bella called softly, cupping my face again. "It's just us. And I didn't want them lit anyway."
Nodding, I kissed her but skimmed my fingertips along her collarbones, pushing the dress off her shoulders. We'd been together for just about two years now, and occasionally my powers – our powers together – still shot out of control. Sometimes I loved her too much. Sometimes she was heartbreaking to look at. But this was more, or it felt that way to me.
Bella Swan was now Bella Cullen, and everything about her was mine…as long as we both shall live.
Bella smiled warmly but didn't stop me when I let the dress fall away. She was left in just a pair of white lace underwear that hugged her hips and lace-topped stocking things that made me lick my lips. Her body was amazing to me, especially when I remembered too-thin arms, ribs, and hip bones when I first met her. Now she was just…delicious.
Bella grinned at my crazed thought process but reached over to unbutton my tux shirt, pulling me to stand in front of her. The shirt, the undone bowtie, and my pants joined her dress on the floor at the foot of the bed, along with shoes and socks. However, those lacy stocking things needed to stay on those legs for a moment.
The sound of waves crashing to shore, the scent of ocean air, and the evening breeze coming in from outside all washed over us as I guided her up onto the bed. I wanted to slow down as I touched her, kissed her, tasted her everywhere.
I wanted to take my time, but when Bella's own power shot out of control and a window to who knew where opened up over the headboard as I slid into her, I knew the poor room we were in may not survive us.
Kissing her deeply, I braced myself over her. "Where do you want to go, pretty girl?" I asked softly, and it was the same question she'd asked of me.
She wrapped arms and legs around me. "Nowhere without you."
The cabin smelled like sugar and cinnamon, making me smile, but it didn't make me smile as big as the squeals of girl laughter from outside. I wasn't sure my face could take it, actually.
Chuckling, I checked the oven and pulled out the cinnamon rolls. Setting them on the top to cool, I gave the cabin a long, slow gaze. My life was so very different than I'd ever imagined it would turn out.
My world was pink things, dresses, long brunette hair, and hard work, but the latter didn't bother me one bit. I'd seen the whole world, it seemed, thanks to Bella. Her ability to step from one place to another was a huge help in locating sixxers. Add in my mind reading, and we were the best suited to take over for Eleazar and my dad. They had started the sixxer government, and now Marcus funded it, changing VI from medical and genetic research to the hub of our secret government. It was simple. It was easy. We located incidents that caused a public stir and went in to stop it, even educated them, if needed. Sometimes there were sixxers who resisted, but it wasn't the norm.
In the past four years Bella and I had been married, we'd come across one or two people who'd tried to expose us, exploit us, but nothing like Aro.
In that four years, though, everything had changed. Smiling, I glanced out the window of Bella's father's old cabin. We used it now more than ever. Its remote location gave me the silence I wanted, and it also gave us a place to play with sixth senses both old and new.
Another squeal of laughter pulled me from the cabin like a magnet. I couldn't resist.
I scooped up my daughter, who was the most amazing blend of Bella and me. Long brunette hair with reddish highlights, a silly crooked smile, and the most beautiful brown eyes. I'd thought Bella's were gorgeous when I first met her, but seeing them in my little girl made them so much more.
Bella walked to us, smiling. I wasn't sure my heart could hold the love I had for these two stunning girls, but it did. Pressing kisses to my wife's lips, I grinned when I felt a small hand on my face.
"Daddy, me next!"
Ellie Joy Cullen was three years old, going on twenty. She was all things smart like Bella. She was a go-with-the-flow type of kid, who was easy to tease and teach. Ellie loved all things girly, pink, and princess, and most of it was exacerbated by my mother and sisters. Nails, hair bows, dresses, dolls – my world revolved around these things. And I had no complaint.
"Ellie-girl, show me," I told her, smirking at her scrunched-up eyebrows and concentrated expression that looked like mine.
Bella snorted, rolled her eyes, and shook her head. "Like a clone, I swear."
I grinned over at her as Ellie grasped at my face and smooched me loudly. But it was the mind I loved to hear. It was bright, colorful, detailed.
"Don't hate," I teased my wife.
"Right," she said through a laugh, silently telling me that she was going inside for a moment.
I walked Ellie over to the large rock in the middle of the open field. It was the same rock I'd sat on when we'd first gone into hiding from Aro. Rose had flown overhead to watch over us, and I'd listened for minds. Now, there were only two minds I needed to listen to, and they were the most important things in the world.
"Okay, you got me where you want me, Ellie. What now?" I asked her, reading her mind, but I loved her voice just as much.
"For me!" she commanded, pointing to the field full of wildflowers.
Holding out my hand, I plucked a purple flower for my little girl, the same type of flower I'd picked for her mother so long ago. I spun it like a helicopter blade, swirling it around the small hand trying to catch it.
"Hold your hand out, Ellie-girl."
When her chubby hand was flat, I danced the flower in her palm, finally laying it down. The resulting smile was just Bella made over, and I leaned in to kiss her forehead. I gazed down at Ellie, in awe that she was a part of something I helped create, smiling when she twirled that flower with her thumb and forefinger. She then handed it to me so I could tuck it into her hair.
I saw Ellie decide to use her power before she actually did it, so I instructed her softly. "Easy, baby. And concentrate."
She nodded, holding her hand out. The force of her power shot out in a circle around us, making all the flowers bend. Ellie had inherited my telekinesis. Thankfully, she'd been lucky not to have my mind reading. As helpful as it was for me, I never wanted my beautiful little girl to hear the ugly things in the human mind.
Every flower in a ten-foot radius around us was suddenly picked. Ellie smiled up at me when I chuckled.
"Show me, Ellie."
She used those flowers and their leaves and petals to "paint" a picture. This game had been going on for some time, and she'd only gotten better at it.
"Let's see…" I drawled out, kissing the side of her head. "There's Aunt Alice, Aunt Rose, Nana, Papa… Ah, Uncle Emmett. Is that me, baby?"
A breeze blew across the field, taking her flowers with it and dropping them over us, which made her giggle adorably. Purple and green rained down over us, and I knocked them out of my hair, which made her laugh even harder.
"Do it, Daddy," she commanded, wriggling on my lap so that she was facing me and bringing my forehead to hers. Again, there was so much Bella there that I melted completely to her commands. "Stories."
When Ellie was first born and she'd wake up in the middle of the night crying, I'd "tell" her stories, opening my mind to my daughter's to show her people, places, things, and events. It became such a calming thing for her that I did it all the time. And Ellie had favorites at this point. She really adored the story of how Alice and I became brother and sister. She loved how pretty her mommy was, and she liked seeing everyone's abilities through my mind.
Today, Ellie was all over the place. She wanted to see the day she was born – another favorite.
Smiling at her, I cupped her face and pressed kisses to the tip of her nose. "You ready?"
Ellie nodded, her expression filled with anticipation.
"Okay, close your eyes," I told her softly, thinking back to one of the most frightening and beautiful days of my life.
New York City
"Breathe, pretty girl," I coached, pressing kisses to Bella's sweaty forehead.
A small sob escaped my wife, and I soothed her again, though I was dying inside for her. We were in the penthouse in Manhattan. Bella didn't want a hospital for several reasons, but the main ones were our talents. The contractions were causing both of us to lose a bit of control. Windows would open up on the walls, in the floor, and above the bed. And combining that with my worry and connection to her, I'd already broken the table lamps, a couple of vases, and there was crack in the mirror over the dresser of the spare room.
A hospital could not happen. Some poor nurse would end up in the Grand Canyon.
Bella huffed a frustrated laugh and sob at the same time. "Not helping, Edward…"
"Sorry," I replied instantly. "You want me out of your head?"
"No! Just… Make it stop!"
Grimacing, I looked to my dad, who was trying his damnedest not to fall into the next window Bella shot up.
"Bella, look at me," I told her, and her weary eyes drifted to mine. "Baby, you have to focus. You'll drop Dad into nowhere. We kinda need him for this."
I was trying not to be funny, but it sounded crazy.
"Okay, okay…" She trailed off when she needed to breathe. "She's just… Is she fighting me?"
Grinning, I shifted over her down to the "she" in question. We'd known we were having a girl for the longest time, even before the sonogram confirmed it, because our little one had bright, happy, colorful thoughts from just about the beginning. The whole pregnancy had been amazing through my mind reading.
Placing my hand on Bella's big stomach, I listened to the baby and then sent my own thoughts to her. Easy, little one. Don't be scared, because we'll see you soon, but you have to calm down.
The heartrate settled minutely on the monitors Dad had Bella hooked up to. We'd been planning the birth here at the penthouse for ages, and that was just one of the things he'd procured.
"It's just about time to push, Bella," Dad instructed gently, looking up from the end of the bed.
I pressed kisses to Bella's stomach, gazing up at my already exhausted girl. "I love you, Bella. You can do this." When she nodded, her head fell back to the pillows and her eyes closed when the contraction gave her a break. "Names, pretty girl. Is the list the same?"
She licked her dry lips, cracking a small smile as she nodded again. "Yeah, we just have to pick one."
Chuckling, I nodded against her stomach. "My vote is still Ellie. It means shining light or beautiful girl. And she's going to be gorgeous, Bella, because she's half you."
"Don't be all sweet right now, Edward Cullen; I know I look like hell."
Laughing, I shot a quick glance to my dad, who snorted softly from the monitors. I moved back up to her face, giving her my thoughts instead.
Isabella Cullen, you're the most beautiful woman I've ever set eyes on, and you can read my mind, so do you think I'm lying? I asked her, wiping away the tears that pooled in her eyes. My poor Bella was a rollercoaster of emotions. When she shook her head, I kissed her lips softly. So if I'm right, then our beautiful daughter will be just as gorgeous. I think her name should match.
"Okay," she whispered, nodding wearily, but switched to thoughts simply due to her tired state. Then I pick the middle name.
"Deal, pretty girl," I said with a laugh, but it cut short when Bella's monitors started to all beep and alarms went off.
Dad walked to the end of the bed to check on her progress, and he pulled the stool closer. "Sweetheart, it's time to push. Ready?"
She shook her head but did as he instructed anyway.
I honestly wasn't sure which was worse: Bella's screams of pain or the shift of our talents into the room when she squeezed my hand like a vise. Books tumbled off bookshelves, frames cracked and shattered, and windows opened so quickly it looked like a video on fast-forward. I saw a few places I recognized – the island we spent our honeymoon, the Montana cabin, the beach in Florida, and even our apartment not far from the penthouse. Places I didn't recognize were slightly frightening – choppy waters over sea rocks, hurricane-type rains, and I swore I saw the desert.
Bella pushed for almost thirty full minutes until Ellie finally came out into the world. All windows stopped flickering, and my telekinesis settled down. The screaming cry of a newborn pierced the air, but with her cries came cheers from the other end of the penthouse, where everyone was waiting, pacing, worrying.
One single thought met mine above all others, including Bella's. Alice. Oh, my God! She's here. I can actually see my niece.
That thought, along with all I was feeling, caused tears to fill my eyes, because my sister had embraced her healed sight like a thirsty man in the desert needed water. I was pretty sure Bella had taken her just about everywhere on earth in order to show her the world.
Dad set our squirming, wailing daughter in a blanket, cleaning her face briefly before bringing her to Bella and me.
"She's perfect, son," he said, emotion filling his voice, but Bella and I only had eyes for her.
He set her with Bella, who was almost too weak to hold her. My wife's mind was blank for a heartbeat or two, but then she was full of pure, unadulterated joy.
"Joy," we said at the same time.
"Ellie Joy Cullen," Bella said through tears, but it was with a reverence that I'd never heard from her before that moment.
"Son, I need you to take the baby," Dad told me softly. "I need to help Bella a little."
Nodding, I kissed Bella's lips almost harshly, whispering. "You're my hero, pretty girl. I love you. You did awesome!"
Bella laughed and sobbed at the same time but shifted Ellie into my arms. She was still quite unhappy to be out in the world of noise and bright lights.
As soon as I wrapped my arms around my little girl, I was a changed man. I felt protectiveness like I'd never felt before, and it was completely different than the level I felt for Bella. I felt love and fear and pride. So much damn pride!
Ellie cried in my arms, red-faced and scared. She had hair the color of Bella's, and it was already thick and out of control. I could see her fear in her mind. It was a different type of thinking. She thought in colors and now faces. A blurry picture of her mother, with the matching of the voice, came to the front. And as I whispered to her, my face became the focus.
Finally, I opened my mind to hers, keeping Bella's at the same time. Welcome home, Ellie. You're safe, I promise you. There will never be a little girl more loved than you.
Ellie's cries softened, her squirming settled down, and she blinked up at me with curious eyes. Glancing over at Bella, who was watching us with an emotional expression, I shook my head. I truly never knew how lucky I was until then.
"Pretty baby," Ellie said with a grin.
"You were a beautiful baby," Bella said, walking to us and giving us both kisses.
Smiling at Ellie, I nodded vehemently, just to hear her giggle.
"I want to see about Aunt Alice next," she stated out of the blue.
"You are all over the place today, Ellie-girl," I teased her. "Which story of Aunt Alice do you want to see?"
Ellie and her Aunt Alice had a different relationship than Ellie had with everyone else. She loved Alice's talent of being able to predict the future. She tested her aunt more times than we could count, especially when Alice was watching her for us if we needed a babysitter. Alice and Rose together were the epitome of the doting aunts.
Rosalie would turn into anything just to see the wonder on Ellie's face – cats, dogs, owls, bears, mice. All of it was something Ellie could touch. Alice, however, could see when Ellie would decide to test powers she couldn't control just yet. Those had started to develop early just like mine. When Ellie learned that she could open kitchen cabinets or the refrigerator or even her bedroom door, Alice would see it and stop her. It became a game to them.
However, Ellie loved stories about Alice and me when we were kids. She didn't quite understand Brookside Psychiatric Hospital, but seeing the two of us as children was a big deal for Ellie. She knew we were brought into Carlisle and Esme's home together, but she also didn't quite understand that we weren't related. To Ellie, everyone was family – blood-related or not; she never knew any different. She had aunts and uncles who loved her. That's all she cared about.
Bella chuckled at my thoughts but nodded as we waited for Ellie to answer the question.
"Aunt Alice, Daddy. Show me when she could see again."
I smiled at that and showed briefly Maggie's healing of my sister. My daughter had been on the receiving end of now fifteen-year-old Maggie's talent more than one time, with scraped knees and elbows, not to mention a cold or two. But what Ellie really wanted was Alice relearning, absorbing, and accepting everything around her she'd only known by touch since she was not much older than Ellie.
New York City
Pulling Bella closer, we snuggled on the loveseat in the penthouse while the TV flickered. Mom and Dad were out for some doctor benefit thing, but the rest of us stayed home. That was rare in and of itself, but we were really giving Alice a crash course in movies and TV shows. It was things she'd heard but never had seen. So really, we were watching her watch it.
Honestly, she had a long road ahead, relearning some basic things like reading, writing, hand/eye coordination, but she was completely open to the hard work. This was a night of easiness, though.
Jasper and Emmett wanted her to see action stuff. Rose and Bella the romances. I didn't care. It was funny to witness Alice's glimpses of actors and actresses, who she'd only ever listened to, so whatever image she'd had in her mind was completely shattered. Maggie had only healed her sight a few weeks prior, so everything was new for her, and we were loving the fact that we could show it to her.
"Wait, wait… So that's Channing Tatum?" Alice asked, glancing around at all of us, landing on Jasper's tentative face. He wasn't sure he wanted to know her opinion of the guy women deemed "hot."
Bella caught the giggles so bad, she buried it into my shoulder, because she could see Alice's mind as well. But it was the squint my sister gave the screen that made me chuckle out loud.
"Ali, they're gonna be different," Emmett explained gently, but he was laughing a little too.
"Oh hell, everything will be different," Rose countered with an eyeroll. "Places you've only read about or heard about… Alice, the reality will be vastly different."
Damn, I want to see so much, Alice thought to herself, and it was a little overwhelming for her because she couldn't absorb stuff quickly enough.
I sat up, keeping my arm around Bella. "Alice, look around you. We can show you anything. Name it."
My sister's cheeks reddened a little, but she nodded. However, it was Bella who spoke up.
"Where do you want to go, Alice?" she asked, pointing to the far wall of the living room. "Name it. I'll try. If I don't know it, we'll Google it."
Jasper grinned, looking back to Alice. "You have a list, darlin'," he drawled, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and shaking her gently. "Tell them."
Alice's bright-blue eyes drifted around the room. Funnily enough, she started with the big iconic places.
"Statue of Liberty," Alice blurted out.
Bella grinned happily, and whoosh, the window opened bringing with it the scent of water, but standing tall and noble and green was Lady Liberty herself at sunset in New York's harbor.
"Oh, she's beautiful," Alice whispered, walking to Bella's window. "Brooklyn Bridge," she called out, and again, Bella opened another window in front of her.
Smiling at my girl, I realized these were places she knew exactly where the safest place to open a window would be. Alice was in awe and started to rattle off places one right after the other. Windows popped up in front of her with the most picturesque scenery I'd ever seen. Grand Canyon, Seattle Space Needle, even Cinderella's Castle at Disney World – all of it was absorbed with wide blue eyes that were brimming with tears.
There was silence for a moment, and I didn't even hear it in her mind before she spoke.
"Brookside Psychiatric Hospital."
I gasped, gaping at Alice, but she seemed to need this, so I pulled out my phone. "Bella, here, baby. You'll need to focus for a moment. Chicago."
Bella took a deep breath, concentrating on the phone where I'd pulled up pictures of the mental facility where Alice and I had met as children. It was late afternoon there, so there were a few kids outside in the fenced-in yard. Grimacing, I noted that it gave me the same hostile feelings as when I'd been there.
Alice stared hard at the building and its surroundings, trying to put it together with how she remembered it. She remembered the echoing hallways, the smell of cleaner and nurses and kids. She stepped through Bella's window without saying a word, and we all followed her, and Bella closed the window quickly behind us in order to remain unseen.
My own memories of the hospital were blurry. It had been so long, all I could remember were glimpses of Alice and me, a few of the guys in the boys' dorm, and meeting Carlisle. I got into my share of scuffles – some were in protection of Alice, and some were just me being prickly.
My sister's face was dark, angry, as she glared at the building. She'd been sent there so very young, and at the same time, she was suffering the loss of her parents and her sight. The only light at the end of that tunnel was…me.
Alice turned to face me, knowing I could hear all her thoughts. "No one… No, that's not right. No sixxer should be considered crazy," she stated just to me, shaking her head. "They shouldn't be stashed in places like this just because they're different."
Smiling her way, I nodded. "Some sixxers are crazy. You've met Tanya."
Alice snorted, rolling her eyes at the mention of my ex, because Tanya had taken off on her own when she'd found out Bella and I were engaged. Carmen had been heartbroken, but something about her needing to get away, to find herself, had made sense to her sisters, Irina and Kate. Eleazar understood it, too, so he'd told her to go and that he'd support her.
Nodding, Alice turned back toward Brookside. "I just think we need to find a way to keep sixxers, especially children, out of places like this. I wasn't crazy just because I was born different."
Emmett had remained fairly quiet, despite where we were, but he nodded. "Well, I have to agree. But something that big would require Carlisle. Maybe even James. Their talents are perfect for it."
"We can talk to Dad, Alice," I vowed to her. "Have you seen enough? Because I hate this place."
I turned to tell Bella to take us back home, and her face was a bit dark, too. Her beautiful brown eyes flickered from the building, to me, and then Alice. She landed back on me, her mind trying to see an eleven-year-old Edward in the hospital in front of her. She'd seen how fiercely protective I was of Alice back then, and now…all of my family. I'd shown her.
"Pretty girl," I said softly, smiling her way. "Let's go home."
I met Bella's gaze over Ellie's head as I pressed kisses to my daughter's temple. Our little one was starting to doze off.
I love you, pretty girl, I thought to my wife after pulling my thoughts from Ellie.
Bella smiled, leaning in to kiss my lips. "So many changes since then," she commented on the memory. Her lips left mine and pressed to our daughter's forehead. "I'm glad she'll never have to deal with people who don't understand her."
"Mm," I hummed, shifting Ellie so that she could lay her head on my shoulder when I stood up. "That's very true."
When we'd found out we were having Ellie, we'd both assumed she'd be talented, and we'd both vowed to never let her go through what we had experienced. She'd never feel alone or scared because she was different. She'd never have to worry that we'd reject her. Ellie was surrounded by talents, yes, but she was also surrounded by people who made sure to let her know that she wasn't a demon or crazy because she could do things some people couldn't. And we knew as she got older, secrecy would become paramount, but mostly, we wanted Ellie to understand she was loved…no matter what.
Things would continue to change as we grew older, but keeping sixxers secret would stay the same. I'd continue to work at the hospital with my dad, but we'd always help sixxers when needed. Since Alice's closure at Brookside, we'd asked James to keep an eye out for kids in institutions due to their sixth senses. Even Tanya had found her place in the world, traveling Europe in search of people like us. We all worked at it now – my whole family, not to mention those we'd found along the way.
As I led my girls back into the cabin, I tried to remember back to the first day I'd set eyes on Bella in the bodega, a girl scared and hungry and angry. I tried to remember running, fighting, hiding, and while I remembered those things just fine, my life was infinitely better now. And my hope was that my daughter, and future sixxers out there somewhere, would never have to go through what we had in order to simply live.
Once I'd tucked my daughter into bed, surrounded by her dolls and stuffed animals, I turned to pull Bella into my arms, because I knew she'd been following my train of thought.
Shit circles around, Edward, she thought to me. You've told me that repeatedly. Hopefully, the next generation – and generations to come – will never know what it is to fight against someone like Aro. Hopefully they'll bring with them a better outlook, more open minds.
I wasn't sure that was true. There would always be people who considered anything strange or against the grain to be wrong or evil. However, I hoped it was true, for Ellie's sake. Hell, I hoped it was true for all of us.
Cupping my wife's face, I smirked down at her and wondered not for the first or last time if my thoughts drove her crazy, but she just chuckled softly, leaning in to kiss me. I knew we eventually had to get back to life in New York, but for that moment, I wanted to soak up time and peace with my family.
However, when the plate of cinnamon rolls floating in the air caught my eye, I laughed against Bella's lips. Mentally, I caught them, freezing them as they hovered just out of Ellie's reach.
"Oh, no!" I growled teasingly at my little girl. "You have to share! I thought you were sleeping, you little faker!"
"Please, Daddy!" she begged, giggling when I tickled her. "Mommy, tell him!"
Bella walked to us, plucking the plate out of the air, and sat down with the two of us. As I sat in that cabin in the middle of nowhere with the two people I loved most in the world covered in sticky icing, I realized that all the struggles up to this point were well worth it. There would always be struggles, always be those people who would take advantage of our talents, but as long as we had each other, we could handle anything life threw our way.
A/N #2: That's it for this one. I want to thank everyone that came on this journey with us. I do apologize for the long haul it took to bring us to this point. I'd explain about muses and jobs, RL issues and whatever, but you get it. At least most of you do.
I need to thank the following people… Maplestyle, Smusic, Driving Edward, and inkedupmom for pre-reading this and finding all the little shit we missed. That group of people has traveled on lots of journeys at this point. I even led them blindly into Even in Death. LOL Also thanks to Pien Willemse for joining our little group of pre-readers! I need to thank JenRar for cooking up this little plot bunny, even though it didn't always cooperate. And I need to thank everyone that read, reviewed, and rec'd this story…not to mention a few that waited so patiently for it to finish so they could start it.
Future… I am currently working on the pdf with pictures for EID, and I'll probably fiddle with this one too. I also have something I'll be starting pretty soon, and I'm hoping everyone will be as excited as my pre-readers were when they heard. So…not going anywhere… Until next time… Mooches, Deb ;)
This was Deb's chapter, but I wanted to throw in my own short note. First, to all the ladies Deb mentioned who helped by pre-reading. You guys caught a lot of typos and little problems that even my trained eye missed. And hearing your love for each chapter was definitely worth the hard work to get them out! The same goes for all you readers. Without you, this wouldn't be worth doing, so thank you.
Finally, to Deb herself. It's always a blast to write with you, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat if something gets my muse going. Love you! Mwah!
As for me, I'm focusing on editing and reading. We'll see if my muse ever decides to grace me with her presence again. If she does, I'm sure I can be convinced to write something new! ~ Jen