Final chapters are always bittersweet.
I had yet to return to work, and found that I didn't miss the daily grind or the people. I'd begged off for another month, but I knew I needed to make a decision one way or the other. I felt like something was coming, experiencing an anticipatory edginess that I couldn't quite place.
Edward and I were engaged. It felt fabulous to say that, and I repeated it often. I had no firm thoughts on when to set the date, although I believed Edward was looking to get married immediately. Like we should just step in front of a judge and say the words, and really, what was wrong with that? I just knew that our families would be unhappy if that was our choice, and the least I could do was put on a fancy dress for a few hours. It had worked out quite well for the gala, after all.
Edward had been incredibly loving and demonstrative since I'd healed and we'd started being intimate again. It almost felt like he was making up for all the years he was abstinent before meeting me. And there was no complaint out of me, whatsoever.
Today, though, I was supposed to meet him at an address he'd texted me. He claimed it was a restaurant, but it was in a residential neighborhood when I looked up the directions. When I pulled into the development, there was nothing but dirt and trees with a few signs stuck in the ground. I couldn't figure out what in the hell we were doing there, but I spotted Edward standing on the road, his hand shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun. He watched me pull closer and come to a stop, then jogged over and opened my door.
"How did you get here? Why are you here?"
He kissed my cheek, pulling me with him to where he'd been standing. Excitement was vibrating off of him in waves. "All of this," he gestured with open arms, "is ours."
"Ours." I didn't comprehend. He was waving at an awful lot of dirt.
"Yeah, ours. Isn't it awesome?" I swear he bounced on the balls of his feet.
"Sweetheart, why don't you back up and start from the beginning?" I took his closest hand and rested it on my cheek, urging him to focus on me.
Edward blew out a breath. "Okay. You know how I didn't give all the money away, like we agreed?"
"Yes. I wondered about it, but I didn't want to ask." I bit my lower lip. "Did you do something crazy? Because you totally should do something at least a little nuts."
"I did a lot of things. I gave Mom that money, and she split the first portion with Dad since it's only fair. The rest she's spending on herself. And I set up the scholarships."
Not only had Edward paid his mother for the money she'd spent on attorneys, he'd given her another five hundred thousand dollars to do with as she wished. She was looking at taking classes to update her skills on computer software, and then opening her own advertising firm. She was finally happy, and I think it had been an incredibly long time since she'd felt that way.
I let the budgeting aspect of Edward's restitution money go; we'd discussed it, but he'd apparently changed his mind. I decided it wasn't my business, and I wasn't going to ask. He declined a paid position at the IP, requesting that Lara use the salary for someone else on staff. It was no coincidence that both Liam and Leah received anonymous scholarships in an amount equal to tuition for their remaining years at law school.
He seemed like he was fidgeting, nervous and building up to something big. "Honey, I know these things. What don't I know?"
A full blown smile bloomed over his face. "I bought us land to build a house. Any kind of house you want. And I put money into a trust fund for our babies, you know, when they grow up."
"You're already planning for babies?" I breathed. I wrapped my arms around him, taking in his warmth.
"Yes. You want children, don't you?" he asked tentatively.
"I do. I really do."
He pulled away again, looking into my face. "Then that's what it's for. You can volunteer full time, and not have to go back to work. I know you've struggled with it, and I want you to have that choice. We can have the wedding of your dreams, the house of your dreams."
"And what about your dreams?"
Edward smiled, and it was a beautiful sight. "I have everything I've ever dreamed of, love. I have my volunteer work at IPNW, I have a wonderful mother, who I was able to reimburse for all of the expenditures she made on my behalf, and enable her to start her own company, and I'm making friends." Edward leaned down and kissed me, stealing my breath. "Most importantly, I have you. You are all I've ever dreamed of."
"I love you so much," I replied, hugging him tighter to me.
Six months later my nightmares had dwindled to less than once a month. Our wedding was two weeks away and we were almost all set to move into the house of our dreams. But I hadn't been feeling well, lately.
At first, I thought I had food poisoning from the sushi I'd eaten a few days ago, but it was lingering longer than it should… enough that I made an appointment with my doctor. At the last minute, I had Edward join me. Call it intuition.
By the time we were waiting for my lab results, I knew what they would say. I watched Edward's face as the doctor announced with a hearty congratulations that we were pregnant. His eyebrows went up, then he frowned, and then his entire body lit up as his brain caught up to the words spoken. Edwrad turned to me, his beautiful face beaming, his expression open and ecstatic. I was incredibly happy that I'd brought him along. He deserved to have this moment, the joy and awe and excitement.
Before I knew it, he threw his arms around me and held me so tight I almost couldn't breathe. I laughed, hugging him back, before he pulled away. His long fingers stroked my cheeks, and I smiled hugely in reaction to his grin.
"We're having a baby!" he shouted.
I nodded. "We are!"
It took time and commotion to get out of the office, and then he insisted on feeding me. Edward would always take care of me, now us, and I would return the favor. Everything had turned around for us, everything was moving smoothly now. If not for the lessons learned, it was almost as though our troubles had never happened. Yes, the consequences of this crime, or in legal terms the ex delicto, had been far reaching, but we had worked through them and would continue to do so if necessary.
There was no family of Newton's alive that wasn't incarcerated, nobody to pay restitution for his crimes. Instead, I'd settled with the city over what I'd considered gross negligence as more corruption came to light with the investigation into how Michael Newton had spent ten years assaulting women and covering it up. Too much of it happened on company time, and though he'd been reprimanded for misconduct when he would disappear on duty and he'd been suspended more than once, none of his superiors had taken action to report him higher up the chain. He'd greased Randall's palms, convincing him to turn a blind eye when reports of assault came across his desk before having him volunteer to be on my guard detail, but mostly he committed the acts on company time while partners ignored his absence.
I couldn't stomach letting that go, to just agreeing that nobody had to take responsibility for their lack of action. Though my father didn't like it, he understood and respected my need to bring attention to the problem. He'd implemented new rules, and the mayor offered a settlement rather than allowing me to take it to court. It was never about the money, so I donated mine to the city's pro bono therapy associates. I'd heard that Lauren Mallory had settled a suit with the state, and that made my heart feel balanced, just like the scales I wore on my wrist. She was going to be okay.
I left the wedding planning to Esme and Renée, focusing on the case I'd been working on for the past six months, a woman convicted of murdering her ex-husband. I found the proof I needed to exonerate her, and she'd been released last week.
Yes, everything was turning out just fine for us. Now I had a nursery to decorate, and a future filled with possibilities with Edward by my side.
My partner in crime.
In fiction world, we could pretend they never had to work for pay again, strictly volunteering their time. In reality, let's say he held on to enough money and invested it wisely so that it will be years before they have to worry about working for money.
Thank you to all of my loyal readers for following me and Lawyerella and Prsionward. You are greatly appreciated.
Thank you to BeLynda for being an excellent beta and friend to bounce ideas off of; she truly helps elevate my stories.
Thank you to coppertopj, aka Denise, for all of the collages and the pre-reader work, and to my pre-readers starsmina and rebadams7. You ladies rock!
I have so many things in the works, I don't know where to start. Perdition will get my sole attention for a few weeks, or until the itch to post something new wins out. I'm writing a supernatural/AU that I'm in love with, and I'm expanding my mobward contest entry, so look for those soon. Not to mention, there's a contest or two out there that I'm working on! And of course, you can always find me on facebook.