Chapter 38 and The Epilogue
Disclaimer: All things Twilight belong solely to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended.
A second disclaimer:
I'm not a professional writer. I write Twilight fanfic simply because I love this fandom.
I apologize in advance for any errors.
I decided to post the final two chapters together - so this is it. :)
True to his word, Edward had stopped to see Gia before he left, but like a coward, I was not home when he visited. The thought of him leaving was too much for me to bear. I was not ready to say goodbye, and if I was honest, I didn't know if I ever would be.
But now, he was gone.
He had been back in Chicago for over a week, and it felt as if my entire world had fallen apart.
The pain of missing him had come in waves, and today, I was drowning.
As I lay in my bed and contemplated what a mess I had made of my life, a knock sounded at my door.
"Come in," I called between sniffles.
Nonna walked inside and sat on the edge of the bed. "Mike called; he's worried." She placed her hand across my forehead. "Are you ill? It doesn't feel like you have a fever."
I shook my head in anguish as I wiped the wetness away from my cheeks.
She slowly stroked my hair. "Is it Edward?"
"Oh, Nonna, I screwed up," I said with a sob.
"Sweetheart, come here." She opened her arms and cradled me as I wept.
I must have fallen asleep because the next time I opened my eyes, Nonna sat in a chair beside my bed, reading. I blinked at her. "Sorry."
She placed her book on the nightstand. "Are you hungry?"
"No, thanks. Is Gia okay?"
"She's fine. Mike's feeding her dinner as we speak." Her warm fingers closed around mine. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Tears welled in my eyes. "I miss Edward so much, and he must hate me."
"No, that's impossible." She cupped my chin to stress her point. "He could never hate you. Now tell me, what happened last Saturday? Did he speak with you about work?"
"He told me he needed to return to work, and that he had been putting it off; hoping I would make a decision about our relationship."
"I see. And what did you say?"
Guilt blazed like a slow fire throughout my body. "I got nervous and said I thought of him as a friend."
She searched my face. "But I take it that's not how you feel?"
I shook my head and swallowed hard. "No, I feel so much more. Friendship only scratches the surface."
"Well, what are you going to do about it?"
"What can I do?" I blew out a tired, shaky breath. "He's gone."
Nonna laughed. "He's only in Illinois." Then, in a serious tone, she said, "Sweetheart, you can't just hope for happy endings, you also have to be willing to do the work and take risks. Now, get up, take a shower, and I'll arrange your flight."
The next morning, I flew to Chicago. After arriving, I took a taxi directly to Edward's office.
As I entered the lobby of the downtown building, my heart raced, and my stomach felt sick with anxiety. I reminded myself of my conversation with Nonna.
Take a risk, Bella.
After locating the receptionist, I said, "Hello, I'm here to see Edward Cullen."
An attractive, young man peered up at me from his seat. "Do you have an appointment?"
Shit. I hadn't even considered that. Why would I think just anyone could walk in off the street to see Edward?
"Umm, no, but I'm sort of family," I said. My voice held a hint of uncertainty.
The man gave me a skeptical look before picking up the phone and asking, "Name?"
I cocked my head to the side. "Do you think I can surprise him?"
"I'm sorry, but that's not —"
"Bella? Is that you?" A loud voice called from across the lobby interrupting our conversation.
I turned to find Jasper Hale approaching me. "Hi." I gave him a small wave.
After leading me to an elevator, he said, "You sure are a sight for sore eyes. Does Edward know you're here?"
I bit my bottom lip. "No, I was hoping to surprise him."
"Oh, he'll be surprised all right," he said with a chuckle as we stepped inside. "And hopefully, you can get him out of the piss-poor mood he's been in since he's been back."
Heat filled my cheeks. "Well, I'm not so sure about that —"
"No, darlin', I'm certain you're exactly what will do the trick."
When we arrived on Edward's floor, Jasper and I approached an older lady seated at a desk outside an office door.
"Hello, Cora, Edward has a visitor."
She gave us a kind smile. "I'll let him know." As she reached for her phone, however, Jasper stopped her. "She's going to surprise him. This is Bella."
Her mouth dropped into the shape of an O before she sputtered, "Thank God." Standing, she offered her hand, "I've never been happier to meet someone in my entire life."
I gave her a puzzled look before responding, "It's nice to meet you as well."
Suddenly, the office door swung open, and Edward appeared. "Cora, can you — " he stopped mid-sentence as soon as he noticed me. "Bella?"
"What are you … I mean, hi?"
We all stood in silence until Jasper said, "Cora, do you want to join me for a cup of coffee?"
"Sure." After grabbing her bag, they disappeared in the elevator.
Edward remained frozen in place. "Are you really here?"
I held my arms out awkwardly. "Yeah, it's me."
"Do you want to come inside and talk?"
I nodded. "I would like that."
After we entered the room, I looked around his office. The space was modern with a masculine undertone. The dark walls along with the mixture of raw woods and leather furniture conveyed a feeling of warmth and strength.
"Please have a seat." He motioned toward a sofa and a set of chairs.
I chose the sofa, hoping he would sit next to me. When he did, I faced him, and said, "Your office is nice."
"Thanks." He ran his hand through his hair. "I had it redone after Pops retired."
I nodded. "It feels like you."
He shrugged in embarrassment. "How's Gia? Is she in Chicago?" His eyes lit up with hope.
"She's doing well, but I'm afraid she's back home with Nonno and Nonna."
A sigh of disappointment escaped his lips. "Oh, that's too bad; I miss her."
"She misses you, too."
"It was difficult telling her goodbye last week, and I wanted to see you as well, but you weren't there."
The sadness in his voice tugged at my heart. "I'm sorry. I don't have any excuse other than being a coward."
He gave me a confused look. "A coward? What do you mean?"
"I didn't trust myself around you."
"I don't understand."
"Edward, don't you see? I lied to you." I hung my head in shame, unable to meet his eyes.
"Hey, come on now." He placed his hand on my knee and gave it a tender squeeze. "I thought we were friends?"
The feel of his touch sent a surge of yearning through me. Lifting my head, I said, "That's just it; I don't want to be your friend."
"Shit! I'm screwing this all up." I chewed on my nail, contemplating my words. "Of course, I want to be friends. It's just … I also want to be more."
His breath hitched. "More?"
I nodded shyly. "I think I've known we were meant to be together since the moment you first walked into my hospital room - the time when I was still in the coma."
"But … how?"
"I never told anyone, but I had a dream right before I awoke. I can't recall the particulars, but I do remember the overwhelming sense of belonging and love I experienced. I had never felt anything that intense my entire life, until a few days later when you held my hand."
His eyes widened. "Bella, I touched your hand while I was in your room that day ... while you were still in a coma. I knew it was wrong at the time, but I couldn't help myself."
"I've always wondered. I think you were the reason I woke up."
He blinked in astonished silence.
"I've always felt the connection. Always. I've just been fighting against it for so long because I've been afraid."
"But I gave you a reason."
"But you've also given me a reason to trust you. You're not the same man I knew as a young girl; that man is gone." Taking his hand, I drew him to stand beside me. "I love the man you are now, and I can't go another day without you knowing."
"You … you love me?" His voice croaked as tears filled his eyes.
"I do, and I don't have the strength to stay away from you anymore."
"Oh, God, Bella. I was made to love you." He wrapped his arms around me. "You're the missing piece of my soul, and I can't function without you. This past week has been hell. It was as if part of me was in Chicago and the other part was in Forks."
Biting my lip, I looked up at him beneath my lashes. "Edward, will you kiss—"
Before I had even finished the sentence, he pulled me close, pressing his mouth against mine. A flash of fire ignited my blood. With a moan, Edward lifted me so I could wrap my legs around his waist. Shivers of pleasure surged down my spine as his tongue met mine. I twisted my fingers into his hair while his lips slowly explored the curve of my throat. When he softly traced his fingers along my side and finally cupped my breast, I gasped before pulling his mouth back to mine in sheer desperation.
The first time we had kissed, I had been too conflicted to enjoy the experience, but now I knew, nothing would ever compare to the feeling of Edward Cullen's lips on mine. It was everything I never knew I had been missing in my life.
When we finally broke apart, we were both trembling and struggling to catch our breath. Edward cupped my cheek and said, "I can taste forever on your lips."
I smiled at his words.
Once again, we sat on the sofa. Edward pulled me onto his lap. As he feathered gentle kisses along my neck, he whispered, "I knew you would finally come to your senses."
After swatting him on the chest, I said, "I see you're still as cocky as ever."
He smirked. "I'm afraid that part of me will never change." Running a finger down my cheek, he added, "Just like the part that adores every single thing about you."
Contentment swept through me as I relaxed against him. "I could stay here forever."
Gently, he lifted me away from his body, a frown formed between his brows.
"We never had a chance to discuss my job." He rubbed the back of his neck. "Bella, I can talk with Nonno … I'm sure something can be worked out so we can stay in Forks."
I grasped his jaw. "No, you don't need to do that, Edward. I've given your occupation a great deal of consideration. I know it's in your blood, and I would never ask you to give it up. When I said I accept you, I mean everything about you … including your position in the family business."
"So, you and Gia will move to Chicago?"
"Why don't you tell me?" I held out my hand. Quirking an eyebrow, I said, "Want to take another peek at our future?" His eyes widened before meeting my gaze with a nod.
As soon as his trembling hand engulfed mine, a series of emotions flickered across his face.
When the moment was over, he lifted my wrist and kissed it.
"Well?" I said impatiently, "What did you see?"
"More than I could have ever hoped for, and far more than I ever deserved."
(Three Years Later)
"You're so unfair," I said with a pout as I burrowed into the heavy, silk sheets.
Meeting my gaze, his green eyes flickered with amusement. After brushing my bottom lip with his thumb, he replied, "And you're far too beautiful for such a scowl."
"Well, then tell me what I want to know."
"I love you," he said as he rolled on top of me and trailed soft kisses down my throat to the hollow of my collarbone.
My pulse quickened at his touch. "I … I love you, too, but you know that's not what I wanted to hear."
"Hmm," he murmured as he pressed his mouth against the curve of my left breast before slowly dragging his tongue over the nipple. My breath came in soft pants. After working it into a hard peak, he moved to the right one and skimmed it with his teeth. "I adore your body."
I writhed and moaned as his mouth made a slow descent to my navel. As he tasted my skin, his hands tenderly caressed the small, growing bump in my abdomen. "And you're the best wife and mother a man could ever desire."
"Edward," I said with a plea as I pulled his face to meet mine; my mouth hungry for his taste. I captured his bottom lip between mine before darting my tongue out to meet his. As he sucked on it, my fingers bunched in his hair. Shivers of want pulsed through me as I wrapped my legs around his waist. "Please, I need you now."
Grasping my wrists, he pinned them above my head. "You're so impatient when you're pregnant."
I arched as he plunged into me, both groaning as our bodies fully connected.
After letting go of my hands, he cupped my face and planted kisses along my ear. "Oh, God, Bella. You feel so good … you were made for me."
As he slowly thrust deep inside me, his mouth possessed mine. He gripped my ass, pulling me closer as my hips rose to meet his. My entire body was on fire with pleasure as we moved together as one, until finally, I reached the point of no return and my muscles spasmed around his cock.
When I woke, she lay on my chest with her head tucked under my chin. Once she realized I was awake, she looked into my sleepy eyes.
"Good morning, love." I kissed the tip of her nose.
"I'm still upset with you."
The corner of my mouth twitched. "How upset are we talking? Will Mikey be paying a visit to my office today?"
When Bella and Gia had moved to Chicago three years ago, Newton had come along with them. Bella had called them a package deal. And in all that time, Mike had threatened to use my Glock twice.
The first time was when Bella and I argued over where to go on our Honeymoon - I had wanted to go to Hawaii, while she had wanted to go to Italy.
"There's no fucking way you're stepping one foot in Italy." My voice cracked with outrage. "I don't want you anywhere near Carlisle and Esme."
"You're ridiculous. Nonno said it was perfectly safe. We won't even be close to where they live."
"Well, if I'm so ridiculous, then maybe we shouldn't get married at all," I said with a huff. As soon as the words left my mouth, I regretted them.
Her eyes widened. "Maybe we shouldn't."
To make a long story short, Bella began sobbing, and Mike appeared less than five minutes later ready to blow out my fucking brains.
After groveling at my fiancée's feet for the next three weeks and purchasing tickets for a trip to Italy, all was forgiven.
The second time Mike had threatened me was right after I had told Bella we were having a baby boy. As soon as we found out we were expecting our first child together, Bella began badgering me for information.
"You know what we're having, don't you?" she said one afternoon as I rubbed her still flat stomach.
I shrugged my shoulders and gave her a small smirk. "Maybe."
"Of course, you do. You saw it." After climbing on my lap, she grabbed me by the shirt and said, "Spill it, Cullen."
I ran my hand through my hair. "Bella, I thought you wanted to wait and be surprised. At least that's what you said last week."
"I've changed my mind. Now, come on," she begged before dragging her tongue down the base of my throat. "Tell me."
Shit. Her and that damn tongue ... she knew she had me by the fucking balls. "If you're sure …"
Excited to share the news, I announced, "We're having a boy. His name's going to be Alec Michael."
Her face split into a grin before almost immediately morphing into a frown. Before I knew what had happened, she broke down in tears. "Why did you tell me? I can't believe you gave in so easily! And you even told me his name. Now, what do I have to look forward to for the next seven months?"
At the sound of Bella's hysterical cries, Mike had barged into the room; weapon pointed in my direction. "What did you do, you son of a bitch?"
"Mike!" Bella screamed. "Put that gun away before you hurt someone."
After placing the Glock back in its holster, he stared at Bella and said, "Why are you upset?"
Sniffling, she replied, "I'm having a boy. Oh, and I guess we're naming him after you and Nonno."
Confused, Mike looked at me. I just shook my head and said, "Pregnancy hormones."
The next day, Bella had learned all about the agreement Mike and I had concerning the Glock. Pissed at both of us, she had taken it away and given it to Jasper.
Now, she was begging to know the sex of our latest. However, I wasn't falling for that shit again—there was no way I was giving in to her this time.
"Edward, please. I want to know." She twirled her hair while studying me with her big brown, doe-eyes.
"Don't you dare tempt me with your womanly wiles, love. Remember what happened last time?"
Her lips puckered into a sulk. "But I really want to know, and I promise I won't get upset."
I heaved an affronted sigh. "Okay, if you're sure …"
She squealed as she sat on her knees.
"We're having a girl. Her name's going to be Renesmee."
She gasped; her face glowed with excitement. "A girl! Gia will be so excited."
Then just as I had expected, her mouth took on an unpleasant twist.
In the years we had been married I had learned to read her like a book … and I knew, even though she had claimed she wanted to know the sex, she hadn't.
"Edward!" Her face turned red in anger. "Why did you tell me? You swore you wouldn't cave this time." She jumped out of bed and began pacing around the room.
With a lopsided grin, I watched my gorgeous wife. She was still stark naked, and I had to admit, I was enjoying the view.
Pausing, she whirled in my direction. "And there's no way in hell we'll be calling my daughter that horrible name. Why in the world would we name our precious baby girl after your bitch of a mother?" After storming back to the bed, she shoved her hand in my face. "Take it and look again. You must have been mistaken. Take it."
Rolling over, I held my stomach, roaring with laughter.
Standing with her hands on her hips, she said, "What's wrong with you? Are you fucking insane?"
Still chuckling, I sputtered, "I made it up."
"What?" she exclaimed in outrage.
"I was just kidding. I knew you were going to overact, so I made it all up."
Grabbing my pillow, she smacked me with it. "You're an asshole!"
"Ouch, will you calm down?"
"Where's my phone?"
"I'm calling Jasper; I want the Glock."
Gathering her in my arms, I pulled her on my lap and kissed her temple. "Love, do you really want to shoot me? Is that going to solve anything?"
"It might make me feel better." She huffed as she tossed her hair over her shoulder.
"But what about Gia and little Alec? Don't you think they would miss their daddy?"
She met my gaze before straightening her spine. "I never said anything about killing you."
My fingers curled under her chin. My eyes scanned her face thoughtfully. "I'm sorry for teasing you. I hope you know the last thing I ever want to do is make you upset." My mouth quirked with humor. "And I'm not just saying that because you're one terrifying woman because believe me you are."
She smiled at me, the wariness lifting from her face. "I'm sorry, too. I know I can be a bit irrational when I'm pregnant."
"You ... irrational? Never," I deadpanned before brushing my mouth lightly against hers.
With a contented sigh, she snuggled in my arms. "So ... does this mean we aren't having a baby girl?"
"Bella," I said as I pulled us down against the mattress. "What if I tell you we are going to have a beautiful, healthy baby ... will that appease you?"
She nodded her head. "As a matter of fact, that sounds pretty perfect."
"How could any life with you not be perfect," I replied before capturing her lips in a tender kiss.
Thanks so much to Fran, K, and Gail who have been along for the journey since day one. I couldn't have done it without your support and advice.
Thanks to Kay, Diane, and Cheryl who have helped as well and talked me down from a ledge or ten. LOL! I appreciate both you ladies so much.
Thanks to all the groups and individuals who recommended It's Time - Pay It Forward, The Lemonade Stand, Sue, Debbie, Jadonia, and Sherry. I apologize if I missed anyone. Your kindness means everything.
And finally, to the readers - I know it's been a rollercoaster of a journey and words cannot begin to express how grateful I am to those who stuck with me through the process.
I love you all and this fandom.
I have a Nonno outtake written that I will post in the future, and Fran has asked for a Mike outtake as well. ;)
My new story will begin posting at the beginning of June. It is a lighthearted romance called The Road Trip. I think many of you will like it.
Also, if you haven't had a chance, please check out my new one-shot. It's called His Own Personal Brand of Heroine.