Author Note: Thank you for the great response to this story! Let's do this!
Thanks again to moosals for pre-reading. Stephenie Meyer owns all characters.
Epilogue – Finest Hour
February 2022 (Masen was born December 2015)
I turn toward the sound of Masen's voice. "Hey, sweetie! I just need to drop something off at the office and then we can go."
"Okay," he answers, setting his Star Wars backpack down on the floor of my classroom. Only the classics for this kid; Edward refuses to spend money on any of the latest money-sucking trends for kids.
After I've shrugged my arms into my coat, I step out of my classroom with my sidekick tagging right along. I glance over at him, shaking my head. He's the tallest kid in his kindergarten class, and I swear he's only a foot shorter than me now. At least when I'm wearing flats. His hair is also starting to darken and more resemble his father's than his uncle's.
Since he started attending Forks Elementary last Fall, I've been taking Masen to and from school most days, unless I have to go in early or stay late. After school is dismissed, he just walks two doors down from Angela's classroom to mine to wait for me.
Once I've taken care of my errand, Masen and I walk out to my Honda Accord in the parking lot. My old truck died for good three years ago, forcing me to buy a new-to-me vehicle. It's got four doors, which really does make it a lot easier to get Masen in and out of his car seat.
"What did you guys learn in class today, Masen?" I ask as I drive, looking at him in the rearview mirror.
"We learned shapes!" he says proudly.
"Cool," I smile.
The drive home takes only a few minutes, of course. I pull into our driveway behind Edward's car, then help Masen out of the car. He's figured out how to get out of the car seat by himself, but there are childproof locks on the rear doors.
I moved next door into Edward's house about a year after he first told me he loves me. We chose his place to keep since it was slightly larger than mine, with a much larger backyard. Edward and his mom — via email — made a few updates to my house before I put it on the market so that I could get the best possible price for it.
We're now looking to buy a larger place, with Masen's little brother on the way and Edward's dedicated writing area getting smaller and smaller. He finally had to switch the bed in the guest bedroom out for a futon so he could work in there and get some peace and quiet. I know Masen and the new baby could share a bedroom if they needed to, but it's a lot to ask of a six-year-old to stay quiet so he doesn't wake the baby.
As soon as I've got the front door open, Masen runs off in search of his father, yelling something about showing him what he did in school today.
Meanwhile, I take off my coat and shoes and then sink into our comfortable sofa, closing my eyes as I put my feet up on the coffee table. My ankles are starting to swell and I'm only six months pregnant. At this rate, I'll be wearing my Uggs slippers to work for the last two months of my pregnancy.
Feeling something nudging at my leg, I pat my hand on the couch. I hear a soft thump a moment later. Little paws dig into my legs before the cat settles in on my lap. I reach out blindly to pet the cat — it's Sandy. I can tell from the length of the fur.
Sandy has two little brothers now — Danny and Kenickie. It was Alice's idea to name them after Grease characters, even though the musical hadn't been the inspiration for Sandy's name. The boys entered our lives just about a year after Sandy did, after another trip to First Beach. I think they may actually be her brothers — or at least half brothers. Danny is black, while Kenickie is a brown tabby, and both are short-haired. They were found with their terrified mom, a long-haired calico.
It wasn't easy, but we managed to catch Mama with our beach blanket and get her spayed so she won't have any more babies. Her face is so similar to Sandy's that I think she's got to be Sandy's mom, too. I felt bad about putting her back on the street, but she definitely wasn't a fan of people.
"Ma!" Masen yells, forcing me to open my eyes. "Can we have tacos for dinner?"
"It's Thursday," I remind him. "Ask Daddy."
"He said to ask you. He's got a deadline for his book tomorrow."
I roll my eyes. "Go see if there are taco shells and seasoning in the pantry."
Edward has published a total of six books now, with each one selling more than its predecessor. The last book even reached the top of the New York Times' bestseller list! After four books in the detective series, he moved on to writing supernatural themes. His current book is due to be published this summer, but with the baby coming in May, he really needs to get the edits returned quickly.
Thanks to his success and the money we got from selling my house, we can actually afford to buy the larger home that we need.
"Here you go!" Masen yells, running into the living room with a package of soft taco shells and seasoning mix.
"Thanks, sweetie. I'll brown the meat before I leave, all right? I hope you boys can handle putting your tacos together by yourselves."
"That's easy," he giggles, reaching for the remote control. There goes my peace and quiet; he's been able to work a DVD player since he was two.
A few minutes later, I feel a swift kick to my stomach. "Your brother's awake."
"Yeah?" Masen squeals. "Can I feel?"
I nod, and he places his hand on my growing stomach, his eyes lighting up when he feels the next kick.
"Whoa!" he yells. "He's strong."
"He is, and he's only going to get stronger before he's born."
"How much longer until he's here?"
"Thirteen weeks," I reply. Clearly, Edward and I failed at timing the birth to happen over the summer. Instead, a substitute will finish my last several weeks of classes and I'll have an extra-long summer break.
"How long is that?"
"Hmmmm…" I count backwards in my head quickly. "Well, I think Thanksgiving was 11 weeks ago — does that help?"
"Kind of," he shrugs, shrieking when the baby kicks again. "Ma?" he asks quietly.
"Did I kick Mommy like that?"
I look down at Masen, smiling softly. He first started asking questions when Alice was heavily pregnant and he wondered if she had a ball under her shirt. We explained as best we could in terms a two-year-old could understand. The questions about where he'd come from first appeared about a year later.
And so we told him about Bree, and that she was with some of his great-grandparents in heaven now. He doesn't ask about her much, but we try to answer his questions when he does. Once I moved in with Edward, we stopped correcting him on calling me Ma, but we decided to refer to Bree as Mommy to honor her place in his life.
"I'm sure you did; all babies kick their mommies. Your daddy could probably tell you more."
Masen giggles when Sandy suddenly gets to her feet, her eyes wide as she stares at my stomach.
"Uh-oh!" I laugh. "I think the baby kicked Sandy."
Masen encourages her to come to him, and she stretches out across his lap, yawning. Even though we have three cats now, he still loves Sandy the most. Her brothers are Edward's shadows though; we had to buy another cat tree for his work area.
Around 5:30, I reluctantly get to my feet so that I can start dinner. Of course, the moment I start banging around getting the frying pan out, there are three cats at my feet, begging for their dinner.
"You'd think you guys were starving!" I grouse. As always, I give in and fix their bowls so they won't be underfoot. I've accidentally stepped on a tail or two when they've gotten too impatient and followed me around the kitchen.
While the ground turkey is browning, I gather the various toppings from the fridge and set them on the table. I heat up the first two taco shells in the microwave, then call Edward for dinner.
"Thanks for making dinner," he says, kissing me soundly.
"Ewww!" Masen giggles.
"One day you won't think kissing is gross," Edward says, grabbing their drinks from the fridge.
"You guys enjoy your boys' night! I'll see you later."
I lean down to kiss Edward goodbye then go find my coat again. I still meet the girls at the diner every Thursday. As Masen got older, we designated Thursdays a father-son night for him and his father to make him feel special.
After the news of Alice's unexpected pregnancy, Jasper decided to make the move to Washington before the baby was born. Forks General wasn't hiring for his specialty, but he found a job in the emergency room of a hospital in Port Angeles. He and Alice bought several acres on a small lake and built a house, about halfway between Forks and Port Angeles. It was a bit of a compromise at first, since Jasper really wasn't sure about small town life, but he absolutely loves the area where they live. Their son, Peter, is almost four, and he and Jasper regularly go fishing in the lake.
My girls are already waiting when I arrive at the diner. Alice is seated closest to the door and stands up to hug me… well, as closely as a woman who's eight-and-a-half months pregnant can hug a woman who's six months pregnant.
"I'm so glad I got Ben fixed after Dougie was born," Angela giggles as we sit down. After little Douglas came along only 25 months after Chloe, Angela and Ben decided their family was complete, and Ben got a vasectomy.
"I still want to know how you talked him into that," Alice says, shaking her head. "Jasper is so far being a big weenie about the whole thing."
"I thought he wasn't sure about stopping at two?" I ask.
"Well, unless he can figure out a way to carry the next one, we're stopping at two. Charlotte will forever be the baby of the family. Do you know I've got some weird rash starting all over my body?"
"You might want to get that checked out," I grimace.
"Already have," she replies, waving her hand. "One of the OB nurses said she'd seen it before right at the end of a pregnancy."
"How much longer are you working?" I ask.
"Tomorrow is it — doctor's orders as of my appointment last Tuesday since my ankles are swelling so bad."
"Maybe I should try that," I giggle.
"Have they found a sub to take your class yet?" Angela asks.
I nod. "Yeah, she's been hired to start at the beginning of May. Hopefully that's early enough."
"You should've timed it better, Swan!" she grins.
"Shut it!" After Edward and I decided to expand our family, I stopped getting the birth control shot. After talking things over with my doctor four and a half years ago, I'd chosen the shot vs. the more long-term IUD option. I'd always heard that it can take a couple of months to get pregnant after stopping hormonal birth control, so we didn't worry about a back-up form before I could time a summer pregnancy.
The following Monday is Valentine's Day. I can remember exchanging little valentines with all of my classmates when I was in elementary school, but that isn't really done much anymore. Still, I spent some time this weekend making cake pops for all of my students.
Edward said he'd cook dinner tonight, so I change into some comfy clothes and put my feet up on the couch when Masen and I get home from school. I'm quickly joined by Sandy.
I must fall asleep, because I'm awakened by Edward's lips on mine. "Dinner is almost ready."
"Mmm…" I smile up at him. "Smells great."
He helps me up and we walk into the kitchen together. I glance down to see the cats scarfing down their dinner.
"Masen fed them," he explains.
"Where is he?" I ask, looking around.
"He had to get something," Edward answers vaguely.
I sit heavily in a chair, taking a sip from the water bottle Edward left out for me. I turn toward the doorway when I hear Masen's footsteps.
"This is for you, Ma!" he says, handing me a sheet of light pink paper in the shape of a heart, folded in half. "It's a heart shape," he says proudly.
I smile widely, opening the paper. "WILL YOU MARRY US?" is written in Masen's big block letters. Tears forming in my eyes, I look up at Edward.
Grinning, he digs in his right front pocket and pulls out a diamond ring, then he gets down on one knee.
"Isabella Swan, would you do me the amazing honor of agreeing to become my wife?"
"Yes!" I scream, almost before he's finished his sentence. I'll probably never get up again, but I slide off the chair to my knees in front of Edward and throw my arms around him.
We created quite the mini scandal when I announced my pregnancy last Fall; apparently it's still a bit taboo to be an unmarried, pregnant teacher — of first graders, no less. I've known for years that Edward loves me and is committed to me, but actually taking that big step to get remarried still scared the crap out of him. Honestly, it hasn't really mattered to me to be missing a piece of paper and a ring on my finger; we've been married in our hearts for years.
That doesn't mean I'm not thrilled at the prospect of becoming Mrs. Edward Cullen.
"I love you so much." He cradles my face in his hands, kissing me soundly until Masen starts making gagging noises. We break apart, laughing, then encourage Masen to join our hug circle.
"Put the ring on her, Dad!" Masen yells.
Laughing, Edward slides it onto my ring finger, and I'm amazed that it actually fits as I tilt my hand back and forth to admire the way it sparkles in the light.
"How did you get the right size?"
"I know you said your class ring up in the drawer was a size too small," he explains. "I took it with me to the jewelry store. Do you like it?"
"I love it," I smile. "Now help me up."
Edward's parents had apparently been trying really hard to stay out of it, but once they find out that Edward and I are engaged, they start pushing for a wedding before the baby comes. I guess it's their generation.
Since Edward and I discussed long ago that neither of us wanted a big wedding, we decide to plan something for the week of Spring Break. My boss at the bakery offers to make us a cake for free, and Alice helps me find the perfect maternity wedding dress. After all, she wore one herself when she married Jasper four years ago.
Flanked by my two best girls, I walk down the aisle of the church — it's far too risky to have an outdoor wedding in Forks in March — to meet my groom. Masen the ring bearer and Chloe the flower girl are the big stars of the day though.
I can't stop the tears from flowing as I repeat my vows. And when it's Edward's turn, his eyes are sparkling with unshed tears, but his voice is strong.
After our first kiss as man and wife, Edward picks up our son for a three-way hug — well, four-way if you count the baby in my stomach.
We hold the reception at The Lodge, where just a few years ago we celebrated my dad and Sue. Surrounded by all of our family and friends — even Bree's parents came — it's a perfect day.
The first pangs of labor start on Saturday evening, the day before Mother's Day, as Edward and I are relaxing on the couch. Well, he and Masen are watching a baseball game while I'm gently petting the cat who's taking up what's left of my lap.
I dismiss the pains for the first hour or so before a particularly strong contraction causes me to yell out in pain. When I explain what I've been feeling to Edward, he wants to take me to the hospital right away, but I put him off; it's too soon for them to admit me.
I do let him call Ben and Angela to see if Masen can spend the night with them, with Jasper and Alice living a half hour out of town. Angela comes by to pick up Masen and after taking one look at me, tells Edward to drive me to Forks General.
Upon arrival, I'm shocked to learn that I'm already six centimeters dilated. First labor is supposed to take much longer, isn't it? I'm put in a room and only two hours later, I start pushing.
Ryan Edward Cullen comes into the world at 1:13am, and he's absolutely perfect. I'm sure all new moms think that, but this time it's true. He's already got a full head of dark hair, nearly the color of mine.
Edward handles all of the cell phone duties, and by 10am, my hospital room is full of family and friends. It hurts to move, but I scoot over to let Masen sit beside me, then gently transfer his new brother into his arms.
"He's so small!" Masen exclaims. "Was I that small?"
"Not quite," Edward answers. "He weighs a pound less than you did."
"You know you have a very important job now, Masen," I begin. "You're Ryan's big brother. You get to teach him all about being a kid."
He smiles widely, looking up at me. "I can handle it," he assures me, making me smile in return.
Edward leans in, ruffling the top of his older son's head before kissing me gently. Best day of my life.
A/N: There you go – Bella got a husband and a new baby boy! Angela and Alice are also moms of two. Even Sandy got an Epilogue.
I generally prefer to write stories of human drama, without a lot of over the top drama coming from outside the relationship. My stories rarely have bad guys or characters in peril.
If this story didn't have enough drama for you, you'll want to check out the upcoming continuation of the Everything She Wants one-shot. It'll begin posting on Monday, February 5.