Disclaimer: All characters are not mine. No copyright infringement was intended. Thank you to Stephenie Meyer for creating Edward and Bella for our enjoyment. I just like playing with them, making them my own … even for just a little while.
This is it, folks. The final chapter for A Modern-Day Fairy Tale. It will be a future take of Royalward … His coronation is loosely based on the coronation practices of the English monarchy. Thank you, again, Alec, for your royal expertise. Wikipedia, you've been helpful in providing me the nuances of a royal coronation.
Chapter Fifty-Five: Epilogue Two
Five Years Later
"Your Highness, Her Majesty is on line one for you," my new assistant, Renata, said from the doorway.
"Thank you, Renata," I replied, picking up the phone. "Hello, Mother."
"Hello, Masen," she said. "Congratulations on getting that education reformation bill passed. Isabella must be so proud. With all of these changes, Gevalia is becoming one of the leaders in education. It's all because of her."
"She definitely was the catalyst for these reforms," I chuckled. "But, she wasn't the cause. She just pointed out the issues and we worked to make a change. How are you, Mother?"
"I'm very good. Planning a charity event for medical research," she said. "Charlie's helping, along with Linda."
"More Parkinson's funding?" I asked.
"Not just Parkinson's, but other neurologic disorders," she explained. "We're finalizing details, but it will be after Emmett's wedding to Rosalie. So, sometime in October. Anyway, I didn't call you just to talk about the charity event. Can you and Bella come over for dinner after mass?"
"Everything okay?" I questioned.
"Everything's fine, Masen," she chuckled. "I just miss my oldest son and my daughter."
"Okay, Mom. We'll be there," I nodded.
"Masen, I love you," she whispered.
"Love you, too, Mom," I replied, hanging up the phone and arching a brow. Shaking my head, I called for my assistant.
"Yes, Your Highness?" Renata chirped.
I'd hired Renata when Heidi expressed an interest to moving to Bella's team as her publicist. I was sad to see her go, but my wife and Heidi had formed a close bond. They were more than just an employee and employer; they were friends and confidantes. With Angela living in New York with her now husband, Bella needed a close friend. She was close with Rosalie, but their relationship was different. They were friendly, but more akin to sisters than friends. In a way, Rosalie became the sister she'd lost in Alice.
"Prince Edward?" Renata prodded.
"My apologies, Renata," I grinned. "Do I have any more appointments today?"
"No, Your Highness," she said, checking her tablet. "Shall I call for your car?"
"Yes, please," I said, packing up my laptop and sliding on my suit coat. I heard her call for Felix and I checked my diary for my schedule for the day following. I had a few meetings with the leaders of the various committees, but no full parliamentary proceedings until after Emmett and Rosalie's wedding in October, about a month away.
"Have a good night, Your Highness," Renata murmured.
"You, too, Renata. Say hello to your girlfriend for me and thank her for me for the book," I grinned, sliding my bag over my shoulder. She waved at me as I slipped out of my office. My bodyguard in the parliament building, a fresh-faced man named Carter, followed me to the exit. I nodded at him as I slid into the bullet-proof Range Rover. "Hey, Felix."
"Your Highness," he replied. "Are you heading back to the palace?"
"Yes, I am. I want to surprise my wife," I chuckled.
We'd lived in the apartment for another year after our wedding. However, when Emmett returned from his deployment with the air force, he needed a place to live. He didn't want to live in the palace and Masen Manor was too big for him. After discussing it with Bella, we moved back into Masen Manor and Emmett moved into the apartment.
My brother also finished his college education, getting his degree in engineering. With his time in the air force, he found he had an aptitude for engineering and mechanics. He wanted to use what he learned to make a difference in our tiny country. While he completed his education, he maintained a long-term relationship with Rosalie. I'd managed to get Emmett diplomatic clearance to return to the states. On one of his trips two years ago, he convinced Rosalie to return with him and she stayed with our family for a month.
She would have stayed longer, but she had a panic attack, flying back to New York. In her mind, she felt pressured to have sex with my brother. In reality, he hadn't pressured her at all. She was upset and afraid that her not wanting to be intimate with him was causing him to hate her. Bella flew out with Emmett and she spent a few days calming Rosalie down. Her perceived pressure was all mental. Emmett said that he'd wait forever for her.
She asked for some time, a break.
Emmett was heartbroken, but he respected her decision.
By Christmas, Rosalie asked Bella to help her surprise Emmett. Bella and I arranged for her return. Emmett was shocked, to say the least, and their relationship went to the next level. They both went back to her apartment in Soho, packed up her belongings and she moved into a smaller apartment in the same complex of Emmett's in Gevalia. Within six months of her moving to Gevalia, they were engaged and the wedding was scheduled for the middle of October of this year, nearly a year and a half after they were engaged.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Your Highness," Felix said as he parked my car. "Seven?"
"Half past," I replied, grabbing my bag and heading into Masen Manor. I let myself inside, tossing my bag into my study. The house smelled delicious of what my wife was making for dinner. I snuck into the kitchen, finding her at the stove and dancing to the music playing on our sound dock. I snaked my arms around her waist, making her jump. "Hello, princess …"
"Masen," she chided, turning to me and smacking my arm. She kissed me sweetly before scowling at me. "I should just put a bell on you, ass."
"It doesn't really go with my ensemble," I snickered, squeezing her ass. "How are you, love? Feeling better?"
She'd woken up this morning with a queasy stomach. She threw up a few times before she managed to get ready for work. She only had a few meetings with the education minister. "It was weird, Masen," she shrugged. "I felt better after I ate breakfast. Coffee, though, is off the menu until my stomach decides to behave."
"I'm worried, Bella," I frowned. "This is fourth day you've woken up with an upset stomach."
"I'll be fine," she said, waving her hand. "If it continues for a few more days, or if I can't keep anything down, I'll make an appointment with the doctor." I pursed my lips, putting my hands on my hips. "Or, I'll call tomorrow."
"I'm just concerned, cherie. I don't like seeing you with your head in the toilet first thing in the morning," I grumbled, cupping her face and staring into her expressive, chocolate eyes. "Call the doctor, please?"
"I've got an appointment with Rosalie to have a fitting for my matron of honor dress tomorrow morning. I'll try to get in after that," she acquiesced "Why don't you change while I finish making dinner? I made your favorite. I think I got the recipe down for beef bourguignonne down."
"It smells delicious, Bella," I smiled, kissing her lips. She nipped at my mouth and shoved me out of the kitchen. My Bella was adamant on not having people catering to our every whim. She was proud of maintaining a clean house and cooking our meals. I enjoyed folding laundry and vacuuming. We had a team come in and deep clean once a month, but we managed Masen Manor on our own. Bella and I took turns cooking meals, grocery shopping with either Alec or Felix. Despite our status as royalty, Bella wanted to maintain a normal of a life as possible. A newlywed couple, navigating living together and growing as a couple. We had our growing pains, arguments and stressful moments, but we were happy and still nauseatingly in love.
I put on a pair of jeans and a hoodie before walking to the kitchen to make the salad and pour a glass of wine for both of us. "I don't want any wine, Masen," she said, turning to me when I uncorked a bottle of Malbec. "With my persnickety stomach, I'm sticking with water and ginger ale." She held up her glass, filled with ginger ale.
I poured myself a glass and made our salad, sitting at the counter as she told me about her day with education minister, an avuncular man who reminded Bella of her college advisor. As she served our meal, I told my wife about my mother's request to come over after mass. She smiled, happy to oblige and asked of her father and Linda were coming, as well.
They split their time between New York and Gevalia. Linda still had a lucrative interior design business and her son had married a sweet man, George, and they had adopted a baby girl, Poppy. Linda and Charlie never got married, but they both loved each other very much, committed to each other and extremely happy. They would fly back to New York after Emmett and Rosalie's wedding. At least, that was their plan when we'd last spoke to them a couple of weeks ago.
Since Bella cooked dinner, I did the dishes and she went to veranda. The weather was still balmy, with a hint of chill, in early September. I poured myself another glass of wine and sat down on the same chaise with my wife. "So, what do you want to do for your birthday, princess? You're turning thirty-one."
"A quiet date night with my husband, without an entourage of security," she snorted, snuggling into my arms.
"Alas, my love, that is not doable. We're kind of important and famous," I laughed. "It's for our safety, Bella." She pouted adorably, threading our fingers together and twisting my wedding band. "I'll try to swing it that I'll drive us for your birthday, Bella. We'll still have an entourage, but not in our car. Any requests?"
"I'm simple; dinner and a movie," she shrugged. "I don't want to dress up. I just want to spend time with my husband."
"Done," I breathed, nuzzling her hair.
"You know what else I'd like?" she asked, looking over her shoulder at me. I arched a brow, prodding her response. "You, me, our bed and no clothing."
"I thought you'd never ask, princess," I growled, scooping her up and carrying her to the bedroom.
xx AMDFT xx
"Oh, Alec, do not take those turns so quickly," I grumbled, cracking the window and sipping my ginger ale. I felt fine when I went to bed last night. I felt more than fine since Masen and I spent the rest of the evening making love, in bed, in the shower and Masen licking me until I screamed in the bathroom.
Yeah, we were insatiable for each other, even five year and half years after our wedding.
"My apologies, Your Highness," Alec spluttered, slowing down our SUV. "We're almost to the bridal salon for Lady Rosalie. Do you need me to get anything for you?"
"Can you pick up some ginger ale and some crackers?" I asked. "I had some toast, but I'd like some crackers."
"Of course," he nodded, pulling into the bridal salon.
He parked and helped me out of the SUV, walking with me into the salon. Rosalie's head of security, Liam, was waiting just inside. He nodded at Alec as we made our way to the fitting rooms. Rosalie was speaking on her phone, smiling at me when she saw me. She ended her call, gliding over to me and giving me a hug. "Hey, Bella," she said.
"Did you visit your dress?" I quipped.
"I did," she giggled, dragging me to the fitting room where her mermaid gown was hanging. "I can't wait to wear it, Bella. I can't wait to marry Emmett."
"That's how I felt about marrying Masen," I replied wistfully, squeezing her hands. "I was so eager to be his wife. I wanted us to begin our life as a married couple."
"I'm eager to be his wife, but terrified of losing my identity. We met with Her Majesty to discuss our new monikers after the wedding. You and Masen are the Crown Prince and Princess of Gevalia. He'll become King and you'll be Queen?"
"Technically, Queen Consort. I'm not of royal blood," I answered, wrinkling my nose. "Someone is wearing some nasty perfume." My stomach flip flopped and I moved away from the offending smell. I sat down, sipping from my ginger ale. "What will you be?"
"Are you okay, Bella?" Rosalie asked, sitting next to me.
"I've been feeling queasy for the past few days," I shrugged. "It'll pass. Talk to me about your discussion with the queen."
She gave me a glower, but her eyes widened. She took my hand, smiling timidly. "Could you be pregnant? Queasy stomach, sensitive to smells …"
"We stopped using birth control a year ago," I muttered. "My periods have been wonky, adjusting to not being controlled by hormonal shots. I just had a period a couple of weeks ago."
"Bella, I know we don't speak about that 'dark time', but you're having morning sickness. That's how I realized that I was pregnant after I was attacked," Rosalie explained. "Come on!"
"Where are we going?" I asked as she pulled me to my feet. The room spun and I moaned, sitting down heavily.
"Sorry," she gasped. "Don't throw up."
"Don't make me get up too quickly," I snapped. She gave me an apologetic grin, walking over to Liam. They spoke quickly and Liam held up his phone, presumably calling Alec. I took deep breaths and sipped the ginger ale. "I'm sorry about snapping at you."
"You're fine," she said. "You had to deal with me when I was an emotional wreck all those years ago. You've got the patience of a saint, Bella. Now, we're going to go back to the apartment. Liam is on the phone with Alec, asking him to pick up a test." She held out her hand and I stood up at my leisure. When I was certain I wasn't going to decorate the bridal salon floor with vomit, we went out to her waiting Mercedes limo. Liam drove us to the apartment and explained that Alec would be about five minutes behind us.
Our former apartment had been redecorated, but still had a contemporary feel to it. Where Masen and I have a more neutral palate when it came to decorating, Rosalie and Emmett were more colorful. It was still elegant and beautiful, but had an added element of whimsy and fun with their pops of color. In the apartment, Rose made me a more substantial breakfast, packed with protein and nutrients. As I dug into the omelet, Alec came in, his eyes wide and his face pale.
"Your Highness, I didn't know," he said.
"I don't know either and that's why I needed the test," I retorted. "Please don't say anything."
"The clerk at the store recognized me as your bodyguard. She asked if it was for you. I lied and said it was for my wife. You may want to inform Heidi, just to be safe," Alec said, handing me the bag. "Anything to related to you and Masen is gobbled up like a fat kid loves cake."
"I haven't heard that description in years, Alec. Now, I want cake," I grumbled.
My bodyguard snickered and Rose pointed me to the bathroom. Despite being nauseous and slightly dehydrated, I managed to pee on the stick. While I waited for the test to register, I sent a text to Heidi. I told her about Alec's ordeal at the store and the nosy clerk. She didn't respond to my possibility about being pregnant, but she did say that Alec's quick thinking might throw them off the scent. He'd married Jane after a short courtship and they already had two children. It wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that they would be pregnant again. Masen teased Alec, calling him Captain Sperminator.
There was a quiet knock on the door. "Bella? You okay, sweetie?" Rosalie asked.
I shook my head, listening to my alarm going off wildly in my hand. "Yeah. I was spacing out," I answered, turning off my phone and swiping the test off the counter. Rosalie was standing outside, twisting her hands. "I'm sorry. Are you okay?"
"I'm perfectly fine. I want to know what the test says," she replied, a wide grin spreading over her face.
"You're not freaking out?" I squeaked.
"My first pregnancy was fucked up, but I'm not scarred at other people's baby bellies," she said, rolling her eyes. "What does it say?"
I flipped over the stick and I gasped. I showed it to Rosalie, who hugged me tightly. "I need your help, Rosalie," I breathed.
"Anything, Bella," she replied.
xx AMDFT xx
"Bella, cherie, I adore you, but we're going to be late," I laughed.
"Sorry," Bella said, smoothing down her eggplant sheath dress. "I couldn't find my other shoe." I looked down at her nude heels. "I wanted to wear black, but the shoes I wanted disappeared."
She rustled through the closet and pulled out a khaki coat. I helped her with her coat and we got into a waiting limousine. Our car followed my parents' Rolls Royce. We walked into the cathedral, sitting down behind my parents with Rosalie and Emmett. Bella and Rosalie were seated together, whispering quietly.
"What are they talking about?" Emmett asked, elbowing me.
"I don't know, but maybe planning Rosalie's bridal shower or bachelorette party?" I shrugged.
Emmett nodded, picking up the hymnal and singing as the ceremony began. The new bishop presided over the mass. The man who had married my parents and Bella and I had retired shortly after our ceremony. The man who replaced him was friendly and flexible. When I'd ascend to the throne, he would preside over that ceremony, and I was grateful for that.
After mass, we all drove back to the palace for a late lunch with the family. The food, as always, was delicious. We went out the solarium for dessert. Bella and Rosalie were drinking tea while the rest of us enjoyed coffee. "Thank you for coming over for lunch," my mother said, smiling at us. "I know that you all are busy."
"We'll always make time for family, Esme," Bella said softly. "I'm sorry that my dad and Linda couldn't be here. Linda's granddaughter, Poppy, was really sick and they had to fly back to New York."
"Have you heard anything?" Dad asked.
"She's in the hospital with pneumonia. She had the flu and it went down to her lungs. She is hospitalized, but on the mend, according to Linda," Bella explained. "They're staying until Poppy is out of the woods, but will come back for the holidays."
"I hope that Poppy is okay," Emmett breathed. "She's such a cute little thing."
Bella nodded, a smile spreading over her face and she slid her hand into mine. I lifted our hands, kissing her knuckles. "Mother, you were very insistent on us coming to the palace today after mass. Is everything okay?"
"It's time for me to retire," she said, without any sort of preamble. "I've lived and ruled Gevalia for my entire adult life, shortly after my mother's untimely death. I love this country. I love serving this country, but I'm getting tired."
"Are you okay, Mom?" Emmett asked. "You seem fine."
"My mother had a serious heart condition, exacerbated by ruling. When she had her heart attack, ending her life, I was despondent. I was thrust into the role of queen, juggling being a newlywed and a new mother," Mother said. "I was almost obsessive about my heart health. Despite doing all the right things, I was diagnosed with a heart condition. It's relatively minor, but it's still a condition. The treatment includes lessening my stress level. With that, it's time for me to abdicate the throne, passing it onto you, Masen."
My eyes bugged out, shocked at her admission. I was just now getting used to my position as the head of the House of Lords. "Mother … I'm …" I choked out.
"You'll never feel like you're ready, Masen," she said gently. "I navigated the change while I was grieving the death of your grandmother, being newly married to your father and just having you as a baby. I'll be with you, to guide you as you ascend to the throne, Masen. I wouldn't step down if I didn't feel like you weren't ready. I'm so proud of you."
"When would you want Masen to have his coronation?" Bella asked, her face soft with understanding, but her eyes swirling with pride.
"Gevalian Independence Day, in February," my father replied. "Your mother was coronated at the same time, about two months after her mother's death."
"Will you announce your abdication?" I asked.
"Not right away," Mom said. "We'll announce at the holiday gala. It'll be enough time after Emmett's wedding and with enough time for us to plan for your coronation."
The rest of the time at the palace was spent planning the transition from my job as the Leader of the House of Lords to the King of Gevalia. Emmett, after my coronation, would assume my position. He was freaking out because he understood engineering and mechanics. He was not a politician or a schmoozer, like me. However, he could be a charmer. We'd need to work on that and he'd come work with me before his wedding.
As we walked back to Masen Manor, I was quiet and slightly panicking about my mother's announcement. Regardless, I knew I'd be okay with my mother's guidance and Bella's support. I wasn't going into this alone. I had my family who loved and respected me. My wife was my biggest cheerleader and her adoration was my backbone.
I could do this.
xx AMDFT xx
"Your Highness, everything is planned for Princess Isabella's birthday," Renata said. "She did say that she would rather spend the night at home, but your meal is being catered."
"Thank you for your help, Renata," I said, signing off on some new bills that would be brought to a vote the following week. "If you want to go, you can. I'm heading out in a little bit."
"I'll have Felix pull up. Oh, and your brother said that he would be back on Monday. He apologized for leaving so abruptly, but Rosalie's father went in for emergency surgery," Renata said, her nose wrinkled. "Appendix, I believe. She wanted to be there to help with his recovery."
"Understandable," I chuckled. "Can you send some flowers to Mr. Hale?"
"Already done, Your Highness," Renata smiled.
"You're a rock star, Renata. I don't know what I'd do without you," I laughed.
"Completely flounder?" she giggled, grinning cheekily. "Do you have your gift for Princess Isabella?"
"I do, Renata," I sighed, rolling my eyes. "Go home to your girl. Enjoy your weekend."
"Will do, Your Highness," she nodded, tossing her purse over her shoulders. She waved at me before ducking out. I finished signing the paperwork and put it on Renata's desk to be delivered first thing Monday morning. When my cell phone vibrated, it broke my thoughts and I saw a text from Felix. I put on my overcoat, swiped her present and my bag and left the parliament building. Walking into Mason Manor, I was surprised to see the entire entrance and main floor covered in flowers and candles.
I didn't plan for this. What's going on?
"Bella?" I called out. I balanced the present for her with my bag. I tossed the bag into my study and made my way into the kitchen. It was empty. "Cherie? Where are you?"
"Dining room," she answered. I made my way into the dining room, seeing it filled with the dinner I'd ordered for her birthday. "Hey, baby."
She was wearing a pretty navy-blue dress and her hair was curled beautifully. "You look gorgeous, Bella. All dressed up for your birthday. But, if I remember correctly, you wanted dinner and movie."
"Things changed," she smiled, gesturing to the seat across from her. "We're having dinner and then …"
"What?" I asked.
"You'll see," she smirked. "Thank you for this, though. All my favorites."
"Nothing but the best for my exquisite wife," I said, sitting down and pouring us some wine. Bella sipped a little bit and we dug into the delicious meal I'd had catered for us. We talked about Rosalie's dad and his emergency surgery. He would be fully recovered in time to walk his daughter down the aisle. She also mentioned the status about her unofficial niece, Poppy. She was back home and well on the way to being fully healthy.
"Alice called me," Bella said as we were finishing up the main course. The staff I'd hired cleared our plates and discreetly left the manor. She shifted in her seat. She knew that I was not Alice's biggest fan. Alice had cleaned up her act and found her niche in Austin. I still hated that felt the need to belittle my wife when she was younger. "She called me to tell me that she was getting married."
"Really?" I said.
"Ironically enough, she found another guy named Jasper, but this one was a true southern gentleman. She asked me to come to her wedding," Bella explained. "I said that I'd have to let her know, but I'd like to go."
"When is her wedding?" I asked.
"Since they're paying for it themselves, in two years," Bella said. "Her new Jasper is a rancher and has a little boy from a previous relationship. They met when he was in Austin for his sister's birthday. Alice served them at the restaurant she was working at."
Alice was working her way through university, getting her degree in business. Using the money we'd given her, she rented a small house and invested the rest, hoping to make it last. She got her GED and applied for University of Texas at Austin. Despite her bratty beginning, she had turned her life around. She'd also reached out to apologize to her father for her behavior and they were working on healing the rift between the two of them.
"Anyway, she said she wanted to finish her degree, too. With her degree in business, she could take over the bakery when my father decides to step away, permanently," Bella explained. She reached over and took my hand. "I know you don't like her. Things have improved with us and she continues to apologize for how she treated me. Will we ever have the same relationship that I have with Rose? No. Do I still love her? I do, Masen. She's my sister. I also respect her for turning her life around. I also want her in my life, in some way. Things are changing, Masen."
"I'll support you in whatever you decide, cherie," I said, kissing her lips. "And things are changing. In six months, I'll be king. Holy fuck."
"And I'll be your queen," Bella smiled, reaching over to breakfront. "For you, Masen." She put a box in front of me, wrapped in light blue paper.
"It's your birthday. You should be getting the presents, love," I laughed.
"Humor me?" she breathed, nudging the box closer to me.
I nodded, tearing open the box and finding an envelope on the inside. I tugged it out, opening it and reading the short, heart-felt message inside.
In six months, you'll become the King of Gevalia, ruling our world and being the best man you could be.
In seven months, you'll become a father … a Crown Prince or Princess … to take the mantle when you step away.
We're having a baby!
All my love,
I couldn't believe my eyes. I looked into the box and found a sterling silver rattle with something tied to it. I picked it up, unrolling the paper and seeing an ultrasound picture. "A baby?" I breathed. "You're pregnant?"
"A little over two months along," Bella said. "It was Rosalie who pointed out that my stomach issues might be morning sickness. I took a pregnancy test and then we went to the royal physician. He brought in an obstetrician and we had an ultrasound."
I looked at the grainy picture, tears brimming in my eyes. I ran my finger over the tiny dot that was my son or daughter. "I'm so happy, Bella," I whispered, allowing tears to spill over. I moved to her and knelt before her. I placed my hand on her still flat belly. "Daddy loves you, little one."
Her fingers trailed through my hair and she gave me her own watery smile. "I wanted to tell you as soon as I found out, but Rose helped me make arrangements for this little surprise. That's why I told Renata about the change in plans. I'm certain you didn't want this type of news out in the public, not yet."
I got up from my knees and kissed her tenderly before sitting back down, with my beautiful wife and mother to my child into my lap. "You're right, cherie. I want to keep this between us for now."
"Rosalie and Alec know," Bella said, her face flushing. "No one else, though."
"We can tell them at the holidays," I suggested. "I don't know if you'll be showing …"
"I can feel the difference in my body already. My boobs are huge and my stomach is much more solid," she snickered. She pressed her hands to her belly. "I think I can keep it hidden with fancy dressing. The wedding may be a challenge. We had to some adjustments to the dress, accounting for my ginormous tatas. The dress itself is flowy and a baby bump can be camouflaged."
"It'll be hard for me to not acknowledge the baby, or your belly," I whispered, threading my fingers with hers over her tummy. "But, we'll keep it between us." I kissed her again. "Now, I have a present for you. It's nowhere as special as this one, but I hope you like it." I plucked the gift bag from the chair next to me. I handed it to her and she smiled tenderly as she opened up the boxes. I'd gotten her a sapphire jewelry set that I wanted her to wear on my coronation day.
"Masen, it's all so beautiful," she breathed, running her fingers over the gems.
"Wear it when I'm crowned king, Bella," I whispered. "Please?"
"Of course, Majesty," she whispered, blinking up at me. She traced my buttons on my dress shirt. "As much as I want to enjoy this delicious dessert, I would like to celebrate my birthday with you and your fingers, mouth, and cock."
"My dirty girl wants to play?" I purred. She nodded; her eyes hooded. "Your wish is my command, cherie."
xx AMDFT xx
I looked at my reflection on Rose and Emmett's wedding day. My maroon bridesmaid dress was a bit snug, but you couldn't tell I was nearly four months pregnant. I ran my hand down my tiny baby bump, smiling softly. "Your Highness, you're needed for photos," said the wedding coordinator, Maggie.
"Thank you," I smiled, picking up my bouquet. Rose and Emmett were married by the new bishop in the capital. The ceremony was traditional with a modern twist. It was perfect for the two of them. The new Duke and Duchess of Talovian, a city just outside the capital, were introduced and you could feel the excitement and happiness emanating from the two of them.
Masen walked over to me, sliding his arm around my waist. He was dressed in his military uniform. "You okay, cherie?" he asked. His eyes flicked down to my growing stomach. "Our little one?"
"We're both fine. I just needed a few moments to myself. It was a bit claustrophobic with everyone in Rosalie's family," I answered. "Plus, my tiara needed adjustments. Heidi repinned it into my hair." I was wearing a diamond and pearl tiara, borrowed from Esme. It coordinated with my diamond and pearl jewelry that Rosalie had gifted me for the wedding.
"I think Lily suspects you're pregnant. She gave me a knowing smile," Masen chuckled. "Do you know how hard it is to not tell everyone?"
"I can imagine. I wanted to tell my dad, but we agreed that we'd make the announcement after the wedding," I sighed. The photographer called us over. "Come on, Majesty. Let's get our pictures taken."
Emmett and Rosalie's wedding was beautiful and elegant. It had all the pomp and circumstance as my wedding to Masen, since he was a prince of Gevalia. There was also an element of romance since their relationship was imperfect, making them more real. It was known that Rosalie was assaulted and it took a long time for her to heal. The extent of the assault was never revealed, protecting her privacy and her sanity. Rosalie was a rape crisis counselor and had a private psychological practice, working with women who were in relationships that were not healthy and survivors of sexual assault and sexual abuse.
As the wedding came to close, Masen and I were seated at the head table. My legs were draped over his lap. My feet were killing me. Wearing heels and being pregnant was not good combination. He was massaging my feet as we watched Rosalie and Emmett dance happily. "Another American Princess," I chuckled, leaning my cheek on Masen's bicep.
"Technically, she's a duchess," Masen quipped. "But, she is now royalty."
"I'm so glad that they got their happily ever after. You did that, Masen. When you arranged for Emmett to come to the bakery opening? It gave them their second chance," I murmured.
"Emmett told me about how much he loved her and he still did, despite what happened between the two of them," Masen said, moving me so I was sitting on his lap. "How I could not help them? I found my dream with you and before Rosalie's attack, Emmett had that happiness. I had to make my brother happy."
"And you did, Masen," I said, kissing him gently. "I love you, baby. If you handle your ascension to the throne with the same grace and decorum that you did when helping your brother, you will be an adored King. I'm proud of you, of your loving heart, your kind soul and ambitious drive."
"I can't do it without you, princess," Masen told me reverently. "You make me want to be a better man. I love you so much and I'm so grateful to have you in my life. Who would have thought our chance meeting would have led to this?"
"We were fated to meet and destined to fall in love," I said.
"I agree with that, cherie," he laughed. "I also think we were fated to get our own happily ever after." His hand was gently resting on my tiny baby bump. It was hidden by the table and we grinned goofily at each other, still head over heels in love, even nearly seven years after our fairy tale beginning. "I think we need to do our own celebrating. I want to spend the whole night worshipping your body."
"Is that a royal decree, Majesty?" I purred.
"I believe it is, Bella," he growled back, nipping at my lips.
"Who am I to deny that, Your Highness?" I replied breathily, kissing him deeply. He stood us up and we made our way through the ballroom. We managed to sneak out, undetected, and we walked back to the manor where my husband lavished my body, particularly my baby belly. I knew that our child would be adored by both of us. I just couldn't wait to share the good news with our family.
A couple of weeks later, after Emmett and Rosalie returned from their honeymoon, we invited our family over to dinner to make the big announcement. Our baby was now looking like a baby and not like an alien inhabiting my stomach. My father and Linda returned from New York, staying through the holidays. As our family enjoyed dessert, Masen and I stood up at the head of the table.
"First and foremost, welcome back Rosalie and Emmett from your honeymoon," Masen said quietly, holding up his coffee mug. "I hope you had a restful time while away."
"That's one way of putting it," Emmett said, looking at his wife with a seductive grin. Rosalie blushed, smacking Emmett's arm and he laughed.
"Also, welcome back to Charlie and Linda. We're so happy that Poppy, Mike and George are all okay," Masen breathed.
"She adored that ginormous teddy bear you sent them, Masen," Linda said softly. "The thing was bigger than she was and she was crawling all over it, even falling asleep on it."
"Mike sent us a text with a photo," I grinned. "I had it printed and it's been framed. I can't wait to see her again. I miss my niece."
"They're planning on flying over for Christmas," Charlie explained. "George managed to get some time off and Angela agreed to work the holidays at the bakery. She says hello, by the way and is demanding you call her."
"I will. We have some news to share with all of you and it's part of the reason for this meal tonight," I breathed. "Other than wanting to see our families." I looked up at Masen and he slid his arm around my waist, resting his other hand on my belly. "Masen and I decided a year or so ago to stop using birth control. We wanted to spend time as just a couple, allowing us a chance to adjust to our new positions in our relationship and for me, to acclimate to living in Gevalia."
"Two months ago, Bella wasn't feeling well with an uneasy stomach and an aversion to certain smells. I wanted her to go to the doctor, but she said it was just a touch of the flu. This flu, however, will be lasting nine months. In late March, early April, Bella and I will be welcoming the next heir to the Gevalian throne," Masen said, staring directly at me.
"A grandbaby?" Esme asked, her voice wavering.
"Yes, a grandbaby," I answered, wriggling out of Masen's arms. I got copies of our latest ultrasound, passing them out to our family. Esme, after seeing it, jumped up and hugged me tightly. I felt her tears on my shoulder as she rambled in French, seemingly about the first royal grandchild. "Are you okay, Esme?"
"I'm just so happy," she replied, wiping her cheeks. She looked down at my stomach, which was still pretty tiny. "May I?" I nodded and she put her hands on my belly. "How far along are you?"
"A bit over four months," I said. "The doctor said I haven't popped yet, but I can feel it coming soon."
"My baby is having a baby," Esme cooed, scurrying over to her son and hugging him tightly.
I turned to my father, who was looking at me with tears in his eyes. "Daddy?" I whispered. "Are you okay?"
He stood up shakily, shuffling over to me. He took my face, giving me a watery smile. "I'm okay, baby girl. I'm happy for you, but I'm afraid. I would hate for Masen …" he whispered.
"It was a fluke that caused Mom to die during Alice's birth, Daddy," I whispered. "I'm okay. We're okay. Masen won't become a widower. You won't lose me. I promise." He pulled me into his arms, crushing me to his chest. We stayed in that embrace until I pulled back, wiping my dad's tears away. I took his hand and pressed it to my belly. His face softened as he looked at me. "Your grandbaby will be okay as will I."
"I love you, Bella," he said, kissing my cheek. "And you better be good for your mother, baby. She's very special to a lot of people."
"That she is," Masen said. "And Bella is getting the best medical care. Her obstetrician is one of the best in Europe. We've been keeping a close watch on her. So far, everything looks great, perfect."
"Do you know if you're having a boy or a girl?" Carlisle asked.
"Not yet. It's still too early to tell," I answered.
"Are you going to find out?" Emmett questioned.
"We are going to find out," Masen said. "We're having a hard time with names, but the gender can possibly guide us in the names."
"Why didn't you say anything sooner?" Linda asked.
"We didn't want to steal the thunder of Emmett and Rosalie's wedding. With Masen's ascension and coronation, we felt that they deserved the spotlight," I answered. "Though, Rosalie already knew."
"You did?" Emmett asked. "And you didn't tell me?"
"It wasn't my place, Em," Rosalie replied, taking his hand. "I recognized the symptoms since I lived through it after … my attack. I helped her tell Masen, but I kept it between me and Bella." She grinned at me. "And I'm grateful for you keeping it quiet until after our wedding. You didn't have to, but it was very kind of you to do so."
"What are we going to do now?" Charlie asked. "Will you announce it to the public? There were some rumors of pregnancy when a few photos from the wedding surfaced. The tabloids either said you were pregnant or just getting fat."
"Well, I am getting fat," I snorted. "I have to go shopping for looser clothing. Heidi and I have date planned next week. We can have her issue a press release about the baby after I tell her."
"I think we need to announce the coronation first," Esme said. "I'm over the moon about the baby, but the public needs to know about my abdication and Masen's intention to ascend to the throne."
"Why not announce both in the same press statement?" Emmett suggested. "People already adore Mase and Bella. Knowing that my big bro will become king and a dad will be amazing and rally the public."
Masen and I shared a look. Both pieces of news were huge, but we didn't want one overshadowing the other. Perhaps announcing Esme's retirement, Masen's ascension and our expanding family at the same time would be the best option. "I think that works, cherie. What do you think?"
"I agree, Masen," I nodded, taking his hand and twisting his wedding band. "For now, though, I think we need to focus on celebrating our newest addition. I want some cake."
"Or, does baby want cake?" Emmett laughed.
"We both want cake," I snickered. "Do not deny the pregnant lady."
"Never, cherie," Masen chuckled, guiding to me my chair.
xx AMDFT xx
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Announcement Regarding the Gevalian Royal Family
As of November 1st, 2025, the Gevalian Royal Family has several announcements to make. At the beginning of the next session of Parliament, Emmett McCarty Cullen, Duke of Talovian and younger brother of Prince Edward Anthony Masen Cullen, will assume the role of head of the House of Lords. Duke Emmett had been seen shadowing Prince Edward for the past few months, though the reason was never disclosed to the press. He will be sworn into service in early January, taking over for Prince Edward.
Now, why is Prince Edward stepping away from parliament? He'd led parliament in the most prosperous five years in Gevalian history. During his tenure, a great deal of new legislation had been passed, ranging from trade agreements, the restructuring the taxation system and the most impressive changes in educational reform. Gevalia is now one of the leading countries in education, specifically with students with learning disabilities. This is due in part from the influence of Princess Isabella Marie Swan Cullen, Prince Edward's wife of over five years. She'd received her degree in education and she worked closely with the Education Minister and educational subcommittee of the House of Commons to provide as many opportunities for all children, regardless of their abilities.
According to the palace, Queen Esme Elizabeth Masen Cullen will be stepping down as Queen, affective February 22nd, 2026, the Gevalian Independence Day. Her son, Prince Edward Anthony Masen Cullen, will ascend to the throne on the same day, being coronated by the Archbishop of the Gevalian Catholic Church. The plans for Prince Edward's Coronation have begun and he will take the royal oath at 11:37, the exact moment Gevalia became a free country, over eighty years ago.
In addition to becoming King, Prince Edward is also adding another title his moniker. Princess Isabella is pregnant with the couple's first child and is due to give birth in late March, early April. There will be a time of adjustment for the royal family, but a newborn prince or princess is always a welcomed announcement!
We wish all the best to the Royal Family and look forward to the future with King Edward and his Queen Consort, Isabella.
xx AMDFT xx
Dressed in complete royal regalia, complete with the new crest of my blended family, I waited in what was the bridal room of the church. I could hear the choir singing my praises and celebrating my coronation. I shifted underneath my surcoat; I adjusted the necklace that was cutting into my neck. There was a quiet knock and Felix opened the door, protecting me even as I prepared to become king. "Your Majesty," he said, bowing deeply to my mother as she glided into the room.
"I'm here to see my son before he takes his oath as King, Felix," she murmured. He let her inside, ducking out of the room. "You look so handsome, Masen."
"I'm nervous as hell," I laughed. "Are you sure you don't want to wait?"
She took my hands, staring into my eyes. "You're ready, my son, my little Edward," she whispered. "I love you and I'm proud of you. You will bring Gevalia into the next era of greatness. You've already started with what you accomplished in parliament." She ran her fingers through my messy hair. "You couldn't comb your hair?"
"I inherited this mess from you, Mother," I snickered. "And it's stylish." I blew out a breath. "Thank you for being here, Mother. I love you and I … I hope do an adequate job to make you proud ."
"You already have," she smiled, kissing my cheeks. "Come, Edward. It's time."
I was led to the rear of the church and the doors were opened to majestic fanfare. My mother nudged me through the door and I began walking down the aisle, stopping at the foot of the raised dais. Bella, in her own robes, and a bejeweled crest, was seated to my right. Her hair was unadorned, but swept up into an elegant updo. You could barely see her pregnancy under her robes and dress.
"I am here to present unto you, Edward Anthony Masen Cullen, your undoubted King. Wherefore all you are come this day to do your homage and service, are you willing to do the same?" asked the archbishop.
The members of parliament and dignitaries in attendance responded to the archbishop's request. I bowed my head in reverence to their solemn proclamation. The archbishop acknowledged their responses, stepping up to the dais and gestured to the steps in front of him. Carefully, I knelt before him, placing my hand on the oldest copy of the Bible.
"Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the peoples of the Sovereign Country of Gevalia, and of your Possessions and other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?"
"I solemnly promise to do so," I said confidently.
"Will you to your power cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all your judgments?"
"I will," I nodded. "All this I promise to do. The things which I have there before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God."
I kissed the Bible and stood up, moving to the seat next to Bella. A full mass was performed before the rest of my coronation ceremony. After communion, I stood back up and my surcoat was removed, revealing my military dress uniform. I walked to the Coronation Chair to be anointed. I sat down and a silver canopy was raised above me. The archbishop placed the sign of the cross on my forehead, hands and heart with small silver spoon. After my anointing, I stood up and knelt before my subjects while the archbishop recited several prayers in Latin. As I knelt there, a new, deep purple robe was draped over my shoulders.
Standing up, I went back to the chair where I received the ceremonial Sword of the State. It was strapped around my hips, hanging heavily on my body. My brother handed me the Orb, a hollow golden sphere that was decorated with precious and semi-precious gems found in Gevalia. My wife slid a ring on my hand, marrying me to my country. My father handed me the Sovereign's Scepter of Peace.
I continued to sit as my mother walked down the same aisle, carrying the crown she wore since I was a baby. As she arrived at the dais, she bowed deeply as she handed the crown to the archbishop. He walked behind me, raising the crown above his head. Placing it onto the marble, he said, "God, the crown of the faithful; bless we beseech the and sanctify this thy servant our king, and as thou dost this day set a crown of pure gold upon his head, so enrich his royal heart with thine grace and crown him with all virtues through the King Eternal Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen."
He picked up the crown, standing behind me. Holding it above my head, he said, "God crown you with a crown of glory and righteousness, that having faith and manifold fruit of good works, you may obtain the crown of everlasting kingdom by the gift whose kingdom endures forever." With a flourish, he gently placed the crown on my head. My heart stammered beneath my ribs as looked up, seeing my family, my friends – Jacob, Leah and their three children, along with other friends from the states - my country and my love standing before me.
I stood up and carefully moved to the golden throne inside the church, where I was enthroned. The aristocracy paid homage to me, swearing their fealty, beginning with my parents and lasting until the last of the aristocrats bowed before me. Once all of the aristocrats had paid homage, my Bella was anointed, invested, crowned and enthroned by my side. She wore a beautiful diadem, sparkling with diamonds and pearls. She looked at me, her eyes wide, but swirling with happiness and pride.
Almost three hours after the ceremony for my coronation, we processed out of the cathedral and into a waiting heated carriage, taking us to the palace. We had pictures taken there and we stood at the balcony as the air force did a fly-past, congratulating my coronation.
A coronation ball was thrown in my honor, celebrating our independence and my tenure as the King of Gevalia. I was dressed in black tailed tuxedo, with a white waistcoat and my blue crest pinned across my chest, with a diamond brooch at my hip. A golden crown sat atop my head, with diamonds and black sapphires adorning it. Bella walked in, wearing the most beautiful pale blue gown, with the sapphire jewelry I'd given her for her birthday. On top of her head was a diamond tiara and she wore a sash over her shoulder, with a diamond brooch at her hip. "Your Highness," I purred, taking her hands. I wrinkled my nose, feeling the gloves. I missed her warm hands. "You look beautiful, Bella."
"As do you, Your Majesty," she smiled, smoothing my lapels and adjusting my crown. "Are you ready for this?"
"I'm ready to dance with my wife," I snickered.
"After a long state dinner, Masen," she chided.
I sighed, looping her arm through mine and we went down the banquet hall. When we reached the entrance, the servants bowed before us and opened the door. "Please rise for His Majesty, King Edward Anthony Masen Cullen, and his Queen, Isabella Marie Swan Cullen." Everyone stood up, bowing as we glided past the dignitaries, visiting world leaders and Gevalian aristocracy.
Settling into our seats, the meal was served and it was delicious. When the meal was finished, I guided Bella out to the dancefloor. An elegant waltz began to play and we moved easily to the simple choreography that my mother insisted we learn. When the first dance was done, our guests joined us and I held my wife in my arms. "Today has been a dream," I whispered against her curled hair. "I hope I can be the king I'm supposed to be. Good and just, bringing my country into the next century. I also hope I can be a good father."
"You already are, Masen," Bella said gently, guiding my hand to her belly. She smiled at me, her face tender and so beautiful. "While you were getting fitted for this handsome tuxedo, our baby finally decided to let us know their gender."
"Really?" I asked. "What did the doctor say?"
"We're having a baby girl," she breathed. "A little princess …"
"A girl?" I whispered, a crooked grin spreading over my face. She nodded. Not caring about the people around us, I took her face in my hands and kissed her. Bella laughed against my lips, her fingers curling around my lapels. "Bella, I can't even describe how happy I am."
"You don't have to. I already know because I'm right there with you," she said. "I was also thinking about a name. I'd like to honor my father and both of our mothers. Charlotte Elizabeth Marie Cullen – Charlotte for my dad, Elizabeth for your mother and Marie for my mother. It was her middle name."
"That's perfect, cherie," I sighed, pressing my forehead to hers as we swayed to the music. "I love you both, so much. I know that because my status has changed with me becoming king, but you will always be first in my book. I will be the best husband and father to you and our little Charlotte."
"I know you will be, Masen. We both got our happily ever after in our modern-day fairy tale," Bella said reverently.
"We did, cherie. We certainly did," I responded, kissing her again.