A/N: I don't own Twilight or its characters; they belong to Stephanie Meyer. I do not own any publicly recognizable entities herein. No copyright infringement is intended.
So, here it is, the final chapter…
"Masen, Marie, come on, we need to leave."
"I don't wanna," Masen protested, his hair flopping over his eyes before he blew upwards, moving it out of the way.
"I don't wanna, neither," Marie echoed her brother as they both crossed their arms over the chests and pulled identical disgruntled faces.
I laughed; my five-year-old grandkids were so damn adorable.
"Dad, you're not helping!" Jake told me as I shrugged.
"I don't want you to go either, kids," I told them, ruffling Masen's hair as they both smiled at me, liking that I was siding with them.
"Still not helping!" Jake lightheartedly grumbled as he started to wrangle the twins into coats and shoes.
"How many feet do you two have?!" He joked as his kids laughed at his silliness.
"Four, Daddy!" Marie told him, pleased with herself for knowing the answer.
"Are you sure?" Jacob asked them. "There seem to be so many feet and shoes here!"
Vanessa and Bella came into the hallway, Vanessa's belly arriving before she did. She was a month away from giving birth again, so Bella and I were happily helping out with the twins more than ever. They had been around for Sunday lunch, our tradition standing strong six years since we started it, and as usual, the kids had a blast playing together.
"Right!" Jacob stood up straight, pleased with himself that his kids both had shoes on and were finally ready to go. "Kids, say thank you to Mimi and PopPop."
I bent down and hugged the twins, kissing their heads.
Emily had been sitting on the stairs, watching everyone quietly until she stood so close to me she was almost on my feet. I bent and picked her up, settling her on my hip as I kissed her forehead. "It's okay, Pumpkin. The twins will be back for a sleepover next weekend, okay."
She nuzzled her little face into my shoulder as Bella stood next to me, stroking our daughter's hair.
" 'Spose." Emily agreed.
Jacob and Vanessa were finally able to leave, and Emily returned to her quieter self now, after she'd exhausted herself by playing all afternoon. I carried her into the kitchen to help clear up from lunch. Bella leaned against the kitchen worktop as she saw me approaching.
"You two look so adorable," Bella told us, as she often did when I held Emily, and she could see the likeness between us.
I sat Emily down at the table and let her have the last slice of cake while Bella and I cleared away the dishes. Yeah, so we both spoiled her a little, she was our surprise, our miracle baby, and she lit up our lives in ways I never knew possible. It was my chance to raise a daughter, co-parent, and share this journey with Bella, and it was my greatest joy. I looked over at her icing-smeared face and smiled, remembering when Bella told me she was pregnant.
"Edward, I need you to sit down."
I looked at Bella, slightly puzzled, but she nodded, reinforcing her words.
"Sure, okay." I sat on the edge of the sofa and looked at her expectantly.
"I've been feeling…. off lately…"
Bella started as my heart rate accelerated. What the hell. Was she sick? Please, God, no.
"…this morning, I found out why."
Before my mind could race anywhere else, she handed me a small white stick. The word Pregnant was clearly visible in the window of what I knew was a pregnancy test.
"What? WHAT?" I was delighted and terrified all at once. "WHAT?" I repeated.
"I know!" Bella exclaimed, her hands shaking and her eyes searching mine, trying to read my reaction.
She nodded. "Sure looks that way," she replied.
"How did this even happen?" She looked at me incredulously, her eyebrows raised. "I know how, I mean…how?"
She shrugged. "I don't know, I haven't missed a pill, but I did take those antibiotics the other month, maybe…"
"Holy shit! This is amazing. And terrifying!" I stood and hugged her, still in disbelief. "Christ, I'm so happy, so fucking happy, but we're old, Bella!"
"I know! My periods have been irregular for ages; I could be a few months along already."
Bella was indeed four months along by the time the pregnancy was confirmed, and while she'd been a geriatric mother, she was also fit and healthy and delivered our beautiful daughter into the world only a month after Jacob and Vanessa's twins arrived.
And a lot has happened since then. There were now three little people who lit up our lives. With the profits from the sale of Bella's home, Jacob and Vanessa bought a property around the corner from our house. It made things a lot easier as we could double up on childcare and tag team the kids. The kids were spoiled rotten between us four adults, and while Bella had plenty of help from me, Jake, and Nessie, she rarely let Emily out of her sight. She was so delighted and thankful for this second chance at parenting that she wanted to do it all. Although, when Nessie announced her next pregnancy, we made it perfectly clear that now we were both over fifty, we wouldn't be joining her again!
"Emily, it's almost bedtime. Shall we pick a bedtime book to read?" Bella asked her as she set the dishwasher running, then scooped our daughter into her arms.
We all headed upstairs, and once Emily was in her pajamas, and we'd read The Cat in the Hat several times, Emily yawned and snuggled in-between Bella and me.
"Daddy, Masen, saided he's named after you, and Marie is named after Mommy," she told us, yawning again. I found she often waited until bedtime before voicing anything that was on her mind or anything she remembered from earlier in the day.
I nodded as I stroked her hair back from her face. "That's right. Masen is my middle name, and Marie is Mommy's middle name. Jake and Nessie named the twins after us. Do you know who you're named after?"
She screwed up her little nose as she thought before she shook her head. "No."
"You, my sweetheart, are named after one of the best, kindest, most loyal people we know."
"You named me after Santa Claus?" she said so straight-faced that Bella and I burst into laughter.
"No! We named you after your Uncle Emmett."
"You did?" She sounded surprised. "I really like Uncle Emmett." She told us in the brutally-honest way kids speak.
"Good, because he loves you." I kissed her forehead. "He was so pleased when we told him your name."
I smiled to myself, remembering when we told Emmett we were using a variation of his name for our daughter. He'd looked down at the one-day-old baby in his arms before kissing her head and telling her he'd always protect her and love her like his own daughter. And he'd stuck to his word, taking her out for ice cream, and he had already started to teach her to cook some of the family recipes he served at Masen's.
"Daddy, what about Liam?" Emily asked me.
"He's your Godfather, so a bit like an uncle, too," I told her. After Liam and I re-connected at Masen's just before I proposed, I'd invited him out for a drink, and we'd rekindled our friendship and now stayed in close contact. He never judged me for my situation with Bella, and the kids and our families became close too, especially when Bella and Siobhan became good friends. We now saw each other regularly, and I knew I could rely on him as a good friend.
"Hmmm." Emily seemed to consider this before she yawned again.
"Get some sleep, Pumpkin," I told her. "I need your help at Masen's tomorrow. Do you remember how to lay out the cutlery?"
She nodded earnestly. She took her job at Masen's seriously, so did the twins. They all had miniature staff aprons with their names embroidered on them and often helped out at the restaurant. Since Emily's arrival, I'd cut back my working hours. I wanted to be there for her and soak up her younger years; then, when she started school, I'd work around her school day.
"Will Mas and Rie be there?" She asked, always wanting to spend time with the twins.
I shrugged. "Maybe. We can ask Nessie; I'm sure she'd like a rest, so we'll see if we can bring them with us, yeah?"
"Yeah," Emily nodded enthusiastically. "Nessie's tired 'cause she's growin 'nother baby."
"That's right," Bella told Emily as she hugged her tighter, and Emily rested her head on Bella's shoulder. We all laid squished in Emily's bed while she drifted off to sleep quicker than she usually did, no doubt worn out by the twins' visit.
Technically, the twins were Emily's niece and nephew, and Jacob and Vanessa were her brother and sister, but we didn't care much for labels anymore. In-laws, stepsiblings, none of the words mattered to us now because we were a family, one big happy family, and we loved each other unconditionally.
Kate had sent a congratulatory gift to both Jake and me a few weeks after our kids were born, but as we suspected, there was no further involvement from her. She was never involved in her own kid's life, so the chances of her bothering with grandkids were slim. Still, the three littles knew none of that. They only knew love and safety, and parents who were unconditionally there for them, and I was proud of that.
Being a PopPop was every bit the joy I hoped it would be. And watching Jacob be the fantastic dad I knew he would be was an equal delight. He undoubtedly had more energy than me, playing for hours with all three kids in the garden while Bella, Nessie, and I watched on, marveling at his ability to come up with inventive games that would tire the kids out for bedtime.
That happened the very next Sunday, as Jacob and the littles were burning off energy in the garden while Bella and Nessie sat watching from the deck. I'd popped inside to check on the meatloaf that was cooking for lunch and grabbed more non-alcoholic wine for Nessie.
As I approached them, Bella and Nessie burst into laughter. Watching their close bond was still great to see. We'd been concerned about telling Jacob and Vanessa about Bella's pregnancy. We thought telling them about our relationship would be hard. Then, us wanting to get married had implications for them, too. But by the time we needed to tell them about the baby, there was no point in worrying.
"Bella, this isn't something anyone needs to have an opinion on. It's happening already. I doubt our kids will have a problem with it, but what if they did?"
"I know. It's crazy, though, right?" She asked me.
I nodded. "Yeah, it's crazy. Crazy brilliant! Crazy fantastic! Crazy amazing!" I grinned at her, my palm cradling her belly as she smiled back at me.
"Bella, when we first got together, I cared what people thought. Really cared. Too much. Then, when we moved in together, I prepared myself for comments and raised eyebrows. But by the time we got married, I was so damn happy I forgot to care what anyone else thought. And now… now I genuinely don't care what anyone, other than our kids, thinks. We know we can do this. We've got this. We don't need anyone's approval, not this time."
Bella placed her hand over mine on her belly. "I need you, though. I'm scared. I love this baby so much already." Her voice cracked as I stroked her cheek and looked into her beautiful brown eyes, and stated very clearly.
"I'm right here. We have the best medical insurance we can get. This Christmas, there will be three babies to join us, and we'll be parents again. And Grandparents!"
And I was right. The arrival of the babies brought nothing but joy to our whole family. My parents were thrilled for Bella and me and were thrilled to become great-grandparents, meaning Emmett laid off teasing me as he had something to tease them about. This was good because Bella and I were acutely aware we were old parents. We knew we'd be retirement age while Emily was still a teenager, but we took comfort in knowing if anything happened to us, Jacob, Vanessa, and their children would envelop her in love and be her family in every way possible.
"I think she's asleep," I whispered to Bella, who was almost asleep herself.
"Don't be fooled!" She whispered.
Bella was right. We'd made that mistake many times, only to be shocked when Emily woke as we were leaving her room.
I rolled over, reaching across Emily to hold Bella's hand.
"I'm not in a rush to move. I have everyone I need right here with me."
And I did.
My family was complete.
I was complete.
A/N: December 2021:
Hi all, The Tension and the Spark has been nominated in the poll to find TwiFanfictionRecs' Top 10 fics completed in November. If you enjoy this fic please vote for it, I would really appreciate it as this fic means so much to me. Consider it a thank you for writing and a Christmas present all in one! Vote on twifanfictionrecs . com You can vote once every 24 hours, voting closes New Year Eve, the date this fic starts!
Final Authors Note:
So, that's a wrap! This story is now complete. Apologies for the long author's note but there are a few things I want to say…
First off, thank you so much to everyone who helped me with this story, Frannie Walsh, Christy Wicklund, Gail Gaber, RebAdams, Brier Lynn Rose, and Julie Gotcha Dodge for giving up their time to beta and pre-read.
Thank you for each and every review, I love it when readers engage with my stories and encourage me. This story has taken over two years to complete (and what a crazy two years they have been!). It is a real labor of love, done in my spare time, for free. If you've enjoyed reading, all I ask is for you to leave a review or two and recommend this story to others.
Also, because I can't leave this story alone, I have added to earlier chapters, one or two big sections that are chapters in their own right, and other smaller edits. So, if you ever re-read you may notice some new parts that weren't there the first time around. As there is no way to add new chapters into the story on FF, I've added the new parts to existing chapters to keep it chronological. Also, I would have loved to have written more about Emily, and Edward and Bella's journey as parents, but I'm just not in the right headspace to write about that topic right now. Maybe one day I'll write an outtake, but for now, this story feels complete to me.
Finally, I am most definitely planning to post more stories. I have several started so if you would like to be alerted when I post, please add me to Author Alerts on FF and follow me on Facebook for news. If you've enjoyed this fic and haven't read my previous stories, please check my profile. Tougher Than the Rest is my other main fic and there are two shorter fics and two Christmas stories to enjoy.
Please do review, we authors give our time and talents for free, and your reviews are a wonderful reward for all the hard work and effort that goes into each and every chapter of every story.
Bye…for now KL x