So happy to be posting again.
If you're new here, this story, The Reflections, is a sequel to my other story, The Rec. I highly suggest reading that one first. As this story contains flashbacks, possible fast forwards, and present times, I don't want you to get lost.
Some tips to help you follow along: I don't write my flashbacks in italics. Follow along to the tenses of the story (past and present) to figure out when it's taking place. I don't think there should be any confusion but send me a message if you're confused about the timeline of anything and I'll try to answer you without giving anything away! If it becomes too confusing, I'll go back and tinker around with the chapters already written.
Also, this story was based on the song "Remember When" by Alan Jackson. Most of you know my stance on sequels, so when I heard this song at a store not too long ago, I realized it captured how I would want Edward to tell their story perfectly. Yes, The Rec was all BPOV, and The Reflections are all EPOV. Yay!
Each chapter will start with a verse from the song.
I was young and so were you.
Time stood still
And love was all we knew.
Today is another blessing I can add to my ever-growing list.
I've been counting them, those blessings.
Just when I think that I've been blessed with everything a man could possibly want, God surprises me with a new one even better than the last.
Somewhere along the line I actually began to believe that I was a person worthy of blessings. Of a life I knew I wanted but didn't think could happen to me. Didn't think I deserved it.
When most people hear my story, about my childhood, I am gifted with eyes of pity and sadness. Word travels fast in a small town like this – always has and always will. Time won't ever change that. Little boy abandoned by both his parents. Never even knew 'em. Poor kid. Not his fault.
The chatter from the folks of Forks, Washington usually ends there, thankfully. Maybe it was because I never gave them much to talk about; I grew into a teenager who held and battled his demons on the inside and didn't self-destruct on the outside for everyone to see. Maybe it was because I didn't let my past define who I grew up to be, or who I am now.
Whatever reason it may be, a smile stretches across my face when I look up at the sky and mentally add another blessing to my list.
The sun is out.
It's not like it doesn't happen. It does. Just not as often as some people would like. Out of habit, I had just put it into my thoughts that the chances of the sun coming out today, on this specific day, would be very slim.
But when the sun slips through the haze of gray clouds above me, the beams making me slide my sunglasses off the top of my head to cover my eyes, I smile to myself.
I'm the only one out here in the sunshine; I can hear the subtle brush of leaves against leaves from the trees around me. I can hear the stream of a bumbling brook from beyond the patch of green grass I stand upon. There is a duo of deer standing on the edge of the open field; it seems three of us now are enjoying the silence while it lasts.
In just a few hours the grass I stand on will be littered with people, old and young, family and friends. They'll watch two people make a promise to each other, to God, in front of loved ones. They'll sit on browned benches made from a local in town beneath a canopy of green trees and twinkle lights. Food will be catered and cooked and seasoned to perfection, even though most guests will be too busy dancing on the makeshift dance floor to actually eat more than a few bites at a time. They'll stop for cake, of course, and for the liquor being offered at no cost to them.
They'll feel it. They'll see it, too. The love.
So much love.
So much love in a place where it could have been so easy, so easy, to let the hate consume.
I chose not to dwell in that dark, empty space years ago and never looked back. When I was younger, a teenager on the threshold of college and freedom from a system that had failed me in more ways than I like to remember, I had let those feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness take hold. I let them tell me that I wasn't good enough for any of it – for college, for a girlfriend and the family that came along with her, for friendships that I worked so hard to keep since I was a kid. The worst part was not that I had those thoughts. The worst part was that I eventually listened to them and believed them to be true.
It had cost me everything for so long.
Somewhere in that darkness, on my slow descent into Hell, I decided I wanted to fight for everything I believed for so long to be beyond my reach. I started from the bottom, somewhere below rock bottom, and worked my way to a place where I saw myself as someone of value.
Through it all, I never forgot the one place where I felt like I belonged. The one place where I felt equal to everyone else there. The place that kept me going that last year of high school when my doubts were starting to surface in my head. When The Rec had collapsed, it had brought me down with it. Whatever weak legs I had been standing on, grasping onto the last lifejacket on a sunken ship, fell beneath me.
The Rec was the only thing that I had thought would remain here in Forks. Emmett had already left two years before for college, and Rosalie followed the year after that. We were next.
Jasper and Alice.
The thought of her leaving made me want to stay. Made me want to have some control over the people who enter my life only to eventually leave. It had become ingrained in me that when people leave, sometimes they don't come back. I was spiraling, and though I eventually regained some of the clear-headedness that I so desperately needed, I remained spiraling until I saw her again.
She came back.
I didn't care that her visit to Forks was because of Jasper and Alice's wedding; one look at her and I knew that her return was to be at the top of my list of blessings.
It was right there at the top, next to the day I met her all the way back in fifth grade. I had no idea, and was completely unprepared, for what it felt like the day she walked into The Rec and into my life.
I didn't understand it then, being a kid who didn't have much of anything and didn't know what it felt like to actually crave a person's presence, but somehow I knew. Without understanding the feeling that was growing inside of me, somehow, I knew that a friendly game of soccer years ago on the same fields I stand on now would be all I knew. Would be all I ever wanted to know.
One look at her and I knew my life would be filled with much, much more.
Without thinking, I start counting my blessings again, smiling when more than one tumbles in front of my eyes at once. With a satisfied sigh, I thrust my hands deep into my pockets and look out at the property in front of me. As I stare out at the open expanse of land and see the familiar log cabin of our past and our future, memory after memory assaults me where I stand in place on a designated path towards the outdoor alter.
That's what weddings are supposed to do, right? Make you think about moments leading up to the present?
And the sun is out!
The sunglasses over my eyes help to dim the sunlight but not the beauty surrounding me. It's impossible to miss the serenity of nature's promise from where I'm standing. I should know – I designed it myself.
My eyes flit around the property again, The Rec looming in the background like it always was meant to. Just like we pictured it. There are seasonal flowers planted along the path, the colors so light and airy compared to the deep green grass around it and the trees above it. The benches are evenly placed on either side of the wooden path, the twigs and stones of the path hidden beneath a sheath of fabric so thin it could disappear within the earth. I close my eyes and picture her walking down the path, her aisle, and my heart clenches within my chest.
We imagined this day for what seems like forever but also yesterday at the same time. I was there for all of it. From the proposal to signing for the flower delivery earlier this morning. The vendors knew me by name by the time I was done with them. The alterations, the taste -testing, ensuring the grounds of The Rec were exactly like she wanted. I never left her side once throughout all the planning.
My girl is my life.
I tell her every day. There has never been a doubt in her head when it comes to my loving her. Maybe it's because I'd never heard the words until Bella spoke them to me in high school, I'm not sure. I just know that there would never be a day where she would have to wonder; she knows my love for her is endless.
"I was starting to think you'd started early at the bar."
The sound of the dirt and twigs snapping under the weight of his feet announces Emmett's arrival before his words. Nonetheless, I smile at the sound and turn back to look at him, sliding my sunglasses back to the top of my head momentarily. Grateful for a distraction, I walk a few steps closer to him where he stands beneath the shade of the trees enveloping the benched seats.
I shake my head before he wraps me in a gentlemanly embrace, slapping him on the shoulder as we part. "I promised to be on my best behavior."
"I didn't," he jokes, opening the jacket of his suit to take out a flask from the inside pocket. I laugh at the face he makes when it goes down.
I turn back to the scene in front of me, exhaling loudly when my nerves bubble to the surface. "I can't mess this up."
We've been friends for so long that I don't need to elaborate on what I'm talking about. He already knows and understands the weight today carries. "There's no way you can."
I shake my head in disagreement. A thousand different scenarios where I actually do ruin the day springs to mind. "Do you know how many dreams I've had about this?" I point over at the path we're to walk down later today. "I tried to tell her that this sheet thing could kill me when I walk down the aisle."
Emmett laughs and puts his flask away. "Bella's the one you should be worried about, not you. She still trips over air."
"Some things will never change." I turn back to the open field again. "That's a permanent part of her by now."
Speaking of Bella, when I turn back to overlook the grounds, the sound of a door slamming in the distance catches my ear and my eyes follow the sound. I see her then, not yet dressed like she's supposed to be, walking towards the back of the house in a bathrobe and flip flops. She looks like she's on a mission, and instead of staying here and taking a stroll down memory lane, I figure it would be best to offer her my help. Emmett sees her as well, and without any prompting, he follows me across the grass as we walk towards Bella.
"At least you don't have to hear anything about the rain," he says conversationally, glancing up at the sky. "Girls hate rain on their wedding day."
"Eh, the rain isn't always so bad," I remember, a slow smile dancing across my face as we continue to physically walk to The Rec, even though mentally in my mind I'm walking a little further towards a time of the past.
"I can't sleep like this," Bella had said as we listened to the fading remnants of a passing storm. While the storm was over, it was the middle of the night and the damage was done. An estimated restoration of power was sometime the next day, leaving us in our bedroom with nothing but our flashlights, voices, and summer heat to focus on.
Well, our voices plus one other thing.
I rubbed a hand over my tired eyes, wondering how the hell I was going to get up in the morning on so very little sleep if the night continued the way it was looking like it was going to. I exhaled loudly in the darkness, trying to keep the annoyance out of my voice. "What else do you want me to do, Bella?"
"I don't know. Something?" Sometimes you can take the girl out of New York, but - "Something other than putting a bucket underneath it."
I sighed, thinking that I had put this issue to rest once I had found a bucket to catch the drips coming from a leaky roof in our bedroom. "I thought you didn't want to ruin the carpet?"
"I also can't go to sleep with a constant drip landing in a puddle of water all night," she huffed, no doubt grouchy from her long day at work. "Can't you fix the pipes or something?"
I would have been a dead man if she had been able to see the way I rolled my eyes at her. Grateful for the lack of light, I responded, knowing I can sound just as ridiculous as she could. "I can't. I left all my piping tools on my bulldozer."
When she shoved me and my sarcasm, I tried to hide my chuckle deep within my pillow. "Just go to sleep."
"Oh, well, now that you say it like that, I'm sure I'll be able to now. Just like that." She snapped her fingers and pretended to fall asleep but sat up again in bed at the next drop of water into the bucket. A few minutes later she remembered how hot summer nights in our upstairs house at The Rec could be, and I laughed at the dramatic way she threw the covers off both of us with her legs.
"Here. Let's watch a movie," I suggested, leaning towards my nightstand where I had placed my laptop before we had gone to bed and before the storm came and knocked out our power.
I could see her disagree from the light of the flashlight. "I want to save the charge on it," she answered, rolling over so she could bury her ears in her pillow to muffle out the sound of the drip. With a grumble, she added, "Who knows how long we'll be without power."
"The sound of the movie will help drown out the sound of the drip?" I suggested, trying to ease her suffering so we could sleep.
"And what happens when the movie is over?"
"I'm banking on you falling asleep during the movie anyway, like you always do."
"I won't tonight," she groaned, rolling back over onto her back again. "It's too quiet."
"Because you won't let me put a movie on," I reminded her. It wasn't like I didn't have a generator we would use if we were to be out of power for too long and needed to charge our phones or laptops or anything. Running an establishment for youths made buying a generator absolutely necessary.
Sighing, she rolled over and sat up again, her body learning towards me and her hair falling around her almost bare shoulders. "Maybe you should find other ways to distract me," Bella suggested then, reaching over to run her fingers over the waistband of my boxer briefs.
I quickly found a way to distract her from the drips.
With a glance at our replaced roof, I snicker to myself as we continue to walk towards Bella in the present time. "Nothing bad about the rain," I repeat to Emmett, but mostly to myself as we round the back of the house to see where Bella had disappeared to.
"You here?" I call out, walking onto the patio and peering over the large umbrellas adorning the empty but ready to entertain tables surrounding the back yard. Dark linens of navy blue contrast sharply to the yellow sunflower centerpieces. I may not know much about color schemes or summer weddings, but I do know our yard has never looked as stunning.
"Yeah, over here." Bella calls back. Emmett and I walk over to the other side of the patio and find Bella walking back and forth over different spots of the grass. "Wait – you're not supposed to be here!"
Her eyes glance up towards the house, looking back over at us when she sees the windows empty. When she looks at us, she smiles and brushes the hair out of her face. It's one of those moments we promised to pause for. We promised we would make time stand still in an effort to capture and remember every moment of the day. We promised we would try to remember the moments before they became flusters in a blur of activity.
She stands before us on the grass, still in her robe and flip flops, but her hair and make-up are done, and she still takes my breath away. Still makes me wonder how my shitty hand in a child's deck of cards landed me this breath of luck.
I watch her smile when she realizes I'm trying to cement this to memory, and it brings me back to where we are at the moment. "Technically I was over there," I answer, motioning over towards the aisle beneath the trees across our land. "I only came here because it looked like you could use some help."
"Thanks," she says dryly, rolling her eyes and pointing down to her perfectly manicured toes. Do toes get manicured? "I'm fine, actually. Just checking to see how soggy the grass is."
"Ahh, checking to see how many inches your heel is going to sink in, huh?" Emmett chimes in, reaching inside his jacket for his flask again. He takes a swig and then hands it over to Bella. "Can't have you falling down the aisle."
"Why is he here?" She looks over at me before taking it from him, bringing the alcohol to her lips for a swift chug. Laughing, she hands the flask back to Emmett.
"Just checking in on Edward. It's a big day," Emmett reminds us as if we had forgotten.
"You're right. It is," Bella agrees and then starts to shoo us away. "And you're keeping me from it."
"I'll see you soon?" I call out over my shoulder, heading back towards the alter since I'm not allowed inside the house just yet.
I hold a letter in my hand for her to read once things settle down. I tap it against the side of my leg against my dress pants to no particular beat. Just a series of calming tap tap taps as I realize that my time is getting shorter. In just a short while, I'll hand her this letter, after her promises and vows. She'll hold my words in her hand, just like the way she's held my heart since the very beginning. Since the moment I saw her, I knew this day would come. I knew my words would fail me, so I had spent the last year jotting down everything I wanted, needed, to tell her. All my promises to her. The way she brought new meaning to my life without even trying. How each day with her is another blessing on my list.
Another voice catches me lost in thought a little while later. I had moved from my spot near the altar once the guests had started to arrive and had situated myself against the railing on the back deck overlooking the tables. The voice is deeper than Emmett's but still just as comforting.
"Is it that time already?" I ask, silently stuffing my letter into my pocket and glancing at my watch.
"Getting there, yeah." Benjamin says, leaning against the rail next to me so his back is facing the property I'm staring into. "We can stay for another minute."
I nod, grateful for more time to gather my thoughts.
A few minutes later, Benjamin reaches out and touches my arm. "Cigar?"
"You're just as bad as Emmett," I laugh, shaking my head at his offer. "I promised – "
"To behave. We know," Benjamin rolls his eyes in the predictable way I pictured he would in my mind.
I look at him curiously. "Do you though? I'm sure Jasper will be next," I joke even though I'm not far off from the truth.
"He wanted to bring you a beer earlier, but Alice stopped him."
"Bella's got them all against me," I say as if they're all conspiring against me.
"What about after?"
I answer him with a psfff. "With all that booze I paid for, you better believe I'll be making up for lost time!"
"Speaking of time," Benjamin says when he hears the sliding glass door to the back deck open in front of us, "they're going to send out a search party soon."
"She knows where to find me," I mutter, patting the letter in my pocket as I look over at Benjamin. With a pat on his shoulder, I point towards the house. "Let's go."
I wish I had stayed outside; I don't know if my nerves are up for today.
I don't think I can blame this entirely on nerves.
Once I'm inside, I find Emmett again. "How did you do it, Em?" I fight to try to keep the emotion out of my voice, but I can hear my resolve slipping. I can feel a lump form in my throat and my voice waver as I speak. "I'm not ready."
While Emmett had done this a few years ago, I had spent the last year trying to prepare myself for this day. Now that it's here, staring me in the face, I am definitely not ready. Not at all. My heart breaks a little more with each tick of the clock.
"You don't have much choice," Jasper says, pointing over towards the crowd. "Look."
"It's just the beginning," Emmett offers with a smile, trying to help but it's not working as he had hoped.
"Then why do I feel like my world is ending?" I'm ready to bang my head against the wall until someone makes me stop.
Jasper laughs. "Remember Charlie?"
"He won't let me forget," I grumble into my hands as I run them down my face in anxiousness.
A pair of heels clinking against the tile beneath our feet makes us turn. Alice. "Seats. Let's go," she says, pulling both Jasper and Emmett over to where they belong.
"Good luck, Edward. Watch that Aisle Runner," Alice says over her shoulder before the three of them disappear completely, leaving me to myself in the foyer of The Rec.
Aisle Runner – that's what it's called. Not fabric thing. Aisle Runner.
That's the least of my worries as I finger the letter in my pocket. If I fall, I could at least buy some more time before it's too late. Maybe that would make her change her mind.
I hear her first. Then I turn to look at her.
I don't know if I should; I don't know if this is allowed. Her laughter, always music to my ears, is a beacon to my soul, and I gravitate towards the sound as I have no choice but to follow the musical sounds.
She sees me when I turn the corner, and her face tilts at the sight.
"For later," I choke out. "It can be your Something New."
I told myself I would wait until after the ceremony, but I go against my word and give the letter to her anyway in a moment of weakness. She takes the letter from my shaking hand, and I know she wants to read it now and not wait for later. Always so stubborn.
"I don't know where you'll put it," I say through a sniffle of tears as her beauty takes my breath away.
"My dress has pockets," she announces excitedly as if I'm supposed to know that it's a big deal. "I'll keep it here with me."
And I know she will. In all the years I've known her, she's never lied to me.
I don't expect her to start on her wedding day.
"You ready to get married?"
"Don't let me fall, Dad."
Like all the blessings in my life, I hold onto my daughter with no intentions of letting go. I've never held anything more precious.
Well, besides her mother.
And we're off! I hope you enjoy the journey! I'm so happy to be back in their world again. Join me in my Facebook group, Lily Jill Fics. I love to discuss – my stories, your stories, all the stories. I may enjoy myself a little too much?
Anyway, I want to end each chapter with a teaser for the next chapter. I mean, it's not really teasers if you listen to the song. (Remember When by Alan Jackson). You'll be able to have a general idea where the next direction will take them over the years. We left off with the proposal in The Rec and begin here with Edward walking their daughter down the aisle. It leaves plenty of years for me to fill in for you
Okay, no more words from me. See you soon. Enjoy the teaser!
You were the first
So was I
Made love and then you cried