Here you have the final piece of It All Falls Down...
A New Day.
"It is times like these when I stand, surrounded by friends and family that I realize just how fortunate I am. I did not have the best experiences with family growing up but if I could have chosen my family, it would be the people sitting here at this table." I smiled at my radiant wife before raising my glass to the faces that were seated around a Christmas feast, "to family!"
Glasses clinked and cheerful banter filled the room as a scrumptious feast, prepared skilfully by Bella and Alice, was passed around. I was elated at the peace that had been given to us. Torturous dreams have since left our nights and they are now filled with visions of a happy future and dreams of family.
Bella, amazed us all in her survival, I was devastated that my own flesh and blood could have orchestrated all that pain. Rose wanted exactly what I had; hopes and dreams and a warm and loving family. She chose her own path though, one full of thorns and venom.
I remembered the pain in her eyes at the last moment I had seen her alive, I will be haunted by that as long as I live. But, I do have hope, the new little life that is growing inside Bella is more than just a child, it is a symbol of all that is still right in this world. Every day I grow more and more excited to meet this little person that squirms and kicks at the sound of my voice.
I was brought from my daydreams, and reminded by a swift kick from Emmett under the table, that the world was still going on around me. Our demons were behind us and I had to let go of some of my guilt.
"Edward, can you be a dear and help me in the kitchen with dessert?" Bella stood beside me in all her beauty. Her round belly brushed against my arm as she turned and walked toward the kitchen.
The door swung shut behind me and I saw her, barefoot, reaching on her tiptoes to get the plates down. I stood behind her and wrapped my arms around her waist from behind and placed tender kisses on the back on her neck, "where are your shoes, my Love?" I asked between nibbles of her soft flesh.
"My feet are swollen and I can't find my slippers anywhere," she pouted. "Ugh, I can't even reach the top shelf any more, my belly is too big." She tried to turn but I held her tightly. Now that I could finally relax and not have to worry about the shadows, I didn't want to let her out of my arms ever again. "Edward, they are waiting for dessert," she whispered as I swept her long hair across her shoulders exposing the soft area at the base of her neck that I swathed in a flurry of tiny kisses.
"Let them wait," I smiled through the trail of kisses that I laid across her warm skin.
"Edwaaaard!" I did not relent and she was putty in my hands, "I… we… people…"
I chuckled at her incoherence, "Ok you win," but this time I was the one who was pouting. "You go and sit, I will bring in dessert and then I will go and find your slippers for you, Ok?" She smiled a big childish grin at me, "and then tonight once everyone is gone, I am going to give you a nice long foot rub."
"Yes, Sir!" she saluted with a sly grin and returned to the dining room. She continued to amaze me every day, after everything that she had been through she was still positive and loving. I thought that most people in her situation would have cowered and hid, but not Bella. At least, not that she was letting on.
I served the dessert to our friends but saved Bella's for last, I placed her plate gently in front of her and our eyes met just as they had years ago when we first met. Fire was glowing inside me for the amazing woman that I was fortunate enough to call my wife. My vision fogged and framed her in gentle wisps. Her tender lips parted and mouthed the words, "I love you."
Peace and harmony had replaced the fear and angst that has consumed me for so long, at times I still found myself dwelling on the events that had brought us here but I had to keep kicking myself and remembering that at the end of all darkness, light gives way to a new day. We all adjourned to the living room and we exchanged gifts with our friends while I played Christmas carols on my piano and we sang and laughed until the late hours of the night.
The excitement was wearing on Bella but she kept insisting that she was not tired. I could see the weight of the day resting on her eyelids and it appeared that this was a battle that she was about to lose. Jasper and Alice were the last to leave, they were such dedicated friends. When Bella heard me wish them a good night, she sprang from the sofa in an awkward leap, "wait!" She bounced to our friends and pulled them back to the sofa, "I have something else for you guys."
"Sweetie, you are exhausted, this can wait. I will come back tomorrow and see you. Go to bed." Alice patted Bella's leg as she rose to her feet.
"Sit down NOW!" she glared but we all erupted in laughter, Bella was clearly going to have to work on her stern, mom-voice. "Listen you two! You have been together for eight years. Jasper, I love you like a brother and I am thrilled that you finally proposed to Alice. But, so help me if I have to wait more than a year to see this wedding, I will get myself a license over the Internet and marry you guys myself," she gave in to the smiles that filled the room.
"Bells, we just thought that it was best to wait a while, we aren't going anywhere. We have a long life together ahead of us." Jasper coyly replied and I could see that he was starting to cower under Bella's glare.
"Here, maybe this will motivate you," Bella pulled one of two envelopes off the end table and handed it to her dearest friends.
"Bella?" Alice squirmed, "we already exchanged gifts, what is this?"
"Just open it." Bella bounced in her seat with excitement. You would have thought that she had received a gift. Alice's little fingers slid the envelope open and her eyes grew wide as she pulled the airline voucher in to view. "It's a honeymoon of your choice!" Bella screamed with excitement.
Alice smiled as the paper fell to the floor and the two girls jumped and bounced like the ten year old versions of themselves. Jasper looked to me with questioning eyes, "This is all Bella's doing man, I had nothing to do with it, I swear." I raised my hands in defeat.
New energy had risen Bells from her sleepy state, she was bounding and bouncing as we walked our friends to their car and were finally, alone at last! Relieved, I wrapped my arm around Bella and led her back into the house that twinkled and shined with Christmas joy. "Now my Darling wife, I do believe that I owe you a foot rub..." I winked playfully at her with a crooked grin and escorted her to the living room.
Bella sprawled out on the sofa and placed her tired and sore feet in my lap as I began to work my magic. "As always, you did an amazing job with dinner, Love. Thank you." Bella nuzzled herself into the fluffy folds of the couch with a big grin on her face.
"You know me Edward, if my nose hasn't been buried in a book lately, I have been in the kitchen baking, or cleaning, Nesting, what can I say. I just can't seem to sit still these days." She yawned through her words as all of her hard work had obviously exhausted her.
"Uh huh!" I shook my head at her, "I am sure it has nothing to do with being nine months pregnant." I smiled with delight at the thought of soon meeting our child as sleep started to pull its embrace over her.
"Nope, nothing to do with it, you know me, stubborn as a mule." She quipped.
"Come one Bells; let's get you upstairs to bed." I insisted but she shook her head in protest.
"I like the lights on the tree, there is something comforting about all the twinkling lights. Besides, I am not tired," she responded through yawns.
I knew that this was a battle that I had no chance of winning so I seized the opportunity to change the subject, "That was quite a gift that you gave Alice and Jasper. Were you serious about getting your license to marry them yourself?"
"You know I am. So help me, I will see those two married if it is the last thing I do!" She smiled playfully at me and I didn't doubt her in the least.
"I couldn't help but notice there were two envelopes on the end table, what's in the other one?" I motioned toward the table at the other end of the sofa, the letter had been sitting there for a few days and I have been insane with curiosity.
"Huh? Oh that... just some test results the doctor gave me the other day." She said calmly.
My Interest was piqued as she hadn't mentioned anything about any more tests and a light went off in my head about the timing and what those tests might be, "and are you going to tell me or am I going to have to pry it out of you?" I tickled her foot playfully to encourage a response.
"Don't know, haven't opened it yet." She shrugged and I was shocked, I would have thought that she would have torn into it the second she held it in her hands.
"Is there some reason that you haven't opened it? Did they say that it was something to worry about?"
"Not exactly, he just said to open it when I felt ready," she answered calmly as if she was telling me what she ate for breakfast
"Bella, you know what this could mean don't you? The results in that envelope will finally put everything behind us for good; it is the final piece to the puzzle. Don't you want to know?"
"I don't need to see words on paper to know what is in my heart Edward. Everything is fine, I just know it."
I struggled to wrap my thoughts around her assumptions but they were her results and I didn't want to press the matter and ruin our perfect Christmas on the off chance that it was bad news.
It was three in the morning when Bella woke with her feet still in my lap. We had both fallen asleep in the den watching the twinkling Christmas lights. She gently rose from the sofa thinking that I hadn't noticed as she made her way to the kitchen where she served herself a slice of pumpkin pie with a healthy serving of whipped cream. I chuckled quietly as I recognized the telltale sound of the fridge opening.
Quietly, I walked to the kitchen and stopped to lean against the wall as and watch my wife standing in front of the double glass doors that lead to the yard. The curtains were open and the moon was full as is glistened like diamonds on the fresh snow. Slowly, I walked toward her and wrapped my arms tenderly around her as we both stared at the night sky and marvelled at the vastness of the universe.
"Merry Christmas, Bella." I whispered in her ear as I slowly pulled one final gift out of my pocket that I had been saving for a tender moment when we were finally alone.
The little blue box sat in Bella's hands like treasure as she turned and smiled warmly up at me, "We already exchanged Christmas gifts, what is this?"
"It isn't a Christmas gift exactly, just something that I wanted you to have. You have been so brave and strong, Bella, and you have overcome so much that I wanted you to always have a reminder of that strength." She lifted the lid on the box and pulled out the velvet inner box and opened the lid slowly. The platinum shone under the moonlight as I fastened the delicate charm bracelet around her wrist and she smiled as she looked at the single charm attached. It was a small platinum skeleton key. "It is a key to remind you that even when your world seemed lost to you, you held the key all along and you still and forever will hold the key to my heart."
"Thank you Edward, it's beautiful." She played with the tiny key that dangled on her wrist as she took my hand in hers, "come on, let's go to bed."
Hand in hand we walked up the stairs to the master bedroom and slipped under the covers holding on to each other for dear life. We felt warm and safe but most importantly we were together.
It had been a long and exhausting day but a good one and sleep quickly took me as I was having the most pleasant dream; we were on a tropical holiday and wading in the warm ocean waters as we ran and laughed splashing in the warm waters without a care in the world. Bella tripped on a rock hidden in the sand and we both fell to the ground atop the warm sand as I wrapped my arms around her, our lips met under a purple sunset of warmth. I awoke from the pleasant dream as the lips that I had been imagining were real and brushing warmly against my jaw.
"Its late sweetheart, you should get some rest." I suggested to my wife who was trying to seduce me for the first time since I had almost lost her weeks ago.
"I told you that I can't sit still these days, Edward."
"Can I get you something Love; do you want a book to read or something?" I yawned to her knowing all too well what she wanted and I hated to be the one to constantly remind her of certain restrictions.
She did not answer me with words as I felt fire burning in my chest as she climbed atop me in all of her rounded beauty. "Bella, what are you doing, Love?" I smiled at her.
"What do you think I am doing Mr. Masen? I am seducing my husband."
"I can see that, Love but what about what the doctor said?" I had a feeling that there would be no stopping her tonight and for once I wasn't sure if I wanted to.
"Edward Masen, will you please make love to me. I want to... no; I need to feel my skin against yours again." She whispered as she bent down and kissed me passionately.
"Are you sure Love? I just want to make certain that this is truly what you want. I don't want to rush you or push you in any way." I fought to get out the words between her kisses.
"I have never wanted anything more in my life, Edward. Do I have to drag you downstairs to the piano to convince you?" She looked up at me and smiled teasingly, knowing one of my weaknesses.
"Well, there is something downstairs that might make me feel a little better first... the envelope." I suggested with a nod of my head.
"Fine... I will go read it if that will convince you that I am ready." She rose from the bed in a huff and left the room. I chuckled as I could hear each step she took down the stairs one at a time in frustration.
In a moment of delight I knew that my Bella was without a doubt completely back to herself, as stubborn and frustrating as she could be, I wouldn't have her any other way. She had been gone a few minutes when I heard her call my name from the landing at the bottom of the stairs. Excitedly, I slipped on my robe and had a twisted thought that maybe she hadn't been joking about the piano, and the thought was highly appealing.
I made it to the bottom step when I noticed the open envelope on the coffee table but I did not see Bella in the room as I had expected. "Isabella, where are you, Love?" I smiled assuming that she must have had another late night craving. The envelope was calling to me and I had to know so I slipped over to the table and picked the paper up that delivered me the world's greatest news and shook the remaining cobwebs from my soul, Negative!
"Bella, Come in here, you can have pie later!" I shouted excitedly to her and as she rounded the corner from the kitchen she had a worried look on her face. "Hey, Honey, what's wrong, you read this right? Negative! Isn't that amazing, Sweetheart! There is nothing else to worry about, you are healthy, you are both healthy!" I rushed over to her lifting her up in a massive bear hug and swung her around the room in delight. "Put me down Edward. Please."
"Are you alright Love, you should be celebrating this moment. Oh ,Bella, this is wonderful." I pulled her in to a tight hug as I marvelled in the joy I felt.
"Well, I think we are going to be celebrating more than just health." She smiled awkwardly.
I wrinkled my brow at my wife in confusion, "what could we possibly celebrate that is more important than health, Love?"
"How about becoming parent... my water just broke."
I woke late one February morning to find that my husband and baby were not in the bedroom with me. Edward had obviously thought that I needed the extra sleep and had taken our sweet Angel downstairs. Though I was exhausted and drained, I felt a bounce in my step as I quickly dressed and Iwent down to find them.
Parenthood had changed us more than we had thought it would. There was no more dwelling on the past or nightmares of dark alleys and poisonous flowers. I no longer feared keys or leather and we both looked forward to the future and to days that I would soon be spending in my garden once the ground finally thawed and the rains stopped.
As my foot landed on the bottom step I heard a sweet sound floating from the den that brought warmth to my already filled heart. Edward was playing his piano and it was a song that I would know anywhere; it had been living in my heart for months and now filled our home.
Quietly, I popped my head through the door where I saw my amazing husband sitting at his shiny black piano with our daughter sitting in her bouncy chair atop the piano cooing and watching her father intently. Edward did not notice me enter the room as I stood behind him and took in the sight.
"Elizabeth Rose Masen, I wrote this song for you sweetheart. From the moment that I knew you existed, this song has filled my heart and it is everything that you are my little girl." The song was over and he picked up the baby tenderly in his long arms and cradled her gently as they walked over to the window and showed her the splendid greens of the outside world.
"Do you see that swing there? When you are bigger, Mommy and Daddy are going to sit there with you and we will watch the sunset together, my little Love Bug." Elizabeth squirmed and stretched as she let out a big yawn in his arms. "Are you tired little one? Daddy thought he would sneak you down here so that Mommy could sleep in. Your Mom is an amazing woman you know, she is the strongest person I have ever known and I hope that when you are all grown up that you will be just like her. You and Mommy mean the world to Daddy and I will always protect you, Sweetheart, but most importantly, I will always love you." Edward started to sway as he gently tried to rock the tired child back to sleep and I stood there watching and silently marvelling at my family.
Gently, he sung to his daughter about how love was like a rose and even in winter the snow gives would give way with the warmth of spring and even the smallest seed becomes a Rose. I thought it fitting that Edward had chosen to give his daughter the middle name of his cousin that had taught him so much about life. Her first name had come to us the moment we laid our eyes on her, she was a splitting imagine of Edward's mother and he wanted to honour her. She had my wavy brown hair and her father's stunning green eyes that spoke to my soul with each little bat of her eyelashes.
Two months had passed since we had laid Rosalie to rest and for both of us it had been a bitter sweet day. It took losing his past for him to truly look forward to the future and even thought we would never forget the hurtful mistakes that Rose had made along the way, she had taught us an important life lesson, you may not always like the family that you are given but you will always love them. In death, Rose saved my and now Elizabeth's life and we never wanted to forget how precious that gift was.
I walked over to my little family and placed one hand on Edward's shoulder and the other on our daughter's tiny chest. He wrapped his free arm around me and we were all encompassed in the warmth of a warm and loving hug. "She is a lucky girl to have you for a father, Edward."
I looked up, smiling at my husband and daughter as he invited us both to sit beside him at the piano. I cradled Elizabeth in my arms as I saw Edward's fingers melt into the keys as he played the lullaby again that he had written for our daughter, and as she slept soundly in my arms, Edward and I smiled at each other warmly with love and delight.
A/N Thank-you to everyone that has read this story and sent words of encouragement over the course of It all Falls down. i am sorry that it took so long to get this to you but I had to complete my first novel and I am proud to say that I had done that and it currently in the process of being edited in Chicago!!! So as my hard work sits thousands of miles away from me, I had to finish this for all of you.