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Author's Note: GentleFlame and sassygirl156 are much too amazing. Thank you, ladies!

Chapter Fourteen

Returning home from vacation always resulted in mixed feelings for me. On one hand you're glad to be back home, and on the other you wanted to spend just a few more days away. Coming from the warm ocean breeze back to frigid winter air was not appealing to me in the least. Bella had work the day after we returned, and spent a few days at her apartment alone. Not wanting to invade or crowd her personal space I didn't put up a fuss about it. Going a few days without seeing her made today that much better. To top it off, we were celebrating the New Year with our friends.

"I'm going to look like a heifer next to Rose and Alice pretty soon," Bella grumbled, pulling up a pair of her jeans. She attempted to button them and grimaced. "Who thought skinny jeans were a good idea?"

I resisted the urge to chuckle as she pushed her pants back down, frustrated.

"Relax, Bella. You were beautiful before the pregnancy, you're beautiful now, and I'm positive you'll be completely astonishing after," I walked behind her where she stood in front of the mirror with only her shirt on. "Try wearing a regular pair of jeans, not ones that have the word skinny in their title. Even though the only thing preventing you from buttoning them is your little belly."

I kissed her softly on the shoulder before she went to the closet to find something else to wear.

Thirty minutes later it was only nine o'clock and we had already taken the elevator up to Emmett's place. I spotted Rosalie and Alice inside, and a guy that must have been Jasper with his arms wrapped around her. There were a few other people I recognized as acquaintances of Emmett's and some that I would even venture so far as to call a friend.

"Glad you two could make it. Did you enjoy your trip, Bella?" Emmett asked once we were inside.

"I loved it," she grinned. "How have you been treating my girl?"

"Like a fucking princess," he told her. "No one ever told me she liked cars, too. As if being a model wasn't hot enough."

"You're both superficial—a match made in heaven," Bella joked. "Come on, Edward. You still haven't met Jasper."

I allowed Bella to pull me to where Alice and Jasper stood.

"Jasper, Edward. Edward, Jasper."

I shook his extended hand firmly.

"It's nice to finally meet you," he said.

"Likewise."

The girls said something about grabbing some snacks—it was probably Bella's idea—and left to the kitchen.

"She promised she wouldn't ditch me tonight," Jasper said, smiling as he watched Alice and Bella until they were out of sight.

"Women," I replied. "Let's grab a drink."

He nodded and we walked to the bar where a hired bartender was mixing drinks. Emmett really went all out for his parties.

I ordered a Bud Light and Jasper got the same. We spent close to an hour out on the balcony talking. I learned that Jasper had just returned from the army and while he was away Bella and Alice usually spent every spare moment together. They were practically both living in Bella's apartment until he had returned. He was in the army, which I guess explained why Bella took the photographs at the Pearl Harbor exhibit to show him. He began digging around in his pockets and produced a pack of cigarettes, offering one to me. I accepted thankfully.

"Bella's like a sister to me," he said. "I owe her a lot for keeping Alice sane while I was away. I'd do anything for her."

"So would I," I murmured, exhaling a cloud of smoke.

"She's been through a lot. After everything with her father and mother…then deciding to move out to New York basically on her own. I think you're good for her, though. I mean, the situation isn't normal by any means but you're both dealing with it rather well."

"Sorry to interrupt 'Guy Time', but Edward, could I steal you for a second?" Bella came out onto the balcony, and I instinctively tossed my cigarette over the edge, not wanting her to be around it.

"Of course," Jasper nodded. "Where's my girl?"

"Getting into trouble," Bella shrugged, grinning up at him.

"As usual," he chuckled before walking back inside the house.

"Hey," I said softly.

"Hey," she replied, stepping closer to me. "I think I had an epiphany."

"You think you had an epiphany? About what, pray tell?"

She sighed deeply, leaning against the rail and looking down at the street below.

"I was talking to Alice about everything with my dad and she started going on about bringing the baby into the world with positive energies or whatever she learned in her yoga class and it got me thinking. We don't want to bring a baby into this world amongst negativity. We're up against the world as it is, and with this being new years and all…I'm going to be totally cliché and say we each need to make a new years resolution."

"To…?" I probed.

"Forgive and forget." She replied simply. "If you talk things out with your parents—at least do something on your part…I'll talk to Charlie."

"You will?" I sounded surprised.

She nodded. "I think I've put off talking to him for long enough. Four years is a long time and…I love my dad, nothing will ever change that but I've been so mad at him ever since my mother's death. I never even gave him a chance to explain."

"Stubborn."

"To the core," she looked over at me, offering a smile. "Will you?"

"Will you come talk to my parents with me?

"Do you think it would be wise?"

I shrugged. "They have to come to terms with it."

"Okay."

"You'll come?"

"If that's what you want, I'll be by your side."

"I wouldn't have it any other way," I pulled her towards me and wrapped my arms around her.

"Cigarette stench," she scrunched up her nose, backing away.

"I'm quitting."

"You are?" Her eyebrows rose. "Since when?"

"Just now," I grinned. "You put me in the mood to make some changes."

She gave me a quick kiss on the lips before wrapping her arms around my waist.

We stayed out on the balcony for a little while longer before joining everyone inside again. I had a few more beers and Bella bragged that her tame Iced-Tea was much better. At 11:55 everyone was gathered together for the countdown. At 11:59 and 50 seconds we all chanted away the remaining moments of 2012.

My eyes were locked on Bella, and I couldn't think of any other way I'd rather bring in a new year.


Siobhan.

Siobhan was extremely chipper. She was the instructor of our first Lamaze class and made Alice seem mellow—which was saying a lot. A lot.

"Having a baby is fun!" She exclaimed, clapping her hands together. "It is the most wonderful and exciting experience a woman will go through in her life. From the baby's first kick, first hiccup, first breath—it's beautiful. They learn something new every day, while they're still in the womb!" She pulled a project screen down in the front of the room. "While I get things set up, I'd like for everyone to stand up and introduce themselves. We'll go around in a circle, starting with you two."

"I'm Jane, and this is Dimitri. This is our first pregnancy and we're expecting twins." The small, blonde woman said.

"Wonderful to meet you. Next," the instructor said.

There were various couples in the room of different ages and all of the women were at different stages of their pregnancy.

"This is Edward, and I'm Bella. I'm almost five months, I believe. To sum it up, we're first time parents and scared shitless."

The room erupted with laughter at her words.

"It's only natural," Siobhan assured her. "It's a pleasure to have you all in the class. Now, if you would all redirect your gaze to the screen. We will be watching a natural birth video."

The lights shut off and the room was quiet. The projector displayed an image of a naked woman in a bathtub full of water with her legs spread apart and brought up close to her chest.

"Breathe, baby, just like we practiced, remember?" The man holding her hand said.

"It hurts," she groaned, "It hurts so bad."

"Think of the end result. Our baby girl. We're going to meet her very soon."

The nurse instructed her to begin pushing again and she let out a whale of a scream. The camera was moved, then readjusted to show what was happening beneath the water. I looked over at Bella, noticing her face had turned pale and she had crossed her legs instinctively.

"Oh. My. God." She said quietly.

"You're crowning. Give me two more good pushes and your baby will be out. On three. One, two, three. Push!"

The woman grunted, groaned, screamed, all at once as she pushed until she was instructed to stop.

I felt my stomach start to turn at the sight of the baby coming out. This was supposed to be beautiful? It was like watching a horror movie. An overly grotesque horror movie.

"You're almost there, baby." The husband spoke up again.

"One more long push. One, two, three, push!" The doctor coached again.

My eyes opened wide as she pushed and it honestly looked like a baby came sliding out of her vagina and into the water. Holy fucking shit.

The woman leaned up slightly, looking down into the bathtub and at her baby, tears immediately forming in her eyes as she sobbed.

The video was paused then and the lights came back on.

"I'm going to kill Alice," Bella said through gritted teeth.

"How many of you are planning to have a natural birth?" Siobhan asked.

More than half of the women raised their hand—Bella did not.

"That's wonderful, it truly is. I assume the rest of you will be opting for an epidural? I know some women are afraid of that kind of excruciating pain but ladies, just make sure you do your research on the subject matter. Those drugs that they inject you with will be passed through you to your child and can be potentially harmful."

Bella looked over at me and shrugged her shoulders. I wanted to talk with her more about that.

For the remainder of the class Siobhan explained to us how the baby would turn around to make its entry into the world, and then she had us practice some breathing exercises. As we did, I realized Bella's stomach had grown even more since we returned from our vacation. Was that possible? In just two weeks? It was difficult for me to see the growth on a daily basis, but every now and then when I'd get a good look at it—from a different angle or depending on what she was wearing—it seemed bigger.

The last thing before the end of the class was a Power Point presentation on the project once again. The information was all very textbook, but it covered a range of topics. It discussed premature labor versus real labor signs, more horrific images of the birthing process, epidurals, and pushing techniques. Siobhan also suggested everyone take a tour of the labor and delivery sections of their chosen hospital and I made a mental note to set a date for that as soon as possible. Were there really only four months before our baby would be born? Where had the previous five months gone? Though, granted for one of them I knew nothing about the pregnancy and another was almost entirely spent without having Bella speaking to me.

At the end of the class they brought out muffins and an assortment of drinks for the couples. Bella stocked up on the blueberry and chocolate chip muffins as I settled for a cup of orange juice.

"How did you like the class?"

I nearly jumped, not noticing chipper Siobhan standing next to us.

"It was good," I replied. "Very informative."

Bella nodded her agreement.

"Good," she smiled—again. "It's hard to believe you're almost five months, you're so tiny!"

"I don't feel tiny," Bella admitted.

"I've seen a lot of pregnant women in my line of work—trust me, you're still tiny. You can still see your feet can't you?" She reached out, touching Bella's stomach. "When they disappear, then you can say you don't feel tiny."

Bella laughed, putting her hands on both sides of her stomach which was probably the size of a child's soccer ball, rubbing it.

"Well, thank you for coming to the class, and I'm glad to have been able to teach you something. I look forward to seeing you at the next class. We'll talk about prepping your body for the birth."

"Thank you, Siobhan," Bella said, "You were amazing. See you in a few weeks."

I held Bella's hand as we left the building, walking to the car. I would have to thank Alice again for signing us up for that class. It gave me a better—and much more graphic than I would have liked—understanding of the childbirth process. It sounded and looked painful; the way Bella had grimaced assured me that I wasn't the only one feeling that way.

"That didn't scare you at all?" I asked as our hands swung idly between us.

"It terrified me, honestly. Just seeing that makes me want to keep this baby inside of me as long as possible."

"So you'll be having an epidural then?"

She shrugged. "Maybe, maybe not. I don't know…I thought I would but…did you see the size of that needle in the presentation? It looked terrifying."

Even the part that was supposed to ease the pain looked painful. I shuddered at the thought of having a twelve inch needle poked into my spine. I had a newfound respect for all mothers, and I couldn't help but feel guilty for some reason. Probably because I had the easy job; all I did was get her pregnant. She had to suffer in ways I probably would never understand. Thank God for my anatomy.

We had a rather intense day planned. Going from the class we headed straight to my parents home, our conversation slowly dying down as we neared our destination.

"Are you ready?" I asked when we were parked in front.

She nodded. "Are you?"

"As I'll ever be."

I steadied my breathing as we stood outside the familiar doors, my left hand knocking as Bella squeezed my right. My mother and father had agreed to meet us for lunch and I had been dreading it all week—fearing the worst. Of course I wanted my parents to be okay with everything going on, but after seeing that side of them I wasn't really sure what to expect at all.

"Edward!" My mother greeted as soon as she opened the door.

"Mom," I replied curtly.

"Isabella." Her tone was still polite and she offered a reassuring smile. "Come inside, please."


Where did the rest of the chapter go!? Ah, damn cliffhangers!

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