Final Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot idea. Thanks for letting me borrow the people!
Oh, and check out my profile, it has some links to some editing I did with Twilight pictures.
Epilogue- 1 and a half years later
My foot tapped restlessly. I was very nervous for multiple reasons.
First, I was graduating college. I was about to step out into the real world, leaving the comfortable familiarity of schoolwork, classes and predetermined schedules.
Second, my wedding was only a few weeks away. I was getting married to the most perfect person in the world. I was soon to be Mrs. Edward Cullen….I couldn't believe it! I glanced down at my engagement ring. It was a beautifully cut single diamond set in a platinum band and it sparkle underneath the lights in the student theater. I looked around at the sea of faces surrounding me. All the graduating students wore black cap and gowns with different colored tassels, based on your major. Since it was a winter graduation, the group was smaller than it would have been if I was graduating in the spring, but that also meant we were expected to give a small speech when we accepted our diploma.
Which brings me to my third reason for being nervous public speaking and….I was wearing heels.
Alice insisted on dressing me for graduation. She knew if I had a choice I would have worn a t-shirt and jeans under my gown. No one would really see anything anyways, what did it matter?
So I was wearing a sleeveless black cocktail style dress with matching 2-inch heels. My black pea coat was with Edward, who had to sit with everyone else in the family section. Despite my protests, I was made to sit with the rest of the graduates in a separate section of the theater. I turned slightly in my seat, looking over my shoulder. I had been trying for several minutes to locate Edward, but there were just too many people.
When I felt the paper I had written my speech on crumple under my clenched fingers, I realized I needed to calm down…fast. The last guest speaker was winding down her seemingly endless talk. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine Edward's hand on mine. I pictured the night he asked me to marry him, only a short year ago, a smile already forming on my lips.
Everyone was out to dinner, celebrating Edward's graduation. He was still wearing his dark blue suit but had shed his tie and undone the top few buttons. I couldn't stop staring at him. I watched his face light up and his laughter boomed across the room at something Emmett said. He turned to explain the story behind the joke to his mother and father. I still couldn't get over how young and attractive they both were! Edward had his father's fine features, but his mother's eyes and hair color. I thought it was a shame they only had one child, when they could have produced a whole line of perfectly featured children.
I was lucky to snag the one they had.
Edward turned to me and gave me the sweetest, softest smile. I returned it, "Having fun?" I asked. He grabbed my hand and I watched the light shine on his new silver watch. It was a graduation present from me. I had it engraved on the back:
'Enough for forever. All my love, Bella'
He had tears running down his face when I gave it to him.
"I have never been happier," he responded to my question.
Most of us lingered over dinner, with Edward's parents swapping embarrassing stories with Emmett and Rosalie. Edward reddened when his mother mentioned a temper tantrum he had in the middle of the mall when he was three.
Emmett apparently had one to match that, "Oh yeah? Let me tell you about how Jasper almost got his butt kicked by Edward! He pretended to hit on Bella when it looked like Edward wasn't going to make his move for her himself…."
I turned to look at Jasper, only to realize he and Alice had left. I looked to Edward, "Where did they go?"
He just shrugged and I let it go.
After we dropped his parents back off at the hotel, Edward asked if I would come with him back to his house. We had been spending a lot of time there, since he had the most privacy…and the bigger bed.
The night was thick and cold as we walked in through the side door. He took off my coat then ran his hands over my bare arms. My strapless red dress left a lot of skin exposed, and Edward had promised to kiss every inch of that skin. My hair was piled up on my head in a thick mass of curls, and I was thankful of that as his breath moved across the nape of my neck and then behind my ear. I turned around and face him, hunger evident in both of our eyes. His lips burned across mine, teasing me further. I wanted no more of that, I wrapped my arms around his neck and slanted my mouth over his, sweeping my tongue against his. He moaned, but didn't break the kiss as he swept me up into his arms. Even though I had long ago gotten rid of my brace and crutches, he still carried me whenever he could. He did so now, taking us quickly up the flight of stairs leading to his bedroom. When he set me on my feet, we were just inside the bedroom entryway…too far from the bed in my opinion. I grabbed his hand and started to lead him to my goal.
I turned back and looked questionably at him when I felt resistance. He gave me my smile…the smile that curls my toes…the smile I fell in love with. He put one hand on my bared shoulder, caressing lightly, and one hand on my lower back. He then slowly moved me backwards until I felt the cool glass from the bedroom window against my back. He didn't say anything, just deeply stared into my eyes, then turned me to face the window.
The window overlooks the small backyard, usually pitch black at night. Tonight, it was glowing. I gasped at the pure radiance of hundreds of candles inside sparkling glass votives scattered through the yard. I cried when I read what the candles were arranged in:
Will You Marry Me?
My hand flew to my mouth, and that reminded me to breath. My breath fogged the window slightly, and the candles blurred in my tear filled vision. I turned to Edward, only to see that he was now down on one knee, holding a small black velvet box…with the most exquisite ring inside.
"Bella, be with me? Forever?" His voice was husky with emotion, and a single tear fell down his cheek.
I sank to my knees as well, grabbed his face between my hands and kissed the tear away. I moved to his lips and felt him wrap his arms around me. But then he pulled back suddenly, "Wait…is that a yes?"
I laughed and cried at the same time, "Of course! Forever…"
We made love that night and didn't sleep until the light of breaking dawn shone across our intertwined bodies.
I sighed at the memory, much calmer. Alice and Jasper had helped Edward set up the candles that night, and to thank them they were made our best man and maid of honor. Their wedding was in the spring of next year, not too long before Rosalie and Emmett's.
I had turned most of the wedding plans over to my two best friends, being that my mother was still MIA, but with the day growing closer my tension increased.
I required Edward to be around to calm me down…a lot. He was okay with that.
My heartbeat picked up as my section stood. We were supposed to line up single file next to the stage, and then walk up one at a time onto the stage and get our diploma and make our speech. I eyed the microphone warily. I had managed to avoid all forms of public speaking up until this point. As I approached the stage, my face was flaming already. Part of it was nerves of course, but the other part is remembering the night Edward and I spent along on this stage.
"Isabella Marie Swan. Bachelor of Science, Animal Science and Bachelor of Science, Zoology. Also, a minor in Genetics." The dean called over the microphone.
I blinked out of my memories and took the first step onto the stage…and stumbled.
There wasn't anyway to hope that no one saw that, I just comforted myself by being thankful I didn't fall and concentrated on keeping it that way as I made my way across the stage. I reached the dean and took my diploma in one hand and shook his hand with the other. "Congratulations." He smiled and ushered me to stand in front of the microphone. I stood wide-eyed looking over the crowd. I felt a knot form in my throat and I hastily unfolded the speech crumpled in my hand. I blinked down at it, horrified to see that almost all the words had been smudged from the continuous abuse I had inflicted upon the paper all evening. I looked back to the sea of faces, as if something to say would magically appear in front of me. I started to feel very lightheaded and that made me panic, thinking of passing out in front of hundreds of my peers and total strangers. Just as I had resigned to the fact that this would end badly…Edward stood up.
He was crammed in between people near the back of the family seating. He stood straight up, and smiled at me…looking like a perfect piece of art displayed in the middle of a seated crowd. A lot of people turned in their seats to gawk at the man just standing there, but he didn't take his loving gaze off of me.
I felt my lips turn up slightly. I didn't blink, didn't take my eyes off of him for a second. I dropped my useless paper to the floor and licked my lips.
"Everyone says that college will be the best years of your life. I am not so sure about that." I swallowed the lump in my throat, making my voice stronger.
"I had nothing to compare this life to. Before I came here, I wasn't living…I was merely existing. My dad took me in and gave me everything he had and I will always be grateful for that and I love him very much. But it was just recently that I started actually living. In a way, Bella Swan was born here. I started out on my own and thought I was content. Then I met the two most wonderful girls, my best friends. Alice and Rosalie adopted me and made me a part of their family. For the first time I had two sisters and two brothers and I felt a part of something. Still, I thought I was content.
"But my heart didn't start beating until the day I met the love of my life."
I saw Edward grin and I returned it.
"I limped into his life, and by some miracle he didn't let me leave. These past couple of years have been wonderful, and as far as I am concerned…they are the only years I have ever really lived.
However, I don't think they will be the best years of my life. I think the best is yet to come. Soon I will be married to a man who has no idea how much I really love him. We will move to San Diego and I will pursue a career at the San Diego Zoo. My future husband will continue to astound the world with his wonderful music, and my past and future families will stay with my heart no matter where we go."
I poured all my love into my gaze directly at Edward. "Thank you…for my life."
I quickly walked down the steps off the stage, narrowly avoiding a spill.
The applause was embarrassing, even though they clapped for every graduate.
After the last student gave her speech the dean returned to the microphone, "Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the graduating class of the College of Agriculture and Life Science at North Carolina State University."
Friends and family stood up and cheered as my fellow classmates and I moved our tassels to the side and then tossed out caps into the air. I hugged a classmate or two and then pushed my way through the crowd, looking for Edward's bronze hair like a beacon in the night. He reached me halfway down the crowded aisle. I laughed as he lifted me up into his arms and spun me around. After giving me a hard but chaste kiss he pressed his mouth against my ear, "I am so proud of you. I love you Bella."
I pulled him tight against me, "I love you too."
I was pulled away by another set of arms. I gasped in surprise, "Dad!"
Charlie beamed down at me, dressed in his old but finest Sunday suit. "Surprise honey!"
"I didn't think you could make it!" I felt tears trickle down my cheeks.
He turned and pointed up the aisle and I saw Esme and Carlilse smiling and waving at me, their arms around each other's waists. "Edward's parents brought me in as sort of a graduation present for you. Real nice folks."
I didn't think my heart could be any fuller than it was at that moment.
I was passed around for hugs and kisses but my hand never left Edward's. As we walked out of the building into the bright afternoon, he turned and smiled down at me. I didn't feel any sadness at leaving my college life behind. I am bringing the best part of my life here with me to my future. As the years passed we often came back to Raleigh to walk around campus, hand-in-hand, remembering the start of our lives. They were wonderful years of course, but they were not nearly the best. Each year I was with Edward and our new family was better than the last, and I will always remember the day I fell into his life…and started mine.
That's it! I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I had to give a speech for my graduation, and I included a little ditty about my boyfriend/fiancé too, but nothing as dramatic. And alas, I did not score some fancy job with a zoo and my husband is not a master composer…but he is a very very hot marine! OOOORAH! And he is the best at his job! I love him and he is my Edward Cullen. : )
Thanks so much for all the reviews and favorite story/author adds, you guys made this so much better than I thought it would be. I want to write another story, but I am going to wait until I get a good inspiration like I did this one, not just write for the sake of writing. I might move on to Bones in the mean time, so check back! THANK YOU! ~Jodi