Chapter 42

Life from that point on wasn't without its usual hurdles, but it was considerably less dramatic.

Carlisle and Bella continued to get closer as their bond grew stronger, and eventually the small town of Forks accepted them as a couple.

Charlie and Carlisle got along well, and he could clearly see that the doctor treated his daughter better than even he could. He was never prouder than when Bella told him that she'd gotten into the pre-med program at Johns Hopkins University.

Bella and Alice graduated on a cloudy day in June and all of the Cullens and Swans were there, cheering loudly. Renee finally met Carlisle and after the initial shock at his dazzling good looks, he turned on the charm and had her immediate approval.

That night at dinner, Carlisle knelt down on one knee and proposed to Bella in front of the entire family. She tackled him with a hug and a kiss in her enthusiastic response.

Bella smiled at the memory and looked down at the ring on her finger. She detested gaudy over-the-top jewelry, and Carlisle had known that. The ring he'd given her was simple, but gorgeous, and she never took it off.

She felt a hand intertwine with hers and looked at Carlisle with a content smile.

"I love you." He said simply.

She grinned.

"I love you more."

"Let's not start that again." He chuckled. "Are you excited about Hopkins?"

"More nervous than excited right now. I'm not sure I'm Johns Hopkins-caliber. I could've just gone to a state school you know. You wouldn't have had to donate such a large library."

Carlisle laughed.

"That might be true, but I only want the best for you and as far as pre-med goes, Hopkins is the best. I'm sure you'll do fine, love."

Bella rolled her eyes halfheartedly.

"If you say so."

He grinned.

"I do."

She turned her gaze out the rounded airplane window with a small sigh. The entire Cullen family was on its way to live with Bella as she went through college. Even Jacob would be visiting from time to time, whenever he could get away. He seemed to have accepted the Cullens, her family, as something more than just bloodsuckers. And she hoped that he would accept her when the time came for her to join them.

Initially with Edward she had wanted to be turned immediately, as soon as possible, but that had more to do with how they were as a couple. She always felt like she was going to lose him and that becoming like him would solve that problem. But with Carlisle things were different. She knew that he would never leave her and that she was free to live as a human for as long as she wished.

They'd decided to have the wedding after she finished her sophomore year at Hopkins, and Alice was already begging to be the planner. Some of the Cullens were surprised that the couple would remain engaged for so long, but neither Bella nor Carlisle were in a rush to marry. They were content to simply be together, and they were willing to wait to tie the knot.

They had also talked about when Bella wanted to be changed, and thought the time was not set in stone and could easily be changed, Bella seemed set on it happening after her college graduation. Carlisle tried to convince her to wait until after medical school, but she was very adamant that she didn't want to be any older than he was when he'd been turned. According to Bella, she'd never be able to live down the fact that she would be older than one of the oldest vampires in the world.

She glanced back at the other Cullen couples behind her and smiled when she caught Esme's eye, but she was reminded again that part of the family was still missing in action. Edward's absence was still painful, and she hated herself for hurting him.

The only thing that helped was Alice's continual reassurances that he would come back one day. Well, that and the constant flow of love and affection that she received from the whole family and especially from Carlisle.

He was the perfect man, her own personal angel. They had only been together a few months and she already knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that she wanted to spend eternity with him, and that he would never leave her side.

The plane jolted below her as it touched down and minutes later the pilots had parked it next to the terminal and the passengers had been given the okay to stand up and begin heading into the airport.

Carlisle was standing next to her with her carry-on in town. He held out his free hand and smiled.

"Ready love?"

Bella grinned and laced her fingers with him.

"More than you know."

The Last AN!: Wow. That's it. That is all she wrote. I actually can't believe that it's over. i've spent just over a year on this fic. it's my baby. i'm a little proud that i finished it and managed to get the whole thing posted.

I want to let all of you readers and reviewers know that i am eternally greatful for all of your support and kind words over the last 42 chapters. You guys kept me going and i couldn't have finished it without you.

I may do a sequel, but at this point i'm really not sure. I need a little time off and i'm working on a few other things. I might also post a companion one shot. there's an idea that's been bouncing around in my head, but i'll have to flesh it out a little more first.

Anyway, i'll keep you all posted on my future projects and i hope to hear from you guys again in that future. e-mail me if you want or PM me. i love talking to all of you. :)

So, I will bid you a final farewell.
I love you guys.
-Kristi (The Author WMEN)