I laid my head back and closed my eyes and for once I didn't see Victoria…or Kevin…or even Bella. There was just blackness…and peace. I liked it. I felt my lips smile as I enjoyed a true sensation of nothingness. There was no need to think right now. No worry, no fear, no sadness or anxiety. Nothing. I was enjoying it immensely and Bella was sweet enough to let me be, maybe looking out her window…maybe wondering what her life would become in Wyoming.
Then some whore part of me that still existed came up with the idea of taking Bella into the tiny bathroom at the end of the row and induct her into the mile high club. I frowned slightly at myself. How gross. Would I ever leave this part of me behind? Would it always be there, like a scar that would always remind me of what I was…what I could never escape?
I am on my way to a clean place…a good place…where my daughter and Tanya's parents are waiting for me to finally rejoin their family…and bring Bella into it. And I have bathroom sex on my mind. I shoved the image out of my head…of Bella sitting on the silver metal sink, her legs spread open as far as she could manage it in the narrow room, and me buried deep inside her, clutching her ass, thrusting and drowning her moans with my open mouth that took her lips captive into mine. Now that I see that image…it's not that disgusting. It's kinda hot, actually. But no, not this trip. It's not right.
Bella is right. I am going to need a doctor, someone I could tell these things to, with no fear of Bella hearing some of the sick things that roll around in my brain. Maybe it will be easier to tell these things to someone I have no emotional bond with. Someone I won't have to fear will look at me differently and recoil from me when it all got to be too much to bear. I do hold back a lot with Bella, afraid she'll see me for what I am. I can't do that anymore. I have to change. And then I'm afraid to change. Bella fell in love with me as I am now, why I have no idea, but she did. If I change, maybe she won't love who I change into.
So much for enjoying the darkness and nothingness. It never lasts very long, those little moments of blankness.
I opened my eyes and glanced past the marshals across from me, to find Bella at my right side, staring out at the earth far below us. I always love looking at things from this high up, as the plane readies to land. Everything looks so miniature, like a model someone built. Tiny little dots, cars, driving down the thin little line that's a highway. Little houses, lakes, mountains, grass, fields. This doesn't look like New York, that's for sure. It wasn't cluttered or crowded…it looked open and there's plenty of room for forests and hills and trees. I liked it right away, even from way up here.
"Looks like a nice place.", I said in a low whisper, just for Bella to hear, "We can make a good life here, together, all of us."
I prayed she agreed with my thoughts…I waited for her response, or even the way she looked at me in return.
She let out a little breath and turned to me, tears shining in her eyes. And she smiled at me. I shivered a little inside, so relieved and excited by it. It meant she wasn't regretting this, or me. That she wasn't angry for having to leave New York behind, along with all her dreams of graduating from NYU and having her career there, like she told me when we first met. It meant she was with me, with us – Katie and I, and Ben and Angela, no matter what. And then she spoke to me.
"We can make a good life anywhere, Edward, as long as we're all together.", she whispered back firmly. She held my hand and squeezed it gently.
"Don't worry, Edward.", Bella gave me a little smile, "We'll be great. It'll take work and time…but we'll all be fine. I'm not going anywhere. I'm with you, forever."
"But you love New York.", I began, ready to screw this up for myself already.
"I love you more.", she cut me off right away, putting her fingers to my lips and I loved the way her soft fingertips felt there. I puckered my lips and kissed the skin against them with pure love.
"I love you too, Bella.", I said as her fingers ghosted from my lips and down my cheekbone, "I love you so much. I'm so afraid I'm gonna screw this up."
"No, Edward.", she shook her head slightly, looking at me like a teacher looking at a first grader, "This is a whole new start, a second chance. Don't go into it like that. We'll take things one step at a time. We'll make up our own rules as we go along. And if we do make a mistake, we'll fix it. We don't have to be perfect, you know. No one is. It's our mistakes that teach us. "
I smiled, "Like your mistake of buying a toy?"
She frowned at me and then smirked at me.
"You're no mistake, Edward.", she said with no hint of hesitation, "And even if you were, I'd make it all over again. You have taught me so much. You have no idea."
I smiled and decided to tease her a little. I so loved doing that to her.
"Would you still pay twenty grand for me?", I smiled wider as I posed this question.
She returned my smile and added a little giggle to it.
"Definitely not.", she teased back.
Smiling more, I kissed her fingers and asked, "How much would you pay?"
"Hmmm.", she squinted, considering, "Well, the sex is incredible, I have to give you that."
I just laughed at that one.
"But you are a brat, that's for sure.", she continued, "Everything I know about you took forever to get out of you…and it was never easy learning all about Edward Cullen. And you definitely threw your share of tantrums."
So true. I was lucky if she said anything over $500.
"Wait, I think I have some change.", she grabbed her purse and began to reach into the bottom for some coins.
We both laughed as I playfully slapped her arm. I wish I had access to her ass to give that a nice swat.
"Just kidding, Eduardo.", she leaned in and kissed my lips, very soft.
"I know.", I kissed her back, wanting another one of those sweet kisses.
I heard the woman marshal mumble "Get a room" but I ignored it. Nothing could piss me off right now.
Bella whispered into my ear, "Making love to you – I could never put a price on that. There's not enough money in the world…loving you…I can never pay you enough for that."
I gave her a little kiss and said, "Maybe we can work something out. Maybe I can let you do it in installments. How's your credit score?"
She burst out laughing again, and we began play fighting.
"Punk.", she muttered.
I rested again after that, feeling so renewed. We will have a great life. Everything will be good. We'll make sure of it. I was starting to get more and more anxious to see Katie. It was really going to happen! I'd be going to bed tonight down the hall from her room. I'd get to tuck her in and kiss her goodnight. Maybe I'd fall asleep in her bed with her, watching Sponge Bob, if she'd allow me. I wondered if she'd be angry with me, for being gone for so long. Maybe I'd need to go slow with her, give her time to get to know me again. There'd be so much of my past I'd have to hide or just simply forget so I could be a good Dad for her again. I swore to myself to be patient, to be like Bella always was with me as I resisted her. I'd make myself worthy of Katie…and Bella. I swore it with every fiber of my being.
The slave whore is dead. Edward Cullen has risen from the grave and has one last chance to make things right. This is a brand new life. Thank you. Thank you Tanya, God, or whoever else might have had a hand in this. I know damn well this didn't just all happen by accident. Someone decided it was time to save me. And they did.
Before we landed, the male marshal told us that he couldn't give us specifics on our friends, but that Jasper and his family joined the program and were already safely away somewhere. Emmett, too. I hoped he got his wish and found that farm he was dreaming of. I laughed whenever I thought of him trying to milk a cow. Good Luck, my best friend…my brother. I hated it that I didn't get to say goodbye to them, but that's the way this program works.
But then, I already knew what Emmett would say. We don't need to have a big long goodbye to know how the other felt. He took care of me, every day, even if I didn't ask for it or seem to need it. He was there. He is my family, no matter where he is now. I hope that I was able to bring him some of the laughter and kindness that he so freely gave to me. I'll really miss him…and Jasper, too. It's a gift, having such friends when you're an owned whore who sells himself for money every day.
Alice and Rosalie didn't join the program. We were told that no one of James' family really knew anything of their involvement in all this, and they were able to stay in New York and keep pursuing their dreams. I was glad not every life would be forever changed because of me. Alice and Jasper went their separate ways and that made me a little sad. Maybe if they'd had more time, like Bella and I had, they'd have been madly in love, but their time together was too short, or maybe it just wasn't meant to be.
Bella said that Charlie would most likely be going home to Forks. And she whispered to me that she'd have to find some way of contacting him to let him know we were alright, even if was only a blank postcard or something. I knew that was against the rules of the program, but I couldn't argue with her.
I myself was thinking up a plan to let Joseph and Katherine know I was alive and well, too. But then my rational side argued against it, saying if anything went wrong, they'd find us. They'd kill us all, Katie, too. Why did this second chance have to be so hard? How could I truly be happy when in the back of my head, Katherine and Joseph were there, crying, thinking I was dead, just when I came back into their lives? I'd have to think more about this before I did anything.
We didn't linger long at the airport when we arrived. There was no luggage to pick up and the marshals quickly obtained us a rental car. It was a gray Mitsubishi Outlander with lots of room for us in the back seat while the marshals rode up front.
The sun was shining very happily above us and I noticed it was warm but not hot like it could feel in New York around this time of year. Also, there was a nice scent in the air. I couldn't tell you what it is but I noticed it and liked it instantly. It seemed to soothe me. I even opened the window on my side half way down so it would blow over my face and play with my hair as we began moving…going to Katie.
I don't know exactly why but I felt scared now. Katie was close by. We were going to see her now. I owed her some pretty huge apologies and explanations. What if she was mad at me? What if she hated me? Worse…what if she was indifferent to me? That would be the worst.
Bella reached over and held my hand. I looked into her face and saw a gentle smile waiting there for me. I tried to smile back but I'm sure she didn't buy it.
Something inside me wished that she wouldn't tell me how alright it was all going to be. For once, I didn't want any assurances. I just wanted her to be with me. And she was. She didn't say a word. I smiled a real little smile and then turned back to stare out the window.
I wanted to take in the town and the stores and the people walking around but all I could see was Katie. Ben and Angela had told me every detail of her every surgery and described how she looked after each one, but there was no way for me to see it firsthand. They offered to mail me pictures of her but I couldn't have my daughter's pictures being mailed to Fire. I didn't want any part of her in that place. The thought sickened me.
The last time I saw Katie's face it was badly scarred, although she never looked ugly or deformed to me. She couldn't. What would I say to her? She wasn't a little baby anymore. She'd be mad at me if I talked to her like she were still three years old. I'd have to be sure to treat her like the almost nine year old she is now. But I talked to her on the phone everyday, why am I so afraid now of how I'm talking to her? I am such a mess.
All too soon, the car stopped and the man at the wheel turned back to us.
"We're home.", he said with a little grin. The female marshal smiled more at Bella but neither of us made a move from our seats.
I looked and saw a cute little house with a nice sized front lawn, green and full. There was even a couple of golden tulips growing near the door. The house was white with a royal blue door, shutters to match. The number on it read 304. It was a two story house. Bedrooms upstairs.
There was a driveway for two cars and a closed garage on the side. All the houses on the street looked pretty much alike, a typical suburban neighborhood.
I just looked at it and felt my lips smile. The sun shone over it peacefully, almost lovingly. There seemed to be something special watching over the little place.
"I always wanted a sweet little home like this for Katie.", I heard myself confess in a soft voice, "I always loathed her being cooped up in our apartment on the ninth floor. Is there a back yard?"
"Sure.", the woman marshal answered, opening her car door, "Come on, we'll show you."
I tensed and froze.
Katie is in there. What if she's watching us right now?
"Go ahead, we'll be there in a second, okay?", Bella asked them. They gave a nod and exited the car, closing their doors as they strolled around the side of the house and went into the back yard, disappearing from view.
"I know.", Bella squeezed my hand.
"She should hate me.", I whispered, feeling tears prick my eyes.
"She won't.", Bella assured me, "You're Daddy. Take it from me, a daughter. We always love our Daddies, even if they screw up now and then."
"How are you always so sure?", I asked, almost defensively, "How do you know?"
"Daddy is the first man we fall in love with.", Bella informed, "And we never lose our first love."
I never thought of it that way. It's a nice sentiment.
"Come on, let's go see the back yard.", Bella opened her door and pulled me by my hand, not giving me the luxury of wallowing in my fears for too long.
Before I knew it, I was out of the car and walking at her side, not being dragged behind her, to the yard in back. The marshals were off a good distance away, to the left. The yard was a very nice size and I loved that. There was room to run back here…and there was a tall tree here, protecting the grounds. Hanging from one of its branches were three ropes holding a black tire horizontally, the open hole in the center so someone could sit upon it.
I smiled more.
"Katie loved to swing.", I recalled verbally before I realized I was doing it.
I seemed to be slightly out of it, picturing a three year old Katie running and playing here…asking me to push her. Back when she needed me…wanted me. I'm sure she didn't need me much anymore.
"Be right back, okay?", Bella asked but I didn't even respond. I just stared into space and felt her hand slip away from mine.
Slowly, I made my way to the swing and my fingers coiled around the ropes, wishing I really did have a beautiful three year old below me, adoring me with her eyes like she used to…she used to brush my hair…and give me butterfly kisses. How could I ever get that back? Did I even deserve it back?
"Cool swing, huh?"
I spun around, knowing that voice at once. I heard it every day of my life at three o' clock. I lived for it. I endured everything, knowing that the next day at three I could hear her and for a brief amount of time, not be a whore or a slave. I was Daddy. And if I didn't have that, I never would've made it through my years with Victoria.
There was a beautiful girl there, a distance away. Not little like she used to be, but still small to me. Her long straight strands of red hair blew across her perfect face and she didn't reach up to tame them. She seemed to feel more comfortable as her face was partially hidden from view. She was smiling. Her lips. They were perfect and full and a deep shade of pink. When I left her, I couldn't even kiss her lips because they were burnt off and her mouth was just an opening that hurt too much to even touch.
She was wearing a blue t shirt and a pair of light blue denim shorts. And bare feet, no socks or shoes. She had just come out here from inside, not pausing to put them on first. Did she really want to see me that bad?
I blinked and was ashamed to feel two wet lines run down my face as she studied me. I felt not good enough, not strong enough…not worthy enough to be Daddy to her.
Her chin trembled and she half laughed and sobbed in one sound and ran with all her might up to me.
Just as I felt myself fall to my knees she was all around me, holding me so tight around my neck and my nose buried itself into her silk hair. She smelled like the wind and grass and a faint touch of Bonnie Bell perfume danced around us, surprising me.
I used to buy her that because she envied her mother's many fancy perfumes so much and would often be caught playing at her vanity table, doused in five different ones at once, asking me how she smelled while I carried her to the tub, holding my breath. I almost forgot about that.
Was she really still wearing it, remembering me too?
I almost asked her about it but didn't want to embarrass her.
I just held her, so tight…then loosened so I wouldn't hurt her. I wasn't sure if all her skin was restored and would hate for my first hug to cause her physical pain.
And I couldn't help it but I was sobbing like a child, never wanting to let her go, ever. She clung to me and it did hurt my neck but it was the greatest hurt I'd ever felt in my life. Her little fingers were in my hair and I just laid my forehead on her shoulder and cried some more, praying I wasn't scaring her. I tried to stop, but the more I did the more noise I made.
"Don't cry, Daddy.", she whimpered in my ear as my trembling hands rested on her back, comforted by the smooth cotton of her shirt.
I was scaring her. Shit. I ordered myself to stop this now. Holding it in, I heard myself give a low growl, angry at my weakness.
"It's okay.", she kept comforting me, stroking the back of my hair, "You're home now."
She pulled back from me and looked down into my wet face, finding my eyes and she looked scared suddenly.
"You are here to stay, right?", she asked, a little guarded, "You don't have to work anymore, do you?"
Work. Ben must've told her I was away working so she could get her operations. He painted me in a noble shade of colors to Katie. He didn't let her hate me. I owed him everything.
I still couldn't speak and I shook my head, smiling as the tears fell again. She squealed out in pure joy, crushing my head in her arms as she celebrated, hugging me tighter to her.
"I'm here to stay.", I said, my voice cracking everywhere, wanting to make it clear to her, "I'm yours…I'll never leave you again. I am so sorry. Kaitlyn."
I wanted to treat her like a big girl, not a baby, so I used Kaitlyn. It sounded so formal to me, like she was a stranger to me. Maybe I'd have to get to know her all over again. Maybe everything I thought I knew about her was gone now that she was growing up.
I told her I'd never leave her again. She's probably repulsed by that idea. In a few short years, she'll be trying to get away from me, an embarrassed teenager not wanting her friends to see her clingy father.
"Katie, Dad.", she corrected and I cried again. She's still my Katie. After all this.
She called me Dad, not Daddy. I felt that sting but shoved it away. I'm lucky she's hugging me and calling me anything except bastard. I'm grateful to still be invited into her magical embrace.
"Katie.", I breathed, my sobs finally calming themselves a little.
She was so loving, so brave. She kept holding me, stroking me and not pulling away like some kids would when confronted by a weeping adult. I didn't know this side of her but I admired it and her so much. She's strong.
"It's okay, Daddy.", her little voice said, reminding me of Bella's favorite phrase, and she planted kisses on my head, ignoring my unruly hair as she did so.
Maybe I could hold it together long enough to get a good look at her face without scaring her more, although she didn't seem scared of the way I was acting.
My knees were damp in the grass but I stayed there. If I should kneel before anyone, it was her. I was ready to beg her forgiveness. An angel stood before me, worthy of my servitude, my life belonged to her. My every day would be for her. My every breath would be hers.
She waited for me to calm, showing no signs of wanting to bolt. Patience. Another new thing inside her that I didn't get to see bloom. Katie has been through so much, I realized. She was sure to have traits that normal girls her age didn't have yet or would never have. I intended to hear every story, know every thing that shaped her into this amazing little person who was holding me.
"Here.", she gently tilted my face up towards hers and did something I used to do to her when she cried. She covered my face with fun little kisses, making the smooching sound I used to do. It always made her laugh. Now it was working on me. I smiled and laughed quietly, enjoying the memory and the lightness of the moment…until she slowed her kisses.
She placed one deep kiss on my forehead, then pressed her shiny lips to my right eyelid…then kissed the other, my eyes closing as she seemed to heal me with every touch of her. My eyes were wet but she kissed them anyway. She kissed my tears away. She kissed my nose and slowly gave me an Eskimo kiss with her own.
I smiled more, keeping my eyes closed, feeling as if these moments were causing me to grow wings.
"My Daddy.", she stopped and rested her forehead on mine, "Still so pretty. I missed you so so much."
I almost sobbed again.
"I missed you too, baby.", I choked, holding her face, looking into her deep bluish-green eyes, "So, so much."
You'll never know how damn much I missed you, Katie. I wasn't truly alive since the day I left her with Ben and Angela. Only Bella had made me feel life spark again inside my dead heart. Now it was raging inside me like an inferno, wild and out of control. But this fire wouldn't harm Katie at all. It would maybe shine the way now for her, glowing…telling her she was loved…and not alone. It said, "Daddy is here. And he'll never let you go again."
"My turn.", I smiled up at her, gently and very slowly moving so not to alarm her.
I moved the strands of hair as the wind played with them, away from her face…wanting to see every inch, every detail. She giggled and closed her eyes as if we were playing a game and allowed me time to ghost my fingers over her forehead, gliding over her eyebrows, tracing over her closed eyelids…my eyes slaves to her and my mouth open in amazement as I marveled at those long yellow-reddish eyelashes. I smiled, holding my tears in my eyes, not letting them spill out as I moved my shaky finger down the slope of her little nose, the little button tip of it so round, like a fairy's would be. I stroked her cheekbone with the back of my fingers…so carefully and tenderly that they almost didn't even touch her skin. She giggled, as if this tickled and my mouth smiled more. She kept her eyes closed.
I almost didn't dare it but then my fingers moved of their own want and moved over her little smile. She puckered her lips and kissed them innocently, probably wondering when I'd get on with the game and cover her face with my smooching kisses. She had probably missed it as much as I had. So I would deny her no longer and decided I would admire her later, maybe while she slept.
I made myself be careful as I could but smooched kisses all over her face, head, and ears while she belly laughed, squirming in my arms a little, not really trying to escape me. She was heaven in a little mortal body. And she was mine. I didn't deserve her. But she was mine anyway.
I had to say what every fiber in me was thinking.
"You are so beautiful.", I whispered, "So so beautiful."
I was staring at her face and she had a funny little look in her eyes at this.
"Because of YOU.", she smiled a bit.
She thought I was talking about her face…about what her surgeries had done for her. I had to clear that up right now.
"No.", I almost said too loudly, my hands moving up and down her smooth arms.
I tipped her chin up and said, "You are beautiful, but, Katie, you've ALWAYS been beautiful. I'm not just talking about your face, Katie. I mean, YOU are beautiful. Do you know what I mean?"
She smiled down at me, seeming wiser than an ordinary little girl. She probably was. She's seen things no child should ever have to see. She's probably known cruelty from others in its ugliest form. She's also known unconditional love from her grandparents in the face of all that, too. And she's had to face it without her mother or father. She is light years smarter than I am. I just knew that she understood by the way she was looking at me.
No fire, no tragedy could diminish her beauty. No evil could touch what she is. And if it ever tried, I'd pounce on it and tear it to shreds with my savage teeth. I am her Daddy. I am protector. I am the wall that must keep the Jameses and Victorias away. I would gladly do my duty to her for the rest of my life.
"Remember this, Daddy?", she asked, using Daddy as my name again and I had to admit I felt high inside at the sound of it.
She had a little plastic gold ring around her middle finger and slipped it off. It took a couple tugs to remove it, which told me she wore it often.
"Oh my God!", I gasped, remembering it, "You still have this?"
"Of course, it's my wedding ring!", she informed as if I were dumb to even question it, "Remember when we got married?"
I did remember. Katie loved Disney and every movie ended with the prince and princess getting married and living happily ever after. She looked sad one day and told me that she wished she could get married and have someone love her like that. I told her someday she would find a great man that would. Then she discovered that meant he would take her away from me. She didn't like that at all. A couple days later, she asked me to marry her. She even got down on one knee and took my hand.
It was the cutest and funniest…and most wonderful moment of my life. And she was only three, she didn't understand the complexities of romance and love and marriage. But in her child mind, she was saying that I was the man in her life, and she loved me, and wanted to be with my forever. I knew that would change someday as she grew up, but I couldn't deny her. I accepted her sweet proposal and then our big palace wedding preparations began.
I let her order me around like a slave and she told me exactly how she wanted everything to be. Since Katie's room was already designed like a princess' room, thanks to Tanya's artistic painting on all the walls, I didn't have to do much transforming there, but I did borrow Tanya's fancy red silk bedsheets (ones we didn't use anymore now that we were parents) and spread them on the floor so my princess could walk to the altar upon the luxurious train she desired.
Tanya would've killed me if she caught us but then I went even further and let Katie wear one of Tanya's fancy white gowns that was far too long for her, along with lots of her nicest jewelry. Tanya's prom tiara served as a nice crown and I even let Katie do her own lipstick, using Tanya's shiny red one. She said the groom wasn't allowed to do the bride's makeup so I just watched, trying not to laugh as she covered her mouth and lots of skin around her mouth with the lipstick. She was the most stunning bride I'd ever seen.
I was so not good enough for her and I kept wondering when her father would break in and stop this wedding because of it.
I searched around in vain in her toy box for a ring. I could've sworn I had bought lots of fake jewelry sets for her but I'd be damned if I could find any of them now. Finally, I got lucky and found a Barbie with a plastic gold bracelet. I fought her and mugged her, stealing it off her wrist. It was just the right size.
We didn't have a minister to do the talking, but we didn't need one. I explained to Katie that weddings could be different from the ones on TV and all we needed to do was say we loved each other, let me put the ring on her finger, smooch, and that was it.
I was told I needed a prince's cape so I borrowed a black silk sheet from our old beddings and tied it around my neck. I wished I could've found a color besides black. I felt so weird and evil in it. I know if anyone else spied this little scene, I'd look about as innocent as Michael Jackson in the middle of one of his sleepovers, but I didn't care. This was purely innocent and my little girl wanted to play wedding. I was honored to be chosen as the groom. One day, she'd marry for real and I'd be giving her away.
I knelt and began to sing the melody of here comes the bride. She was so cute holding flowers and taking small steps, putting her feet together before taking the next step. She really did watch weddings closely on TV.
I held in my big smile, not wanting her to scold me for laughing at her. After all, this was a serious moment. It's not everyday you get married.
She was finally in front of me and I thought up what to say to begin this ceremony.
"We are gathered here today", I said in a loving voice as I looked into her eyes, "To celebrate our love and to vow never to be apart."
That sounds innocent, I hoped.
"What does vow mean ?", Katie whispered to me.
"Oh, sorry.", I whispered, "It means, promise."
She nodded and smiled big, having no problem with this.
"That means you promise never to run off with some cuter guy.", I teased, "Or a younger guy, or richer, or more fun than your old man. And you promise to listen to every thing I say, until you're…mmm…eighty five years old."
"I promise.", she twinkled with purity, having no idea what she was swearing to me.
"I wish I had this on tape.", I mumbled to myself, knowing the minute she turned 16, she'd forget these promises. We'd fight almost every day and I'd have to keep the boys away from her. I wasn't looking forward to that.
Alright, getting to a lighter note…
I decided to make my vow first, showing her how.
"Katie Cullen...", I cleared my throat, smiling as I looked into her eyes, taking her little hand and holding the ring, not slipping it onto her finger yet, "I love you with all my heart. And I will always love you. You are the most beautiful girl in the whole world, you have a magical laugh, and you're also very smart. Marriage is not only about being beautiful, you know, Katie. Your husband also has to respect you for your brains and what you are inside. Don't ever forget that, alright?"
"Alright.", she said, not looking too sure of what I was trying to say. I decided to Disney it up a little to make her happy.
"For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, from now to forever…I promise to love you…always.", I swore, meaning it completely, as if I had a choice in that. Loving her was like breathing. I had to, I lived to.
I leaned down and kissed her forehead, closing my eyes, and I slipped the ring onto her finger. It slid right on, not too tight, not too loose.
"Now me!", she looked at me, wanting her turn.
"Yes, now you.", I gave a nod, smiling.
"Edward Cullen…", she said in her baby voice, trying to sound grown up.
"You are the cutest boy I know.", she began as I tried not to laugh, "And you're very smart, too. You always know how to make me breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you carry me on your shoulders when I get tired, and you know when all my favorite shows come on. I like it when you sleep in my bed with me and watch TV with me. You drive us to the park and to the store and I like that. I love it when you get me a new Barbie, even if I don't ask for one. You are a wonderful husband and I love you."
She took my hand and slipped an invisible ring onto my middle finger. To me, it was more real than any ring I ever owned. I'd never be without it.
She pulled me to her by my cape and kissed me big on the lips, covering my mouth with the abundant amount of lipstick she was wearing. I guess she saw the bride and groom kiss on the lips somewhere.
"MMMWAHH!!", she sounded as she ended the kiss and released me. She looked so happy as she beamed at me.
"You're mine now.", she announced.
I've always been yours, baby…I always will be.
"Now I carry you over the threshold!", I scooped her up in my arms, bridal style and stood up, swinging her in my arms and spinning around, making her belly laugh as she clutched onto me.
Finally I stopped and she just laid in my arms, smiling up at me with so much love in her eyes.
"I love you Daddy.", she said as naturally as letting out a breath.
"I love you, too, baby.", I said with all my heart.
The moment was perfect. And then I decided to tease her a little.
I stood her on her bed and looked down at her.
"Now go clean my house and cook me something nice for dinner.", I smirked.
Maybe if I showed her what married life was really, she wouldn't try to get married away from me so fast later.
She squealed out in protest and jumped off the bed, ready to argue.
"No, no, no!", she began as I smiled, walking to the living room with her right on my heels, "Now you take me on a honeymoon!"
I laughed, keeping my cape on for now. I wanted to tease her some more but couldn't do it to her, she was too cute.
"Where would you like to go, Mrs. Cullen?", I sat on the sofa, watching her crawl up on it next to me.
"DISNEY WORLD!", she shouted.
Oh God, I still have the lipstick all over my mouth. I'd have to wait to wipe it off.
"I didn't see that coming.", I muttered.
She laughed and hopped off the couch, going to my bedroom. For a second, I thought I got off easy. She usually begged me for an hour to take her to Disney World, like it was ten minutes away. Damn TV Disney World commercials!
I heard a couple noises I wasn't sure of and then Katie was coming out of my room with my pillows in her hands. She went into her room and placed them on her bed. She came back and was on her way back to my room again.
"What're you doing, Mrs. Cullen?", I raised a brow.
"Moving your stuff into my room.", she informed as if this was obvious and disappeared into my room again.
Uh oh. I had to find a nice way of handling this one. If all my things were moved out of our bedroom, it was set Tanya off, making her think I did it because of the tension between us.
"Uhhh…wait a minute, honey.", I followed her into my room, ready for our first argument as man and wife.
I was back in the present now with my almost nine year old daughter and was smiling from ear to ear.
"I remember.", I said, almost breaking down again, slipping it back onto her finger.
"You're still mine, Daddy.", she hugged me again, softer this time.
That's what this ring meant to her. That even though I was gone, I was still hers, because I had promised. She believed me. And she waited for me.
I wanted to ask her why, why she still wanted me, why she even thought I was good enough for her. She didn't know where I'd been the last few years. She could never know. I would die if she found out and hated me for it.
As my brain reeled with all this, she simplified it all, as she always did for me.
"Push me, Dad?", she backed from me and climbed on the tire swing.
I numbly stood and followed, like a hypnotized servant as she held onto the ropes and waited for me. I moved around behind her, and magically, at that second, it was like not a day had gone by. My little girl wanted me to push her on the swing. She loves me. She forgives me. And finally, I was able to take a deep breath, letting go of a great deal of pain. It wasn't completely gone, but right now at this moment, I feel clean…and free…and real. I'm a Daddy…still…always.
I pulled back gently on the ropes of the swing and pushed, not too hard. My hands still thought of her as three years old, I guess.
"Harder, DAD!!", she demanded as she swung back to me, "Come on!!"
Uh oh, she's a little thrill seeker now. She used to be so scared to go up high. She's not a baby anymore.
"Alright, you asked for it!", I bit down on my bottom lip and devilishly grabbed the tire and hurled it down with half my might.
Her blood piercing scream shot up to the trees above, birds flying away in terror. I looked and saw Bella near the house talking to Ben and Angela. They were all looking at Katie and I, smiling, letting us alone, letting us play.
I hope this sleepy little town is ready. The Cullens have arrived. Oh sorry, the Masens. That's our new fake last name, me being Anthony Masen. Am I supposed to be Italian? I hope no one calls me Tony. I refuse to answer to that.
One thing is for sure.
Nothing will ever be the same again. Thank God.
I drew a line in the earth as Katie swung away from me. I crossed over it, and pushed Katie again, hearing her approving screams as she soared up. I'm here. I've crossed the line and am Daddy now. I'll never go back again. I'm here…forever, for better or worse…from now to forever.
Notes: I can't believe it's over! I'm so sad right now. I'll be bummed all weekend now. But, no I shouldn't be. It was a great time I had writing this story and I'm thankful for the dream I had that inspired this one. What a great dream it was! Just like Stephanie Meyer having her twilight dream, I know, it's so cool.
Well, I also want to thank everyone who's read this story. There were some rocky times there but you all stuck with me, thanks again. Love it or hate it, this inspired lots of emotions in everyone and I didn't always expect it, but it was great fun anyway. I hope you let me know how you liked it and give me a little time and there will be a sequel to this. I love these guys too much to end it here. Put me in your fave authors so when I post it, you don't miss it.
Love all you guys! See you soon!
PS – I just saw How to Be and it was hilarious!! Rob is so cute as a nerd! I would've loved to jump in that movie and be his friend and show him how to find some happiness. Step one – move away from those parents! They sucked hard ! Step two – move in with me!! LOL !! If anyone else has seen it, let me know what you thought of it.
Bye for now!!