As always, I do not own Twilight or its characters. Anything not Twilight related is from my own twisted mind. Thank you to MrsAlreyami, without whom, this chapter would not have gotten to you. She says she cried four times, so maybe grab a couple of tissues. A/N at the bottom.
As Bella and I approached our turn around, I thought about things had changed since our first run together. We don't run as quickly as we did then. Instead of the river track in Austin, we run the track around the back pasture of my family farm. Her brown ponytail was now shot through with silver and her lithe body just slightly softened with age and from carrying three babies.
All the things that were right in my life happened after I met and fell in love with Bella. We had a rough first year, with James and Victoria. Eventually, James was convicted for murder and for kidnapping. Victoria was caught while making a visit to him, but that's another story.
While studying in Germany, Tanya fell in love with a woman named Irina and decided to move there. We see them every Thanksgiving. Tanya is finally at peace and happy. Irina is the best thing to happen in her life and has brought Tanya back to us. Irina's family disowned her when she came out, so having such a large and welcoming family on Tanya's side has been a blessing for her, as well.
The time around graduation was a whirlwind of activity for all of us. Bella and I found the perfect house, the gang all graduated, we settled on the house, and she and I got married.
To say Alice was upset that Bella wanted a low-key wedding was an understatement. Bella loved the church we went to and wanted just our immediate group and family. So, with a guest list of around twenty people, Alice agreed to do things Bella's way. Renee never did take to me, but Phil came without her. Even with that dark spot for Bella, we ended up having a beautifully simple wedding and a kick-ass party afterward. Edward composed a song just for us and played it for Bella's walk down the aisle. No woman was ever as beautiful as my girl was that day.
Edward and Sammi moved back to Forks and started right away on their own brood, eventually stopping at six kids. Edward says it was those twin girls that finished baby-makin' for Sammi. She said four boys and two girls were just as many kids as she could handle.
Emmett and Jake knew they were forever going to live in Austin with their ladies and bought houses near ours. Emmett and Rosalie across the street and Jake and Kerry had an adjoining back yard.
Alice and Zach stayed for a few years, until Alice got too homesick and they moved back to Forks. Edward says they live just a little too close, but Sammi and Alice seem just fine with living three houses away from each other.
Zach and Alice stopped after one baby. Something about Zach and his melon-head making babies too big for tiny Alice to squeeze out. Divine intervention saved all of mankind from too much pink and ruffles in the world and gave Alice a boy. She has come to appreciate denim and tennis shoes and we've even seen her wear them from time to time.
We had all grown so close and didn't want to lose those connections, so we made promises to visit every several months. The entire Cullen family brings Charlie and Sue to spend every Thanksgiving with us. Of course, this makes my momma the happiest woman on the planet.
We all leave when Momma and her sisters get to talking with Sue and Esme, though they demanded time with Bella since she finally figured out how to make biscuits. Momma even swears they're better than hers. And they are, but she'll never hear me say it and I'll deny it if you tell her.
In the beginning, with all the little ones running around and grandparents getting together to dote on the whole mess of 'em at once, it took days of adjustment to get those kids back on parental rules. As time went on, our gatherings became more laid back. During the teen years, the kids were too cool to hang around, so grandparents usually rented out a theater for the kids to watch whatever movie was popular. Now the kids are grown and hang with the rest of the adults. The gatherings are a lot calmer now, but no less fun. The year Esme passed was the most difficult for all of us. Since then, Carlisle hasn't felt like making the trip for Thanksgiving. Occasionally, he'll come other times but Thanksgiving is too difficult for him, still.
During her graduate year, Bella got some notice for her writing and was hired on at the local paper, eventually getting a weekly slot. When our boys, Jack and Brian, were just starting school, I was promoted again and offered my choice of stations. My folks were getting tired of manning the farm by themselves, so after much debating, I transferred to Midland. A year later, we had Esme Lynn.
Bella and I expected some problems when we told Jake and Emmett we were moving, but true to their character, they supported us. So much so, they moved to Midland, too.
Rosalie and Jake bought a repair shop and were soon known as the best in the area. Emmett had decided that he wanted to learn how to 'work the land'. He and Peter were soon taking over most of the responsibilities from Dad.
Kerry, not to be left out, decided to work with my mom and Charlotte. Within two years, my folks were retired from farming and full-time grandparents to all our children. Rosalie and Emmett have two little girls, Lillian and Grace. Kerry and Jake have a boy, Will, and a girl, Leah. Peter and Charlotte decided to have two more after Truman, Evie and Ellis.
We were blessed that none of our children ever spent time in a day care, though sometimes Mom's house looked like a daycare with ten kids in various stages runnin about. They all thought they were brothers and sisters and we gave up tryin to tell them how they were or were not related and just let 'em go.
Bella got a job as a book critic, so she had flexible deadlines and was able to do her work from home. She loved combining her passion for reading with her passion for writing. Things had really smoothed out for all of us.
Now that's not to say that Bella and I didn't have our fights. Lord knows, we have had some awful fights. The worst of 'em found her takin a two-year old and an infant to her daddy's house. Chief called me as soon as she made it to his house. The only thing I can think of worse than losing Bella, would be losing my babies, so I was mad enough to spit bullets about that. I flew up right away. We left the house and went into the woods so no one would hear us screamin at each other. If I could've, I'da knocked down every tree in that forest. Bella looked mad enough to turn boulders to dust. We got it all worked out and after a lot of tears, we figured out a way back to each other. The walk home was no less quiet than the walk out, but it sure was a lot less hostile.
So, here I am, cleaning up after our daily run and preparing for my retirement. I stripped out of my sweaty clothes and looked at my grizzled reflection. Bella preferred me clean-shaven, but didn't mind if I let it go on the weekends.
Now, those whiskers were nearly all gray, though the only gray touching my hair was at my temples. Well, maybe there were some streaks through the dark blonde curls, but not much.
I had managed to keep my body in good shape, though I was thicker than in my younger days. I no longer had a sharply defined six-pack, but a shadow of a 'v' could still be seen at my hips. I could still make Bella's eyes glaze over with lust, and that was all I needed.
After my appraisal and confirmation that the running was still working for me, I showered and shaved.
I stepped out of the bathroom to see Bella sitting on the bed waiting for me. Her smile started slowly and broadened as I stalked over to her.
"I'm still all sweaty, Jasper." She couldn't cover the giggle in her voice. I loved that giggle. I wiggled my eyebrows at her, gaining a full laugh.
"I know, my dirty girl. I can take another shower." She pressed her palm into my chest to keep me from pushing her down into the bed.
"We have to leave for the ceremony and our entire family is waiting to see you." Her words said wait, but that voice and those eyes told me otherwise.
"I need you, Bella. I need to feel you and I don't want to wait until everyone goes away to have you." All she had to do was give me that sly smile and nod her head.
After taking my time and loving every inch of my beautiful bride, we finally started getting ready to leave.
Bella returned to her spot on the bed and, as she had many times over the years, she watched me get ready.
Bella always loved me in crisp white shirts, so I made sure to take one to the cleaners, extra starch please. I pulled on my dark-wash Wrangler's, leaving them unfastened and walked to the closet to pick out my shirt.
I held her eyes while I buttoned and tucked my shirt, watching her smile get wider and wider as I fastened my pants and buckled my belt.
For as long as I can remember, Bella helped me with my boots and tie. The first time she knelt before me, I panicked. The thing about Bella was that she was so strong and so much my equal that the thought of her kneeling like a servant freaked me out. After she explained it until I understood, I wanted that time with her. It was like a ritual that reconnected us time and again.
I watched her move to the closet and pull out a box I hadn't seen before. She turned to me, biting her lip.
"Jasper, I know you have a couple of nice pairs of boots, but I wanted to get you something special. I hope you don't mind." She looked up at me while her head was still tilted down. As if she didn't already know I was fine with whatever she wanted to do. I cocked my eyebrow and got a grin from her.
I sat on the bed while she opened the box to show me. Brand new, gray snakeskin boots. I blinked away the tears that threatened to fall.
"They're perfect, Ms. Bella. I love them." I kissed her gently before she knelt in front of me. I watched her delicate hands as they touched my calf, sliding to my ankle. Sometimes I still worry that I look deranged, but I could not, nor did I want to suppress the smile and joy I felt.
"You haven't had boots like these in years and I always did like 'em on you." Her voice sounded far away and her eyes were a little distant. She straightened my pants over my boots and stood to put my tie on. I wrapped my arms around her waist not wanting any space between us. She always made sure the knot was perfect and my collar was straight before stepping back to check her handy work.
"Ranger Whitlock, you are a devastating sight to behold." She smiled, coming back to the here and now.
"Not yet, Ms. Bella. I'm missing one thing and then you can say that." I touched the spot over my heart where my gold star would rest for the last time.
"Jasper, you know you are a Ranger in your heart, and you always will be." She swatted my hand out of the way and pinned the star on my shirt. "Last time, my sweet, sexy man."
I cleared my throat, suddenly overcome with my decision. I wanted to question it, but there were no questions left. Bella and I had already examined every point and I knew that this was the right decision for me.
"You okay, Jazz?" I nodded slowly, confirming everything again and making peace. This would be the last time.
"Today, I retire. Get ready, wo-man, we've got things to do today!" I swatted her ass and sat on the bed to watch Bella get ready.
The ceremony was pleasant enough. All the right people said all the right things. Half the people there were family and friends. I was surprised and touched to see Carlisle with Sue and Charlie.
With all the people catching up with the out-of-towners, the reception was a real party.
After a couple of hours, my son, Jack, broke into my conversation with my old friends Demitri and Felix.
"Dad, c'mon." He pulled my arm.
"Slow down, Son. What's goin' on?" I'll blame my slow uptake on the fine whiskey being served to me.
"Dad, it's time. NOW!" Still not feeling on track, I looked to see Bella beaming and helping Lillian waddle to the door. Then it hit. It was TIME.
"Oh shit, Jack. I'm gonna be a granddad? NOW?" With a grin from ear to ear, I hollered my apologies while weaving through the crowd, rushing to the get to the car. Bella and Rosalie already had her daughter loaded into Rosalie's car and Jack was climbing in with them.
Bella grabbed my keys and drove like a bat outta hell to the hospital.
"I can't believe this is happening, Jazzy, we're going to be grandparents! Our baby boy is having a baby. When did he grow up?" She chattered nervously, struggling to keep the tears away. I rubbed her leg and smiled to myself.
With Bella's race-car skills, we actually made it there before Rose. She pulled into the closest space she could and leaned into me, finally letting go of her tears.
"He's a good boy and he'll be a great dad. He'll be an even better dad than I was."
"You are a wonderful father, Jasper."
"I know, so imagine how great he's going to be." I chuckled, finally getting a smile from my sweet girl.
"Let's go and get in the way and watch our first grandbaby get born." I led my bride to the check in desk to find out what room Lil had been given.
During the wait, I sobered up, got a headache, recovered and the baby still hadn't peeked out. I thought Emmett was going to pace a hole in the floor and Lil was ready to kick him out of the room.
"Jasper, take that man out of this room before we have him sedated." Rosalie growled.
"And miss the birth of my first grandchild? I don't think so." Emmett returned, voicing my inner concern.
"I don't exactly want to miss this, either, Rose." Bella shot me a glance, silently imploring me to get Emmett out of the room.
"Fine, we'll go get everyone coffee." I tugged on Emmett until he relented. "I'm sorry we can't get you anything, Pumpkin. You keep that critter in there 'til we get back and I'll get you anything you want. K?"
"I'll do what I can, Pop. I make no promises, though." I smiled at my tired, but happy daughter-in-law and tried not to remember her as the little girl with skinned knees and pigtails. I kissed her forehead and walked out with a reluctant Emmett in tow.
Even a trip to get coffee did not inspire a visit from the baby, so the doctor decided it was time to induce and made everyone clear out.
When we got to the waiting room, it turned out that almost the entire reception came to the hospital.
Two hours later, my first grandchild was born. Rose Marie Whitlock. Bella and I held Little Rosie and we counted all her perfect little fingers and her perfect little toes. We cooed and laughed and cried. We hugged each other, kissed the tiny bundle of pink and tried to figure out who she looked like. Eventually, Lillian demanded her daughter be returned to her. We decided that Lil and Jack were far too young to be responsible for raising this precious child. And we gave her back anyway.
We drove back in silence, holding hands and thinking over the day.
I was a grandfather and she was the most perfect child to draw breath on the planet.
And they lived happily ever after. Well, as much as anyone can. Thank you, again, for all the kind words I have received regarding this story. You'll see that the story is marked complete. I do have a couple of outtakes that I'll consider posting, but not much more than that. Of course, if you send me a request that is to compelling to pass up, well, I add that, too.
I still plan to work on the Carlisle story, so add me to your Author Alert, if you are interested.
I've been working on a really cool project - TwiWrite Writers Convention. It will be held in Atlanta next summer. For more information please visit our blog twiwrite(dot)blogspot(dot)com and follow us on Twitter: TwiwriteFFC. We'd love to hear from you and hope to see you playing in Atlanta with us!