TWILIGHT & ALL IT'S CHARACTERS BELONG TO MS. MEYERS
Do not be daunted by the word count for this chapter, yes, it's long but there is also an extremely long A/N at the end. (which you don't all have to read)
Very sorry for the delay with this Epi but…it was kicking my ass. It was more difficult than I anticipated to let go of my characters.
Thank you to larin20 for your beta services. I left your payment on the nightstand.
Alright, I'll save the rest of my blabbering for the end. READ!
Eternity will never be enough for me
and eternally we'll live our infallible love
This is For Keeps, The Spill Canvas
I don't think Edward ever completely understood my need to return home. I knew that he would do anything I wanted, anything I asked of him to, but it was still difficult to ask to go home. As much as I loved Edward and feared Charlie, I had to give it one last effort with my father. I couldn't just give up. I knew all too well what it felt like to be on the receiving end of that and I couldn't do it to my father.
I was a nervous wreck the entire drive home. Edward tried to occupy my mind but wasn't always successful. He was cute as hell while he tried though. He sang along with the radio and even tried to hit the high notes in the songs sung by girls. It was funny and I cracked a smile more than once but it couldn't take my mind completely off what was waiting for me at the end of this road.
Of course when we arrived home from Chicago, seeing Emmett, Alice and the others lifted my spirits greatly. I'd missed them almost as much as I'd missed Edward before he came and rescued me. Em's bear hugs, Alice's energy, Jazz's go-with-the-flow demeanor, and Rose's protectiveness disguised as bitchiness, I really did feel like I was home. As soon as they surrounded me I knew that no matter what happened with Charlie, I had them. They were my family and they always would be. I would never feel alone again.
The confrontation was not what I expected. Charlie kept his anger in check most of the time and my mom was surprisingly supportive. I agreed to his restrictions. I had to; I needed Edward in my life and I didn't want to run again.
The first few weeks back were decent. My mom stayed for a bit and kept Charlie in check. Renee and I started to reconnect. I'll admit, I missed my mom. She actually liked Edward and she loved Em. A few nights we stayed up eating ice cream and talking like we used to. It was nice, just like how a mother and daughter relationship should be. But she was only able to take two weeks off of work and we both cried when she boarded her plane back to Phoenix.
After the peace making effect of Renee's presence wore off, living with Charlie became a living hell. He had undeniable proof that Edward had not done the things he was accused of, yet Charlie couldn't let his resentment go. He made snide comments whenever Edward was around, he questioned every bruise and scratch I came home with. He was livid over the fact that I wouldn't take off the engagement ring Edward gave me. I told him time and time again that Edward and I were not going to get married for several years but he wouldn't listen. Though I suppose our running off didn't exactly earn his trust.
At first, I just played nice. I learned to be the best ass kisser in Forks, outside of Jessica Stanley. I cooked all Charlie's favorite meals, ironed his uniforms, I even tried to reestablish father daughter movie night. It failed. He was grumpy and miserable all the time. I had a long talk with Renee one night and expressed all of my concerns.
"He feels threatened, Bella," she explained.
"No father likes to see his daughter grow up and find that he has been replaced as the most important man in her life. Charlie is just taking it a step further since he just can't seem to get over his bias against Edward."
"Wow, Mom. That was surprisingly….insightful."
"Yeah, well. I took your Dr. Phil comment to heart and started watching it. Plus, I may have talked to the counselor at my school a time or two."
I was astonished that Renee took the initiative to seek counseling, but I figured she needed help just as much as I did. I wasn't going to press her about her reasons because apparently it helped her see what I didn't.
It still wasn't a good enough excuse for his behavior.
"I think he's just being a jerk."
"That's always a possibility." She said quietly. Renee was reluctant to say anything too negative about Charlie, wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt.
School was....odd to say the least. I was happy that Jessica was no longer an issue; I must have thanked Rose twenty times a day for getting rid of her. No one straight out said anything to me or Edward about my return but the rumors flew like leaves in the wind. None of them were very creative and most made us laugh. I kept my word to Charlie and caught up in all my classes. It wasn't that difficult, really. I probably could have shown up on the day of finals and still aced the classes. The last month or so of junior year is not exactly filled with new material.
The rest of the school year passed by faster than I'd anticipated, though the time spent without Edward dragged. I wanted summer to just hurry the fuck up because it meant the end of my punishment. However, summer also meant that I was losing Em and Rose. They'd be leaving for college in New York, which isn't exactly conducive to weekend visits. I knew it wouldn't be forever but it was painful none the less.
The crack in my relationship with Charlie widened even further when he refused to let me to go to Em and Rose's graduation party. It would be the last time I'd get to see them until Thanksgiving. It was my chance to say goodbye and he was fucking it up. When Esme found out she immediately got on the phone with Renee and they devised a plan to break Charlie down. It worked but not without a huge fight. I should have seen that as the beginning of the end.
There were tearful goodbyes all around at the end of the party. I knew I would miss my Em. He truly was the best big brother ever. He always knew how to pick me up, literally and figuratively. I never had to worry if he was going to be on my side, it was a given. He would have done anything for me, including beating Charlie's ass, unless he thought it would hurt me in the end. That's probably why Charlie made it through that whole mess unscathed. I always felt safe and protected with Emmett around. I felt safe with Edward too but I also knew there was always something trying to tear us apart. With Emmett, it only ever felt like he was holding us all together; like his big arms were enough to keep us all a family no matter what. I would definitely miss that.
I cried the whole way home from the party. Charlie assumed my tears had something to do with Edward so yet another fight ensued. It was quickly becoming a daily thing. Wake up, fight with Charlie, do my chores, fight with Charlie, cook dinner, fight with Charlie, have my nightly conversation with Edward. It was so fucking tiring.
I spent my summer with Edward, Alice and Jazz. My grounding was over and Charlie had to work so I was able to be with them without constantly being watched just as long as I was home shortly after Charlie in the evening. If I made him wait too long he'd start calling and hounding me about when I was going to be home. So my summer was heaven and hell; heaven all day when I was with Edward and hell all night when I was stuck with Charlie.
The days were nice, just the four of us, though it was clear we all missed Em and Rose. Esme took Em's absence the hardest so we made it a point to spend time with her every day. Even when Edward and Jazz were off doing their guy things, I went over to keep Esme company. We mostly just cooked and baked goodies to send to Rose and Em in care packages but it was a connection we both needed. We both filled an absence for the other. I needed a decent parental figure and she needed another child to hover over and take care of. It was pretty much a win/win situation.
I poured my heart out to Esme during our cooking sessions. I told her all the fine details about my fights with Charlie, things I could never tell Edward. Though he tried to be respectful around my dad, I knew it was hard for him to keep his temper in check. He'd lose it if he knew the things that Charlie said to me. Esme was shocked at some of the things my father said and did. I could tell something was weighing on her towards the end of summer. It wasn't far into the beginning of the new school year, after a particularly emotional fight with my father, that she and Carlisle invited me to come live with them after graduation. I jumped at the chance to finally be under the same roof as Edward.
However, nothing went quite as planned. The tension was building in my house, Charlie was furious that I applied to Culinary schools in Chicago. He wanted me close to home, under his thumb and away from Edward. I could feel the final straw feathering its way down to the pile.
My eighteenth birthday passed without any major celebration. Alice wanted a party but I knew Charlie would object, so instead I had a movie night, just the four of us. We gorged ourselves with Chinese food and cupcakes. As simple as it was, it was the best birthday I'd had in years; much better than the previous one. There were no emotional breakdowns, no guilty feelings, nothing but a few fond memories of Jake. It was also what Edward and I considered our anniversary. One year since he saved me.
The day it all fell apart started out as a reasonably nice day. Edward picked me up for school and politely greeted Charlie; who was actually decent for a change. I thought Charlie was finally making an effort. That same day, Alice and I stayed after History class to work on a project. Edward and Jazz waited outside for us to complete the last bits of our assignment. We finished up as fast as possible and went to look for the boys. They were playing a game of soccer with Ben. I watched Edwards muscles ripple as he ran and pushed his way in front of Jasper. My hormones were reacting and I had to look away before the drool started dripping off my chin. One second I was talking to Alice and the next I was sprawled out on my back, blood dripping into my eye.
After shaking away the stars and singing birds that floated around my head, I realized I was just pummeled by a soccer ball. By the look on Ben's face, I knew who to blame. Edward was at my side, brushing my hair out of my face and waving two fingers in front of me asking if I could count them.
I just blinked, still trying to process what happened.
Edward freaked out, Ben was apologizing profusely, and Alice and Jazz tried to stop the bleeding by holding my nose with a wad of Mc Donalds' napkins from somebody's car. When Jazz finally convinced Edward that I wasn't on the verge of death, he carried me to the Volvo and rushed me to the ER. He took me straight to Carlisle, who stitched me up nicely. It wasn't nearly as bad as it looked. Just a cut on the bridge of my nose and a black eye, no big deal. Unfortunately Charlie didn't see it that way.
He fucking flipped.
He blamed Edward, shocking, I know. Even though Ben had actually been the one to smack the ball into my face, and openly admitted it, apologetically…several times, Charlie was screaming in the middle of the ER, pointing fingers at Edward, even at Carlisle. If he wasn't the Chief of Police, I'm pretty sure they would have called the cops on his ass. He literally picked me up and dragged me, kicking and screaming to his cruiser. Carlisle had to physically hold Edward back. As we walked out of the automatic doors of the ER Charlie screamed to Edward that if he came within fifty feet of me, he'd have him arrested and he'd never see me again.
I was fuming. The ride home was silent, I was so fucking pissed I couldn't form coherent words. Charlie started on me before I could even open my mouth. "You are NEVER fucking seeing Edward again."
"Umm….in case you forgot, I'm eighteen now, that's not your decision anymore." I rolled my eyes.
"Oh yes I can. I'll do whatever it takes. I'm not going to watch you go through life being beaten then making excuses for him afterwards when he comes crawling back asking for forgiveness."
"Edward doesn't fucking beat me! Why the fuck can't you grasp that?"
"You have a black eye Bella! You had to get stitches."
"From a fucking soccer ball!" My voice hit a whole new level of screeching. "Edward didn't even kick it into my face. Ben did it, on accident."
"Edward was still the cause of it though, wasn't he? Yes, he was." he said slamming on the breaks and putting the car in park.
"God, you are fucking ridiculous!" I climbed out of the cruiser and slammed the door. I wanted to escape to my room, to call Edward and tell him to just ignore Charlie's threats but Charlie followed me.
"I'm not finished with this conversation."
"Well I am. Why don't you go have a beer and just calm down. I'm tired." Carlisle had given me some painkillers and they were starting to kick my ass. I just wanted to hear Edward's voice in my ear as I drifted off to sleep.
"I'm putting my foot down once and for all. You are not seeing Edward anymore and you are definitely not moving all the way to Chicago for school."
"The fuck, I'm not! I thought you'd be happy that I was going to get a great education. I'd think you'd appreciate not having to worry constantly if I was keeping a roof over my head and eating every day. Edward is going to take care of me; you'll have nothing to worry about."
"No, he's not. He's going to fucking abandon you. He's going to use you up until he's bored with you then smack you around a little for entertainment. Once he's bored with that he'll leave you without so much as a 'Kiss off'. Who do you think is paying for this education of yours anyway? I am. That means I choose where you go."
If he thinks he can pull this bullshit, then he's got another think coming! I'm not going to let his money give him control over MY life.
"I don't need your money Charlie. Edward and I are getting married, remember? Even if financial aid doesn't cover it, he has more than enough in his college fund to assist me if I need it."
"Oh, Edward is going to take responsibility for paying your bills?" He narrowed his eyes and lowered his voice, gritting through his teeth. "So you'll basically be his whore then?" As soon as the word 'whore' left his mouth he flinched slightly but he made no effort to take it back. I felt hot tears starting to spill. I didn't even bother holding them in.
"That's what you think I am?" I sobbed, my voice shaking. "You think I'm Edward's whore?"
"You sure act like one," he mumbled, not able to meet my eyes. I stared at the man that was supposed to be my father. The man that was supposed to love me unconditionally. The man I was supposed to respect. He was no longer that person, no longer my father.
"I fucking hate you." I announced softly.
"I hate the person you've become." he shot back. "You used to be an independent person, with morals and a good head on your shoulders. Now you're letting some boy use your body so you can get a free education and a place to live. It's disgusting." His words hit me like a punch to the gut. I couldn't believe he was actually saying these things to me. Did the fact that I love Edward completely escape his comprehension?
"Fine then, if I'm so disgusting to you, I'll leave. I'll go live with a family that actually loves me and respects my decisions."
"Good. Don't come crawling back to me when Edward throws you out on your ass because he's used all he needs of you and doesn't give a shit about what's left." With that he turned and left my room. A few minutes later I heard the front door slam shut and the cruiser drive off. I was shaking, tears streaming down my face as I slowly moved to pack my things.
I'd lost my father.
I was heartbroken. To keep myself from falling into a pit of despair I forced myself to look at the bright side of things. I had to after what happened with Charlie. I would gain a new family; Carlisle and Esme already treated me like a daughter. One door closes and another one opens. That was what I had to believe to make it through this.
I could barely see as I threw my things in the back of the truck. I was fucking taking it; it was my truck, even if it was a gift from Charlie. If he wanted it back he could fucking come get it. I should have called Edward to come get me but I wanted to get away from the house as quickly as possible. I wanted to avoid any further confrontation if Charlie decided to come home for round two.
I drove straight to the Cullen's house, knowing they would take me in. I was already planning on living there eventually, I was just moving up the date. I was a little surprised that I made it all the way there without an accident. I could barely see through the tears of betrayal brought on by my father's blatant disrespect and degradation. I pulled to a stop in front of the house. The front of the house was dark, so I assaulted the doorbell like my life fucking depended on it. I used the door for support, unable to think straight or stand completely upright for that matter.
And then I felt it, the unmistakable pull that meant Edward was on the other side of the door. He swung the door open and pulled me into his arms, where I fit perfectly. It was where I belonged. The stress of the fight melted away as he held me tight. I didn't have Charlie anymore but I had Edward. That was all that really mattered.
Once I was able to collect myself enough to tell them what happened, minus the gory details, Esme and Carlisle agreed to let me stay. Edward and Alice helped me take my stuff to the room that was designated for me. Of course, as soon as everyone went to bed, I didn't stay there. I moved down the hall to Edward's room, where he was waiting with the bedside light on. He welcomed me into his bed with open arms and I snuggled in next to him.
He was my home, my family, my heart…all I'd ever need.
We began making plans to move to Chicago. Gran and Pop were amazing. The late night phone calls to Esme about how to decorate the basement didn't go unnoticed. I wasn't going to pry though; I couldn't take the surprise away from them. It was the least I could do.
The rest of the school year ticked by uneventful. Charlie avoided me like the plague. He stopped being the liaison at the school, although I was pretty sure he told his dumb-ass deputy to check up on me while he was there. Stealth is not exactly a strong point of the Folks PD. He even changed his bank so he wouldn't see me there by accident either. I found that out when I went in to take him off my account. Mrs. Stanley had all kinds of questions that I avoided answering by shrugging my shoulders. I did my part too. I made sure I did not travel the same roads that he would be on as he drove to work or back home. I didn't even go into town except to go to school.
I tried to live my life in the present but every once in a while a memory would slip back into my mind and I'd shed some tears over the metaphoric death of my father. His body still went through all of the normal processes but the man who was my father was no longer occupying it. I didn't know the person who lived there now, nor did I want to.
Graduation day was the hardest. I saw Charlie in the back, not speaking to anyone. Once my name was called, Renee and Emmett stood up and started cheering. The others followed and my view was blocked. Charlie must have slipped out the back as soon as the diploma was in my hand. When everyone sat down, he was gone. Tears were rolling down my cheeks; thankfully most people thought I was just overcome with emotion from graduating. I squared my shoulders and met eyes with Edward and then with Alice. They gave me smiles of encouragement, which I desperately needed, and gave me to strength to continue my walk across the stage.
Even though I was missing part of my biological family, I still had my Cullen family and they were all very supportive. I didn't feel any less celebrated than Alice or Edward for meeting this milestone in my life. My mother was so excited and even came a few days early to help get ready for the party. Since Alice pretty much had that under wraps, Renee and Esme spent the majority of the days baking and "bonding" over stories of our childhood. Renee was always careful to not mention Charlie. I appreciated it but the omission of him was almost as bad as the mention would have been.
The party was fucking amazing, of course. Alice handled every detail herself and went over the top as usual. Lighting, a live band, catered food, the whole shebang. The whole school showed up. Carlisle and Esme introduced me to friends as their daughter. I was in heaven, I had everything I wanted.
Then Edward proposed in front of everyone, making it official. Nothing could have been better. Yes, Charlie being there and supporting me would have been great but that was an unrealistic fantasy.
We spent the summer doing pretty much whatever the hell we wanted. Em and Rose came home and we took another road trip to Friday Harbor. It was even more breath taking in the summer. Edward took me to the same restaurant that we went to before. The same skanky waitress was there; I made sure to flash my sparkly engagement ring right in her nasty face.
The last few weeks at the Cullen's were bittersweet. Esme was a mess but she hid it fairly well. She hovered over us all but not in an annoying way. She cooked endless goodies for us; Alice started complaining that we were all going to gain the freshman fifteen before we were even freshman.
"Love, do you want to try to talk to your dad before we leave?" Edward asked one night a few days before we left.
"No. He made his decision and I made mine. I have no desire to talk to him."
"So… you're never going to talk to him again, for the rest of your life… the rest of our life?"
"Why are you so concerned? You hate my father."
"Your right, I do...it's just….he's your dad." He was silent for a few seconds, twirling my hair around his fingers. "Having a father is important." he murmured.
"I have Phil and Carlisle. That's good enough for me." He wanted to continue the conversation but I distracted him by pouting and asking him to sing me to sleep.
He didn't bring it up again.
Esme fell to pieces the day we left. She didn't break down like Renee might have, like a giant slobbering mess; there were tears but only in ladylike Esme fashion. She didn't even smear her mascara, but the emotion was real. It was breaking her heart that all her 'children' were leaving.
Rose and Em were flying back to New York and the rest of us were flying to Chicago. All our things had already been shipped. Carlisle rented a van so that we could all travel to the Seattle airport and say our goodbyes together.
This was vastly different from my last trip to the Seattle airport. While there was some sadness in leaving Carlisle and Esme, I mostly felt excitement. I was starting a new chapter of my life with Edward. We hopped on the plane after several rounds of tearful goodbye hugs and promises to come home for Thanksgiving break. Finally, we were on our way; hand in hand, just the way it should be.
The little basement apartment was beautiful. There was a small kitchen, a living room, and both bedrooms had their own bath. Gran and Pop were so happy to have us there. I felt just as comfortable there as I did in the Cullen's house. I knew it would be the perfect place to spend the next four years of my life.
In fact it was. I'd never been more content. The house was always full of energy and life, Carlisle and Esme came to visit often. Even Renee and Phil came to visit a few times a year. As I attended Culinary school, the main kitchen upstairs became my lab. The house was overrun with Alice's artwork from school. I never realized just how talented she is. By the time she was done with her first year of study she already had buyers for some of her paintings. Jazz and Edward converted one of the guest rooms into their new music room and were composing music for local commercials and working on a band on the side. With school and the part-time work, they didn't have much time for the band thing. They weren't really looking to make it big anyway but they sure did pack the clubs on Saturday night. I loved it. I loved sitting in the audience with Alice and listening to our men rock it out.
The only downside to living in Chicago was Edward and Alice's mom. They thought being closer to her would help. She'd see them more often, maybe come to recognize them. It was quite the opposite. She was practically catatonic. She no longer freaked out when they visited her but she didn't even acknowledge their presence anymore. Edward took it especially hard. The visits always took their toll on him.
It was about midway through our second year when their mom took a turn for the worse. The doctors said it was like she just gave up on living. She started talking to the walls and calling them Edward, telling them she was on her way but the door wouldn't open. The last time Edward went to see her he asked if I would go with him. Of course I agreed, even though I was a little apprehensive about going. I was in no hurry to see the inside of the psych ward. One brief tour after Jacob died was enough to last me a lifetime. I think that is why Edward never asked me before then. That and he wasn't exactly proud of the state his mother was in, even though I could never look at him, or her, with anything less than adoration. She brought Edward into the world. To me, she was a lifesaver.
We arrived shortly before visiting hours were about to end. Edward felt incredibly guilty about his short stays but it killed him to see his mother in this state and also killed him when he didn't go see her. Lose/lose situation. However, it was hard to argue with the big nurse named Agatha when she told you visiting hours were over. It took the decision to leave out of his hands and eased the guilt a little bit. Whatever helped Edward cope with this heartache was fine with me. I held tight onto his hand as we walked the bright white halls toward the nurse's desk. A middle aged man with a 70's porn star mustache and too-tight pants sat behind the desk looking through a file nearly as thick as a dictionary.
Edward cleared his throat, clearly reluctant to break the silence of the room. The 'stache sporting file-jockey looked up over the file without moving his head and asked if he could help us. "Yes. I'm here to see Elizabeth Masen." I could feel the air around the male-nurse change and his tone reflected his pity.
"Oh. Just one minute. The doctor wanted to speak with you, you're Eddie, right?" Edward heard the hidden message in his voice as well.
"Yes. I'm Edward, her son. Is something wrong?"
"I'll just let you talk to the doctor, he can explain." With that the man walked away, a little too light in the loafers; ass cheeks puckered, see-through pants and all.
Edward didn't say anything, and neither did I. We just stood there in an awkward silence while those words hung stagnant around us. "…he can explain." It seemed like hours but the clock said it had only been about 5 minutes when an older gentleman with a long white lab coat came around the corner talking in hushed whispers to the nurse we had spoken to before. His eyes flitted up and caught sight of Edward and I standing there at the counter, I'm sure looking a bit like kids getting in trouble at the principal's office. He stopped and turned his back to us so we couldn't see what he was saying.
The doctor and nurse stood there for a few more seconds talking with muffled voices and looking at the mystery information contained in the thick file. Edward was uncomfortable, I could feel it. I was too but I had to be strong for him. He would be a rock for me if I needed it. He'd already proven that time and again. The least I could do was return the favor. I squeezed his hand and took a step closer to him, grabbing his bicep with my free hand. I tried to convey my support with every fiber of my being. I felt him take a deep breath and relax just the tiniest bit. I loved that my presence could have that effect on him but hated that he had to be in this situation.
In what seemed like slow motion, the doctor shut the file and walked up to us, his face conveying no emotion…all business. I didn't like what my stomach was doing but tried not to alter the positive vibe I was sending toward Edward. "Mr. Edward Masen, Jr?"
"Uh, it's Cullen actually…but, yes, I'm Edward."
"Come into my office, I'd like to talk to you about your mother. We'll have more privacy there." It definitely felt like a trip to the principal's office now. I followed slightly behind Edward, our hands never leaving each other. We entered the office and the doctor motioned for us to have a seat. We did so but only after Edward nonchalantly scooted his chair closer to mine. We sat, never breaking contact. We had a death grip on each other, as if it were the only thing keeping us both from being committed ourselves.
"Well, Mr….Um, Cullen is it?" The doctor looked up briefly to see Edward's head nod in agreement then his eyes went back to scanning the various papers and reports held in the "file".
"It seems that your mother has decided that she is done fighting. Although we cannot find anything to cause it, your mother's kidneys and spleen have started shutting down. It seems the rate of deterioration is speeding up. From what we can tell, it should only be a few more days until….until her body can't sustain itself any longer."
We just sat there. Edward was obviously stunned and didn't say anything. I didn't know what to say so I just sat there quietly. Finally, after a few tense moments, the doctor cleared his throat. "Would you like to go see her?"
Edward didn't answer. He just stood up and pulled me close to him as he walked out of the office. We walked silently down the corridor and the doctor motioned for us enter the room before he turned and walked away. Edward and I stood there inside the doorway for a good 5 minutes just standing there….breathing.
I thought Edward was going to turn and leave when his body tensed in response to his mother's voice. "Edward?" It was weak and raspy but somehow familiar.
"Yes." It was the most vulnerable I had ever seen Edward and it reverberated through his single word.
"Edward, come on. We're late." Edward took slow cautious steps toward the bed. He stopped a step length away. In the bed lay a shell of a woman. Her hair was thin and unkempt. The shallows of her eyes were shaded purple and her lips looked dry and cracked. He body was thin and frail looking; her eyes distant and glazed over.
"Oh, there you are." Her smile was faint but genuine. "I've missed you. Now c'mon, we've got to go get Al and Eddie. What do you mean you haven't found them yet? You're so silly, they're at school. Let's go, I've missed them so."Elizabeth whispered. She turned her head to the side and drew in a deep labored breath, her eyes rolling back in her head. The whistles and dings from the medical equipment started sounding off, blaring loudly in the small room. With that two nurses came flying in the room, the doctor not far behind. They asked us to wait in the hallway. We could hear them calling out to each other things like DNR and v-fib. I'm no doctor but I've watched enough episodes of ER to know that Do Not Resuscitate and ventricle fibrillation is not a good thing.
We walked down to the nurses' desk and I could feel anxiety and worry falling off of Edward in droves. I tried my best to send him positive thoughts but there wasn't much I could do given the situation. Edward's eyes were trained on one of the monitors behind the counter. It finally hit me what all the jagged lines meant. Heartbeat. It was his mother's heartbeat. We watched as the bumps in the line spread further and further apart until finally they finally ended and the line went flat.
Edward was holding his breath and I guess I was too because we both jumped and had to take a few quick breaths when the doctor touched his shoulder. "Son, I'm afraid it went faster than I thought. I'm sorry but your mother is gone."
Edward didn't stay to discuss it. He turned, grabbed my hand and headed for the elevator. I wasn't sure what to say or do. I just followed his lead and walked out of the hospital. I thought we were going out to the car but we didn't stop when we got to it. Edward kept walking and I kept following. Beyond the parking lot, through a row of shrubs was a small garden. There was a sign there that said, "This garden is dedicated to the love of a wife and the grief of a mother" I wasn't sure what I should think about that but it didn't stay long in my thoughts. Edward walked directly to a secluded bench and nearly made me fall off balance when he spun me around so I landed in his lap. My legs were across his legs and his head was rested against my chest as his arms wrapped around my waist. I still wasn't sure what to do…until I felt his body shake. He was sobbing. Grieving for the mother he lost, not only today but so many years ago too. He opened his heart and showed me the depths of his love and loss. He wept into my chest and my heart broke for him. We stayed sitting there, silent, for a long time. Eventually his tears ended and mine shortly followed.
He pulled his head off my chest and looked into my eyes. His green eyes were red and raw with emotion. Even so, they were still the most beautiful things I'd ever seen. "Bella, I love you more than anything in the world but if anything ever happens to me, please promise me that you won't waste your life. Promise me you'll move on and make the most of it until it's your time. Promise me, please." Edward was looking directly into my soul. I knew what he was doing; he was begging me not to end up like his mother. I couldn't bear to say anything but "Okay".
I thought the funeral would break Edward, him being a pallbearer no less, but I was wrong. Esme and Alice both leaned on him for support. He was so strong. I was so proud of him. He really was a rock in a turbulent sea for me and his family.
Gran and Pop barely held it together but that was to be expected. I did what I could; fixing food for the hundred or so people that came to the house to show their respect. Elizabeth was buried next to Edward's father, no doubt she was finally happy to be next to her love again.
Edward and Alice visited the cemetery often. I chose to stay home. They needed that sibling connection when they went and I was always waiting at home with a shoulder to cry on for either one of them. It took the rest of the semester for the cloud of Elizabeth's death to lift and it came in the most surprising way.
'Well….I'm pregnant," Rose announced calmly during a visit over the summer. There was a moment of stunned silence. Carlisle and Esme shared 'the look'.
"And we are getting married in August," Emmett finished.
"So soon?" Esme choked out.
"Well, I actually proposed a while ago…before Rose got pregnant but it was around Aunt Elizabeth's death and we….well, we didn't think it was a good time."
"You couldn't even tell your parents?"
"There was so much going on, we decided to wait. We just want something small since I'm going to be showing then."
"What about school?" Carlisle asked, ever the concerned parent. "You still have another year left."
"We are both going to take courses during the second summer session and I'll still be able to attend during the fall semester. We can do this." Rose explained as she took hold of Emmett's hand. There was some fierce determination in her eyes and I knew without a doubt that if anyone could pull off school and motherhood it would be Rose.
"I'm going to be a grandmother!" Esme squealed. There was a round of hugs and giggles. Alice immediately jumped into planning for the baby shower.
The months leading up to the wedding were hectic to say the least. There were trips back and forth to NYC for fittings and such. Rose was putting her fashion education to good use and designing everything. Her dress, mine and Alice's bridesmaid dresses, Emmett's tux and Esme's mother of the groom dress.
Alice and I were both sharing the title of maid of honor, while Edward and Jazz were both standing up with Em as best man. Rose's parents were furious about her pregnancy but happy about her getting married and still finishing her education.
The wedding was held in Central Park with just family. We were all shocked that Rose didn't want something more lavish but she explained as long as she was marrying Em it didn't matter. It was a rather beautiful ceremony; Rose was absolutely radiant with pregnancy glow. Her specially designed dress accentuated her baby bump just right.
I don't think I'd ever seen Em happier. He even shed a few tears and always had a hand placed lovingly on Rose's belly. Rose and Jasper's parents didn't even bother to show for her big day. They bought her and Em an apartment instead. Rose didn't seem too bothered about it. "Esme is my mom; the one that matters anyways," Rose said.
After the wedding, Alice started pressuring Edward and I to set a date. She pushed and pushed, bringing in the whole family, including my mom. After much arm twisting we finally chose a day in December. The anniversary of the first time I told Edward I loved him; the day that I finally gave my whole to him.
We wanted to wait for the following year since it was so soon after Em's wedding but Alice overpowered us. I just wanted something small and simple. Rose was due around the beginning of December but she assured us that she and the baby would be standing at my side. We decided to steal Rose's idea and planned on dual maids of honor and best men.
As much as I had grown to love Chicago, I wanted to get married in Forks. My new life had begun there and I felt it was only fitting. The downside was Charlie would be certain to hear about it. We had not spoken one word since the day of our final fight. I hadn't even seen him since he stood in the back at my graduation. Oddly enough, I didn't miss him that much; at least not the man he was at the end. Edward tried to convince me to reconnect with him after Elizabeth passed away but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Charlie had died in my eyes and I couldn't accept the new person he'd become.
I let Alice take control of the planning. I made her promise up her first born child so she wouldn't go fucking overboard. The only thing I wanted control of was asking Emmett to walk me down the aisle.
Alice didn't object, in fact she thought it was the best idea of the whole wedding. Jazz even had to excuse himself from the conversation. He said he was going to get us some drinks but I swear I saw him wipe a tear as he walked toward the kitchen. Everyone knew what a big deal this would be to Emmett.
The wedding was all planned out; we were going to have a simple ceremony in the Cullen house. It was just going to be us, Gran and Pop, Renee and Phil a few old friends from Forks and a few new friends we'd made while living in Chicago. No more than fifty people.
All we were doing was waiting for the date to arrive….and watching Rose's ever-expanding belly in wonder. Emmett was so cute. He played the part of excited daddy to a T. Even though we were all separated geographically we all got together via webcam every Sunday. Em always started off with a belly shot of Rose so we could see how much the baby had grown. Of course, Rose didn't care. She was one of the lucky ones who looked like a toothpick with an olive on it. She had the perfect round belly with beautifully smooth skin. She was even asked to do some modeling in New York for a major maternity clothing company. I guess that's one thing her mother was kind enough to give her instead of buying for her, good genes for no stretch marks.
We all got together at Thanksgiving. Esme was in her glory. The kids were home; her boys were all happy and healthy and her girls were all uniquely busy; one about to get married, one coordinating everything and one about to pop. Esme had already converted one of the spare rooms upstairs into a nursery. She showed it to Edward and I before the others arrived. It, of course, looked amazing. It had the cutest bedding with little monkeys on it. I had to chuckle when Esme showed it to us. Rose used to call Emmett her "monkey man" all the time. I think it had more to do with their bedroom activities and less with his silliness as Esme claimed, but I wasn't going to be the one to tell her that. The walls were a soft sage color with chocolate brown accents and little monkeys hanging from vines around the ceiling. It felt very warm and inviting. Esme, of course, had it decked out with every accessory and it very well could have served as a magazine layout in a Parenting magazine.
We heard the door open and Carlisle's happy voice calling out "My other boy's home! And, wow… Rose, looks like we're gonna have a very healthy baby." We were all anxious to give hugs to them and see the infamous 'baby-belly' so Esme gently shut the door and we headed downstairs. It was difficult getting close enough to Rose to hug her and we all had a good laugh over that. She sniffed out some of the goodies that Esme and I had been working on and made a bee-line to the kitchen. Emmett scooped me up in his usual fashion after hugging his mom and dad.
"Jelly Belly!" Emmett's voice went up to a preteen screech as he swung me around. "I missed you! Oh and you too, Edward." Emmett held me up with one hand and did the slap-grab-bump handshake with Edward. "Alice, you look amazing as usual." Emmett bent down and kissed her forehead.
I was giggling in a strangled breath kinda way. Finally Edward cut in, "Ah, Em? Are you going to put Bella down or will we need to get a new fitting for her wedding dress to include you?"
"Oh…" Emmett giggled and gave me one last bone crushing squeeze and a peck on the top of my head. "I guess I better go save the kitchen from Rose. She's been in rare form today. OH BABY? WHERE ARE YOU?" Emmett went seeking his Budda belly to rub and Edward and I went to sit on the couch.
"Edward? I want to ask Emmett now." We'd been putting it off because of all the excitement with the baby and the sadness with Elizabeth's death. Edward told me to wait…I think he was secretly hoping that I'd patch things up with Charlie but I knew that wasn't going to happen. "We are only about a month away from the wedding and I think he should have the chance to say no before the wedding day."
"Bella, he isn't going to say no. Are you sure you don't want to…"
"NO!" I interrupted him before he could even finish his sentence. "I want Emmett to walk me down the aisle and give me away to you." I climbed up onto Edward's lap and took his face in my hands. "I've always been yours but soon it will be official, even in the eyes of the law." We touched our foreheads together and stared into each other's eyes. Neither one of us missed the loaded reference to the law…Charlie. "I love you, Edward."
"I love you too, Bella." He leaned forward and gave me a soft but passionate kiss.
"Hey, you two. That's how this gets started you know." Emmett and Rosalie walked into the living room. Emmett was walking behind Rose with his arms round her waist and his hands on her belly; even as big as he is, he couldn't reach all the way around her. Rosalie had a plate full of cookies and tarts and she was chewing on a leftover chicken breast from the dinner I made for the family last night. "Bella, mmmm, this is delicious. You really are going to have to come visit us for a week, or a month…or forever."
"I'll make you some freezer packs to take home with you. That way all Em has to do is heat them up. I'll hook you up girlfriend, don't worry. I can't have my niece or nephew getting subpar breast milk now can I?" We all laughed and Em and Rose took a seat on the couch next to us.
"Um, Emmett. There was something I wanted to talk to you about." I knew he wouldn't say no but I was nervous just the same. I wasn't sure if it would be too much to ask with the baby coming and all.
"Yeah, Jelly Belly. You know you can talk to me about anything." Rose didn't say anything; she just turned so she could see me better and continued to clear her plate.
"Well, I was wondering…if you would…" I swallowed and continued after a brief pause. "Walk me down the aisle at the wedding?" Silence. I waited a few seconds then looked up to try and read the expression on Emmett's face. I was expecting for him to be contemplating how to let me down easy. I was expecting him to, I don't know, be looking at Rose for assistance. But what I found was tears in his eyes and tears in Rose's eyes too. I must have had a confused look on my face because Edward finally broke the silence.
"Em?" That's all it took.
"Whoo HOOOO! I'm gonna give my Jelly Belly away at her wedding!" Emmett screamed at the top of his lungs. He jumped up and grabbed me up off Edward's lap. I swear he threw me in the air. Before I knew it I was swinging around and hearing the sounds of Emmett squealing. Rose was laughing and trying to get her pregnant ass up off the couch. Finally, Edward stood up and pulled her to her feet. Em, Rose and I were standing and jumping up and down like a couple of cheerleaders on speed.
After a few minutes we stopped and I wiped the tears off Emmett's cheeks. "So, is that a yes?"
"Of course it's a 'yes'. I'd be honored. You're as much of a sister to me as Alice is, Bella. I love you and I'd be happy to walk you down the aisle. Now GIVE ME A HUG!!" We embraced in a three way bear hug until Edward ventured close enough to be brought in. There we stood; a great amoeba of love and happiness until Rose suddenly jerked us back to reality.
"Oww. Oh shit." The look on her face was absolute horror. We all backed away a bit and looked at her.
"Did I hurt you, baby?" Emmett's face was full of concern.
"No…the baby….I think…" Rose screamed for Carlisle and everyone came rushing in. "I think my water just broke." She seemed dazed. I noticed her pants turned dark from moisture. Emmett picked Rosalie up and took her into the den. Carlisle and Esme followed right behind him. Edward and I stayed in the living room, too concerned to talk about anything. The door flung open and Alice came rushing in.
"Are Emmett and Rosalie here? Is everything okay? I fell asleep on the way here from the airport and had a dream that Rose was in labor."
Edward and I just looked at each other, our mouths wide open I'm sure. "Well?" Jasper walked in carrying their bags and looking worried. "Is everything okay?"
"We're not sure. They just took her into the den." After a few tense moments, Carlisle came out of the den with a huge smile on his face.
"Looks like we're gonna have a baby soon." He went about collecting things he needed and directed Edward to go get his emergency bag out of his trunk. Emmett came out of the den like a monkey on crack.
"I'm gonna be a daddy. I'm gonna be a daddy, RIGHT NOW!!!" He came and gave us all a hug and stood in the doorway of the den and ran in place for a hot second before going inside. He was so damn cute. He'd been waiting for this moment for nine months now and patience was not one of his top qualities.
We were left to wait. I decided to continue cooking the turkey, I was sure everyone would be starving after the birth. An hour passed before Esme came out to give us an update. "Rosie is being extremely stubborn and refuses to be taken to the hospital. She doesn't want anyone but Carlisle touching her."
"So she's going to deliver in the den? That's not very sterile, is it? What if she gets an infection, or what if there is a problem with the baby?" I freaked, wringing my hands in worry. If anything happened to Rose, or the baby, Em would never survive it.
"Don't worry, love. Dad knows what he's doing. It wouldn't be the first home delivery he's performed," Edward assured me gently.
"Carlisle has already called the hospital. They are going to send and ambulance over just in case." Esme patted my hand and went back inside the den.
Alice paced, Jazz strummed absently on his guitar. I busied myself in the kitchen and Edward attempted to help. Even after all these years of being with me, watching me cook almost every day, he was still a complete loss in the kitchen.
Every now and then we would hear Rose's cries of pain. Carlisle had no sedatives in the house strong enough to help so she was going all natural. Hours passed. I took the turkey out before it burned and it just sat, going cold. We were all too preoccupied with Rose and the baby to worry about eating.. The hospital did send an ambulance with two paramedics; we invited them in and fed them. At least they got a hot meal.
Finally in the wee hours of the morning Rose delivered a very healthy baby boy. He weighed in at just over nine pounds. Carlisle and the paramedics immediately loaded mommy and baby into the ambulance. "Everything is fine; the baby just needs routine tests," Carlisle explained on his way out.
Emmett of course went as well and we followed. We all piled into the waiting room, suddenly wide awake. After about an hour we were allowed in the room. Rose looked extremely tired. The first time ever I'd seen her not perfect but she still looked beautiful. She was glowing.
Emmett was holding the baby, looking every bit the proud father. "Hey guys. I'd like you to meet my son, Carson Eleazar Cullen." The small bundle in his arms made a soft cooing noise. Holding Edward's hand, I peeked into in the blankets. Carson was adorable. He was a perfect mix of Emmett's brawn and Rose's beauty. He had dark curly hair and it looked like he'd be sporting Rosalie's sapphire eyes. He had the cutest chubby little cheeks and chubby little fingers.
"Oh, Em... He's beautiful," I whispered.
"Thanks Belly." Em's eyes were wet. They were full of pure adoration for both Rose and his newborn son. I left a soft kiss on Carson's forehead and another kiss on Em's.
"You're going to be a great dad," I smiled and Em returned it. I went and sat by Rosalie while everyone else took their turns fawning over the baby and congratulating the new parents. We stayed until Rose fell asleep.
"That's going to be us one day." Edward said on the way home. His tone was more of a question than a statement.
"Yup." My mind flashed back to my teenage pregnancy scare and the visions of our baby my mind had conjured up.
"I fucking love you. You are going to be a wonderful mother." He brought my hand to his lips for a gentle kiss.
"And you will be an amazing father, once you learn to control your use of the word fuck."
"Yea, okay. That's going to happen." He rolled his eyes. "I think our son or daughter will be extremely cute wandering around the house in his or her diaper saying 'fuck' over and over."
"I don't think so." I laughed at the image of a miniature version of me or him toddling around in a diaper dropping F-bombs.
The next few weeks were so fucking busy. Finals, the new baby, planning the wedding. Rose and Em decided to stay in Forks until the new semester started. Esme basically hogged Carson, leaving Rose almost unlimited amounts of free time, except for the time that he was strapped to her chest. He was Emmett's son so 3 hours was a stretch. But in between, Granny E was "bonding as a grandmother should" so Rose started assisting with the wedding and getting everything set up.
I was starting to get nervous; not because I was marrying Edward but because I was afraid of falling flat on my ass in front of everyone. Rose and Alice were ganging up on me, forcing me to wear heels. The plan was for me to walk down the main staircase to the giant living room where the wedding was taking place. Em would be waiting at the bottom and he would walk me down the aisle.
"I'm going to trip, tumble down the stairs and end up with my dress over my head and my ass in the air in front of everyone," I whined.
"No, you won't. We'll practice. Just hang on to the banister." Alice was starting to get exasperated.
"The only way I'm fucking wearing heels is if Em walks me all the way down the stairs. That way if I start to fall, which I will, he can catch me."
Alice took a moment to contemplate. "You know, that just might work."
As soon as the semester was over all of us, including Gran and Pop flew to Forks. There were fittings and flowers and cake tastings and a never-ending list of things to do. I felt like I was being pulled in a million different directions. I was half tempted to just hand everything over to Alice but Edward stopped me.
"If you let Alice control every detail, we'll end up getting married in a grand ballroom in Seattle, with doves and a fucking carriage or some shit."
"Can't we just to Vegas?"
"I wish, love but we've got to give Em his chance to shine."
"Fine," I pouted.
Renee and Phil flew up a few days before the wedding. Our relationship had grown over the years, it felt like a mother and daughter relationship again. Renee loved Edward and considered him her son. She adored Em, in fact Em and Renee spoke to each other on the phone almost every week. She came to Forks fully loaded with baby clothes for Carson.
Everyone was concerned about the Charlie situation. He knew about the wedding, thanks to Mrs. Stanley who was still running her fucking mouth at the diner on a weekly basis. Rose ran into him once while she was running errands but he didn't speak to her. There was some worry that he would crash the wedding but I was sure he wouldn't bother. He hadn't contacted me in any way in all these years and even though he made quite the scene the day he took me away from Edward, it just wasn't in him to be dramatic.
The night before the wedding, Edward and I were forced to sleep in separate rooms. After all these years lying next to each other in bed, I desperately missed the feel of his body next to mine. We had not spent a night apart since the day I left Charlie's house. I tossed and turned all night.
I woke up to Alice jumping on my bed. "You're getting married today!" she shrieked.
I pulled the covers over my head and kicked my feet like an excited five year old. I couldn't help it. Today was the day. I would be officially his and he officially mine…forever. I threw the covers off and bolted out of the bed. I ran to look out of the bedroom window. For some reason I had this picture in my head of a light powdery snow on the day of our wedding. It certainly looked like my wish would be granted. There was an ever-so-soft flutter of fluffy white snow starting to trickle down. This was a good sign.
I couldn't help but smile as I walked down the hallway to my almost-husband's room. I slowly opened the door. "Goooood morning."
The bed was empty so I walked over to the bathroom door.
"Edward?" I knocked gently. No answer. I tried not to read too much into it but I couldn't help but feel my pulse quicken. My eyes focused on our already made bed and spied a note laying on my pillow.
My dearest Bella,
I wanted nothing more than to see your face this morning but my cock-head best man came and kidnapped me in the wee hours of the morning. I wanted nothing more than to kiss your lips but my ass-munch of a brother decided that since Carson wasn't sleeping then neither should I and called my cock-head best man who then came and kidnapped me. I wish I could have said goodbye but cock-head and ass-munch are standing over me as I write this. I love you more than anything in the whole world. I can't wait to call you my wife. You already have my heart but soon you will have my name. See you at our wedding!
Heart and Soul,
Alice came in and tore me away from my love note. "C'mon Bella we have SOOO much stuff to do. Your hair appointment is in a couple of hours. I think there might just be something waiting for you downstairs."
I couldn't keep the squeal from escaping my lips. Alice and I flew down the steps, hand-in-hand, like two kids at Christmas. I barely made it to the bottom of the stairs when I spied them; three dozen long-stem red roses. It was the biggest bouquet I'd ever seen. The beauty of it brought tears to my eyes, actual tears. There was a note here too.
My dearest Bella,
Roses are red
My love is true
In case I never said it,
I can't wait to marry you
7 more hours-Edward
Again, a tear. Alice's smile made me laugh at myself. Esme came over and gave me a big hug. "I made you a bride's breakfast. Not too much for the nerves but enough to keep your belly quiet during the I do's." I put my arm around her waist and we all walked into the kitchen. Rose was there holding Carson and being so incredibly maternal. Motherhood really did suit her well. There was no chance this baby would ever get money instead of time. He was a lucky little boy to have such a great family around him, and I am so lucky to be a part of it.
Shortly after we ate, I was whisked upstairs to get dressed in my button up shirt and escorted out to the car to head to my hair appointment. Rose got in the driver's seat and I shot her a confused look. "Alice has some 'things' to do and Esme needs some Carson-time. He'll be good for about three hours. I think dairy heifer runs in our family." Rose buckled her seatbelt and I got a very good view of exactly what she was referring to as the seatbelt parted Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa (the Hawaiian volcanoes were the first things to come to my mind to describe them. They were just as impressive.) Em must be a happy man.
I sat there like a good little girl while my hair was primped and primed and generally made a fuss over. Rosalie wouldn't hear of anyone but her doing my make-up and I wouldn't have it any other way. She did an amazing job. If I wasn't the one controlling the movements, I might not have ever recognize myself. Rose actually got a little misty. "Fucking hormones." It was all that was said, all that was needed.
I couldn't wait to get back to the house, back to Edward. Although, I was pretty sure he wouldn't be there. The men in this family are far from traditional, except where weddings are concerned. I wouldn't see Edward again until I was walking down the aisle. Alice came out and met us at the car. I stepped out and she gasped, holding her hand over her mouth. "Oh, Bella! You look amazing!"
"Thanks." I couldn't look her in the face, I didn't want to cry. I never knew this day would be so emotional. Happiness…pure happiness. Alice walked with me to the door and made me cover my eyes as she opened it.
"Okay, look at your wedding."
I opened my eyes and it was like something straight out of a Brides magazine. The entire living room and staircase were decorated in white roses and white satin with deep red accents. It was perfect. The chairs were covered in white satin with red roses etched on them and soft twinkling lights were hanging from the ceiling. It was beyond my wildest and most romantic dreams. Alice took me around the living room showing me all the spectacular details.
"Oh Alice…thank you," I said with a hitch in my throat. "It's gorgeous," I wrapped Alice into a hug.
"You're welcome. I'm just glad you approve. I was afraid you would think I went overboard…."
"No Alice. It's absolutely perfect," I squeezed Alice again and released her.
"Good, my first born is safe then. Let's go get dressed." Rose was upstairs waiting for us. She was already dressed and ready to go. Alice got ready next saving me for last so they could both help with my dress. The bridesmaid's dresses were both red strapless satin gowns with a matching satin wrap that tied in the back. Both of them looked amazing. Alice never looked less than exquisite and you never would have guessed that Rose recently gave birth. She'd been hitting the gym twice a day since Carson was 3 days old. Guess that pays off because she looked like a super model again…only with much bigger boobs. That was the only part of the dress we had to have altered. I thought they were going to have to sew in a panel for crying out loud.
Red was the only color we could all agree on. Originally, I wanted either black or purple bridesmaid's dresses. Alice tried to convince me to go with a light pink or a silvery-blue but I put my foot down. There was no way in fucking hell Edward would go for a wedding with blue or pink in it.
Finally, when Alice and Rose were done primping they helped me into my dress. It was an amazing strapless white dress with beaded detail and a ribbon of red trim along the top of the bust and all around the bottom. I felt like a fucking princess or something.
"You make a beautiful bride B," Rose complimented. She turned me so I could face the full length mirror. I was every bit the blushing bride. My eyes stared to well. "Damn B, don't cry. It'll ruin your makeup."
A few final touches and voila…I was done. My mom and Esme both came in to share the love. "Nervous yet?" Renee asked as she dried the tear in the corner of her eye.
"No. Well…I'm nervous about falling flat on my face but other than that...no," I smiled up at my mom. "I've never doubted my decision to marry Edward. I have no reason to be nervous."
"You always were more mature than me. I was a wreck when I married your father and when I married Phil," She sighed. "I wish you a wonderful life with Edward. He's perfect for you."
"Thank you mom." We shared smiles and with a pat on the cheek she turned to leave to take her spot downstairs. I was getting anxious to see my Edward again. I didn't have to wait long. Soon after my mom left, Emmett knocked on the door.
"You ready to officially become a Cullen, Jelly Belly?" He was dressed in a black tux with a white cummerbund, sans the tie. Edward refused the bow ties. It was a struggle just to get him into the cummerbund. His was red to match the trim of my dress. Jasper was dressed to match Em and waiting in the living room with Edward.
"I've been ready for years, Em." He laughed and despite Alice and Rose's protests he grabbed me and swung me around in typical Em fashion.
"Let's get this thing moving. I have a Bella to give away." We all lined up at the top of the stairs and Alice gave the cue for the music. The music started, and Rose walked first, slowly making her way down the stairs. Once she reached the bottom, Alice went. We waited until they were both standing at the altar.
"You ready?" Em whispered.
"Yes." He kissed me lightly on the top of my head and we began our descent. For a moment it reminded me of Edward and my first date when I was escorted down the stairs by Jasper. Amazingly, I reached the bottom stair without a trip or a missed step. Of course my eyes were trained on each stair as my heeled foot stepped down to it. Finally, I was safe and secure on flat ground.
That's when I looked up and saw Edward. He was standing in front of everyone, dressed in his tux, his shirt unbuttoned at the top since there was no tie. I don't think he ever looked more handsome. Everyone else melted away. All I could see was my Edward waiting for me. Emmett and I continued our journey down to the altar. When we finally reached Edward I could see a smile on his lips and tears in his eyes.
I barely paid attention to Em saying his lines giving me away. My hand was in Edward's and that electric pulse that kept me alive when I needed it was the strongest it had ever been. We repeated our lines, forever being bound to one another. Never losing eye contact.
The minister cleared his throat, catching our attention. "I…uh…I said you can kiss the bride." Everyone giggled at the fact we completely missed the final part. Edward grabbed me and dipped me backwards, laying a passionate kiss on my lips.
There was a round of applause and the minister presented us to the guests. "It is my pleasure to present to you the new Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cullen." The musicians played the traditional wedding processional as we walked back down the aisle and into the den. There we greeted all of our guest and stood for pictures and congratulations. Edward's hand hardly left mine the entire night. The reception was in the living room as well, Alice had caterers all coordinated to move the chairs and bring out tables and the food while we were in the den. I barely ate a thing, though I heard many compliments on the food. I was too excited.
The drinks were flowing but since there was Carson and other children around no one got seriously drunk. Everyone was relaxed and having a great time. It was perfect.
Toward the end of the night, Edward got up with his guitar in front of everyone and sang the first song he ever sang to me. Everyone cheered; most people there had never heard him sing before.
Finally, I was ushered upstairs to change; we were leaving for our honeymoon. Alice and Rose had already taken the time to pack some bags for me. We were actually going back to Friday Harbor for the third time but this time we were going alone. We could have gone anywhere in the world, it was Carlisle and Esme's wedding present to us, but we felt that Friday Harbor was the perfect spot. It held such a special meaning to us.
After a quick goodbye to our friends and a longer goodbye to our family, we took off. The drive was a nice break from the craziness. Edward held my hand in his as he drove, absently stroking his thumb over my fingers. "You're mine now," he whispered.
"I've always been yours. Before I even realized it, I belonged to you."
"But now it's official. I will never leave you. No one will ever try to take you from me again."
"Nope. I'm yours forever. You're stuck with me, even if I get fat from having kids, or old and gray and wrinkly. Even after I'm all hunched over with a walker and I have to turn the volume all the way up on the TV and I fall asleep at the table during dinner with drool running down my chin."
"Wow that's a sexy fucking image you put in my head on the way to our honeymoon. I didn't even think about all that. Shit…can I take it back?" he smirked. I playfully shoved his shoulder.
"Fuck you! It also means that I'll be stuck with you even after you can't get it up anymore and you have ear hair and false teeth and a prosthetic hip."
"Sounds like I'll still be hot." We both laughed and he brought my hand to his lips for a soft kiss. "I don't think I'll ever have a problem getting it up with you."
"I love you, Mrs. Cullen."
"I love you too, Mr. Cullen. Forever."
After the honeymoon we returned to Chicago to finish off school. We were surprised to find out that while we were in Friday Harbor, Alice and Jasper flew down to Vegas and eloped.
"I single handedly planned two weddings within months of each other. I need a break." she explained.
Esme was upset but understood. Rose and I were a little hurt that we didn't get to stand up for her as bridesmaids. "We'll renew our vows in front of everyone, but after things calm down a bit. I have graduation parties to plan now and I should get a head start on Carson's first birthday." Alice stayed true to her word and planned amazing parties for all the events.
After their graduation, Rose and Em decided to move to Seattle. Em got a great job teaching history and coaching football. I thought Rose would want to stay in NYC and become a fashion icon but motherhood changed her whole world. She stayed home with Carson and started designing more stylish maternity and baby clothes. She was actually a hit in Seattle and most of the local retail stored picked up her clothing line.
Once the four of us finished school, I was offered a position at a restaurant in Port Angeles. We wanted to stay as close to Forks as possible. Esme never expressed her true feelings but we could see that she missed her children terribly.
Alice and Jazz followed us to Port Angeles and found an apartment down the street. Alice continued her art and was featured in a gallery in Seattle. She never had a set job, just randomly did artwork and graphics for business, schools, and the local theater group. Every few months or so she would sell a painting. Talent like hers doesn't come cheap and she had a laundry list of people waiting for one of her pieces.
Edward and Jasper were a little lost at first, not knowing what to do with their music degrees. They gave music lessons for awhile, played back up for an unknown band or two. It was around six months after moving back to Washington, that Edward's friend Jesse contacted him.
Jesse was still working at the music store but he and a friend were renovating an old building and turning it into a club. They wanted Edward and Jazz to help them out. It was just a hobby at first, something they did in their spare time but it eventually turned into a real job. They both helped run the club, booked new and unsigned bands; did promotional work, they even played there on occasion. Eventually Edward and Jasper bought out Jesse and his partner and became owners of the club. It was definitely a hot spot in Port Angeles and was packed from open to close.
Edward was ecstatic to be making a living off his music. We were both doing what we loved, we had our family close. Renee came to visit every few months for the weekend. I was completely happy; it was like a fairy tale.
Less than a year after being in Seattle, Rose announced she was pregnant again. "It's a girl," she glowed. We watched her grow her perfect round belly again. She was around seven months along when she and Alice came to visit me at the restaurant for lunch. I gave the kitchen over to my assistant and went out to the dining room to sit with them.
"What's wrong B? You like a little green," Rose asked.
"I'm okay. Just feeling a little nauseous. Edward tried to cook for me the other night. I haven't felt right since." Rose patted my hand but Alice was eying me suspiciously. Suddenly her face lit up like a Christmas tree.
"You're pregnant," she spouted out.
"W-what?" I sputtered. "No...it's just the food...I…" I froze, thinking back over the previous weeks.
I was pregnant.
"Oh my god. I'm pregnant!" I squealed. Alice and Rose jumped up and drew me into a group hug. The lunch ended soon after that, because Rose and Alice made me go to the drugstore and buy a test. Alice insisted that I use the store's bathroom and we all huddled into the handicap bathroom stall together, staring at the tests.
"I can't believe you made me pee on three sticks," I chided.
"It was buy two get one free, it's a bargain," Alice beamed.
"How long has it been?"
Looking at her watch, "It's been one minute,"Rose answered, chewing her lip in excitement. "But you know, when I first took a test, it was positive before I could stop peeing on it."
"Can I look now?" Alice asked, jumping from foot to foot.
"No! I have to be sure. We wait three full minutes," I said in a huff.
That was the longest three minutes in my life.
"Someone else look, I don't want to be disappointed if I'm not pregnant."
Alice squeezed my hand and bent to get a closer look, "I see a plus sign."
"A plus sign?" I asked. "Are you sure?"
"YES! All three tests have plus signs! Oh my god, Bella you're pregnant!" Rose and Alice started to jump up and down, hugging me in the process.
"I'm pregnant," I whispered to myself.
I wanted to tell Edward as soon as possible. I raced over to the club. He was sitting on stage during a sound check for the band that was playing that night. He saw me come in and smiled. I walked over to him as fast as I could, willing myself not to just blurt it out. He could tell something was up before I even opened my mouth.
"What's wrong, love?" He hopped off the stage and ran to me. "Are you alright?"
"Edward. I'm pregnant." I couldn't contain myself. Everyone was watching but I didn't care.
"What?…How?…Are you sure?" Seriously, how? Why do people ask how you got pregnant when they know HOW you got pregnant? He was present for the whole thing; he shouldn't have to ask "how".
"All the signs are there…Alice just pretty much confirmed it."
"Alice…" He trailed off. The realization spread over his face. "I'm gonna be a dad," he wrapped and arms around my waist and swung me around. "You hear that everyone? I'm going to be a fucking dad!" He shouted to everyone in the club. A cheer went up and there was a round of drinks given out. Except for me, of course. "I love you so fucking much Bella…" he murmured in my ear. "…you and our baby."
"I know. I love you too," I whispered back. The whole family was excited. The following months were a blur. Rose gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Natalie Elizabeth. Alice and Jazz renewed their vows so everyone could attend and then announced at the reception she was pregnant with twins.
"A boy and a girl. I can tell," she rubbed her belly.
My belly swelled; I wasn't lucky like Rose, to look like I just swallowed a cantaloupe. You could definitely tell I was pregnant. Edward called me beautiful every day, showing my belly off to anyone that would look at it. "My wife, my baby," he would say.
Finally, the day came. Edward and I were lying in bed, watching lame made for TV movies. I had a bowl of Rocky Road ice cream propped on my stomach. My back had been hurting all day but I thought nothing of it. Then I felt it, the sudden pain and a feeling like I wet my pants. "Edward. It's time." His eyes grew wide and he flew around the room searching for the hospital bags that were already packed and waiting by the door. I laughed at him as he put his shoes on the wrong feet, freaking out about getting me to the hospital in time.
"How the fuck can you be so calm?" he asked.
"I'm in labor, trying not to focus on the pain." He let out an exasperated sigh and helped me to my feet. I called Alice and she passed the word to the whole family and made sure everyone knew where to meet us. As soon as Carlisle got there he took over, making sure I was comfortable. I liked my doctor but I loved Carlisle. It was an arrangement we had made when I attended my first OB appointment. Any OB that couldn't deal with Carlisle would be dealing with me.
It wasn't nearly as bad as the stories everyone felt the need to share with me over the previous months. Yes, it was painful but it was also so worth it. It took me all night and Edward was by my side during the whole thing. Early in the morning, our daughter, Carlie Marie Cullen was born.
She was gorgeous. Auburn curls that matched her father's. Her eyes were that standard baby blue-grey color but darker than most. I could easily see them turning brown like mine. She was perfect, in every sense of the word; cute and pink and pudgy and warm, and ours.
She had Edward wrapped around her tiny fingers as soon as she made her first gurgled cries. He was putty in her palm. She was definitely going to be a daddy's girl.
Renee flew up within hours of Carlie's birth and gushed over her grandchild. The family stayed for most of the day, fawning over Carlie, talking turns holding her. She looked minuscule in Em's arms. He was so soft and gentle with her. He had a long talk to her about how he was her Uncle Emmett and how he would always be there to protect her and kiss her booboos and swing her around. It was adorable. I think Rose got it all on video. I'm sure Carlie will have a much better appreciation for the talk when she is a little older. We were all having a great time until there was a gentle knock on the open door.
Edward saw him after me and reached for my hand. The other's followed our gaze and the conversation abruptly stopped. There were a few mumbles of 'excuse us' and they all filed out of the room.
"Do you want me to stay?" Edward asked, his eyes still on Charlie.
"No, it'll be fine. Here, give me Carlie." Edward passed Carlie slowly into my arms and kissed both of our foreheads.
"I'll be in the hallway." he said, directed more at Charlie than me. He left but didn't shut door completely. There were a few minutes of awkward silence before I decided to speak.
"What are you doing here, Charlie?"
"I wanted to see you…and my grandchild," he said, his voice low and unsure. He looked older. His hair and mustache were speckled with gray. There were lines around his eyes and his shoulders slumped a bit.
"How did you know where we were?"
"Your mom. She kind of ripped me a new asshole this morning."
"You deserve it."
"Yeah," he sighed. "I really did."
"You missed our wedding." I said accusingly.
"You didn't invite me." Charlie shrugged. He leaned against the wall, trying to seem casual but failing.
"I didn't think you'd come if I did." More silence. Carlie let out a soft coo, distracting us both.
"I was there you know."
"Where?" I was confused.
"The wedding. Well…I was parked outside; trying to figure out of if I should try to come in or not. I didn't want to cause a scene on your big day. I wish I could have seen you. I bet you looked beautiful."
"You should've been there. In the wedding, not outside sitting in your car like a coward. You should've been at my college graduation. You should've been there, like Renee was, when Edward's mother died. You should've been there to congratulate me when I got hired at the restaurant." I raised my voice at the end of my little speech, causing Carlie to jump in my arms. I took a deep breath and continued. "You've missed a lot Charlie. It's been six years and not so much as a fucking phone call."
"It's a two way street Bella. We both did and said things we need to apologize for. I admit I was a complete asshole and a sorry excuse for a father but you were my little girl. I just couldn't let go. I felt I needed to protect you."
"I didn't need to be protected from Edward. He saved my life. He loved me when I thought no one else would. He's my world."
"I know...I should've done things differently. I should have seen…I'm sorry Bella. I'll understand if you don't want to forgive me but please…I just want to be a part of your life and Carlie's life too. My grandfather was the best part of my life. I want to be that for her too." Charlie reached over and gently stroked Carlie's soft curls. Something about the way he looked at Carlie, the hitch in his voice, and the sadness in his eyes melted my heart.
"I can't forgive you over night."
"I understand. Take your time. I can be patient." He fiddled with the zipper on his jacket. Charlie was never a nervous person, I never knew him to fidget. He was really trying. Carlie gurgled and I realized that no matter what bad blood there might be between me and Charlie, she was the most important thing and she deserved a complete family.
"Would you like to hold her?" I offered.
"Ummm…yes. I would like that very much." He walked over slowly and gently lifted Carlie out of my arms. One look was all it took. Charlie was her's . He grew all misty eyed as she wrapped a small hand around his index finger. Charlie didn't stay long but I did promise him that as long as he apologized to Edward's face, he would be welcome in our lives.
"I'll do whatever it takes, Bella. Just let me know what it is and I'll do it."
"I will. Thank you…and for what it's worth…I'm sorry too." He nodded, placed Carlie back into my arms kissing us both gently on the forehead and quickly left the room, most likely before his emotions got the better of him.
Edward came back, making his way to my bed and curling up on the bed next to me and Carlie. "Things okay with Charlie?"
"I think they just might be. It will take time but yeah…I think it'll all work out." Edward threaded his fingers through mine and I leaned my head on his shoulder. Carlie was sleeping soundly snuggled safely between us.
"I don't think I'll ever be able to sleep again, Love." Edward whispered into my ear.
"Why?" I opened my eyes and raised my head to look deeply into his.
"Because all my dreams have already come true. I have you, forever, and now we have her." Edward stroked the back of Carlie's hand with his thumb. "Everything's perfect."
"Yeah, it is pretty perfect, isn't it? Thank you Edward… for Carlie, for everything."
"You're welcome, Love, I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. You've given me far more than I could ever repay just in this little bundle of wonderful." Edward's eyes were gazing lovingly at our daughter. It was so beautiful it brought a tear to my eye.
We brought our foreheads together and eased into a peaceful sleepy silence. And for the first time since I met Edward Cullen, I was completely optimistic about my life…every part of it.
A/N: Cried as I wrote THE END. Just so you know. Crying as I posted this and I'm going to continue crying as I hit the little 'Complete' button.
So…that's it. I hope the ending lived up to everyone's expectations. There was a lot crammed into this Epi and there is a good reason for that. Due to Vamp's promotion (which is a GOOD thing) she no longer had as much time to dedicate to the fic and it just didn't feel right to write it without her. That's also the reason there won't be a sequel but I feel the ending leaves it so there doesn't need to be one. However, we did auction off an Outtake for the Fandom Gives Back. Hisbrandofheroin won us and we will be posting her outtake as a separate fic sometime before Xmas. So you have to look forward to but you'll need to have me on author alert to be notified of it being posted.
On to my thank yous.
First, I want to thank Vamp (of course) for offering to help me when I first started this. I never could have done it without her. She put up with all my shit and whining. She gave me a swift kick in the ass when I needed it, and inspiration when I was blocked. I love her! Thank you Vamp. You will forever be my fic yang.
MissSnazzy, she was the first person I talked to about this fic. The first person to read the chapters. She encouraged me to write this and continue it even after I thought it was horrible. She's an awesome friend and an AMAZING writer. Thank you, Miss Snazzy!
Larin20, well…she's just awesome. We became friends because of this fic and I am so fucking glad. Because of her, I met all my BFFFers. She is one of my best fandom friends and I honestly love her. She also fixed the mess of these last 3 chapters with her kickass beta skillz. Thank you, larin!
RoseArcadia, she has been an amazing supporter of this fic. She made a thread on Twilighted, made banners galore, gave the fic it's 1000th review and has shared some great RobPorn with me. Thank you, Rose!
Thank you Kimbercullen for making me an incredible banner.
Thank you Auroraluna & Doc for being the best fic pimps in the world.
Thank you mom2kandg and slobber_monkey for supporting this fic since the beginning.
Thank you strippedfan for being so awesome and your amazing reviews.
Thank you, (btw I'm using your twitter names) littlelea, dancn_stacy, akeim, RebelMissAlex, emmaleewrites05, sherri_ada, MadamePlume, LisaHR79, jennjennpro, dixielou8, doc, shay and elfinchakie for being the BEST BFFFers EVAH.
Actually…thank you to ALL the BFFFers. Greatest group of women ever.
Thank you Doc, Shay (again) and erica. I love you guys. You're like my sisters.
Thank you to all my IMDB girls, you guys are the first friends I made in the fandom.
It is normal to have this long of an A/N at the end of a fic? Oh who fucking cares.
Last and certainly NOT fucking least, I want to thank every single person that read this, reviewed and put it on favs/alerts. I would have given up months ago if it weren't for you and your support and love and kickass reviews. This fic only made it cuz you guys are so fucking awesome. I'd give you all a big fucking Emmett hug if I could. This is the first time since high school I've actually written anything of substance. Personally I always thought my writing sucked and you guys made writing fun for me again. So THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.
There isn't an outtake for reviewing this Epi but I hope all the same people review anyways. I'd really like to know what you thought.
Thanks again, and you never know. I might write something again soon.