Disclaimer: The characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. The plotline is completely mine. Chapter one
July 20th 2007
I gently rubbed my cousin's shoulders to calm her frazzled nerves. She was about to step into the church to marry the love of her life and she was trembling like a leaf.
"Rose, you need to take a deep breath for me, okay? Just breathe through it. When you set foot on that aisle and your eyes find Emmett, you will forget all about this stress and you'll just float through the rest of the day. Everything will be fine."
She drew in a shaky breath and turned to me. "Oh, Bella! Thank you so much for being here. I cannot believe that I don't have you as my maid of honour. I wish my mother hadn't been so adamant about the necessary blood relation."
"It's okay, hon. I understand and I am actually glad that I can just enjoy the day as a guest without all the obligations. I can just be there for the moral support and the fun parts. When you decide that something hasn't been done right I just dispose you into the capable arms of Jessica and Lauren," I said with a snicker.
"Ugh! You are insufferable! How can you call those two capable? It's ridiculous that my mother thinks those bitches are suited to be my bridesmaids, while I have never had a better friend and cousin than you."
I smiled sweetly at her. "Deep breaths, Rose. You're up to bat. I'll look for you coming down the aisle. I love you, so just go and get your happiness with that hunk of a man."
She hugged me tightly before straightening up and focusing on her breathing. I slipped out of the room and motioned Lauren to inform the organist to start.
She sneered at me, but did it anyway. I just shrugged and made my way to my seat, near the front of the church. I made a small wave to Emmett, who looked as nervous as Rosalie. He smiled timidly and I gave him a reassuring smile in return.
Rosalie and Emmett had moved away a year ago because Em had gotten a job in the family firm. I had only seen them again two days ago, when I flew in from Phoenix. They were still as happy as I remembered and I felt blessed that I was able to witness their union.
The music had started and Jessica was heading up the aisle with Jasper, Rose's brother. He inclined his head towards me and I beamed back at him. He and I both still lived in Phoenix, but because we were both busy we hadn't seen each other as much lately. Besides, he had been in Seattle to help Rosalie with the wedding for the past four weeks. We had tried to get together to catch up, but failed at that. He then promised me we would dance tonight and then try to make plans for somewhere during the next couple of days.
I now focused on the next couple that walked down. Lauren was looking dreamily up at the man next to her, who I assumed was Emmett's brother. I had never met him, but I heard he was a rebel on the outside, but a sweetheart on the inside. I smiled wistfully, remembering a boy I knew that was like that. Briefly I wondered what happened to him, but then Rosalie entered on her fathers arm and before I got a chance to check what Emmett's brother looked like, I was trained on my cousin and best friend. The nervousness melted off her face the instant her eyes found Emmett, just like I had expected and I sighed in relief.
"Oh, Bells. Isn't Rosie beautiful?" My mother breathed next to me.
"Yeah. She looks so happy, doesn't she?"
"I couldn't agree more. I have tissues in my purse, in case we need them."
I chuckled softly and squeezed my mother's shoulder.
The ceremony was simple and beautiful and both my mother and I needed the tissues she had stashed in her purse. My father scoffed at us, but when the vows were read, I noticed him wiping a stray tear away. He was a quiet man, but he loved his family fiercely and I knew that, if I would ever marry he would be a nervous wreck. The thought made me smile and I made a mental note to tell him soon, how much I loved him for taking me in, despite Renee's objections at the time.
After the ceremony we were all driving in a long line, back to the house of Emmett's parents. I had only seen Dr. Carlisle Cullen and his wife Esme once, but they seemed to be very loving and the stories of Emmett and Rosalie backed that up. Their house was a beautiful white Victorian mansion, with a couple of modern twists, like the back wall of the house that was entirely made out of glass.
We were ushered to the backyard, where a big party tent was set up, decorated with beautiful white flowers and small twinkling lights. My mother, put her hand on my arm to stop me.
"Bell, look who's here," she murmured in my ear.
"Mommy!" I heard my baby girl squeal.
I turned around and crouched down. She came thundering towards me and flung herself in my arms.
"Hey, baby! How did you get here?" I asked, raising a questioning eyebrow at my mother.
"Uncle Jacob had to go to work and Aunty Leah wasn't home, so he brought me here," Emma said, pointing behind her.
I glanced over and sure enough, my babysitter for the day was heading our way.
"I'm really sorry, Bella. I got an emergency call, they need me at the station and Leah is in La Push, visiting her brother. His wife just had a baby."
"It's no problem. At least Em is wearing a nice dress," I said smiling.
My little girl squeezed me tightly. "I missed you mommy."
I gently stroked her hair. "Missed you too, baby."
Jacob kissed my cheek and told us goodbye, before he took off sprinting towards his cruiser. He and I met in when I just moved in with Charlie and Renee and after two disastrous dates decided to be friends. Jacob and his girlfriend Leah moved back to Seattle a couple of months ago, because his father had gotten sick and wanted to move back to his home-town. Jacob wouldn't let him go alone and Leah had not objected, because her family was from the area as well. I missed them both very much, but at least I still had Jasper close by.
I carried Emma into the tent. "Let's go find Aunty Rose and Uncle Em, okay? You need to congratulate them," I whispered into her ear.
She giggled and tickled my neck with her tiny fingers. For the second time that day, my thoughts floated back to the boy that I once knew. The boy that was my first love and the father of my little angel, but I quickly shoved those thoughts aside. Now was not the time to reminisce over the things I had lost along the way. I needed to focus on the future.
I moved towards the end of the line of people that were waiting for their turn to offer their support to the happy couple. Emma was looking around with wide eyes and suddenly she gasped and stiffened in my arms.
"What is it, baby girl?"
"Mommy, why does that man look like daddy?"
I swallowed hard and turned to follow her gaze.
It couldn't be, could it?
But I was wrong.
There he was. His bronze hair still as dishevelled as I remembered, his emerald eyes shining brightly. He had gone from the boy I knew to an insanely gorgeous man. His face had become more angular and from what I could see from across the room, his body had also changed into that of a man.
"Emma, promise me one thing," I whispered to her.
"What is it momma?"
"Don't talk to that man before I give you permission, okay?"
She looked at me in confusion, but nodded slowly.
"Mommy?" she whispered, her hands cupping around my ear to prevent any sound from escaping. "Is that my daddy?"
I gulped and took a deep breath. "Yes," I whispered into her reddish brown curls.
I had no idea what to do and when I finally reached Rosalie and Emmett, the worry and confusion showed on my face, because Rose pulled me away from the line of people instantly.
"Bella, what's wrong?"
"I can't tell you that right now. I'll talk to you when you return from your honeymoon, I promise."
She told me I'd better keep that promise and then quickly returned to her task as the bride. I quickly moved around the tables to find my seat. With shaky legs I slid into the chair and glanced around the table at the other cards. I would be sitting with my parents, Rose's parents and Emmet's parents.
Not a single person my own age and not to mention the aunt and uncle that despised my very being. Of course I didn't know anybody here, aside from my parents and aunt and uncle, so I should really be glad they decided to place me with them.
"Promise me one more thing."
"Please, don't say anything to other people about your daddy, okay? I know it's not nice to keep a secret, but I need you not to tell anybody, okay?"
She smiled sweetly at me and placed her hands on my cheeks. "Yes, mommy. I promise."
I smiled at her and hugged her close to my chest. A few minutes later the other guests went to their seats and the wedding party took their seats at the big round table closest to ours.
"Aunty Rose is so pretty," Emma sighed.
"She sure is," Esme, Emmett's mother agreed with her. "But you are very pretty too, little one."
Emma beamed. "Really?"
"Really. What's your name, honey?"
"Emma! Emma Swan and this is my mommy. Bella."
I smiled timidly and reached out my hand. "It's nice to see you again Mrs. Cullen."
"Please dear, call me Esme. But you say we've met before?"
"Only once. When Rosalie and Emmett moved out here, I helped them unpack and we talked very briefly."
"I'm really sorry but I don't remember. I have, of course, heard a lot about you and it's really nice to meet you. I promise I won't forget this time."
Emma giggled. "I'll help you remember," she offered.
I kissed the top of her head. "Sure you will."
She turned around to face me. "Mommy, can I go play?"
"Stay where I can see you, okay?"
She nodded, her curls bouncing wildly and her green eyes sparkling with mischief. I shook my head at her attempt to look innocent. She was as bad an actress as me, but I decided to give her some room. I lifted her off my lap and told her again to stay where she could see me and I could see her.
"How old is she?" Esme asked as we both watched her run to the dance floor where a small dark haired boy was dancing by himself.
"She's five. She'll be six in February."
"She is lovely. She has you features, but I'm guessing she had her father's colouring?"
"Yes she does."
"Where is the lucky father?"
I heard Charlie choke on a sip of wine, but I decided to ignore it.
"We lost contact before I found out I was pregnant, so I honestly don't know."
Well, at least I didn't know until today.
I was grateful that Charlie and Renee never saw Edward or the few pictures I regularly showed Emma, because there was no mistaking who he was once you've seen him. No matter how long ago those pictures had been taken.
"I'm so sorry to hear that. If you'd know where he was, would he want to be there for her?"
I smiled. She was genuinely interested and it was a nice change of pace. I would normally mostly get questions for the sake of gossip.
"I think so, but we haven't seen each other in over six years. People change, so maybe if he found out now…." I trailed off and felt my mother squeeze my shoulder.
"From what I've heard from Bella over the years, he would no doubt try his best to help her take care of Emma. She really loved him, but the circumstances drove them apart."
I smiled sweetly at her. She had resisted Charlie for two weeks, but one night I woke up from a nightmare and she was at my bed to comfort me. I told her all about what happened, and we've been thick as thieves ever since.
"That's so unfortunate," Esme said quietly.
She opened her mouth to say something else, but someone at the wedding table clanged the knife against a glass to draw our intention. Emma came skipping over and crawled into my lap.
I looked up and noticed that Edward was now standing.
"Dear, family and friends. As best man, I was ordered to make a speech by my lovely sister-in-law Rosalie."
My breath caught in my throat.
Oh, no! He is Emmett's brother?
My mother and Esme shot me a questioning look, but I shook my head and gestured back to Edward.
"The problem is, I have no idea what to say. I have missed out on a lot of their relationship, so I cannot give you embarrassing stories of their first date, the first time they kissed, or anything of the sort and that saddens me. But I have been fortunate enough to witness this unique love over the past two years. I have seen the way my brother can stare at Rosalie from a distance and look like he just won the jackpot every time. I have felt the comfort and love they radiate when there are together and firsthandedly experienced that once you break through the tough exterior of our Rose, she is a loyal and fierce friend. I could not have wished for a better girl for my brother. I have to admit that seeing you two together can sometimes make me a bit jealous, but then I pray that one day I might be as lucky as you two and you'll get a taste of your own medicine. Rosalie and Emmett, I wish you both all the best for your future and I hope all of your dreams and wishes may come true."
He raised his glass and the room erupted in applause. Emma sighed dramatically and turned to me. She covered my ear with her tiny hands again and leaned in.
"Daddy is really handsome. You should dance with him," she whispered with a small giggle.
I laughed lightly and hugged her close. I glanced up at the other table and caught Edward looking at me curiously. I smiled shyly at him and for a brief second recognition flashed across his face. He looked shocked and slightly disbelieving but eventually he smiled back.
My heart sped up at the sight of that crooked grin and realized I still loved him. I tore my eyes away from him and kissed Emma's curls. When I looked back up he was gone.
Dinner passed without another sighting of Edward and I was slightly disappointed. I chatted with my parents and Esme and Carlisle, while Emma boasted about her room at home and her friends at school.
After dinner, Emmett and Rosalie came over. "Has any of you seen, Edward and Lauren?" Rosalie asked.
"No, sorry honey. Did you need them?"
"Well, we'll be opening our first dance and I was hoping they would at least be there for it."
"I told you, Rose. Edward is probably busy dancing himself."
I felt sick to my stomach and looked down at the table cloth.
"Their loss," Rosalie muttered. "Let's just dance, Emmett."
She smiled at me and ruffled Emma's hair before they took off towards the dance floor.
"Mommy, can we go dance?" Emma suddenly asked, bouncing on my knees.
"Sure, we just have to wait until this dance is over."
She grinned and then proceeded to ask my father and mother the same question.
"Well, little miss," Carlisle spoke, leaning across the table. "It seems your dance card is getting full, but would you save me one?"
Emma squealed and clapped her hands. "Yes, yes!"
Esme laughed heartily. "She reminds me so much of my daughter, Alice."
"She's not here?"
"No, she's stuck in Paris for her job until next month."
"Ah, that's a shame. If she's like my hyper little girl, I'm sure we would've gotten along just fine."
"I'm positive," Esme said with a wide smile.
Emmett came to claim his mother for a dance and Rosalie invited her father. When I watched them, I noticed Edward and Lauren stumbling back into the tent. Lauren's hair was mussed up and her lipstick was smeared. Edward looked a little more composed, but there was no doubt about what they had been up to and I felt jealousy clawing at my insides.
I looked away and focused on the dancing couples. The group was growing and when the song ended, I immediately got up to keep the promise I had made to my daughter.
I held her in my arms and we spun around the floor, our foreheads against each other and whispering silly things, like we always did at home and for one glorious song I forgot all about Edward and Lauren coming back from a romp somewhere on the premises.
A/N: I discovered along the way that I had managed to get some inconsistencies into my story. It was easier to revise the first two chapters, so therefore I now replaced the old version with this one. The only change that has been made is how Jacob and Bella know each other. (It comes back in chapter 25/26.)