3 Months Later


"Bella, babe, are you OK? You look a little pale?" I asked in a hushed whisper as I curled my fingers gently underneath her stubborn chin. Although she tried desperately to man-up and pretend she wasn't air-sick, I knew better. During the entire flight to Tucson, Bella's facial expression screamed "Oh my god I'm gonna hurl, but I'm too damn proud to admit it." Not to mention this was our third and final appearance in court…I'm fairly certain that alone had a lot to do with her not feeling well. The outcome of our efforts to gain custody of Abby would be revealed today.

"Yeah, um, I'm fine Edward. Just…just nervous I guess," she stammered while shifting her weight from her right foot to her left. "I'm, uh…I'll be right back."

A curt smile eased its way across my face as I turned to watch her walk briskly around the corner to the restroom. Yep. Typical Bella. Stubborn as a damn mule.

I stood there for a moment and ran my hand through my hair as I thought about all that had taken place within the last three months. James had finally come out of the closet…as if he really needed to. Flamboyance and an intense, undying love for Neil Diamond were the most subtle of hints. Come to think of it, he's the only man I know that could wear the hell out of a Pepto-pink polyester pant suit and get away with it. Yeah, James was alright in my book. He may play for the other team, but he had a gigantic heart.

Mike and Jessica finally tied the knot, although they swear her pregnancy had nothing to do with the rushed nuptials. I can't decide who I should direct my deepest apologies to… Mike, Jessica, or the child they conceived. I know…that answer is way too easy. If it's a girl, she will no doubt possess the same beauty as her mother. And no doubt her mother will teach her how to use that beauty advantageously. If the child happens to be a boy, he will someday make a Track and Field coach very happy. I felt sorry for the kid; you can't pick your parents.

Rose and Emmett didn't last long. In fact, the day after Bella caught them with their pants down; Rose was spotted with her legs wrapped around Ben Chaney in the parking lot of The Pocket. Talk about someone who gets over shit quick and moves on. Emmett was so heartbroken that he attempted to rob the corner store in a last ditch effort to win Rose's affection. I find it refreshing to wave at him while he stabs at litter that has been so cruelly tossed onto the side roads of Forks. A vindictive giggle rumbles in my chest every time I see him now…I only thought he looked goofy and brain-fried in his Don Johnson ensembles…The orange jumpsuit he wears now only enhances the primate-like characteristics he already displayed. Emmett the Orangutan. I know, I shouldn't be so cruel to monkeys.

Jacob and I have since made our peace. Sober and with a clear head, Jake's not as difficult to deal with as he once was. The truth about Rebecca and what happened on that night spread quickly throughout Forks, Jacob of course being one of the first residents of that crazy little town to hear it. And rightfully so. It wasn't easy to land a weary foot onto the reservation that had banished me. Jake was a smart mouthed little bastard and always had been, but he deserved the truth. I owed him that much. He didn't take it well at first, but as the healing process began and now, with the short passing of time, I have earned his respect. And in return, he has earned mine, tenfold. Jake had enough common sense to get the hell out of there and go to college. He'll make one hell of a lawyer someday.

Sarah died of a heart attack a few weeks after the room for Rene was finished. That was a difficult time, not only for me, but for the town of Fork's as a whole. I squeezed my eyes tightly at the painful memory and swallowed hard the affection and admiration for the one person in my life that truly cared about me. With her open heart and unselfish acts, Sarah Donovan will be greatly missed.

Jasper and Alice have become inseparable. I can't think of two people more deserving of happiness than those two. As soon as Old Man Roberts, Fork's only mechanic, passed away, Jasper drained his trust fund and bought the run down shop and flipped it into a jaw dropping, mesmerizing and impressive classic car dealership and repair shop. Alice is now Assper's official backseat, hood of the car, trunk of the car, front seat of the car…hell, any place on an automobile that must be considered for comfortable fuckability, tester. Oh yeah, and his receptionist, too. I have a feeling though that when word gets out about Alice's "other" responsibility, Jasper will have a hard time selling any of the cars on his lot.

It's amazing what chaos and lunacy can manifest in just a few short months. But, I'm not complaining. I've learned quite a bit about myself during my return to the bizarre, barely a blip on the radar, town of Forks. How could I complain? I met the love of my life with just by following an impulse to take a left turn at the four-way stop.

No longer able to suppress the laugh that had found its way into my throat, I let it go. Uncontrollable and very well deserved, the sound echoed through the long corridors of the courthouse, and earned some very concerned and pitiful stares from the small crowd gathered at the entrance to the neighboring courtroom that I had failed to notice during my reverie. I waved apologetically and turned swiftly on my heels and took a seat on the bench that rested against the wall.

Just as I sat down, I too, felt a vicious wave of nausea. Even with all the shit I had been through in my life, I never expected to be sitting outside a courtroom awaiting the verdict of a custody case. Was I, Edward Cullen, former woman chaser, heart-breaker, and world renowned pain in the ass…Ok, maybe not the entire world…ready for fatherhood? Leaning back slowly against the bench, I let out a worrisome sigh as I considered the question.

It wasn't long before closing my eyes that I realized the very question I had asked myself came with a list of sub questions…you know, those nagging little hypotheticals that nip at the tail of the original question, like a dog chasing relentlessly after a passing car.

What if Abby doesn't like me? Immediately, very frightening scenes from Problem Child and Home Alone tauntingly crossed my mind. Ugghhh….Could I possibly endure the purposeful and menacing acts of a brilliant child with a personal vendetta against me?

Is she potty trained? Again, filthy and disturbing images of poo-filled diapers flitted through my head, followed by a violent shudder and a wrinkling of my nose. I giggled silently . Imagine me, Edward Cullen, changing a diaper…hysterical indeed.

What if she cries? I hate it when girls cry. Will I be able to console her?

My heart and mind grew heavier with visions of me waving goodbye to her on her first day of school…Running to catch her as she falls of her bike…Scaring the shit out of her first boyfriend when she brings him home to meet me for the first time…Getting all choked up as I watch her step elegantly down the staircase dressed beautifully for prom…and then of course there's college, then marriage, becoming a grandparent…

"Edward…Edward..." I sat up quickly at the loud whispering of my name, and my eyes fluttered lazily as they tried to focus.

"Bella, hey…" I mumbled. Bella smiled and shook her head as she sat beside me. "You puked, didn't you?"

"Did not," she replied sharply through clenched teeth. I smiled that famous crooked smile as her eyes became narrow slits, sending me a sideways glance while she sat back and pouted.

"Fine. I won't argue."

A few moments passed and we sat together in complete silence while we waited. Our lack of patience and worry was obvious to those around us. With Bella's constant, stress-filled sighs and the continuous bouncing of my knee, it wasn't hard to guess, really.

That bitching uncertainty fled as soon as I felt the smoothness of Bella's skin as she slid her hand in mine and gripped it tightly.

"Yes, she's potty trained for crying out loud, and, she's a brave and tough little girl, so she won't cry that often. Oh, and she knows how to ride a bike already, so you don't have to worry about that, and no boyfriends allowed in the house, ever, so…" Bella continued to prattle on calmly, yet rapidly, for a few seconds as I turned my head and stared at her in awe.

"Wait a second, how did you know…" I asked as I curiously interrupted her marathon of appropriate responses to the very personal and very much unspoken questions that I had just been fretting over.

"Edward, sweetie, you dozed off while I was gone. You have this adorable and annoying habit of talking in your sleep," she replied with a gentle smile and a knowing wink.

Damn. What could I say? Nothing. The only thing I could do is wonder what else I had let slip while I slept. Oh well, must not have been too bad. She was still here with me and holding on tight. And I n couldn't be more grateful.

"By the way," Bella whispered softly as she laid her head on my shoulder. "She's going to like you just fine."

All unsettled thoughts fell away at the soothing reassurance in her voice, and I breathed a sigh of relief before placing a kiss to the top of her head.

"Miss Swan…" Startled by sound of a deep voice, we stood abruptly, hand in hand as we faced the uptight and way overdressed gentleman standing beside us. He tilted his head in the direction of the courtroom as he opened the door. With short reluctant steps, we walked down the narrow center and took our place.

With a deep breath, I glanced nervously around the large open space, my eyes finally settling on the Professor himself. Seriously, what was Bella thinking? He was taller than me, but only by a fraction of an inch, thinner, nearly bald and definitely less attractive. Oh well, doesn't matter. That was before she met me and now wasn't the time to concern myself with petty thoughts of curiosity.

Finally, the bailiff announced the judge's return by requesting that we all rise. As I began to turn away, I caught the Professor's eyes as we stood. I nodded in acknowledgement and returned his nervous and slightly arrogant smile.

Bella grabbed my hand and held it so tight, that for a split second I could swear I felt bones cracking.

"Edward, what if…" she began.

"Bella, it's going to be alright," I assured. She sighed and settled in close beside me as the judge seated himself. After harshly clearing her throat, the judge shuffled the stack of papers in her hand and turned toward Bella.

"I must admit that in my short ten years as a judge in family court, I have never had a case tug so hard at my heartstrings. Miss Swan, I want to express my gratitude and respect. It is quite refreshing to see someone as young as yourself taking on such a heavy responsibility. Working as hard as you have to ensure that your mother receives adequate and quality care is admirable. Hard to find such dedication within a person of your age these days, and I do believe that a selfless act such as you have displayed deserves the respect of everyone present in this courtroom today. We have heard both sides of the story today, in detail; probably more detail than was necessary, but nonetheless, was still heartfelt and most definitely entertaining."

A faint murmur of giggles filled the room at the judge's last statement as those in attendance recalled carefully selected fragments of testimony that had previously been heard.

"After a thorough and precise walkthrough of the evidence presented in this courtroom today, and a very long, interesting conversation with Professor Garrison, I am pleased to inform you that I find that you, Isabella Marie Swan, possess the ability to provide a proper home and the financial stability to care for your daughter. The child's biological father, Professor Michael M. Garrison, has agreed to grant you sole custody. Please consult with your lawyer's and they will inform you of any further action required by both parties. Congratulations and good luck Miss Swan."

The relief in Bella's eyes was evident. They were clear, free from worry and strife. She was even more beautiful than before.

"I don't believe it!!! Edward…How? Oh my…I just…" I raised my hand to her cheek, just in time for my thumb to catch the tear that she tried so hard to keep from falling.

"I told you it was going to be Ok. You fought hard for the past three months, hell, for that past few years to get Abby back, and it paid off. You deserve this."

"I know. It just all seems so surreal. Like a dream. First you, now Abby. I just have so much to look forward to."

"Indeed you do," I said with a smile before pressing my lips against her forehead. "Come on, let's go get Abby."

We held hands as we walked to the small room at the end of the hall where we were instructed to wait. After what seemed like an eternity, the door slowly creaked open.

"Mommy!!" The high pitched voice came as Abby skipped happily over to where Bella was sitting.

"Abby, oh my goodness! How I have missed you!!! Look at you, getting so big!!!" Bella replied as she scooped her into her arms and gave an embrace that only a mother could give.

It was then that the answers to all the silly questions I had asked myself during a power nap became clear.

Yes. I was definitely ready for fatherhood. Who in their right mind could resist that angelic smile, those bouncy, waving curls, bright sparkling eyes? All that and more. Abby was the spitting image of her mother. And with the instant joy that filled the room, the love that was shared between the two was undeniable. Yes. This is exactly what I wanted and exactly where I needed to be.

"Abby, sweetheart, there's someone I want you to meet," Bella said, as she took her by the hand led her over to me. "This is Edward. You'll be seeing a lot of him, Ok. He's very nice and very, very funny."

I giggled a little as Bella glanced at me. A calm feeling came over me when tip of my index finger fit perfectly into the grasp of a tiny little hand.

"Hi Edward," Abby greeted me as she gently shook my finger from side to side.

"Hello, Abby. It's nice to meet you," I replied.

As I glanced back and forth between Abby and Bella, I realized that this is what life was all about. Having a purpose, something to fight for, someone to fill in the empty spaces of your life. And to be here with Bella, and seeing her smile like I had never seen her smile before was worth every bit of shit I ever had to go through in my life just to get here. Honestly, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

"We should get going. We have a long trip ahead of us," Bella encouraged as she took hold of Abby's other hand. Time seemed to stand still as the three of us held hands and walked slowly through the waiting room door.

"Where we going, Mommy," Abby asked sweetly as she look up at Bella.

Bella took a deep breath and smiled at me before glancing back at Abby.

"Home, Abby. We're going home."

A/N: This story is now complete! I apologize for leaving you guys hanging for so damn long.