A/N: This is it. Let's hold each other.
I don't own Twilight, but I saw 'The Princess and the Frog' tonight and it was kinda cute.
BPOV - December 25, 2011
"Mommy… Daddy…. Santa here," called out Hayden as he plowed through our bedroom door and jumped up and down on the bed. Edward and I had been up till almost two in the morning trying to put together all the toys and finish wrapping everything that needed to be done. We had tried really hard, and I think we had been successful at keeping the illusion of Santa Claus alive for our now three year old son.
Today was also his birthday and we had decided to hold a party for him in a few days, so that he didn't get overwhelmed by the fact that this birthday and Christmas fell on the same day. Of course Hayden was young enough not to care, but we felt like they should be celebrated separately. We already had the party planned, his 'Go Diego, Go' cake was on order and all of his friends from pre-school would be over on Saturday for the event. Unfortunately, we still had to get through Christmas first.
"I et present ow," he stated rather than asked and Edward wrapped his arms around Hayden and pulled him down onto the bed between us.
"You have to wait for Mommy and Daddy before you go open any presents. We have told you this big guy," Edward explained as Hayden gave him a small pout that was truly adorable. "Do you think Santa would like it if you started acting up now?" In his three years, Hayden had turned into quite the little handful and in order to keep him in line, we may have threatened that Santa wouldn't come and visit if he misbehaved. Surprisingly, it had worked.
"No, Santa mad," said Hayden as he bent his head down slightly, feeling pretty remorseful for being so excited about Christmas.
"It's okay buddy… why don't you go to the living room and give Mommy and Daddy a minute to get dressed. We'll be right down okay?" I said sweetly as I ran my fingers through Hayden's unruly auburn locks that reminded me completely of Edward. Even when we got his hair cut, it just ended up a disheveled mess five minutes later. I watched as Hayden eagerly jumped off the bed and we listened to his little slipper clad feet as he ran down the stairs.
"Don't open anything," Edward yelled down at him as he we both reluctantly climbed out of bed, feeling the aches and pains of being up so late the night before. "They need to make toys that build themselves on Christmas Eve."
"Think positive hon," I began to say as Edward turned to look at me, curious as to my remark. "We could have bought everything from Ikea. You'd still be down there putting stuff together."
"You buy one shelving unit that takes you three days to build and you never live it down," he said with a frown as he headed towards the bathroom and I stopped him, giving him a sweet kiss on the lips, which just left me wanting more. Even seven and a half years into our relationship, I couldn't help myself around him.
When Edward and I finally went downstairs a few minutes later, we found Hayden sitting cross legged in front of the tree shaking a box. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was actually for Grandma Esme, which made me laugh. "That's not for you buddy," I said as I pulled the box from his tiny hands and he looked downright disappointed.
"It's big," he announced as I nodded my head in agreement. Of course, it was only big to Hayden. It was actually just a pashmina scarf in a large sized box, because it was the only size they had at the store when I had purchased it. "Can we open now?"
Edward stepped into the kitchen and began a pot of coffee and a cup of tea for me, as I sat down with Hayden and peeled another present from his hands that he had just taken from under the tree. "Not all of these presents are for you Hayden. Some are for Mommy and Daddy, and there's a few in there for baby Noah, Grandma Esme and Grandpa Carlisle," I explained as Hayden's eyes little grew wide at the mere mention of his grandparents. They were the most doting grandparents ever, having finally made the move to Manhattan earlier in the year when Rosalie and Emmett announced they were expecting. Carlisle was on the verge of retiring and worked from home most days, so they sold the house in Boston and moved a little south to New York, settling into a small, for them, apartment on the Upper East Side.
"Grandpa! Yeah!" Hayden exclaimed excitedly, clapping his hands together. "We see Grandpa soon?"
"Yes Hayden, we will see Grandpa, Grandma and the whole family this afternoon at Uncle Jasper and Aunt Alice's house." He was so excited with this news; I think that if the tree was not a mere two feet away from him, he would have forgotten about Christmas altogether.
I managed to calm Hayden enough that he wasn't ready to rip into every gift, but when Edward came into the room holding a coffee for himself and my tea, I knew Hayden was getting antsy. Edward and I decided that easiest thing to do was to have one of us hand out the gifts so that Hayden could take his time, but Hayden had other ideas because when we handed him the first present, a remote control truck that Edward wanted more than Hayden probably did, he lost interest in all the other presents and spent ten minutes playing with just that truck. Edward and I spent the following five minutes explaining that there were other toys and presents under the tree, with Hayden finally getting the point and going through all his gifts like a madman.
In my infinite wisdom, I had sorted the presents to the side that we were taking over to Alice and Jasper's later in the afternoon, so that Hayden couldn't get his hands on them. Just as we were winding down to the last few gifts, Edward handed me a small box that I knew for a fact wasn't under the tree earlier in the morning. "What did you do now?" I joked with him as he slipped the box into my rather reluctant fingers. As per usual, Edward and I had decided to exchange only small gifts, but for him size apparently meant the size of the box and not the cost.
"Nothing, I swear. It's little," he said with a small blush as Hayden grabbed a box from under the tree and began shaking it.
"Wait bud, that's for your Daddy, we'll give it to him in a minute," I said as I grabbed the thin box from Hayden's hands and rested it in my lap before I opened the small box and gasped at the diamond earrings that laid within it. "These are beautiful Edward."
"Not as beautiful as my wife," he replied genuinely as he leaned forward and kissed me sweetly, with Hayden trying to steal the box from my lap. "What's this?"
"This is your gift. I didn't spend nearly as much on it as you did on mine though," I said remorsefully as I handed it to him and Hayden crawled into my lap. I wrapped my arms around Hayden and watched intently as Edward tore open the wrapping paper of the small narrow box and then pulled off the top to find a t-shirt folded up neatly within it.
"A shirt… thanks baby," he said quietly, sounding a little disappointed.
"Read the shirt," I said anxiously as he quirked his eye brow and then unfolded it, holding it up for what seemed like a really long time before he brought it down.
"Are you serious?" he asked as his eyes lit up with excitement and I simply nodded my head. Edward leaned forward and kissed me, with a little more passion this time, squeezing Hayden between the two of us as he showed me just how excited he was. "This is the best gift ever." I couldn't help but smile as Edward pulled away and yanked off the shirt he was already wearing to replace it with his new one which read, ' Be kind to me, my wife is pregnant.' "When are you due? Do you even know? When did you find out?"
"Calm down with the questions baby! I suspected something about a month ago and I took a home pregnancy test that came out positive. I didn't want to get your hopes up after what happened last time," I said quietly as Edward wrapped his arm over my shoulder and pulled me against him. I wiped a small tear away as I remembered the miscarriage we had suffered through not long after Hayden turned one. "I decided to go to the doctor two weeks ago and when I found out it was all good, I hatched this plan."
Hayden climbed from my lap and went to go play with one of his new toys as Edward pulled me onto his lap, wrapping his arms around me. "It's honestly the best Christmas gift I could ever ask for."
"I'm due at the end of July, so consider the birth a belated birthday gift," I laughed with a small smile as Edward kissed my lips sweetly and tightened his grip on me.
"I hope it's a girl," Edward said happily as I brushed his unruly hair away from his eyes and kissed his cheek as one of his hands moved gently across my stomach, rubbing my stomach sweetly. "I just have a feeling it's a girl."
EPOV - July 27th, 2012
I was nervous.
Bella was clutching at my hand as hard as she could and I was trying to maintain some semblance of calm as I instructed her through her breathing exercises. It didn't help that New York City was currently in the midst of a heat wave and the air conditioning was on the fritz in the building. I felt like I was melting in the fiery pits of hell.
"We're sorry about the temperature in here. It should be fixed any minute now," our nurse Brenda, explained sweetly as I simply shook my head and Bella turned into little girl from 'The Exorcist'.
"You have been telling us that for the past three hours," she yelled out as her hand gripped mine tighter. "I would really appreciate it if you would either stop lying to me, or just get this damned kid out so I can relax."
"I'm sure they are doing all they can Bella," I stated supportively as I used the cold washcloth to wipe her forehead and hopefully calm her somewhat. Bella and I were most anxious because we were going through a normal labor, unlike with the birth of Hayden which had been drama filled. Well, normal if you discount the heat wave and air conditioning issue.
Hayden was currently at Aunt Alice and Uncle Jasper's house for the next few hours, most likely cooped up within the confines of their air conditioned brownstone playing toys. Alice & Jasper were expecting their own little bundle of joy in mid December and were thrilled to be able to babysit for us. Hayden was three and a half and even though he had his moments, he was usually a joy to be around. However, the moment Bella went into labor, he started calling out for Alice & Jasper, so we were relived they were home and eager to take him off of our hands.
Bella's labor had progressed nicely and she had even gotten the epidural this time around, which had pleased both of us. In fact, if it wasn't for this damned heat wave, life would have been as peachy as it could be considering my wife was about to give birth.
"She's crowning," called out Dr. Edison, who was Bella's new OB/GYN. Her previous doctor had retired not long after Hayden came along, and we were referred to Doc Edison who actually was located closer to Bella's work, which was convenient. We were worried about having a child vaginally after requiring a c-section with Hayden, but thankfully it wasn't all that uncommon and Doc Edison was very encouraging about the entire situation. "Edward, did you want to see your child being born?"
I was beyond eager to see the miracle of child birth, even though the video we had watched in our original birthing classes had freaked me out. Bella nodded her head at me and I practically jumped up from my seat and stepped beside the doctor, eager to see my daughter being born. Well, we didn't know if it was a girl or not, but I was certain. Until I watched the baby come out and saw another penis. I was wrong.
"It's a boy," Doc Edison announced happily as Bella began crying tears of joy and the nurse came up beside me to have me assist in cutting the umbilical cord, which I did with ease. Once he was all cleaned up and Bella was holding him in her arms, we had a small debate brewing.
"I'm thinking Casey," said Bella as I looked down at our son and shook my head in the negative.
"Um no. I can't handle Casey Cullen. It rhymes too much, plus I think my Uncle Oscar has an illegitimate daughter named Casey," I admitted ruefully as Bella shook her head in frustration.
"Okay, then let's reconsider the name Eugene, since your screwed up family tree has the corner on the other name I like," declared Bella as unnamed baby boy Cullen began moving his lips around, signaling that he was hungry. He latched on to Bella a lot easier than Hayden had and I was a little relieved, thus allowing me to go back to our conversation.
"Eugene was never a serious consideration Bella. If we named him that, the only thing we are assuring ourselves it that he would get beat up on a regular basis in the schoolyard," I stated firmly, because to me the name was never entertained. "What about Jackson or even just Jack?"
"Well, the way you said 'Just Jack' kinda reminded me of that show 'Will & Grace', but I kinda like it. What do you suggest for a middle name?" questioned Bella as she repositioned lil baby Cullen a little bit and he seemed even more content as he enjoyed a leisurely lunch. I hadn't even taken into consideration that it was just past two in the afternoon and Bella's labor had only lasted about six hours, since we arrived just after eight in the morning.
"Umm… middle name… what about… Charlie? Charlisle? Carlie? Okay, I wanted something with the dad's names in it, but all my suggestions suck," I said with a nervous laugh as Bella looked at me with a quirked eyebrow. "Let's skip those suggestions and go with Isaac."
"I like it. When I think of Jackson, I think of Jackson Pollack, so you know I love that," Bella explained as I nodded my head in agreement. "Isaac is for the oldest Hanson brother?"
"Um no. I was thinking it could be for Isaac Albeniz, one of the greatest romantic composers," I told her as Bella smiled brightly at me.
"Jackson Isaac Cullen sounds really good baby. Sorry you didn't get the little girl you were expecting, but I hope you are pleased with this little bundle." I reached over and stroked the small tuft of brown hair on my newborn son's head, feeling completely fulfilled at that moment.
"I'm not upset at all actually," I told her honestly as I kissed the top of Jack's head and then leaned up to give Bella a kiss. "I'm thrilled because he is the perfect addition to our family. I wouldn't mind eventually trying for a girl, but we can consider that in a little while, after this one is at least one."
"Thanks for giving me a reprieve before we try for the next one," Bella laughed as I kissed her again and then she forced me to leave the room and call my family to let them know that the newest little Cullen had finally made his way into the world.
I stepped out into the hallway and was greeted by the smiling faces of my parents, who both looked excited to meet their third grandchild. Emmett and Rosalie had beaten Bella and I to the punch and had managed their second child, a daughter named Charlotte a little less than a month ago. Noah was a proud big brother, even though he was only one and a half. They clearly wasted no time moving onto the second child.
"How did it go? Alice called us shortly after Jasper picked up Hayden and we were too excited to sit at the apartment and wait for word. We hope you don't mind that we just showed up unannounced," my mother declared as I pulled her into a big hug and breathed a sigh of relief on her shoulder.
"So, where's my newest granddaughter?"
"Still in my loins apparently… we had a boy, named Jackson Isaac Cullen," I declared as my mother broke into tears and my dad pulled me into a hug and patted my back earnestly.
"I had two boys first and then a daughter, so have faith. I know you really wanted a girl, but I think it will happen for you two when it is meant to happen," he explained, giving me yet another small speck of wisdom that several years ago I never thought I would hear from him. I thanked him before stepping back into the room to check on Bella and then bringing my parents in to see Jackson.
When I watched Bella hand Jackson off to my mother, who was literally smiling from ear to ear, I knew my life was almost complete. If only I could see into my future and see when we would be blessed with the daughter I had been dreaming about, life would be perfect.
BPOV – July 15, 2018
"Momma, Hayden is pinch me," screamed Grace as she ran down the stairs of the house, her little feet carrying her as fast as they could. Edward and I were finally blessed with a daughter three years after Jack came along, and she was a precocious three year old.
As she ran into the room, her little chiffon dress making a ton of noise as she ran with her dress shoes on, I couldn't help but grab her around the waist and hold her in place. Hayden and Jackson were right behind her, in their little suits, looking adorable yet troublesome. "What's going on?"
"Grace wouldn't leave us alone," stated Hayden firmly as Jack just nodded his head in agreement. "We were trying to get your present wrapped and she wouldn't let us do it. She ripped the paper and…" I raised my hand to silence him and Hayden knew to quit when he was ahead. Unfortunately, Grace didn't have the same brains.
"I just wan to help em and they say no," explained Grace as I sat her back on her feet and then lined all three kids up in the hallway outside of mine and Edward's bedroom.
"Listen you guys, Dad is going to be home any second now and all of this is a big surprise for him, so please stop with the bickering and yelling. Momma and Daddy have been married for ten years as of today, and Momma is gonna make a big announcement, so please behave," I pleaded with them as Hayden nodded his head and then stared down his younger brother and sister, who both followed his lead and silently nodded in agreement.
I had Hayden usher the kids downstairs and into the living room, where they were to wait for Edward to arrive. He had been working late nights ever since he opened up his own business, composing music for movies and TV Shows. He had been in high demand at his previous job, but wasn't getting paid as much as he deserved, so when Edward said something, his former boss Paul fired him. It ended up being the best thing that could have happened for him because after a weekend of stressing, even though he didn't need to because we had plenty of cash stored away, Edward decided to go into business for himself.
I had been a little scared at first, but the transition into self employment was practically seamless. His newly retired father helped him with the business aspect of everything and Edward quickly advised all of his former clients that he was on his own. They preferred working with Edward, over the previous company, so almost everyone jumped ship to the new business and it was thriving, which of course meant long hours for my husband.
I finished putting on my pearls that Edward had given me for our fifth anniversary and made my way downstairs, finding the kids watching Nickelodeon as they waited for their father. I pulled the lasagna out of the oven and slipped in the garlic bread, having planned on one of Edward's favorite meals for dinner. When the timer went off to signal that the bread was done, I had spent the fifteen minutes busying myself in the dining room and getting the table set.
When Edward finally walked in the door just after six, everything was ready for him.
"Where are my hellion kids and why is the house so quiet?" he asked as he put his briefcase down beside the door and closed it behind him. "Usually Gracie is running up to me before I can even get out of the car."
"They are behaving themselves in the living room."
"Did you forget what today is?" I questioned him as he pulled out his iPhone and looked at the date.
"Ah fuck. I am an idiot. In the craziness of opening the business, I completely forgot about our anniversary. I promise I will make this up to you Bella," he declared as he strode confidently towards me and wrapped his arms around me, a small frown on his face as he leaned forward and kissed me feverishly.
"Well that was unexpected Mr. Cullen, but I am not upset. I knew you would be too busy to remember, but don't worry about it." I grabbed his hand and ushered him into the living room where the kids were still behaving themselves and watching TV. They looked so much alike, yet so different, and I smiled at as I wrapped my arm around Edward's waist and looked over at our kids. "Dinner is ready, so why don't you guys go into the dining room now."
Hayden grabbed Grace's hand and helped her from the living room, like a doting big brother. "Seriously… what did you do to our kids?"
"Nothing," I admitted honestly as I walked into the kitchen and began to serve the lasagna. Edward practically drooled as he looked at the spread, which included Ceaser Salad in addition to the bread and pasta. "They just wanted to do something nice for us on our anniversary. They have some sort of gift for us that they did themselves too."
"Really?" he asked incredulously as I nodded my head. "I feel like I am in the Twilight Zone."
"Just enjoy it."
"Oh, I plan to."
Edward helped me bring the meal into the dining room and the kids were eager to dive right into dinner, since I wouldn't let them snack earlier in the day. The conversation was quiet and casual, but Grace was her usual giddy self and could barely sit still. She ended up getting lasagna on her dress, ruining what had effectively been a perfect night. Once Edward had gotten her all cleaned up and she was sitting back in her chair, looking upset with herself, Hayden decided to break the tension.
"Here's the gift we got you guys," he announced as he got up from the table and fetched a package from the buffet table. He handed it to me and I looked at Edward tentatively, waiting for a signal from him. He nodded his head and I ripped open the package and gasped when I found a beautiful framed picture of the three kids.
"Grandma Esme did it," said Gracie happily as Jackson was quick to correct her.
"She didn't do it Grace. She had the picture taken and it's being made into a painting," he declared as my eyes grew wide and I noticed Edward looked just as shocked as I did. "You should get it soon."
"You are kidding right? Grandma Esme had you guys sit for this wonderful photo and she is turning it into a painting?" Edward asked, reading my mind. Jackson nodded his head with a wide smile on his face and I stood up to kiss each of my children excitedly.
Once the shock had worn off, Hayden and Jackson cleared the table as I fetched dessert from the fridge. I brought the tiramisu and set it on the table, waiting for the kids to sit down before I cut it up and began to dish it out. Before anyone could start eating, I decided it was time to give them all my surprise.
"So… I have an anniversary gift for your dad, but also for you guys too," I said as all the kids sat there, excitement in their eyes unsure of what I was going to say. "This dinner was all planned for a reason. We are going on holiday in early August." Edward began to protest, but I held my hand up to silence him immediately. "Don't look at me like that. I already spoke to your assistant, who has confirmed for me you have no deadlines or big compositions due around that time, so you are free of commitments."
"And where are we going on holiday?"
"Disneyworld?" asked Jackson, who was now sitting in his seat practically shaking with anticipation.
"No buddy… it's not Disneyworld," I said with a laugh, knowing full well Edward and I were already planning to take the kids over the Christmas holidays, to celebrate both Christmas and Hayden's tenth birthday. "We are going to Lake Como, Italy to stay in a private villa I have rented for us. I wouldn't cook Italian food if we were going to Disneyworld."
"No shit?" shouted out Edward, before he caught himself and apologized for swearing. Edward and I hadn't managed to make our way to Lake Como during any of our visits to Italy over the past fifteen years, and it was somewhere we were both desperate to go. The timing couldn't have been more perfect.
"To make things even more exciting, Aunt Rosalie and Uncle Emmett are coming with Noah, Charlotte, Anna and Mary," I added with a laugh, because we still thought it was hilarious that Em ended up with three daughters after his initial son. For a couple who wasn't overly keen on starting a family, they certainly made the most of their time together. "Aunt Alice and Uncle Jasper are also coming with Camille and Randall."
"Really?" Hayden exclaimed eagerly, no doubt looking forward to spending time with his favorite cousin Randall.
"Yes… really. We leave in two weeks, so don't start packing yet," I laughed as Edward stood up and hugged me tightly as he whispered in my ear.
"I love the trip, but I'm glad to have my brother and sister there. Hopefully they can watch the kids so we can have some alone time."
"Why the hell do you think I invited them?"
EPOV – June 20th, 2028
I sat in my office at the house and it already felt empty. Hayden had only been gone a few days, but without him bouncing around the house, literally filling it with all the noise that came with him, it was different than I expected it to be.
Of course Grace had the house filled with her teenage girlfriends now that school was out and Jackson was usually outside playing soccer or baseball with his friends in the back yard. Bella and I had moved into a bigger house not longer after Grace turned five, determining that our small house in Bedford was a great starter house, but not where we planned to raise our kids long term. We had been living in our current house for almost eight years now and had enjoyed every second. Sure, the commute into the city took a lot longer than it used to, but it was worth it.
When the phone rang and no one answered it immediately, I couldn't help but wonder what was wrong. Every time it had rang in the past, Grace was quick to answer it. I reluctantly rang my fingers through my hair and picked it up, expecting to find one of her friends on the other end.
"Cullen residence," I stated coolly as I was advised by a voice on the other end of the phone that I was getting a collect call from England. "I will accept the charges."
I was excited because I knew Hayden was on the other end of the phone and it had been almost three days since he had called last. He had called when he landed in London, but I had been at work and Bella answered, talking to him quickly as he confirmed his flight had arrived safely.
"Dad?" I heard Hayden question as I breathed a sigh of relief.
"Hey Champ… how is London?" I asked as I heard voices in the background and was immediately curious. When Hayden had mentioned he was using all of his graduation money from the family to travel to Europe over the summer before heading to Northwestern University in Chicago, I couldn't have been happier, although I was a little wistful."
"It's awesome Dad," he exclaimed as I heard him tell some people in the background to shut up as he tried to talk to me. "You will never guess what happened to me when I got to London?"
"Yeah, you are right… I won't be able to guess, so just tell me," I said with a laugh as Bella walked into the room and I slid my chair back slightly and patted my lap. Even though we had been together over twenty years, the love I felt for her was as strong as the first day I met her. I wrapped my arms around her waist and then hit the button to turn on the speaker phone.
"I met a girl," he announced as Bella let out a small gasp, but we continued to listen intently. "Her name is Shannon and she is a red headed Irish girl from Boston. Can you believe it? Boston!" I let out a small laugh, but he continued talking on about her. "She's going to the University of Chicago as a freshman in the fall. I'm still shocked. How much is this like your relationship with Mom?"
Bella kissed my temple as I tried to find the right words to both reassure and support my son in his decision. "Whatever you do, don't use the love between your mother and me as your guide. Follow your heart with this girl… but it's only been three days Hayden, so don't rush into anything. Use your brain."
"Thanks dad. I promise I won't do anything stupid or drastic. I just wanted to let you know… you'll tell Mom right?"
"Of course I will. Good luck… we miss you here you know," I stated as Bella clung to me closely and I could sense the tears pouring down her cheek. When I looked up, I used the pad of my thumb to push away the wetness that was coming. She had been a little scared when Hayden announced he wanted to go away, because she was such a protective mama bear when it came to the kids. My heart was breaking for her at that moment, because Hayden seemed so excited to be away from us.
"I miss you guys too! Give mom a big hug, tell her I love her and I will call in a few days." Hayden hung up almost immediately and Bella buried her head into my neck and I tightened my hold on her as she tried to calm her crying.
"He seems so happy," she said when she finally pulled back for a moment. "I hope he's not mad I sewed a Canadian Flag patch on his backpack." I broke out into loud laughter because I hadn't known she had done this, but it was so funny that she had followed in the footsteps of her own mother. "I know… I'm turning into Renee."
"Only in the best possible way baby," I said earnestly as Bella cracked a small smile and climbed from my lap.
"So Grace is going over to Chelsea's for dinner tonight and Jackson is out with Trey and Leo. Wanna go relive some of our own European exploits?" Bella asked playfully as she practically ran out of my office and I was quick to follow behind her, chasing her up the stairs and into our bedroom.
Hell yes I wanted to relive those moments. Over and over again, for the rest of our lives.
A/N: This is the end my friends... no more American Series. No American Resthome, American Senior Citizens or American Grandparents. This is it. I hope it was as good for you as it was for me. Do you need a smoke? If so, you should quit. Smoking is gross.
Thanks to my wonderful beta, MaggieMay14 for getting this back to me so quickly. Flightlessbird11 for being one of the best pre-readers known to man and all of you, some of the most loyal and fabulous readers in the fandom. You all know who you are, cause you review your little hearts out in every single chapter.
Let's consider this my christmas gift to you. Happy Holidays!