A/N:Thanks to everyone who reads and reviews and to Ella, who is the best pre-reader ever! (My beta has been busy, but as soon as I hear back from her, I'll swap these chapters out with her corrections.)
Any mistakes you see are my own.
See me at the bottom!
SM owns everything Twilight.
"Come on!" I shout, shifting on my feet. From the back of the house, I hear something fall and Edward grunt while shouting a curse. He's lucky Adam is at school and not around to hear him. I've been trying to get everyone to watch their language around him, but honestly, it hasn't done much good. Last week, I heard Adam shout "damn it!" when he lost a game of hide and seek.
I had to explain the difference between "kid words" and "adult words" but I'm not sure it does any good when he hears his father and uncles – not mention Grandpa Charlie – using foul language all the time. If it doesn't stop soon, I'll have to install a swear jar. A very expensive swear jar.
"Edward, come on! We're going to be late!" I shout again, looking at my watch. This afternoon, Adam is going to be in his first school play. Forks Elementary is presenting the kindergarten's production "Spring has Sprung!" and Adam has the role of a sunflower. It's not a big part, but that doesn't matter to me. It's his first play and I'm going to be as close to the stage as I can. I want to be sure and get a lot of pictures.
Of course, we'll have to get there early to get good seats and at the rate Edward is going on getting ready, we'll be late.
I huff and decide to make sure I have everything I'll need. Once I'm satisfied that everything is in my purse, I march back to the bedroom I share with Edward and stand in the middle of the room, my hands on my hips.
"What are you doing?"
"Getting ready," he answers, his head peeking out of our closet.
"You've been getting ready for thirty minutes!" He opens his mouth to reply, but I hold up my hand, silencing him. "Just hurry up, please."
I leave the room and go back toward the front of the house and decide to pick up a little. There are a few empty boxes and things that need to be unpacked from our move three weeks ago, so I might as well take advantage of Edward's slowness and get some work done.
As I start unloading the few things left in a box, I can't help but smile at what my hands touch. It's a framed photograph, showcasing the day Edward and I moved into his townhouse. We're both in grungy clothes, sweaty from the move and exhausted. Despite this, we're still smiling brightly with our little boy sandwiched between us.
Edward insisted on taking a picture to remember the day I moved in with him, because he insisted no one would believe it, because the decision to move in with him hadn't been easy.
Six months after we had our family portraits taken, I had checked my finances and realized I could afford a cheap apartment to rent, as well as take a few college courses in Port Angeles. All of this was possible thanks to Judy making me manager of the cafe she placed in Forks. I was excited to have a place of my own; I loved my father, but I didn't want to live with him the rest of my life.
One Saturday, I spent most of the day looking around Forks and Port Angeles for my own place. Sadly, I couldn't come up with anything in my price range. I was a little upset that I wouldn't be able to give Adam a room of his own. When I mentioned this Edward, he immediately suggested that I move in with him. However, I knew our relationship wasn't ready for that step. Plus, I wanted to live by myself for a while. Thankfully, Edward understood and helped me find a place I didn't think I could afford.
Edward spoke to his landlord, Mr. Jefferies, and he cut me a deal on one of his properties. If I did some minor repairs and painted the outside of the small two bedroom, one bathroom house, I could rent it for way below what his other properties were renting for. It seemed too good to be true and I couldn't believe that he would give me such a deal. When I expressed this thought to Mr. Jefferies, he confessed that he was doing this because of my father. Charlie had helped a lot during his time as Chief of Police and this was the old man's way of paying back the "good ol' chief".
Without any more arguments, I took the offer and did all the necessary repairs and painting needed. Two months after I moved in, the small house was home. I was happy that I had a place to call my own, but on more than one occasion, I was scared to be by myself. Nightmares of Tanya's attack would come out of nowhere and I was terrified I would regress. One call to Zafrina changed that.
Zafrina was a huge help; not only did she help Edward and I with our breakup and issues from high school, she also helped me understand that it was fear of living by myself for the first time after my attack that caused my nightmares. She assured me that everything I was going through was normal, it was simply a change from my normal life after everything that had happened. I was comforted by that and pleased that I wasn't getting worse.
When I was able to sleep without nightmares, I realized I shouldn't be ashamed of needing company. Everyone needs someone every now and then. So, every other month, I would spend a weekend at my dad's...or Edward's.
During those nights I would stay at Edward's place, we would play with Adam and listen to his tales from daycare and in the evenings, the three of us would make dinner as a family before sitting down for a movie or story time. When Adam was put in bed, Edward and I would curl up in his backyard with freshly brewed sweet tea and talk about anything and nothing at all.
Our relationship really flourished from there. We spoke to one another every day and didn't hold back when something was frustrating or upsetting us...which led to more than a few fights. But they never lasted longer than four days before one of us would apologize and things would be back to normal. The longest and biggest fight we had was about enrolling Adam in daycare.
I wanted Adam to make friends with kids his own age and learn. Edward, not so much. He was afraid that something bad would happen and thought Adam wasn't ready for the pressures of the world.
We argued back and forth for two days until we finally just sat down and talked things out. I had agreed that I had been a tad harsh in calling him ridiculous over his fears and he admitted he over-reacted about sending Adam to daycare. In the end, we agreed to send Adam to school, but if it didn't work out, then we would try something else. At the end of that first day, Adam came home happier than ever, having made two friends and finger painting for a majority of the day. I could tell Edward was relieved that Adam was safe and happy, and I was relieved all went well. It made for enrolling him in school later a lot easier.
As the emotional bond between Edward and I grew, so did the physical side. We didn't rush into anything – like we did in high school. Instead, we took things slow, one step at a time. Sometimes, it was frustrating when all you wanted to do was rip each other's clothes off and attack the other, but when we cooled off, we realized taking things slow was best option.
When we finally did make love, on our one year anniversary, it was perfect. There weren't any candles or soft music. It was just me and Edward...and an empty house, thanks to Carlisle and Esme taking Adam for the weekend.
It was that same weekend I decided to move in with Edward. I wanted all of us to be under the same roof, and moving in together was the final piece of the puzzle. The next weekend, Adam and I moved into Edward's duplex, where we stayed for an additional two years, until we realized the place was getting too small for the amount of things we had accumulated.
Luckily, Edward and I didn't have to look for a new place for long. We found this three bedroom, two bathroom house two blocks away from my childhood home. It has a small fenced in yard for Adam to play in during the afternoons. Add in the fact that it's in the middle between my dad's house and Carlisle and Esme's, it's perfect.
Arms wrapping around my waist startle me, making me jump and gasp. Edward laughs, placing a kiss to the side of my neck and dodging my hand as I move to hit him.
"Finally, you're done. Let's get going. I want to get a good seat."
"Bella," he laughs, grabbing my hand and slowing my movement toward the door. "It starts at four! It's barely three."
"I want to get a good seat. This is his first play!"
"And we will, I promise! They won't even let us in until three-thirty. Just try to relax."
I inhale and exhale loudly, realizing I'm being a little nuts about this. "Sorry."
"It's fine," he chuckles, kissing me quickly. "I know you're excited."
"Excited...scared," I admit.
Sheepishly, I look up at him through my lashes. "Well, this is start of it, isn't it? Growing up? Soon, he'll be graduating elementary school and then before we know it, he'll be in high school and dating. Then, there's high school graduation and college and he'll leave!"
"Love, he's only five not twenty-five. There is still so much that's going to happen. Try not worry those times away. Just enjoy them as they happen."
"You're right, I'm sorry."
"What was that? I don't think I heard you," he teases.
Smacking his stomach and grinning as the breath in his lungs leaves in a woosh, I go back into the living room, flopping down on the couch.
"So, we have half an hour. What do we do?"
Edward smirks and gives me a seductive look, stalking forward like an animal hunting his meal. "I see where your mind is going, but what will we do with the other twenty-nine minutes?"
His mouth drops open and I howl with laughter, falling to the side on the couch. A second later, he's leaning over me, growling playfully as his finger dig into my sides. I laugh harder and try to escape his clutches, but he keeps dragging me back whenever I manage to squirm away.
"Okay, I surrender! You're a sex master!"
"That's right!" He says, puffing his chest out.
Rolling my eyes, I sit up on the couch, straightening my clothes and hair, shooting Edward a dirty look as I do so. He just grins cheekily, taking the seat beside me, clasping my left hand within his.
"You know," he begins, his fingers running over my fingers softly. "I thought of something perfect we could occupy our time with while we wait."
"Edward, I just took a shower. If we both have to take another one, then we'll definitely be late."
"Not that!" He laughs. "Something else. Something that has been a long time coming, I think."
Curious, I lean forward, watching as he rises from the couch and disappears toward the bedroom. The sound of clothes rustling and the sharp snap of a box closing, increases my curiosity to dangerous heights. Especially after he's back there for two minutes, silent as a mouse.
Wanting to see what he's up to, I get up from the couch, only to sit back down when Edward's voice floats back to me.
"Don't come back here! Sit down and be patient, love!"
Grinning, I follow his orders, straining my ears to hear what he's up to. Aside from the occasional rustling and a scraping sound of something being moved, I hear nothing that tells me what he's doing. Sighing heavily, I pick up a book and try to read, but after a few minutes of staring at the page and not absorbing the words, I put it back down.
Just as I do, Edward comes strolling out, a huge smile on his face. He ignores my questioning look and holds out his hand for me to take. Placing my hand in his, I allow him to lead me to our bedroom, where the door is currently closed.
"Close your eyes and don't open them."
Closing my eyes, I hear him open the door and feel him pull me forward, his hands guiding me every step of the way. Gently, he pushes me backward and I sit, feeling the softness of our down comforter beneath me. Edward keeps his hand entwined with mine, but I feel him moving in front of me, almost as if he's kneeling down.
"Open your eyes," he says softly and as I do, I gasp.
Covering our two night tables and our dresser are photographs. What doesn't fit on them is tacked onto the wall, leading around the room. My eyes take in every picture, seeing that they all have a common theme: us. Our little family. They all present a time in a relationship; our first lunch together at school, our first date, the first time we were reunited after I left and pictures of Adam as a baby and every event with Adam after that, all leading up to the picture Esme took of all us playing in the backyard two days ago.
"All of these pictures are us. Where we started, how we grew into a family and where we are now. We've been through so much and I know there's no other place I would rather be. What I want is to add to these pictures, these memories. I want pictures of Adam growing – of our family growing – I want pictures of us growing old together. One day, when we're old, I want to look back on these photos and see happiness and love. But before we can do that, I need to ask you a question..."
My breathing halts as he pulls out a small blue box and opens it to reveal a single diamond ring the size of a pea, resting on a silver band. The sunlight streaming in through the window catches the jewel, sending small rainbows all over its resting place.
"We don't have to get married today, tomorrow, next week, next month or even next year. All I want is to be yours. I want to be tied to you because there's no one else I'd rather be with. I'll always love you no matter what because without you, I'm not the person I want to be. Without you, I'm just Edward...and I don't want to be that. I want to be Bella's Edward; I want to be your husband. I want to be yours until the end of time and whatever comes after that. Please, Isabella Marie Swan, will you marry me?"
Blinking rapidly through my tears, I see his expectant face and nod, wiping away the new tears that fall down my cheeks.
"Yes. Yes, Edward, I'll marry you."
His face lights up like a Christmas tree and he stands, lifting me into his arms and holding me tightly against him. He places kisses everywhere he can reach, placing me back down on the ground and holding my face between his hands.
"I can't promise I won't make you mad or that we won't fight, because we're known for our disagreements," he chuckles softly, his voice sounding a little hoarse. I laugh with him, knowing that both of us have a temper. "But I can promise you that I'll always be there for you every night. I can't promise I won't screw up or that I'll put my dirty clothes in the laundry basket. But I promise I'll always help you clean up. I promise, Bella, I promise that every day, I'll make you happy. I promise every day, you won't regret choosing me."
"Edward," I sob. "I love you so much...and I promise the same thing. I'll always try my best to make you happy with me."
Edward leans forward, kissing me softly on the lips, gently taking my top lip between his. His tongue runs along the curve of it but before I can allow him entrance, he pulls back again.
"We'll make each other happy."
"Yes, we will."
Edward beams, pulling back and taking the ring out of the box. "This needs a permanent place to rest. Do you have any idea where I can put it?"
"I think I have an idea," I tease, wriggling the fingers of my left hand. Edward laughs with me and slides the ring on my third finger. He stares at it for a moment, his finger brushing over the new piece of jewelry sitting there.
"How did you like this for speeding up time?"
"It was wonderful."
My cheeks hurt from smiling so much, but I can't find it in myself to stop. It feels like my heart might burst from happiness. I thought I was happy and content before, but now I know I was wrong. Realistically, I know that nothing will change except for my name and what I fill out on forms, but somehow, it feels like something greater. It feels like the whole world has changed...and for us, it has.
Looking over, I see Edward in the same state as me; beaming from ear to ear, happiness radiating out of every pore.
Sensing my stare, he looks over and smiles wider, if that's possible. "I love you, Bella."
"I love you, too."
Edward holds my hand as we walk through the halls of Adam's school, heading toward the auditorium where the play is being held. With my hand encased in his, my ring is front and center, shining brightly for all to see. If our family doesn't notice our ecstatic expressions and deduce that we're engaged, then they will when they see my ring.
Ever the gentleman, Edward opens the door and immediately, I spot our family. It's hard not to; they're a large group.
Carlisle and Esme stand side by side, his arm wrapped around his waist as they listen to their children. I swear, those two don't age. Even with three grandchildren and another on the way, they still look as young as they did three years ago.
Surrounding them are Rosalie and Emmett, their one year old son, Jonathan, held between them, his blonde hair striking against Emmett's black shirt. It took a while for them to get to a point where they were ready to have children. Rosalie was afraid for quite some time she would revert to her old ways if she got pregnant, after witnessing Alice's hormonal roller coaster of a pregnancy. Rosalie didn't want to use and hurt Emmett or anyone else again and refused to talk about children with her husband. It wasn't until she saw Alice give birth that she caved, but with stipulations.
She made Emmett and everyone else in the family promise that if they saw one bit of her old behavior, they would call her out on it. We all agreed – more for her peace of mind – and three months later, Rosalie announced she was pregnant.
Rosalie's pregnancy was a breeze compared to Alice's. Rosalie hardly experienced any mood swings and no morning sickness. Alice's wasn't that easy. She was sick through most of her pregnancy and could be smiling and laughing one minute, then flaming mad and throwing things the next. Everyone – Jasper, most of all – was relieved after she had the baby and the hormones evened out.
Speaking of Alice, her tinkling laugh reaches us, watching her brother with sparkling eyes and an expanding belly. Everyone was slightly fearful when she announced that she and Jasper were expecting another child, but so far, things have been good this time around. The only extreme thing about this pregnancy is that she cries at the drop of a hat.
Jasper comes up with their daughter, Danielle, sitting on his shoulders, a perfect blend of the two of them, with Alice's dark hair and Jasper's light blue eyes. More often than not, Jasper has said he's going to need to buy a shotgun when she gets older. If she's anything like her mother, he'll definitely need it.
"Hey kids. Why are you standing here?" My dad says from behind us.
Turning, I see my dad with his new wife of six months, Sue. I was surprised by how fast and serious their relationship took off and I admit I was nervous about him getting hurt again. However, once I saw how they acted with one another, I knew I didn't have to worry. Dad looked at Sue like she was the only woman in the world and Sue looked at my Dad like he hung the moon. As long as he was happy, I was happy. Plus, I've come to see her as another mother. So instead of having two mothers in Renee and Esme, I now have three.
Dad looks between Edward and I, studying our faces for a second before smirking. "Finally engaged, huh? 'Bout time. Can't believe I just said that," he mutters.
I laugh and hug him tightly while Edward and Sue exchange words.
"I don't need to ask this, but I will anyway. Are you happy, Bella?"
"That's all that matters, then. If you're ever unhappy, though..."
"I know where you are," I finish.
"Good. Remember what I said, Edward?" He questions, raising an eyebrow at my fiancé.
Edward swallows thickly, looking nervous. "Yes, sir."
My dad smiles evilly. "Excellent."
"Stop trying to frighten him, Charlie," Sue admonishes him. Charlie looks scolded, but when she turns away, the look returns. I'm curious as to what they talked about, but I can't ask him now.
"Congratulations, Bella." Sue smiles, softly.
"Thank you, Sue."
"Did you hear from your mother?" Charlie questions.
"I did. Do you have the video camera?" Renee, unfortunately, couldn't come to see Adam's play due to the flu and she requested for someone record his performance so she could witness her grandbaby in his first play.
"I have it," Sue says. "Charlie almost forgot it, but luckily, I remembered."
"Thank you, Sue."
One surprising thing that came about was Renee's friendship with Sue. Last year when Renee came to visit, I expected things to be tense between the ex-wife and the new fiancée, but needed didn't need to worry. Sue and Renee got along famously, forging a quick friendship. I guess having someone in common and similar interests helped.
"Well, let's get to our seats. The play should start soon." Edward says, checking his watch.
We all nod and make our way toward the Cullen's, but I held Edward back a bit.
"What did you and my dad talk about?"
He shrugs. "Nothing. It's the same talk I'll have with my daughter's boyfriend when we have more kids."
I smirk. My dad gave him the obligatory and clichéd "if you hurt my daughter..." speech. It's not needed, but I know my dad. He has to remind Edward, just in case.
Edward and I walk toward the others and we exchange hellos with the others.
"Well, well. Edward and Bella sure do look happy. I'd say they had some "alone time"," Emmett teases.
"I don't think that's why they're so happy. It's something else," Alice muses. Her eyes scan over us and as she takes in my left hand, her smile stretches across her face. "You're engaged!" She squeals, rushing forward and pulling us into a tight hug. Pregnant Alice is a strong Alice.
"Let her go, Alice," Esme orders and then swoops in after we're released. "I'm so happy, for you, Bella. You're already my daughter, but now it's going to be official. I'm so happy!"
"My wife took the words right out of my mouth," Carlisle says, giving me a hug.
"Congratulations!" Emmett and Rosalie say together, bouncing a confused and irritable Jonathan between them so he doesn't start crying. It doesn't seem to work, so Edward takes our nephew from Emmett's arms and tickles him until he's laughing. Unable to help myself, I place a big kiss on his cheek, making him giggle. Rosalie and Emmett both look relieved that he's not going to cry.
"You're a baby whisperer or something, man. Thank you!" Emmett says gratefully.
Over the years, Edward's and my relationship with his brother and sister-in-law has improved tremendously. No longer are we tense and angry around each other. We have all decided we were stupid kids and mistakes were made on all sides. Yes, there were people hurt, but we didn't want that cycle to continue any longer. So we buried the hatchet and started new. Since then, we've grown closer than before and we're happier because of it.
"Aunt Bewwa," I hear a soft, sweet voice call from behind me.
Danielle is in her father's arms, her eyes bright. She little hands ball into fists and release, over and over, indicating she wants me to hold her. I take her willingly, snuggling her little body to me.
"Love, Aunt Bewwa."
"I love you too, sweetie," I coo.
"So, I hear you're engaged," Jasper says, a teasing tone in his voice.
"Yeah. How'd you know?"
He barks out a laugh. "I'm psychic."
"In all seriousness, congratulations." He says as Alice comes up, sliding her arm through his.
"It's great, isn't it? We'll have to start planning. When do you and Edward want to get married?"
"Well, we haven't talked about it in depth yet. We want a long engagement, so we have plenty of time."
I expect her to argue or insist we should get hitched as soon as possible, but she just nods and smiles.
"That's fine. I can't wait to start planning with you!"
Jasper and I both stare after her in shock as she takes her seat and readies her camera for the play. Both Jasper and I look at each other with wide eyes, silent before he shakes himself out of it.
"I am so glad she's more mellow this time around."
I murmur my agreement and hand him back his daughter when the principle of the school announces the play will begin soon. We all take our seats and Edward takes the camera from me when I offer it, since he wanted to play photographer today.
The curtain goes up and my eyes immediately seek out Adam, who's standing in the middle of the four sunflowers. I notice he's biting his lip and looking at the audience with nervous eyes.
"I hope he'll be okay up there," I whisper to Edward, who nods in agreement.
My worries are unneeded however, because Adam when spots his father and I, his face lights up and he jumps up and down, waving at us. We both laugh and return his greeting, watching as the play resumes.
When the teacher announces the play over, Adam races down the stage steps, making a bee-line toward Edward and I. Kneeling down, I open my arms and ready myself for his little body to crash into mine. My breath leaves me in a rush as he wraps his arms around me, but I gather myself quickly, picking up my baby.
"Did you see me, mama?"
"I did! You were amazing!" I say, loudly kissing his cheek. He giggles, folding into himself and looking back at his dad.
"Mama said I was amazing."
"She's not lying! You blew me away. You were the best sunflower up there!"
Adam giggles again and then everyone gathers around us, gushing over Adam's performance. As I lean into Edward and look around, I can't help but feel perfectly content and at peace. Things haven't always been easy in my life, but that's okay. As long as I'm surrounded by this: by my family, everything will be perfect.
A/N: I know some may not like this ending, but this is what I pictured since the beginning. I hope you enjoyed it! :)
This is a long(ish) A/N, so be prepared!
I know I say this every chapter, but I can't say it enough. Thank you to everyone who reads, reviews, and stuck by me through this rewrite and delays in posting. I know this story isn't perfect, but I'm learning and trying ... and without your support and kind words, I would have given up long ago. Thank you so much!
Thank you to the beta's I've worked with on this story and to Ella. All of you have been kind, patient and helped me tremendously. Thank you.
I also must say thank you to Bornonhalloween, Deb and Nolebucgrl for being so awesome!
One more reminder: I contributed a one shot to the Countdown to Halloween: A mythical moment in time (Link is in my profile under the "favorite stories" tab.) Please check it out and leave some love for the other stories and authors there!
And I'm going to be posting a short Halloween story very soon, so be on the lookout! I hope to see you all there! ;)