Hello everyone. Well here it is the last chapter. Before I call it quits on this story I have to thank a few friends who I would not have gotten to this point without their help.
First, All of you readers. When I started this journey I had no idea how it would go and if I'd get one or one hundred reviews. I hadn't written anything other than emails, or cards and that sort of thing in an extremely long time and I was completely scared of failing. But you guys stuck with me and any time I thought I had written a bunch of gibberish, you always let me know I was wrong. For that you are the best and will always be appreciated.
Second, Ms Jily, (formerly cydrynamarie). You pushed me and gave me the courage to start this story and for that I will always be grateful.
Third, My Bella. If someone had told me last year this time that I would be helping you write a story I would have told them they were nuts. LOL I have loved your stories since the moment I started reading them and I am having a blast working on Worth the Burn with you. Hopefully I am learning a little bit along the way too. Thanks for all the help you have given me.
Last but most definitely not the least, Hope4more. There really aren't any words to describe how thankful I have been for your help throughout this past year. I never ever imagined that I would develop a friendship like ours, and now a little over a year later, I can't imagine not having that friendship. Like you said when you were here a few weeks ago, it feels like we have known each other for years. Two Peas in a Pod BB. Thanks for always being able to figure out what I know at times seemed like the most confusing foreign language you have ever tried to for keeping me out of trouble, (aka the trees and at least I never pulled a BOA on ya LOL private joke) and thanks for taking this journey with me. For some reason you are crazy enough to want to go along with me through the next story and I can only hope that it will be even more fun that this one has been. MUAH!
There are pictures on my blog to go along with everything described in this chapter. Thanks again for sticking with me, your support means a lot.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters, plot, names, nicknames are all the property of the author. Unauthorized use of such material is plagiarism. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. And Of course just in case that doesn't cover it, Stephenie Meyer owns anything and everything relating to Twilight. All names, dates and places related to Major League Baseball are the property of such persons and organizations. No copyright infringement is intended.
Thursday July 20, 2017
"Baby, we're about to land," I told my sleeping wife as I turned and kissed the top of her head and rubbed my hand over her very prominent belly. She had fallen asleep about an hour into our four hour connecting flight after we'd taken off in Chicago. She had managed to stay awake for the first leg of the flight from Seattle, but at seven months pregnant it didn't surprise me at all that she was now napping.
Bella hadn't slept well last night due to her anxiety over leaving Zac and Carlie home for a week with her parents. We had never been away from them longer than a couple of days at a time for a weekend getaway or a short trip for a fundraising event for the camp. We did contemplate bringing them with us, as well as Bell's parents to help with them, but knowing the little amount of time they would actually get to spend with Bella and me due to the commitments I had while we were here, it just didn't make sense. However the two of them were completely content to stay home with their grandparents and were very excited by the fact they were going to get to see their daddy on TV.
The festivities surrounding the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony would begin tomorrow. It was a whole weekend long event. Then on Monday, Bella and I were going to drive up to Buffalo and see Niagara Falls and then head down to New York City and see some of the big sights there before making a stop in St. Louis to visit Ben and Angela on the way home. Soon Bella wouldn't be able to travel as her due date approached, so we wanted to take advantage of the time we had now. As much as we loved our kids and our family, we were both really looking forward to some time alone before baby number three arrived. We had been cutting it close with the airlines restrictions and her doctor's wishes as it was by her coming to New York with me now. However given the reason for us traveling and the fact she had had a complication free pregnancy so far, her doctor had filled out the paper work required and had given his permission for her to travel.
"How long have I been asleep?" she asked after stretching and releasing a big yawn.
"Since about an hour after we took off from Chicago."
"I'm sorry. Where you bored?" she asked. We had chatted most of the first half of the flight about redecorating the nursery for Nicholas' arrival.
"Nah, I dozed off a bit myself for a while. Besides you needed the rest." I gently grasped her chin and lifted her face so I could steal a quick kiss before we landed.
A short while later we were on our way to the hotel. Most of the players and other celebrities that were attending would be arriving tomorrow. Bella and I had decided to come a day earlier to allow her some recovery time after the long flight before we were thrust into all the fanfare that came with being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I had enjoyed my time out of the spotlight that comes with being a professional athlete. When we'd first moved to Forks, there had been a few instances when we'd go out to dinner in Port Angeles or on the rare trip to Seattle when I'd get asked for an occasional autograph or picture with a fan. After a while it died down and it rarely happened at all anymore. Bella and I had both enjoyed our quiet lifestyle.
I knew what a great honor it was to be inducted into baseball's most hallowed halls; it was just going to be a bit of a culture shock this weekend being thrust back into the media spotlight.
"Do you know what time your parents and Emmett and Rose are arriving tomorrow?" Bella asked as she kept gazing out the window of our rental car.
She had never been to New York other than the short layover we'd had on the way home from our honeymoon and I knew she was excited to do some sight-seeing. This was in some aspects a second honeymoon for us since we had just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary eight days ago.
"I think their flight gets in around mid-morning."
Scooting over closer to her, I slid my hand into a low position around her waist so that it was cradling her belly. It made me feel like I was holding Bella and our baby. I rested my chin on her shoulder so I could look out the window and take in the view with her. It had been a long time since I had been driven around in a limo. While I was not particularly fond of it, the service was provided for all the inductees over the course of the weekend and I did enjoy being able to wrap my arm around her and see her face light up with each new thing of interest she saw as we went by.
Bella let out a soft snort and had a wide smile on her face. "What's so funny?" I asked her.
"I was just wondering who was going to have a more adventurous weekend. My parents with our two or Alice and Jasper with their two plus Em and Rose's three."
I kissed the side of her head and then chuckled a little myself.
"What?" she asked. "You thinking about it now too?"
"Yeah. Alice and Jasper are going to have their hands full, but at least they are fully aware of what they are getting into." I shook my head and laughed some more as I thought about it.
"Whereas my parents think the sun rises and sets for their grandchildren and they are in for a surprise."
"Exactly," I agreed.
Despite having been with me the last year of my baseball career and having accepted the perks that went with it, Bella's face was still full of surprise and awe as we pulled into the resort where we were staying for the weekend.
The Otesaga Resort Hotel was a historic country style resort set on the shores of Lake Otesaga. Once the car came to a stop at the main entrance, the limo driver got out and opened the door for Bella and me.
After climbing out first, I then helped Bella to get out. While the limo driver and the resort's bellhop took our luggage inside, Bella and I took in our surroundings. From where we stood at the front of the resort, you could barely see the lake off in the distance. But the front of the resort itself was amazing with its massive columns that must have been at least thirty feet tall and supported the front portico we were currently under.
The building itself was made to blend in with the historic countryside with its tall windows and Georgian architecture, which I only knew was the style because I had read about the resort when I was sent a list of the choices we had for our accommodations this weekend.
After checking in and being shown up to our room, Bella felt the need to walk around a bit after spending so much time sitting in the plane and the car. So after freshening up a bit we decided to check out the resort.
While walking around we saw the picturesque view of the sprawling grounds surrounding the lake. There was a lot of green everywhere, but the difference between here and Forks was the skies were bluer and you had the contrasting colors of the lake as well.
On one side of the resort we saw a golf course and on the other a pool as well as an area for other activities. It was really a beautiful setting to take in from the huge grand veranda on the back of the hotel.
After walking around the soft rolling hills of the grounds some more, Bella and I made our way back up to the veranda and watched the sunset while sitting in the rocking chairs provided.
"It's so pretty here," Bella said as we rocked slowly in unison with our hands clasped together between us.
"It is, but like I always tell you, it pales in comparison to you." I looked over at her and lifted her hand to my lips and saw a wide grin spread across her face as I kissed the back of her hand.
We sat enjoying the view and the quiet. The only sounds were those of the nature around us and the occasional soft footsteps of the other guests walking by us. Well that is until Bella's stomach decided to growl rather loudly as a group of teen girls walked by and giggled when they heard it, which of course caused Bella to blush.
A few moments after the girls had passed and Bella had gotten over her embarrassment, she glanced over at me and said, "I think your son is hungry," as she rubbed her belly.
"I think you're both hungry," I returned as I stood and held my hand out to her. "I am too, so why don't we go grab some dinner. You want to go check out the dining room here or go find someplace else?"
She took my hand and got up. We made our way over to the doors when I stopped and pulled her into my arms. A strong breeze blew through the open area and sent her hair out behind her. She was so beautiful. Even more now than the day I'd met her.
"Ya know," I said to her as I brushed a few stray locks of her hair that had flown into her face away. "I'm so glad you are here with me for this celebration. I know you weren't around for most of my baseball career, for the plays I made to get me this honor. But none of this," I waved my hand around and pointed to the banners that were hanging with the names of the players who were being inducted this weekend. "None of it would mean half as much without you here to share it with me. I love you so much, Bella."
"I love you too," she whispered as she rose up on her toes and gave me a kiss. Cupping the back of her head with my hand, I held her head in place as I deepened the kiss. We stood there lost in each other, completely oblivious to everything around us until I felt our son move inside her belly that was pressed against me and heard her stomach growl again.
"Come on, let's get you both fed." I placed one last quick kiss on her lips and slipped my hand to the small of her back as we walked into the hotel.
Saturday July 22, 2017
Yesterday had been a full day of activity. Bella had been exhausted by the end of the day and I was so glad that today would be much less hectic. Last thing we needed was for her to overexert herself while being pregnant and so far away from her doctor.
My parents, along with Emmett and Rose, had arrived around mid-morning. Bella and I had enjoyed a late breakfast with them after sleeping in. We had been joined by Tyler Crowley and his wife who had been going to breakfast around the same time as we were. Emmett and I had played ball with Tyler for a few years in St. Louis before we had retired and moved back to Forks. He was being inducted in the hall also and it was good to be going in with a former teammate and to see him and catch up on what he had been doing since I'd last seen him. When breakfast was over, we had all spent some time chatting on the veranda.
The afternoon had been spent at the Doubleday Field where Emmett and I had participated in the Hall of Fame the fan-favorite Past vs. Present baseball game.
The event was a charity baseball game in which current players and well known baseball legends, along with those being inducted this year, got together and played to benefit the museum's educational programs at the Hall of Fame. I had been a little nervous about playing alongside some of the great players that had joined us, but Emmett made a point that I would soon be a baseball great just like them. He was right and once I let go of my apprehension I had a lot of fun, not to mention my brother and I were both proud to have taken part in the game.
After the game, Emmett and I along with the other guys had stuck around and signed some autographs for the fans before myself, Bella and the rest of my family had headed back to the resort for the charity dinner that had been held that evening.
My father, my brother and I had all been absolutely blown away by how beautiful our wives had looked. I had seen my mother, sister-in-law and wife all dressed up many times, but last night they had all three been particularly stunning. Especially my Bella. I wasn't sure if it was because she was pregnant, having a great time, or if it was the reason we were here in New York. Maybe it was the way her black gown had contrasted with her flawless skin, but she had been glowing and absolutely gorgeous. I was certain I had felt my heart stutter when she had entered the room after getting ready.
Yesterday had indeed been a great day. However today was the big day. Before the end of the day I would be an official member of The Baseball Hall of Fame.
I sat on the sofa in our suite going over my speech while allowing Bella to sleep in again. I had known she had been tired last night. We had been getting frisky but I needed to take a shower first. Bella had always had an active libido, but it was greatly enhanced when she was pregnant, which I would never complain about. But for her to have fallen asleep by the time I was out of the shower and before we'd had the chance to make love, told me just how exhausted she truly was. And knowing today would be somewhat of another long day meant she needed to get as much rest now as she could.
I was contemplating a few changes to my speech when there was a knock on the door. I hurried to answer it so the noise didn't wake Bella up. She hadn't been sleeping as soundly as she used to given the fact that she was becoming more uncomfortable as she got further in the pregnancy.
"Good morning, son," my father said when I opened the door.
"Good morning," I replied. "What's up?"
"Your mother and I were just about to head down for breakfast and wanted to see if you and Bella wanted to join us. Your brother and Rose already ate and now Emmett is out on the golf course with Tyler while Rose went into town with his wife."
"Yeah, Rose called to see if Bella wanted to join them, but she's still sleeping."
"Hmm, I imagine she's a bit worn out from yesterday," he stated in a tone that was a cross between loving father-in-law and concerned doctor. Even now as he was contemplating retiring himself he had a hard time turning the doctor in him completely off. It was just who he was and always would be, especially when it came to his family.
"I think so. She'd never admit it, but between that and then the flight up here I'm sure she is feeling even more worn out than normal."
"Yes, I'm sure you're right. Don't let her overdo it. I know this is you guys' third baby, and you've been through this all before, but she still needs to watch what she does."
"I know, Dad, and I promise she is being careful. I won't let her do too much. Tomorrow we are spending a relaxing day here before we head up to Buffalo on Monday."
"Good. Now tell me how you are this morning. I know this is a big day for you. You ready? Nervous?" He gave me a cocky, knowing grin as he looked at me and waited for my reply. It was clear he already knew how I was feeling.
"It's that obvious huh?" I gave him the same know-it-all smirk right back.
He nodded with a snort and then leaned over to pick up the piece of paper I'd set on the table before answering the door. "This your speech?"
"Yeah I was reading over it when you showed up."
"Ah, trying to decide if it's perfect or if you should make one or many changes to it, or even re-write the whole thing." He wasn't asking me if that was what I was doing, he was telling me like he knew exactly what I was going through. And as I gave it a quick thought, he probably did considering the number of speeches he had given for his work at the hospital over the years.
"I guess you've been in this position a time or two."
"Yes. So how about you let your old man give you some advice?"
"Okay," I answered shaking my head while letting out a small chuckle, knowing he'd give it even if I said 'no'.
"Fold the piece of paper up, put it in your suit jacket pocket and leave it there."
"You heard me. And I can promise you it won't matter if you change it or not. You aren't going to quote it word for word anyways."
"No. Think about it, son. When you retired, did you write a speech or did you make it up as you went?"
"I just jotted down a couple of key points and then winged the rest."
"Exactly my point, Edward. When you get up there on that stage today you will probably use the speech you wrote as a guideline. But once you start speaking, most of what you say is going to come from your heart."
"You're probably right," I admitted.
"So instead of torturing yourself, relax. Enjoy the moment. It's a once in a life time thing. Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. Your mother and I are extremely proud of you." His phone beeped and after checking it he stood to leave. "That's your mother, she's ready to go eat."
"Thanks, Dad," I told him as I got up and followed him to the door. "You know I wouldn't have accomplished half of what I have it if weren't for you and Mom."
"We were happy to do everything we could for all three of you kids. And I meant what I said. Don't over-think this. Just relax and savor it," he said as he placed his hand on my shoulder and gave it a hard grasp. He grabbed the door handle and turned to open it.
"Dad," I said just before he stepped through the doorway.
"I know we don't say it often, but…I love you."
"I love you too, son," he said as he pulled me into a tight hug and patted me on the back a few times the way men do. When he backed away he said, "Look, unless Bella wakes up right away and is starving," he paused when we both chuckled at his starving comment since we both knew how pregnant women could get, "Why don't you stay up here with Bella and your mother and I will bring a breakfast tray up for the both of you when we are finished eating."
"That'd be great, Dad. Thanks again for everything."
"You're welcome. Now go find something to occupy yourself."
We hugged each other quickly again and then he was gone.
A few hours later, I was standing in the bedroom of our suite tying my tie when Bella came up behind me. "You ready to go?" she asked.
I turned to face her and was once again taken with how beautiful she was. She was just as gorgeous today in the aqua dress she was wearing as she had been last night.
"Hey, Beautiful, I'm almost ready. Are you?"
"Yep. Want some help with that tie?" She was reaching up to fix it before I could even answer her. "There, now it's straight." She smiled as she rose up on her toes and kissed me.
She started to pull away but I tightened my arms around her and kissed her soundly before letting her go.
"There, now I'm ready," I told her, flashing the smile I knew she loved.
"Then let's go, Mr. Baseball," she teased.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, can I get you to direct your attention back to the podium? I would like to introduce our final inductee," Baseball Commissioner Selig said.
Everyone had been paying attention to the large screen to the left of the stage where a film clip highlighting Tyler's career had been playing. As I sat in the front row of the audience holding Bella's hand, my gaze shifted between the podium where the Commissioner was waiting to begin speaking again, and the large banner that hung behind him signifying that Tyler Crowley, Riley Jackson and I were this year's inductees. Part of me felt as though this was one of the dreams I'd had about this moment as a little boy, and another part of me couldn't help smiling at how excited I was that it was real. Once the applause died down and all those in attendance were focused on the podium again, the Commissioner began to speak again.
"Edward Cullen began his career when he was drafted right out of college, in the first round, by the St. Louis Cardinals. Very few players get the opportunity to stay with the team they were drafted by for their entire career but Edward was able to do just that.
"In the spring of 2000 he arrived at spring training and began his ten year illustrious baseball career. On that sunny day in Florida seventeen years ago neither he nor the Cardinals had any idea what a tremendous impact he would have on the team.
"Edward achieved many things during his time as a professional baseball player and he certainly didn't waste any time racking up his achievements, beginning with being named Rookie of the Year in 2000. He continued receiving honors such being voted a National League All Star four times as well as being awarded the Gold Glove award nine times for his astounding ability to patrol the outfield. His position may have been centerfield, but if there was any chance he could get to a ball headed anywhere in the outfield, he went after it, often performing such feats as diving catches and climbing the outfield wall to take away homeruns from the opposing team.
"Over the course of his career, Edward earned statistics such as a 539 slugging percentage, 382 home runs, and a 338 batting average. He also accumulated 3319 total hits and batted in a total of 1176 runs.
"His accomplishments didn't stop when he was off the field. Edward was and still is a very active member with the many charitable organizations that the Cardinals and Major League Baseball work with to raise millions of dollars for several needy causes. This includes working alongside his brother Emmett Cullen, who also played for the Cardinals, to run a baseball camp for underprivileged children, making sure that money never gets in the way of a child being able to reach for the dreams Edward's own parents afforded him the privilege of making come true.
"Edward, would you do us the honor of joining me up on the stage please?"
A loud thunder of applause ripped through the arena. I leaned over and gave Bella a quick kissed and whispered that I loved her before standing and making my way up to the podium. As I took my spot standing next to Commissioner Selig, he shook my hand and congratulated me.
"Edward, in honor of your outstanding career as a professional baseball player, I would like to welcome you into our Hall of Fame family."
There was another loud roar of applause. The Commissioner then read the inscription on my Hall of Fame plaque which detailed all of the accomplishments I had achieved during my time as a player.
"Congratulations, Edward," he said once again as he handed me my plaque and stepped away from the podium so I could speak.
"Thank you, Commissioner Selig." I pulled the piece of paper that had been tucked safely into my suit jacket pocket earlier at my father's urging and waited for the Commissioner to take his seat before I began my speech.
"I would like to first congratulate my fellow inductees. Tyler, I had the pleasure of being your teammate for the last five years of my career. You're a great player and I am honored to be sharing this day with you.
"Riley, we were always on opposite sides of the field, but you were an amazing pitcher and I always welcomed the challenge of trying to get a hit off of one of your pitches.
"It's a tremendous honor to be here with both of you today." I then directed my speech to the audience. "It is also a bit humbling to see these two men here and really let it sink in that I am now a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame with them. I began playing baseball when I was five years old. From that moment on, I was hooked and there was never a time while I was growing up that I can remember baseball not being a part of my life.
"Over the many years I played the game, I was influenced by many great players and got to play either alongside with or against many as well. But the player who was and always will be my favorite to share the field with is my brother Emmett. Growing up we shared our love of the game and it created a bond between us that still holds strong to this day. Emmett, you were a great teammate and are an even greater brother. I love you, man, and I hope to see you standing up here one day soon."
"Love you too, Bro!" Emmett called loudly from his seat in the front row, causing a roar of laughter to erupt from the crowd.
"There are two people here today whom without I would not be standing here. And it's not just because they are my parents. While they were then and still are outstanding parents, the best in my opinion, and now amazing grandparents too, they were the ones who helped me fulfill my dream to become a professional baseball player. Thank you for all the many years of carting me from field to field, game to game and to thousands of practices, I needed to get to while never once complaining. Thank you for all equipment you bought me, the fundraisers you helped plan and participated in and for the many times you bridged the gap between what we had raised and what we needed.
"Most of all, thank you for being you. For always steering me down the right path, for encouraging me to follow my dreams, and for guiding and supporting me through the good and the bad times I've faced over the years. I love you both and I truly would not be here if it weren't for you."
I saw my mother mouth "I love you too" back to me and then my eyes turned to Bella.
"And last but certainly not least in any way, I have to thank my beautiful wife, Bella." Even from where I was standing up on the stage I could see her chewing on her bottom lip to hold in her emotions that were no doubt threatening to overwhelm her. But despite her best efforts, I could still make out the slight quiver of her chin, giving her away.
"Bella entered my life in the most unexpected way at the end of my career and since then she has been my guiding light. She's my friend, my confidant, my lover and she is the mother of my two, soon to be three, wonderful children. She has been an unwavering pillar of support to me through every challenge we have faced since the moment we met. Thank you, Baby, for loving me unconditionally and for fulfilling every dream I've ever had that didn't revolve around baseball. I may have never won the World Series, but with you I've won so much more. You are an amazing woman with an amazing heart and I love you more than I could ever express with words."
I could see Bella was no longer able to hold back and was outright crying at this point. My mother was handing her a tissue and consoling her, but I wanted to be the one holding her and wiping away her tears. In my haste to do just that, I'd nearly forgotten that I'd told the kids I would say "hi" to them on TV.
"Oh and to Zac and Carlie, Daddy loves you both very much and I hope you aren't giving your grandparents too much of a hard time. Thank you everyone for coming. It's been a great honor to be here."
Having said all I wanted to, I made my way off the stage, and stopped to shake the hand of the Commissioner, Tyler and Riley along with a few others on the way back to my seat.
A few closing speeches were made and then everyone was free to enjoy the huge buffet meal that was provided for the ceremony.
Later that night when Bella and I were lying in bed wrapped in each other's arms after talking to the kids and hearing them squeal in excitement over having seen us both on TV, and we had told them goodnight along with promising to bring them home surprises from all the places we were going to visit over the next several days, I reached into the nightstand drawer and pulled out a surprise I'd had made for Bella.
She didn't even so much as frown when she saw the familiar Tiffany's' blue box with the white ribbon in my hand. She only smiled widely knowing that it wouldn't do her any good, I'd get her to accept the gift anyways.
"What's this?" she asked.
"Just a little something I got for my lovely wife." I kissed her forehead and placed the box in her hand.
She pulled off the ribbon and opened the lid to reveal the sterling silver baseball charm I'd gotten her to commemorate this weekend's special occasion.
"Oh, Edward, I love it," she said softly as she held up her wrist for me to add it to her bracelet.
The charm looked like the side of a baseball and had E.C. and my number, seventeen, engraved on the front. On the back it had, H.O.F, 2017 to signify my induction this year.
"You should have expected it. You know I've marked every significant event in our lives with a charm for you."
I had even given her a tiny silver fork charm to signify our move to Forks a few years ago.
"You have and I love them all. Do you have a favorite moment in your career? One that stands out more than any other?" she asked as she scooted back down and rested her head on my chest.
"I do," I replied as I ran my hand through the long strands of her hair.
"Will you share it with me?"
"I will. Especially since it revolves around you."
"What?" she asked shocked.
I rolled over and pulled her against me and kissed her before telling her of my favorite moment.
"It was the moment my foul ball hit you in the head," I told her as I kissed the exact spot where the ball had left her bruised.
"Really? Edward, why is that the most memorable moment of your baseball career? Surely getting your first gold glove or first time playing in the All Star game was bigger."
I lifted her chin and gazed straight into her eyes so she'd know I meant every word I said. "They might have been bigger moments in the world of baseball. But for me, that first game you came to was the game that changed it all for me. You have given me everything I was missing in my life, and to me there is no greater or more important thing."
Tears were streaming down her face again as she whispered over and over again how much she loved me. As we made love I knew that I had truly achieved everything I could have ever dared to dream or wish for. My life was amazing and I couldn't wait to live the rest of it with Bella, our children and my family by my side.
Thanks for reading. Don't forget to check out my new story, Truths, Lies and Alibis when it begins to post in a couple of weeks.
One last time, please let me know what you think.