Age of Edward Contest

Title: Bride Goes West

Your pen name: EJ Santry

Type of Edward: Manifest Destiny Edward

If you would like to see all the stories that are a part of this contest visit: The Age of Edward C2 Community:

http://www(DOT)fanfiction(DOT)net/community/The_Age_of_Edward_Contest/70125/

The sun was just starting to break through the lace curtains that hung in their bedroom. Edward smiled down at the delicate frame of his bride, his Bella, still asleep in their bed. Her long braid of hair wrapped around her shoulder. Edward bent down to kiss her once more before leaving for the office. This was his first day back to work at the bank since Bella and he took a month to tour Europe for their honeymoon. Edward was anxious to get back into the bank. The travel had been exhilarating, and he felt the energy of the trip coursing through his veins. He was ready to pour that same energy into his job. Edward was eager to provide for his wife, and soon, hopefully, for their child, too.

Edward walked briskly through the streets of St. Louis towards the steps of Page & Bacon. He had worked there since he was a still just a boy, as a clerk. When Yale decided to create their Law School, his father insisted that he attend. He received his degree there in 1845, and then returned back to St. Louis. Page & Bacon happily took him on as one of their attorneys.

Upon arriving at the bank this morning, Edward made his way to his office, and started sifting through the piles of documents and mail that had accumulated in his absence. He wanted to be caught up before the officers of the bank came in for the morning. Shortly before nine o'clock, Edward could hear the various members of the banking staff making their way into their stations. It wasn't long before one of the junior officers came in to inform him that Mr. Page and Mr. Bacon would like to see him.

Edward gathered up the notes and papers he had been working on, and made his way to Mr. Bacon's office, because that is where they liked to meet. He knocked on the door, and was told to come in. Edward found Mr. Bacon behind his desk, and Mr. Page was sitting in one of the leather chairs in front of it.

"Edward, my boy," Mr. Bacon greeted jovially. "How was Europe?"

"Wonderful, sir, thank-you," Edward answered reaching out to shake his hand, and then Mr. Page's.

"Well, I hope you are rested, because they have an exciting proposition for you, my young friend," Mr. Page said slapping him on the back. "Have a seat."

"While you were away, Mr. Page and I had a long discussion and decided to open a branch in San Francisco," Mr. Bacon said smiling at Edward.

"California!" Edward swallowed hard. This was going to be a lot of work. "Do you need me to start drawing up some paperwork for land purchase and the like, sir?"

"Yes," Mr. Page said now with a slight hesitancy," but they were wondering if you might oversee things first hand."

"Go to California?" Edward said, his voice slightly squeaking. "Why me?"

"You are a young man, Edward. You and your bride are just starting out in life, and you are one of their sharpest up and comers," Mr. Bacon boomed. "What say you?"

"Can I think about it, sir?" Edward asked looking at both of them. "I would like to talk it over with Mrs. Masen."

"Of course, of course," Mr. Bacon said waving from across the desk.

"We would pay for your trail journey, and give you a stipend to get set up in San Francisco," Mr. Page added.

"Thank-you, sir," Edward said. "Both of you. It is a great honor that you ask me to do this."

"Let's continue this conversation on Thursday, shall they?" Mr. Bacon asked, and then pointed to the stack of papers in his hands. "Now it looks like you have some other matters to discuss with them."

Later that evening, Edward found himself walking through the door of his home. He had barely set down his hat, when he had Bella's arms wrapped around his neck.

"Welcome home, Mr. Masen," she said and Edward could hear Mary, their maid giggling behind her.

"Hello, Mrs. Masen," Edward said wrapping his arms about her and kissing her not so chastely.

"I had Catherine make your favorite for dinner this evening," Bella said smiling at him.

"Roast chicken?" Edward asked smiling, and she nodded. "You are going to spoil me, love."

"That's the idea," she said smiling up at him. She stepped back then. "Dinner will be served at six."

Bella walked off then into the parlor. She knew Edward liked to spend a little time in his office when he got home from work, and she was giving him some space. Edward loved that she foresaw his needs before he even needed to express them.

The evening progressed quietly. Edward moaned in appreciation of the delicious dinner set before him, as Bella told him about her day. She had joined a gardening club upon their return home, after falling in love with the gardens in Europe. She had commandeered several new volumes of botany books for their library in their travels. Edward loved watching her lounge in the chaise with her nose tucked into a book, pausing from time to time to take notes on what she was reading. Tonight, after dinner, was no different. She settled into her nook in the library, and Edward settled himself at the small desk in the room, quietly beginning a list of what they would need to do if they were to take the offer to move out West. Edward wondered how Bella would respond and he sat up straight and met her eyes on several occasions, just to lose his nerve and let her go back to her book. After a while, Edward noticed that Bella was staring at him more frequently.

"Edward think I will retire for the evening," she said standing up and walking over to him. "Will you be joining me?"

Edward met her eyes that were glowing with passion, and nodded in affirmation, and he scrambled to straighten the papers on the desk before following her up the stairs. Her slender hips swayed as she ascended the staircase, and Edward was captivated once again by the marvelous creature that was his bride. Bella made her way to the washroom, and Edward quickly got into his nightclothes, and climbed into their bed eagerly awaiting her return.

Edward watched as his beautiful wife came into the room with a gown flowing around her. It hid the curves of her body, but that only made his body react with want knowing what was hidden underneath. She stood for a moment caught up in his gaze as his eyes tried to ravish what was under the white flowing material. She smiled softly at him and walked across the room to where he lay in their bed. Edward lifted the bedding, and she climbed in beside him, never breaking eye contact. Reaching out to her, he gathered her into his arms, stroking her cheek before he leaned forward to capture her soft lips in his. Their kiss started off slow, and then began to build. Edward moved his kisses down to the long, ivory column that was Bella's neck.

"Edward," she moaned softly.

"Yes, my love," he said as he felt her pulse race beneath his tongue that was sweeping up the side of her neck.

"I need you. I want to feel you spilling your seed within me. I want you to make me round with your child."

Edward couldn't wait any longer. With her words, she spelled out his own desires. He pulled her nightgown up over her head and released himself of his own bedclothes. Edward brought his wife underneath him, and held her face in his hands as he rested his weight on his elbows at her shoulders.

"I love you, my Bella," Edward whispered as he kissed her gently.

"And I you, Edward," she said, her eyes glassy with tears from the intensity of her love for him.

With the over-powering emotion that poured forth from them, Edward dove into the depths of her. He surrounded himself in the heat of her, and stroked within her in a languid rhythm. Edward closed his eyes and allowed himself to get lost in the feeling of her. The way her taught nipples would tease his own as he rocked in and out of her. The sound of his name falling from her lips as she, too, became lost in the sensation of their bodies united. Finally, he relished the squeeze and pull he experienced from the place within her that was made for him alone. Her body wrapped around him like it was designed to bring he alone pleasure, and Edward loved watching and realizing Bella was experiencing the same.

Edward was brought from his reverie by the increased intensity of Bella's pants and breathy cries of his name, and soon she was quaking beneath him and around him, and he plunged forward filling her with their hopes of the future. Edward lay there for a moment, trying not to crush her with the weight of him, but the way she grasped at him, pulling him to her, Edward knew she welcomed the feeling of his masculine body upon hers. Their breathing slowed, and they settled back down into their bodies. Bella smiled up at Edward, and he kissed her, as he rolled to the side, and brought her into his arms.

It was then, thinking about the possibility of a child, and the future, that Edward found his courage to talk to Bella about the proposition made to him earlier that day.

"Bella, sweetheart," Edward started.

"Mmmm," she answered.

"I was called into Mr. Bacon and Mr. Page's office today for a talk," he stated.

"Is everything alright?" She asked tensing.

"Everything is fine, love," he said rubbing her shoulder and kissing her hair. "They actually wanted to talk to me about a promotion of sorts."

"That's wonderful, Edward," she said hugging him close. She was always so supportive.

"There is more to it, than just a promotion," Edward added. "It would require them to move."

"To where?" She asked hesitantly.

"California," he whispered, almost afraid to say it out loud.

Bella was quiet then. Edward knew this silence. She was thinking. He had known her most of his life, before they courted or became man and wife, so he knew that she needed time alone with her thoughts. He just continued to stroke her arm gently with his fingertips and hold her close. After a while, she softly cleared her throat.

"For wherever you go, I will go," she said looking up at him.

Edward gripped her close to him then, and she clung to him. They both held on tight out of fear and excitement at the potential of their future. While they were in Europe, they both talked of how they enjoyed the adventure of traveling together and they hoped to do more in the future. They just never expected it to be so soon.

A few days later, when Edward found himself in the office of Mr. Bacon once again, with Mr. Page at his side, he accepted their offer. They both smiled, and rose to their feet shaking his hand and slapping him on the back. They were eager to start talking about the business side of things out west, and set up an account for him so Bella and he could start making preparations for their journey.

After making inquiries around town, Edward found that there was a wagon party forming to head to California in mid-April. Edward contacted the trail boss, Thomas Fitzpatrick, and added the Masens to the manifest of the April expedition. It was going to take them roughly five to six months to reach California, and Edward began to get excited about exploring the vast, untouched landscape of their country that awaited them.

As Bella and Edward began making the list of things they would need to procure for their expedition, they talked excitedly about the things they were excited about seeing. The way their minds thought alike in their planning reminded him of when they sat together during the months leading up to their marriage and honeymoon dreaming of the sites they would see in Europe. Except this time, instead of museums and monolithic, established cities, they would be seeing mountains and grand, unscathed countryside.

Leading up to their journey, Edward was hard at work at the bank making plans with Mr. Bacon & Mr. Page. He worked long into the nights, but Bella was busy with locating and purchasing the equipment and supplies they would need for their trip. She would wait up every night to dine with him, so they could discuss the things she had attained or ordered, and so they could go through the list, and her plans for the following day. Edward sat there in the evening amazed at his delicate wife who had the organization and fortitude of a military general. She had already ordered their Prairie Schooner wagon which would take them along on their journey, and had talked to a man about the four yoke of oxen and a milk cow he would have ready for them in the spring.

In the weeks that followed, their spare rooms and other corners of the house became stockpiled with boxes and crates full of new tools, equipment, and bulk food supplies. Bella made arrangements for the both of them to be fitted for new, more durable clothing for their journey. She had been reading everything she could get her hands on about what life was like on the trail, and had them outfitted for everything from blistering sun to blizzards. In addition to the necessities, she began packing up a few personal items and luxuries that they could fit: books, family albums, some of her china and silver, and a few furniture pieces they wanted to keep.

Edward came home one evening late in March to find Bella not leaping on him the moment he walked in the door. Mary walked up to him taking his coat and hat, her expression grim.

"Where is Mrs. Masen this evening, Mary?" Edward asked, his voice laced in concern. "Is she ill?"

"She is in the conservatory, sir." Mary said.

Edward walked hurriedly down the hallway, and through the open door of the room, he could see Bella standing with her back to him, next to his piano, gently running her hand across the top of the smooth wood. At the sound of his shoes on the hardwood of the floor, she turned, her faced streaked with tears. Edward rushed to her at once, and took her in his arms.

"Bella, my love, what is the matter?" Edward asked pulling her away from him to look into her eyes.

"I couldn't arrange it," she sobbed.

"Couldn't arrange what, my love?" Edward asked confused.

"I have been trying for months to find a way to get your piano out to San Francisco. I thought I had found a man who would transport it to New York, and then from there, a boat to sail it to San Francisco, but it fell through today. The man is no longer going to New York."

She started crying hard then, and Edward held her close, as he looked down at the piano he loved so. God, he loved this woman. Edward could only imagine what types of difficult merchants and sea captains his angel had to deal with to try to procure his instrument a journey to their new home. All of this, on top of arranging the rest of their voyage must have been so hard on her, and all of it for him.

"I am un-deserving of you," he sighed.

"What?" She said looking up at him now.

"It is okay, love," he whispered. "I know you did all that you could. We shall find another way of fetching the instrument once they are settled. They say it won't be long before the trans-continental railroad will be complete. We can send for it then. Now, let's to supper."

They walked to the dining room arm-in-arm, and like every newly wedded couple, no matter how tired they felt at the end of the day, they rode into slumber only after making love.

Their departure day was quickly upon them. Mr. Page & Mr. Bacon shook Edward's hand and wished him well on his journey upon his last day in the St. Louis office. Edward told them he would get word to them from along the trail whenever the opportunity presented itself. Bella and Edward hired some men to help move their supplies down to the docks where they would be catching a steamboat to Independence, MO. Their wagon and team were waiting for them there. After a tearful good-bye to Mary and Catherine, Bella and Edward set forth in their phaeton and ponies to the docks. Edward had made arrangements to sell them to a colleague at the bank, and he was going to meet them at the water's edge to complete the transaction.

Soon, they were waving from the decks of their steamboat, for their five-day journey on the Mississippi to Independence. Other than coming out to take their meals, Bella and Edward spent almost every moment enjoying their last five days sleeping in a bed, or in their case, NOT sleeping in a bed. Edward spent five glorious days making love to his beautiful wife. Each explosion of his pleasure into her body held his love and hope for their future. Her body throbbed around his arousal coaxing out the essence of him that she hoped would take root within her.

When they reached the docks of Independence, they were satiated, aglow, and ready for their real journey to begin. They directed the men on the dock to where their crates and luggage should be delivered, and made their way to Mr. Hiram Young's wagon shop. Bella insisted he was the man to outfit them for their journey, not only because he was one of the best, but as a staunch abolitionist, Bella felt it was important to support the negro businessmen, who would in turn help erase the ignorant ideals that negroes were incapable of intelligence or success. She had exchanged several letters with Hiram and his wife in the course of setting up their purchase, and was excited to meet them.

Bella had arranged for their four yoke of oxen and milk cow to be delivered to Mr. Young's, so while the ladies took their tea, Mr. Young walked Edward through yoking the oxen and basic wagon maintenance and repair. Mr. Young smiled at Edward as he pulled a notebook from his bag, and sketched and notated everything Mr. Young was telling him. Most would turn their noses at Edward's inexperience with his hands, but Mr. Young was patient and kind with his demonstrations and answers.

When the ladies came out to see how the men were faring, Bella met Edward with a shocked expression.

"Edward," she started pointing, "what is this?"

"This is a horse, dear," he said walking over and stroking the back of the fine chestnut stallion.

"I can see that, but WHY is there a horse here?" She asked.

"I will need it for hunting," he explained. "Plus, there may be times that one of us doesn't feel like riding in the wagon, or walking. The horse will be of use."

"No doubt," Bella said crossing her arms over her chest and staring Edward down. "I think a young man misses his horses back home, as well."

"There is that," Edward said with a smile.

They bid farewell once Edward's lessons were complete and the oxen were yoked. The Youngs pointed Bella and Edward in the direction of Mr. Fitzpatrick's and wished them luck on their journey.

Upon reaching Mr. Fitzpatrick's, Bella and Edward met the rest of the trail team and the other families joining them on their trek. Mr. Fitzpatrick, and his sons James and Laurence were our trail team, and were known to be one of the most experienced on the trail. The first of the families they met were Dr. Carlisle & Esme Cullen. He had been reading about the need for doctors out West, and had always enjoyed traveling and being where they were needed. Bella was secretly thankful to have a doctor along, just in case. Next were the McCartys: Emmett, Rosalie, Ethan, and George. Rosalie was also pregnant with a third, and was also thankful for the doctor. Emmett was a wheeler, and Edward was thankful for that. Bella struck a happy chord right away with the Weber's daughter Angela. They were similar in temperament, and Edward was happy to see Bella would have a friend during the long hours. Angela was traveling with her parents, Pastor and Mrs. Weber, and her twin brothers who were still young. Jasper and Alice Whitlock, an immigrant couple from Ireland looking for a fresh start, rounded out the group.

The first month of their journey was rough on all of them. The bouncing and the rocking of the wagons, had most of them bundled up and walking aside their wagons instead of enduring the rickety nature of the ride.

Bella and Edward discovered that intimacy was also something that was hard to come by on an arduous journey surrounded by over a dozen people. When they stopped at the Platte River near new Fort Kearny, the women took a moment to do some wash down by the river while the men went to buy some supplies and converse with the soldiers. Edward returned to find Bella standing knee deep in the river. Summer was beginning to make itself known, and the sun was beating down hot at the midday. Bella had her hair piled up upon her head and a few errant strands defied her knot, and hung loosely around her face. She was scooping up handfuls of water, and was pouring it down her neck. The top two buttons of her shirt were undone, and it emphasized the length of her neck, and her right collarbone peeked out from behind her open shirt. She had the bottom of her skirt tucked up into the waist of it, so it wouldn't get wet leaving her creamy legs exposed and glistening with water.

"Bella, might you help me with something back at the wagon?" Edward asked.

"Of course," she said. She held out her hand for his assistance out of the river, and pointed to the basket that contained their wash. Edward picked up the basket under one arm, and wrapped his other around Bella's waist. As they walked back towards the wagons, he bent down and whispered into her ear.

"You look absolutely exquisite, Mrs. Masen."

"Edward," she breathed out at the feel of his breath on her neck. "Let us hurry back."

They quickened their pace, and Edward helped Bella into their wagon, setting the basket of wash on the ledge, and climbed in after her, closing the flaps. It was warm and stuffy inside of the wagon when it was closed up, but neither cared as their eyes made a feast of each other. Bella reached out first forcing Edward's suspenders from his shoulders, and their arms tangled as they worked through each other's shirt buttons. They both unfastened and kicked off their shoes, and her skirt, his pants, and their undergarments were soon strewn about the bed of the wagon.

Edward was still sitting in the middle of the wagon bed floor after tossing his pants aside, when Bella was suddenly astride his lap. Sweat glistened off of her tanned body, and he watched as a long bead ran from her neck and down between her breasts. He reached out then, pulling her towards him, and capturing the droplet with his tongue, as he retraced the bead's path. Bella gasped and thrust forward into him stroking his length up and down the outside of her sex. His hands went to her hair then, and brought their mouths crashing together with pure lust and want. Their kiss broke when Edward moaned at the feeling of Bella sinking down upon him, and enveloping him within her.

This was not the gentle love making they had been experiencing since the night of their wedding. This was raw and animalistic, maybe as a result of being in such wild and unfettered land, but Edward grasped onto Bella's hips and drove into her as she moaned and bounced furiously atop of him. Their chests slid and stuck together with the perspiration that poured forth from their bodies. Their noses twinged with the smell of its saltiness mixed with the smells of their bodies and sex. They were both crying out now as they neared their release a mixture of each other names coupled with shrieks and cries of ecstasy. Edward felt Bella clamp down around him and he thrust once more deep into her filling her again and again.

They sat there then, wrapped around each other, trying to calm their breathing. They both lazily stroked their fingers up and down the sweaty back of the other in the warm orange light of the sun trying to cut through the thick cream tarp of the wagon.

"I love you, Bella," Edward breathed out.

"I love you, too, my husband," she said smiling. "I should get the wash out on a line. A woman's work is never done."

She unsheathed him, and he groaned at the loss. He looked over to see her smiling to herself as she got dressed.

"What has you all alight, wife?" Edward asked.

"I just thought, how humorous it would be if THIS is the time I become pregnant with your child," Bella looked at Edward with her eyes alight with amusement.

Edward reached for her then, and kissed her deeply.

"Then like every other time, the baby has been made with love," he whispered against her lips.

The trip continued on the same, day after day, across the country. They saw wide sweeping plains. Bella would read and teach the children from the book she brought. Edward impressed the men of the train with his marksmanship, and brought down several deer that we dined upon and dried for later use. The summer heat began to fade into the cool, dry air of fall as we continued our route down the Platt River to Ft. Laramie. The wagon train stopped there for a week due to the birth of Abigail Elizabeth McCarty. Everyone agreed to give Rosalie time to rest and the baby time to adjust to this world.

On their last day in Ft. Laramie, Bella was feeling out of sorts and tired, so she retired early for the evening. She slept soundly that night. Bella woke to the sound of a fire slowly crackling. She hummed in contentment and stretched her arms out in front of her. She felt a soft fur glide under her hands and between her fingers. Bella sat up and blinked lazily looking down at the plush fur that was covering her body.

"It's bear," Edward said from next to her.

"When did you get it?" Bella asked running her fingers over the soft chestnut fur.

"Last night, after you went to bed. A trapper came through, and did some bartering," Edward said with a smile. "How are you feeling?"

"Really tired, and my stomach has been sour," Bella said. Edward's smile crawled across his face. "I am sick, husband, and this brings you joy?"

"Possibly," he answered. "Bella, when is the last time you bled?"

Her eyes went wide, and he watched as she thought back to when it last was. The trail kept one so busy, she didn't think about such things when it wasn't immediately at her attention. Tears began to form in her eyes, and her hand dropped to her stomach.

"Edward,…" Bella whispered. He reached for her then, and wrapped her in his arms. He laid his hand on top of hers on her stomach.

"It's happened," he smiled.

Bella continued to feel queasy throughout the next leg of the journey, but the experienced mothers in the group were coddling her and giving her remedies to her ailments. She never complained, and continued to try to do her share of the work. Rosalie was back to full strength, and traded Bella some of her more laborious duties for watching little Abby. Every time Edward saw Bella with the small child in her arms, his heart burst with the joy that soon it would be their child in her arms.

Edward had picked Dr. Cullen's brain, and begged Bella to let the doctor check on her. Everything continued to check out fine, and having a doctor in the caravan, kept the group quickly healed of ailment and injury. He often pointed out ways to avoid illness as well. So all were healthy and happy as they rolled into Ft. Bridger. This would be their last stop before crossing the Sierra Nevada. Bella and Edward traded several of their summer supplies for additional furs and other items they would need in the cold of the mountains. They had crossed the sands of the desert, and were now making the torturous climb of the mountains.

"Edward," Bella whined and snuggled closer to him. "Don't make me get up and start the morning fire. The coyotes had me up all night."

"I will start the fire for you, love, but you must get up and start the meal while I re-yoke the oxen," he said kissing her forehead.

"Agreed," Bella whispered as her lips found his for one lingering kiss.

Edward groaned and sat up bringing his suspenders up over his shoulders. He reached next to him and grabbed his now trip worn boots.

"Those boots have seen some traveling," Bella said reaching out a foot and tickling Edward's side with her little toes. He squirmed at the contact and turned and glared teasingly at her.

"I would think so," Edward said as he pulled them on. "I have to say, I feel like more of a man in these boots than I ever did in his fancy loafers back home. Something about the worn brown leather and how it shapes to my foot now."

"I like you in those boots, as well," Bella said with a glimmer in her eyes that only spelled trouble.

"Woman, we are never going to get started on time, if you keep giving me those eyes."

As she fell back giggling, Edward crawled his way to the edge of the wagon bed, and lowered himself to the ground. The sun was just starting to creep over the eastern horizon, and he paused at the magnificence of the colors. The sky seemed to be bigger out here, and nature's tapestry painted out before him left him speechless.

Bella's movements from inside the wagon brought him out of his reverie and he walked over toward the pile of wood near the fire pit they were sharing with the Whitlocks. Jasper was just climbing out of the back of their wagon looking disheveled, but with a grin on his face.

"Good morning, Jasper," Edward said grabbing the shovel from the side of their wagon to clear out the ash from the day before.

"It 'tis that," Jasper said with a smile.

"I'll clear this out, if you want to grab the wood," Edward said laughing to himself. He had really come to like Jasper. There was an easiness to his nature that he envied. He was quietly lost in his thoughts, when Edward heard the tell tale rattling sound they had been warned about. He spun around just as the snake struck out from the woodpile and bit Jasper in the throat.

"Bella!" Edward yelled out. "My gun, quickly!"

Bella's head popped out of the wagon handing Edward his riffle. He rushed over with it, took aim, and decimated the hidden killer with one shot. The sound of the gun roused the rest of the camp, and everyone came running. Edward flung himself to the ground and quickly clamped his mouth over the bite mark on Jasper's neck. He sucked furiously trying to remove the venom before it could spread.

"Jasper!" Alice screamed grasping her skirts so she could run faster. James was running toward him, as well.

"What's happened?" James asked.

"Snake bite," Edward said quickly as he spit out the venom he was trying to get out of Jasper's system.

Alice sat there frozen, as she watched Edward trying to save her husband. Her body began to shake as she saw, when Edward sat up to spit the blood and poison from his mouth, that Jasper's skin had gone white, and his eyes lay open with no life in them. Carlisle walked over then, and checked Jasper's pulse, and then put a hand on Edward's shoulder.

"He's gone, son," Carlisle said softly.

Edward sat back and dropped his head in defeat.

"No!!" Alice screamed launching herself onto her husband's chest. "Jasper! JASPER!"

Alice pulled his head into her arms, rocking her beloved and screaming for him. She felt arms trying to pull her from him, but Alice flailed and clutched desperately to her life that now lay dead in her arms.

"Oh God…oh, God…." Alice choked and screamed. "WHY?!?!"

No one tried to take her from him then. Alice barely registered the sound of sobs that surrounded her. Her brain was trying to grasp the reality that lay in her arms, and it was all like some horrific dream that she couldn't wake up from. Alice looked down and desperately kissed Jasper's lips. Keeping her lips touching his, Alice began to beg him to come back to her, to please be all right.

"Jasper," Alice whispered and begged. "I can't do this without you. There is no life without you. Jasper, please. Please, dearest, I need you. Jasper… Jasper, please… JASPER!"

Alice looked into his frozen face, and pulled it to her chest and collapsed around him. Everyone stood around her watching her rock her dead husband, and no one was hiding their tears. Emmett walked over, and pulled her from her desperate grip on her husband, this time Alice was too numb to object. She felt herself being carried somewhere, and then laid down. She stared wide-eyed not seeing anything. Alice could hear voices talking about preparing a grave. Someone tried to get her to take something to drink. Carlisle tried to entice her to take a sedative so she could get some sleep. Sleep. The only sleep Alice wished for now was a permanent slumber with her Jasper.

Bella climbed into Alice's wagon a while later.

"Alice, honey," she said softly brushing the dark hair from Alice's face. "They are ready, sweetie. Do you need me to get Edward to help you?"

Alice climbed numbly from the wagon, where Edward was waiting to offer her a hand. She walked in a trace around the wagon to see Esme wrapping up someone in a blanket, and then Alice saw her Jasper's face being wrapped up in it's folds. Something snapped in her brain, and once again Alice was launching myself at her husband's body screaming for him.

Edward's strong arms found her, restraining her.

"He's gone, sweet girl," he whispered and brushed her hair with his large hand, as Alice flailed in his arms. "He's gone."

"No," Alice whimpered, her body going limp in his arms. Edward gathered her up, and held her like a child, close to his chest, as Alice watched the men of the wagon train lift the body of her husband, and carry it towards a hole that had been carved in the side of a hill that was lush with tall, wild grasses.

They slowly lowered him into the ground, and Pastor Weber began the informal service. Edward held Alice close to his side the entire time, and Alice sobbed into his shoulder. Alice could feel Bella's hand rubbing her back, as silent tears streamed down her face. Next to her, Rosalie and Esme embraced crying with Carlisle soothing them both. Before long, Alice heard the group echo an "Amen", and the women came forth with flowers and laid them upon her beloved.

Pastor Weber looked to Alice then, and nodded toward the pile of dirt next to the grave. Shakily, Alice walked over to it, gathering up a handful. She turned then, and looked down at the cloaked corpse that was her Jasper. Alice held out her hand, and it began to shake convulsively. She pulled it back, and reached it out again, just to have it shake even harder. Alice couldn't drop that handful of dirt. If she did, it was acknowledging that he was gone, and she couldn't do that. Instead, Alice pulled the handful of dirt to her chest, and walked away up the hill, leaving her back to the crowd.

Bella wrapped her arm around Edward and watched as Alice's body jerked at the sound of James dropping the first shovelful of dirt onto the blanket. Alice stood there shaking and wincing at the heavy sound of each toss, followed by the scattering sound of the dirt spreading itself into the crevasses of the blanket. The sounds eventually got quieter as it was now just dirt upon dirt. Finally, there was no sound at all. Alice kept standing there as the day fell into night, frozen, and still clutching the dirt in her hand.

Esme took it upon herself to fetch Alice from the cold as the sun made its final departure behind the horizon.

"Alice, honey," she said softly, "it's getting cold out here, and it isn't safe to be so far out from the wagons at night. Please come back with me."

She gently tugged on her arm, and Alice let herself be lead back. Her head fell to Esme's shoulder, and Esme wrapped her arm around Alice's waist supporting her. Alice let Emmett help lift her into her wagon. She collapsed onto the pallet of blankets, and she clutched Jasper's pillow to her face and chest and cried herself to sleep.

With Alice being in too much of a state to drive, Angela took command of the Whitlock wagon. Each evening, the men would help un-hitch her team, and then re-yoke them in the morning. Everyone was concerned with what was to become of Alice once we reached San Francisco. She had no people here in America, and couldn't afford to go home. Bella and Edward had talked of taking her on as a maid or something to give her vocation in their home, but in the end it was the Cullens who decided to take her on as their own. They were never able to have children, and Esme's motherly instincts wouldn't have it any other way.

A few lost oxen, some broken wheels, and exhausted travelers later, the wagon train was over the mountains, and soon found themselves in the arms of California itself. Then on September 24th, their wagon train pulled into San Francisco. The party of travelers bid their farewells as the men exchanged handshakes, and the women hugged and cried. The Cullens home, which had been commissioned ahead of time, just like the Masens, was within blocks of Bella and Edward's on the hill over looking Portsmouth Square. Dr. Cullen had constructed space there not far from the Page & Bacon office Edward had orchestrated. The Webers had a small house that sat adjacent to the new church that was being constructed.

The McCartys were the only family that didn't have a roof waiting for them, and all the families insisted that they stay with them while Emmett acquired the land and built their home, but Emmett and Rosalie were proud people, and insisted they would be fine in the wagon until their house was complete. The McCartys went off to the edge of town to set up tent and sleep in their wagon for the time being, while the Cullens, Alice, and Masens headed to check in at the St. Francis hotel.

Once Bella and Edward had found a place to stable their oxen, cow, horse, & wagon, they had their trunks sent ahead to the hotel, while they walked the distance arm-in-arm taking a look around at their new home. Once in the hotel, they called for a bath to be drawn, and climbed into the large copper tub together, washing off the soaked in grime of five months on the trail. Once clean, and Edward shaven, they headed down to supper in the dining hall.

"This feels so strange to be sitting at a table with linens taking our meal," Bella said quietly to Edward.

"A luxury I hope you are never without again, my love," Edward replied.

"I will miss some aspects of the trail," Bella said blushing and looking at Edward from under her eyelashes.

Edward closed his eyes and groaned.

"You eat now for you and my child, and we will concern ourselves with other matters later," he said with a wink.

After filling themselves up on roasted chickens, boiled potatoes and grilled asparagus, they feasted on an assortment from the dessert cart. Back up at their room, they both changed into their bedclothes, no longer in separate rooms, because the trail had ended all modesty between them. They both looked at the bed covered in a snow-white comforter and big fluffy pillows and sighed, and then laughed at one another. They each walked around to their respective sides of the beds, and crawled in, finding each other in the middle. Edward pulled his wife to him, and wrapped his arm around her body letting his hand come to rest where his child was growing within her. She laced her fingers through his, and sighed in contentment.

Edward leaned forward and burned a searing kissing into Bella's neck then.

"What is it, dearest?" Bella asked.

"I'm just thankful," Edward said.

"Thankful for what?" Bella asked. Edward turned her over then, so she on her back looking at him.

"I am thankful that we both made it here alive. Not only alive, but with new life on the way. Jasper's death was devastating, because I would feel as Alice did if anything were ever to happen to you. So, in this moment, I thank God we are both here, alive."

"Oh, Edward," Bella said as silent tears streamed down her face.

Edward bent down placing soft kisses on Bella's mouth. The kisses delved into a more passionate embrace, but in a reverent and not rushed fashion. Edward reached down then and slowly slid Bella's nightgown up over her head, and then made work of his own nightclothes. He settled himself in between her legs, and stared into her eyes. She smiled up at him, and he kissed her forehead, then her eyes, then her nose, each cheek, and landed once again on her full lips. Gradually, he found his way down her neck, and stopped to lavish each of her, now very full, breasts with attention.

Finally, he kissed his way down to her abdomen and lingered there kissing and talking to the baby. Bella giggled as Edward made promises of the future. How he was going to see a boy well settled, and a girl would be the most spoiled princess.

"Edward," Bella summoned me upwards. "Come make love to me. Let me feel connected to you and alive."

Edward slid up Bella's body then, and the tip of him brushed against her wet, and ready body. Looking into her eyes once more, he wanted to be connected with Bella's soul as he became one with her body.

"I love you, Isabella Masen," he whispered.

"And I, you, Edward Masen," she returned.

He slid into her then to the hilt and they both exhaled their worries and fears, and breathed in life and their future as Edward retreated for the next thrust. Slowly, and without needing words, their bodies united and sang in the joy of one another. Lost in each other's eyes and bound by their physical connection, a tidal wave of euphoria embraced them, and brought them safely down into the comfort of this new beginning.

"Welcome to our new home, Edward," she whispered.

"It was always with me," he said hugging her tightly, and drifting off to sleep.