A/N: My heartfelt thanks to SSHG316 for beta'ing this in the midst of judging for two contests (mine included), and family obligations.
Finally, I'm able to make good on my FGB pledge to EBM07, Arfalcon & Nanette! Hope you enjoy these three outtakes, ladies.
On a personal front, I am finishing up two novels which I hope to publish this year. If you are interested in following me as I transition from fanfic to original fiction, please visit me at my website and subscribe: www(dot)BevElliott(dot) com. I'll be blogging from there until the stories hit the presses and would love for you to take this journey with me.
Please know that I will give you (my first readers) opportunities to get the stories free as much as I can since you've been with me from the beginning. I just hope you will pay it forward by telling others about the stories if you enjoy them.
Trust, Loyalty, Commitment
Outtake Chapter 1
As he'd been doing for the last month since they'd known definitely about their move, Edward awoke without the aid of an alarm at five-thirty, sharp. His body prepared almost of its own volition for the onslaught of FBI training, just as it had done when he'd trained to be a Marine and a cop. For a few seconds, he didn't recognize their bedroom, it was so sparse. He and Bella had supervised the movers' expert packing the day before, and most of their belongings were already on a moving van, which would return that morning for the last few items.
Edward rolled toward his sleeping wife. She looked so adorable, he toyed with the idea of letting her sleep and just prepping for his run. They had fallen into bed the night before too tired to do anything but sleep. Now a wave of sentimentality swept over him, and he wanted to say goodbye to their first home the same way they had christened it when they were married two years before. He wanted to make love to her one last time before they left Tallahassee.
He'd made good on his promise to Bella that he had a skill for altering moods and would work her out of being a grumpy morning person. If he woke her with his lips, she was more likely to be amenable to an early morning lovemaking session. He decided he'd better get a move on if he was to be ready when Emmett came by for their run at six fifteen, so he dove right in.
With a move she had dubbed stealth sex, he adjusted her sleep shirt and softly blew on, then kissed an already taut nipple, which had her squirming within seconds. He darted his tongue out and teased, eliciting a soft sigh. Edward moved to the other breast and did the same thing. When her hands wove through his hair, he knew he had her full attention. He latched on and sucked.
"Ooh, good morning," she murmured through a sigh.
Edward took that as his approval to continue, and he did.
After a few minutes, she stiffened. "Wait—I need to do my thing."
He knew her reference was to contraception, but he had been thinking more and more about starting a family. Their roles as godparents to Alice and Jasper's, and subsequently, Emmett and Rosalie's, children had softened his stance on procreation. Finally, he believed Bella and Dr. Levy had convinced him to embrace nurture over nature.
Edward ceased his urgent caresses and sought her eyes. "How about we nix the diaphragm and see what happens?"
Bella's face went through a rapid succession of emotion: surprise, intense joy, concern and then love.
"Oh, baby, are you sure?"
He smiled. "Never been more sure of anything in my life."
Bella kissed him so hard, he could feel it all over his body. He chuckled when she let him up for air.
"Maybe we need to always be in baby making mode if that's my reward."
"The fun is only just beginning," she said as her warm hand encircled him and pumped. Her mouth immediately followed her hand, and he was a goner.
He knew Emmett would be ringing the doorbell sooner than he liked, but Edward didn't care. He took control again and became a study in thoroughness, bringing his lovely wife to orgasm twice before he even attempted to claim his own.
He loved it when he made her look like she'd had a couple drinks when he unleashed the full force of his sexual prowess on her. She lay listless in a numbed-muscle dreamland, smiling up at him as he positioned himself over her.
"Oh yay, I'm getting the full KamaEdSutra today," she murmured.
"What the hell…" With a lazy grin he eased into her. They shared a gasp of pleasure and then began to move in tandem. "…It's a special occasion."
Edward took his time and made love to his wife like it was the first time, as they completed their first act of attempting to conceive.
Edward and Emmett had submitted their applications to the FBI after Edward had been approached by Special Agent Yorkie, who remembered his performance during the raid on COGS when he took down Aro Volturi. They'd met over lunch, and Yorkie was unabashed in his blatant recruitment of Edward.
"We don't find guys with your natural weapons talent every day. Your government could use your skills." Yorkie sounded like a PR video.
"Give me a few days to think about it," Edward said. Whereupon he'd gone and discussed it with Bella, his parents, her parents, and Emmett before he came away with a solid decision. Then he'd gone back to Yorkie with a counter offer.
"I'll apply," Edward agreed. "But I won't complete the process if my buddy Emmett isn't accepted as well."
"You want me to pull strings for McCarty, Cullen?" Yorkie was incredulous.
"No, I'm just stating a fact. McCarty is a Deputy Sheriff here in Leon County and in great shape. He can pull his own weight."
Emmett was too proud to take any financial help from Edward, but if Edward could help him get into a better paygrade, he would do everything he could to make it happen. Hell, he'd even asked Rosalie if she wanted to apply when he and Emmett got ready to post their applications that Saturday morning six months prior. They'd spent the weekend together in Destin on Nyla's first road trip at three months.
"Maybe two years ago I would've said 'yes,'" she replied, "but now I'm not interest in the extended training required to become an FBI agent, nor the possibility that the schedule would take me away from my baby."
It took three in vitro fertilization attempts before they'd conceived, and it had ravaged their meager savings, but Rosalie was as happy as a clam being a mother to Nyla Lillian.
"I'll apply on the local level in and around Quantico once we move, because any job I take will have to be kid friendly and have normal working hours." Rosalie fed Nyla baby cereal for breakfast while Bella, Edward and Emmett made their breakfast.
"I won't have a job when we get there either," Bella said. "So I'd be happy to keep Nyla until you find what you need." She side-eyed her husband. "Anyway, someone's been very vocal about me choosing only work or only school, not both."
Edward defended his stance. "I'll never get to see you if you do both, and it'll be bad enough that we'll be separated a lot during training."
"Are you guys sure about that?" Emmett asked. "We could totally do daycare. You're already letting us live in your house until we can afford one." He took the last of the bacon out of the pan and arranged it on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.
"It makes sense for us to live together until you're both out of training," Bella said. "And Nyla is no trouble at all." She tickled Nyla who gave her a toothless grin as she set the eggs on the table. "We have plans, don't we, baby girl?"
"Then it's settled," Edward said as he finished setting the table.
Edward's parents offered to drop Emmett and his family off the airport since they wanted to be there to say goodbye. Ted and Elizabeth's relationship had grown more in two years than it ever had the first ten years they'd been married. Edward was astonished by how his parents each had changed this time around. They acted more like newlyweds than he and Bella had in their first year of marriage.
Charlie and Renee were as solid as ever and were praying about an extended Mission Trip to Africa again now that both their girls were married. They had a subdued conversation with them on the way over to the airport.
"Don't forget to call Grace Church when you get there, Bells," Charlie said. "My good friend Gary Knowles might have some leads on a job for you."
"I'm not going to go to that route just yet," Bella said. "I'm taking care of Nyla until Rosalie gets a job, and then I'll be trying to get into a Ph.D. program. Maybe I'll pinch hit as a sub sometimes."
"I've told her she doesn't have to work at all," Edward said, looking everywhere but at his wife. They'd had a heated discussion when he returned from his run about her staying at home full time once she got pregnant.
"You're talking to Renee Higginbotham Swan's daughter, you know that, right?" Charlie teased, as he made the final turn onto Capital Circle to get them to the airport.
"The only way I'll do that, is if I get accepted into a Ph.D. program after…" Bella trailed off. They had agreed not to spill the beans about their trying for a baby to either of their parents yet.
Edward laced her fingers through his and smiled conspiratorially. They were happy her parents were none the wiser.
Bella brought their hands up to her lips and kissed the back of his. "You guys should fly out of DC when you get ready to go to Africa," she said. "Come spend a week with us before you go."
"That's a great idea," Renee said. "I've been wanting to get up there to see the new MLK monument anyway."
"Well, now you have a reason to come very soon," Bella said.
Charlie seemed to brighten up. "We might just do that."
Leaving Tallahassee was difficult that Saturday morning. The only thing that made it somewhat easier was the fact that Emmett and Rosalie would join them in their new location for at least a year. Their friends and church family had come out in droves just as they had one other time Edward remembered: when Bella was in the hospital badly beaten, believed to be raped. He thanked God every day that she fully recovered from that trauma and rarely had nightmares about it anymore.
In the two years they'd been married all these people had become like an extended family to them, and Edward knew for the first time, this would be a place he would truly miss when he moved away. Edward couldn't fathom what airport security thought of the throngs of people who were there to see them off, but they hugged and said their goodbyes to everyone. Then there was only family left.
Alice and Jasper were there with Jackson, who had embraced his terrible twos and his favorite word was "no."
Alice hugged Bella, while Edward squatted to Jackson's level. "Hey Jackson, will you give me a hug goodbye?"
Jackson shook his head, his golden blond bowl cut swishing from side to side. "No!"
"Jackson…" Jasper coaxed. "Uncle Edward is going to be far away for a while, and you won't get to see him until we go on vacation."
Jackson paused, seemed to give it some thought, and then he rushed into Edward's arms, and almost bowled him over with his baby-powered centrifugal force.
"That's more like it," Edward said as he enveloped his little godson in his arms. Edward looked over his shoulder at Bella and Alice who blubbered and spoke in whispers about three octaves higher than they usually did.
Edward shook his head at Jasper and rolled his eyes dramatically, as he stood up with Jackson still clasped around his neck.
Jasper shook his head as well, then said, "Not going there."
Jasper and Edward shared a brief hug, and made a sandwich out of little Jackson who now wouldn't let Edward go.
Jasper had to pry his son away. "Come on, Tiger," he said. "Uncle Edward will call you soon, but right now, we've gotta let him say goodbye to a lot of other people, okay?"
"No!" Jackson said, but after a few seconds he released his death grip around Edward's neck and went into his dad's arms.
Next in line were Angela and Ben.
"You're taking my sister away," Angela pouted. "Who am I supposed to have Jasmine's sushi with now? And tell all my secrets to?"
"You've got me, babe," Ben said and pulled her back against his body, and caressed her growing baby bump. "And soon you'll have our little one."
"You're right," she said, grinning back at him and crying at the same time. She turned back to Edward. "I'm counting on you to take care of her, Edward. I'll be calling and checking."
"It's the hormones," Ben mouthed to Edward apologetically.
"I wouldn't expect anything less." Edward was careful to brandish his most serious face. Then Angela threw her arms around him in a tight hug.
"You take care of yourself, too," she said. "And don't get too close to any serial killers. I've seen Silence of the Lambs."
"I'll steer clear," Edward promised.
Ben grabbed him and bear-hugged him. "Anytime you want me to whip you good in cards, give us a call."
Bella and Angela hugged like they'd never let each other go, and his wife's face was tear-streaked and red. He pulled the pack of travel tissues out of his carry on and grabbed a couple for Bella, then passed them on to other teary-eyed family members.
Carlisle and Esme's goodbye was short and sweet. "Don't be a stranger, Edward. I won't wait for you to come back to us next time. I have colleagues in the DC area that I might just have to pay a visit so we can check on you from time to time." Carlisle embraced him firmly, patted his shoulders, and let him go.
Esme's nose was red and her eyes red-rimmed, but she shed no tears in front of him. "We love you, and we'll miss you and Bella, Edward, but we know you'll take care of each other." She hugged him far longer than she spoke, then finally let him go.
Bella caught up to him saying her goodbyes and he let her go ahead of him, because it began to feel like they'd never get away. Emmett, Rosalie, and Nyla were already through the TSA agents.
Mrs. Williams was there just before they made it to their parents, holding an iPhone with James and Maria on face time. They'd been married six months but were visiting Maria's family in Brazil. Edward and Bella took turns hugging Mrs. Williams while the other said goodbye to James and Maria through the phone.
Finally, they each hugged the parents. Edward hadn't expected it, but he got a lump in his throat when he said goodbye to his mother and father.
"The last couple of years here in the Tallahassee area together have been great, son. This is home now more than Indiana ever was. We'll visit when we can while you're in training, but don't forsake us." His father looked as if he were losing his best friend. Edward could count on one hand the number of times his father had embraced him since they'd reconciled, but this one made up for it all, and then some.
"Not a chance," Edward said. "Tallahassee will always be home for Bella and me."
Bella and Elizabeth were hugging it out when Edward approached his mother. She dabbed at her moist eyes with a hanky before she threw her arms around him.
"I love you, son. Please take care of yourself and our Bella."
"Will do, Mom." He hugged her back. "Will do."
Charlie, ever the man in control clapped Edward on the back as Bella said goodbye to her mother, their tears mingling as they hugged and smiled bravely through them.
"This isn't goodbye, Edward." Charlie said. "Just a so long. We'll be through there in a few months."
Renee wiped her tears as she nodded in agreement. "Yes, get that guest room ready for us."
"Thanks, Charlie, Renee," Edward said.
Bella's parting words were, "Tell Nana and Deacon Wilson we love them." Her grandmother and new husband were in South Florida visiting with Deacon Wilson's family there.
Edward took Bella's hand and pulled her along as they stopped at the first TSA agent.
He gave the agent their tickets and I.D. while Bella looked back and waved one last time to their family. By the time they'd removed their shoes and put their carry-ons on the conveyor belt, their family members were walking toward the exit. Once they were through the metal detector, they couldn't see them anymore. It was at that moment Edward realized they were leaving home.
Gathering the bulk of their items as they rolled to the end of the conveyor belt, Edward herded his shell-shocked wife to a waiting bench to sit down. He kneeled and replaced her shoes for her, then reached up to touch her cheek.
It only took his earnest inquiry about her well-being to make her dissolve into tears again, and he took her into his arms.
"Shh, I know it's hard baby, but we'll have Emmett, Rosalie, and Nyla. It won't be so bad, you'll see."
Maybe the prolonged goodbyes and outpouring of love hadn't been such a good idea after all.
Edward pushed himself as he ran through the woods surrounding the FBI Headquarters. It was early morning, yet he was already sweating from exertion. His hair was dark, wet and matted to his head, and a dark vee of perspiration stained his company issued sweats. It was Monday, coming off a great weekend at home with Bella and the McCartys.
Speaking of Emmett, he'd pulled away from him and the rest of the pack running the gauntlet that morning. He wanted to see just how quickly he could complete the obstacle course now that they'd been training two months. He kind of liked the idea of having the bragging rights for that accomplishment in his training class, too.
As he propelled himself forward to grasp the rope and rappel across the makeshift wall, he heard someone calling him.
"Cullen! Yo, Cullen!"
It was his classmate Terence Samuels, an African American from Chicago whom he had befriended, and Emmett making for him at breakneck speed. Edward let his feet walk back down the wall to a safe distance, then he jumped down and waited for them.
Between breathing hard and doubling over to catch his breath, Emmett relayed a message.
"Don't…freak out. Rose called. Bella's sick or something. She ditched work when she took the call, both Bella and Nyla crying…"
Edward took off in the direction from whence they came, with Terrence and Emmett on his heels.
When Edward got home, he found Bella in their bedroom napping, the house smelling eerily like Pinesol.
Rosalie, holding Nyla, came to the door and beckoned for him. He went into the hall and pulled the door closed behind him.
"What happened?" he asked.
"She said she started to make breakfast for herself after feeding Nyla, and her stomach got upset. You should have seen the place when I got here. Poor thing left a trail of vomit from the kitchen to your bedroom. Bella was hugging the toilet, and Nyla was sitting on the bathroom floor wailing like a banshee."
"Did you take her to the doctor?"
"No," Rosalie said. "We didn't think it was necessary."
"I'll take her when she wakes up," he said.
Rosalie practically pushed him back toward the door. "She wanted you to wake her up when you got here, so..."
Nyla whined and reached for him, but Rosalie held her back. "Go on!"
Edward thought Rosalie acted weird, but he didn't have time to figure out why. He would wake Bella up and take her to the doctor.
When he opened the door, he saw Bella already stirring on the bed. He rushed over and sat down next to her and felt her forehead.
"How are you feeling, sweetheart?" he whispered.
She half-smiled. "Kind of yucky to tell you the truth, but it's for a good reason."
His brow furrowed. "How is upchucking all over the place a good—" Then he registered why. "Are we…?"
She nodded. "Yes."
Excited, Edward took her into his arms, then calmed himself down and touched her still flat tummy. Bella was ecstatic as she took him into the bathroom to show him the plus sign on the test she'd taken before she took her nap.
"You remember, when you were home over the weekend, how sore my breasts were? Rosalie said that was a sign, so I took the test after she got Nyla calmed down and the floors cleaned."
He held her close again. "I'm glad she was able to get to you so quickly."
Rosalie temporarily taught Driver's Education at a local high school until she got clearance to teach a driving course at Quantico. Edward and Emmett had overheard their instructors talking about their need for good drivers to teach the agents high-speed pursuit techniques. It would be a nine-to-five job with all the requisite government benefits, and an excellent starting paygrade.
Now that they were pregnant, Edward worried that babysitting and being sick herself for a while would be too much for Bella.
"Baby, maybe we should get someone in to look after you and Nyla," he said.
Bella rolled her eyes. "People get pregnant every day. I can still take care of Nyla and myself just fine. I'll just need to manage the nausea." She pointed to her nightstand. "Saltines and ginger ale seem to do the trick right now."
All of a sudden he became downright intoxicated with happiness. "I'm going to be a father." He picked Bella up gently and swung her around.
"Whoa," she said and then laughed, agreeing with him. "Yes, you are."
"Thank you, baby." Edward set her down and screamed to the heavens. "Thank you, God! We're going to be parents!"
Bella was moved to tears by his elation.
Life in Quantico, Virginia wasn't half bad. Acclimating had been easier because Edward and Bella were also reunited with their good friends, Reisa and Jared Featherstone, who visited every couple of months now that they were less than a good train ride away. Jared was engaged to a gorgeous Native American girl named Leah who fit right in with their group of friends.
Bella's baby bump sprouted overnight, and before they knew it, she had to buy maternity clothes and developed a voracious appetite, although the morning sickness hadn't fully abated. It had been so bad, Reisa had come to spend a few weeks with Bella and Nyla, who now viewed Reisa Featherstone as a surrogate grandmother.
Edward smiled when he thought of the chubby little cherub with her white-blonde curls and how she'd taken to Reisa. She toddled around the house behind her as she went about keeping things in order while the men and Rosalie worked and Bella was debilitated by morning sickness.
It made Edward feel awful that his desire to have a family was doing what it did to her, but Bella wouldn't have it.
"All this is normal, except the more severe morning sickness. Dr. McKelter has a theory why it's like this, and we'll find out soon enough if that theory holds any water. In the meantime, stop panicking. You're making me nervous."
Nyla came toddling into the living room, her face lighting up when she saw Edward. Rosalie and Emmett weren't far behind her.
"Edverb!" She gurgled what they'd come to know was her version of Edward's name and reached her arms out to him, and he picked her up. Her favorite thing was grabbing handfuls of his hair, which Bella teased him about relentlessly, and didn't hesitate to remind him again.
"Nyla loves your hair as much as I do," she said. "I hate to break it to her, but when she grows up, she'll have to find her own ginger."
Emmett was kind of ticked that his daughter wasn't equally as fascinated by his hair. He would hold her up close to his head, but she'd just look at him quizzically and blow spit bubbles at his face.
Rosalie thought it was hysterical. "Oh, babe, she just wants you to blow strawberries on her tummy. That's your thing. Uncle Edward will always be the hair in your daughter's eyes."
Bella did the little two finger point to her eyes and then to Nyla's. "I'm watching you, baby girl." And that made little Nyla erupt into a fit of giggles.
"Give me my baby," Rosalie said, taking Nyla from Edward. "Auntie Bella, you know she doesn't understand jealous bitchery yet. Give her a few years."
Reisa had whipped up a batch of organic baby food for Nyla and brought it to Rosalie to feed her.
"Thanks, Reisa," Rosalie said. "I don't know what we're all going to do when you leave."
"Amen to that," Edward said.
Reisa smiled. "I promise I won't go anywhere until Bella's keeping her food down every day."
Edward swept his surrogate mother off her feet, using the name they believed Nyla did when referring to Reisa. "Thanks, Feather Mama."
Early in Bella's second trimester, she grew like gangbusters, and it became clear to all concerned, and confirmed by an ultrasound that they would have more than one baby.
"I thought it was supposed to skip a generation or something," Edward said, speaking of her Aunt Lonnette's twins.
"Maybe this is God helping us to even the numbers of males and females in our families. I don't know, but I think it's great." She said as she slathered that cream on her tummy that her mother and aunt swore would limit the stretch marks.
Edward stopped wearing a path on their bedroom carpet and cocked his head. "Great? Baby, I just got my head wrapped around one. I could still suck at being a dad."
Bella wiped her hands on a towel and pulled her shirt down. "How can you even say that given how great you've been with Jackson and Nyla?"
The thought of having one baby had him so excited that he was too stupid to think of any downside to it, but having two at once had him scared spitless. Bella was all calm about the situation, but he was literally freaked out.
"What this'll mean is if they both need attention at the same time, I'll have to take care of one of them on my own."
"So, we'll take some childcare classes in addition to the childbirth classes."
She always had a solution, but he still wasn't convinced. She must have seen the panic that had taken over his body in his eyes.
"If all else fails, we'll call in the experts."
Volatile situations regarding domestic security didn't cooperate with agents' family milestones. As fate would have it, Edward had to go to the West Coast on a mission that was of such a confidential nature he couldn't even share where he was assigned with his very pregnant wife. Bella was due in two weeks, but as the twins had gotten bigger in her last month, and she'd been relegated to bed rest, both their mothers had come in to be close to her in his absence.
Renee sounded like Claire Huxtable when she kept saying in an incredulous voice, "My baby's having a baby."
Bella just shook her head in disbelief from her vantage point on the bed.
Elizabeth was a little more in control of her emotions and she kind of took charge. Edward was grateful they would be there.
The sensitivity of what he had to do couldn't wait another month, so Edward would go despite his misgivings. He was needed to rid the world of a lethal terrorist who had killed women and children in his own country and built many bombs to kill innocent people in several European nations. The common people in his own village languished on the poverty line, while this Al Qaeda operative had been lavished with riches by one of its country's rulers. Now intel had put him on U.S. soil, and the FBI, CIA, and ATF in a counter-terrorist sting operation worked together to bring him down.
His father-in-law, the man he considered his pastor even though they'd attended a church in town since they'd lived in Virginia, helped him work through what he had to do, just as Bella had when he'd killed Aro. Now that she was bedridden and in her 36th week, he didn't want to burden her with his work concerns. Charlie had a "take no prisoners" attitude in meting out his advice on this occasion.
"You take down whoever it is with impunity and hightail it back to Virginia to be with my baby girl and your babies. You're making America safe for your own children now. Don't hesitate to do what is required by your government. You are absolved of any guilt, because you're giving to Caesar what is Caesar's. Do your duty, soldier."
Edward would do just that.
The team moved into a remote place just on the southern edge of the Mohave Desert and did a whole lot of waiting for most of the week, until Thursday, when the target was sighted about an hour outside of their location. Intel had the target making his way to a bungalow about a mile away from where Edward was set up. The target would meet some undercover ATF agents to make a buy of a very hard to get chemical required for his bomb-making hobby.
Edward's body coiled into full alert mode when he heard a disembodied voice filter through his earpiece.
"Triple-seven Phoenix. The target is approaching in a silver pickup truck. He is of Middle Eastern descent, average height, has dark hair, and is wearing a light blue shirt."
Edward, already surveilling the area through his scope, located the truck with no problem, barreling along the road and kicking up a cloud of dust. He made a wide arc to the bungalow where the undercover ATF agents were located. Only two would engage the target when he arrived, but there were about a dozen other agents from various agencies hidden in locations around the perimeter of the bungalow. Edward was perched on an abandoned oil rigging, his ass numb from being up there for the better part of four hours.
The truck spotted the bungalow and veered of the road into a pebbled drive. Three men of Middle Eastern descent stepped out of the truck. Fuck! Two of them were dark-haired and wearing blue shirts.
"You gotta give me more detail Triple-zero Alpha. Two targets in almost identical clothing have exited the truck. Detail now!" Edward barked into his mouthpiece.
He didn't have time for this. His wife was in Virginia about to give birth to their babies, and the intel was all jacked up. He did not want to be on this assignment another day. That would cut it too close to the beginning of her 38th week.
"Triple-zero Alpha, target is on the move. Need that piece of intel now, or I'm going to lose him."
Edward zoomed onto the one who'd first emerged from the passenger side door. He looked more like the subject they'd studied back at Quantico, but the other one had similar features, and he couldn't be sure.
"Confirming, Triple-seven Phoenix."
Edward wiped sweat from his brow with the back of his hand and re-positioned himself to take the kill shot. His money was on the guy he'd chosen from memory and the tiny image through his site.
"Target is the one not wearing a cap. On your mark Triple-seven Phoenix. ATF agents on the ground will move in on the other two once you've taken out the target."
"Copy that, Triple-zero Alpha. On three." Edward counted down, held his breath, and squeezed off his shot. When the target dropped, the two undercover agents and about half a dozen others swarmed the two remaining men.
Edward climbed out of the oil rigging and rendezvoused with Agent Samuels about half a mile from his location, well hidden behind a huge copse of cacti.
"Let's rock and roll," Samuels said, as he turned the ignition and the engine roared to life.
"Yeah," Edward replied, only too happy to be headed home. "If we don't make it back to the airport by 0800 hours, your goose is cooked."
Samuels kicked the vehicle in gear, and they hauled ass to Edwards Air Force Base.
Edward was about to board the plane when he got the call from Renee.
"We're on our way to the hospital, Edward. Tell me you're back in the DC area and headed to the hospital."
He'd never wanted to curse in front of his mother-in-law as much as he wanted to then. "I'm boarding my flight now, and you can bet I'll be calling in every favor I can to get there before my babies are born."
After calling his boss to wrangle a few favors and threatening a couple of MPs, he made it to the hospital aboard an army helicopter minutes before their identical twin boys, Tristan Charles and Nathan Carlisle Cullen were born. Bella was so relieved when he showed up, she burst into tears and then was able to fully concentrate on her labor as she went into transition.
His emotions went from annoyance that his job had almost made him miss the birth of his sons, to awe at how Bella handled the excruciating contractions sans medication, to joy that he had cut the umbilical cords of first Nathan and then Tristan.
They took turns bonding on their mother's belly before they were cleaned up, examined by the neonatologist, and then placed in his arms. Renee videotaped while his mother took copious still shots of their first minutes in the world. Things had gotten so tense in the room when he arrived, the nurses failed to ask anyone to leave, so he and Bella ended up with two extra people in the room with them for their first birthing experience.
Later, when all their family and friends had gone, and Bella had slept several hours, the nurse brought the babies into the room with them. Both were fussy, because they were hungry and earlier attempts to breast feed them had been fruitless. This time, the nurse assisted Bella in getting them to latch on, and at only approximately five and a half pounds each, they both could nurse all at once in comfort.
Edward was fascinated by it and kind of jealous of the babies at the same time.
"So, how long are they going to have first dibs on my favorite part of your anatomy?"
Bella, cradling their tiny sons' heads as they nursed, shook her head in disbelief. "Are you jealous of your own sons, Mr. Cullen?"
"N-n… Yeah, sort of. They'll have a monopoly on them for months."
Bella giggled. "You should see the look on your face, and for the record, they're breasts. And I'm sure the boys will share."
Tristan lost his grip and, for a second, looked around. Edward began to talk to him. "Hey, son. Is that good? Yeah, well just remember, I was there first and save some for me."
Bella's jaw dropped. "I can't believe you're saying such wholly inappropriate things to your newborn son."
"He's too young to remember that, right? See, I told you, I could really suck at this." Tristan rooted around until he latched back on again.
Bella's eyes softened. "Our voices soothe them, but all they hear is some version of blah, blah, blah right now. No, you won't suck at being their father. They already love you and will even more as they grow older—just as much as you love them."
"I do love them, so much, Bella. And I love you for enduring everything you have to give them to me. To us." His voice cracked at the end, but he kept his emotions in check.
Bella puckered up for a kiss, and he leaned over the heads of his nursing baby boys to gently press his lips to hers.
E/N: It was such a joy to be back in Copward's head for this chapter. There are two more to come, so stay tuned!
The Truly Anonymous Twilight Contest is in the Voting Phase. If you haven't already, please go to the site at ficcontest(dot)info and vote for the top three AU & AH one shots. There are some great stories in the 97 entries we received.