Disclaimer - I do not own any of the characters, settings, etc. This is simply a work of an idea swirling around in my mind. I have never written anything before, so this could be a failed attempt.
Life in Forks had turned out to be more than she could have ever dreamt of. When she had moved to the dreary town, almost eight years ago, she had no idea it would become home. No idea that her life would truly start there. No idea that she would find happiness, something she once thought a silly fairytale, there.
But she had. She had fallen for a man she would have never imagined, not even in her wildest dreams. Sure, they were an unconventional pair, but life for her had always been a bit different. A bit on the unbelievable side. It worked for her.
The smile on Bella's face as she watched her small daughter and son play in the large living room was not something rarely seen. The tiny versions of herself and her husband, Edward, were enough to bring a smile to her face any day. Prior to her daughter's birth, she had never felt particularly maternal by any means. She had always felt much too clumsy and uncertain of herself to be someone's mother. Much like every other area of her life, she was pleasantly surprised by how easy she made the transformation.
Edward had always wanted a large family, coming from one himself, but Bella was used to the quietness of solitude. Prior to their daughter's birth, she had been convinced she wouldn't be able to handle having a little person completely dependant on her. All of that had changed, though. In eight short years, everything had changed.
"Mommy, watch us!" Ali exclaimed as her tiny form jumped off the fireplace and onto the carpet a short distance below. She was very much like her Mother. At only 4 years old, she was far more inquisitive than her peers were. She had a fiery personality and never gave up no matter what the task. Above all, she had her Father wrapped firmly around her tiny little finger.
Following right in his sister's footsteps was 18 month old, Masen. Despite many attempts by Bella and Edward to curb his adventurous ways, the small boy saw no feat that he wouldn't tackle. Lifting his tiny leg up onto the fireplace, he concentrated with a motivation Bella had only seen before in his father. He would certainly be what turned her hair gray, she thought to herself many times. "No no, Masen," Bella cooed as she lifted the small boy into her arms. "You think you're bigger than you are," she smiled, placing a kiss on his chubby cheek.
"He doesn't know what he's doing," Ali proclaimed.
Bella laughed. "He wants to be just like you. Remember, that is why Daddy and I told you to be careful about what you do around him." Of course, she remembered, the conversation had just taken place that morning, and the day before that, and so on. Ali was stubborn, though. No little brother was going to thwart her plans. "Come on, it is time to start dinner."
Placing Masen in his high chair, Bella quickly started gathering different food items from the fridge. She handed Ali the items that couldn't be broken, although many times she was just as clumsy as her young daughter was. Something Edward constantly picked on her for. Tonight would have to be simple as far as dinner went. Edward had been pulling longer hours at the hospital, which meant she was sans help with the children for a longer period of time. Training to be a doctor, like his father, she had grown somewhat used to Edward's unpredictable schedule. By the end of the day, she was much too exhausted to tackle the gourmet dinners of old.
Bella helped Ali up onto a chair and quickly found her a task to do. "You remember me showing you how to tear the lettuce up into smaller pieces? Do that for me and put it into this bowl here," Bella instructed as she turned the stove on. It was times like this when Bella wished her Mom were closer by. In the past the distance was nice, welcomed even, but once she became a Mother she longed for the contact she never had with Renee. She knew her Mother was happy, though, and that was all that truly mattered.
It was something she rarely talked about to her husband, seeing as how Edward had been adopted by Carlisle and Esme as a tiny infant and never knew his biological Mother. She didn't want to complain about something he often questioned.
Her in-laws were an interesting group, to say the least. Their differences had been what consumed her first few years in Forks. Their differences, and protecting them, had become a normal part of her life. It was just one of many things she found shocking in Forks. Edward was the only human in the Cullen family; the other members were all vampires. It had taken her a while to grasp that, but she loved Edward and his family enough to accept every part of them. They were something different, something unique to their kind.
They had been together many years, traveling around for much of Edward's childhood. However, when he started to express an interest in making friends and keeping relationships, they had settled in Forks for as long as time would allow. It always seemed as if Edward was their driving force. He was the bottom line of all their decisions.
Bella loved her Father and Mother-in-law very much. Their love for Edward was so obvious, and they had graciously accepted her into their world. Edward was the epitome of what Carlisle and Esme felt for one another. Unable to have children of their own, they longed for a son or daughter for many years. Fate had played a part, and Edward was brought into their lives by a woman Carlisle had treated during her pregnancy. Sick, and unable to provide for her son, this woman had selflessly given Edward to the couple. The greatest gift they would ever receive. Their love for him had carried on over to Bella and now their children.
"Mommy, is this little enough," Ali asked. Her question breaking Bella away from her thoughts. She was concentrating so hard on tearing the lettuce apart that Bella didn't have the heart to tell her the pieces were much too small to make a decent salad. They would simply eat lettuce shreds and make the best of it.
"That is perfect, baby," Bella smiled.
Before Bella could get lost in her thoughts again, a shriek tore through the air, followed by tiny hands slapping against a high chair tray. Masen hated to be restrained in any way, but without Edward to watch after him while dinner was being prepared, that didn't leave Bella much choice. He would be into anything and everything before she had time to do a single thing toward dinner preparation. "Masen Charles," Bella attempted to reason. "Daddy will be home soon. Here," she said, reaching over to turn the small kitchen TV on. "Elmo is on." That would distract him for a few minutes, at least. Bella put the meat in the skillet to brown and then put a large pot of water on to boil. She had no idea how many times they had already eaten spaghetti for the month, but it was easy enough. Hearing a knock at the front door, Bella quickly retrieved Masen from his high chair and instructed Ali to follow her. The food would have to wait.
One thing about their house was she never knew who would be stopping by. Bella quickly checked through the peephole in the door, seeing it was Alice, and allowed her inside. No sooner than Alice Cullen stepped through the door, Bella had deposited Masen in her arms and started her journey back to the kitchen. Her sister-in-law was a common visitor in their home.
"Bella! You're in clothes today!" Alice teased, taking note of Bella's shorts and tank top.
Looking over her shoulder, Bella rolled her eyes at Alice. "Ali, tell Aunt Alice we've even had baths today." She loved picking on Alice's fashion sense and need for the latest trends just as much as Alice loved picking on her for her lack thereof.
"We have, Aunt Alice!" Ali smiled, climbing back onto her chair next to Bella to finish mutilating the lettuce.
"Where is my dear brother?" Alice asked, bouncing Masen on her hip while he laughed loudly. Bella was never one to ask for help, but they were family. "You seem exhausted, Bells. I thought Mom was supposed to stay with you during the day?"
"Working longer hours right now," Bella explained. "He goes in early so he can be home earlier. He should be here any minute." She knew Alice was concerned, but she was honestly doing better. Esme had been a great help to her for several months, but it was time to get back to normal life. She had allowed Edward's worry to land them at his parent's house for several weeks, and then allowed his worry to talk her into letting Esme baby-sit them while he was at work. It had to come to an end. She didn't want anyone to make Edward doubt that. He had finally eased up. The children were her life, and she would never jeopardize that. Alice smiled. "I know, sweetie, it is just I worry about you. We all do. Promise me you'll ask for help? I'm free most any day!"
"I know," Bella replied. "Thank you."
"And you, Little Miss Ali Cullen, when are you going to go shopping with me again? Huh?" If Bella was relieved about one thing, it was Ali being Alice's new shopping partner and giving her a break. Bella smiled as she watched Alice interact with her daughter. Ali loved her Aunt Alice more than just about anyone.
Alice repositioned Masen on her hip. The little boy much happier to be free of his high chair and with his Aunt. He reminded her so much of Edward as a baby. It was hard to believe how fast time passed. "Have you been a good boy for Mommy?" She said softly to the boy as she kissed his head.
"He's been sorta good," Ali answered quickly.
"Sorta good?" Alice laughed. "That is all we can ask of a boy, huh?"
Bella let out a sigh of relief when she heard the garage door begin to open. That could only mean one thing; Edward was home. She drained the meat and put the pan back on the stove, not feeling as far behind as she had thought. "Be careful, Alice," Bella warned. "He'll all but leap out of your arms the second he sees Edward."
"Oh I have a hold on him," Alice smiled.
Bella took hold of the bowl Ali was quickly filling with pitiful shreds of lettuce and waited for the small girl to realize her Daddy was home. The second the door that lead from the garage to the kitchen opened, Ali hit the floor running. "Daddy!!" The tiny girl screamed with delight.
"Hey you!" Edward smiled, scooping his little girl up as he watched Masen struggling to get out of his sister's arms. "I'm going to get you too, bud." Edward smiled, watching as Masen never gave up his fight to get into his arms just like his sister.
"He's almost as strong as I am," Alice laughed, handing Masen over. "And that is saying something!" She quickly made her way over to help Bella finish up dinner while Edward dealt with the onslaught of attention from his little boy and girl. She paid close attention to Bella. She couldn't foresee anything bad happening, but she did worry. She watched as his brother slowly made his way over, arms full of the greatest gifts of their lives. Leaning down, he captured Bella's lips in a soft kiss. "And how are you?"
"I'm good," Bella smiled. She leaned up again for another kiss before resting her forehead against her husbands. "I promise." She knew her husband would know if she was lying, and for the most part, she was being completely honest. Sure, the children were a handful, but it was something she needed to do. Lying in bed upstairs day in and day out drained her. It drained life from her, it drained energy, and she needed to enjoy them.
"Baby Cullen is making his or herself more known, huh Alice?" Edward smiled, taking notice of his wife's growing tummy under her tank. It had been a surprise, maybe even a shock, to find out they were expecting number three, but they couldn't be happier. Nothing put life into perspective like nearly losing the baby much earlier in the pregnancy and the unknown of what would happen.
Alice smiled. "Definitely, I can't wait for you to find out if it is a boy or girl. Don't tell me you guys are still going to be surprised. You have NO idea how that cuts into my shopping plans." Alice would of course know before time what the newest Cullen would be, she already had a strong feeling, but if everyone else was waiting to find out, that meant she had to keep quiet. For months. Perhaps she could tell Jasper, but he was no fun when it came to these things.
Bella groaned. If there was one good reason to wait until the birth, it was to put a damper on Alice's baby shopping sprees. "Rosalie said she didn't want to know."
Edward laughed. "When does Rosalie ever want to know anything happy?" He loved his sister, but she could be a bit obtuse about things. Five years of marriage and two children later, Rosalie still hadn't completely warmed up to Bella yet. It was their normal way of life, though. "Let's get ready for dinner, ok?" Edward said, getting a nod from his daughter as they exited the kitchen.
"Are you guys really going to wait?" Alice asked once again. She took several plates from the cabinet and starting setting the table. She hadn't technically been invited for dinner, but she never really had to be when it came to Edward and Bella's home. They were always welcoming. "I really really don't want you to wait. That means I have to keep quiet and curb my shopping."
"I have no idea, Alice," Bella laughed. "I'm still trying to wrap my brain around going through another painful childbirth experience and all the sleepless nights you have with a newborn. Boy or girl hasn't really crossed my mind."
"Sleepless nights and pain are just details, Bella." Alice grinned. "Adorable baby clothing and a cute nursery are the real issues here." Bella knew good and well she would never escape Alice's need to accessorize her children. That could be proven just by looking into Ali and Masen's closets. "And names…" Alice continued to ramble.
"We have no idea on names, so don't even bring it up," Bella instructed. Something about thinking their family was complete and using both baby names they had loved complicated naming a third. "I'll let you ramble about shopping for bedding and bibs, but whatever you do, do NOT bring up names around Edward."
"That bad, huh?" Alice said. She knew her brother was notorious for coming up with questionable names, so she didn't need to go any further.
"You have no idea."
Alice quickly dropped the subject as she saw her brother entering the kitchen again carrying Masen in his arms while Ali was perched up on his shoulders. "Bells, I've lost Ali."
Bella smiled a knowing grin. "Have you? That is funny; I could have sworn I saw her just a bit ago." The little girl quietly giggled, believing that if she was out of her Daddy's sight, she was certainly hidden. The truth being he would never lose sight of her. "Are you sure you didn't leave her upstairs?"
"I could have," Edward said, handing Masen to Alice so she could put him back in his high chair for dinner. "Maybe I did leave her up there. I don't know, I looked all over."
Alice laughed softly as she sat down in a chair next to Masen. She missed this part with Jasper. Having a family. The playfulness Edward and Bella had with one another and their children. She could only be thankful that they allowed her to share in their family. She watched as Edward sat down with Ali still on his shoulders, acting clueless as ever. Ali looked over to Bella and put her tiny finger over her mouth, as if to tell Bella she must keep her secret. "We better eat," Edward said. "We'll just have to look for her later. You know how she likes to run away." He could hear his little girl giggle once again; truly believing he had no idea of her whereabouts.
"She does," Bella smiled. She handed a piece of bread up to Ali so she could eat while still sitting on Edward's shoulders, keeping her secret safe. The thought of crumbs in his hair never crossing his mind as he continued to play along with their daughter.
"Alwee!" Masen exclaimed, looking up at his older sister. His chubby cheeks already covered in the spaghetti Alice had put on his tray.
"Have you seen her, bud?" Edward asked, still playing along. This could go on for hours, but he wouldn't trade it for a second. This was his life, this was what he lived for, and he couldn't imagine anything different. He knew there was nothing else out there better than this. His family was surrounded by much uncertainty, but this, what he and Bella shared, he was absolutely certain of.
Alice couldn't help but feel a sense of dread wash over her as she sat with her brother and his family. She couldn't put her finger on it, and truth was she didn't want to, but something was looming. Something different, something she couldn't explain. She had spent many days worried over her sister-in-law and unborn niece or nephew. Many days in constant fear that something would happen to that tiny life. This fear was different. She had no idea what was happening or when, but she wouldn't trouble her brother with this. She couldn't. She had been wrong many times before, allowing worry to play with her mind, and she wouldn't continue on in that way.
She'd put this in the back of her mind. She'd live with facts. The fact was Bella was fine. The baby was fine. They were both fine. Everything was fine…