Disclaimer: It is with a heavy heart that I admit that the exclusive rights to Twilight aren't mine, nor will they ever be.
Fifteen Years from the birth of EJ, EJ is 15 and Mary is 9.
"How much plastic surgery do you think she's had?"
"Enough to make her husband have to work an additional ten years."
"Oh no, he continues to work so he doesn't have to hear her talk all day."
"Bella, you're awful," Rose accuses me.
"It's true. Would you want to hear her whiny voice all day?" I ask.
Rose ponders my question for a moment. "Yeah, I can't stand to look at her, much less hear her talk."
We all laugh and settle back into our chairs, our noses in our books.
It's 4th of July week at Grand Estates and Edward took the whole week off for a small family vacation.
Vacationing along with our family is Alice and Jasper, their twin boys, Robert and Samuel, as well as Rose and Emmett and their daughter, Elizabeth. Carlisle and Esme are here and enjoying all their time with the grandkids.
Rose, Alice and myself are camped out at the pool while the guys are enjoying a round of golf ,and all of our kids are entertaining themselves within Grand Estates.
The three of us have been trying to read our books, but the activity around the pool is as juicy as I remember it.
"Don't act like you all are reading those books," a familiar voice says.
I look up from my book and find Esme smiling down at us. With her white cover-up on and oversized matching white hat, she sits down next to me in the chair that we saved for her.
"How was tennis?" Alice asks.
Esme lowers her glasses to peer at us and frowns.
"Let's just say I'm ready for that cocktail now."
"Rose?" I ask handing her my glass.
Rose opens the cooler and refills my glass and pours a margarita for Esme.
We catch Esme up on the gossip.
As the giggles progress, our kids filter into the pool, followed by our husbands.
Edward raises an eyebrow at me as I sit there whispering with his mom, no doubt wondering what we are talking about.
Just smile and wave.
That night I find myself not being able to sleep. I end up wandering outside on the back patio, lounging on one of the couches, staring at the stars that litter the night sky.
"Hey," Alice's voice breaks the silence.
I raise my head and see her walking out onto the patio, lies down and snuggles next to me. "Hey."
Alice sighs. "Can't sleep?"
"Nah," I respond.
"What are you thinking about?"
"It's hard to believe that fifteen years have gone by so quickly."
And it has. I've gone from a scared, emotionally closed off young lady to a confident woman and supportive mother and wife.
It was the oddest thing, but after EJ was born, it was like I had found my place in the world. Everything started to click for me. I don't know if it was the hours of counseling, because God only knows that did help, or at least was the catalyst, but having the trust and love of Edward and my family to focus on seemed to be the real reason things fell into place for me.
Don't get me wrong; it wasn't as easy as it sounds. But finding myself wanted and needed by my husband and child… it just suited me.
It was like the universe put me in my place and said "stay here, this is where you belong."
Those first two years of counseling, I discovered so many things about myself. I learned how sensitive I am, how deep my emotions run for those that I love, and I learned to love and trust myself again.
I try not to look back to my past and my behavior, but it was a part of who I was, and I could never forget. But that didn't mean I had to relive any of it.
Everyone needs some closure. I never got it with my mom. I'm working on it with Charlie.
But I never expected to have closure with other parts of my past. I felt that with my counseling I had put it behind me.
When I was eight months pregnant with Mary I was in Forks for the weekend, visiting with Emmett and Rose. Rose had just had Elizabeth, and she was only two months old. I was determined to spend time with them before our lives got hectic with Mary's birth around the corner.
Taking advantage of still being able to move around, I ran to the store to get some things to make dinner. I was in the produce section, selecting some tomatoes when I saw Felix pushing a cart in my direction.
Turning my whole body, his eyes went wide, taking notice of my protruding belly.
"Yeah." I blushed for some reason when he asked.
Blushing was something that I did often when I was pregnant. Edward called it 'my glow'.
"Um, so how have you been? I saw that you had a gallery showing at K's in Seattle."
"I'm great actually. You saw that? Where you there?"
"No, I read it in the paper. I was thinking of going down there to see some of your pieces though."
"I think there may be three left at the gallery. But you could always commission something."
He blinked like I'd offered my unborn child to him when all I was doing was trying to sell another piece. "Do you think we could get a cup of coffee? I would really like to talk to you," Felix asked, smiling.
Thirty minutes later, we found ourselves at a new bookstore coffee shop in town.
"What did you want to talk about?"
"Have you talked about us with Edward?"
"I've talked about it through the years with Dr. Nahuel, and I realized how wrong it was of me to take advantage of you like that," Felix states.
"I'm to blame too. Remember it takes two to tango."
"Yeah, but that doesn't excuse my behavior."
We continue to talk, both of us discussing the past couple of years. Sitting there, I notice that the ease with which we've always conversed with one another is still there.
But there is something else that I notice.
The guilt is gone. The guilt of sleeping with a married man, the feeling that used to crawl along my skin and crush my heart and lungs, making it hard to breathe…just gone.
I knew that the feeling had dissolved over the years with the counseling, but this was the first time that I was forced to come face-to-face with part of my past.
I felt healed, my heart beating strong and my lungs filling with air. I know that I'm not perfect, but I felt complete.
Felix and I said goodbye and as I made my way back to Emmett and Rose's house, I gave Edward a call. I told him about running into Felix and promised to call him later to explain in detail my discovery.
Alice's voice pulls me from my thoughts of the past, "I'm just glad to see you happy, Bella."
"Happy," I mirror her words.
The word used to be foreign to me. But now, it's a great way to describe my life.
After enjoying the quiet, we both make our ways back to our rooms, and I snuggle into bed with Edward. He groans, rolling and pulling me closer to him.