Ninapolitan's D.I.L.F. Contest

Story Title: Unplanned

Author: jennde

Pairing: E/B

Vamp or Human: Human

Thanks to my beta team of Daisy3853, staceygirl aka jackbauer and Lucette21. This was not an easy thing to read and some of them did it more than once, bless their hearts. Also thanks to wwp for helping me with the medical jargon.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

*Warning* - This fic is sad. It makes people cry. You have been warned. If you want fluff, go somewhere else. I mean it.

I wasn't supposed to meet the love of my life at seventeen; I thought that was the stuff of fairy tales. I was supposed to go to college, meet a nice girl and get married after medical school. The girls in my hometown of Forks, Washington had never held any interest for me. I had any number of girls throw themselves at me but I easily resisted their advances. Beauty only went so far. I wanted someone to challenge my mind as well as my body, and I was sure I wouldn't find that until I left Forks.

I was wrong.

I drove to the first day of school with mixed emotions. I was ready to face my final year of high school and get it over with so I could get out of there and head to college, but I was also dreading it. My summer had been free of girls asking me out and boys asking me to finally join one of the myriad of sports teams or to go to one of their weekend keg parties, but it was all set to begin again today. Everyone wanted a piece of me, but I was pretty sure it had nothing to do with Edward Cullen, high school kid. It had more to do with my mother Esme Cullen, heir to one of the largest fortunes in Washington state, and my father Carlisle Cullen, respected physician. I was sure that if I had warts all over my face and the intelligence of a gnat that every kid in high school would still want to either date me or be my friend.

I was a shy teenager, so different than what my social status would have suggested, but maybe that was the very reason why. People were always staring expectantly at me, as if they thought I would magically be charming like my father or gregarious like my mother. I was none of those things. I was never more comfortable than when I was alone reading a book or playing the piano. There were no expectations on me when I was doing those things and I could be myself.

If I took a girl out she was invariably disappointed if the restaurant wasn't Five Star. More often than not the kiss she gave me at the end of the night was rough and hard and left me disappointed. I'd always thought that girls were supposed to be soft and sweet.

The friends I tried to make were always so overly interested in my house or my car or my newest game console or flat screen television. They never asked me questions about who I was or what I liked.

I had almost every kid in my class clamoring for my attention but I was sure I was the loneliest kid in high school.

My brother Emmett had just left for USC so I was on my own this year. Not that I begrudged him getting out of Forks, he was just always good at being able to deflect the assholes when it got to be too much for me. I was shy by nature, so when someone got particularly insistent, Emmett was always there to save me. I was thinking about how best to thwart Lauren Mallory again this year when my iPod playlist ended. I looked down to find the play button and when I looked back up, I was bearing down on a bicyclist. I turned the wheel violently to the right and stepped on the brake. My tires squealed as my car ran into a row of bushes.

My heart was beating violently in my chest and I was shaking like a leaf. I was fine, but as I looked in my rear view mirror, I wasn't sure I could say the same for the bicyclist I'd almost hit.

I scrambled out of my car and made my way over to the form laying on the ground under the bike. Maybe "almost hit" was an understatement.

The back wheel of the bike was mangled and I felt sick.

I ran over just as the biker was attempting to get up.

"Hey, maybe you shouldn't-" My words died in my throat when I looked down at the biker. She was the most stunning girl I had ever seen.

She ignored me and got up, pulling her helmet off. She was unsteady on her feet and I grabbed her elbow as she wobbled. She pulled her elbow back violently and glared at me.

"Why don't you watch where you're going? Do you even have a driver's license?"

She was angry and my instinct was to fight back. "I'm not the one riding a bike in the middle of a busy road, so maybe you shouldn't be questioning the status of my driver's license."

She gave me a glare that would make a grown man cry. "You asshole. You hit me. Perhaps the status of your driver's license is something I should discuss with my father, who happens to be the Chief of Police."

I was momentarily bewildered. I knew the Chief of Police in Forks, Charlie Swan, was divorced and that he had a daughter who lived somewhere else, but I didn't know much else. Could this be the Chief's erstwhile daughter, or was this just someone who liked to play games, thinking I wouldn't know the difference?

"Do you even live here? The Chief's daughter lives with her mother somewhere else, so don't play me." She looked momentarily stricken and turned her face away from me. So she was a liar.

"Perhaps I should call the Chief and have him call his ex to make sure that his daughter is still where she's supposed to be. Surely your mother would want to know wh–"

"My mother died three weeks ago." A single tear slipped down her cheek as she turned to look at me and I felt like my heart would stop beating from the pain I had just caused this girl.

"Christ, I'm sorry. I had no idea." She picked up her bike and was inspecting the mangled wheel, her face still miserable. She gathered her purse and started walking her bike down the road without saying another word.

"Hey, wait. Please. I'm sorry." I caught up to her and fell in step beside her. "Are you hurt? Maybe you should go to the hospital."

"No thanks," she said as she kept walking, not even looking up at me.

I wasn't taking no for an answer. I grabbed the bike and she stopped and looked at me. "What do you want? You almost ran me over, you destroyed my bike and accused me of being a liar. What more could you possibly want from me?" She looked so incredibly sad and vulnerable and fragile and all I wanted to do was take her in my arms and comfort her. It was an unfamiliar feeling but one I wanted to explore further.

"Please, just let me give you a ride. Are you going to the high school? That's where I'm going. Come on." I tugged the bike in the direction of my car and she reluctantly followed. "I'm Edward Cullen, by the way."

"Bella Swan." I wondered if her voice always sounded so heartbroken or if it was due to the recent death of her mother. I wanted to ask her about it. I wanted to ask her what her favorite ice cream was and if she liked Chinese food and what she liked to read and what she wanted to study in college.

I put her bike in my trunk and opened the passenger side door for her. She looked at me briefly before climbing in and putting her seat belt on.

I was feeling a strong pull to this girl sitting next to me and it both frightened and thrilled me. I had never felt this way about any girl before, but I had plans and I needed to stick to them. I tried to tell myself that she would eventually prove herself as shallow and hard as the other girls at school, but I found myself desperately wanting to find out.

"Why were you riding a bike to school anyway? It's cold and rainy outside." My voice sounded more annoyed than I felt.

She ducked her head and blushed. "I'm saving up for a car."

I felt like an ass. Again. Everything in my life had been given to me and it never occurred to me that anyone would have to struggle to buy something that I got as a 17th birthday present.

"I'm sorry." She had a sad look on her face and I would have given anything to take it away. "I think we got off on the wrong foot. I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have been. I'm sorry I almost killed you."

I looked over at her, a smile on my face. She looked back at me, tentative at first, but when she shyly smiled back at me, I knew I was done for. She looked so delicate and pretty and she wasn't even trying.

When we got to school I took her bike out of my trunk for her and set it on the ground, but it was obviously unrideable. Without looking at her I took the bike and put it back in my trunk. "It was my fault. I'll take you home today and get your bike fixed for you."

Her voice was so soft when she spoke. So unlike the loud, callous girls I was used to. "That's okay. I can call my dad."

"I insist, Bella. Please." I didn't like how pleading my voice sounded but I was helpless to stop it.

"Okay. Thanks." She looked unsure of what she should do next and then it dawned on me; this was her first day at a new school and she didn't know where to go.

"Do you need to find the office? This is your first day, right?"

"Yeah, thanks." She blushed again and I couldn't explain why I found it so endearing.

Without thinking, I took her hand to lead her to the office. I wasn't prepared for the reaction my body had to touching her. My heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest and my stomach flipped over. Her hand was so tiny and smooth in mine and the feel of it made me so hard that I was uncomfortable and a little embarrassed that someone would notice.

I didn't let go of her hand and she didn't pull away. I took her to the office and then walked her to her first class.

I kissed her for the first time that weekend. On Saturday night I picked her up at her house, met her father and took her to Maria's in Port Angeles. We ate Italian food and laughed and held hands across the table. We shared a tiramisu for dessert and she let me feed her. Her eyes went wide with the first bite and she said that without a doubt it was the most delicious thing she had ever eaten.

"I think I want you to take me here every weekend for dessert." Her eyes were shining and she was licking cream off of her pretty lips and I would have given her anything she asked for.

"I think I will." I fed her another bite, already making mental plans to bring her back the next weekend.

I took her home and walked her to her door. The porch light was on and I could hear the television from inside the house. I tentatively touched her cheek and brought my lips to hers. The instant our lips touched an amazing tingling sensation overtook my body and I became a little dizzy. She was soft and she tasted so nice, like rain and cherries and sweetness. She was kissing me back and before I knew it her mouth opened slightly and our tongues met and I was so painfully hard. I wanted more so I pulled her body close to mine and deepened our kiss. When she ran her small hands through my hair I groaned loudly into her mouth. I felt my restraint slipping and I pulled away. The feelings were too strong and I needed to try to regain some control over myself and the situation. I looked into her face and saw raw hurt and I wanted to kick myself for putting it there.

"No, please. I just..." I didn't know how to explain myself so I took her hand and led her over to the porch swing and sat her down on my lap. I kissed her again, not sure how to describe what I was feeling. She kissed me back but it was tentative and I knew I needed to be honest with her; there seemed to be no guile in her at all and I wanted to earn her complete trust.

I took my lips from hers and she rested her head on my shoulder as we rocked on the swing. "I'm sorry I pulled away before. It wasn't you...well, it was, it's just that you didn't do anything wrong. I was absolutely certain where my life was going before you showed up. Now everything is jumbled and I'm just not sure how to handle it." It came out in a rush, but I had never been more unsure of myself and I was so scared of screwing this up.

She lifted her head to look at me, her eyes so soft and understanding. "It's okay, I'm not too sure I know what I'm doing either." She looked down. "I've never felt this way before."

My heart swelled at her words and I needed her to know that she wasn't alone. I lifted her chin to look at her. "Me either. The way you make me feel, Bella...I can't describe it, but I know I never want it to end. I've been selfish and standoffish my whole life, but with you...I want to be with you all the time and I want to take care of you and protect you. I'm sorry, all of these feelings are so new to me."

"Me too." She rested her head on my shoulder again and sighed. "We'll figure it out together."

We rocked and kissed until I heard the Chief clear his throat and tell Bella to come inside. I blushed at being caught but couldn't find it in myself to regret a second of it.

I knew soon after we met that I loved her. It didn't hit me like an epiphany; one day it just was. And it was right and perfect and all of my plans were shot to hell. There was no doubt in my mind that I would be hers forever. My heart felt light and happy when we were together, and a strange melancholy would descend when we were apart.

My mother didn't approve of Bella, but I think she tolerated her because she thought I was going through a phase and would eventually start dating the right type of girl. Bella wasn't sophisticated or wealthy enough for my mother, and she even questioned Bella's interest in me, not so subtly hinting that the Police Chief's daughter might be after my money. My father was strangely silent on the subject and I didn't press him - it wouldn't have changed how I felt about Bella or the plans I had already started making for our future. Even if my father did support me and my relationship with Bella, he would never stand up to her and fight for me. He never supported me against my mother about anything, even when I knew he agreed with me.

I picked Bella up every day for school. I walked her to every one of her classes and held her hand on the way there. I drove her home afterward, only to come back after dinner to sit at her kitchen table where we would do our homework or fill out college applications and steal kisses while Charlie sat in the living room watching television. We would spend our weekends at my house or hers, kissing and touching and dry humping the hours away. I took her for tiramisu at Maria's almost every weekend. We spent hours talking about the books we liked and the pop music that we hated. I played piano for her and she would cry and tell me I was beautiful, which would always make me blush.

I took Bella to Seattle and tried to buy her things but she always refused, so I spoiled her at Christmas. I bought her a bike to replace the one I destroyed, plus books, clothes, an iPod and a locket from Tiffany's. I laid all of her presents out before she came over late on Christmas Eve and her eyes went wide as she entered my room.

"What's all this?" she breathed.

"It's for you," I said with a smile.

She dropped the shopping bag she had been holding and continued to stare.

"I don't...Edward..." I heard her sniff and I could guess that her tears weren't from happiness. I put my hands on her shoulders and ran them up and down her arms.

"What is it?" I asked softly, disappointment coursing through me.

"Why would you do this? You know I can't do anything like this for you."

I turned her around and looked in her sad, watery eyes. "I don't expect you to." I cupped my hands around her face and ran my thumbs under her eyes to brush her tears away. "I like spoiling you. Is that so bad?"

"I feel like I want to crawl under a rock and hide. My gift is so lame in comparison."

I took her into a tight hug. "Bella, please. I did this knowing your situation. I want to take care of you and give you nice things. I know it doesn't mean that much to you, but it means something to me. Please just let me do this for you."

"I feel overwhelmed," she said into my chest. "I'm so embarrassed about what I got you now."

"Please, don't be. I didn't do this to make you feel bad. I'm sorry." I could hear the disappointment in my voice but I couldn't do anything about it. I was disappointed.

She took a deep breath then looked up at me. "No, I'm sorry. I love that you want to spoil me, it's just that no one's ever done something like this for me before."

"Get used to it." I smiled, took her hand and led her into my room. We sat on the floor and she opened all of her gifts, and while I could tell she was uncomfortable, she smiled and thanked me and kissed me after each one.

When she handed me a wrapped package her face was red and she was biting her lower lip. I used my thumb to pull her lip down and release it. "Stop it," I said.

She just looked at me and nodded, her nervousness and fear completely on display. I opened the box to find a red velvet bag inside. I pulled the drawstring and emptied the contents into my hand.

I looked down to a handful of white rocks. On closer inspection, I realized they were all hand painted a pearl white and there was something written on each one in Bella's beautiful script. One side of each rock said, "I love you because..." and the other side bore a reason. I sat there, tears forming in my eyes, reading all of the reasons this amazing girl loved me; "you smell good" , "your hands touch me gently", "you make me laugh", "you know exactly how to kiss me", "you make me feel like I can do anything." There were over twenty of them and I couldn't believe there were that many things she loved about me.

"I know it's silly. I just..."

I looked up at her, unshed tears still in my eyes. "It's not silly. Everything I got you is silly compared to this. How can I feel like a complete schmuck and the luckiest guy in the world at the same time?"

I pulled her into my lap and wrapped my arms around her. "This is the most beautiful thing I've ever gotten. Thank you." She smiled shyly at me and I kissed her soft mouth, wanting to show her just how much she meant to me. She had changed my life completely and I would never be the same.

The first time Bella and I made love was in her narrow bed at her father's house. We didn't plan it, but I wasn't sorry it happened the way it did. I thought I wanted to take her somewhere and have flowers on the bed and candles lit, but it wasn't about setting a scene. It was about us. Me and Bella and the force of the overpowering love that we shared. As I slipped inside her for the first time, I knew that nothing could ever or would ever feel this good again. She was wet and tight and soft and Bella. She was everything all at once and I knew I was home.

We didn't use protection that first time, but we got lucky. We never failed to use protection again, but one time the protection failed us.

When I came home one day the summer before Bella and I were to start Dartmouth and told my parents that Bella was pregnant and that we were getting married, my mother went through the roof. She told me in no uncertain terms that if I married Bella I would be on my own. I would be kicked out of the house and cut off financially.

"Fine, Mother, if that's what you want."

"No, Edward, it's not, but I suppose that's what you want. I will not allow you to marry some trash just becau–"

"Esme!" my father said, cutting her off. "I hardly think that's appropriate. I think we need to sit down and talk about this like adults."

"There's nothing to talk about, Carlisle. Your son has a choice to make." She looked at me, angry and expectant.

I felt my own anger begin to swell. She was no better than the kids at school who wanted me to be something I wasn't. She wanted me to be the son she envisioned, not the boy I was or the man I was trying to become.

"You know what, Mom? You're right, I do have a choice to make. I choose Bella. I'll always choose Bella. She loves me for who I am and I love her and I don't need your damn money." The look of shock on her face would have been funny if it wasn't so heartbreaking. She just didn't get it.

I turned to my father and hugged him tightly. "I'm sorry, Dad. I love you."

"Please call me tomorrow at the hospital," he whispered lightly in my ear. I nodded and stepped away.

"I'm going to pack some of my clothes and then I'm leaving," I said as I made my way to the stairs.

The house was quiet when I got back downstairs and left through the front door.

I stayed with Bella and her father for the few weeks we had left before we were due at Dartmouth. Chief Swan wasn't thrilled that his daughter was pregnant and getting married at eighteen, but he seemed to understand better than my parents did that we were completely committed to each other, no matter the circumstance.

We were married that July at the courthouse in Port Angeles, Chief Swan and my father standing up as witnesses for us. My father and I had come to an understanding after I left the house. I knew he would never stand up to my mother, but he wouldn't abandon me. With his own money, he bought Bella and me a condo near campus and insisted on paying the monthly maintenance fee associated with it. I tried to refuse his gift, but the pleading look on his face made me change my mind. He wasn't strong enough to stand up to Esme, and this was all he was capable of giving me. I accepted his gift gratefully, a huge financial burden suddenly lifted from my shoulders.

I had a small amount of money that was given to me by my grandfather that my mother couldn't touch, but it wouldn't keep us comfortable for long. I also had a college fund, and Bella had her scholarship, so we would be able to attend school as we planned. Bella would take a semester off after the baby was born and then we would figure out a way for her to go back.

Charlie didn't want us to leave for New Hampshire but we both thought it was important to keep our goals intact, despite the baby. We had talked about getting married and we both wanted children, but we weren't so young and naive that we didn't realize that this wasn't the best situation. But we loved each other and we would love our baby. The struggle ahead would be long, but as long as we were together, we could do anything. It wouldn't always be hard and we had our whole lives to look forward to.

We settled into our apartment in early August and classes began at the beginning of September. I went to school during the day and worked a few hours every weeknight and all day on Saturday as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. Sunday was our free day and we always spent it together. We went to the park or took a long drive in the car or ate brunch at our favorite restaurant. My favorite Sundays were when we stayed in bed all day and read The Times and ate bagels and made love and took a long afternoon nap wrapped around each other.

I insisted Bella not work and concentrate on school. She needed to keep her scholarship and I didn't want her putting any undue strain on her body during the pregnancy. As it was, her small frame was making the pregnancy difficult on her. According to her first ultrasound the baby was on the small side, but Bella was getting frequent back aches and her feet were always swollen. She protested every time I tried to give her a back rub, arguing that I worked hard enough without expending extra energy on her, but it never stopped me. She was my wife and she was carrying our child; nothing would stop me from trying to ease her discomfort.

I had never worked so hard in my short, privileged life, but I had also never been as happy. Every back breaking hour of work, every late night spent studying and every time I had to force caffeine down my throat to stay awake for class was worth it. Because at the end of the day, she was there. She was light and sweetness and she took care of me in a way no one ever had before. She cooked for us and always waited until I got home to have her dinner with me, no matter how late it was. She would run a bath for me every Saturday night after my long shift at the restaurant and make sure that my clothes were clean and the refrigerator was full. But it was more than that. It was the way she touched me, so gently and sweetly. It was the way she looked at me when I walked in the door, like I was a conquering hero. It was the way she wanted me; the way she would look at me as we made love and the way she would call out my name as she climaxed. Our love was all encompassing and made me want to be better for her every day.

In early October we went for the ultrasound that would tell us the gender of the baby. We definitely wanted to know, but apparently the baby had other ideas.

"Sorry, Bella," the technician said. "The baby doesn't want us to know today. Let's try again in a week or two."

We walked out of the office that day with a picture of our child, "Baby Cullen" typed in the corner. When we got home we hung it on the refrigerator with a Home Sweet Home magnet.

We went back two weeks later with the same result. When it happened again in November we decided to stop trying to find out, thwarted by our child's stubbornness. We easily agreed on a boys name, Alexander, but we were both as stubborn as the baby when it came to the name should our baby be a girl. I wanted Katherine but Bella preferred Grace. We both stuck to our guns, never coming to an agreement. We would just have to hope for a boy, although I secretly prayed for a girl just like my Bella.

We decided to stay in New Hampshire for Christmas break since Bella was due in January and her doctor advised against travel. My father and Emmett sent gifts for us and for the baby but I didn't hear from my mother. I worked extra hours at the restaurant so we could save some money while Bella stayed home and got our place ready for the baby. Charlie would fly out for the holiday and spend some time with us, although he preferred getting a hotel instead of sleeping on our couch.

I woke on Christmas morning as content and at peace as I had ever been. I had my arm around Bella and she had our child growing inside of her. I loved her so completely and I smiled as I saw the years stretch before us. We would graduate college and I would go to medical school while Bella would start her career in publishing. I would become a pediatrician and we would have another baby once I finished my residency. We would love each other and we would love our children and watch them grow to adulthood. We would retire close to them so we could be surrounded by our grandchildren in our twilight years.

I hugged her closer, her back to my chest, and sighed in contentment. She started to stir and softly took the hand I had draped over her rounded abdomen.

"Good morning," she said, her voice gravelly from sleep.

"Morning, beautiful."

"Beautiful? Have you always found beached whales attractive?"

"Mmmm. No, just you, always you." I felt myself getting hard at her closeness.

"Maybe you should reconsider your major. Perhaps you should become a marine biologist with your love of ocean life." She chuckled softly, causing her body to shake and her ass to rub against my now fully hard erection. We both groaned as she continued to slowly move herself against me.

"Oh, Bella. God, you have no idea what you do to me." My hand started to travel from her abdomen up to her breast, where I lightly touched her, just the way she liked. She moaned and put her hand over mine, following my movements.

When her hand left mine and went into her hair, I moved from her breast and slowly trailed my hand down her body and underneath her nightgown to the juncture of her thighs. I heard her sharp intake of breath as I touched her softly.


"You have no idea how attractive I find you. You're giving life to our child. You've never been more beautiful and you've never turned me on more."

I continued to move my fingers around the sweet spot between her legs and she started to pant as her pleasure began to build. With my other hand I moved my boxers down and freed my straining erection. I took her top leg and moved it back so it was over mine and I positioned myself at her entrance. She was so soft and warm.

"Please, Edward...oh, God...I want you."

"I'm so hard for you right now. How could you ever think that I don't find you attractive?" I slipped inside of her slowly as my fingers continued their ministrations. I sighed loudly when I was fully inside of her, "Oh, Bella."

Her hand came back and tugged on my hair as I rocked my hips, moving in and out of her, my hand still moving between her thighs. "Edward...I'm close...please."

"Come for me Bella. I love you so much." I was barely able to speak with the effort I was making to hold back; my own release was approaching quickly but I wanted her to get there first.

"Edward...oh, oh, oh my God." I felt her hands tighten in my hair as her orgasm took her and with a few more strokes I was right behind her, groaning into her shoulder.

I pulled out of her gently, wrapped my arms around her and whispered in her ear. "You are the most beautiful creature ever created. I will love you every day of my life."

Her head turned to me and she kissed me gently. "You make me feel beautiful."

"You are." I kissed her soundly on her mouth, got up and then helped her out of bed. I had to cook us Christmas dinner and I needed all of the moral support I could get.

Charlie came over later that afternoon loaded down with gifts for the baby. We protested about his extravagance but he insisted that he wanted to spoil his grandchild and that there was nothing we could do about it. Plus, he wouldn't be able to get any more time off when Bella gave birth so he wanted to make sure the baby got all of his gifts well in advance.

Charlie spent three more days with us in New Hampshire. He and I spent a lot of time getting the nursery ready while Bella rested. We put the crib together, painted the walls, put up the animal wallpaper border.

After Charlie had gone back to the hotel on the night we finished the nursery, Bella stood in the doorway for a few minutes without saying anything. I approached her from behind and put my arms around her, resting my chin on top of her head. "Do you like it?"

"It's beautiful, thank you." She leaned back into me and I held up her small frame. "Can I tell you something?"


"I'm starting to get nervous. What if I'm not a good mother? What if I can't handle it?" I knew this wasn't just a rhetorical question, there was genuine fear in her voice.

I turned her around and took her face in my hands. "I don't know what it's like to be a parent, but I do know that you love me with boundless energy and passion. I can't imagine it will be any different when you love our child." I kissed her forehead as a single tear fell down her cheek. "And Bella, never forget that we're in this together. I'm scared too, but as long as I have you, I can do anything."

"Together," she sighed. She looked up at me and smiled. "I don't know how it's possible, but I love you more every day." She kissed me and I took her to bed where I rubbed her back and whispered to her until she fell asleep.

We were set to take Charlie to the airport the next afternoon so he came over early for breakfast. I let Bella sleep in because she had been up late the night before, too uncomfortable to sleep, while Charlie and I made breakfast for the three of us. Just as I was setting the table I heard a panicked cry from the bedroom.


I ran to the bedroom to find Bella upright in bed, a pained look on her face.

I felt the panic in my chest but I did my best to keep it to myself.

"What is it?"

"It's time. I think I'm in labor."

"But it's too early! We still have two more weeks!"

"Someone forgot to tell the baby that. Is my dad here?"

"Yeah, he's out in the kitchen."

"Please tell him and then call Dr. Masen while I get ready." She was so calm and I felt like I wanted to jump out of my own skin from nerves.

"I love you."

She smiled at me and got out of bed. "I love you too. Now go before I have this baby in our bedroom."

Charlie decided to reschedule his flight and come to the hospital with us. We got there just as Dr. Masen was arriving. She took Bella straight to labor and delivery while I filled out paperwork.

Bella's labor lasted for twenty two hours before she was ready to begin the delivery process and I sat with her the whole time. We held hands, watched television and argued about what we would name the baby if it was a girl. Late that night, I read to her from a book she was in the middle of but had hoped to finish before the baby came. Charlie had already gone back to the hotel, with promises that we would call him as soon as the baby was born.

Hours later, when she was dilated enough to begin pushing, she looked terrified.

"Don't leave me. I can't do this without you."

I almost laughed at her absurdity. "Leave you? Have you lost your mind? I'm nothing without you."

I held her hand tightly as Dr. Masen told her to push. The process lasted for another hour, Bella alternating between pushing and laying back on the bed, exhausted. My hand was red and swollen from how hard she was holding it, but in comparison to Bella's, I knew my pain was minimal.

Finally, after almost a full day, our daughter was born. She was taken almost immediately because she was two weeks early, but Bella got a good look at her before they took her away. "Edward! She's so pretty. And look, she has your hair!" She was smiling and even with as exhausted as she must have been, she looked as happy as I'd ever seen her.

I rested my forehead against hers. "She's beautiful. I'm so proud of you and I love you so much. "

She put her hands in my hair. "I love you too."

I kissed her on the lips and held her sweaty, exhausted face in my hands. She had never looked more beautiful.

I started to notice the activity around me and the nurses seemed to be moving much more quickly than just a few minutes ago. Bella noticed too and I saw the panic in her face. "Is it the baby? Dr. Masen, is my baby okay?"

"She's fine, Bella." Dr. Masen's voice was calm but she was concentrating on something between Bella's legs. I looked down and dread slowly crept up my spine.

There was so much blood.

I looked at Bella – her face was so pale.

"Okay, Bella, there's some bleeding." Dr. Masen's voice was still calm and very businesslike. "We're going to take you up to surgery."

Bella looked at me and grabbed my hand. "Edward."

"You're going to be fine, Bella. Don't worry." I kissed her forehead and wished I felt as confident as I sounded.

She nodded her head, but her increasingly pale face looked terrified.

"Edward, we need to take her now," Dr. Masen said.

I kissed her again, quickly, and looked into her eyes for a long moment. "I love you, always."

She closed her eyes briefly. "I love you so much."

She was wheeled quickly out of the delivery room.

It was the last time I saw Bella alive.

I met my once in a lifetime love at seventeen, I married her at eighteen and I lost her at nineteen. My life was over before it began.

She was hemorrhaging and ultimately died of cardiac shock from lack of blood volume. They tried to revive her but she had lost too much blood and there was nothing they could do.

I felt like the world was collapsing in on me. She was everything and I would follow her because I knew nothing without her. I couldn't breathe with the thought that I would never touch her again. No human being should be made to live with the pain I felt. It was too much. My Bella was gone and I was lost and I didn't know how to get home again.

I was sitting in the hospital waiting room, staring at the floor, but I didn't know what I was waiting for. For them to come and tell me that they had made a horrible mistake and Bella was fine? That she was coming back to me? I allowed that fantasy to take over when I heard a tentative voice.


I looked up and saw my mother standing next to the hard plastic chair I was sitting in. My mother, who I hadn't seen in almost a year, who abandoned me, who called my Bella the most hateful names. I looked back down without acknowledging her.

"Edward, please. I'm sorry." She knelt next to my chair and touched my back. "I can't imagine what you're going through right now, but I want to help you. Charlie called your father when Bella went into labor and we were on our way here when we heard. I wanted to apologize, but now... Please, I'm so sorry for the way I behaved. I love you. Please, Edward."

I looked up at her, ready to lash out but the compassion in her face stopped me dead in my tracks. She meant it.

She moved closer to me and awkwardly put her arms around me. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream out at the world for what had been taken from me but nothing would come out. I was dead inside.

"Mr. Cullen, would you like to see your daughter?"

I looked up at the nurse, confused. She was standing in front of me with a tightly swaddled baby in her arms. I stood up. It took me a minute to realize that this was our daughter. Mine and Bella's. We had created a life together and there it was, in front of me, yawning.

I looked at my daughter, at her face which was so much like her mothers, and knew that I couldn't leave her. She needed me, and as much as I was empty without Bella, and as much as every part of me wanted to join her in oblivion, I knew that this life we created was more important than my selfish desire to end my despair. My pain would last forever, but I would endure for my daughter. For Bella's daughter. I took her in my arms and the ache eased just enough for me to want to live through the next few minutes. I hoped it would be enough.

I named her Grace. She was with my mother the day I buried Bella.

I took Grace home alone. My mother offered to help but I sent her away, wanting to be alone with my misery and the one part of Bella I had left. The first month was unbelievably hard. Grace needed constant care and attention and I was exhausted. If I wasn't feeding her, I was changing her or giving her a bath or cleaning up vomit or begging her to stop crying so I could get some sleep. I think I cried as often as she did in the first week from frustration and from the heartache and anguish I felt without Bella. We were supposed to do this together and I was so angry that she had left me.

One night, about two weeks after we got home, I accidentally discovered a sure way to get Grace to sleep. I was in the habit of rocking her or walking around our small apartment to get her to sleep, but on that night I was just too tired, so I laid down in my bed with her on my chest. As she slowly calmed and fell asleep, I realized that her head was resting right above my heart and it occurred to me that she would have been lulled to sleep in the womb by Bella's heartbeat. Mine was a poor substitute, but the one we both craved was no longer beating, so we had to make do.

Once Grace started sleeping, I found that I couldn't. The silence was deafening and always brought thoughts of Bella.

Grace and I had been home almost a month when I fell into an exhausted sleep after we had a particularly bad night and I finally got her to sleep in the bassinet next to my bed. I woke up later when the bed shifted. I turned over and there was Bella, laying next to me, a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye.

She was here.


"Yes, Edward. It's me." She reached out and touched my face. Her hand was colder than I remembered but it felt soft against my cheek.

"You came back to me."

"I need to tell you something. I need you to listen to me, okay?" She moved closer to me and I ached from wanting her.

"Of course, Bella."

"You can do this. I know you feel alone and overwhelmed, but I have faith in you."

Hot tears started to build in my eyes and I took her other hand in mine.

"I don't know if I can. How am I supposed to do this without you? Why did you leave me?" I was crying in earnest now, so overwhelmed by thoughts of the years that lay ahead of me without Bella.

"Oh, Edward, I didn't want to leave you. But Grace needs you. I can't be there for her so you have to be. You have to be a parent for both of us."

"I want you here with me. I feel so alone and empty without you."

"I know you do, but you have to be strong now and try to hold on. Promise me you'll try. Do it for me and for Grace."

"I'll try."

"I love you, Edward. I'll always love you."

"I love you too, Bella."

"One more thing, Edward. It's not a sin to ask for help."

I woke with a start to Grace's crying. As I got up to warm her bottle, my dream was fresh in my mind. I would try; I never could refuse Bella anything she asked of me. And tomorrow I would call my mother.

I went back to school. I got good grades. I took care of my daughter. I ached with longing for Bella.

My mother moved to New Hampshire to help me with Grace while my father stayed in Washington. He visited at least once a month and was as enamored with Grace as my mother was. They were good grandparents, and I forgave them for the way they treated Bella and me. They were doing what they thought was best, as any parent would. Just as I was trying to do for Grace.

Grace was my everything. Every time she hit a milestone, I felt the hole in my heart that Bella's absence created get a little bit bigger. She should have been there for Grace's first step, for her first word (Dada), her first day of school. As Grace got older, I tried to hide my sadness; I didn't want her to see just how alone and broken I was. I wanted her to be surrounded by love and happiness, just as she would have been had Bella lived.

My parents reinstated my inheritance but I told them to put it in trust for Grace. I had the only thing I ever wanted in life and she was gone now. I just needed to survive long enough to know that Grace was going to be okay. That she would have a happy, fulfilling life, and then I could be with Bella again.

I dreaded nighttime after Grace was asleep and my mother left; that's when I would miss Bella the most. I would literally ache for her, my arms longing to wrap around her and hold her close to me. The bed was cold and big and hard and the one thing that would make it warm and soft was the one thing I could never have.

Grace asked me about her mother for the first time when she was three years old. We were sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast one Sunday morning when she asked me, "Daddy, who is my mommy?"

I felt a lump form in my throat immediately and had to push back the tears. I looked up at Grace's big innocent eyes and answered her question in a way I hoped her young mind could understand.

"Your mommy was named Isabella, and she was the most beautiful, special woman in the world." It was too late to stop the tears, so I let them fall.

She just nodded her head, her three year old brain not equipped to probe any further.

She reached over and kissed my cheek. "Don't cry, Daddy."

We moved back to Washington when Grace was five. I specialized in pediatrics and opened a private practice so I would have plenty of free time for Grace. We sat down to dinner every evening and I read her a story and tucked her into bed every night. My parents were around a few nights a week to give me a break from everything I had to do, and while I was grateful for their presence, I didn't need a break from my life. I craved activity; it kept me sane and kept the melancholy at bay, if only for a little while. Emmett moved back to Washington as well, his wife Rosalie and their son Seth in tow. We had dinner every Sunday night with Charlie. Grace was surrounded by her family and I hoped it would be enough.

As for me, I had my family around me constantly but I was as lonely as I had ever been.

There were plenty of happy times that Grace and I shared, despite the melancholy that was my constant companion. For many years, when Grace was little, she would crawl into my bed on Saturday morning and we would cuddle and watch cartoons together. My loneliness always eased significantly on those mornings and I found myself anticipating Saturday all week. When Grace was six, she found out from Emmett that I played piano and she asked me to teach her. I hadn't played since my mom kicked me out of the house; Bella and I couldn't afford one when we lived in New Hampshire and my heart wasn't in it after she died. I bought a piano for the house and three times a week she would sit on my lap or next to me while I taught her to play. Eventually the lessons stopped, but only because she didn't need them anymore; she eventually played as well as I did

We had grand birthday celebrations and big family holidays. I dreaded waking up on Christmas morning; it always reminded me of the last Christmas Bella and I were together and my heart would ache a little more than usual. I missed touching and intimacy and making my wife feel good and I wanted her back on that day more than any other. But I would sit with Grace, just the two of us, and we would open presents and laugh and my pain would dissipate just enough for me to make it through the day. She was the sunshine in the darkness that was my life without Bella.

I told Grace all about her mother. About her kindness, her beauty, her intelligence, her compassion. I told her about the bad things too, like how she lost her temper with me when I left my socks on the floor. I didn't leave anything out; I wanted her to know everything there was to know about the woman who sacrificed her life so that she could live.

When we had been in Washington for about a year my family tried to convince me to start dating. I had no desire to have a relationship with a woman, but I allowed Rosalie to set me up on a dinner date with one of her friends. Kate was nice and she was pretty but I didn't make it through the appetizer before I broke down. The couple at the table next to us was eating tiramisu for dessert.

I wasn't sorry I went though. Kate and I spent the night talking and she became a good friend. I was happy when she met Garrett and even went to their wedding and danced with the bride.

I occasionally took out the rocks that Bella made for me all those years ago. They were worn and the paint was chipping, but I wanted to remember, if only for a moment, that I had been loved and cherished by a beautiful, remarkable woman. I tired hard to see those traits that she loved so much and hoped I was living up to the man she thought I was.

I often wondered if Grace would have been different had Bella lived. She was never at a loss for older females in her life. My mother, Rosalie and even Kate were always there, but they weren't her mother. I did the best I could to fill in the gap, but I often felt deficient.

I told Grace about the birds and the bees when she was eight. I assumed that as a father talking to his daughter it would be awkward, but it was surprisingly easy.

When Grace was twelve, my family decided to have an intervention of sorts. I had been on zero dates since the debacle with Kate and refused all of my family's attempts to set me up. I didn't want anyone other than Bella, but they seemed bound and determined to sway me. We sat in my living room and my parents and Emmett and Rosalie tried to convince me to at least try dating again.

"Edward, honey, it's for your own good. You need to get out," my mother said. "How do you know you won't meet anyone if you don't try?"

"Mom, please believe me when I say that no woman holds any interest for me. I'm around women all the time and I have no desire to ask any of them out. Doesn't that tell you something?"

"Listen bro," Emmett said, "maybe you're just shy about getting back in the game, so to speak. All we're asking is that you try." I looked down, so weary of having the same conversation over and over again.

I said nothing so Rosalie chimed in. "I know some really nice women, Edward. There wouldn't be any pressure, just dinner or a movie, no one is saying you have to get remarried."

My head shot up and I looked at Rose's stricken face. I could only imagine that it mirrored my own. "Shit, Edward, I'm sorry. I didn't mean...I don't know what I meant. I just love you and want you to be happy."

I just shook my head and glanced down at my hands, at the wedding band I hadn't taken off in twelve years. True happiness was impossible for me now; I could only provide for my daughter and see to her happiness. I had promised Bella. Over the years, I became resigned to my loneliness. It never went away and it always hurt, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I learned to live with it. I longed for arms to hold me, for loving hands to run through my hair, for a passionate kiss from warm lips, for a soft body to wrap mine around while I slept. But there was only one person I wanted that from and she was lost to me forever. So I pushed through one more hour, one more day at a time without my Bella.

When my mother spoke next, her voice was soft but determined. "What about Grace? She's going to be a teenager soon and she needs a mother, Edward."

"Esme, I'm not sure th–"

"No, it's all right, Dad." I turned to my mother. "So I should just accept a random woman into my bed every night? Is that what you're suggesting, Mom?" I think that last time I was this angry with her was when I was seventeen and left the house.

"You know that's not what I mean, Edward. I'm simply suggesting you try to meet someo–"

"You don't get it! Is it so hard for you to understand?" Tears started to form in my eyes. "She's gone, and it still fucking hurts every day. All of you are with the person you were meant to love. The person I was meant to love is gone and she's not coming back, so please, stop asking me to replace her."

"But Grace–"

"Leave him alone!" We all turned to see Grace standing at the edge of the living room. She ran and launched herself at me, holding me tightly. I let one sob escape my throat before I got myself under control. I was her father and she didn't need to see me so broken. "It's okay, Daddy."

"I'm sorry, Gracie." I kissed her forehead and released her, not knowing what I was unleashing on my family.

"I don't need Daddy to go find a mother for me. I had a mother, and she loved me, and Daddy and I are fine on our own." She looked at me, and I couldn't help the fresh tears that escaped my eyes. She was defending me and the choices I made for us and I was humbled by her strength.

"Grace, honey, we were just trying to help," my mother said.

"Daddy knows what's best for us. I have you and Aunt Rosalie if I need a girl to talk to, but there's nothing I can't tell Daddy." She came and sat down next to me and took my hand in hers. Just me and Grace against the world.

When Grace was fourteen I allowed her to go on her first group date. I thought my heart would break when she left the house, but I had to trust that I raised her to make good decisions. A month later, when the boy said he didn't want to be her boyfriend anymore, I sat up the whole night with her, holding her while she cried and I wished for Bella's wisdom.

Life did indeed get more difficult as Grace became a teenager, but we dealt with each other the best we could. Rosalie took her shopping for her first bra and taught her how to wear make-up. My mom told her about her monthly cycle and took her shopping for the products she needed. I had another talk with her about sex and boys and taught her how to drive when she turned sixteen.

It was the issues that I couldn't anticipate that were the most difficult. Like when Grace got caught making out with a boy at school, or when she came home drunk from a party and I had to hold her hair as she vomited into the toilet all night, or when she told me to go fuck myself when I grounded her. It was at these times that I longed for Bella more than usual. I wanted my partner back; I wanted her to share my burdens and laugh at my absurdity. I wanted to crawl into bed every night and talk to her about the things that were bothering me and have her stroke my hair and tell me it was going to be all right. I wanted her input on how to handle Grace because I was scared that I was doing it wrong.

I had been so long without her.

I thought as the years went by that I would have more good days than bad, but that never happened. The ache I felt for Bella never went away. I still longed for her every night and was sad every morning when I woke up alone. But I put a brave face on for my daughter.

Grace graduated Washington University when she was twenty one and planned to go to medical school. She even wanted to become a pediatrician and expressed interest in taking over my practice some day. I was exceedingly proud of her and so pleased at the woman she was becoming.

I crawled into bed the night of her college graduation exhausted but happier than I remembered being since I lost Bella.

I felt a cold hand on my cheek and slowly opened my eyes.

She had come back to me.


"Yes, Edward, I'm here."

"It's been so long." The ache I always felt intensified at having her so close to me. She looked the same and I longed to taste her lips and hold her close.

"I know it has, but I need you to listen carefully." She paused, waiting for my response.

"Of course."

"Not yet."

"What do you me–"

"You know perfectly well what I mean. Not yet. She still needs you." She was making me face something I hadn't even fully admitted to myself yet.

"Bella, I've been without you for so long. Please." Tears were flowing freely down my cheeks but I made no move to wipe them.

"I know. But I will be waiting for you. We'll be together again, I promise. Just a little bit longer." She looked so sure of herself and I wanted so much to believe her.

I took a deep breath and let it out. "I miss you so damn much every day."

"I miss you too. You've done a magnificent job raising our daughter," she said, smiling.

"Do you think so?" I wanted so desperately for that to be true. For the years of missing Bella and being alone to be worth it.

"I do. You're a remarkable man and a wonderful father. I've never stopped loving you."

"I love you, Bella, so much"

"Soon, Edward. We'll be together soon, I promise."

I woke up missing Bella, as always, but satisfied that it wouldn't be much longer.

My father had a heart attack when he was just forty-five years old. There was no medical explanation for it; he was in perfect health.

I didn't need a medical explanation. I had been watching my father live with the pain of my mother's absence for twenty six years. His heart couldn't take the pain anymore.

I sat on the edge of his hospital bed holding his hand.

"I'm sorry, Grace. I stayed as long as I could."

"I know Daddy, but think of all the lives you saved and the children you helped."

"I miss her. I'm ready to go."

A tear slipped down my cheek. "I know. You were an incredible father. I want you to know that I never missed having a mother. You were all I ever needed."

"Your mother would have been so proud of you."

"Thank you for staying with me. For seeing me graduate college and become a doctor and get married. Peter is going to take good care of me."

"I know he is. I wouldn't be leaving if I wasn't sure of that."


"I need to be with her again, Gracie; please try to understand. It's been so long."

"I do understand. I love you so much, Daddy."

I kissed him on the cheek and held his hand tighter.

His eyes closed, and he breathed his last breath an hour later.

He had a smile on his face.

Thank you for reading.