A/N: And so I hit complete on another story, and it's bittersweet. I will definitely miss this Edward and Bella, and Ellie, of course. But it's a bit of a good feeling to take something to completion. And now I will focus more on the rest of my works in progress.
Thank you to everyone who has followed this story from the beginning, to those who have come in along the way, to Ninapolitan and her Dilfward contest that inspired it all, and last but not least, tawelephant, who's Fandom Gives Back request was for the Edward POV of the original oneshot, that took me deeper into the story and made me fall more in love with the characters.
Happy holidays to all! And here's to a happy and safe New Year. :)
EPOV Part 6
The week of our honeymoon seemed to pass far too quickly. As much as we both missed Ellie, Bella and I enjoyed the opportunity for the time alone. Without the worries and pressures of everyday life, doing simple things such as walking along the trails hand in hand, having small intimate picnics, before heading back to the hotel for the evening.
Our last day there, we never left our room, lying in bed together with my arms wrapped around her and my hand resting on her stomach. I was still reeling in the fact that I was going to be a father again, that our baby lay rested beneath my palm. I didn't think it was possible for Bella to be more beautiful in my eyes, but somehow, she'd managed it. The secret smile that would grace her features while we were walking as her hand would move over her abdomen had my heart racing every single time, falling more in love with her with every beat.
"I never thought I'd be excited to go home from our honeymoon," her soft voice sounded beside me as she leaned her head back on my shoulder. "But I'm actually really looking forward to it."
"Sick of me already?" I chuckled, pressing my lips against her neck.
Bella laughed and rolled her eyes, turning in my arms and sliding hers around my waist. "Don't be so melodramatic. I've just missed Ellie and being home. Cooking dinner, sleeping in our bed at night. Hotels are great, but home is better."
"Okay, as long as you're not over this whole marriage thing yet," I teased against her lips and her arm tightened around me, draping her leg over mine.
"I've waited a long time to marry you. I can't see myself being 'over' it for quite some time."
"Really? A year is a long time?"
Bella raised an eyebrow and kissed me gently. "Not everything starts with a ring, you know. Just shows that it's a mutual feeling."
I felt her fingers twirling the ends of my hair as our kiss deepened and I pulled her body more firmly against me. "You mean I worried for nothing?"
She pulled away slightly and her eyes searched mine in confusion. "Worried about what?"
I shrugged and lowered my eyes from hers. "Proposing, I didn't think you'd want to get married again."
Her hand slid from around me and trailed up my chest, tracing my lips gently with her fingers. "It wasn't marriage that I was opposed to, really. Sure, my first one left a sour taste in my mouth, but not enough to swear it off completely for the right one. I knew you weren't that kind of man from the beginning, that you'd never do that or hurt me that way. And you were exactly who I'd wished I could have married the first time."
"You never cease to amaze me, Bella," I whispered, gently kissing her fingertips.
"I hope I never do. Then you might realize how boring I actually am," she replied with a soft chuckle, biting her lip.
I shook my head and took her hand, pulling it aside from my lips and kissing her gently. "You could never bore me, baby. Ever."
Wrapping her arms around my shoulders, she rolled onto her back and pulled me on top of her. As our kiss deepened, I felt her foot run along the back of my calf and her hips rolled up against me, causing me to groan softly.
"Again?" I smirked against her lips and she nodded, weaving her fingers into my hair.
"So far, pregnancy is agreeing with me. A lot," she replied in a soft, sultry voice. "Think you can keep up?"
"I really don't think that will be a problem," I replied, claiming her lips against as I slid inside her, eliciting a deep, sexy groan from her.
She whimpered as I began a slow, steady pace, raising her hips against me to press me deeper inside. I knew what she wanted, but I was too old fashioned when it came to making love to my pregnant wife.
Smoothing her hair back from her face, I stilled my motions and gazed down at her as she groaned in discontent. "We've got the rest of our lives for that, baby."
Her beautiful brown eyes opened to look up at me, running her fingers along the back of my neck. "It's not gonna hurt the baby, Edward."
"I know," I whispered, slowly retracting my hips and then pressing back inside her, and she released a soft gasp as I did. "But you're carrying my baby, and that's something very sacred to me."
Bella's head tilted back as I kissed along her neck, making love to her slowly, yet still passionately. Her hands curled around my shoulders and gripped them firmly as she rocked her body in time with mine, soft pants escaping her with each movement. "Oh God, I love you."
Moving my lips along her jaw, they finally came to rest back on hers. "I love you, too."
The decision not to tell Ellie about the baby until after her return from Chicago proved to be the right thing to do.
After Ellie had insisted that I carry my new bride over the threshold of our house, Bella felt the first wave of nausea hit her and hurriedly made her way to the bathroom the moment I set her down. We knew we couldn't hold off on the announcement and decided to tell her at dinner that night. She was uncharacteristically quiet as we told her the news, and almost instantaneously burst into tears.
"Ellie?" Bella spoke tentatively, reaching out to take Ellie's hand away from her face. "What's wrong, sweetheart?"
"Nothing." Ellie kept her eyes lowered and shook her head, shrinking back from Bella slightly. "Just wasn't expecting it so soon, that's all. Excuse me."
Bella and I watched in disbelief as she quickly rose from the table and ran to her room, closing the door sharply behind her. We gazed at each other and tears were rimming Bella's eyes as well, and I reached out to brush them away with my thumb.
"She's a teenager. They are unpredictable," I said softly before rising and kissing her forehead. "I'll go see what's going on."
Bella nodded wordlessly, sniffling as she stood and walked into the kitchen. And it was in that moment that I knew that the following few months would definitely be a bit tumultuous.
Hormonal teenager daughter plus hormonal pregnant wife would likely result in a level of an estrogen ocean that I'd barely be able to tread.
Walking down the hall, I knocked lightly on Ellie's door before entering, finding her hugging her pillow to her chest. I sat on the edge of the bed with her back still to me, leaning forward with my elbows on my knees. "You wanna talk about what happened out there?"
Ellie shook her head insistently, remaining faced away from me. "I don't know what I'm crying for. I mean, it's only natural, right? People fall in love, get married, have babies…"
Her voice dropped significantly with her last words and she trailed off, burying her face in the pillow. "You know, I've been wondering for a long time when you would finally let yourself just be a kid."
Ellie's cries paused and she slowly turned her head to look at me over her shoulder. "What? Aren't you mad?"
I slowly slid up the bed and took her hand, leaning back against her headboard as I gently pulled her into my arms. Hers clung around my waist abruptly, hugging me as her tears soaked through my shirt. We sat silently for a moment and I pressed my lips against her hair. I ran my hand over her back as she nuzzled against my chest, as if trying to move impossibly closer. "No, baby. I'm not mad at you. I can't expect you to be enthusiastic about every aspect of our lives. And this is a drastic change."
I could feel her jaw trembling against my chest as I brushed her hair back from her dampened face before she sniffled and sat up to look at me. "I'd like a little brother or sister. I just thought there'd be more time of just you, me, and Bella, at least for a while. I know you've talked about having babies, and Bella's a great mom. But I wasn't expecting it until after you guys were married for a while, that's all."
Her eyes lowered to where her legs were crossed in front of her, picking lightly at the rim of her sock while more tears streamed down her cheeks. They lifted only minimally when I rested my hand on the bed, palm up, placing her fingertips on mine before they curled together slowly and linked our hands. "Bella's wanted this for a very long time, and so have I. And when I lost your mom, I gave up on the idea entirely, and enjoyed what I had been given." Ellie's gaze rose to mine, as my thumb moved over her knuckles, her fingers squeezing mine gently with a nod. "Besides, your old man isn't getting any younger here."
The seriousness of the moment eased as she laughed and rolled her eyes, shaking her head as she lay back down beside me, hugging her arm around my waist again. "Thirty-six isn't that old, Dad."
"It's not twenty-one either," I replied with a slight chuckle, memories flooding me as she snuggled against my chest.
Light brown curls bouncing as she took her first unsteady steps toward me by herself. The sparkle in her bright blue eyes she'd inherited from her mother, when I'd walk through the door at the end of the day. The excited squeals that would carry across the expanse of our back yard as I chased her, before dramatically collapsing on the ground in defeat, met moments later by her tiny body landing atop mine, saying "Gotcha, Daddy!"
Fifteen years of beautiful memories, and I was about to start from scratch all over again. The thought both thrilled and scared me a little. I hoped that I could be the kind of dad I'd tried to be for Ellie, as actively involved as I'd been even before it was just me and her.
"You're gonna be great, Dad," Ellie said, interrupting my thoughts and bringing my attention back to hers as she gazed up at me with her chin resting on my chest. "I'm really sorry."
"I'm not upset with you, baby," I replied, shaking my head as I ran my hand over her hair. "But you might want to go say something to Bella."
Ellie's eyes lowered and she nodded, sliding off the bed and running quickly from her room. I followed her path down the hall, stopping at the edge of the living room and gazing across to the kitchen.
My girls were encased in each other's arms, with Ellie's face buried in Bella's shoulder. I met my wife's tear-glistened eyes from across the room and she gave me a soft smile, while gently swaying my daughter back and forth in her arms and whispering into her ear.
And I knew we would be just fine.
Over the next few months, my world became a whirl of activity. Bella had quit her job to be a full-time mom for Ellie and to prepare for the new arrival due to join us in the matter of three short months. And every day, our house transformed even more as she and Ellie began baby-proofing everything and finally emptying out the spare bedroom for the baby's room.
More than anything, though, was the changes I was observing in my wife. While certainly not drastically, watching her waistline expand with our child was fascinating to me. And I would spend hours at night while she slept running my hand lightly over her stomach, trying not to wake her. The feel of our baby moving beneath my fingers was something I knew I would miss once she gave birth, and the last thing I would ever admit to a single soul; even my wife.
However, if there was a single activity that made me feel way out of my league, it was baby shopping. Surrounded by all things tiny and frilly in an overwhelming abundance, I'd never felt more out of place. But Bella felt that it was important for us both to be involved, so I had agreed to come.
I watched my wife as I pushed the cart from aisle to aisle behind her, scanning seemingly random items with the scanner gun in her hand. With all the mothers already planning a baby shower through daily three-way calls, Bella finally caved to their request to compile a baby registry. My eyebrows rose as she lifted a box with a picture of a strange looking contraption on the side, pulling the trigger on the scanner and then setting it back on the shelf.
"Bella, what the he—" I started, pausing at the look on her face. Her eyebrow was raised and she was glaring at me pointedly, and I took the box in my hand and held it up. "What is this?"
She fought to restrain an obvious smile at me whispered question as she stepped toward me, turning the box in my hand and pointing to the front. "Breast. Pump."
My eyes watched her finger move between the two words that now appeared as large as a highway billboard, and I quickly set the box back on the shelf and released it as if it had scalded me. "Why would you need something like that? You're going to be home with the baby, right?"
Bella leaned against the carriage and tilted her head slightly as she gazed at me. "Okay, scenario for you. We're out and about with the kids at the park or something, not a hint of cover in sight, and the baby starts crying. It's time to eat and it would take several minutes to get back to the car. I'd have to stop right there, try to quickly cover up with a blanket, and pull out my bre—"
"Okay, all right, point taken. Cross it off the list," I stammered, grabbing the box from the shelf again and tossing it into the cart. "We're getting it today, cross it off."
I felt Bella's fingers slide around my arm as I began moving forward again, stopping me and pulling me back to her. She smiled as her other hand cupped my face and pulled me toward her. "You're really weird. But I love you."
Her lips met mine in a gentle kiss and I slid my arm around her, pulling her against my side as close as I could, causing her to giggle softly.
"Bella?" A male voice interrupted our exchange and her lips froze against mine, pulling away stiffly to turn her head toward the source.
"Jacob," she replied uncomfortably, and my entire body instinctively went rigid at the sound of his name.
After all this time, I stood face to face with Jacob Black, Bella's ex-husband.
"How are you?" he had the nerve to ask and my grip tightened on the handlebar of the cart.
"Good. Really good," Bella replied as her demeanor began to relax, sliding one arm around my waist while her other hand ran over the swell of her stomach. I glanced to her face and was surprised by what I found there. Her smile was genuine, with neither sadness nor anger toward the man in front of us. She looked happy; blissful even. "Jake, this is my husband, Edward."
The man looked to me and gave me a somewhat nervous nod with his hands shoved into his jacket pockets, and then returned his eyes to Bella. My arm wrapped around her shoulders more securely and I felt her fingers trace over my back in a soothing motion.
"I heard you got married again," he said in an odd tone, his eyes remaining on her and I felt my body tensing.
Bella's hand continued to caress along my side and her smile grew as she gazed up at me. "Yeah, he fixed a lot more than just my bike."
"I'm glad you're happy, Bells. You deserve it," he said, pointing indiscreetly at her stomach.
"So, are you and Leah expecting again?" Bella asked casually and the man's posture stiffened, shaking his head.
"No, not exactly," he replied with a clearing of his throat, just as a young woman carrying a tiny newborn in her arms stepped up beside him. "Bella, you remember Bree, right?"
I watched as Bella nodded, running her hand over her stomach again. "Of course," she said softly, as the young woman's eyes met hers. Bella's expression was unreadable as her gaze fell to the baby briefly and then back to her ex-husband. "She's beautiful. Congratulations."
"Thanks," Jake replied awkwardly, looking between the two women and finally straightening as he gazed at me. "Well, we should probably get going. It was good seeing you, Bella. Congrats to you both."
Bella's face rested against my chest for a moment as they walked away, setting the scanner down in the cart. The impact of seeing her ex-husband was something I was still coming to grips with, and I couldn't imagine how it would feel for her. She'd once shared a home and a life with him, and no amount of years spent with me and Ellie would ever erase that from her past. Even the baby she now carried couldn't change that.
Just as I was about to ask her if she was all right, she looked up at me and smiled, brushing her lips softly against mine. "Is it really petty that I'm gloating just a little bit right now?"
My brow tightened in confusion as she moved between me and the cart, taking my hands and resting them beneath hers on the handle. "Gloating?"
"Well, not only did Jake cheat... again," Bella replied, shaking her head and glancing back at my expression. "It's so obvious. He got way too nervous when I asked about Leah, and remember, I know that guilty look all too well."
I slowly nodded and took a deep breath, gently kissing her cheek as we continued walking. "I'm sorry, baby."
"I'm not," she replied with a shrug, shaking her head. "It just proves to me, without a doubt, that everything happens for a reason."
"Is that so?" I asked, my eyebrows rising in question.
"Mmm hmm," Bella hummed with that secret smile returning to her lips. "If Jake hadn't cheated, I never would've left. If I hadn't left, he'd still be fixing my bike."
She giggled as my chest rumbled against her back. "That was not fixing, Bella—"
"Down, tiger," she replied, chuckling as she stopped walking and looked back at me. "If he were still working on my bike, I wouldn't have needed a new mechanic." Her hand took mine and guided it to her stomach, pressing my palm flat against it. "And any time we talked about having children someday, he would go on and on about how much he wanted a boy. And both of his kids have been girls, while I'm giving you a son."
My smile returned as I lowered my lips to hers, shaking my head with a laugh. I had to admit that when Bella told me that we were having a boy, I was absolutely over the moon. While another girl would have been the easy road after having Ellie, every single aspect of my relationship with Bella had been an adventure—and this was no exception. And there was nothing that affected a man like hearing that he was going to have a son. "Oh, very petty."
"Yeah, I thought so," she laughed as she echoed my sarcasm, her nose wrinkling adorably as she brought her hand to my face and pressed her lips to mine. Her fingers laced into my hair, whimpering softly into our kiss as she leaned back against me.
"Bella, you do realize that we're standing in the middle of a baby store, right?" I mumbled against her lips, my gaze darting around to several stares surrounding us.
"Well, I'm just about done here. We just need to grab the crib and we can go home," she replied, winking at me as I shook my head with a laugh. As I was about to step around her toward the crib she pointed to, her fingers grasped the front of my shirt and gently pulled me toward her. "I really do love you."
"I love you, too," I whispered, kissing her again gently.
"I swear to God, Cullen. If you don't get this thing out of me, you are never getting laid ever again!" Bella growled through a clenched jaw, writhing on our bed as she was gripped by another powerful contraction. Her hand grasped mine tightly as she pulled on my arm sharply, bringing me face to face with her. "I need drugs. I can't do this."
"Yes, you can, Bella," I replied, rubbing the back of her hand in an attempt to loosen her grip. "Remember, you said you wanted to do this for the baby."
"And you should've had me committed, because I was clearly insane!" she shrieked, her neck arching back into the pillow. I brushed her dampened hair away from her face and pressed my lips against the clammy skin of her forehead. Her body began to slowly relax as the contraction subsided, glancing toward the midwife. "How close are we?"
Irina knelt on the edge of the bed to examine her, her wise eyes rising up to us with a smile. "We should get her back in the tub before the next contraction hits. She's just about there."
"Oh God, I can't move. There's no way. I'll just have the baby here," Bella panted tiredly, her head rolling back and forth on the pillow.
When Bella had made the suggestion of a home birth, I was initially a bit wary. So much could go wrong and it terrified me to have her so far from medical care, even if the hospital was a little over five miles away. It took a lot of convincing from her doctor that both Bella and our son were strong and healthy enough to endure it before I was onboard with the idea.
Now gazing down at the exhausted state of my wife as Irina and I each took one of her arms to lift her up from the bed, I wasn't so sure.
"Now, don't you be talking like that, honey," Irina said in an encouraging voice, as we brought Bella to sit, sliding her arm around her back. "You're doing just fine, and you'll be holding that little boy of yours before you know it."
Bella nodded slowly at her words as Irina guided her to the edge, reaching for my hand as I made my way around the bed to where she now sat. I felt useless. There was nothing I could say or do to ease her pain; I could only hold her hand and watch helplessly. Another contraction hit before we could bring her to stand and her head shook violently, more tears streamed down her cheeks as she leaned against my shoulder. "I can't… honey, I can't…"
"I don't think that little one is gonna give you much of a choice, Bella," Irina said with a calm smile, and then guided Bella though the last few deep breaths before the grip on my hand loosened.
Once we finally got Bella over to the tub, I stepped into the warm water and lowered myself to sit as Irina assisted my wife to settle between my legs. She leaned back against my chest with a sigh, our hands lacing together, palm to palm, on either side of her. "God, I'm never leaving this water again."
I pressed my lips to her hair as her body seemed to relax dramatically. It had been a long day since I'd heard the sound of glass shattering in the kitchen that morning. Dropping my razor into the sink and sprinting from the bathroom, my breath froze as I caught sight of Bella gripping the counter with one hand and her stomach with the other. Her eyes squeezed shut as she was hit with the first in a long line of contractions and when she finally opened them to gaze at me, I heard those two defining words in any man's life.
And now I was hearing them again from someone else's lips; Irina telling Bella it was time to push.
Whispering words of encouragement in her ear, I watched as my son slowly made his way into the world. And the instant he was lifted from the water, Bella's head fell back against my shoulder, simultaneously trembling with tears and smiling as the first breath gurgled from our little boy.
"He's here. He's really here," Bella cried, opening her eyes in time for Irina to set him on her chest.
"He sure is. And a good pair of lungs on him, too," the older woman smiled, gently wiping down his face as Bella took his tiny fist between her fingers.
"Hello, Seth. We've been waiting a long time to meet you," Bella said softly with tears in her voice, pressing her lips to his knuckles.
An hour later, I sat beside Bella on our bed with my arm around her shoulders, gazing down at our perfect creation as he slept peacefully on her chest.
"He's so beautiful," she whispered, brushing her fingertip lightly over his cheek before wiping a tear from the corner of her eye.
"Of course he is. How could he not be with such a beautiful mother?" I replied, gently pressing my lips to her temple. "I must be the recessive gene, neither of my kids look anything like me."
Bella rolled her eyes and returned her gaze to our son, offering no argument as she kissed the top of his head – because there was none to give.
Ellie, despite all her similarities in mannerisms to me, looked more and more like Sam every day. With her bright blue eyes and wavy brown hair that she had decided to let grow out, and even the light dusting of freckles over the bridge of her nose.
And Seth looked just like Bella; from his head of silky, dark hair to his full pursed lips. She insisted that he had my eyes, but I didn't see it… he was all her.
A soft knock sounded on our door and our attention rose to find Ellie standing at the entrance of the room, with Seth Clearwater standing right behind her.
"Is it okay to come in?" Ellie whispered, her gaze on the sleeping baby.
"Of course, sweetheart," Bella replied softly and smiled as she looked to Seth. "Come meet your namesake."
"Poor kid," Seth chuckle as he slowly crossed the room, but his smile was unmistakable.
Bella and I had mutually agreed when we began discussing names that if it was a boy, his name was indisputable. Had it not been for Seth Clearwater bringing Bella to the shop that day, our lives would be very different. And we wouldn't have found the happiness we had in each other, and definitely wouldn't be welcoming this beautiful baby boy into our lives. He'd been stunned when we'd asked him to officiate our wedding, and speechless when we'd told him the name of our unborn son.
Seth Masen Cullen.
"Oh my god, he's so little. Can I hold him?" Ellie asked with tears in her eyes, sitting down on the side of the bed as Bella set the baby into her arms. Her smile grew as she rocked him gently, running her fingers over his hair, his cheeks and his hands as his now wide eyes moved around the room. "He's awesome. Wanna hold him?"
Seth's eyes widened as Ellie looked up to him, shaking his head and waving his hand in front of him. "No, I'm good with just looking, thanks."
The three of us laughed on the bed and Bella's head rested on my shoulder. "I think Mommy's tired," I whispered, earning a soft 'shut up' from my wife but she never opened her eyes.
"No strange markings on that body before I wake up, Edward Cullen," Bella mumbled as I kissed her forehead with a chuckle and slid my arm out from beneath her. Once I settled her down onto the pillows and covered her over with the blanket, I walked around the bed and lifted Seth from Ellie's arms. I held him in mine, gazing in wonderment at him again.
My life now felt complete; it hadn't ended as I once thought it had. Sam left me a beautiful gift, even if she had left way too soon. I had a beautiful daughter, and through heartbreak, learned to see life in an entirely different light. To never take for granted what you have, and when one chapter closes, it means another is being set in motion.
And as my son's dark eyes met mine, the mirror image of his mother's, I knew this chapter was only beginning.