A/N: I know everyone is probably saying "What the fuck" right about now. This story is finished and has been for a very long time, I shouldn't be adding more, right? Well, I've been harassed by a certain reader for months to write more of this and give Bella more babies. I didn't think I could because like I said, this story is done. But, I fought through the writer's block on this story for the last six months and was able to write something. It might not be exactly what this certain reader wanted but I did it so she better be happy. I sure hope everyone else is happy also.

I, in way, intended for this to be the end of the story but since "some" readers weren't satisfied I added more. I hope it doesn't ruin the story for everyone.

Just so everyone knows, the song choices for this song and the names of at least two of the kids are all dedication to this specific reader who wanted more. Monday was her birthday so this was her birthday present. She has already read it and given her stamp of approval.

Thanks to all the readers who came back after all this time to read what I came up with next, and thanks to any and all new readers who happened to come across this story recently. I know it's not the best written story since it was my first ever story, but I think I've grown as a writer over the last couple of years and gotten a lot better.

Thank you to Astonmartin823 who beta'd this story at last minute. I'm sorry I'm such a procrastinator and can't get things done in plenty of time to be beta'd lol. But I'm glad I have such amazing betas who are always willing to look over my stuff at the last minute.

And finally thank you to cherieblossum–you know why ;)

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or the characters involved. No copyright infringement intended.


Changing Colours: Great Lake Swimmers

Heart and Bones: The Pines

Edward and I have been going strong for nearly twenty-two years now. We've had our ups and downs but for the most part we've had the time of our lives spending everyday together, helping each other learn and grow, and of course watching our daughter, Renee, grow into a beautiful little girl.

She just turned eleven years old and has just recently started middle school. She's extremely well-rounded and so smart. She amazes everyone with how smart she is. She's our entire world and has everyone wrapped around her little finger.

Edward and I tried for a long time to have another child, but it never worked out. We both wanted a large family, and we felt like our house was empty without more children. We loved Renee, she was our world, but we always hoped she would have brothers and sisters to grow up with. I know it really upset Edward that he didn't have a son to carry on his family name, but he never let on that it did. As his wife and constant companion I could tell, though. If I ever did bring it up he would always tell me we didn't need any more kids. Renee was all we needed and the boys on the football field everyday were his sons. Edward molded those boys not only into football players but men who everyone in our small town was proud to have as a role model.

Edward was amazing as a mentor and coach but even more so as a father. I couldn't ask for more from a man. Not only did he save me and my brother and sister from a life of hell and possible death, he also showed me how to love myself and have confidence in my abilities as a mother and as a wife. I owed him everything. I wouldn't be the person I am today if it wasn't for him. I probably wouldn't even be alive if it wasn't for his sacrifice to keep me safe.

"Mom, we have to go. I'm going to be late… again," Renee whined, while she stood by the front door with her purple backpack draped across her shoulder.

"I'm coming, I'm coming," I assured, rushing around the kitchen to grab our lunches, my keys, and my purse. I always ran late in the mornings. It's a totally different aspect from when I was a teenager. Living with James, I would have never been running late. I would have been punished if I was late. Now though, I think sometimes I like to be a little late for things just to remind myself I have the freedom to do so. I won't be beaten if I'm late or forget to do something before I leave. I like having that freedom. Although, I think Renee gets a little upset since she does get in trouble from her teacher for being late and usually has to stay in for her recess or write sentences. I never understood why the teachers take out tardiness on the students –especially grade school and middle school children. It's not like they have any control over their parents being late to drop them off. If they can drive themselves then I'd say it's a different story.

Edward had already left early to get some work done for the upcoming football game before his students came in for his history class. He loved being a teacher, but he loved being a coach even more. He found every free moment he could to prepare for games. During football season, I barely saw him. Once football season was over though, he would turn back into the father and husband Renee and I knew. It was a small sacrifice we endured for Edward to live his dream.

Renee and I ran out to the car and quickly headed out on the road towards the school. We were both silent while I drove. She seemed to have a lot on her mind for some reason. It wasn't like her to be so quiet. Most of the time, she was very chatty and told me everything, but not so much anymore. I wanted to ask her what was wrong but instead I remained quiet giving her the space she needed.

I went back to work as a full-time school nurse at the middle school when Renee started school. With Renee in middle school now, I was able to spend almost every lunch period with her and see her around the school every day. I was always able to work my schedule around her so she was never alone and never with a babysitter other than the occasional date night Edward and I had where she would stay with her grandparents, Carlisle and Esme, or her Aunt Rose and Uncle Emmett, or even once in a while her Aunt Kate and Uncle Garrett. Her favorite person to spend time with though, was her Uncle Seth. She loved him from day one. Seth moved to California for school years ago and never came back home. He met the love of his live, Marissa, in college, and stayed there to be with her. They come to visit occasionally but not as often as we'd like.

Leah comes home at least once a month. She has yet to marry; her love is only for the animals she works with on a daily basis at the zoo. But, she's happy and that's all I could ask for with her and with Seth. They were spared most of the physical abuse I endured, although, abuse comes in many forms. They were both scarred mentally and emotionally from what we went though. Over time with counseling we all were able to heal from our ordeal and move forward. That's what our counselor strived for –to move forward. We did our best and took one day at a time.

Maybe spending so much time with Renee and wanting to protect her from all the evil in the world was beginning to smother her and she needed some space. She was getting older and needed to have just a little freedom –not too much but a little. I didn't need to pry into whatever it was bothering her. She knew she could talk to me if she needed to.

When we pulled into the parking lot of the school all the stragglers were running towards the building to make it in time before the bell. Renee hopped out of the car and ran, not even saying goodbye or giving me a hug and kiss. It sort of ripped my heart out when she didn't, but I had to start getting used to it eventually. She was growing up.

At lunchtime she didn't come to the health office like she normally did, which made me wonder if something was really wrong. I walked down to the lunchroom and saw her sitting with a group of friends laughing and talking care freely. Once again it broke my heart, but I had to let it go. It was healthy for her to have friends and want to spend time with them.

That night, Renee and I went out to dinner, just the two of us, since I knew Edward was going to be extremely late from football practice. I wanted some time to spend with Renee like we used to.

"Who were those girls you were eating lunch with today?" I asked her while popping a french fry in my mouth.

She shrugged her shoulders and picked up a fry off her plate. "Just some girls in my class," she answered nonchalantly. "They asked me and Pippa to sit with them today. I never get asked to sit with them so I was really excited about it –until they started to pick on Pippa. Then it wasn't much fun." Her eyes were sad while she twirled her fry in the ketchup.

"Who's Pippa?" I asked, not remembering ever hearing Renee talk about a friend named Pippa.

"She's a new girl in our school. She just started a few weeks ago. The kids pick on her a lot because she's quiet and she doesn't dress like all of us do. She's not from little old Forks though. She came from New York City like where Alice and Jasper live. She reminds me a lot of Alice. She's so nice and always wants to do things for me. I don't think it's very nice of those other girls to make fun of her."

"It's not nice. I'm very proud of you for befriending someone who is new to the area and probably needs a good friend right now after being moved so far away," I commended her. "Who are her parents? Do you know their names? I'd like to meet them and maybe set up a play date for you and Pippa."

"Mom," she grumbled. "We're not little kids anymore. We don't have play dates. We hang out and have sleepovers."

"Sorry," I apologized giggling a little at being corrected about the proper terminology for a preteen. "Why don't you ask her if she'd be free to spend the night this Friday night? Your daddy will be out of town for the night for a game so it'll just be us girls."

"Can I invite a couple people?" she asked looking up at me with an excited expression.

"Sure, just no more than five girls," I agreed with a few stipulations. "I don't think it would be a very good idea to invite those girls who were picking on Pippa, though."

"I'm not. I'm only going to invite three girls; Ashley, Kara, and Pippa. They're the only girls I'm really good friends with. Plus, this will make Amber and Courtney jealous."

"Renee," I scolded with a stern face. I didn't like her thinking it was okay to make other girls feel bad despite how much they may have deserved it.

"Well, they deserve it," she excused. "You should have heard what they were saying about Pippa. She was even in the bathroom crying for a while. She tried to be strong and not let it get to her, but it did. I wanted to punch Courtney for the mean comments she was saying."

"Did you tell a teacher what happened?" I wondered.

"No," her head dropped in shame for not saying anything.

"You need to the next time it happens. The worst thing you can do as a friend is not speak up. I know it's not the "cool thing" to do but words can hurt especially for someone who's new and doesn't have many friends."

"I know, Mom. That's why I tried to be friends with her on her first day. She looked so scared and sad. I had to do something."

I reached my arm across the table and cupped her face with my hand. "I'm so proud to call you my daughter. You're truly one of a kind."

She smiled and ducked her head almost as if she was embarrassed of my comment. I pulled my hand back and gestured towards her food so we could finish up. I wanted to get home in time for Renee to get her homework done and possibly have a little time to myself. I still loved to read and tried to get in as much reading in as I could. Being a mom, a wife, and a school nurse left little free time.

Edward didn't make it home until almost ten o'clock at night. It was typical but still hard. Renee was already asleep and probably wouldn't see him in the morning either.

"You look exhausted," I told him, looking him over and seeing his disheveled clothing and hair, dark circles under his eyes, and slightly sun-burned face. He dropped his stuff on the couch and walked over to me. He leaned down giving me a quick kiss before plopping down next to me.

"Today was not a very good day," he whined.

"What happened?"

"There's this new kid at the school," he began. "His name is Foxworth and he tried out for the team last week. Tonight was his first practice with the team."

"Is he not very good?" I wondered.

"No, that's not it at all," he corrected. "He's actually very good. He's one of those players coaches dream of, but his attitude stinks. He's can't seem to control his anger. I had to break up two fist fights tonight and eventually had to bench him to get him to calm down. I don't know if I can even use him at the game this weekend because of how he's behaving. I'm about ready to kick him off the team."

Knowing Edward the way I did, he very rarely kicked anyone off the team or turned anyone down who tried out. He would always find something for them to do and mold them into football players even if they weren't so great in the beginning. He was a firm believer anyone could do anything if they wanted it bad enough and had the proper help to achieve it. Hearing him say he was thinking of kicking him off the team was a little shocking.

"I'm sure in time he'll get better. He's probably still trying to find his place not only on the team but in school and even in this tight-knit community. It's hard to fit in when you move to a small town like Forks," I encouraged.

"You're probably right," he agreed, running his fingers through his hair making it more of a mess than it already was. "I just want to take a shower, eat something, and make love to my wife." He leaned into my neck and began kissing along my jaw line with a small moan escaping his lips.

I smiled at hearing his comment and was quite pleased he wanted to make love to me. "Why don't you take a shower and I'll make something up for you to eat?"

He grumbled into my neck and moved back. "Alright." He stood to his feet and headed off towards our bedroom to take a shower. I walked to the kitchen and made him up a sandwich with some chips and a glass of water, before taking it back to our bedroom and placing it on his nightstand. I changed into a slightly sexy nightgown and crawled into bed to continue to read for a little bit. I assumed he would finish his shower then want to eat. However, when he came out of the bedroom he crawled onto the bed and while pulling the strap of my nightgown down and gently kissing my skin, he pulled the book from my hand and dropped it on the floor. I smiled and closed my eyes enjoying the flutter of excitement his touch still gave me after all these years.

"I would really like to make love to my wife now," he mumbled against my skin.

I grabbed his face and brought his lips to mine, kissing him with as much passion and desire as I could. "Your wife would like nothing more than to make love to you," I whispered against his lips after I kissed him. He felt him smirk against my lips before kissing me further. He adjusted himself on the bed, crawling over top of me. He clumsily pulled the hem of my nightgown up over my head and threw it on the floor.

"I don't know why you bother wearing those things. I always end up removing them," he complained. "Besides, I like your naked body so much more than adorned with frilly lingerie."

"You never minded it when we were teenagers," I reminded in a teasing voice. He rested on his hands staring down at my face.

"When we were teenagers I was horny. Everything turned me on. Now that I'm older and wiser, I've come to admire your naked body and want to worship how perfect it is." His tongue dragged across my chest until it reached my breast where he swirled it around my nipple and sucked it between his wet, warm lips. His arousal was apparent when he dropped his hips against me and pressed gently into me.

"You know I've come to admire your naked body over the years as well and these sweatpants you have on are not working for me," I pointed out, tugging on the pants to pull them off.

He chuckled against my breast, never removing his lips and helped me pull them down his legs to kick them off. I moaned appreciatively at feeling his bare skin against mine. I traced the contours of his stomach with my fingers until they reached his cock. I took him in my hand and slowly pumped my hand back and forth. He gently bit down on my nipple and let out a struggled groan. I grinned happily, knowing after all these years I could still make him feel good. After gliding my hand up and down his shaft a few times, he sat up on his knees and looked down at my sprawled out body before him with a huge grin on his face.

"Do you have any idea how good it feels to have your hand wrapped around my cock? God, the things you do to me after all these years…" he trailed off, leaning back down and kissing down my stomach and legs. His fingers trailed across my slit causing me to slightly press into his hand in anticipation. Two fingers pressed into me slowly and precisely, pumping and gliding in and out. I let a loud moan escape my lips as my body writhed and tightened around his fingers. My mouth hung open letting my erratic breath escape freely.

"Mmm, you are so beautiful when you come for me. I could watch you all day," he whispered while he watched me. His fingers twisted and turned inside of me forcing me to the edge of an orgasm. My eyes closed and my entire body tightened from the tingles that rushed through me from head to toe. I wanted to scream out in ecstasy as he pulled his fingers out and pulled one leg up over his shoulder. He looked at me with a seductive expression and dropped his head between my legs licking up and down my slit and nibbling my clit between his lips. "You still taste like cinnamon. I will always love the taste of cinnamon."

My legs fell to the side opening up as far as I could while he brought me to yet another orgasm even stronger than the first. Before I finished, he pulled his lips away causing me to whimper in need to have his mouth back on me. I didn't have to wait long though. He lined his cock up with my slit and gently pushed his way in. He still tried to be so gentle with me and never be rough even though I almost enjoyed the rough, raw sensation of sex. Usually after a few minutes of the slow, sensual, pace, he would always end up going fast and hard. I always got very vocal when he did, letting him know how much I enjoyed it and wanted more.

"You're so good to me," I breathed, dragging my lips across his chest. "God, Edward, go deep and make me come harder than I ever have before. Let me give you the best pleasure you've ever experienced."

My words aroused him even more causing him to moan and speed up his tempo. Within moments his face was scrunched together and beads of sweat formed on his brow. "Yes, Baby. Yes," I cried as my orgasm took over my body. He let out a long and very loud moan as he filled me as deep as he could and released inside of me. I smiled and let out a pleased sigh.

"God, I can't believe after all this time you still make me turn into a horny teenager, who wants nothing more than to make you feel good and have a little fun myself while doing it." His eyebrows waggled and a smirk formed across his face.

"You always act like a horny teenager," I teased.

"You love it though. I know how to make my girl happy," he pointed.

I smiled and wrapped my arms around his neck pulling myself up to his level. "That you do know how to do very well," I assured.

He looked into my eyes with so much love and joy expressed across his face. "I love you," he said as if it was his last chance to say it. His tone kind of scared me with the way his eyes bore into mine and his expression was unmoving. "I love you more and more every day I'm married to you. Asking you to go to that stupid dance all those years ago was the probably the best decision I've ever made, other than asking you to marry in front of nearly the whole town." He chuckled, breaking the seriousness of his expression. "I just don't want you to ever forget how much I love you and how much I will support you in everything you ever do."

I leaned up and kissed him on the nose with a smile on my face. "I love you too. I always will. But you almost sound like you're saying goodbye. Is everything okay?" I asked beginning to worry something might be wrong.

He rolled over to his side of the bed and chuckled lightly. "Nothing is wrong," he assured. "I just don't want you to ever feel like I'm taking you for granted or that I've forgotten why I fell in love with you. I'd go back and do all over again if I had to. I'd probably try to make some better choices. Like for one, I would have never let you live with that monster for as long as you did."

I sighed and crawled off the bed to pick my nightgown off the floor and slip it back on. "I don't want to talk about the past right now," I said in an insecure voice. Even after all this time just the thought of James sent me into a panic and fearful state of mind. Edward knew this, but he always thought it was good for me to talk about it; to face my fears and my insecurities. My counselor said the same thing. I wanted to just forget it ever happened and move on with the life I had now. I didn't want to face my fears. I wanted to ignore them and pretend nothing was ever wrong. Deep down I knew he was gone and there was no possible way for him to ever hurt me again, but it didn't matter. He still hurt me mentally on a daily basis. I could never truly get away from him.

Edward walked up behind me and wrapped his arms around my stomach, leaning in and gently kissing my neck. "I'm sorry."

I patted his arm and forced a smile while leaning into him. "It's okay. I think I'm going to get some sleep now. You should eat and get some sleep yourself." I pulled out of his arms and walked back over to the bed. I quickly fixed the sheets and crawled into bed turning to my side and closing my eyes. After a few moments I felt Edward sit down on the other side of the bed and eat his sandwich. When he was done he flipped the light off and curled up behind me wrapping his arm around me and pulling me back into him.

"I won't ever let anything hurt you. I promise," he whispered next to my ear. I didn't say anything in return. I just leaned back into him and took his hand in mine, which was placed against my stomach. It was my silent way of letting him know I believed him and forgave him for bringing James up. I could never stay mad at Edward for any reason.

The following day was much like any other day. Edward left early, I was running late, and Renee was frustrated because I was taking so long. It was a typical day in the Cullen household, yet for some reason it felt off. I ignored the intuition that told me something was wrong all day long while I worked.

While on my lunch break, Renee showed up in my office unexpected looking upset. I quickly rushed to her side and held her in my arms. "What happened?" I asked as she cried in my arms.

"My friend Pippa said she can't come over for a sleepover because her mom won't let her," she answered through her sobs.

"Did she even ask her mom?" I wondered.

"No, she said she can't ask because she knows her mom will say no. I tried to convince her to at least try and she got mad at me. She said if I didn't drop it then she wouldn't be my friend anymore. Then she stormed off and left me alone at lunchtime."

"Maybe she's not such a good friend if she's going to get upset at you for just asking her to spend the night at your house," I theorized.

"She doesn't have any other friends. I want to be her friend but every time I try to get close to her she gets mad at me and won't talk to me anymore," she explained further. A flood of memories filled my mind of what I did to Alice growing up. I had done the same exact thing to her for years when I lived with James. I tried to avoid her requests to do things with her and when Alice wouldn't accept my answer I would get upset and turn it around on her.

My heart was racing from fear and anger, but I had to stay cool for Renee's sake. I sat her down and looked at her as calmly as possible. I did not want to scare my child unnecessarily.

"Renee, how much do you know about Pippa?" I questioned.

"What do you mean?" she asked, wiping her tears away and staring at me peculiarly.

"Do you know where she came from before she moved here? Do you know who her parents are? Does she have any siblings? Is she a really good student or does she struggle?"

"Mom, why are you asking all these questions?"

"I just need to know what exactly is going on so I can help her," I explained.

"Help her how? What do you think is wrong with her?" she wondered.

"Just answer the questions, Renee," I ordered. "Do you know anything about her personal life what-so-ever?"

She thought about for a moment and sighed heavily at the interrogation. "I don't know. She doesn't talk about herself much. She's kind of quiet and doesn't like people to know much about her."

"Have you told her stuff about yourself?" I asked.

"Of course I have," she answered. "She knows you're my mom and I've talked about Uncle Seth and Aunt Leah and Uncle Emmett and Aunt Rose. I've even told her about Grandpa Carlisle, Grandma Esme, Uncle Garrett and Aunt Kate. I told her about Grandma Renee and how I was named after her also."

"But she's never said anything about her family?" I asked again.

"No, not that I can remember," she replied. "Why, Mom?"

"Nothing, Sweetie," I said patting her shoulder and smiling sweetly at her. "I'm sure everything will be fine in a couple days. Why don't you get to class before you're late?" She swiped at her eyes again and stood to her feet. I gave her one last hug and sent her on her way.

I didn't know what to do first. Should I call the cops? Should I question Pippa? She would lie to me regardless. I should at least try to get some information from her. I could do it in a non-threatening way. I walked the short distance to the secretary's desk and asked Peggy to call Pippa to the office. Peggy looked at me strangely as if she thought I was a crazy person but she did as I asked.

I waited in the hallway next to the office for Pippa to come. As soon as I saw her slowly and nervously walking down the hall towards me, I smiled and walked towards her to meet her halfway. I took in her appearance first. She was clean and had her dark, long hair down over her shoulders. Her eyes did look a little bloodshot and there were dark circles under her eyes like she hadn't slept much. She had long pants and a long sleeve shirt on, with a hoodie over it and the tattered sleeves pulled down over her hands. It wasn't entirely out of the ordinary with the kids here but to someone who may be abused at home it was one of the first signs. I was her. "Hi Pippa. I would appreciate it if you would follow me to my office."

"Wasn't I called to the office?" she asked.

"I had you called to the office," I admitted.

I placed my hand on her back and guided her into my office.

"Am I in trouble?" she asked.

"Why would you be in trouble?" I countered with a giggle.

"You're Renee's mom. I wasn't very nice to her earlier," she admitted. "Did she tell you?"

"She did talk to me a little during lunch. But that's not why I called you to my office." I grabbed a file from my drawer just to make it look like this was school related. "There's some missing information on your file and I was hoping you might be able to help me fill it in."

"Oh, okay."

I sat down across from her and opened up the file to pretend to be filling in some information but really I was just taking notes about what she said. "It's rather warm in here. Why don't you take off your sweatshirt?" I suggested.

"No, I'm fine," she quickly refused pulling her sleeves over her hands. While she did this I noticed a shadow of a bruise on her wrist just before she covered it up.

I nodded my head and smiled trying to not let on what I saw on her wrist or what I suspected. "What are your mom and dad's names?"

"Catherine is my mom. My dad died about a year ago," she answered.

"Do you have a stepdad or does your mom have a boyfriend?"

"No, it's just my mom." I wrote down the information on the paper in front of me.

"What about brothers or sisters?"

"I have two brothers," she said.

"Do they go to school here?"

"No, Foxworth is in high school and Spencer is only a baby."

"Really? How old is he?" I asked pretending to be excited about hearing of a baby.

"I think he's a little over a year old. He starting to crawl now, which isn't always a good thing," she added.

"How so?" I asked with a curious friendly voice.

"Well, he gets into everything now. My mom can't watch him. He always ends up falling and getting hurt."

"Little babies just learning how to crawl do that a lot," I said with a smile.

"I have to be there to help so Spencer doesn't get too hurt," she said.

"Do you help out with your little brother a lot?" I asked.

"Yep, and Foxworth does too, but he's playing football this year so I have to do more."

"That's right, I remember my husband mentioning him last night. My husband, Edward, is the coach, so I hear all about the players." I remembered Edward telling me he had a temper and was in two fist fights. Maybe this little girl was being abused by her older brother and not her parents.

"Foxworth mentioned him."

"Does your mom work a lot is that why you have to help out so much?" I asked changing the subject back to her.

"No, she's home all day. We used to have a lot of money when my dad was still alive, but after he died we didn't have as much. That's why we moved here."

"Do you have family in the area?"

"No."

"Then why Forks of all places?" I wondered.

"I don't know. I guess it was the best hiding place."

"Hiding place?" I repeated, questioning why they needed a hiding place.

"Nothing. Mom just likes to play games," she quickly excused.

I put the file aside and leaned in close to her. "Pippa, if there's something going on at home then you can talk to me or even Renee if you want. We're here to help and to be your friend," I offered.

"I'm fine," she assured standing up and taking a couple steps back in a protective manner. "Am I done?" I recognized the behavior. When you think someone is getting too close and knows too much you shut down and try to get away as fast as possible. I nodded my head and gave her a pass to go back to class with.

As soon as she was gone I went into action and started writing up what I knew so far and even started looking through her school records to get some more information. As soon as school was over for the day, I asked the secretary, Peggie, to watch Renee for a couple hours while I went to an appointment. She was happy to oblige since she also had a daughter and we traded off when we needed someone to watch our children.

I knew I should have went straight to the police with my founding's or even to child services, but once again those fears got to me. I couldn't face the police just like I couldn't when I was a teenager. They wouldn't believe me or take me serious without someone else to back up my story. I needed help. I needed Edward.

I pulled up next to the football field and ran out on the field where he was. He saw me coming and instantly started asking where Renee was and if she was okay. I assured him she was fine and with Peggy. Once his anxiety settled, he asked his assistant coach to take over for a few minutes while we talked.

We walked a short distance away and he faced me with a questioning look. "What's going on, Bella? Why are you here?"

"Which one of these boys is Foxworth?" I asked. He furrowed his brow and raised the corner of his lip but pointed out the boy despite his confusion. I looked over at the bench where a group of boys sat and one boy at the far end with dark, shaggy hair and a scowl on his face.

"Why do you want to know who Foxworth is?" Edward asked.

"I think Renee's new friend, Pippa, might be being abused and I think it might be at the hand of her brother, Foxworth."

"What?" he asked chuckling in disbelief of my accusation. "Bella, what brought this on?"

"Something happened at school today with Renee and Pippa. While Renee was telling me about it a lot of similarities to my own childhood started to come out. I talked to Pippa and she told me Foxworth was her brother. She doesn't have a dad or a father figure at all. And last night you were telling me how Foxworth has a temper and gets in fights all of the time. What if he loses his temper with his little sister or even his mom and baby brother?"

"That's a really strong accusation to make of a teenage boy," he said, looking at me like he didn't believe me. "I'm not excusing Foxworth's behavior, but deep down I think he's a pretty good kid. He's just trying to find his place here and sometimes for a boy in a new school that means getting in fights with your teammates to prove you're worthy of being part of the team."

"But what about Pippa? I really think she's being abused," I pressed on.

"Bella, you can't go around thinking the worse of everyone," he chided. "Not everyone lives the life you did. Just because there were a few similarities doesn't mean this girl is being abused like you were. She's new; maybe she doesn't want everyone to know everything about her. Maybe they move around a lot and she doesn't like to get too close to anyone because then it's harder to say goodbye. You can't keep living like this."

"Like what, Edward? A paranoid freak who can't let go of her past?" I asked angrily. "Well maybe if my husband would stop bringing it up at every chance he gets then I'd be able to forget about it."

I turned on my heel and walked hastily back to my car. Tears were on the verge of falling from my eyes from the anger, humility, and hurt I felt. Edward was supposed to believe me and stand by me through everything. Now, when I needed him the most he was treating me like a stupid kid who didn't know what I was talking about.

I was so upset, I drove straight home and called to see if Peggie could bring Renee home. I knew I was right. I just had a gut feeling about this and I wasn't about to back down. I was going to help that little girl if it was the last thing I did.

I continued to probe Renee for more information as nonchalantly as I possibly could, but unsurprisingly she knew very little.

Edward came home early and walked into the kitchen where Renee and I were with a remorseful expression. Renee hopped up from the table and threw her arms around him welcoming him home.

"I need to talk to your mom for a minute. Can you go upstairs and do your homework up there until dinner is done?" he asked Renee.

"Sure, Daddy." Edward placed her back on her feet and she gathered up her books before heading upstairs. I ignored Edward while I focused on chopping the carrots in front of me.

"Bella," he began in a soft voice. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you upset. I just think you're making a mole hill out of nothing. You don't know anything about these people or their life."

"How much did you know about me when you figured out what was happening to me?" I asked whipping my body around and holding the knife out in front of us. His eyes focused in on the knife and slowly removed it from my hand, placing it on the cutting board behind me.

"I didn't know much but I did talk to James for a small moment and I knew something was off with him. I heard him push you and your cries. I had proof other than you didn't like to talk about your personal life." He sat down in a chair running his fingers through his hair in frustration. "I know you want to protect Renee from friends who might not be the greatest friends…"

"This has nothing to do with Renee," I shouted. "This is about that little girl. I know I'm right." He sighed heavily and shook his head. "What happened to you supporting me in everything I do?"

His head shot up to look me in the eyes. In an instant he was in front of me holding me in his arms. "I want to believe you, Bella. I do. I just don't want you to get in trouble for wrongly accusing someone of something, especially when it's one of my players."

I shoved him away and placed my hands on my hips. "That's why you won't believe me? Because it's one of your players who I'm accusing of hurting that little girl? Are you seriously going to sit here and tell me you're going to protect him just because he's on the team and you need him to win?"

"Bella, stop!" he ordered with a loud voice. "That's not what I'm saying at all."

"Then what are you saying?" I asked in the same raised voice as he had.

"Why are you fighting?" Renee's small, timid voice asked from around the corner. I turned away unwilling to let my daughter see how upset I was.

"Nothing, Honey," Edward assured walking over to her and hugging her tightly in is arms. I watched as she hugged him back and a single tear fell down her cheek. "We were only having a disagreement. There's nothing to be worried about. Everything is fine."

"Mommy?" she asked.

"Your dad's right. Everything is fine," I agreed, trying to give her reassurance. Edward and I never argued about anything. If we ever did have a disagreement one of us would always give in. This was the one time I wasn't willing to give in. "Dinner is about done. Go get washed up and we can eat."

Renee left the room again leaving us alone. "Bella, I'll talk to Foxworth and see what he has to say. Alright?"

"Okay," I accepted. I knew it was Edward's way of giving in since I wasn't but I also knew it was a fight I was going to have to fight on my own. I had to find out the truth about this little girl.

Edward and I didn't talk much for the rest of the night. We were very cold towards each other and acted as strangers instead a married couple. I just wanted him to believe me and trust my instincts.

The next day I texted Edward obsessively, wondering if he'd talked to Foxworth yet. I wanted to know what he had to say and how exactly he was covering up what he was doing to his little sister. Unfortunately, Edward kept putting me off and using every excuse possible why he hadn't talked to Foxworth. I was furious with Edward. Deep down I knew the only reason he wasn't talking to him or willing to stand by my claim and make a report was because he wanted this kid to be on the football team. Edward had his priorities backwards and I wasn't about to sit by and wait for him to make a decision.

I decided to take matters into my own hands since Edward wouldn't. During my lunch hour I decided to go talk to their mom. Maybe I'd be able to get some answers from her. I knew it was highly unprofessional for me to show up at a parent's home unannounced, but I had to know. I couldn't, in good conscience, just let this keep going if Pippa was being hurt.

I walked up to the door and knocked. I waited and waited but got no answer. Thinking about it, I realized it was kind of silly on my part to drive all the way over here in the middle of the day.

I sighed, shaking my head at my stupidity as I began to walk back towards my car. Just as I took a couple steps off the porch, I heard the door creak open. I turned around to see a ghastly woman standing in the doorway. She was skinny, her eyes and cheeks were sunken, her eyes were bloodshot, her lips were extremely dry, and she squinted at the small amount of sunlight peaking over the clouds. She looked like she had the flu. I stood there just staring at her in horror. I wasn't sure what to say.

"Oh," she grumbled, letting out an irritated sigh. "I thought you were someone else."

"Forgive me, I think I may have come at a bad time," I apologized.

"What do you want?" she asked. Her tone was angry.

"My name is Bella Cullen and I'm the school nurse. I'm here about your daughter, Pippa," I explained.

"If this is about the bruises on Pippa it's because she's clumsy and falls a lot," she quickly excused as if she knew exactly why I was there. This was yet another common tactic for abuse.

"Yes, I understand about clumsiness. I was also clumsy as a child and had bruises all over my body," I admitted. "That was until I had an amazing person come into my life and save me from the years of abuse I'd endured."

She glared at me and tightened her jaw. She didn't like the challenge. "Whatever it is you think is going on or whatever Pippa told you it's not true, Lady. I'd appreciate if you didn't make false accusations, otherwise I'll have to report you and make sure you're fired for overstepping your bounds."

"I apologize again," I said, putting my hands up in defeat. "I'm not trying to make accusations against anyone. I'm actually here as a mother to another mother. Pippa is friends with my daughter Renee. We would like to invite Pippa over for a sleepover this weekend and I thought I'd ask your permission and introduce myself to you first."

"No," she refused my request sternly. "Pippa is not allowed to spend the night at anyone's house. I'd appreciate it if you stayed away from my daughter and away from my home."

I nodded my head and smiled politely at her. "I'm sorry for bothering you. Have a nice day." I walked to my car, looking back once more before I got inside. The woman standing on the porch did not look happy at all. I suddenly wondered if my first assumption was wrong. Maybe Foxworth wasn't the one abusing. Maybe he was the one being abused and the anger building up inside of him was the reason for his outbursts of anger on the football field.

I rushed back to the school and asked for the rest of the day off. I texted Edward and told him to pick Renee up after school and let her hang out with him at the football practice. He texted back wondering why but I didn't respond. Instead, I went straight to the local child services department to make a report.

I talked to a woman named Sandra and gave her my story and what little proof I had. She took notes as I spoke but really didn't seem that interested in my story. When I was done, she placed her notepad down on her table and nodded her head. "Thank you for coming in and making a report," she said.

"What will happen now? Will you go out to the house to do an investigation?" I asked.

"Unfortunately, no," she answered. "We don't have the staff to investigate every claim that comes in. We'll keep it on our records and if anything else happens don't hesitate to come back and give us more information."

I was shocked. I just came in here and pretty much told them this little girl was being abused and they weren't planning to do a damn thing about it. "You're kidding, right? You have to do something."

"I'm sorry, Ma'am. I wish there was something we could do but unfortunately we have so many reports come in a day and it would be impossible to investigate every single one. You don't have any physical proof anything is happening other than an intuition. To be honest, isn't enough to do a formal investigation."

I was mad and I'm sure my expression and tone of voice was making the fact apparent. "I was an abused child myself. I know what abuse looks like. I can't believe you're going to sit here and do absolutely nothing while that little girl is being hurt. This is why I never told anyone what was happening to me because no one ever did anything. No one paid attention. I almost died at the hands of my step father and I would have if it wasn't for that one person who believed me. I will be that one person for that little girl." I was on the verge of tears when I walked out of the building. I sat in the parking lot unable to even move. I had to do something. I had to save this little girl.

I went straight to the high school and found Edward out on the football field with Renee standing next to him holding his clipboard. When she was younger she came out here to "help" her daddy all the time, but now she'd rather be a pre-teen girl. Football and her daddy weren't that important anymore.

"Hi, Mommy," she squealed when she saw me walking towards them.

"Hi, Sweetie," I greeted, giving her a quick hug before asking Edward to talk to me for a few minutes.

Edward followed me over to the bleachers where we sat down. "I haven't talked to him, yet. I have to do my job first. After practice I'll pull him aside and see what he has to say," Edward said, making excuses for why he hadn't talked to Foxworth.

"I went to see their mother today," I blurted.

"You did what?" he asked angrily.

"I had to know what was going on. I'm starting to wonder if it's Foxworth at all. I think it's their mom. You should have seen her. She was hideous and blatantly rude. She was quick to excuse Pippa's bruising before I even said a word about it. When I mentioned how I was an abused child she got very defensive and threatened reporting me. It's all the classic signs of abuse."

"What do you want to do then?" he asked. For the first he appeared as if he believed me and wanted to help.

"I went to child services and made a report," I continued. "I forgot how unhelpful they are. They don't plan to do anything other than document it."

"Alright, I'm going to call Foxworth into my office right after practice and I'd like for you to be there. You might have some insight in how to coax some answers out of him. But, if it doesn't turn up anything I want you to back off. I don't need you getting so involved you get hurt. To be honest, I don't even want you involved. I think this is going to bring up far too many memories and going to cause you to suffer. You already have nightmares and can't seem to face your past. This is going to a lot for you to handle."

"Edward, don't treat me like a child. I'm your wife and your partner. I can handle this if it means that little girl is safe."

He sighed and nodded his head in defeat. I knew he was only trying to protect me, but a strong courage overcame me when I knew I was saving someone from the same fate I had. I was a mother lion protecting her cub, even if it wasn't my cub.

Edward ended practice early and sent the team to the locker rooms. He asked Foxworth to come to his office after he showered and changed. I asked Renee to sit in the hallway and work on her homework while Edward and I talked to him.

When he walked in he didn't look nervous or concerned about being called into the coach's office, until he saw me there.

"What's going on, Coach?" he asked scanning the room with his eyes.

"Have a seat, Fox," Edward gestured towards the chair in front of us.

"Fox, this is my wife, Bella. She's the school nurse over at the middle school. Our daughter, Renee, is also friends with your little sister, Pippa." He sunk into his chair and dropped his head in defeat. "You know I've been a little concerned about your attitude and I'm starting to question why it is you can't seem to control your temper. Do you have any ideas why you can't?"

"No," he answered harshly, unwilling to look up at either of us.

"What if I told you I wasn't going to allow you to play if you can't figure out a way to control yourself?" Edward asked.

"You can't do that," he shouted, sitting up and challenging Edward with his wide eyes.

"I most certainly can. I've benched players for far less before. I want to get to the bottom of this so you have a successful football season, but I can't have you on my field if you're going to be getting in fights with the opposing team," Edward explained.

"Fine, bench me for all I care. I don't give a fuck what you do," he shouted slumping back into his chair.

Edward sat up, leaning his elbows against his desk and looking at Foxworth seriously. "I'm going to ask you this one time and I want you to be completely honest with me. You aren't in trouble and you aren't in any danger, but we need to know the truth. Is your little sister being hurt at home?"

"What?" he asked, chuckling at the question. "What makes you think she's being hurt?"

"I was an abused child and know exactly what it looks like. Just answer the question," I ordered from behind Edward.

"No, everything is fine. I can handle it."

The last little bit of his answer was the clincher. He was the oldest. He felt responsible and like it was his job to handle the abuse.

"Are we done here? I need to go home." I could tell Foxworth was upset and probably going to go home and hide any evidence of abuse on Pippa he could find. I couldn't let him leave.

"Not quite," I answered, motioning for him to stay seated. "Foxworth, I went to your house today. I met your mother briefly and..."

"You what?" he shouted, breathing heavily like he was in a panic. "How could you? I have to go." He jumped from his seat and ran out of the office, not even stopping to say goodbye to a few of the guys who were telling him goodbye.

Edward turned towards me with a knowing look on his face. He knew I was right now. It was just a matter of what do we do now.

During the night, Edward and I discussed our plan of operation. We were both going to make a report to the school and I was also going to bring this new information to the case worker I met. We weren't going to stop until we knew those kids were safe.

"There's just one thing I'm unsure of," I said with a far-off look in my eyes. Edward hummed in response and waited for me to explain what I was wondering. "Pippa said they have a little brother who's only about a year old. I know I wasn't at the house for very long but I didn't see or hear a baby. Foxworth never mentioned a little brother either.

"We'll get to the bottom of this, Bella," Edward assured, pulling me into his arms and flipping off the light. He gently kissed the back of my neck and whispered in my ear, "I'm sorry I didn't believe you. Forgive me?"

I nodded my head and nestled into him even further. I could never stay mad at him for long.

In the morning, I went to the principal of the school and made my report. It wasn't a surprise when the principal took down my accusations and pretty much just sat them aside. He said just about the same thing the case worker said. He'll keep it on file and watch for any other signs of abuse but other than that there wasn't much more they could do. The problem was these people didn't know what abuse looked like. They didn't know the power lies and cover-ups have. They didn't know how easy it was to convince someone they have no idea what they're talking about and to turn it around to be their fault. They didn't know abuse wasn't just bruises, but words, body language, behavior, and fear. Pippa and Foxworth had every single sign and I knew because I was once one of them.

Edward got much of the same response at the high school. Edward called Emmett and asked his opinion on what to do. Emmett told him to get more proof. We needed one of the kids to actually admit to the abuse or we needed to have physical proof of the abuse. It was beyond frustrating to be pushed aside by everyone who was supposed to be there for these kids and they weren't.

At lunch, Renee came to see me. I asked her why she wasn't having lunch with Pippa and she told me Pippa wasn't in school today. The knot in my stomach when she told me this was overwhelming. I almost felt like puking from the intense pressure I felt.

I quickly ushered Renee back to the lunchroom and told her I had some work I needed to get done. She questioned me and wanted to know what was going on. She knew something was wrong but I couldn't exactly tell her what it was. I put her off by telling her I thought Pippa might be sick and need some medicine. I don't know if she believed me but she accepted it and went back to lunch.

I immediately called Edward and told him Pippa wasn't in school. I was surprised when he said he already knew. He asked me to come to the high school as soon as possible so we could talk. I instantly thought the worst and wondered what had happened.

I rushed to the high school and met Edward in his office. Foxworth sat in a chair across from him with tears in his eyes, which he tried to hide as best he could.

"What's going on?" I asked.

"Foxworth asked for you to be here. He wants to talk to you," Edward explained. Edward motioned for me to take his chair, while he stood next to me.

"You said yesterday you were an abused child and you know what it looks like?" he reminded in a questioning way causing me to answer him with a yes even though he probably wasn't asking an actual question. "What are the signs?"

"Refusal to answer questions, bruises, making up excuses, trying to turn things around on others, anxiety and panic attacks, fear, anger outbursts or extreme shyness, refusal to stand up for yourself and letting your peers be mean to you, a need to be perfect and make everything neat, and an unhealthy need to get approval from adults, those are just a few but many of which I saw in you and in Pippa."

He nodded his head, focusing his eyes on a fly, which landed on a stack of papers on Edward's desk.

"Where is Pippa today?" I asked as calmly as I possibly could.

"She's at home. She has a big bruise across her face. I wasn't there to protect her," he cried.

I instantly got up and went around the desk to comfort him. I put my arms around him and shushed him gently.

"I wasn't there for her when I should have been. I thought I could handle it. I only have a couple more years left then I'm going to leave and take Pippa and Spencer with me. I'm planning to get a big football scholarship so I can move my brother and sister away from our mother," he said, still holding onto me like he was too afraid to let go.

"Where is Spencer? Is he left with your mother during the day?" I asked.

"No, I drop him off with a babysitter every morning and Pippa picks him up on the way home. Pippa takes care of him while I'm at practice or at a game," he explained. "Normally my mom stays in her room. She very rarely comes out. As long as she has what she wants then she normally leaves us alone. If she doesn't have what she wants then she gets mad. I take most of it. She hits me until I agree to get her what she wants."

I placed my hand over my mouth and gasped. "What is it she wants?" I asked once my initial shock subsided. I felt so bad for this boy. I knew exactly what he was going through and how helpless he felt and the responsibility he had to his brother and sister. I regretted even suspecting him in the first place.

"Mostly drugs," he answered. "She drinks a lot but it's harder for me to get her alcohol than it is to get drugs. I don't have to show ID to get drugs. I just need to know who to go to."

"Has she always been like this?" Edward questioned.

"No, it wasn't until my dad died a couple years ago. She was pregnant with Spencer. We were happy. My dad had money and a great job. We went to private prestigious schools. My parents were part of a high society. Then just a couple months before she had Spencer my dad died. We were all devastated. It was like our whole world came crashing down. We moved here and tried to start over but my mom went crazy. She didn't want to look at Spencer. She didn't want to take care of him. She was almost mean to him until I stepped in and started taking care of him myself. Then she started drinking nonstop and when that wasn't enough she started doing drugs. We had money from the life insurance and what my dad had put aside but over the last year she's spent almost all of it on drugs. I was actually planning to get a part time job just to pay the bills since all of our other money goes to her drugs."

Edward sighed heavily and looked up at me with angry and desperate eyes. "What happened last night?"

"Since you showed up at our house asking questions about Pippa she thought Pippa said something to you and was upset. When I got home last night, Pippa was lying on the floor rolled up in a ball and Spencer was sitting next to her crying hysterically. My mom had already gone back to her room when I got there so I cleaned Pippa up and calmed the baby down and got everyone to bed. This morning since Pippa had a big bruise across her face I told her to stay home and stay in her room with the door locked. I left her a sack lunch and told her not to come out no matter what. She'll be fine as long as she keeps the door locked and doesn't come out. My mom probably doesn't even know she's there."

Edward nodded his head taking in everything Foxworth had told us. I was surprised he was willing to tell us so much after all he's been through. I got the impression from his body language and the way he spoke that he was at his breaking point. He couldn't take it anymore and needed out. His angry outbursts on the field were his attempt at letting some of that anger and frustration he'd been carrying out. But now it's getting to be too much. I remember that feeling of the walls closing in around you and not being able to find a way out. Admitting all of this to us was his way out.

"I'm calling Emmett."

"What? Who's Emmett?" Foxworth asked visibly frightened.

"Emmett's my brother and he's also a cop. We're going to get this taken care of," Edward explained.

"No!" Foxworth shouted. "What's going to happen to my mom? What's going to happen to us?"

"It's alright, Foxworth. I know what you're going through but it'll all work out. Everything will be fine."

"My mom isn't a bad person. She just needs some help. She was a good mom before. Please don't call the police. Just tell me what I can do to help my mom," he pleaded making every excuse he could to protect his mom.

I pulled him aside while Edward made the call. "No one is saying your mom is a bad person. You're right, she does need help. We'll see to it that she gets the help she needs so you can have your mom back."

"But what's going to happen to us?" he wondered on the verge of tears.

"We'll figure that out but for right now we need to get your mom some help."

I hugged him giving him as much comfort as I possibly could. Sometimes all it takes is for one person to listen and care. It's why I love Edward and why I clung to him so much when I was young. He was the one and only person who would listen to me and cared about me.

"Emmett is making the call to have your mom picked up. A social worker will be on her way over to pick up your sister and we need to go get your baby brother," Edward directed. We went out to the car and drove to where Foxworth told us to go. He went in and picked up Spencer then we drove the short distance to his home. The police cars were already out front and they had Pippa leaning up against a squat car while a lady from the social services department did her best to comfort her. As soon as she saw Foxworth she went running towards him and hugged him tightly, crying even harder than she was before. Edward and I walked over to them and gave them some words of encouragement when a policeman carried their mom out in handcuffs. I held baby Spencer in my arms while the social worker talked to all of us about what would happen now.

When she asked if the kids had any family nearby or someone they could stay with, Edward and I glanced at each other just briefly, being able to read each other's thoughts, and agreed to let the kids stay with us until their mom could get the help she needed.

It was tough at first, learning to adjust to three extra kids running around the house. Renee was so thrilled to have her friend Pippa living with us. It was like they had a sleepover party every single night. Spencer was thriving and a happy little boy learning to walk and say his first words. Foxworth struggled a little with his mom being gone. He knew she was getting help but he missed her and occasionally would have anger outbursts. We got him and even Pippa into some counseling for their own wellbeing. Football was the biggest therapy Foxworth needed. Just like Edward had so many times before, he molded Foxworth into an amazing football player and made him use his anger in a positive way on the field.

After a while it became normal to have the three of them with us. They became part of our family. It broke my heart every time I thought about their mom coming back home. I knew it was what was best and what they needed more than anything, but I started to love the kids as if they were my own. I just hoped after all of this was over, they would still continue to want to see us.

After almost three months of being in treatment, Catherine was allowed supervised visitation with the kids. They were so happy to see her and glad she was getting help. They talked all the time about when she would be out of treatment and be able to come home. I was told she even apologized for hurting them and treating them so badly. It was nice to hear she was able to apologize to them. I never got that. I know if I had, and he truly meant it, I probably wouldn't be so scared of him still.

When Catherine was released from her treatment, I dreaded the day the caseworker came to tell us it was time for the kids to go home.

The day she did come I stood strong and invited her in politely. She sat down on the couch with a grave expression. She appeared to be dreading this just as much as I was. The kids were visiting Edward's parents for the day just because I didn't want them here when the caseworker came. I didn't think they needed to hear the news from her but from us so we were able to explain things to them a little better.

Edward walked in and sat down next to me, holding my hand to comfort me. He knew how attached I'd become and how hard it was going to be to say goodbye.

"I'm afraid I have some bad news," she began. Edward and I glanced at each other with confusion in our faces.

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm sorry to have to tell you this but Catherine O.D. last night and a neighbor found her body this morning," she said.

"That can't be possible," I expressed. "She just got out of treatment. She was doing really well."

"I know. It's a terrible situation but there's nothing any of us can do. Sometimes the minute someone gets out of treatment they go right back to the drugs. Apparently, that's exactly what she did. She tried to stay away for a while but the power the drugs have over her was too much and she went back."

I was already crying my eyes out. Edward did his best to hold me and comfort me. All I kept thinking about were the kids. How were they going to take the news? How would they go on without their mom? What would happen to them now?

"Since they no longer have a living parent I will be doing a search of any possible family members who would be willing to take them in. I hope you don't mind if they stay here a little longer than planned," the social worker wondered.

I was such a mess I couldn't even speak. Edward straightened next to me and cleared his throat. "We'll take them."

"Excuse me?" she asked.

"We'll adopt them. We always wanted a big family and they've already become part of our family in so many ways. We want to keep them," he explained further.

"Are you sure? This is a big commitment, you know?"

I looked up at Edward filled with hope and excitement. It never even crossed my mind to keep them until Edward suggested it. He looked down at me with a crooked smile on his face and rubbed my shoulder affectionately. "We're sure," he answered not even needing an answer from me. He just knew. He knew me better than anyone.

"Well, I will start the process but I should warn you it is a long process and will take some time. But the good thing is the kids won't be moved out of your home. I would like to tell the kids about their mother but if you don't mind I would like both of you present when I do. They're going to need some comfort after they hear the news."

"Of course," Edward agreed, answering for both of us. "We'll take care of the funeral arrangements for the sake of the kids as well. They will need a chance to say goodbye. I'll also call their counselor and let him know what has happened so he can maybe schedule a few more sessions in the next couple of weeks."

"That's sounds wonderful. Thank you both so much for being so supportive of these kids. They need people like both of you in their lives." She stood from the couch and shook both of our hands, informing us she would be back later in the day to talk to the kids.

After she left I looked towards Edward with a questioning expression. "What made you suddenly want to adopt the kids?" I asked.

"I told myself on the day I married you that I would never take anything for granted or ever question what I know in my heart is right. I made a lot of bad choices when I was a teenager. I made even more over the years. But when I know something is right I'm not going to question it. It may not have been exactly what we wanted or even the easiest way to come across it but those kids are part of this family. I feel horrible about their mom and truly wish things had been different, but I'm not going to question why things happened. I'm just going to accept what is and know the choices I make for this family are right. Those kids belong with us. They need us."

Edward held me in his arms for a long time while I cried. Cried from sadness for the kids, for joy for myself, for anger and hurt for their mother, for love for Edward and his loving ways, and for peace in my own pain. Having these kids in my life was a blessing in disguise. Not only were we getting the large family we always dreamed of, but because of helping them face their past and their demons, I was able to do the same for myself. I was finally able to face my fears and push through them knowing I had my family to support me and protect me. I would do the same for every single one of my kids and they would do the same for me. We would face our fears together.

The End…for sure this time

Thanks for reading.