A/N: Here we are with the latest installment. This story will be finished before a year has passed from the time of purchase yet! Thank you to Dr. Death for being patient with us while we have worked on other projects. Thank you to all of you readers for hanging in there with us while we try to make sense of this wild story!
Any reference to puppies in this chapter is thanks to Dr. Death. Please feel free to throw things at him. Heavy things.
Thank you to Stephenie Meyer for allowing us to play in her world. This story belongs to Lillie Cullen, changedbyEdward, and Dr. Death. Please respect that.
Edward left Bella's house with a plethora of emotions running through his head. The text message from Alice wanting to know if she could go see Bella didn't help. He smashed the phone to dust in his hand and ran for the house.
"No, Alice. Let her be. She wants to be alone," he snarled when Alice approached him.
Edward's emotions were way out of control and were driving Jasper crazy from the moment Edward entered the house. Jasper appeared in the doorway of Edward's room and stood watching Edward as he yanked books and CDs off shelves and flung them to the floor. He appeared to be having some sort of break down. Jasper sent calming waves through the room, hoping it would chill Edward out a bit, but it didn't seem to faze him. All it did was cause Edward to growl at him and then jump out the window and run at top speed into the forest.
He ran far enough that he found himself high up in the mountains and caught the scent of a bear, so he tracked it down and attacked it viciously. More viciously than he normally would have. The bear put up a good fight, but in the end, Edward won. He drained its lifeblood quickly and hurriedly discarded the carcass.
Filled to the brim with blood, Edward laid down and stared up into the night sky. He thought about his feelings for Bella and knew they hadn't changed. He wondered if God was punishing him somehow for what he was, but quickly tossed that thought aside for another.
Jacob's child was growing inside of Bella's womb. A fatherless child. A child that would never know the sacrifice his father had made for his mother's safety.
Edward spent most of the night mulling this over. And a good part of the next day. The bottom line was that he loved Bella. It didn't matter to him that she had been intimate with Jacob. He had already known about that anyway. It didn't matter to him that she was pregnant with Jacob's child, either. He still loved her more than his own life.
As he played the scenarios out in his mind, there was only one that made complete sense to him. His lot in life had denied him one thing that he had always wanted. Being a father. Bella's pregnancy could give him that opportunity and she could have the best of both worlds. A little piece of Jacob in her child, and Edward's stability and support to help her raise that child.
Now he just had to convince her that it was the best way.
Determined, he hopped out of the snow drift that had formed around him, and started the long run home.
Alice was bouncing up and down in the backyard when he arrived. Edward rolled his eyes. "No, Alice. You still can't go. I don't even know if she'll go for it." He tried to brush past her, but Alice grabbed his arm and showed him her vision.
He looked at her incredulously. "But… I only heard…"
Alice nodded and showed him more.
Edward was ecstatic. It was too good to be true. He headed straight for Carlisle's study when he entered the house, hoping that Bella would take this small piece of help he was offering her. It was a start.
Carlisle went to Bella straight away, offering her medical care for her pregnancy, ensuring that she had prenatal vitamins and was eating right, and checking on not only her health, but the health of the twin babies that were growing inside her.
Although Bella was in a state of confusion and her hormones were going crazy and making her an emotional mess, she accepted Carlisle's assistance. In her heart, she knew that Carlisle was her best choice of doctor for the pregnancy anyway. She knew that he loved her and would protect her and her unborn children, as much as he could.
Over the next few weeks, Edward had a new bounce to his step. Even without seeing Bella, he received reports on her condition every day from Carlisle. He knew that things were going well with the pregnancy and that Bella wasn't too terribly sick, although she had suffered through morning sickness quite a lot.
He also knew that Bella had told no one what was going on yet. Not Charlie, or the pack, or any of her friends. She wouldn't be able to hide the pregnancy for long, and Edward worried that his plan needed to be stepped up if he was to be there for her in time.
For the time being, he was trying to remain supportive, but also let her have her space. He refused to insist on seeing her, even though all he ever wanted to do was see her.
Alice and Esme were spending their time alone in the woods somewhere north of the house doing something that they both refused to tell Edward about. Every time he tried to pick it out of their minds, he was blocked with visions of women in lingerie, fashion magazines, construction magazines, Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears… anything to keep him from seeing what they were really thinking about.
Even Rosalie seemed to be in a better mood and kept Edward out of her head as well. Each day when Carlisle went to visit Bella, Rosalie had taken to going with him. She was fascinated by Bella's pregnancy and although she was green with envy at Bella's condition, she was more excited that she was able to watch the pregnancy from start to finish and be with Bella for it.
Rosalie's first few visits with Carlisle turned into long hours sitting with Bella and talking. They finally began to know each other… to love each other… like sisters. Bella had begun to think of Rosalie as her greatest ally, even more so than Alice. Although she still loved Alice, Rose was so much more interested in the pregnancy than Alice seemed to be.
Alice complained that being around Bella gave her a 'headache' and apologized for her absence, but kept her distance for the most part. The shapeshifter genes that the babies carried were the only things Alice could contribute her headaches and loss of visions to.
Alice's complaints brought other worries, which festered in Bella's mind. She finally had the nerve to bring it up to Carlisle a couple of weeks after his visits started.
"Carlisle, my babies, they're part Quileute… couldn't being around… vampires… cause them… I don't know… problems? I mean… what if they start to phase before they're even born? I could give birth to...puppies!" Tears stained Bella's cheeks as she waited for Carlisle's response. She didn't want to lose her friends, but she also couldn't risk the lives of her babies. Jacob's babies.
Carlisle sat down in the rocking chair in Bella's room in which Edward had spent so many nights. He regarded Bella carefully and spoke softly and clearly.
"Bella, the gene that causes the Quileute to phase doesn't kick in until puberty. Your babies will be perfectly safe around us while they are still in the womb and while they are young."
"But how can you be sure, Carlisle?" Bella pleaded. She had to know if her babies were truly safe.
Carlisle stood and crossed the floor, taking Bella's hand in his. He kissed her hand gently and let it drop back to her side. "Bella, l have researched the shapeshifters at length. I would never lie to you. You should know that by now. If you prefer, we'll stay away, but I can assure you that your babies are perfectly safe with us."
Bella studied Carlisle's face and deep in her heart, she knew he was being perfectly honest with her. She nodded her head minutely and relaxed. He was right; he would never lead her astray. It wasn't in Carlisle's nature to behave that way.
Bella was eight weeks pregnant when Carlisle reminded her that she wouldn't be able to wait much longer to tell Charlie and the wolf pack about her pregnancy. She knew she had to do so soon, but felt incredibly alone and vulnerable. While she was happy about the babies, she was frightened, too. How was she going to raise not just one, but two babies, all by herself?
Bella was sitting staring out her bedroom window, trying to figure out what she was going to do, when Edward decided to make his appearance.
"Bella, may I come in?" he asked softly from her bedroom door. She had been so absorbed in her thoughts; she hadn't even heard it open. She jumped, and then turned towards the sound of the most beautiful voice in the world.
"Sure, Edward. You can come in."
Edward was thrilled that she would see him. He had been sending her text messages and sending his well wishes with Carlisle and Rosalie for weeks, but had received very little response, other than an occasional 'I'm fine.'
Edward was nervous as he entered Bella's room. It had been quite some time since he had been here and he wasn't sure whether this would be his last visit or not. It was all up to Bella. Only she could decide.
He listened to the three distinct heartbeats in the room. Bella's was just slightly faster than it normally was, but the two muffled heartbeats were even faster. One faster than the other.
Bella's scent was stronger than Edward remembered and he inhaled deeply, feeling his nervousness fall away in response to the familiarity of her smell. Whatever happened, he would remember that scent for all eternity.
Bella continued to look out the window, watching the rain falling softly outside. She was nervous. She wasn't sure what Edward's reaction was going to be after the last time she saw him.
Silently, Edward sat down on the edge of the bed. "Bella, would you come over here, please? I'd like to talk." He waited patiently for her response, not sure how to read her since she still had her back to him.
After a few incredibly long moments, Bella rose and walked to the bed, sitting next to him.
"May I?" he asked before placing his hand on her belly. Bella nodded, surprised.
Even though Bella could not yet feel the babies move inside her, Edward could feel the fluttering of their movements. His heart soared and it gave him the strength he needed to approach her with his plan.
"I'd like to help you, Bella. I'd like to help you raise the babies, if you'll have me." He searched her face for a reaction and when the tears spilled down her cheeks, he wasn't sure what to think. He pulled his hand away from her belly and wiped the tears from her face with the pads of his thumbs.
She pushed his hands away, but without force. "You can't, Edward. They're not your babies to raise. You can't just waltz in here and 'fix' this. It's done. I made a mistake. It's a mistake I'll have to live with for the rest of my life, but you can't fix it. I'm the one who has to live with it."
Bella looked at her lap and wrung her hands together, tears falling silently and splashing on her arms.
Edward's stone cold heart was breaking to see Bella like this. He knew she would be determined and stubborn. He counted on it, in fact. He just wasn't sure he had the right words to say to convince her, yet he took a deep breath that he didn't need for anything other than to calm his nerves, and began.
He scooted close to her on the bed and slipped his arm around her, pulling her into a gentle hug. Her shoulders slumped and she turned her face to him, burying it in his shoulder before she began to sob in earnest.
"Shhh, love. Everything will be alright," he soothed. It only caused Bella to sob harder and grab hold of his shirt, hanging on tightly with fisted hands.
Edward let her cry. The tears fell like rain. But he didn't interrupt, he just held her, waiting for her to compose herself. When the sobs died down, he stroked her hair and kissed the top of her head softly.
"I'm sorry," she sobbed into his shoulder. "This isn't fair to you for me to… to…"
"Bella, stop please. I really don't mind. You've obviously needed a shoulder to cry on and I'm more than happy to provide that for you. Along with anything else you might need." Edward lifted her easily and cradled her in his lap, rocking her back and forth.
Finally, her puffy, reddened eyes opened and looked at him. Even with her face red and her nose running, and her eyes puffy from crying, she was still the most beautiful woman Edward had ever seen. He smiled down at her.
Bella sniffled. "You said you wanted to talk to me?"
"Yes. I do want to talk to you. Can I take you for a ride?"
Bella looked up at Edward and considered his request. He had done everything she asked him to. When she asked him to leave her alone, he did. When she needed him to be there for her, he was. Even when she didn't know that he was what she needed at that point in time. What was it going to hurt to hear him out?
She nodded her acquiescence.
Edward immediately whisked her outside to the car and carefully buckled her into the passenger's seat. When he climbed in behind the wheel, he took a moment to just look at her before he started the car and took her on the familiar trek to the meadow. Their meadow.
He assisted her out of the car, becoming more nervous by the minute. No matter. He had a mission. He hoped it would all work out the way he wanted it to, but knew there was a distinct possibility that she would say no to him.
Edward cradled her and carried her as he ran up to the meadow and when he arrived, he deposited her carefully on the blanket that he had brought along.
"What's all this?" she asked with a giggle.
The sound of her laughter made Edward's heart soar, and gave him the courage he needed to continue. He sat down beside her and took her hands in his.
"Bella, I have spent the last several weeks doing some… well, I guess you would call it soul searching, even though I'm not convinced of the plight of my own. I have thought over every scenario that my mind can fathom, Bella. And there is only one way that I can see for everything to work out in the best interest of everyone involved."
She didn't turn away from him and she didn't speak. He took this as a sign to continue, so he scooted a little closer to her and did just that.
"I can take care of you, Bella. Physically, emotionally, financially… and your babies, too. I had always looked forward to being a father, and after Carlisle changed me, I grieved for decades over the fact that I would never have that chance. Bella, you and Jacob, you've given me that chance, and I would like the opportunity to fulfill that role." He stopped briefly and took in her expression. Her eyes were wide, her mouth was open. He couldn't tell if it was shock, disbelief, or anger.
"Edward… What is it, exactly, that you're getting at? You want… to be the father of Jacob's children? I don't understand." The questions shone in Bella's eyes. She was trying to fathom what it was that Edward was telling her. She couldn't even begin to believe that he would want to help her raise Jacob's children. Although he had left, she had never shaken the feeling that she had betrayed Edward when she was with Jacob. She did, after all, still love Edward, deeply, but had been sure that it was over. He had left her so easily…
"You know that I lied when I left you, Bella," he continued, answering her unspoken question. "My life… it's nothing without you in it, and if you being in it means that I get to be a father to your children, then that's just a bonus as far as I'm concerned. I don't want to see you do this by yourself, Bella. Give me the chance to help you and give these babies the life that they deserve to have after their father's ultimate sacrifice for the life of their mother. Please consider it, Bella. I'm not asking for your answer right this minute. I know you have a lot on your mind, but I would like you to take my offer into consideration. I would be willing to love all three of you for the rest of forever."