A/N: This is the end, dear readers. Thank yous and all other clap-trap at the end.
The beach bustles with activity. Guests are still arriving as the sun descends over the water, weaving currents of a chill into the balmy air.
Beside the bonfire is a white cooler, filled with beer and soda, and a red one, holding pints of blood—animal and human. Logs are arranged in a circle around the growing flames, some already occupied.
Edward places his hands on my shoulders. "Everything running smoothly?"
"So far." I side eye a cluster of wolf pack members deep in conversation down by the water as I strain to hear their hushed whispers.
Edward laughs. "It's fine. They're a little freaked over the garb of certain guests."
My shoulders relax. "The half-naked brigade is worried about what others are wearing?"
"Well . . ." Edward gestures to the left.
Aro, Felix, and Jane hover in an awkward huddle behind one of the logs—wearing Volturi robes.
I cover my eyes. "Really?"
Alice zooms past us. "On it!"
She approaches them with a pile of clothes in her arms. "Welcome! I got you guys some stuff to wear while you're here."
The three of them stare at Alice, puzzled.
"You bought us clothes?" Aro tilts his head.
"Um, yeah . . . look at you guys! This is a beach party." She starts with Aro. "You look like a creepy vampire."
"Do I?" Aro's lips quirk up as Alice hands him a pile of clothes.
"Totally creeptastic. Felix, you're just missing a scythe."
"And me?" Jane asks, her eyes owlish.
"Garden gnome gone bad." Alice laughs, handing Jane and Felix their clothes.
Jane stares at Alice for a moment, and I stiffen.
"Edward, please tell me she's not going to . . ." I start.
A sudden tinkling laughter rings out. It's coming from Jane. She accepts the gifts from Alice and lays a hand on her shoulder. "I think . . . I'm starting to like you." Jane sounds as surprised as the rest of us must feel.
Alice leads the three of them into the house to change.
"Okay, then." I nod, taking Edward by the hand. "Let's mingle."
Jacob sits sideways with Angela resting against his chest, her legs stretched out on a log. He nuzzles his face into the side of her neck, his large hands caressing her swollen belly.
"My God, Ang! You're about to pop!" I laugh as Angela struggles to her feet with Jacob's help.
She shuffles toward me and promptly bursts into tears. "I'm a cow!"
"No, you're not!" I open my arms for a hug, careful not to squeeze her too tightly.
Over the past two years, I've mastered the art of the light touch. I'd rather not think about all the damage done at the beginning or how I feared I'd never be able to paint again.
I hear two heartbeats from my best friend—the cadence I've grown used to and a new, faster one from the little girl in Angela's womb.
Angela grabs my hand, pressing my palm to the swell under her shirt. "Shit, your hand's cold." She looks up at me, happiness shining through her tears. "Your niece is in there!"
"What's her name?"
"We haven't agreed on a name yet." She rolls her eyes.
Edward's brow furrows, and he kneels on the sand. "The baby has the wolf gene. Part of her is self-aware and able to receive rudimentary input from the pack."
Angela looks worried, and Jacob massages her shoulders. "I wondered about that," he says.
"What does it mean? Will she be . . . different?" she asks.
Edward looks up at her and shakes his head. "There's nothing wrong with your baby, Angela. She'll most likely join the pack when she comes of age, but you knew that was a possibility."
Jacob rubs her belly and grins. "My little ass-kicking daughter."
"Stop, you!" Angela smacks her husband's chest and laughs.
Edward stands, wiping the sand from his knees.
"Somebody mention kicking ass?" Sam walks up, giving Jacob a playful punch on the arm.
"Our girl's got the wolf gene," Jacob announces with pride.
Alice appears beside me. Even as a vampire, I never hear her coming. She hugs Angela and whispers, "If you don't want to give birth here on Isle Esme, you should go home the day after tomorrow."
"But I'm not due until—"
"Two more weeks, I know, but trust me." Alice kisses her cheek. "Oh, and she's going to be beautiful—and a wolf."
"Well, there you have it." Jacob kneels down and kisses Angela's belly. "You hear that, little cub?"
Alice grasps my hand. "Aro wants to talk to you. He's inside."
Emmett pulls the boat up to the dock with Sandra, Laurent, Carlisle, and Esme. I wave to them on my way back to the house.
Aro waits for me alone in the living room, pacing nervously. He's wearing the tan pants and button-down shirt Alice chose. Oddly, the outfit suits him. Though he's been nothing but kind since he found out Alice is his daughter, part of me will never fully trust him. I wring my hands, not looking forward to the conversation.
He stops in front of the mantle and picks up a frame that holds a picture of him with Alice and a small watercolor of Melanie I painted from my visions, looking wistful. "Have you seen a way, Bella?"
"I'm afraid not. Every scenario I run still ends with Alice's death, your death, or both."
"What if I step down from the throne?"
"Then you, Alice, Felix, and Jane die."
Aro makes a fist. "Damn it. I was hoping this time . . ."
"Me, too. I'm sorry."
Ever since my gift manifested a year ago, I've been running scenarios in an attempt to find a way for Aro to acknowledge Alice as his daughter and Melanie as her deceased mother. We've all put our heads together, but no matter what we come up with, it ends badly. For now, it must remain a secret.
Aro glances over at me. "You'll keep trying?"
"I'll never give up."
The sliding door opens, and Edward sticks his head in. "Everyone's gathered around the bonfire. You two coming?"
I hold a hand out to my former enemy. "Shall we?"
Darkness has already fallen, but the raging bonfire lights up the beach. All of the Cullens are here, Sandra and Laurent, Jacob and Angela, and the rest of the wolf pack. I'm sad that Charlie, Sue, Joshua, and Joselle couldn't be here, but this is a momentous gathering—something to celebrate.
Esme chats with Jane who looks almost normal in a tank top and shorts. She even smiles a few times, and it's a genuine grin, devoid of evil.
I search for Felix, curious what Alice chose for him. I can't help but laugh when I spot him kneeling next to a boulder, arm wrestling Emmett. With their bulging muscles, they look like twins in jeans and T-shirts.
Edward pulls me into his arms and hands me a goblet of animal blood. "Everyone, gather around!"
Alice, Jane, and Esme distribute everyone's drink of choice as they assemble by the bonfire: beer, soda, or water for the humans and wolf pack, pints of donated human blood for the Volturi, and animal blood for the rest of us.
Edward faces the crowd, his palm grazing my lower back. "I want to make a toast to my Bella. It's hard to believe a few short years ago, I almost took her life. I didn't know what it meant to love then, but Bella showed me. We've been through so much to get here. Every moment with my precious mate is a gift that I will never take for granted. It's through Bella's efforts that all of you are gathered here in peace—human, wolf, and vampire—so on the second anniversary of her birth into immortality, I ask you to raise your glasses in her honor."
Glasses are raised among calls of "Here, here" and "To Bella."
The attention is embarrassing. I knew this party was in my honor, but I abhor attention as a vampire just as much as when I was human.
"Speech!" Jacob yells, grinning.
I glare his way before turning to Edward with a soft look and caressing his cheek. "To my Edward, who gave me something worth fighting for, not to mention saving me from a face full of wrinkles." Laughter breaks out, and I wait for it to subside. "I'm the luckiest woman in the world. I have the love of my existence at my side, an amazing extended family, and good friends. Even though I let Edward talk me into this celebration, I really did it for all of you. Look around—we have humans, wolves, vampires, and even a few Volturi gathered together. I know many of you were nervous, but I thank you for coming in spite of your misgivings. My visions have shown that our unusual alliance will benefit us all in the future. And so I raise my glass to all of you!"
Glasses clink and the murmur of conversation starts up again.
Edward leans in close to my ear. "What visions?"
"Bella . . . you promised."
I smile. "There's nothing to tell . . . yet. You'll be the first to know."
Edward wraps me in his arms. "No secrets."
Music fills the air, and I snuggle close to Edward, my head on his chest. We'll face whatever challenges come our way together, but in this moment, life is perfect.
A/N: First of all—yes, there is a possibility of a sequel. I don't promise one, but there's a strong chance. I won't consider it before I finish my other stories. Keep me on author alert if you're interested in a sequel or reading my other stories.
I Saw You Coming was my first multi-chapter story and will always hold a special place in my heart. I met so many of you through this story, which makes it even more special. There are too many of you to thank without forgetting someone, so let me just say thank you from the bottom of my heart to every reader who read, reviewed, recc'd, waited for the insanely long updates, and sent me PMs of encouragement. Those of you who did a little more than that . . . you know who you are.
Special thanks to my very first fanfiction beta, Ashley (I don't believe she's in fandom any longer, but she deserves a mention), and my second beta, Jess (who taught me a lot about grammar/punctuation). Love to Kathie (Katmom), who did not beta this story but betas a bunch of my other stuff—she's too awesome not to mention!
Endless thanks and appreciation to my beta and favorite English teacher, SassySue (chayasara). Not only does she edit all my fanfiction, but nothing I write goes out into the world before she (untangles) edits it.
Love to my awesome prereaders and friends, Keye and Sandy. Words escape me when I try to describe how much these two mean to me. You gals know . . . even though I suck at telling you. Special mention to Katsflowergirls, a longtime reader and friend who preread a few chapters.
To anyone I forgot (almost inevitable with me), my bad and please forgive me.
I have no intention of giving up fanfiction anytime soon, so I hope to see you on my other stories. Don't be a stranger!
Follow me on Twitter: at SaritaDreaming or at SarahAisling
Fanfiction blog: saritadreaming dot word press dot com