Chapter 8: Building an Album 2 years later April, 2011
"You are sure this is what you want?"
The four of us glared at J. Jenks until he relented and let us sign the final papers. We now had Power of Attorney, as well as Medical PoA, for one another. Bella and I were named legal guardians of Cara, Kailey, Chase, and Abigail Rose should they require it, as Bella and I named Emmett and Rosalie guardians of Anthony Charles, our little bundle of joy who arrived three months ago.
Our loft was on the market and we bought an adjoining piece of property to Rosalie and Emmett's. Esme had her crew out to build it; the walls were mostly in place. Bella had found a new position at the Waldorf school in Milwaukee and I was actually teaching private piano lessons as well as music history at UWM. We put the wheels in motion for this shortly after Bella and I discovered we were pregnant with our son.
Bella and I had just left the sonographer's office, ultrasound images in hand, and were on our way home to call Emmett and Rosalie. Bella immediately collapsed on the couch and I settled into my chair, phone ready to be dialed. She looked over at me, an odd expression on her face.
"Edward, I don't want to live apart from them anymore. Maybe it is just the hormones or maybe it is just me finally deciding that I am ready. I want to move near Milwaukee."
I checked my watch and saw that Rosalie would not be home for another hour. I quickly packed sandwiches and some carrot sticks into a cooler bag and then coaxed Bella into putting her shoes back on. We ended up at Emm and Rose's just after they had finished dinner.
Subtlety was not my strong point that night. "We want to move to Milwaukee. We love you, we want to live here near the five, err six of you" My eyes flitted to Rose's baby bump. "Do you think you can handle having us live closer? Oh, and by the way, we're having a baby."
Bella's eyes shone with happy tears, our hands clasped together, as we faced our future. She looked to Rose and Emmett, adding a condition to our situation. "I want us to get married, not legally, but in sacred space. I want this to be permanent."
"Bella, are you proposing to me?" Emmett's face was split nearly in half with his grin.
Rose smacked him in the arm. "She's proposing to us, you big oaf." Her arms went around both of us, her back arched so that we could hug without squashing her stomach.
That very night we began planning out our future. Rosalie had a good head for law and began researching our options. Emmett contacted a farmer with land backing up to the McCarty's property and we had a parcel split off of it. The four of us worked with Esme to draw up plans for Bella's and my new home.
We left Jenks' office, several envelopes in hand, and returned home. Home was currently Emmett and Rose's house. They did not see the point in us rearranging our loft to make a nursery when they still had Abby's set up. TC, Emmett had shortened Anthony to Tony and then to T for Tony and C for Charles, would not know the difference between a brown and pink room versus the blue and gold one I had planned for him until well after he was in the nursery at our neighboring home.
Jasper's pickup was nestled in beside the Jeep, and I barely had the car stopped when four bodies came spilling out of the truck. Jasper was holding Rhiannon, the ultimate Daddy's girl. She'll be two this summer and is going to be one of the "flower faeries" at our hand-fasting.
We are finally making our relationship spiritually official to our community by going back to where it all began. At this year's PSG, we'll be hand-fasted in the childcare center. It is not a conventional ritual space, but we cannot imagine a better place for our nuptials.
Last summer, we went to PSG despite Bella's morning sickness. We set up our tent next to childcare, behind Rose and Emm's pop-up, helped coordinate the center, and otherwise be glorified babysitters so that other parents could have some child free time at the festival. One night while camping, we exchanged rings, giving our vows in private, just the four of us, while our children, for we truly count Emmett and Rose's children as our own after the time together, slept soundly in their beds.
After Alice climbed down, Maria slid out from the cab. She ran for Bella who was getting TC out of the back. Her hair was still cut short, yet her face seemed more relaxed than it had in the previous years we had known her. She was finally home for good.
Maria had met Emmett and Rose when she was home on leave roughly eighteen months ago. Having all of our close friends within driving distance, everyone being happy, was enough to make my heart soar. Rose looked on with amusement as Maria practically lifted Bella off the ground in a hug. Rose went around back and finished unhooking TC from his car seat before bringing him over to me, her nose wrinkled as she came closer.
"Here, Daddy. Someone needs a diaper change."
I did not even bother asking her to do it. We would have our same argument that I had missed out on their first three, so I still have some diapers to make up on before she will help when I am available. Rose backs down from no chance at busting my balls, but she is also the first to hand me a cup of coffee and give me a shoulder rub when I have had a rough day at school and am up late grading papers.
Bella has absolutely blossomed as a mother. There is a bounce in her step, despite our sleepless nights, that was not there before. The school had no problem letting her off for the entire semester after her blood pressure increased and our OB suggested she start her maternity leave early. TC will be around eight months old before he is handed off to Emmett from eight until noon each day. As hard as I know it will be for Bella to leave our son for even a few hours, we could not ask for a better caregiver. Emmett looks after TC as if he is one of his own, which I guess is only right given our relationship.
Cara, and Kailey refer to Bella and I as Aunt and Uncle. To Chase and Abby Rose we're Mom and Dad, even though we never asked nor encouraged it. The names just happened and after several hours of talking amongst ourselves, a phone call to Irina to ensure we weren't going to cause any overt problems since they knew who their "real" parents were, we gave in and allowed the children to name us as they saw fit.
Chase had some issues when he started second grade last year. Rose had just given birth and was still in the hospital. Seeing as the school had me listed as a guardian in his parents' absence, I went in. Calling me "Dad" ostracized him, to a degree, with his classmates, many of whom did not have one father in their daily life, let alone two. Chase however, saw it as a blessing he was happy to brag about. In turn, Emmett taught him how to block a punch. I worked with him on how to run very quickly without tripping over his own feet.
Jasper came over to our gathering holding a large envelope tucked under one arm. He handed Rhiannon off to Alice and then began spinning the envelope by two of the corner points. Jasper looked like the cat who caught the canary.
"So, this was in your mailbox at home. I was talking to Marcus about the anthology on polyamory that Volturi Brothers Publishing was sending out contracts on. He told me that I might want to pick up your mail and bring it today."
Bella reached forward to grab the envelope but he held it up overhead, easily out of her reach. He forgot about Emmett who plucked it from his hands without stretching. Emmett handed it to Bella who opened it, her smile growing as she read each line.
"I'm. Getting. Published! They picked Snapshots!"
Emmett and Bella had taken a photography class together while she was pregnant. There were thousands of photos from our daily life. We mixed those shot during their class with photos we had taken in our three years together and made a time line of our relationship. I had written my memories of those days and Bella then turned them into a story.
Several were literally lying on the floor for weeks as she and Emmett worked on editing and printing the photos from our new computer. They chose the seven moments which truly defined our relationship and submitted them under the title Snapshots of Polyamory. The seven photos are put together in a row in the hallway here. One of my favorite stories Bella left on on the cutting room floor was a several page note from Rosalie about the first time she and Bella made love without Emmett or me present.
The image was taken from over Bella's head, the camera haphazardly balanced on the headboard while Rose's chin was resting on Bella's stomach. Nothing was visible except the flat plane of Bella's abdomen, Rosalie's face- softened by her lust, with a sensuous smile upon her lips. The photo was in black and white although Bella had gone in and restored color to Rosalie's eyes. We have a copy of it framed in the bedroom here, a second printed for our bedroom when the house is ready.
Our lives were coming together in a new way, one I had never expected. It all began with Alice's kiss. I turned to Alice who had her daughter perched on her hip. Rhiannon looked just like Jasper but had Alice's deep brown eyes, almost black, and the ethereal nature which just shone through. Our kids, those old enough to have an opinion, were fairly certain that fae blood ran in Alice's veins. Honestly, I'm pretty sure they're right.
When I turned to thank Alice, she just smiled and mouthed, "I know. You're welcome."
Emmett looked between us and then shrugged. He never understood the bond between Alice and me, and had long since given up the attempt. His hand slid into my back pocket as we all walked up the sidewalk to our home.
We will have our messy moments. There will be struggles and arguments. But we will walk the path together. At the end of our lives, our photo albums will be filled with love.