This is Edward and Bella's sequel to Prelude. It begins with their wedding and follows them through the honeymoon and beyond, mostly through Edward's POV. Hopefully, it will tie up all the loose ends left over from Prelude. You should be able to read it on its own, but I tend to exist in my own little Twi-universe, and all of my stories weave in and out of one another. So consider checking out my other stories posted on here while you wait for updates!
I never originally intended to write this story, but so many people have asked for it, I've been swayed. I do want to honor the other fan fiction authors that have told this story before me, and with such artistry that I've been in awe. My favorites are Vixen1836, KatieBelleCullen and LauraACullen. I have the utmost respect for Stephenie Meyer (who owns Twilight in all its glory, and who owns the characters I write about,) but to continue Prelude this story had to change, because all of the characters in Prelude changed as well. My intention is to keep all the good stuff, the stuff everyone asked me to write about, and to keep you guessing about the rest.
I never originally intended to write this story, but so many people have asked for it, I've been swayed. I do want to honor the other fan fiction authors that have told this story before me, and with such artistry that I've been in awe. My favorites are Vixen1836, KatieBelleCullen and LauraACullen.
I have the utmost respect for Stephenie Meyer (who owns Twilight in all its glory, and who owns the characters I write about,) but to continue Prelude this story had to change, because all of the characters in Prelude changed as well. My intention is to keep all the good stuff, the stuff everyone asked me to write about, and to keep you guessing about the rest.
Thousands of lights twinkled in the trees and ribbons were wound around the ancient cedars that lined the drive. Cars were parked along the winding road. The din of thoughts grew louder. For once in my existence I didn't want to block them out. I welcomed the thoughts of our guests today. I didn't want to miss a thing. I'd lived a century waiting for this day. In less than an hour, I would marry Isabella Swan and make her my own.
"The house looks lovely. And look at those flowers! They spared no expense, I'm sure."
"I've never seen Dr. Cullen so excited. He's always so calm. And his wife, too. How sweet."
"Bella is so lucky. Look at this place. She's set for life. And she gets to spend her life with Edward Cullen."
"I'm so happy for Bella, I can't wait to see her!"
But there was one voice that I searched for among all the rest.
Alice's ears had picked up the sound of Emmett's Jeep on the drive. I knew she was with Bella. From the direction of her thoughts, I could tell she was in the third floor bathroom. I listened as closely as possible for a sound I knew better than anything else on earth. And very faintly, amidst all the other noises in the house, I could make it out. A very faint, surprisingly steady, "thump thump, thump thump." Bella's heart. I concentrated on it as the house came in to view.
More ribbons and twinkling lights were wound around the railing leading up to the front door. Two enormous arrangements of orange blossoms, lilac, freesia and roses were perched on either side of the entrance. From inside the house came the calming strains of Bach's Prelude in C Major.
Emmett slapped my shoulder. "Are you planning on getting out of the car, Edward?" Suddenly I noticed that the Jeep had stopped, Jasper was standing next to the passenger door, and Emmett had his door open, waiting for me.
I felt a smile break over my face. "You couldn't keep me away from the house today if you tried, Emmett." I threw the car door open and almost hit Jasper in the process.
"No worries, Edward. I can tell you're a little jumpy. You want some help with that?" Jasper grinned.
"No thanks, Jasper. I want to feel everything today, all the excitement, the nerves… " But my voice trailed off. The sensation coursing through my body didn't have a name that I knew of, and I didn't want to belittle it with my attempt to explain it. But I felt it coming off of my body in wave after wave. If I didn't know better I'd mistake it for a heartbeat. It was the closest thing to alive I'd felt in over eighty years. Yes, Bella had brought me to life again.
And with that thought I wanted to see Bella, to hold her, and explain to her how she made me feel. I wanted to thank her for agreeing to this, for humoring me, for honoring me today. As my brothers and I walked up the drive to the house the feeling became stronger. I saw myself walking up the steps, then continuing up to the second, the third floor, possibly picking up Alice and moving her out of the way, closing the door behind me and taking Bella in my arms. She would be nervous. She'd want to see me. I could hold her small hands in mine, feel her warm fingertips on my lips, and kiss her one last time as Bella Swan.
No, Alice would have my head. And somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind I knew that I'd like to do this as traditionally as possible. I should wait.
"Emmett, you'll have to keep me from Bella. I won't be able to stay away on my own. And please, make it inconspicuous for our human guests."
Emmett's smile was unabashed. "Sure bro. I'll keep you in line. But after you're man and wife, you're on your own." He gripped my shoulder in his large hand and steered me toward the front door.
Emmett bent his head to hiss in my ear, loud enough for Jasper to hear, "There's a spot out back, just on the other side of the river. If you and Bella ducked back there later, no one would know."
Jasper and I both growled and I watched Emmett try to suppress his smile. "You don't let up, do you, Emmett? Trying to get an angle to win the bet even now?" Jasper teased.
But I was actually grateful for the thirty seconds of distraction. I was thirty seconds closer to meeting Bella at the altar.
We were about to mount the stairs when Rosalie ran through the front door and jumped into Emmett's arms. He pulled her in for a long kiss. The two hadn't seen each other for about eighteen hours, but by the sight of them, one might have guessed it was eighteen years.
A voice in my head told me that now was my chance. The path to the door was clear. "Emmett, I'll get away," I hissed in his ear.
Emmett swung Rose to the ground and with some effort, was able to disentangle himself. "Sorry babe, I've got a job to do." He clamped his hand back on my shoulder.
"Another one?" she pouted.
"I'm on Edward patrol. He doesn't want to see Bella before the wedding."
"Edward, I never thought I'd say this, but she looks beautiful! Just wait. Her hair is perfect! I did it." I took advantage of Rose's thoughts to admire Bella. She was still in her slip, a look of utter shock on her beautiful face as Rose offered to do her hair. Rose quickly realized her mistake. Her mind jumped to a picture of Emmett in his boxer briefs. "Ha!" she teased, smiling mischievously at me.
Then Rose turned to Jasper. "Jasper, you have a job to do as well. Alice needs you to go pick up Phil and Renee."
Jasper rolled his eyes. "If I didn't know better, I'd think she didn't want to see me."
Emmett shook his head. "Sometimes I just don't get that little pixie. Here, take the Jeep." Emmett threw Jasper his keys. Catching them easily in one hand, Jasper trudged back down the drive.
We finally made our way into the house and Carlisle and Esme met us on the landing. Esme wound her arms as far around Emmett as she could. "I could kill you for leaving us that way!"
"I don't think that's possible Esme," Emmett joked as he picked her off the floor with an enormous bear hug.
"Son, can we talk?" Carlisle asked Emmett.
"Uh, sure, Carlisle. Rose, can you take Edward if he tries to make a break for the stairs?"
"I'd be more than happy to tackle him in front of all these guests," she said sweetly, placing one last kiss on Emmett's lips.
It was the first time Rose and I had seen each other in four weeks. I didn't know where to begin.
We'd both started at the same time. We paused to smile awkwardly at one another. Things had never been easy between Rose and I. Out of all of my brothers and sisters, I think our relationship was closest to human siblings. Of course, most human siblings were never intended for one another like Rose and I were. It was no wonder that our relationship was a rocky one.
I took Rose's hands in mine. "Rose, there's something I wanted to say to you."
"No Edward, I have to talk with you."
"But, please --"
"Shh, Edward. Let me get this out, or I might never say it."
Rose took a second to straighten her dress and square her shoulders before looking me in the eye and smiling. "I've been unfair, Edward. I couldn't understand the love Bella has for you. But I get it now. It's more love than I could ever give, even to Emmett. If I had the choice, I couldn't…" Rose paused to look at the ground. She continued, looking intently at our feet. "So you better be good to her, Edward. You've been given an enormous gift." Rose peered up at me, her lips were pressed together and her eyes glowed amber in the evening light. It looked almost as if she might cry.
"No Rose, you're wrong. You just gave as much. I underestimated you. I never dreamed you would do half as much for Bella and I. I'm sorry I thought so little of you."
"I didn't give you any reason to think better of me."
"I'll never let them take you, Rose. You belong with us. You always have. Do you remember the first time we met?"
"Not really, I was human."
"In a room full of voices, yours came through loud and clear. It was the only thing that evening that stopped me from feeling sorry for myself."
"I'm sure I only distracted you in order to hate me."
"No, I was amused. Carlisle has always picked wisely, and you are certainly a singular being, Rose. He was right to choose you. I'm so grateful that he did."
I hugged Rose to me and laid my head against hers. I was sorry that in all these years I'd never said as much.
"Watch the hair!" Rose cautioned, pulling away from our embrace. I chuckled and pulled a few strands out of her elaborate up-do on purpose. "Hey!" she swatted at me.
But before Rose and I could torment each other further I felt a warm hand on my shoulder. "Edward." It was Charlie Swan.
"Charlie." I turned around and surprised the man with a hug. His body tensed immediately and I let him go. We both took an awkward step back. "You've met my sister Rose?"
Charlie had to raise his head to take in all of Rose. He smiled at her shyly. "Actually, I don't believe I have. Nice to meet you, Rose."
Rose ran a hand over her hair and smiled with a twinkle in her eye. She was as consistent as the first day I'd met her. "Chief Swan, can you keep an eye on Edward? We're trying to keep him from Bella. Thanks to him, I have to go fix my hair."
Rose didn't give Charlie time to answer. She left a little quicker than was humanly possible. Charlie's eyes went wide; he puffed his cheeks and released the air slowly through pursed lips. "Hmm, that sister of yours is… fast."
He shoved his hands in his pants pockets and rocked onto the balls of his feet. "This is it son. Are you ready to marry my little girl?"
I could feel the smile taking up my entire face. "Absolutely sir. I've never wanted anything more." It took a great deal of restraint to keep from hugging Charlie again, but I took pity on the man.
"And you'll take care of her --"
"Forever." I finished for him. "I won't leave her, ever. You can count on it."
"Thanks, Edward." He patted me on the back. I listened to Charlie's thoughts as he considered bringing up last night's Mariner's game. But then we saw Sue Clearwater walk cautiously through the front entrance, led by her son Seth. "Excuse me, son," Charlie said with some relief, walking quickly to meet the newest guests.
Voices and thoughts wove together, creating a tapestry in my mind. It was as if every stray thought and each uttered word coalesced to support Bella and I, lifting us up in celebration. I basked in it, reveled in the love I'd never believed I deserved. My feet felt like they were hardly touching the floor.
"He looks completely in love."
"They're always together."
"They're going away to college together back east."
"I heard her gown is hand-made, from France!"
"I hope the weather holds out."
"The whole family looks so happy."
"Did you see him in that tux?"
"How did they get the lights so high in the trees?"
"Such a mature thing for a young man to do. Gives me hope for the future."
I was literally shaken from my reverie as Seth Clearwater came bounding in my direction. The floorboards reverberated with each of his heavy steps.
"Edward, Charlie says to stay away from Bella." Seth gave me a strong hug that warmed me through my tux. "So did you give Alice her gifts? Did she like them?"
"Thank you so much for your help, Seth. We managed to surprise her. She had no idea."
"But I may have miscalculated with the trip to the desert. I don't think she could get Jasper back there for all the world."
"It turn's out he's already been to the Middle East… Seth, have you heard from…" I swallowed, unable to get the name out on my wedding day.
Seth's expression changed to one of apprehension and he reluctantly nodded his head.
"What have you --"
But I was interrupted by a clatter from the direction of the front door. We turned to see Eleazar and Carmen towing Billy Black and his wheelchair up the front steps of the house. Both vampires were grinning broadly, and Billy was tolerating their assistance with resignation.
Carmen and Eleazar held hands as they came to stand in front of the Quileute chief. "We understand you were a great help to our family in their time of need. We're in your debt," Eleazar murmured.
Billy nodded awkwardly. "Don't mention it." Carmen and Eleazar nodded their heads in parting before turning in my direction.
"Edward!" Carmen was quickly at my side. "I never thought I'd see this day!" she exclaimed, hugging me.
"No one is more surprised than I am, Carmen. I'd like you both to meet Seth Clearwater. Seth, these are my cousins Eleazar and Carmen."
Seth shook both of the vampires' hands enthusiastically. "Cousins, huh? Nice to meet you."
I enjoyed the look of shock and Carmen and Eleazar's faces. I'm sure they hadn't actually touched a werewolf in either of their long lives.
"Excuse me guys, I should go keep Billy company. See you later, Edward." Seth loped off in Billy's direction.
Eleazar recovered quickly and patted me on the back. "Look at you, Edward! It's so good to see you like this. You're not the same man. I told you that you would find your own way."
"I didn't find anything, Eleazar. Bella found what I needed. I would still be lost without her."
"I can't wait to meet this girl!" Carmen said, smiling warmly.
That was all the prompting I needed. I took Carmen's hand. "Come Carmen, I'll introduce you."
I turned to the stairs and felt two pairs of strong hands on my shoulders. "Not so fast, buddy," Emmett growled under his breath.
"Yes, Edward, I didn't mean right this second," Carmen said with a laugh.
Carlisle was suddenly in front of me on the stairs. "Son. Stay put. In just ten minutes no one will stand between you and Bella ever again."
Ten minutes? I froze in my place. Bella was about to be mine. I knew the moment I fell in love with Bella that this was what I wanted. But I never believed she would want me back. Even after I was certain of her love, she freely admitted that she had no desire to marry me. But somehow, here we were. Over the past month things had changed so much between us. Now she wanted this, she wanted to marry me, and I knew it. Finally, my every desire would be made manifest…
Carlisle took me gently by the arm. "Son, we have human guests. Try to move a little and blink," he thought at me.
I'd been frozen in place, deep in thought. I spotted two nurses from the hospital glancing at me suspiciously. I peered up at Carlisle. My father looked amused.
"Cold feet, son?"
"No, something else entirely." I felt the ever-present smile reclaiming my face, and exhilaration and triumph consuming my heart.
"Thump thump, thump thump." The sound of Bella's heart was getting louder upstairs. I wondered if the humans would be able to hear it soon. I clasped Carlisle's arm.
Carlisle beamed back at me. It was possibly the happiest I'd seen him since he married Esme.
"Let's go find Rose," Emmett said, steering Carmen and Eleazar into the growing crowd.
"Son…" Carlisle put his hands on my shoulders. "I've never been more joyful than I am today. Over the years you've fought yourself tooth and nail. Now, to see the man you've become… I'm so grateful that my entire family can finally live in a state of peace and contentment."
"Thank you, father."
"Thank you, Edward, for believing in yourself enough to bring Bella into all of our lives."
Esme was suddenly at Carlisle's side and she wrapped her arms around his waist. She was so excited that she seemed to be vibrating. "There are no words for how happy I am today, Edward." She practically bounced over to me and took my chin in her hand, smiling fiercely.
"I've waited so long to see you this happy; my entire existence." She wrapped one arm around Carlisle and one around myself. "We both waited for this day, not always with the patience we should have. But we only wanted the best for you. Enjoy the day Edward, it's been a long time coming."
"Oh, this is beautiful! Alice is a genius! The flowers… the ribbons… the satin on the seats. I can't wait to see her! My baby, getting married! I hope I don't cry before the wedding even starts!" I turned my head toward the sound of Renee Dwyer's thoughts. When she saw my parents and I, Bella's mother rushed over, leaving her husband Phil standing awkwardly with Jasper.
"Dr. & Mrs. Cullen, this all looks so beautiful. Thank you so much for having the kids' wedding here!"
"Please," Carlisle said, "it's Carlisle and Esme."
"I know, I know. You two are so much younger than I am, but I always feel like a child in comparison for some reason. Edward!" Renee gave me a quick hug and then stepped back to look me over. "I have one lucky daughter."
"Edward, you look so handsome, and so happy." My smile grew impossibly bigger. If I were human the muscles in my face may have hurt by now. "Have you seen my daughter?"
Carlisle grinned, "We're doing everything in our power to keep that from happening, Renee. Alice's orders. She wants everything perfect, including the groom not seeing the bride before the wedding."
"Oh, of course. I wasn't thinking. Where is she?"
"I could take you there," I offered with a grin. Carlisle encased my arm in his iron grip.
"She's in the third floor washroom, Renee. Here, let me show you the way," Esme offered.
"Finally, I'll get to see the little human that Edward wants to play house with." I recognized the owner of the thoughts immediately. Two sets of footsteps came quicker than humanly possible up the drive.
"Stand by me, Kate."
"We must find Carlisle right away."
"It's Tanya and Katrina," I whispered to my father. We turned to see the two walk through the door. Katrina wore an enormous smile, and Tanya's face was arranged in an impassive mask.
Tanya was murmuring in Kate's ear. "It's always a production with our cousins. Kate, don't you think this is a bit --" Tanya's eyes met mine and she stopped mid-sentence. I saw a flash of brightness in her eyes, but nothing else gave her away outwardly. "Oh, my. I was wrong. He's radiant."
"Kate, I just can't. Please go say hello for me." With that Tanya ducked into the kitchen, out of sight.
Kate ran to meet Carlisle and I and threw her arms around me. "I'm so happy for you Edward!"
"Carlisle, we're so sorry we didn't come last month. We should have been here."
"Of course. But it can wait until tomorrow. Today is about celebrating my son and his soon-to-be wife."
"She's his mate. I can see it. Poor Tanya."
"I'm so happy to see you Edward. And I'm curious to see your… mate." The last word was forced out with some difficulty. I felt for Kate, who was obviously so glad for me, but was struggling to hide her conflicting emotions.
"As am I, Kate. I can't wait to see her."
I heard Tanya's thoughts drift toward me from the kitchen. "No, I won't believe it until I see her, until I see them together."
"It won't be long now, son. I should probably start to get people seated," Carlisle offered.
Just then, Bella's voice carried down the stairs, only loud enough for the vampires in attendance to hear. "Mom, dad… you shouldn't have." She sounded near tears. The three of us turned in the direction of Bella's voice and I took a step toward the stairs.
"She's fine, son," Carlisle said soothingly, tightening his grip on my arm.
I noticed movement around me. Guests were finding their places, settling in their seats. Rose was suddenly seated at my piano, surprising me again. I'd had no idea she was planning to play.
"Thump thump, thump thump." I could hear Bella's heart accelerating. I saw a quick vision of Alice pushing a garter up Bella's leg. My heart leapt into my throat.
"Keep out of my head, Edward. You should know better."
"Edward?" I turned to see Angela shyly edging up to Kate and I. "Edward's whole family is just as intimidating as he is!"
Her father, Reverend Webber had his hand on her shoulder a bit protectively. "Good to see you, son."
I shook his hand and he jumped slightly with my touch.
"Edward, I'm so happy for you and Bella. This is just so beautiful, and romantic, and…" Angela ended by shaking her head, at a loss for words.
"I know, Angela. I've been somewhat speechless myself."
"Son, we should get in our places," Reverend Webber advised.
Angela's father and I walked down the aisle to take our place. I somehow felt more aware in this moment than I ever had before in my vampire existence. Time broke itself down into fractions of milliseconds so that I could absorb even more than I was usually able to. Each footfall, each whispered aside, the light in my mother's eyes, Renee's hushed sobs, the strains of Pachelbel's Cannon echoing off the high ceilings, the odd fluttering in my chest, the pressure of Carlisle's hands as he clasped them over mine, the scent of each individual flower in the canopy over my head.
I looked at my family seated in the front row. Esme was clutching Emmett's hand for support. Jasper raised an eyebrow in my direction and I shook my head. I didn't want this feeling dulled.
"Thumpthump, thumpthump, thumpthump, thumpthumpthumpthump."
"Focus, Bella. Edward is waiting for you down there."
"Thumpthumpthumpthump, thumpthump, thump thump, thump, thump."
"Yes, Edward. Okay."
And then Bella's scent wafted down through the stairwell, stronger and sweeter than all of the flowers surrounding us. The scent that drove me mad, nearly undid me, and then put me back together again better than before. The piano easily transitioned to Wagner's wedding march. My family and friends took to their feet.
"Don't let me fall, Dad."
I heard Bella's footsteps on the stairs. My dream was becoming reality.
I know this is really just a teaser chapter, but a kind review would help get the next chapter out quicker! m