A/N: Happy Mother's Day to all your moms out there! Let's just get to it...here we go!
SM owns all things Twilight!
***Ten Years Later***
"Kate, Elyse, Matt, Chris…let's go!" I called.
"Coming, coming…geez, take a chill pill dad," Katie said in her 'typical' teenage tone as she came down the stairs.
"I like your costume," I told her. That got a smile out of her.
"Thanks! Bella helped Elyse and I coordinate."
On cue, Elyse appeared at the top of the stairs and began to descend. Sure enough she was the Betty that complimented Kate's Wilma.
"Like my black wig, My Edverd?" Elyse asked. "I kind of like it. Do you think mom would let me dye my hair this color permanently?"
"I think it is safe to say that your mother would kill you if you dyed your blonde hair black, so you might want to consider sticking to wigs if you want to change it up every so often," I told her.
"I'd kill her for what?" Bella said as she walked into the foyer from the kitchen.
"Nothing," Elyse and I said at the same time.
She eyed us both suspiciously before saying "Hmmm…whatever it is the answer is 'no' going by the looks on both your faces." Without even turning around and looking up, Bella called out "Matthew…Christopher…if you slide down that banister you will be spending the next two weekends raking leaves at Grandma and Grandpa Cullen's house, and you know how much property they have!"
"Aw man! " Chris said.
"How does she do that?" Matthew whined.
"I've got eyes in the back of my head, plus a great memory for past behavior," she said as she walked over to me and wrapped her arm around my waist as I wrapped mine around her shoulder. "Go get in the car, I'll be right out."
When all the kids were out the door into the garage I turned Bella towards me. "You are still not going to tell me what your costume is?" I asked her.
"Where would be the fun in that? It's been so long since Alice and Jasper had a Halloween party and I want both our costumes to be a surprise."
"Okay, okay," I conceded. "Go head over to their house to get ready with Alice and Rosalie and I'll be over in a bit. Are you sure you don't want me to drop the girls at their friend's house and the boys at my parents'?"
Bella wrapped her arms around my neck and stood on her tippy toes to kiss me. "Nah, it's okay…both stops are on the way."
I smiled and bent down to meet her half way. Even after all these years I still adored her and couldn't imagine spending my life with anyone else.
"See ya later," she said as she grabbed the garment bag that held her costume from the coat closet, and her purse from the entry way table, and headed out to the car.
I wandered back upstairs to make use of the little time I had before I headed over to my brother's house for the party. I stopped in front of my closet door and then walked inside. I reached up to a box set up on the top shelf and pulled it down. Inside was my costume. I hoped to God it still fit. I was still in great shape, and hadn't really gained much weight after all these years, but one could never tell.
"Oh well…here goes nothing."
"Bella! You look amazing!" Alice shrieked from across the kitchen. The small crowd that had already gathered while I was upstairs finishing getting ready with Rosalie turned to stare at me. Geez…talk about feeling self conscious…thanks Alice!
"You really do look great, Bella", Rosalie said as she came up from behind and linked her arm with mine. "Edward is going to jizz himself."
"Has anyone ever told you that you should have been a poet, Rose? You seriously have an eloquent way with words," Alice said as she sipped her Appletini.
"Bite me, pixie", Rosalie said with a smirk and wink of an eye as she reached over, took Alice's drink, and walked away.
Alice and I looked at each other and started to laugh. "Between her and Emmett I don't know how Alec and Bree don't curse like sailors," Alice said.
"What about my kids?" Emmett said as him and Jasper walked into the kitchen to refill their drinks. "Were they arrested again?"
"Well seeing that they are seven and five, I would hope not," Jasper said laughing.
"They are my kids," Emmett countered.
Jasper pretended to think about this for a second before nodding. "True, very true," he said as he playfully nudged his brother in the shoulder.
"Paul, Leah and Seth were so excited to go over to Carlisle and Esme's tonight," Alice said. "I think it was super nice of your parents to have a little Halloween party for all the grand kids tonight so we could have our adult party here," she said, directed towards Jasper.
"My parents love having the kids around. Anything that gives my mother an excuse to throw a party is like Christmas Day to her," Jasper said. "The girls went to their friend's house?" he asked me.
"Yes. You know how teenagers are. Their friends are their whole lives," I replied. Everyone nodded in agreement.
Looking around at my friends…my family…it was hard not to see how far we had all come in our personal lives since Edward and I first got together about eleven years ago. During that time our girls, Katie and Elyse, had grown into teenagers. Elyse was in her last year of middle school and Katie was in her first year of high school. The boys were now ten years old and in elementary school. Shortly after we had Chris and Matthew, Rosalie and Emmett got pregnant with their first son Alec. A couple of years later, they welcomed their daughter Bree. Alice and Jasper had the most difficult time of all of us trying to conceive. It took years of trying to get pregnant and fertility treatments before Alice finally became pregnant with twins Paul and Leah. They tried again for a third child a couple of years later but were not having success. Alice couldn't go through the fertility process again, and the unfortunate miscarriages, so eventually they decided to adopt. When their twins had just turned five, little Seth arrived. He was the most beautiful baby and fit into their family like he was always meant to be.
"Hey, where's Edward?" Emmett asked.
"Good question. I was just thinking the same thing," I said. "I'm going to go walk around and look for him. It's starting to get crowded now so he may have gotten caught talking to someone when he got here."
I picked up my drink off the counter and walked into the living room. Scanning the room I searched for Edward. There were a lot of people by now and half of them were wearing masks. How the heck was I going to be able to find him when I had no idea what he was wearing? Edward didn't seem like a "wear a mask" kind of guy. I mean when you are that hot why would you want to cover up your face? But really…who knew what he decided to wear.
"Come on, let's dance!" Alice said as she grabbed my hand and dragged me and Rosalie into the middle of the living room, which had been cleared out of all furniture to create a makeshift dance floor.
I resigned to the fact that Edward wasn't here yet, so I gave in and started dancing with the girls. Others joined us on the floor and soon the room was packed and we were all lost to the music, having a great time.
After what felt like a long time I slipped my cell phone out of the little pocket that was sewn into the back of my dress and checked the time. It was almost 9:30 and I knew Edward should be here by now. The fact that he hadn't come over to me on the dance floor made me worried that he had never made it here.
"I'm going outside for a minute to use my phone," I told Rosalie.
She just nodded and I made my way through the crowd, into the kitchen, and out the back door. The cool October air hit my face and felt great since I was sweating from the dancing and body heat inside. I scrolled through my phone until I found Edward's name and hit send. As soon as my phone started ringing in my ear, another started ringing from somewhere out in the yard. My head snapped up immediately because I'd know that ringtone anywhere.
I lowered my phone but didn't disconnect as I stepped off the back porch. As I made my way across the lawn, I couldn't help the smile that started to sweep across my face when I realized that I was making my way towards Alice and Jasper's gazebo. Just when I was about fifteen feet away a dark figured stood up slowly. A puff of smoke was exhaled and a cigarette was sexily flicked over the side. He was still in the shadows so I couldn't see him completely, but I knew it was my man.
"What's with the cigarette? I asked. I heard, rather than saw Edward chuckle.
"Nothing gets past you, huh? I was just setting the scene. You know it's been years since either of us have had a social smoke. I bummed it from some guy who was outside when I got here." I smiled as he chuckled again.
Then suddenly everything got serious and even though I couldn't fully see Edward, the sizzle in the air was definitely felt.
"Looks like we both had the same idea," he said in a sultry voice.
"Oh? And what might that be?"
With that Edward took two steps forward into the spot of light emanating from the back porch and I didn't know whether to burst out laughing or fall to my knees drooling and panting. My guy still had it. He was looking fiiiine!
Edward was wearing the very same outfit he had worn the first night we met over eleven years ago at this very same party, in this very same spot. He was in his Phantom of the Opera styled costume, half mask in place, making his look mysterious and sexy as hell as just half of his face was exposed, accentuating his luscious lips.
And not only was he…so was I.
"You look…there are no words, Bella. You look just like you did the night we first met. If not better," he told me.
I was wearing the same itty bitty Snow White costume that Alice had squeezed me into all those years ago. I was still young, I knew that, but after having the boys, and getting a little older, there were definitely times when I didn't always feel great about my body. Knowing I wanted to wear this costume tonight really motivated me to hit the gym over the last couple of months, and I won't lie, I was feeling really great about myself when I finally tried it on last week and it fit. I definitely wouldn't have been wearing it if the kids were here, but they weren't and I wanted to flirt hardcore with my husband tonight.
"Oh, I don't know about all that," I said. "I was so afraid this wasn't going to fit. I mean, I have had three kids; two of which I had since the last time I wore this."
Edwards walked over to the steps that led up to the gazebo and held his hand out to me. I walked the remaining distance and took his hand as I walked up the steps to him.
"You look incredible, Baby," he said as his hands wrapped around me and slid down to my backside where they settled. "If I recall from that night the only time that costume looked better was when it was laying on the floor later that night. And trust me," he whispered as he leaned down to talk into my ear, "this night is no exception…on either of those points."
He gave my ass a squeeze and pulled me into him to accentuate the point, and my breath hitched. Just then the DJ switched to slow music and we instantly started to sway to the melody of the song. Edward leaned his face towards mine and gave me a deep, slow, passionate kiss rendering me paralyzed under his spell. He just had this magic surrounding his aura where even just the slightest touches from him made me feel as though I could ignite a thousand fires. With Edward by my side, I knew I could do anything…we could conquer the world. I chucked slightly at the corny thought breaking our beautiful moment.
"What's so funny," Edward asked with a bright smile across his face. "Laughter, though I love hearing it come from you, wasn't the expression or mood I was going for while kissing you just now."
That made me snicker even more, I inched back from him a bit, which made Edward's smile turn into some smile-frown. The lost, little boy look on his face was absolutely priceless, I burst out laughing, covering mouth with my hand.
"I'm sorry, babe," I chuckled. "I was just thinking of something while we were kissing. I couldn't help it." I placed my hands on his chest, looked up at my handsome husband and smiled. I even batted my eyelashes for good measure.
"So it's come to this. After 11 years, instead of getting you all hot and wet, bringing you to your knees, my kisses make you…laugh," Edward quipped. He smiled slightly, but I knew he actually thought that he couldn't turn me on at the drop of a hat.
Stupid, silly man!
"Edward," I started, taking his beautifully chiseled face in my hands. His eyes met mine. "Let me make one thing absolutely crystal clear. You have always and will continue to make me weak at the knees, all hot and wet. In fact, I don't think you will ever fully understand the power you have over me. I am yours, forever. "
"So why were you laughing?"
I sighed, turning my eyes from his, not really wanting to tell him the reason. It was silly, thus the reason for my laughter. "I had a fleeting thought about you and me. I was silly and it made me chuckle a little. It had nothing to do with your sexual affect over me."
"Well, I'm all ears. I'd like to know what's going on in that pretty head of yours. I can't read minds, you know," Edward reached to tilt my chin up so we could lock eyes again. "Nothing you can ever say to me will sound silly."
"I… I was just thinking about the first night I met you," I started, my heart beginning to beat faster. "Never, never in a million years, Edward, did I think I would end up where I am now…sharing this most incredible life with you. Ever since we've been together, I feel more powerful, like some superhero who can conquer anything…and that's all because of you. You have given me the strength to forge through the toughest of times when I thought there wasn't any hope for me. With you by my side, I feel as though I have some higher purpose and that has made me feel so protective of the ones I love…so much that I have this overwhelming feeling to shield all of our loved ones from any type of harm." I felt my face heat up something fierce. It had to have been the color of a tomato. Edward's hand was now cradling my cheek so I couldn't move. The best I could do was avert my eyes from his.
"Bella…" he whispered softly.
"It's a silly thought, I know," I stated. I brought my eyes back to his again, determined to finally tell him just how much of an impact his presence in my life has made on me. I placed my hand on his hand that was touching my face. "Edward, I was so broken when I met you all those years ago. I was lost but couldn't really come to terms with my feelings because I had a little girl to take care of. I had a responsibility to my child and I wanted to make sure that I was the best mother I could be.
So that basically meant pushing whatever feelings or frustrations aside for the sake of Elyse. I didn't ever want her to see me sad or angry and ever have her question if she was the reason for it. I didn't ever want her to see that I was barely making ends meet…I never wanted her to feel badly if she didn't have the latest Barbie doll or Disney toy. I didn't want her to think I was less of a mother because of how and where we lived. I didn't want her to see me suffering emotionally, so I hid my feelings. I resigned to the fact that I was never going to get to live in my own fairytale. I was convinced that in some sick way, the universe was punishing me for something I had done in a past life where I wasn't meant to have a successful life. I mean, I knew I was a good mom; I wanted to be the best mother I could be for Elyse. I knew it wasn't always going to be easy, but as long as Elyse was happy, then I could be too. But yet, there was always something missing as though my life's puzzle wasn't quite yet finished. There was a missing piece. But still I kept on methodically living my life like someone on autopilot- wake up, feed baby, go to work, come home, feed baby, go to bed…next day, repeat. The universe was making me pay for my past decisions, so I was compliant.
"Don't get me wrong, I have no regrets about any past decisions, how can I when they brought me Elyse? That would have been completely awful of me to have wished her away. I had Elyse so fuck the fairytale, right? Maybe I wasn't supposed to get anymore out of life and I would have to experience it on my own." I shrugged, giving him a pathetic little side smile.
"Bella, baby…" Edward said, crushing me in a strong embrace. I wrapped my arms around him as tightly as I could. I need to get this all out because I didn't think I ever fully explained what his presence in my life meant to me.
I wiggled out of his arms, taking his hand and leading him to the bench in front of the gazebo where we had our very first conversation as complete strangers. Edward could see the determined look on my face. He was supporting me no matter what was about to come out of my mouth. It was one of the many reasons why I truly loved this man.
"Continue, please," Edward softly instructed, his hand resting on my knee.
I started right in again, "Well, then Alice begs me to go to her Halloween party in the midst of my inner ranting about my life not really having any true meaning outside of Elyse. And since she was my best friend, how could I disappoint her? So I went, and you obviously know the rest," I elbowed my man in the stomach lightening up the mood a little and getting him to let out a hearty laugh.
"I most certainly do remember the rest of that night," he winked.
"Edward, the reason why I am telling you all this is because I don't think I ever truly thanked you for saving me that night."
"Saved you?" My poor husband looked so confused.
"Yes, saved me. I was convinced that I didn't deserve anything good to happen to me. But then we shared the most incredible night and that's when I knew."
"That I was deserving of something better, but before that night, I just hadn't known that yet. You made me believe in the fairytale again. So even if our paths had never crossed again, if someone like you could fall for someone like me, then there was hope for me yet. Hope, Edward. You gave me hope. And that same hope brought me you again when we ran into each other at the day care. From that, everything has been a whirlwind of magical moments that I will forever keep in my heart. You have given me strength; you have given me the courage to face any challenge in my path. You have given me the true meaning of family. Together we have raised Katie and Elyse to be fine, young women and we created Chris and Matt. I couldn't imagine a more perfect life, babe. Thank you and I love you…more than you will ever know."
I was finished. I said all that I wanted to say without sounding like some lunatic. I needed to let him know how jaded and flawed I was before he sauntered into my life. If I have to, I will spend the rest of my life trying to make him feel just how grateful I am to have him in my life.
Edward pulled my body towards him, crushing his lips with mine. Our kiss was deliberately slow and passionate. We were both emanating our love and gratitude for one another into this kiss. There would be many more moments like this to come and I knew that our love making tonight would be one of the most passionate experiences we had ever shared together. This man who I was kissing brought me back from the dead. He gave me the missing puzzle pieces of my life, making me whole. He was my very own knight in shining armor. He brought me my fairytale.
The universe really did like me. It wasn't playing some cruel joke on me. Rather, it waited for just the right time to send me the most amazing "Beautiful Stranger."
A/N: First and foremost we have to thank our beta dolphin62598! She has given us her time so freely over the last few years and we can't appreciate her enough. Even though we haven't had a chance to meet her in person yet, we both consider her a friend for life and just wanted to express how thankful of her we are! xo
We also wanted to thank each and every one of you who have either been with us from the beginning, joined in mid-story, or are newcomers. Without all your support, and yes…sometimes criticism…all of the hours spent writing would have been for nothing. We are readers just like you, who decided to give this writing thing a shot. It was definitely a lot harder than we ever originally could have imagined. Time was not always on our side and we apologize for the delays between chapters towards the end of this story, but just know we have read every single comment and review that was ever left and took everything you guys had to say to heart.
This fandom is truly so special, as it has brought so many new friends into our lives, introduced us to people we would have probably never had a chance to meet, and it is something we will never forget.
This has been an incredible journey for both Holly and I and we will never forget it. We are still on facebook and twitter so please feel free to reach out and chat with us whenever. We are unsure if we will write another story yet, but even if we don't we are still so happy to be a part of this fandom as readers. Some of the best stories we have ever read were Twilight fan fictions so to be even a tiny part of this fandom and community is something that we both feel honored about.
Till we meet again…
Pauline & Holly