Thank you for everyone who has read and loved this story. I want to apologize for making you wait so long, it's just that I love this story more than any of the other stories I have written (or am currently writing) and I had no idea how I wanted this to end. This was my first... my baby. Thank you for reading it when you had so many other amazing choices to go with. Lastly... if you reviewed and loved this story... please know I always took into consideration the input you bestowed upon me.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. CC
ps: here is the house http:/www(dot)marthas-vineyard-real-estate(dot)com/propertydetail(dot)php?id=154#
I had a strong feeling about the baby sleeping in my arms. I had a feeling he was going to be the one to give Edward and I a run for our money.
Connor was only six months old, but he was a world more demanding than either Ethan or Emma ever were. Edward and I were constantly in a fit of laughter over the facial expressions we would receive from our little one when he was either tired or hungry.
"Mom, can we go now?" I cringed as Ethan's voice came through the room with a loud and irritated tone. I sneaked a peak at Connor and found him still sleeping but wearing a frown. I kissed his little head gently before turning to Ethan and giving him my "mom stare".
"Ethan, go and wait out in the living room! I will be down in just a moment." My words were low and soft but from the look on his face, he knew he messed up with that little stunt. While Ethan retreated, I got up from the rocking chair and grabbed the diaper bag from the corner.
We were going to the park, because in just six short hours we would all be on a plane to Cape Cod Massachusetts. After we arrived there, we would be loading Edwards recent purchase of a small plane and flying into Martha's Vineyard. So yes... we were going to the park in hope of exhausting Ethan to no end so that the flight to Massachusetts wasn't as painful as the flight to Seattle had been two months ago when we all went to visit Charlie for a long weekend.
As I entered the living room, I found both Emma and Ethan sitting on the couch waiting for me. Emma was reading her book while Ethan who being true to himself, had managed to find not just one...but all of his action toys that had been packed away neatly into our luggage. I felt my nerves flare up at the thought that he had more than likely destroyed the hard work I had done to reach them, but instead of yelling like I wanted to, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before speaking.
"Ethan... why did you go through the bags that I specifically told you not to touch? Those bags are for our trip, and I spent a great deal of time getting everything together so that no one would forget anything." I went ahead an opened my eyes to see what he had to say for himself, but before he could answer, Emma spoke up.
"I fixed it all momma... I folded everything and put it back the way you had it. Don't be mad, okay?" I felt tears prickling in my eyes at her words. Because they hurt me more than anything I had faced ever had. Emma had done something that I would have... or better yet had done when I was her age. My youth was spent cleaning up after other people's messes in hopes of making things pretty again. I was always the responsible one... I had to be. I realized then that being upset over that had been ridiculous... it was just a bag and it didn't have to be the immaculate masterpiece I had made it out to be. It was a bag with clothes that would be washed and pressed later. I was being ridiculous.
I went to the corner and placed Connor in his swing before going to my little girl and giving her a big hug and kiss. She was so much like me... it scared me sometimes.
"Sorry momma...I didn't mean to make you cry" Ethan's sad voice came through and I turned just in time to see him drop his head dejectedly as he wringed his little hands nervously. No doubt he was anxious because he felt that his actions had made me cry... and in turn had broken a golden rule that Edward had set out for him when he started school and having play dates. Rule number one was don't ever make a girl cry. Ethan was no doubt giving himself a very hard time about his mistake, and in truth, the sight of his nervous little face was quite saddening.
I sat down in between both Emma and Ethan and pulled them each into a hug silently for a moment, and when I had the words I wanted to say decided, I went ahead and broke the silence.
"What do you both say we all just forget about the last ten minutes and go enjoy the park! Daddy will meet us there and when we come home, we'll eat dinner and head straight to the airport and start our vacation"
Just as I had finished my little speech, the sound faint sound of the garage door closing met my ears.
Edward was home early.
In an instant, Ethan and Emma were off the couch and running through the kitchen in an attempt to get to him before the other could. I sat silently but with happiness coursing through me at the thought that he had come home early... he wanted to be with us at the park.
I saw my green eyed god walk through the garage side door with our own personal miracles in his arms. We watched each other as Ethan hung his head and continued his confession that was given on his own accord.
"...and then momma came down the stairs with brother and saw me playing with my toys that I got from the suitcase she packed and then she cried." I had to stifle a giggle at hearing Ethan's point of view of what happened. I watched Edward kiss his messy copper hair but he wasn't laughing.
"I think maybe your leaving something out, Ethan. What exactly made momma cry?" I just shook my head no to him though, I didn't want the kids to ever know or even have an idea about the kind of childhood I had. They were innocent and loved... the way children were supposed to be. Aside from that, they loved me, and in hearing anything that hurt me, I knew it wold hurt them too. Especially Ethan.
Edward saw my signal to not dig deeper and he obliged and began tickling Ethan and Emma in an attempt to get their minds off of what they had been talking about.
"Alright you two, go get in the car and buckle up so we can go to the park, I'm gonna help momma get Connor together and change, then we'll be on our way."
I got up to greet my husband and together we watched as the kids made their way out to the garage. They were half way out but then Emma spun around and tilted her head to the side and her curls fell along with it.
"What car are we taking?"
"Oh! Um, get in the Range Rover, we'll take that one to the park." Edward answered her.
I chuckled at the hilarity of it all. My life certainly was ideal these days... I may not have had the world growing up, but my husband made sure to give me everything I could ever want and more as an adult. I had a beautiful home, jewelry, clothes, cars, and just recently Edward bought me a house on Martha's Vineyard for our anniversary. But most importantly, he gave me a beautiful family.
Edward pulled me into his arms and kissed gently from my collar bone to my earlobe. "Why were you crying sweetheart?" I was in my happy place now... and I honestly couldn't remember what had set me off... nor did I want to. The past was the past and it was time to move on.
"Who knows, love, I'm still hormonal from that little guy sleeping peacefully over there." I kissed Edwards chest gently before going to pick up my little one who was resting peacefully in his swing. Before I could fully hold him though, Edward had swooped him from arms and was holding him securely to his body with a look of absolute peace.
"I love you, Connor." and with that we made our way to the garage and loaded into the Rover.
Emma and Ethan were in heaven right now, pure unadulterated heaven. Ethan had found a few friends from school that were at the park today, and Emma... well Emma had found Logan swinging and it just about made her entire year.
Rosalie was here with a few mothers she knew and we chatted a few moments, but for the most part, I spent my time with Edward. His schedule was absolutely demanding these days and these moments were few and far between. So as we watched the kids play at the park, and when he was blowing raspberry's on Connor's stomach, we caught up on each others days and made plans for things to do on the island.
I had only been to Martha's Vineyard once, and it was while we vacationed with Esme and Carlisle. Apparently having a place on the Vineyard was something all the Cullen's felt was necessary, because now that Jasper and Alice were married, they acquired a vacation home there as well. All the same though, I was anxious to get there, relax and eat some wonderful seafood. Aside from the food though, I was anxious for us all to be together and relaxing as a family.
"Mom and Dad offered to keep the kids for us when we wanted sometime for ourselves." I giggled at the tone he used as he said it... because there was only one thing we would be doing if we had any "time for ourselves".
"Well then is sounds like I have a few extra things I need to pack before we leave then..." I teased. However I wasn't expecting him to lean over and whisper, "I wouldn't bother packing anything to wear, love. I plan on enjoying every piece of your skin" he stopped to suck my earlobe gently then continued, "Some parts more thoroughly than others..."
Holly hell, was the park on fire or was it just me? Seriously... was I on fire? Because my skin felt like it was. I turned to Edward and his eyes were mischievous... he knew what his words had done to me, and I had no doubt that he was very pleased with himself for having coaxed that reaction out of me. Before I could give him any type of retort, he was leaning over and whispering into my ear once more. "I love you Bella... and I miss you. I can never get enough..." He kissed my cheek tenderly and stood before handing me Connor.
"It's already four thirty, sweetheart" He glanced at his watch then out to the play ground in search of the kids. "I'm gonna get Emma and Ethan, go ahead and get Connor settled and we'll have an early dinner before we hit the airport."
With a kiss to my lips and one to Connors hair, he was off to round up our kids. I had just placed Connor in the native carrier and secured it to my body and was gathering his blanket and bottle into the diaper bag when someone from behind me gently tried to get my attention.
"Excuse me... um... Bella? Is it?" I turned expecting to see Rosalie or one of the other mothers I had just met, but what I met was something entirely different. It was Tanya.
For a moment all I did was stare with a shocked and lost expression. My jaw may have even been hanging open, but I couldn't be sure. She looked different... but not entirely. Her eyes were still blue... but softer? I glanced down to see a tiny red headed baby sleeping in her arms. I was still taking in that image as she spoke once more.
"Is your name, Bella?" I stayed silent, for I was unable to form a coherent sentence in this moment.
"I'm terribly sorry. You looked like someone... I'm sorry." She had turned to leave then, and instead of letting her, I answered her question from just a moment before.
"I am... I'm Bella." she turned then and a few different emotions flickered across her face. The most prominent though, was shame.
We stood there for a moment in silence as I tried to understand what it was she wanted and she gathered what looked to be courage. I have no idea how much time passed, for all I knew it was only a few seconds, but eventually, she spoke again.
"I don't know if you remember me... I'm..." I stopped her there. "I remember you".
I wasn't sure what my tone sounded like, but I was going for calm. She simply nodded her head and took a breath before continuing.
"I saw you just now and I... well... I knew that I owe you an apology..." She paused only to kiss the small infant in her arms but kept her eyes there as she began again. "I... I know that I don't deserve it, nor do you even care, but... I am so sorry for what I did to you when you were pregnant"
I felt anger course through me at just the memory alone but as I watched her, m anger began to fade. "I can only really understand now just how sick and horrible that was..." She seemed to hold the small red headed baby in her arms closer, but kept going. "I was a different person back then, Bella... I was lost."
She met my eyes then but dropped them to the carrier around my body.
"Congratulations" she said cautiously. "You and Edward, I presume?" There was no poison in her voice, nor was there anything indicating pain. I simply nodded my head but did not speak.
"Two children... wow... congratulations, really."
"Three" I blurted out. I cradled Connor a bit closer as I said it and I was oddly aware of the pride that sounded in my response.
"Three" she echoed back with a smile.
"Well, I'll leave you to your baby, I saw you and... well... I just wanted to apologize. I'm sure this will be the only time I'll ever see you again... were going home tomorrow... so... you don't have to worry about seeing me again."
"Get away from my wife" I flinched at the voice that came up behind me. I turned to see Edward staring daggers at Tanya, and for a moment I was terrified that his anger would cloud his judgement. I turned to him then and placed my hand on his chest.
"I said leave!" he cut me off and his voice rose to an octave that caused Connor to jump in my arms. Edward must have felt it, because he took a deep breath, closed his eyes. I took this moment to tell him what happened.
"Baby, she was just apologizing... she wasn't causing any trouble" I whispered tenderly. I knew it wouldn't matter to him, and I was in no way defending her, I was simply telling him the truth.
"Edward" Tanya called out carefully.
I watched as he opened his eyes and how they hardened as he looked at her. That didn't seem to stop her though, because she pushed on.
"I can understand that you hate me and want me nowhere near your family... I respect that. I was just waiting for my husband and I saw Bella... I shouldn't have, but... I have been wanting to apologize to her for a long while now... to both of you."
I saw Edwards jaw clench and his hands ball into fists as he spoke. "Well I don't accept" His words were angry and cold. I watched him take in her appearance and only then did he notice the baby in her arms. Anger really does blind us.
He relaxed, but only minutely. His words were calmer now... but not nicer. "Is that your baby, Tanya?" She nodded her head and smiled proudly at the small bundle she held.
"Then you can understand how I will never forgive you for almost taking something that precious from Bella and I."
Instantly the pain from that horrible day came back to me. We had been so scared... Edward had been a mess and blamed himself. But the culprit was right in front of us now. Now I remembered why his anger and mine was justified.
"I live with that shame ever day of my life, Edward. It's a shame that came to be shortly after I was lucky enough to be blessed with Vanessa." She bit her lip and snuggled the baby closer, but Edward showed absolutely no emotion as she did it. Tanya looked up to see Edward watching her with as much content if not more than he had when he first walked up. She took this moment to make her exit.
"I was real messed up for a long time, Edward. More so than you could possibly even realize. I used you... I lied to you and I will live with that for the rest of my life. You were nothing but good to me, and I didn't deserve you for even a moment. I'm so sorry for having done that to you... to both of you."
Just then Ethan came barreling into Edwards leg and laughing uncontrollably. It broke Edward from his sour mood and me from the nervous wreck I had just been.
"Are we leaving now?" Ethan asked a bit winded and flushed in his cheeks. I smiled and nodded at his overzealous appeal for life and then began looking for Emma. I found her walking hand in hand with Logan toward us. She looked as if she were on cloud nine.
"Hi! Who are you?" Ethan asked as he observed Tanya as she stood quietly and uncomfortably to the side. I turned to see Tanya looking rather surprised at being addressed by what was obviously Edward's and my son. She blinked and looked between the two of them as she no doubt was taking in the complete similarities of the two of them.
"That's a stranger, Ethan. Let's go home" Those were the last words Edward would ever speak to Tanya, because in an instant, I was walking away from her form as Edward tucked me gently into his side and kissed my temple and Ethan and Emma ran to the car to get buckled in.
We didn't speak another word about that but I should of known better than to think it would stay that way.
Our flight to Cape Cod was thankfully very quiet. The park had done exactly what we had intended it to do... it had worn Ethan out completely. Of course the turkey dinner that Edward had ordered him for dinner a huge contributor to his sleep induced coma for the flight, but all the same... we flew in peace and quiet.
We'd stayed the night in Cape Cod because we arrived there past evening and I wasn't comfortable with flying at night on such a small charter plane that Edward would be flying us on. Edward rolled his eyes but didn't give me a hard time about it and happily booked us a room at a small inn near the airport, so that we could fly out first thing in the morning and have breakfast with the family.
By the time we got the kids settled and in bed, I was exhausted. Connor's sleep schedule was all but forgotten in the wake of all the travel, so instead of being sound asleep, he was wide awake and ready to eat...again.
I was too exhausted to sit with him, so while Edward showered, I took Connor to bed with me and let him feed while I rested my eyes just a bit.
I woke up to the feel of Connor being picked up from my arms. I startled awake thinking he was rolling away from me, but I focused my eyes and saw Edward wearing an apologetic face and still dripping a bit of water from his hair.
"I'm so sorry, baby. I should have waited until he was asleep before I took a shower... I'm afraid I haven't been much help to you recently love... I'm so sorry."
I was almost fully awake now but I was still confused as to why he was so upset. I sat up and watched as he placed Connor in his travel bassinet and kissed him good night.
When the baby was settled, Edward came back to me and knelled at my side before dropping his head into my lap. It was true that recently I had been doing a lot on my own... but that was only because Edward was working more than he used to. It wasn't as if he just got lazy... he just simply wasn't home as much anymore.
"Love, I'm so sorry that..."
"Shh" I stopped him. There really was no cause for his nervousness. I wasn't upset, and he shouldn't have been either.
"Hey... where's this coming from? You do so much, for all of us, Edward. It was just a long day and I was tired... so I fed Connor in bed. No worries." I caressed his face and kissed his forehead before pulling back to look at his eyes.
"Isabella, you're running on absolutely no sleep... I should have bottle fed him and let you shower first... relax. But I didn't, I just got in and relaxed without even thinking about it. That's not how I want to do things with you love... ever. Please don't excuse this... don't let me do things like this."
I couldn't understand why he was so upset. This was really not that big a deal. It's not as if I had fallen over from exhaustion. I had just been extremely busy... we had been moving around a lot and air travel always made me tired. That was nothing new to him.
"Edward, does this have anything to do with seeing Tanya today? Is that why you're being so... emotional?" he popped his head up and looked even more pained.
"Don't say her name, love. I hate that name." He visibly quivered beneath my fingers and I combed through his hair but stayed silent. True... she was a sore spot with us... but we had prevailed. We had found our way back to each other and made it work. And now we were married and had a beautiful family.
"Baby, I know you hate her... I'm not exactly her biggest fan either, but the fact of the matter is that it was seven years ago. It's over. We should take her apology and let it go. She was obviously sorry for everything... and... well, I don't want to hold on to anger anymore. I didn't realize just how exhausting it is to hold onto until I let go of the anger I had for my mom."
His shoulders hunched then and exhaled loudly as if it were a great relief to do so.
"I'm sorry, love. It's just that seeing her... seeing her near you and Connor... it scared the living hell out of me." When he put it that way, I could see why he was so upset. "It was like everything was happening all over again. Like I was watching her getting ready to attack you again."
Edward stood and I followed suit. He went over to Connor's bassinet and we watched our sleeping baby.
"I still have nightmares about what she did to you with Emma... how we almost lost our little girl because of her. I'm not ready to forgive her, Bella. Maybe someday... maybe someday I will accept the words she offered us today. But right now, I don't want to."
I watched him watching Connor and I simply nodded my head. "Okay"
We slept in peace that night... and for the first time this week, Connor slept through the night and Emma and Ethan slept in.
We flew into Martha's Vineyard the next morning. We were all anxious to get there and see the new house Edward had acquired. Even though he said it was my gift for our anniversary, I still felt as if it were a gift for the family.
When we landed at the small airport, Carlisle and Esme met us there along with our rental for our time on the Island. We all talked amongst ourselves for a small amount of time, I figured we would be going to mom and dad's house immediately, but Edward surprised me by announcing that he and I were going to see our home first. Naturally Emma and Ethan were anxious to hit the beach, so Grandpa Carlisle came to the rescue when he offered to feed them lunch and hit the beach so that Edward and I could get settled with the baby at the new house.
When we got in the rented Mercedes I began to laugh. It was the exact same style vehicle that Edward had bought me when I was pregnant with Emma. It had been a while since I had it now... but sitting inside of it made me nostalgic.
"What is it, sweetheart?" I turned to see Edward getting in the drivers side after buckling in the baby. I smiled impossibly wider and kissed him before pulling back and telling him.
"This is exactly like the car you bought me when I was pregnant with Emma. Remember?" Realization dawned across his face and then a myriad of different emotions passed him in an instant. "I remember..." he trailed off with a smile.
I looked back to see Connor already fast asleep in his chair while the air conditioner gently swept over him from the vents above.
"It's been a long time since it was just one baby and the two of us." Edward began laughing gently then and squeezed my hand before starting the car.
We drove in silence through the familiar area. I had a vague idea of where our beach house was, but I wasn't certain of the exact location. I knew that we were only a mile or so from Carlisle and Esme though, so that was refreshing that we were close but had our own space as well.
As we wound around the familiar curves and turns that the area housed, I began growing more anxious and excited. It could have been a shanty for all I cared, but I knew Edward well enough to know that our beach home would be nothing short of extraordinary.
He did not disappoint.
He pulled our vehicle into a tree lined drive that reminded me of our home waiting for us in Chicago. He drive slowly... as if he knew I was in suspense for what would be coming into sight soon. As the drive continued to wind, I could see the faint view of white and gray. It was the shingles to what could only be a two story home...
"Happy anniversary, my love" and as he said that final word, he turned a corner and I was looking at our vacation home.
As I had presumed, it was two stories and housed a wrap around porch. Edward parked the car in front of what could have easily been Charlies home in Forks, but as it was... happened to be our garage.
"We have our own dock, and the property is less than what we have in Chicago... but then again, this is the Vineyard. It's about 1 and a half acres, give or take a few. The beach is a mile by foot... but... again we have the dock for the boat, so it's not even that much distance..."
I was still trying to comprehend that this was ours... that we owned this. I didn't realize I was crying until I heard Connor fussing in Edwards arms. I turned to calm him but Edward held on to him and wiped away my tears as he smiled lovingly at me.
"Go on inside love... go enjoy your present."
"You bought me a house? For marrying you? For loving you...?" Edward simply smiled wider and nodded.
"You forgot for giving me everything I ever wanted and more... for things I forgot to ask for love. You are the key to my world... this is nothing compared to the three amazing gifts you have given me. Nothing I ever buy you will compare to the priceless gifts you have given me."
I had explored for over two hours. I had sat out at the dock for nearly an hour alone. It would take me longer than the short month we would spend here to truly appreciate it, but I would have the rest of our lives to appreciate it fully. While I had sat out on the dock, I thought briefly about how much Charlie would of appreciated it. I made a mental note to ask Edward about inviting him our for a weekend while we were here.
Esme and Carlise had shown up hours later with the kids and then Jasper and Alice trailed in a few moments behind them. I thought for sure that everyone would be anxious to go to Mom and Dad's house, but amazingly, no one seemed to be at all ready to leave.
When the kids were bathed and exhausted from their day on the beach, they retired early and we adults were able to relax a lot more. Jasper and Edward were cooking fresh crab they had just caught and Carlisle had gone into town for a quick errand. So we ladies hung out on the patio out back lit up with soft lanterns and talked about the amazing gift I had received for my anniversary.
Esme was just finishing up her ideas for the remodel I wanted to do inside when a throat cleared from the doorway. We all stopped and turned but I almost fell out of my chair when I saw Charlie standing in the door way with Carlisle.
"Dad?" I was off my chair and hugging him tightly as I let it sink in that he was actually here.
"Hey, Bells... nice place you got here." he chuckled out over what sounded like tears. I pulled back and looked at all the faces around me. They were all wearing smiles and a few of them had tears... I also noticed that two more sets of eyes were with us now and the green ones belonged to my husband.
"Good to see you again, Charlie" I moved to Edwards arms as he shook Charlies hand and everyone else said their hello's. I felt lips on my cheek and then Edwards whispered words in my ear, "Happy Anniversary my love."
I hugged Edward with everything I had in me. "Thank you... for... for all of this" I gestured to the house and the property... to Charlie.
"I promised to lavish you, love. And I will do just that... forever"
I knew that he would always feel as if he owed me more than he did. All of that stemmed from our beginning... but I also knew that one day, he would forgive Tanya, that he would forgive himself. I was willing to be as patient as he would need me to be, because he had been patient for me.
So as I sat on the porch of our vacation home, surrounded by the people I loved, three things became very clear to me. One was that Edward was my soul mate. Two was that he would always surprise me... to the extreme. And three... I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.