A/N All Twilight character's belong to Stephenie Meyer
Well, here it is, last chapter. I have to be honest...I'm glad this is finished..this was the most emotionally taxing thing ever..lol. To everyone who decided to keep reading all those chapters ago, thanks. I'm glad you stuck it out with me. and if alternate endings are you thing, I'll put the other one up right after this is posted.
You can start at one place in your life, the road laid out before looks so clear, so certain. You never think about the hard times that may or may not lie ahead, you see the happy moments, the good times, the times you want to remember.
You never think about the things that will hurt, the times that will crush your heart and break your spirit. No one photographs those times, the ones that remain in the back of your mind, lingering just beneath the surface of your conscious memory.
But they happen, they hurt, you get past it and move on. Even when it seems impossible, even when it seems unimaginable – you get back up, brush yourself off and you put one foot in front of the other and you begin to live again.
My brown-eyed reflection stared back at me as I stared in the mirror, the light in the room low, casting a buttery glow over the vanity top and pooling on the floor. Anxious butterflies flew about my stomach, my nerves hummed with excitement and a little bit of fear and panic.
What if this changed everything? What if something happened to Embry as it had happened to Jake?
What if I was over reacting?
What if this time I would truly be happy?
I let out a shaky breath and tried to smile at my reflection. She grimaced; her lips pulled back, teeth bared. I released the expression and glanced down at the vanity top, laying my sweating hands atop its cool surface.
There was a brief knock at the door. "Come in," I called, voice trembling. The door opened slowly and Charlie's head poked in. "Are you about ready sweetheart?
"Almost," I said. "Can you just give me another minute or so?"
Charlie smiled and backed out of the room, quietly closing the door behind him leaving me once again alone. I slid open a drawer on the vanity and pulled out a picture that was tucked inside.
Jake smiled up at from the photograph, young and healthy, his eyes sparkling mischievously. I smiled back at him, running my fingers over the photo. I felt…indescribable. There were no words that could explain how I felt at this moment, the past and the present colliding together at light speed to create the future in an explosion of light and happiness, tears and unspoken fears cast away, no longer weighing me down.
I looked at the photo once more. "I want you to know," I said, blinking back the inevitable tears. "That I loved you more than words could ever hope to explain. I will always love you for what you were to me, but Embry – only God could stop me from loving him. I hope you know that. I have had the best of both worlds, he carried me when I lost my parents, and you carried me when he no longer could and somewhere in the process, I learned to stand on my own."
I set the picture down and rose from the vanity table. crossing the bedroom, I opened the door, calling for Charlie. He appeared, smiling. "Are you ready now?"
I nodded and shut the bedroom door behind me. Leah and Sue were standing the end of the hallway and Sue made a noise somewhere between a squeal and a gasp, happy tears filling her eyes.
"Wow," I joked, "this all feels vaguely familiar."
Charlie chuckled but said nothing, Sue wiped her eyes, and Leah cracked an evil grin. "I always thought the third time was the charmer, but maybe you'll get lucky on the second."
"Well, technically, this is our third time. You know, we got it right in high school, failed miserable in college, and now here we are again."
Leah cocked her head to the side. "Whatever," she said airily. "We have got to get a move on or you're going to be late to your own wedding."
"Where's Avery?" I asked looking around.
"Downstairs. I told him to sit his tush on the couch and wait."
"Okay let's go."
The three of us hurried down the stairs. Leah rushed ahead and disappeared into the living room, reappearing shortly with a dashing Avery by her side.
"Are you ready to go?"
He nodded solemnly and we stepped into the chilly October afternoon. The limo driver opened the door, and we climbed in. as the limo drove uptown to the hotel my erratic heartbeat slowed to a normal pace, the sweaty palms dried and a serene feeling of calm washed over me.
When the limo came to a stop and the door open, I calmly exited the car, taking Charlie's arm. He patted my hand and gave me a smile before reaching for Sue who climbed out behind me. Avery rushed to my side and took my hand.
"Come on mommy, let's get this done with. This stupid monkey suit is hurting my neck."
"Stupid monkey suit?" I echoed and he jerked a thumb in Charlie's direction. I rolled my eyes and entered the hotel. I had to change into my dress, which was waiting in Embry's hotel room. Charlie pulled the room key out and handed it to Sue. "We'll see you in a few minutes."
Charlie took Avery's hand and guided him toward where I suspected Embry awaited. The three of us, Sue, Leah, and I, climbed aboard the elevator and rode to the sixth floor. We hurried toward the room and let ourselves in. My dress was waiting in the adjoining bedroom and I hurried toward it, pulling the button up shirt I was wearing off and shucking off the denim skirt.
"Lee, can you come help me," I called to Leah.
"Right behind you Bella," she replied.
The dress came out, and Leah held it upright, grasping my arm as I stepped into it and pulled it up. The luxe taffeta dress weighed more than more me with its crystal beading and sequins and mini chapel train. I gently finger the three ivory roses at my hip, their fabric petals soft beneath my fingers.
Leah tugged gently at the discreet zipper. I inhaled, silently praying that I didn't gain any weight. The zipper ticked slowly, comfortably – perfectly, up the back of the dress. I exhaled and turned to glance in the full-length mirror on the closet door. My reflection smiled back, all traces of the toothy grimace gone now, a look of serenity in her eyes.
"You look perfect," Leah breathed.
"Really, really," she answered.
"Thank you," I said, shuffling over to hug her. "All of this came together because I had you to help me."
Leah shrugged slightly, the hem of her dress – a pale green she told me was called celadon – ruffling with the motion. "I think it's what he," her finger pointed toward the heavens, "would have wanted. Besides you deserved it, you deserve to go all out at least once. And, by the way, you look gorgeous."
I twisted from side to side, ruffling the skirt of my wedding dress. "Oh this old thing? It was just something that was, you know, lying around in the back of the closet. Seriously, thank you. You've been such a help these last few weeks and it's been great having you around."
Leah hugged me, leaning her body away from mine. "Okay, okay, knock it off before you make me cry and if I cry then you're gonna cry and if you cry, mom's gonna cry and dad will come in here and find three weepy clowns who used to be his wife and daughters."
In the living room, the door opened and Charlie's heavy footsteps echoed over the floor. "Girls? It's time to get this show on the road."
Leah hugged me once more. I patted her back and then we hurried from the room, the skirts of my dress ruffling. Charlie's eyes brimmed with tears as we joined him and Sue in the doorway of the room.
"You look beautiful," he said proudly.
"Aww thanks Daddy but its Bella's day," Leah said playfully.
"You ready princess?" he asked me. I nodded and the four of us walked down the hushed hallway to the elevator. Charlie pushed the call button and we waited. The doors whished open and a family, a mother, father and a little pig tailed girl stepped off. She exclaimed as they walked by us, the mother smiled at me.
"Mommy look!," the little girl gushed, "She's a princess!"
I waved at the girl as we boarded the elevator. She smiled and waved back as the doors closed. Slowly, the elevator sank to the ground floor. "Are you nervous?" Sue asked.
I shook my head no and watched the numbers dropping. "Not anymore. Earlier this morning I was terrified, but then it just kind of went away." I inhaled and blew out a steady stream of air. "This is right," I stated. "This is so right it should be wrong."
Sue chuckled softly as the elevator doors slid open. "Here we go."
The doors to the wharf room open and the rustle of wedding day finery as our guests turned to smile at me. Sue and Leah made their way to the front of the room, Sue sitting down, Leah continued, standing opposite of Embry and Avery.
Charlie took my arm and glanced down at me. "Are you sure you're ready?"
I took a deep breath, looked at Embry, looked to Charlie, and nodded. "I'm ready."
* * *
The walk down the aisle, the vows, the kisses, and "I do's" were a blur. Embry's arms were strong around me, holding me close to him as he twirled me around the dance floor. We'd danced our first dance to Lady Antebellum's Can't Take My Eyes Off You. Charlie and I danced to some song he picked out called Ready, Set, Don't Go. The night was perfect, surrounded by our closest friends and family, laughing, having fun and finally living.
I once thought perfection was overrated, that it wasn't real, that wanting something to be perfect was childish.
"One more dance Mrs. Call?" Embry asked holding his hand out. I accepted it and allowed myself to be escorted to the dance floor. I laid my head on his chest and breathed him in. Committing the smell of his tux, the scent of candles burning on the tables in the reception hall, Avery's laughter as a little girl with stick straight brown hair kissed his cheek and ran away giggling, Leah laughing as she asked him to dance, Sue and Charlie swaying to the beat of the Dashboard Confessional song to memory.
I closed my eyes, reveling in the glow of happiness, in the perfection. This life was flawed and it had scars, tracks where love had left her mark and trails were hurt had ripped the flesh. This, my life, was perfect and I wouldn't have traded it for the world.
"And when the path I have made, from the grass to the grave, I will love you still," he sang, his lips brushing my ear. "And when the sand turns to glass and all that's left is the past I will love you still."
Reviews are better than a happily ever after. for realz, they are. lol.
After Afterall - William Fitzsimmons - chapter title
Kiss the Rain (strings version) Yiruma
Can't take my eyes off you - Lady Antebellum
Ready, Set, don't go - Billy Ray & Miley Cyrus.