Chapter 23

The sight before me as we walked into the room almost had me in tears again. Masen was sitting on Alice's lap crying into her shirt as she rocked him back and forth. She looked up when the door opened, her surprise was evident.

"Hey buddy." His head whipped around when he heard me and he jumped off Alice's lap as he ran into my arms.

"Shhh….Everything's okay Mase, I promise." He quieted his cries and pulled back to look at me and Edward. He didn't say anything aloud but his face was easy to read.

"It's over now, and we can all go home."

"I don't have to talk to anyone?"

"No honey, we got everything worked out ourselves. The judge doesn't need to talk to you after all and it turned out just like we knew it would." He started to smile just a little bit.

"I don't have to go away?" He sniffled.

"No baby, the four of us are a family and no one is going anywhere, okay? The judge signed the papers and everything's official. You have nothing to worry about."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm sure, we all talked it out together and your…..father…Jake said that he agrees with us now and just wants you to be happy and that having Edward adopt you and having you live with us full time just like before would be the best way for that to happen." He relaxed and was deep in thought for a few minutes before standing up.

"That is the best way." He's nodding to himself.

"So what do you say to going home and telling Holly the good news?"

"Yeah! Let's go."

We didn't hear much from Jake after that. The occasional birthday card or a twenty dollar bill at Christmas time until it stopped all together. He never called again and didn't make any plans to see him either but that was to be expected I guess.

Masen never talked about him, or asked any questions. There didn't seem to be any need to. He had Edward and that more than made up for anything he may have missed the first seven years of his life. I still can't get over how lucky we were that first day when we missed the field trip. Never in my wildest dreams did I think something so amazing could happen.

"Come on sweetheart, we've got to get movin' or we're gonna be late." Edward was trying to hurry me along. I admit I was dragging my feet a little bit. Not that I wanted to be late but I was not quite ready for this moment.

"I know." I slipped on my shoes as he held my purse out for me. The drive was short, shorter than I liked and we parked the car and went to find our seats. We were lucky enough to get some pretty close to the front, but the auditorium was filling up fast. It's crazy how time flies, one minute their born and the next thing you know they're getting married and having kids of their own. Not that we are anywhere near that point in time, at least I hope not quite yet, but tonight was a big moment in all of our lives.

"You okay?" I felt Edward's thumb caress my hand.

"I'm fine." I mumbled in reply and he just gave me a knowing look before wrapping his arm around me pulling me closer to him.

"They're not going to be very far away."

"I know, but it's….just not going to be the same." I sighed. Just then the sea of caps and gowns walked out to take their seats in the front few rows. I waved as our kids walked by and they smiled brightly but refrained from waving back. That's an improvement, I thought to myself. Thinking back to a time when they were suddenly embarrassed by everything we said and did. More distinctly remembering the first time I made that catastrophic mistake.

I had just dropped the kids off at school and was about to back out of the parking lot and head to work. I put the car in reverse as I looked back suddenly spotting a brown paper lunch bag sitting on the seat. I quickly put the car back in park and reached for it, quickly looking to see which kids name was written on it.

"Masen!" I yelled having unrolled my window but he kept walking.

"Masen!" I yelled again. This time I thought he may have heard me as it looked like he paused for a second but then he kept going. I knew I was going to have to get out of the car now.

I jogged, if you could call it that since I was wearing heels, as fast as I could. I was gaining the attention of several students none of which was my son though. Finally I reached him and his group of friends and had it not been for Jared stopping to acknowledge my presence I'm not sure Masen would have.

"Hi Mrs. Cullen."

"Hi Jared, hey buddy you forgot your lunch." I thought for sure he was going to be grateful that I had made the effort to keep him from starving, but as it turned out I couldn't have been more wrong. Masen had finally turned to face me and his face was bright red.

"Mom." He said kinda whiney and very very quiet.

"What? You forgot this in the car."

"Shhhhh." He shushed me! And all I could do was just blink in response.

"Dad gave me lunch money instead, I gotta go." He turned quickly and practically ran inside.

I was informed later on that night that it wasn't cool for middle school kids to bring lunch from home and even less cool to have your mom track you down in front of everyone.

Let's just say that the tween and early teenage years were my least favorite. I guess I must have forgotten what it was like or how early it started. I mean I do remember being embarrassed of my parents and I'm sure that middle school was the time for that but it seemed to happen over night. One minute we're their best friends and the next we have to drop them off a block away to avoid any possible embarrassing situations.

Honestly though looking back it wasn't really that bad. Both of the kids were on the right path and they stayed out of trouble for the most part. We did have a bumpy road or two but it wasn't anything we couldn't get through together.

I think one of the hardest times, for all of us, but especially for Edward, was when Holly started dating. She is a beautiful young lady, and I know that all parents are biased to some extent but she was really more extraordinary than any teenager had a right to be. She very much takes after Edward and that really says it all.

"Where are the kids?" I felt my husbands arms wrap around me.

"The mall." I answer the best I could as he was kissing my neck.

"Together?" His hands move underneath my shirt.

"Holly and Claire left first and Jared picked Masen up about thirty minutes ago."

"How long do we have?" He unhooked my bra.

"They aren't supposed to be back until curfew." He lifted my shirt over my head.

"Perfect." We kept ourselves occupied for quite a while before getting into the shower. Edward didn't stay in long since the kids could come home at anytime and after the last time we showered together we vowed to be more careful.

I cringed thinking of that night as well. It had been pretty uncomfortable for all of us….."Mom? Dad?" Holly had called out as she came into our bedroom. She had started calling me mom right after Jessica, Mike and the baby moved to LA when Mike was offered the chief of staff position down there.

"Yeah?" We both said at the same time realizing we just gave away the fact that we were both in the shower together. Had one of us just kept our mouths shut she wouldn't have been traumatized that night.

"Eeeeew." We heard footsteps move quickly out of the room before the door shut loudly. She had forgotten her phone and had stopped back home to get it before going to a movie with friends.

Anyway, back on track…. Edward got out of the shower before I did but I wasn't too far behind him. He was sitting on the bed with a t-shirt and pajama bottoms reading a book. I love it when he wears those black rimmed glasses. I had just gotten dressed and started brushing my hair when I heard the front door open and close and the voices of Holly and Masen.

"Hey kids." I called out in greeting.


"Did you guys have fun?" Edward set his book down.

"Yep." Neither on of them came into the room which was a little strange but not unheard of.

"Did you get anything?"

"Nope." I know that Masen wanted to pick up some guitar strings since he broke two yesterday. Yes he inherited Jacob's musical talent. He got a band together and they practiced in our garage….a lot.

He was good, really good. Self taught and had even written a handful of songs. I wondered if he would end up following in Jake's footsteps but on his own accord Masen told us while he enjoyed playing, it was just a hobby. That that lifestyle just wasn't for him and he wanted to go into law instead, family law more specifically. It was things like that that reminded me how big the impact of everything had on him.

"There's some left over dinner if you're hungry, it will only take a minute to heat up."

"No thanks, I'm really tired."

"Yeah, me too." Holly answered and then her bedroom door was shut. A while later I heard the tell tale sounds of someone in the kitchen. I'd be willing to bet it was Masen heating up the leftovers. That kid ate day in and day out. Deciding to make sure he cleaned up his mess now instead of leaving it for me to do in the morning I got out of bed.

"What happened to your eye?" I screeched obviously catching him by surprise as he cursed loudly. I ignored that and moved closer to him.

"It's nothing mom."

"That doesn't look like nothing to me."

"It looks a lot worse than it feels, I'm fine, really."

"What happened?"

"Mom, it's noth…."

"Don't you dare say nothing."

"I'm fine."

"Who were you fighting with?" I demanded.

"What's going on?" I heard Edward's voice from behind me and Masen sighed deeply. Edward walked into the room seeing what the problem was and then sighing himself. I got some ice out of the freezer and put some in a baggie for him.

"It was just a difference of opinion."


"Why does it matter?" I raised one eyebrow at him.

"If you don't tell me who it was in the next thirty seconds your going to be grounded for the next two months and you can forget about that concert."



"Matt Houston." Holly answered for him. We turned to face her and saw her eyes tearing up.

"What the hell happened?" Edward was even more upset now knowing that Holly had been going out with Matt for a couple of weeks.

As it turned out Masen was defending his sister. Matt apparently told his friends that he got a lot farther with Holly than he actually had and then spread the information around school. It snowballed from there and suddenly Holly's phone was ringing off the hook with boys asking for dates.

She had a difficult time after that, not knowing who to trust and then when she found someone who seemed genuine Masen intimidated the hell out of him. I think that Edward might have felt a little shafted not being able to do that specific job as much as he would have liked to. And even though Masen sometimes took it to the extreme those two have never been closer then they are right now.

I wonder if he can see the way that Holly and Jared have been looking at each other lately. Edward and I have a bet on it actually. How will he take the news of his best friend and his sister? Both kids, actually all three, including Jared are going to school within the state. Really I can't complain but I'm going to miss having them at home tremendously. Even so I couldn't keep the smile off my face for long. I have two amazing kids and the world's best husband.

"There's my beautiful smile." Edward leaned over and kissed me just before the principal started announcing the names of each graduate. Edward armed with his camcorder stood up and cheered right along with me as they walked across the stage one after the other.

After what seemed like only minutes and everyone had their diplomas in hand the words 'Congratulations class of 2012' were announced before the room erupted in applause and caps went sailing through the air.

A/N Thanks to everyone who stuck with me to the end. I know it took a lot longer than it should have to finish. Thanks for the support and after I finish my other works in progress I plan on some new stories. I will definitely have them pre-written before I start posting so the waiting time isn't so long in-between. :)