Chapter 25

"M"

"There are two m's."

"I'd like to buy a vowel." I open one eye, seeing a slightly unfocused Vanna White reach up to touch the game board before the letter O lights up. I remember the old days were she actually had to turn the letters.

"I'd like to solve the puzzle." Ugh, it is far too hot in here. I struggle to move but it doesn't do any good as I am too tightly wrapped up.

I obviously fell asleep again and Edward thought I was too cold. I laughed softly to myself before the recent events rushed to the forefront of my mind. I let out a small huff; well at least I was able to achieve that ten second window of complete bliss before I remembered again.

With a silent sigh, but an audible groan, I struggled to get loose from the cocoon I found myself in. My head peaked over the couch as I looked at Edward's back while he was on the phone speaking in a hushed tone.

"Of course, thank you." He finished his call with the click of the button before setting the phone back on its charger and turning to face me.

"You're awake." His voice subdued and cautious as he came over to help free me.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to fall asleep." He shook his head at me dismissing my apology.

"How are you feeling?" I rubbed the heals of my palms against my eyes before yawning at him.

"I'm." I started to say fine, out of habit I suppose, but stopped myself. Edward looked concerned, and had his hand on my forehead in a flash.

"You're warm."

"Only because you wrapped me up like a sardine and turned the heat on high." I told him as I could feel the warm air blowing.

"You were shivering earlier, I guess I over did it." He leaned over to kiss me.

"It's not easy predicting the changes pregnant women go through on a regular basis. Just ask Jake." I said and he smiled before it melted away and the worry lines appeared on his forehead again.

"Speaking of Jake." He trailed off.

"Yeah." I answered his unfinished statement. I knew we should talk to them but with the discovery that I'm pregnant I'm more than sure it wasn't Isabella that Marcus was referring to.

The Varner's however had made a jump to the top of the must call list. We needed to talk with them very soon, but not tonight. Tonight I just needed to take a mental break from it all. I suddenly felt Edward's hands on my shoulders and realized that I was completely tensed up as he rubs his thumbs farther down under my shoulder blades.

"How about you get a bath started and I'm gonna make a couple of calls."

"That….yeah, that sounds good." It was even better when Edward slid in behind me despite the lavender and chamomile bath beads I had tossed in. Lying back, I closed my eyes. We didn't talk. About anything. Not about the events of the day. Not about what he found out regarding Marcus and not about what we were going to do. I simply relaxed against Edward's chest as his hand absentmindedly rubbed my stomach.

After the water ran cold and Edward's fingers started to tickle because they were all pruned, we climbed out of the tub and almost directly into bed. I actually wanted nothing more than to fall asleep again but that didn't happen.

I could tell from his breathing that Edward wasn't asleep either. I opened my eyes but kept quiet as I watched him. He was staring up at the ceiling obviously deep in thought. His forehead was wrinkled up in indicating he was completely focused on something.

I watched as his lips were moving but no sound was coming out. Something he did when he was overly stressed. I reached for his hand and ran my thumb across his knuckles as he closed his eyes and blew out a breath before putting a smile on his face and turning over to look at me.

"Hey." His voice cracked and he cleared his throat.

"Hey." I leaned over and gave a closed mouth kiss to my handsome fiancé. I smiled to myself despite the impossible situation we found ourselves in. More than surprised that my stomach was still capable of flipping when we had a monumental issue hanging over our heads.

The whole thing is crazy really. On one hand we have the most exciting and happy news and on the other the complete opposite. For the sake of my sanity I chose to focus on the good part until we had to deal with the bad.

"Everything's going to be okay you know." Edward said while stroking my cheek with one finger. I'm hoping he meant it and wasn't just placating me. I sighed as I looked at him. No, he's right, it is going to be okay, it had to be. I inhaled deeply while nodding with determination.

"Yeah it is. I won't stand for anything less." I said channeling my inner strength for as long as possible. Marcus said I was a strong woman and I needed to start acting like it. Edward tilted his head and he gave me an unfamiliar look before smiling widely at my words. We laid in silence for a minute before he took my left hand and kissed it.

"So when do you want to tell everyone?" He asked as he started to twist my ring in circles on my finger.

"Soon, we should have everyone over and tell them together. I don't plan on taking this off and Rose has eyes like a hawk." I said and he chuckled.

"What about the baby?"

"Can we wait a bit? I just, ya know, want to be sure everything is….. I don't know, maybe just be a little farther along first?"

"Whatever you want sweetheart."

The next day we found ourselves sitting across from Frank and Caroline. They listened carefully while I explained what had transpired and asked for their help.

"I know this isn't exactly what you want to hear…."

"But?"

"But, there's really nothing we can do." Franks nonchalance struck me dumb.

"Nothing we can do?" Edward's voice had a harsh edge to it and I completely understand his worry and frustration. They were here to help. That's what they do. I couldn't understand what had changed.

"Listen Edward, we don't even know if Fuller even knows what he's talking about. Like I told you before the portal is closed and the likelihood of anything coming of it is slim to none." Edward closed his eyes and ran his hands through his hair and was opening his mouth to respond but Caroline spoke first.

The look she gave her husband was one of reprimand before she reached over and placed her hand on top of mine and Edward's joined ones. I was happy to see she was at least taking it seriously and honestly not sure what to make of Frank's sudden change in attitude.

"For arguments sake let's say Marcus was right, but the truth of the matter is we don't have a time, place, nor course of action. We're at a disadvantage and we really don't have a choice but to wait it out."

"But there has to be something."

"There is, keep you eyes and ears open, call us with anything unusual no matter how insignificant it may seem, and in the mean time…." She gave Frank another reproachful look.

"Yes?"

"We'll do what we can from this end."

"Which is?"

"Prepare for a battle."

"Caroline." She and her husband were seemingly having a silent conversation.

"Nothing may come of it and I honestly hope that that's the case. But if it does we need to be ready." He was not happy, that much was clear but what wasn't clear was why.

We left their office feeling a little better but no where near as good as I'd hoped. I don't really know what I was expecting other than something short of a miracle but waiting around for something to happen just isn't acceptable.

"What do you think?" Edward asked when it was just the two of us.

"At least Caroline seems to be more helpful. I'm not really sure what is going on with Frank."

"Me neither." He sighed before continuing "And I hate feeling like we're sitting ducks."

"I know, I think I'm going to do some research of my own, maybe work directly with Caroline or some of my other contacts from school." Edward gave me a speculative side eye.

"I think the more we know the better. And besides I don't like feeling that we have to be dependant on other people. Who knows what the future may bring or how much time goes by before something does happen. Marcus said child so it seems to me that means after she's born, it could be months or years away."

"That's a long time to wait for the other shoe to drop."

"I know but we don't seem to have any choice in the matter." I said and Edward squeezed my hand tighter.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Standing up on my tip toes reaching for what seems to be the last can of tomato soup I finally grasp in it my fingers and set it next to the block of cheddar cheese. I continue to feel around hoping that the cream of mushroom would magically appear next, but came up empty handed. I scowled at the empty space.

"We could just order pizza." I hear Edward say as he comes up behind me confirming that we are indeed out. His eyebrows rose in question. The thought of much too greasy pizza that I used to have no trouble with had me nearly running for the toilet.

I had to lean against the counter and with the shake of my head and what I'm sure was the green hue to my face Edward rubbed his hand up and down my back while getting into his stash of ginger ale with his other. Somehow I was lucky enough to get 'at any given moment' sickness as opposed to run of the mill morning sickness.

I mumbled out a thank you before taking a small sip, my eyes still closed. I know Edward was dying for something different but the baby loves my spaghetti casserole and not much else at the moment.

"You can get some for you and the guys."

"Not if just the thought has you feeling sick. I'll run to the store and get the soup and help you make dinner okay?" He was making progress. At least he offered to help instead of ushering me out of the room while he made it himself.

True to his word he was back quickly and we worked on dinner together. While Edward was occupied with the salad I added an unhealthy amount of cheese into the dish and with a small smile he pretended not to notice.

Headlights shine through the window for a second before the light dims and car doors open and close. I glance out the window and see a one car pulled up behind mine as another one is parked out on the street.

"Come on in." Alice and Jasper were the first through the door. Jake, Leah and the baby were next while Rosalie and Emmett followed a minute later. Emmett rubs his hands together and blows on them trying to warm them up before clapping his brother on the shoulder and kisses me on the cheek.

"Is that an engagement ring?!" Rosalie's voice had this uncanny ability to reach a glass breaking pitch on occasion. I had my hands carefully hidden behind my back as Edward closed the door behind our friends and family but a sudden bout of dizziness came over me and I reached to the wall for support.

I thought I'd be safe for a second at least we planned on telling them first thing and Rose was already across the room for goodness sakes even though it sounded like she was right in my ear. Honestly I was surprised that the baby didn't start crying at the sound, the same couldn't be said for Alice though.

"We're going to be sisters!" She cried, literally, and hugged me and her brother before turning to Emmett and giving him the stink eye. He responded by blinking rapidly and opening and closing his mouth without saying a word. Well expect to Jasper, whose eyes were sparkling in contrast to the pouty grimace on his face.

"That'll be twenty five bucks." Emmett held out his hand to his soon to be brother in law who was opening his wallet and shaking his head.

"You couldn't have waited until next week? Four more days and it would have been double or nothing." Emmett mumbled something about knowing Edward wouldn't be able to wait, apparently patience was not his strong suit, though I had to thoroughly disagree.

The girls were talking my ear off about wedding plans; both Alice's and now mine. I spied a glance at Rosalie but she honestly didn't seem upset about being the only one without a ring. I think we both knew without a doubt that she and Emmett's day would be coming but I know she wants to take things a little slower, and they both seem perfectly content with the status of their relationship.

I tried to pay attention to what they were saying but I found it hard to tear my focus away from Edward. He was holding the baby now and blowing raspberries on her stomach while she laughed at him.

"...an appointment for you."

"What?"

"With my caterer."

"Oh, uh actually Alice we're going to um." Isabella just laid her head down on his shoulder, I almost started crying. Damn hormones.

"…..really reasonable." And now she's grabbed his shirt in her little fist.

"….. sexy about a man with a baby, right Bella?" Leah gently elbowed me while nodding her head back at Edward. I couldn't decipher if the look on her face was knowing or if it was just obvious I was more than a little pre-occupied with the scene.

"Ew, Edward's not a sexy man." Alice was scrunching her nose. And Emmett laughed loudly.

"You don't think I'm sexy Ali?" Edward faked being appalled.

"On the contrary Alice, he's the sexiest man I've ever seen." Which of course is completely true, even if he wasn't mine. In fact I'd say it was impossible to do any better but I guess being his sister has clouded her judgment.

"I can't even imagine what it must have been like growing up with these two as brothers." Rosalie said.

"It was awful."

"Awful?" Emmett and Edward say in stereo.

"You know what I mean; it was always the same story. Can we come over? Are your brothers going to be there? Will you put in a good word for me? It wasn't until I figured out to only have people over when you two weren't going to be home that I was able to tell who my real friends were." She said. I felt for her. I knew what it was like to grow up without many real friends. Not long after dinner Isabella was getting a little restless. She let out a unhappy cry that didn't stop.

"I think that's our cue Jake." They gathered up their things and gave us both congratulations before taking their daughter home.

"So when are you going to tell the parents?" Emmett asked.

"Yours will be down next weekend so I was thinking of just telling them then?" I looked at Edward who nodded in agreement.

"What about yours?"

"I'll call Charlie soon."

"Shouldn't Edward have asked for his permission first? Or are you afraid the Chief will turn you down?" Obviously Emmett was teasing him but Edward did get all wide eyed.

"Wait, do you think I should?"

"Uh, no. My permission is all you need."

"Well I think we should at least do it together. Maybe invite him when my parents are here? They should meet anyway."

"Yeah, that would work out pretty well."

"And your mom?"

"I was thinking of just sending her an invitation." Rosalie gave me a smile and a nod. She knows how my relationship with Renee and Phil is. Jasper looked a little confused by my response but didn't comment on it.

"Have you picked a date yet?"

"Not yet. We thought we'd wait until after your wedding first before we make any plans." Actually there was a lot to think about. I wasn't sure if I wanted to get married before the baby is born or wait until afterwards. The dress I want isn't conducive of a baby bump but some things might have to change a bit. I wasn't even sure where Edward stood on the whole thing but we had time to work it out.

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I was running late. Edward had already called me twice this morning to remind me of the appointment. Both times offering to come and pick me up. His excitement was more than noticeable but there was no point in him leaving work to pick me up just to take me back to where he came from.

Deciding jumping on the freeway would save time I make a left turn at the corner driving right by Marcus's house. It's then that I see a man standing on the corner of the lot staring at the house before turning in my direction as I get closer.

The man was a monster. Not literally of course, but he had to be near seven feet tall and built like a tank. He looked right at me, right into my eyes and flinched back in what looked to be surprise when I stared right back at him.

He looked a little confused as I drove on past. I had contemplated stopping for a minute but I knew this wouldn't be the last I saw of him now that he could tell I could see him. Besides I had an appointment to get to. As I glanced back in my rearview mirror I didn't see him anymore but I did see a younger looking woman walk out of the house.

The sun was shining and she used her hands to shade her eyes so I didn't get a good look at her face but wondered if she was a relative of Marcus'. He hadn't mentioned any other family but then again we never got into that.

Again I was tempted to stop and ask but looking at my watch I knew Edward would be pacing the floor already. I had to park a ways away and so I semi jogged to the entrance to find Edward just as I suspected.

As we approached the door at the end of the hall with my doctor's nameplate across the front Edward's smile grew. I have no doubts that he wants this baby just about more than anything. He held the door open and ushered me to the nearest seat while he went over to check-in.

"I need to get you added to my insurance plan." He said while scanning the forms in front of him.

"I have insurance, and besides don't we need to be married first for me to be put on yours?" I pulled out my card and placed it in his waiting hand.

"Good idea." He leaned over and kissed my nose. Slightly confused by his response I opened my mouth to ask but he kept right on talking.

"Any family history of cancer?" His eyes still on the form, pen in hand.

"Nope."

"Heart disease?"

"Charlie's dad."

"First day of your last period?". He wasn't exactly quiet and the kid coloring next to us looked up.

"Give me that." I took the clipboard out of his hands and replaced it with a copy of 'What to except when your expecting' that was sitting on the table.

"We need to get this book." He said, so engrossed he didn't even notice that I had gotten up to return the forms to the receptionist.

"Isabella Swan." A nurse dressed in purple scrubs called out while holding open the door for us. Edward mumbled something under his breath before setting the book down and reaching for my hand. I'm not sure if it was customary for father's to be, to be in the examination room or not but I had a feeling he didn't care all that much if it wasn't.

The nurse had given me some prenatal vitamins and drew some blood. I was weighed and she was about to wrap the blood pressure cuff around my arm but turned to grab something and crashed right into a hovering Edward.

I had to demand he sit down or I wasn't going to let him come back with me. I was kidding of course, but he responded with a slight huff and did as he was told. After writing something down on my chart she left the room saying that the doctor would be right in.

"I thought you said you trusted the doctor." I questioned.

"I do."

"Then I'm sure that includes the nurses. She said she's been doing this for over 20 years." I implored.

"I trust them; I just want to know what's going on."

"Your hovering was making me nervous, and you were practically on top of her."

"She's used to it I'm sure. I can't possibly be the only concerned father she's ever seen." He said and couldn't stop the smile that formed at the word father.

"Nosy is more like it." There was a knock and then the door opened two seconds later.

"Good afternoon Isabella, I'm Dr. Ateara. How are you feeling today?"

"Tired, but fine other than that, and please call me Bella."

"Bella, and it's nice to see you again Dr. Cullen." She looked so young I didn't think it was possible that she could have been a doctor all that long. But Edward did his research and apparently has met her before and I trusted his judgment.

He sat in the visitors chair but his knee was bouncing a mile a minute while the doctor did her exam. She was very good at ignoring him at least until I grimaced at how cold the speculum felt. Apparently that translated into a sign of distress because Edward jumped up to grab my hand. Good lord if he was this jumpy now I can only imagine how he's going to be for the rest of the pregnancy.

"Your blood pressure is a little higher than I'd like it to be, so I want to keep a close watch on that." Unfortunately those few words sent Edward into a tailspin. I couldn't keep up with the barrage of questions he was flinging at her. I had a feeling Dr. Claire Atera would regret the day we walked into her office.

We made another appointment before leaving. The doctor didn't want me to wait the standard four weeks before coming back in to have another check up though I'm not sure if it was at her or Edward's insistence.

"Would you consider taking time off work?" The question surprised me. I think he must have forgotten that I don't have a 9 to 5 job. He was looking at me sort of crazy eyed, like he was ready for an argument if necessary.

"You realize that I'm only lecturing two days a week for a few hours a day right? And that most women have to work 40 hour a week jobs during pregnancy." His lips hardened into a thin line.

"I really don't want you under too much stress. High blood pressure can be dangerous during pregnancy and." I put my hand on his knee to stop him.

"Edward, I'm committed through the end of the semester." I could see he was going to protest.

"The doctor didn't have an issue with me working but, if it makes you feel better I will pass on next term okay?" I said to appease him.

"Just like that?" He looked a little stunned at my answer.

"Yes." I kissed his surprised face and picked up the phone to call Charlie all the while thinking that any stress I felt wasn't coming from work but I wasn't going bring that up now.

Besides I was planning to pass on next term anyway. I needed to find a way to end this nightmare and am going to dedicate as much of my time to it as I could. I felt like I was in some sort of race only I didn't know where the finish line was. Time was of the essence and I was going all out. And besides if it helped Edward relax a little by me not working for a while than it was worth it.

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I looked out the window to see the cruiser parked in my driveway. Charlie sitting in his car looking as if he was rehearsing something….. I think he knew.

"This weekend?" He was surprised.

"Yeah."

"Well sure Bells, you know I'd love to see you."

"That's great!" There was beat of silence before he spoke again.

"Sooooo is there a special occasion?" He fished.

"Oh well, actually Edward's parents will be up and we thought it would be nice if you all met." I said and he let out some sort of nearly delirious sound that lasted all of two seconds before finding his calm voice again.

"Then I wouldn't miss it for the world."

"How long do you think he'll sit out there?" Edward wrapped his arms around me while resting his chin on my shoulder.

"Looks like he's almost done." We watched as he gave himself a nod before opening the door. I let the curtain fall back into place and went to open the door.

"Hey Bells." His voice was a little hoarse and he gave me a tight hug. Yeah he definitely knew.

"Edward." He did the half handshake half hug move. He pulled back to say something to Edward but was stopped by the arrival of Carlisle and Esme.

"Come on in." Edward took their coats as the stepped into the room. Esme gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Her custom greeting when they first arrive into town after not having seen us for a while. Carlisle gave me a hug too and I could feel myself getting emotional.

"Mom, dad, this is Bella's father Chief Swan."

"Charlie." He said and reached forward to shake their hands. Esme swiftly sidestepped his offering and went right in for the hug. There was a slight bit of pink suddenly covering his cheeks but it dissipated quickly. I think he was surprised at the gesture but this family seems to be a bunch of huggers and that includes Charlie now. I bet she knows too, or at least suspects.

"I'm Esme and this is my husband Carlisle." We sat around and talked for a bit, the standard get to know you conversations. Esme informed Charlie how they loved me from the first time they met me which had me blushing but not as much as Edward was after dad relayed his first run in with Edward in the elevator at the hospital.

"So kids, where are we going for dinner?" Edward looked to me to wait for my answer. He knew my spaghetti casserole was now a thing of the past since I got sick right after eating it last time.

"Actually I was thinking the steak house down the street?" It had been sounding good all day, and I think my waist line will appreciate the break from all those carbs I'd been consuming. Edward masked his surprise while Charlie nodded in approval.

"Before we go, there's something that we would like to share with you." I'd been more careful this time. Edward had a tight grip on my left hand since they got here.

"Bella and I are getting married." Edward told them while letting go of my hand and wrapping his arm around my waist. And as expected everyone was seemed very happy and excited. Esme made another round of hugs while Carlisle beamed next to her but I was a little surprised to see a misty eyed Charlie.

I guess I shouldn't have been, I knew he had been worried about me. I had to cry on his shoulder many times when yet another guy would realize that being with me was not worth the added trouble of my gifts.

He used to tell me that they were the ones that were missing out, that they didn't deserve me and that if something like that caused them to run then they weren't the right ones for me anyway. "He's out there Bells; he just hasn't found you yet."

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"Rosie, you look fantastic." Charlie greeted her with a hug. We decided to have them join us at the restaurant. Charlie wanted to see Rose and we figured it would be a good opportunity to meet the rest of Edward's family.

"So do you Chief." Rosalie loved Charlie. He was everything she always wanted in a father. She was never close with hers. John was less than affectionate and always on her to rise to his expectations. In his eyes she was always a step behind where he thought she should be and he never let her forget it.

We always had that in common. It was one of those things that had cemented our friendship. We could understand where the other was coming from. She wasn't good enough for her dad and I wasn't good enough for my mom.

"Chief this is Emmett, my boyfriend as well as Edward's big brother." She said and I snorted at the word big. Emmett was big. He was a big kid, and physically a big guy, but most of all had a big heart.

Though he was not as big as the guy who is standing on the other side of the restaurant. So we meet again. I call him Tank in my mind. He looked less curious and more determined but kept his distance as he watched our family get together.

"Nice to meet you Emmett."

"You too Chief Swan."

"And this is Alice; Edward's little sister and her fiancé Jasper." I was pleased to see Charlie seemed more comfortable with the sudden hugging of the Cullen woman. He didn't seem too thrown off when he was attacked yet again. Rolling with the punches he gave Alice a few pats on the back before she began to talk his ear off.

"They're a great bunch of people. Congratulations honey. I'm really happy for you." He said while we were being lead to our table.

"Thanks dad." I had to whisper as tears where threatening to spill again.

We were seated at a long group of tables that had been shoved together. I sat between Edward and Charlie with Esme directly across from me. I should have seen it coming. Of course there was going to be a toast to the happy couple. But I hadn't even considered it until Carlisle had the bottle poised over my glass.

"Champagne?" He didn't really ask as he was already pouring it.

"Uh." He didn't seem to notice my hesitation while I glanced up at Edward. He continued pouring and moved onto the next glass. Soon after everyone's glasses were full he started off the toasts. It was sweet and extremely touching.

"To Edward and Bella." He finished and I held up my glass but only pretended to take a sip. No one seemed to notice mine sat there untouched as we ate. Well that is until Esme caught my eye when Edward bypassed his own half full glass and took mine instead.

Her eyes shifted from mine to her son's as she raised an eyebrow, a hint of a smile fighting to break through. He waved her off at first but her eyebrow just rose higher. It was like a battle of wills. I watched in fascination as they seemed to be discussing the situation through narrow eyes, lengthy penetrating stares, head tilts, and small almost unperceivable nods.

Edward seemed to have won the show down as Esme rejoined the others in verbal conversation. I looked up at Edward and he opened his mouth to say something but settled on a purse of the lips, a nose flare, and a half smile before finishing my drink.

I needed to take some lessons from Esme as I wasn't at all sure of what he meant. I had no time to ponder as the waiter reappeared with the check setting it down in the middle of the table, of course both Carlisle and Charlie reached for it at the same time.

The rest of the weekend went by quickly. And I soon found myself alone in the house while Edward went off to work. Looking up the seminars on-line I found one cleverly named Defense against the Dark Arts. I very nearly laughed but remembering it was all too real I closed my eyes and let out a deep breath.

When I reopened them I saw that Tank was back. His eyes were a little sadder today and then he turned and walked through the wall towards Marcus's. He looked back at me through the window and looked toward the house again. I had a sudden flashback to Junior when he was waiting for me to follow him so he could show me what he wanted me to know.

Only this time I wasn't as willing to follow. Tank wasn't bad. I could tell that but I had no idea what it was he wanted that would include Marcus. But there was only one way to find out. After putting on my shoes and coat I place my new rosary in my pocket and headed out the door.