A/N All Twilight character's belong to Stephenie Meyer
Ok, so I told myself that I wasn't going to write an epilogue for this story, but so many of you wanted an epilogue I thought why the hell not...it might be fun to see how the story really, really ends...so I wrote it...and I kinda like it...it sticks to the way of the story, where there is still the "happily ever after" but not in the glaringly obvious way...so for all you wanting, I hope you like it...
It's a hard thing to sit in the doctor's office and hear you'll never have children – at least none of you own, well, the flesh and blood variety at least.
A year after Special Forces and I got married we started trying to get pregnant. The timing was right, he was out of the Corps and training to become a state trooper, the company was doing well out in North Carolina – everything was perfect; or so we'd thought. Countless doctors' appointments, thousands of dollars spent on useless in-vitro treatments that never took. It was maddening. I spent so much time not wanting a kid that now that I actually wanted one God was laughing in my face telling me to keep dreaming.
Then one day fate intervened. I had a wicked case of stomach flu, so I had taken the day off work and was curled up on the couch in the fetal position, a blue bucket with arms reach if needed, when the local news started their segment about adoption. They featured two kids – brothers – whose mother was killed by her psychotic husband. My heart instantly went out to them. One minute their lives were bumbling along somewhat happily ever after and then in that next instant they were orphans with a dead mother and a murderer for a father.
This of course, created a domino effect in my brain. There was a ton of people who couldn't have kids, so they adopted. Why hadn't we thought about that? I wondered as I reached for the bucket.
I posed the question to Jake when he came home from work that evening. He stood at the kitchen counter making me soup, listening as I spoke. When I finished he said softly, "Bella, sometimes those kids have serious problems and require a lot of special help and attention."
I frowned, trying to form a coherent stream of thought that would make sense. Finally, I said, "And I understand that, but really, Jake, we're in a position to help some of these kids. We can afford to get them the help that they'll need, and we have the room and the time. I'm not asking you to make a decision now; I'm just saying that is an option we haven't considered yet."
He carried the bowl of soup into the room, set it down on the coffee table then knelt before me, gently clasping my hands in his. "I understand sweetheart, I'm just asking you to think about what you're asking me to do."
I frowned again.
"It's a lot of responsibility, especially if it's an older kid. If it were a baby, then maybe I'd be more inclined to say yes, but an older child, well, it would be difficult. "
"I know," I said. "But at least promise me you'll at least think about adoption."
That was all that was said about it for almost six months. We went about our lives – Jake working for the security firm that hired him after he got out of the military (he said it was just until he could get hired in with the state troopers) and I ran my line. Then one day in a very Glee meets Juno sort of way, a baby fell into our laps. Leah was in the office that morning, as we were headed to a meeting she was telling me about a friend of hers back in Seattle whose cousin was sixteen and pregnant and looking to put the baby up for adoption. The girl, Claire, knew she wasn't ready to be a mom and wanted to do the right thing for her baby.
"I know you mentioned adopting," Leah said. "But you never told me what you and Jake decided. I thought you'd want to know. Claire's mom is kicking her out, so she's coming here to stay with me. Emily would take her, but her apartment is so small and she already has three kids, they just couldn't support a pregnant girl. I sent her the ticket; she'll be here this weekend. I can put in a good word for you, if you want."
I nodded. "Let me talk to Jake first."
Leah nodded. "Okay. Just let me know whatever you decide."
And that was pretty much all it took. Jake agreed we could meet Claire, get to know her and her situation and go from there. We both found it slightly ironic that her name was Claire; she was pregnant and wanting to give her baby up for adoption. In case that lost you, it was Jake's Lost addiction and yes, I was shamelessly playing on it. The morning we met Claire, it rained. She was a young girl with an olive complexion, dark hair that travelled in waves down her back and eyes that sparkled mischievously. She looked up as Jake and I approached the table where she and Leah were sitting.
"Hi," she said in a soft tone.
"Hi," I replied. "You must be Claire, I'm Bella and this is my husband Jake."
Claire stared down at the table, picking at the deep purple fingernail polish I immediately recognized. "I love the color of your nails. Give Me Moor, right?"
Claire nodded, looking up at me with a huge grin. "I should have taken it literally huh?" she said motioning to her pregnant belly.
I shrugged. "It's life. All kinds of stuff happens that you can't plan for. You have to learn to just roll with it. But I know what you mean; I used to think the same thing." I smiled to myself, thinking about Rex, about my parents, about wanting more of everything.
Claire smiled. "So you guys want to adopt my baby?"
I swallowed hard. This girl knew how to get to the point. It was a trait I admired. "Yes," I said just as honestly. "We want kids, but unfortunately I can't have kids, so…"
"So you decided to adopt?" Claire filled in.
I nodded, forcing myself to stay calm; there was no point in getting upset over something that was unavoidable.
"Yes," Jake said for me. Claire nodded thoughtfully, pinching her lower lip between her teeth, working it over.
"I have a question," she said nervously. Beside me, I felt Jake stiffen. I softly patted his leg and gazed expectantly at Claire. "Well," she began. "And don't take this the wrong way, but I love this baby and I don't think I could just hand it to someone and then go back to my life as if it never existed – as if I was never pregnant, or never felt it kick me or heard its heartbeat. If I decided to give you guys the baby is there any way that maybe I could meet it, or have pictures sent to me? I want to do the right thing and give it the home it deserves, but I want to still feel like I'm part of its life. I mean, I'm not saying tell it that I'm its mom or whatever, but like, just think of me when you're sending out Christmas cards."
As Claire was speaking, tears filled my eyes and I attempted to blink them away. A few dripped down my face and splashed onto the tabletop. Beside me, Jake nodded fervently. "Of course," he said. "If you wanted, we would send you pictures and letters and updates every month. I know that putting your baby up for adoption is a very hard and also very selfless thing to do; I can't even imagine how difficult it must be for you, and we would respect your role in the baby's life."
Claire nodded, tears filling her eyes. "Thank you," she whispered, then excused herself from the table. Leah watched her go. She smiled sadly then said, "This is really hard for her, but I think she likes you guys."
I didn't want to get my hopes up so I just nodded, not really reading anything into the conversation or what was said. If Claire decided she liked us enough to give her baby to us then great, but if not, we would explore alternative options. In the end, however, it didn't come to that. Claire decided, almost immediately that we were the ones who should raise her baby. We went to see an attorney the following week and had the papers drawn up, all of Claire's requests were carefully detailed within the agreement.
A few months later, when Claire went into labor she didn't look at the baby, didn't ask to hold it or even see it. She turned her face to the side and stared blankly out the window as the nurses whisked the eight pound, thirteen ounce healthy baby boy off to the nursery.
When the chaos calmed, Jake hurried off to get picture of our son and I stayed with Claire. She had tears in her eyes as I sat down beside her, gently taking her hand into mine. "I know it's a stupid question, but are you okay?"
She nodded with a sniffle. "I am," she said. "I'm not sad though. Nope, not sad."
I sat quietly as she worked out her emotions.
"I'm relieved," she said softly.
"Why's that?" I asked.
Claire bit her lip, working it nervously. "I don't want to sound like a bad person," she finally admitted.
"You won't sweetie. Regardless of what you say, I won't judge you. Fire away."
"I'm relieved that I won't have to raise a baby. I'm so glad that I don't have to give up my life for someone else. I don't want to give up going to the movies in order to change stinky diapers and make bottles. I just want to live my life – go to the movies and go shopping and not have anything else to worry about."
I nodded, completely understanding her emotions. "Well that's just another way of knowing that you did the right thing. It would be bad if you felt that way and kept the baby."
"Yeah, it would be like an episode of that 16 & Pregnant show." She snorted softly. I didn't know what she was laughing at but I could certainly imagine. "Those girls are so stupid," she said.
I nodded. "Of course they are. They're sixteen and pregnant and they think that it will all be okay. It doesn't work that way."
Claire nodded. "Have you and Jake decided on a name yet?"
"Not yet. We have some ideas, but neither of us can agree on anything. I like William Ephraim, but he says it sounds too formal."
"I like that," Claire said.
"Like what?" Jake asked from the doorway.
"The name Bella picked out for the baby."
Jake screwed his face up. "William Ephraim? Really?"
"Yes," Claire said. "You could call him Will for short."
"Or Billy," I said with a smile.
Jake teared up. "After my father," he said softly. "Okay, William Ephraim it is."
And so the name stuck. A few days later Claire was released from the hospital and back into Leah's care. They left the hospital together, driving away in Leah's black Acura. As Jake and I left the hospital with Billy in tow I thought about all that had happened, all that would happen and every moment in between. It was a crazy life, that much was for sure, but it was my crazy life and I loved every second of it.