Epilogue

To all my readers near and far, from the northeast to the Midwest, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, from the north to my home roots in the dirty South, from across the pond to down under, I thank you.

Beta girls, you amaze me.

SM's got hers, but this one is mine and it's short and sweet!


I shifted uncomfortably on the vanity stool. For the last few hours I had not been able to get situated right no matter if I was sitting down or lying down. Something was…off.

"This one's pretty mama!" Emily giggled loudly as she held up a pair of silver chandelier earrings. "Can I wear these? Please," she begged, looking up at me with brown puppy dog eyes.

I was amazed at how fast she fit into our family, almost like she had always been with us, and had started calling me mama almost immediately.

"I don't know baby, these are my special earrings. Plus, I think these are too big for you."

"But it's my party!" she whined.

"I know, which is why you should have your own pair of special earrings," I said, pulling a small jewelry box out of the top drawer of the vanity stand.

She clapped her small hands together. "For me?"

I nodded and placed the small velvet box in her hands. "Yup, just for you."

She opened the box and smiled brightly. "Wow! They're so pretty!"

"Just like you," I said, pinching her button nose.

She cupped my face with her hands. "Like you."

"Do you want help putting them on?"

She nodded. "Yes, please."

I took the backs off the diamond studded earrings and placed one in each of her ear holes. "There, look how pretty you are." I held the mirror for her to see, and just like she had seen her new Aunt Rose do, she preened at herself, turning her head to the right and then the left.

"Marvelous, darling," she said pursing her lips and then blowing me a kiss.

"Where did you learn that?"

"Eddie!" she giggled.

I rolled my eyes. Between all of the adults in the family, it was a wonder that Emily remained as sweet and innocent as she had for the last nine months she had lived with us. Jared's will specifically stated that should anything happen to him, he wanted the Whitlock family to be legal guardians over his sister. But, she not only got one family, she got two.

Emily was the only person in the world Edward allowed to call him Eddie. She had him wrapped around her little finger, and while we were very strict with him and the time he spent with her, considering his chosen profession, the two of them were nearly inseparable. She brought back his laughter, and he was, inside the walls of our home, the Edward I used to know.

With the amount of cases Child Protective Services had on its books, and the backlog in probate court, it didn't take a genius to figure out that Emily was better off with us than moving around from foster home to foster home. The judge granted us temporary custody until it could be proven that there were no surviving relatives ready and able to assume responsibility for Emily. There weren't and after ninety short days, we were granted permanent custody of the smiling five year old.

The adoption process usually takes longer, but because we were Whitlock's, the judge made concessions for us and pushed the paperwork through in six months. And today was her adoption party.

"I wanna show daddy!"

"Be careful, don't run down the stairs!" I called out to her.

"I won't!" she assured me, but kept running anyway.

I turned back to the mirror and clutched the edge of the vanity table, almost overwhelmed with the memoires that surrounded her being in our life. "Not today," I said aloud to myself. "Let Emily have her day."

But when I stood up, I nearly toppled over in pain.

I held onto the furniture as I made my way over to the intercom.

"Help…I think it's time!" I yelled, just as I felt my water break.

I heard them arguing as they ran up the stairs. The bedroom door flew open and Jasper, Emmett, Peter and Edward all nearly fell into the room.

"Are you sure?" Jasper asked, winded and almost out of breath.

Jared's bullet had killed my husband.

Jasper died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. But either because he had one helluva guardian angel looking out for him or because Jasper is just stubborn as hell, by the time he was being wheeled out of the ambulance and into the hospital, he was breathing and his heart was beating again.

The doctors, bless them, worked non-stop for seven hours repairing the damage to his lungs and sewing him up on the inside. Jasper spent the next month and a half in the hospital getting well again. But at times, he still got winded if he exerted himself too much.

We were married the same day he was released from the hospital, and now we were about to have our first, second child together.

"It could be false labor," Emmett said. "I took Rosie three times to the hospital before we got it right, remember?"

I pointed to the wet spot on my jeans. "My water broke."

"I'll go get the car," Peter shouted, already moving down the stairs.

"We can't ruin her party, Jasper," I said, pulling on his arm as he guided me to the steps.

"I think havin' a baby in the middle of cake and cookie time will kinda put a damper on things, babe."

"Not to mention, mentally scar those kids for life," Emmett added before running down the stairs past us.

"I could take over," Edward offered.

Jasper and I stopped on the middle of the stairs and stared at him.

"I mean, I know you don't want me around her if you guys aren't here, but I swear she'll be safe. I don't have anybody looking to kill me this week, and I've got my guards outside anyway."

This week?

I gripped Jasper's hand with the contraction, letting it pass before I spoke. "You know this is a party with a bunch of six year olds, right? Not hookers and gangsters."

Edward rolled his eyes. "I know that, Bella."

I looked at Jasper.

He smiled down at me and held me upright as another contraction hit.

"Yes, just bring her to the hospital later, okay?" I said.

"Really?" Edward asked, his green eyes lighting up.

"Don't mess this up, Edward," Jasper warned through clenched teeth. "Or I will fuck you over."

"I'll be good. I mean, I'll do a good job, I promise."

"Oh my God, Bella" Rose yelled from the bottom of the stairs, holding her own screaming baby. My teething nine month old niece, Gabriella, had apparently been woken up from all the commotion going on and she was not happy about it. "Em said you were in labor, what the hell are you doing still standing there?"

Peter honked the car horn outside.

"Rose, help Edward with the party," I said. Jasper helped me the rest of the way down the stairs and draped my coat around my shoulders.

"You're leaving him here…with me?" she asked.

No matter what Edward had done to help us, or how much he loved Emily, Rose still hated him and was deeply suspicious of him. But ever since the day he had stormed into the warehouse, putting his own life in danger to save Jasper, his slate with me was wiped clean. Yes, we still had to watch him and limit our association with him, but he was no longer a threat to me or my relationship with Jasper.

"Yes, and don't you kill him," I said.

She mumbled something under her breath and eyed Edward up and down. "You just wait 'til Emily goes to sleep."

"Rose!"

"I'll be good!" she said. "We'll come to the hospital after the party."

"I'll make sure she behaves, Bella," Char said, hugging me.

Her six month baby bump rubbed against mine. I patted her stomach. "You're next, Mrs. Whitlock."

She rubbed her stomach. "I can't wait."

"Mama! Mama!" Emily ran to me and crashed into my legs. Jasper held me steady.

"It's okay, baby. Stay here with Edward and later on tonight you'll have a new brother."

"Are you still gonna name him what I said?" she asked.

"You betcha!" I hugged her quickly and moaned through another contraction.

Eleven hours later I bore down, gripping Jasper's hand in my own, and pushed nine pound baby Aaron Samuel Whitlock out into the world.

My family was finally complete.


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