AN: Hi, remember me? RL has had me in a stranglehold. Thank you so much for supporting this story, and hopefully more surely than slowly it will get finished.
I do not own these characters, nor do I speak for Robin Roberts.
The last few weeks had flown by in a flurry of work and early wedding plans, but Edward and I made sure we made time just to be together. We spent every weekend since our engagement together, including one very amazing weekend on his yacht.
Our friends and family were thrilled for us, and not all that surprised. I noticed the first time I saw Alice when I got home, that she was wearing a gorgeous multi-gem ballerina pendant. I shook my head at her, and she just grinned.
Alice and Rosalie had promised to help out with the majority of the wedding plans while I was to be out on my book tour, so we all sat down together and went over the major issues like location. When I described what Edward and I had thought about as a place for our wedding, Rosalie mentioned a photo shoot that she had done at Thornewood Castle. It was just outside of Seattle, and had plenty of lodging for all of our wedding party. It was also a romantic and beautiful setting, and Edward enthusiastically approved. Somehow, Rose was able to get them to rent the place out to us, but not until the second week of September. So, that was what we went with for our wedding date.
I spent the last week before my tour finalizing the schedule with Jane, who was quite surprised when I agreed for the first time in my career to do a few television appearances. I had only done bookstore signings and radio before, still hung up on a lot of the issues of my past. I think I wanted my confident author persona to be untainted by it all somehow.
I also wanted a little anonymity from people who didn't care about the old Bella, but would kiss up to Isabella Swan. But now, I was happy with who I was...both the old and the new had combined making me comfortable enough to put myself out there. I had the people that mattered to me in my life, and that was enough for me.
Rose was kind enough to do an engagement photo shoot for us, and our announcement was apparently placed on the cover of the society section. But, it didn't bother me as much as I had once believed that it would. I was not ashamed of any part of my life, and certainly not my relationship with Edward.
I found myself basically living at Edwards by that time as well. We knew that we would be apart more than we were used to, so we didn't want to waste any of our time together. He was more than okay with that.
It was the Friday before my tour started that I recieved the first few copies of "Blazes of Rosellon". It was always such a proud moment when I held the final copy of my creation in my hands. The thought of my book finding a proud home on the bookshelves of people all over the world; my characters living in the minds of thousands of readers...simply thrilled me.
I had been hard pressed to squeeze in my special dedication before it went to printing, but I had just made it. I had done dedications before, to Dad, Rose, and Alice, but this one was very different. I had two very particular people that I wanted to give this gift to. Esme recieved her copy today as well, as I had requested that her copy be sent when mine was. She called me to thank me, and sounded almost as excited as when we called her to tell her we were engaged. Almost. Now, I was just really excited for Edward to get home.
I was setting up the table and putting out the pasta I had made when I heard him pull into the garage. I quickly lit the candles and poured two glasses of white wine. His smile was as big as always when he came home to me. He hung up his suit coat and loosened his tie, before kissing me sweetly.
"God, I missed you. Something sure smells good," he noted.
"I made chicken fettucini alfredo and garlic bread...nothing too fancy, I'm afraid."
"Anything you cook is amazing, sweetheart. Thank you."
We ate and talked about our day, enjoying each other as much as possible. I was so glad we had this whole weekend to spend together before the tour. Our plan was to not leave his house until Monday morning.
We cleaned up after dinner and went up to our room...he corrected me anytime I called it his room. I took this as my opportunity, and I couldn't for the life of me tell why I was so nervous.
"Baby, I have something for you."
I walked over to the bookcase in our room, and took his copy off the shelf before placing it in his hands.
"Esme got hers today as well, but you have the first signed copy in your hands."
"Sweetheart!" he exclaimed with wide eyes.
He opened the book and flipped through the first few pages before finding the dedication page where I chose to put his signature. He began to read the dedication out loud,
"'I'm not a bit changed-not really. I'm only just pruned down and branched out. The real ME-back here-is just the same.' Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery
This book is dedicated to my Edward, the love of my life, whose strength helped me branch out and who saw and loved the real me. And, to my biggest fan and the woman who is as much like a mother as I could ever hope for. Esme, I love you."
He was so choked up, he had to clear his throat before reading the quick message I had penned to him along with my signature.
"I can't wait to marry you! I love you always, Edward. xoxo Your, Isabella Swan"
He closed the book and looked down upon it reverently for a few moments before carefully placing it on his nightstand. Then he turned to me and took me quickly in his arms as he kissed me fervently.
"Baby, I'm so proud of you, and that...I have no words. I love you, so, so much," he panted.
"I love you, too. And, when that book goes on sale next week, the world will know that only you have my heart forever."
He proceeded to show me with is touch, his kisses, and his body that my feelings were enthusiastically reciprocated. He was even more passionate than ever before...as if, because he couldn't find the words, he was trying to burn them into my skin and brand them on my heart.
3 weeks later
The tour was going great. Edward was able to be with me for my first stop, a signing in a large family owned bookstore in Seattle. In the time since, I had made a few stops down the Pacific coast states, several in California (including one television appearance), and one day stops in Pheonix, Denver, Albuquerque, and Witchita before finally heading home for a weekend with Edward.
We missed each other terribly...we had phone calls and skype, but nothing compared to just getting to hold and kiss each other in person. We had decided that he would take a week off to accompany me to Texas and through to Atlanta before separating again. Then I would only have a few more weeks and I would be done.
Edward sat with me at my signing table in a large bookstore in Houston, our second stop in Texas. I knew he must be bored just sitting there and fetching me coffee or water from time to time, but he swore that it thrilled him to see me interact with my fans. He said he loved to see their excitement about something that I had written, which was a sentiment that I whole heartedly agreed with.
I had been signing for several hours, thrilled with the wide demographic that this series was attracting...from a sweet 75 year old lady to an incredibly smart and precocious 8 year old 4th grader. I had just finished signing a copy for a shy teen girl with braces who blushed furiously when she got an eyeful of Edward and he grinned at her. I shook my head at him and laughed, reaching for the next patron's book.
"Hello, who should I sign it to?" I asked for perhaps the hundredth time that day.
"How about 'mom'?" the dreadfully familiar voice replied.
I reactively grabbed Edward's arm causing him to look up at her. His eyes sparked in recognition before glaring in righteous fury. I then looked up to see her looking right at me, and ignoring Edward.
"Hello, Bella...looks like you're doing pretty well these days. Bestselling book, millioniare fiance', and according to your dedication a new mother...this Esme person." she said.
My heart pounded and my thoughts swirled as I looked into the eyes of the woman who had nearly broken me. Edward squeezed my hand, effectively bringing me out of the darkness of my past and reminding me of the brightness of my present and future that I would no longer allow her to blight with her heartlessness.
I aimed my favorite gold inked pen at her copy of my book and simply wrote:
To Renee', 'Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.' - Oprah Winfrey
Sincerely, Isabella Swan
I returned her book to her and watched her eyes flame when she read what I had written. She stormed out of the bookstore, and I hugged Edward and gathered myself for a few minutes. He seemed to be holding himself back from launching from his chair and out the door after her. Once I had calmed, I continued with my signing. Edward alerted the store's management about the situation, so that they head her off if she considered coming near me again, but it proved unnecessary. I did not see her again.
Later in the hotel room, Edward and I were holding each other and talked about the days' events.
"I wanted so badly to physically pick her up and remove her...I didn't want her anywhere near you. But I thought about it, and I knew you needed to do this yourself. If she had come any closer, I would have thrown her out though," he spoke lowly.
"Yeah, and potentially gotten yourself thrown out too...but thank you. I do feel a lot lighter about it. I know now she really doesn't have any power over me anymore...she can't hurt me and she can't take away the things that mean the most to me. It is good to know that for certain," I replied.
After stops in New Orleans, and Nashville, we parted in Atlanta. I finished the weekend out there before continuing on to Chicago and the major cities in the east. The plan was to spend the entire last week of the tour in New York, as I had several radio and television appearances as well as signings to do. I skyped with Alice and Rose several times a week making choices on flowers, invitations and the like over the computer.
I was quite nervous in the green room of "Good Morning America", which was by far the biggest television appearance on the schedule. I called Edward and let his warm, smooth voice talk me off of the ledge and calm me. The assistant led me just off-stage and gave me instructions that I only heard every other word of. Suddenly, my name was called and met with loud applause, and I walked carefully to sit in the chair next to Robin Roberts. I waved briefly and smiled at the audience very thankful for their support.
"Isabella, welcome to the show!" she greeted warmly.
"Thank you, Robin...it's good to be here."
"So, Isabella...congratulations on the success of your new book, "Blazes of Rosellon". I must tell you I read it straight through in one night. I've been a fan of yours for a few years, and I really think this is the best so far."
"I'm very proud of it, thank you so much. It is my first time to attempt historical romance, and it was a lot of fun to write." I replied.
"This is certainly not your first go-round with a bestseller, but I understand that this series is more unique in a lot of ways. One major difference is that you are presenting yourself as an author, really for the first time...you've put your actual photo in your biography for the first time, and this tour is a lot more public and personal with the appearances. What made you do it differently for this book?"
"It has a lot more to do with personal growth than anything really. I have been very blessed for several years to be able to do what I love and make a good living at it. But, I never really felt comfortable in my own skin...I wanted my writing to be a separate thing than my life. I felt I exposed so much about who I was already through writing...well I justified it that way. But truthfully, I was having a hard time putting together the girl I was as a child; insecure and unhappy with the woman I was becoming. I finally came to be comfortable and happy with who I am and no longer felt the need to separate myself. A lot of things came together for me this year, and this change is a direct reflection of that." I answered.
She put our engagement picture on the screen behind us, and the entire crowd awww'd.
"And who is this gorgeous young man?" Robin smiled and winked coyly.
I couldn't hide my megawatt beam as I replied,
"That is my Edward...my fiance."
I felt someone sit on the couch right beside me and turned to find the very object of my love sitting beside me grinning from ear to ear. I squealed and wrapped my arms around him.
I laughed and kissed him quickly.
We finished the interview soon after, and made our way back to the hotel. We made love all night, making up for all the lost time, then flew home the next day to finish preparations for our upcoming wedding.
AN2: Next chapter...the wedding. After that...the epi. Please stick with me!