We're finally at the end. I'd like to thank everyone who has read, reviewed and rec'd this story. I love you all. I know I'm rubbish at replying to
reviews, I usually have no time or no computer to do it on, but please know that I have read and been grateful for every one of them.
Thanks to beckybrit for reading through this for me.
If you've enjoyed this story, please make sure you place the Elusively Yours Outtakes on alert, just in case I ever get the urge to add an update in the
Disclaimer – Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight.
"There is no way this can be happening." Bella was freaking out big time. I just couldn't stop grinning.
"But it is."
"But it's impossible!"
"Well…clearly it's not."
"Will you stop smiling like that, Edward? It's not funny!" I wrapped her up in my arms.
"I'm sorry, baby." I told her, stroking her hair. "I'm just happy, I can't help it."
"But the wedding's still four months off, I'll be showing by then," she wailed.
"So you're panicking, not because the test was positive, but because you'll be walking down the aisle with a bump under your dress?" I stepped back a little and looked at her. A tear was running slowly down one of her cheeks as she nodded. "Well that's a problem we can solve easily enough, we'll just bring the wedding forward."
"We can't bring the wedding forward! Everybody knows what our plans are. They'll all guess something's going on." She slumped down onto the bed and I sat down next to her.
"Well, we'll just tell them we decided that we couldn't wait." She sighed and leaned her head on my shoulder.
"It would still be too much of a rush. We couldn't possibly get it all prepared in time."
"Then we'll put it back," I tell her, shrugging.
"No! I'm doing this in the right order. There's no way I'm putting it back to afterwards."
Bella twisted her hands anxiously in her lap, as I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and stroked her arm up and down.
"Baby, I'm doing my best here, but I'm pretty sure that's all of our options covered. You're going to have to give a little, one way or another."
"I just wanted everything to be perfect." She wiped her hands across her eyes. I moved off the bed and crouched down on the floor in front of her, cupping her face so
that she was forced to look at me.
"And now it is. Nothing could be more perfect than this. I love you." I leaned forward and placed a small kiss on her lips. She relaxed for a moment and then stiffened again.
"Oh my God! The book launch!" she exclaimed. I sighed.
"Why are you worrying about that?" I asked her, struggling to understand.
"Because it's next Wednesday morning, and all I do is vomit until noon." She began to cry again.
I stood up and pulled my phone out of my pocket.
"What are you doing?" she asked curiously, sniffing as she looked up at me through wet lashes.
"I'm calling Alice."
"No! You can't tell anyone! It's too early!" She jumped up and reached for the phone. I held it up, out of her reach.
"Bella. You're worrying about everything here, and it isn't good for you or the baby…" I paused as I said the word, half aware of the goofy smile that had spread across my face again. "If anyone can sort out everything we have going on here, it's my sister. Come on, we can't possibly do this alone."
Bella relaxed and sat down again.
"Fine, tell her. But swear her to secrecy, ok?"
"You expect her to keep this from Jasper?" I asked. She sighed in exasperation.
"Ok, ok, she can tell Jas. But that's it. Nobody else."
"Agreed," I told her as I dial Alice's number.
Alice answered on the second ring and I told her that I had some news. She guessed immediately what it was, and I saw Bella flinch as Alice's squeal reached her ears from where she was sitting.
"The thing is, Alice, Bella's feeling a little overwhelmed. Could you spare some time to help us out? I think we're going to have to reshuffle things. The Christmas wedding is definitely out."
So much for the twelve month engagement. We'd done everything so quickly; getting together, Bella moving in with me, and then the engagement, that we'd decided to wait a full year to get married. With this new development though, we were more than likely going to be married with a baby on the way by our first anniversary.
I wasn't sure who was the most excited, me or Alice. I glanced over at Bella. It was definitely not her, anyway. I knew that she was in shock though, and I was positive that once it passed, she'd be looking forward to the prospect of our new arrival too.
Alice promised to come over that evening to make a start on the re-organization that needed doing. She actually offered to come right over, but I was floating in my happy place and intended to share it only with Bella and the microscopic life we had created inside her. I ended the call and turned to Bella.
"I'm going to take such good care of the both of you," I told her, kneeling down in front of her again. "Would you like to take a bath? I'll run one for you if you like." She reached out, fisted the fabric of my t-shirt and drew me to her, kissing me lightly on the lips.
"Only if you'll come in with me," she said. "I'm not sure I can cope with being alone right now."
There was something adorable about her vulnerability. It wasn't something I'd seen much of from her, and I liked it.
"Of course I will," I told her, kissing her again. "Give me thirty seconds to turn the faucet on. I'll be right back."
I almost ran to the bathroom, pushed the plug in and set the water running, adding a dash of Bella's favorite bath bubbles to the water, before rushing back to her.
Once back in the bedroom I relaxed again, as I removed my clothes. As soon as I was naked, I pulled Bella to her feet and undressed her tenderly, starting with her top half. As I unfastened the zipper on her skirt and let it fall to the floor, I dropped to my knees. I couldn't resist stroking the soft skin of her belly and planting a soft kiss just below her belly button. I looked up into her face and saw that she was watching me with a slight smile on her lips. She reached a hand out and stroked my hair.
"You're going to be a wonderful father, Edward," she told me.
"If my fathering skills are even half as good as I know your mothering ones will be, then I'll be happy," I told her, standing again. "Come on." I took her hand and led her to the bathroom. She slid her underwear off as I leant over to shut off the water. I climbed in first, and then held out my hand to her to help her in. She settled down between my legs, reclining with her back against my chest.
Gently I ran my finger up and down her arm, trying to relax her. She hummed contentedly, so I guessed that it was working. I closed my eyes, revelling in the peace and calm of the moment. When I opened them again to comment to Bella that she was very quiet, I found that she had her hands on her belly. Another wave of happiness saturated my being, and I cast my eyes over her, trying to commit the contented image before me, to memory.
As I looked, I realized that there were already subtle changes to her body. Her breasts were a little fuller and her nipples were slightly larger and darker. I knew that things were going to get a little more dramatic than that in the course of the next eight months or so, but the fact that she already had visible signs of the changes going on inside, was pretty incredible. I couldn't wait to see what the future held.
By the time Alice arrived that evening, Bella was already much calmer and accepting of the situation. Excited might be taking things a little too far, but I think it was safe to say that she was showing definite signs of happiness.
"Oh my God, you two! I can't believe it, I'm so happy for you!" Alice gushed when I opened the front door to her. She threw her arms around me and then all but ran to the living room to do the same to Bella. "Jasper sends his congratulations too, naturally. He's really pleased for you both."
"Well, tell him thank you, would you, Alice? We appreciate it."
"I will," she said, smiling. "Right." She was all business-like now, as she removed her jacket and pulled a pad of paper and a pen from the bag she had with her. "So no Christmas wedding I hear?"
"Definitely not," Bella said. "There is no way I'm being a pregnant bride."
We both looked at her.
"Ok, so I will be a pregnant bride," she said in exasperation. "But I don't want a baby bump underneath my dress."
"Ok," said Alice, pulling her pocket diary from her purse. "So I'm thinking we have, three months at the absolute maximum, to do this. Two if we want to be sure."
"I do want to be sure. Can we do it in two months?"
"On one condition," I told her. "That you let Alice and I arrange it all. I don't want you getting stressed."
"I'm going to be even more stressed if I have to leave it all to you two," she said. She looked horrified. "I want this to be small and understated, especially now."
I looked at Alice. Bella looked at Alice. Alice just didn't do small and understated when it came to events.
"So, tell me what you do want," Alice told her.
"I want to get married outside. Somewhere beautiful, with just our families and a few friends."
"Outside? You're sure? You do remember that we live in the Pacific North West, right?" I said to Bella. She gave me a withering look.
"Yes. We'll just add umbrellas to the list of things we need for it, just in case." She turned to Alice and pointed to the notepad. "Write that down."
"Nearly done. Come on, Bella, I said breathe in…"
"I am breathing in, Alice," I said through gritted teeth. "Please don't tell me that it won't fasten, I will cry."
I felt her tug at the fabric and a few moments later she stood back.
"There! All done. You might not want to sit down though. Or eat anything."
I turned and looked at her in dismay.
"You promised you'd let it out after I tried it on last week."
"I…uh…" She looked at me and bit her lip. "I did. You must have grown again." She flinched as she told me.
"How is that even possible?" I demanded. "This baby's going to weigh twenty pounds by the time it's born if it keeps growing at this rate."
"Look, it'll be fine. You have that wrap you can use to cover your back if you want me to unfasten a couple of the buttons before the wedding breakfast."
I blinked back tears and nodded. Moving in front of the mirror, I gasped in wonder at my reflection. Alice had done an exceptional job on me; my hair and make-up were flawless, and the dress was perfect. Or it would have been were it a little larger around the waist and chest to make it more comfortable. I turned sideways and looked again.
"Is it obvious?" I asked as I examined myself carefully. I was painfully aware of the swell of my stomach beneath the dress. "Oh my God, it is, isn't it? Everyone's going to know…" I was becoming panicky.
"Bella, calm down. It's only obvious to you because you know. Trust me, nobody else will notice anything."
I raised my eyebrows at her, but she just looked steadily back at me. I huffed out a breath.
"Ok, fine. I believe you."
There was a knock at the door and Alice glided across the room to answer it. How the hell did she 'glide' in heels? I wished I had her grace, especially today when I was to be the center of attention.
"Hey, Bells." It was my dad. I turned to face him and his mouth dropped open a little as he looked at me properly for the first time. "You look beautiful, honey."
"Thanks, Dad," I whispered.
"Ok, Bella. I'm going out now," Alice told me. "I'll see you outside,."
"Thanks, Alice." I held out my arms and she stepped into my embrace for a moment.
"You'll be fine," she whispered. I hoped she'd be right.
Once Alice had left, I caught my Dad looking at me strangely.
"Is everything ok?" I asked him, my heart beating a little faster.
"You look different. I…I can't put my finger on what it is, though." He tilted his head to the side. I attempted a light-hearted laugh, but it came out sounding kind of strangled.
"It'll just be the hair and make-up. Alice is amazing at it," I told him, trying to wave his observation off.
"Yeah, I guess," he said, although I could tell that he wasn't convinced.
"Jeez, look at the time!" I exclaimed enthusiastically. "We'd better go."
I turned for the door, but then realized that my Dad wasn't following.
"Bells, now you're sure about this aren't you? Because it's not too late. I don't want you thinking that because you've got this far, that people will be mad if you back out."
"Dad, I'm sure. Absolutely one hundred per cent sure. I love Edward." I paused as I looked at him. "Are you not happy about me doing this? Because you know, I was under the impression that Edward asked for your permission and you granted it," I said, a little confused. My Dad offered me a sad smile.
"If you're happy, then I'm happy, Bella. I just don't understand why you're in such a hurry."
"Well, I have to say, you pick the best moments to raise your doubts," I told him, smiling. He hung his head for a moment, before he looked back up at me.
"I'm sorry. So, just to be sure; you definitely want to do this?" he asked me. I kissed him on the cheek.
"Yes. I definitely do."
Five minutes later I was standing at the pier, my arm entwined with my father's. I looked straight ahead, ignoring the people lining the space between me and Edward. Almost as though he knew I was there, he turned. The light on his face as he found me was enough to cause tears to form in my eyes. This was despite the promises I'd made to myself that I wasn't going to cry. He smiled his dazzling smile at me and I smiled nervously back.
Beside him, Emmett also turned and clapped him on the shoulder when he saw me, which I took to be a sign of approval. Somewhere off to the side, a string quartet began to play and my dad nudged me – that was our cue. Together we made our way along the strip of pale blue carpet that had been laid along the length of the pier.
It seemed to take forever before we reached the end. When we finally did, my dad placed my hand in Edward's and took a step back. I looked up into Edward's face and marvelled at how beautiful he looked in the autumn sunshine. Mother nature appeared to approve of our union enough to hold the rain off, at least.
As the music ended and the minister began to speak, I diverted my eyes from Edward for the first time, and our perfect surroundings struck me. The sky was a flawless blue and there wasn't a ripple on the lake as it nestled at the foot of the surrounding hills. The water was fantastically clear right in front of us, but changed to a vivid blue the deeper it got. It was perfect.
"I want to tell them," Edward whispered to me as we sat side by side eating our dessert. I looked at him; he was glowing. How could I possible deny that face? He was like a child at Christmas. I smiled.
"Alright. Go ahead." He stopped. It had evidently been the last response he'd been expecting.
"Are you sure?"
"No. I'm freaking out at what everyone will say, but we've had the sonogram and I've passed twelve weeks now. I guess it's as good a time as any. At least my dad won't cause a scene here!" I said, only half joking. Edward paled a little as he shot a look across at my father and winced.
When it finally came time for the speeches, Edward watched nervously as Emmett pulled a folded sheet of paper from his pocket. I put my hand on his knee and leaned in to whisper to him.
"Relax. I had Rosalie promise me that she'd check it over beforehand." Edward smiled at me gratefully. It turned out fine and Emmett had found the perfect balance between funny and sweet.
My dad went next and predictably made me, himself, and all of the women in the room cry with his open declarations of his love for me.
Finally it was Edward's turn. As he stood, he looked at me anxiously. I nodded and reached out, squeezing his hand to reassure him. He stood tall, letting his eyes roam over the small group of close family and friends gathered to celebrate with us.
"If anybody had told me this time last year that I'd be standing here married to the most beautiful woman in Forks, I'd never have believed them. Well, actually I'd probably have cursed at them and thrown a punch, but that just shows what a difference the love of a good woman can make. And Bella is good. She's about as damn near to perfect as you can get." A couple of whistles sounded around the room, and he smiled at me.
"I know a few of you thought that our original plan for a Christmas wedding was rushing things, and that even more of you thought that moving it forward to October was plain ridiculous. Well, hopefully you'll appreciate why we did move things forward when I announce that Bella and I are expecting our first baby in the spring!"
Edward grinned down at me and I beamed back at him as a collective gasp and a series of surprised murmurs went around the room. It only took a moment for the cheers and applause to begin and Edward pulled me to my feet, kissed me and hugged me tightly into his side. As I risked a look at the faces in the room, I was relieved to see smiles all around. Carlisle was grinning widely, Esme was virtually bouncing off her seat with excitement, and even my dad was smiling, although I could see the promise that we would discuss this announcement later, on his face.
I looked across to Jake, who was sitting with his arm around Leah, and he raised his glass to me, a huge sunny smile on his face. I returned it, grateful for his support. Of course, he had been the only person we had told aside from Alice and Jasper. He was still my best friend, alongside Edward. It seemed fair to share some good news with him after everything we'd been through together.
"Thank you," Edward said to our guests. "Just before I ask you to raise your glasses for a final time, I have one last announcement to make. I wanted them to make this public themselves, but they seemed to think it would take something from mine and Bella's day. I disagree. In my opinion the more reasons to celebrate, the better, right?" A mumbled agreement went round. "So, I'd like to congratulate my little sister, Alice and my good friend Jasper on their engagement! It looks like we'll be getting to go to a Christmas wedding after all."
I grinned again as Alice and Jasper graciously accepted the congratulations coming their way, with big smiles.
"Please raise your glasses to Alice and Jasper."
"Alice and Jasper," the crowd replied as they raised their glasses in a toast.
"And to my beautiful wife, Bella."
Oh God, oh God, oh God.
I was going to die, I was sure of it. There was no way that a person could experience this much pain and live to speak of it.
"Ok, Bella, that's the head out. As soon as you get the urge again, I need to you to push as hard as you can for me and your baby will be here."
"Baby, you're doing really well," Edward told me, pushing my hair back off my forehead with the hand that I wasn't crushing. He shifted for a moment, but was quickly back. "I can see the head!" he whispered excitedly to me, his voice thick with emotion. Or I imagined it probably would, in all honesty I was pretty lacking in awareness by this point.
I was past the point of cursing at him and vowing to rip certain parts of his anatomy from his body; I just wanted this over with now. For the past ten minutes I'd been tackling this with a new level of determination, and when I needed to push again soon after the nurse's words, I told myself that this was it, that baby was coming out this time.
As my body reacted naturally to the urge, I gritted my teeth and bore down as hard as I could. Suddenly all of the pressure vanished and there was the sudden sound of triumphant voices in the room, followed by a baby's cry filling the air.
"Congratulations, you have a son!" the nurse told us, smiling as she lifted the purple-colored wet, wriggling child onto my chest. I cradled him to me and gazed down into his face. He looked…squashed. I laughed a little as I gently stroked my finger over his face and greeted him. Looking up, wondering where Edward was, I saw the nurse walking him through cutting the cord. As soon as it was done, Edward came back to me…or rather, to us. He kissed me softly on the forehead.
"I'm so proud of you, Bella. Look what you did!" he said, bending over and kissing our son's head too.
Our son. It sounded so strange.
"We have a son," I whispered, testing how it sounded out loud. We had another minute or so together, both murmuring in wonder at how blessed we were, before the nurse came and took our baby to the other side of the room to clean him up and weigh him.
"What day is it? I asked Edward, my head flopping to the side to look at him as soon as my arms were empty again.
"Tuesday. It's eight forty-five in the evening."
"No wonder I feel exhausted," I told him. "I've been awake for over thirty-six hours. I should have known I wouldn't be lucky enough to have a six hour labor," I grumbled. "Not that it matters now he's here of course," I added quickly.
"And he's perfect. Just like his mother," Edward said softly. I guffawed and shifted a little, wincing as the movement reminded me how sore I was.
"Are you ok?" Edward asked, his face full of concern.
"About as ok as anybody would be having squeezed something that size out of their most delicate area," I informed him, raising my eyebrow.
"He weighs eight pounds ten and a half ounces," the nurse announced from the other side of the room. I winced again at the thought of it. That was pretty big, especially considering my frame. "And he's twenty two inches long."
I looked at Edward.
"He's going to be tall like his daddy," I told him, smiling. The nurse crossed the room and handed our cleaned up little bundle back to me.
"Have you decided on a name?" The nurse asked. I looked at Edward and he smiled at me and gave a small nod.
"Yeah. Uh…Max. Max Masen Cullen." I'd been keen to have 'Edward' as our chosen middle name for a boy, but Edward had really wanted to pass on one of his middle names instead. I could understand it entirely when he explained that it was his mother's maiden name.
"That's lovely. It suits him," she said, smiling as she looked at Max's little face for a moment, before going back to her paperwork across the room.
I pushed the pale blue blanket back off his head and lifted his tiny hat a little. A tuft of downy hair poked out. As it caught the light, I smiled at the coppery tone that suddenly illuminated from within. "He has your hair too," I said, thrilled at having a little boy so much like his handsome father.
"His beauty is all you, Bella," Edward told me as we both watched him in wonder. Looking at the dazzling man with his arm wrapped around me, even with the dark circles beneath his eyes and the scruff on his chin, I had to disagree. I was beyond lucky to have two such adorable men in my life.
"I guess this is the beginning of a new chapter for us," he said, holding our son's tiny hand between his fingers. "Do you think it will be easier than the last one?" I snorted a little and Max grunted as he squirmed in his blanket. I looked up at Edward who laughed softly at me.
"Oops!" I whispered. "And in answer to your question, no, I don't think it'll be easier. I think we just began the biggest challenge of our lives; I hope you're up to it, Cullen."
"Bring it on, Baby. I can't wait."