So many of you asked for it and I've missed these two. So here it is, a glimpse into Edward and Bella's future.
My hands tremble and shake the letter. My eyes are watery and blurry. My chest aches and my heart races and not in the way Edward makes it race, but in the way I haven't felt it do in years.
I hear the car arrive in the driveway and quickly fold and shove the letter into the pocket of my jeans. I wash my face with water from the kitchen faucet and take several deep breaths like Dr. Jordan advised me so many years ago to try and to calm myself down.
"We're home!" Edward shouts. I hear our daughter's giggles and that quickly makes me calm down. Edward, now a man of 30 years of age, walks into our kitchen with our four year old daughter, Jackie, clinging to his shirt as he playfully carries her like a football.
Her brown curls bounce with every step he takes and another tiny giggle escapes her mouth.
"Hey, love," he says and walks over to me, giving me a chaste kiss on the lips. He takes one look at my face and quickly places Jackie on the ground. "Hey, Jackie Boo, why don't you go get your pajamas ready and we'll meet ya' in a few minutes?"
"Yes, Daddy," she says in her small voice and runs off to her room.
Edward sighs and without asking takes me into his arms. He always knows when something is wrong. He doesn't even have to ask. He knows me so well. I wonder why he doesn't get tired of me.
It's not like I've been depressed and a mess with him during all these years. No. I've been completely lost in blissful happiness.
But once in a blue moon, I would get these letters or phone calls.
I ignored the phone calls and read the letters with fear. As if his words could do the same damage as his hands once did. They would ruin my whole day and Edward was always there to comfort me.
What did he want?
It was never clear what he wanted. He never said anything concrete in the five phone calls he had made in the past 12 years and his letters didn't make any sense.
He was a sick man after all.
"What's wrong, baby?" He kisses my forehead and breathes me in.
"Nothing. I'm just tired."
"I love you."
"I love you too."
"You're not getting out of this," he mutters and I have to chuckle.
"How is Esme?" I ask, trying to change the subject.
"Oh, she's great." It works, but only for a little while. "She wouldn't let Jackie come back home. I think she wants to keep her. We might need to keep her away if we don't wanna lose our kiddo," he says, smiling.
"Can't blame her, our kid is a cute one. She gets it from me."
"What? I'm the adorable one."
"I agree," I say against his lips, sliding my hands to his ass.
He chuckles and buries his face into my neck, biting me.
"Ugh, I hate it when you do that."
"It turns you on, that's why." I roll my eyes. "But don't think you're not telling me what's wrong with you."
"But before that, let's put a very tired and adorable daughter of ours to bed."
Edward is the best father in the world. He spoils and loves our daughter so much it makes me so happy.
He says the same about my mothering skills.
Jackie is a happy kid. She has never known misery or fear. She smiles at everyone and at everything. She has no knowledge of the world's cruelty. Her parents make sure to keep her this way.
Because that was our life when we were young.
We wouldn't bear it if she ever knew it.
We didn't have fathers that protected us or mothers that cared. We both lived in fear and sadness. I think that's what made us both such great parents.
We both had made it a goal when we found out that I was pregnant.
We wouldn't be like them.
Of course Edward has his adoptive family that helps and loves us both. They have helped to protect Jacqueline from harm.
Of course I know the world isn't perfect. She'll grow up and will have to face it. She'll have to face the world's imperfection. But unlike me, she'll have a mother and a father to help her through and to love her.
"Daddy, can we go to McDonalds tomorrow and can I get Happy Meal with a toy?" Jackie asks as we each kneel at her bedside.
Edward looks at me and smirks at me and then looks at his daughter. "Of course, Jackie Boo," he promises and kisses her nose.
"Mommy, you cans have one, too."
I smile and feel the love for my daughter in my chest. I hold back the tears and kiss her softly on her warm cheek.
Edward and I wait until she falls asleep and head to our room.
I finish brushing my teeth and head to bed, where he is already waiting for me. He wiggles his eyebrows suggestively and I slap his belly.
"You have no control," I tease him as he chuckles. I lay my head on his chest and run my hand up and down his chest.
"You know what that does to me."
"Yes, like everything else."
"Don't think you're getting out of the pending conversation, Swan."
"I like that one better."
"Of course you do," I say and smile into his chest.
I take a deep breath and snuggle tighter into his body as if he could hold me together.
"I got another letter today."
"What does he say?"
"It was actually from his cellmate. He's sick."
Edward sighs and hugs me tighter. "And?"
"He's actually dying. He has cancer. He refused treatment and is dying now." He doesn't say anything. I know him. His mind is making conclusions about what this means for me. "He's asking for me. But since I don't answer the phone, his cellmate wrote me a letter asking me to go visit him before he dies."
"How dare he ask for you?"
"I don't know. Maybe since death is around the corner, he wants to say goodbye."
"Do you wanna go?"
"I don't know."
"Well you don't have to, love. He was a monster. He ruined your youth. He doesn't deserve you. You don't owe him anything."
"I know I don't, Edward. But I'm also not like him. I would like to believe that I'm a good person."
"You're the fucking best."
"Then I can go see him and say goodbye."
He sighs heavily and kisses my forehead. "I'll drive you."
It smells the same as it did years ago. It's still so cold.
The guard leads me to front desk where I'm checked for weapons or anything else illegal. I'm given a visitor's badge and explained what the rules are for visiting someone in the medical area.
I don't listen.
I just nod and try to control my breathing.
The same guard leads me past the visitors area and into the medical station and then to him.
He's so thin. He's so small now. His hair is gray and his beard thick. He's old.
He's asleep. He looks so sick and weak.
The guard says I have twenty minutes and leaves. I don't think I'll need so much time.
I slowly move to the bed that holds the man that I feared for so long. I want to laugh bitterly as he now looks like he couldn't hurt me even if he tried.
I'm more powerful than him.
I always was.
He slowly opens his eyes and it takes him a couple of minutes to process my face in his mind.
So unlike him.
He waves his hand for me to get closer to him.
"Isabella," his weak voice slowly pronounces my name.
I don't say anything back, I just nod.
"Isabella, your mother is making soup again. Can you tell her that I hate soup?"
I can't fight anymore. Tears overflow my eyes and land on his bed sheets.
"I will." I play along.
"How was school?"
"Okay, I guess."
"You need to make friends, Isabella. It ain't normal to be so lonely."
I sit at the edge of the bed. He reaches for my hand and I flinch, but he doesn't notice and takes my hand is his rougher one.
I don't know what he is thinking or what he wants, but I just go with it.
"Do you need lunch money?"
"Are you getting good grades?"
"That's good, Bells. That's good. I always knew you would be good. You're good. So good," he says and gently pats my hand. "You shouldn't watch so much TV."
That's how I spend the rest of the 20 minutes. I answer all his questions. They are questions he should have asked when I was younger, but I don't say that. I just nod and answer.
I realize what is happening.
I'm having the moment I never had with him.
He's giving me or himself this moment before he dies.
It doesn't matter.
I can't help it and I cry.
He closes his eyes.
The guard reminds me I have two minutes left.
Charles never opens his eyes again.
"Goodbye," I whisper. I hope he can hear me.
Wherever he is at.
I wipe my face and eyes and take a deep breath before I reach Edward and Jackie. They are sitting on the back of his pickup. I stop before they notice me.
He is holding the BBQ sauce containers for her so she can dip her chicken nuggets. He kisses her forehead. She continues eating, unfazed by her father's constant acts of affection. She licks her tiny BBQ covered fingers and smiles when she notices me.
I love them so much.
I'll always love them.
Edward realizes that she is staring at me and jumps off the truck with a Happy Meal bag in his hand and walks towards me.
"Hey, love," he says before he wraps me in his arms and kisses me with so much love I can barely keep up with his lips.
I know what he is trying to tell me and I sigh against his lips.
He gives me one final kiss and pulls away to show me the bag of food. He smiles and waves it across my face.
"Hurry and open it."
I giggle and open the bag and pull out the toy first.
"Your two minutes of joy," he says, still remembering what I had said so many years before.
"No," I whisper and I look at our daughter and then at him. "A lifetime of happiness with you both."
So there you go. I know it's not long, but once a story has a conclusion; there isn't much to write anymore. You just gotta let the characters be :)
Once again, thank you so much for continuing to show this story so much love, I think I've received over 1,000 reviews since the last chapter and I continue to get reviews in my inbox.
Please know I still read them and care very much about what you have to say. I'm amazed at how much this little story has affected some of you and people around the world. I get private messages from Latin America, Asia, Europe and other places letting me know how much they relate to this story or how much this story has changed their perspective on teen issues or made them more aware of child abuse.
Thank you so much. I love you all.