Breaking Free: Future Take
This is what I donated to Fandom Against Domestic Violence at the insistence of my good friend cherieblossum who wanted babies. :)
Thank you sister_liz for beta'ing my work so quickly when I typically only give you a couple hours to get it done. You are very much appreciated.
Thank you Christag_banner for always making me the most amazing banners.
Check out the wonderful banner for this future-take she made for me on my profile. It's beautiful!
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or anything associated with the story. No copyright infringement intended.
First off, I want to thank the people who started this project and put this compilation together. You are all amazing and did a wonderful thing with this. To all the women who shared their stories of abuse on the blog, I commend you on taking a stand to get out of that situation, and having the courage to share your stories with the rest of us. You are truly an inspiration to us all. Thank you to all the people who donated money to receive this compilation. You might not think you're doing much but every little bit helps to save women and children from an abusive relationship. You very well could have saved a life with your small donation.
This is a future-take/continuation of "Breaking Free".
In the next few years, Edward and I worked hard at building the ranch we wanted. We had a modest home built as well as a huge barn and a facility to work out of as soon as I finished vet school. My dad helped out tremendously with labor; whereas, my step father helped out financially. My mom pretty much kept to herself and tried not to have an opinion on what I had chosen. I knew she was still a little bitter about my choices, but she kept it to herself as much as possible. Edward and I were both thankful for this fact. She still didn't seem to like Edward no matter how much he tried to be nice to her. I thought by now she would have come to accept him and not have so much resentment towards him but I was coming to the conclusion there was never going to be a day she truly accepted Edward in my life.
I thought going to college would be easy but I was proven wrong. I wanted it bad enough though so I worked harder than I ever had on anything else before. Edward was right there supporting me every step of the way. When I finished it really wasn't a victory for me, it was for both of us. I would have never made it if it weren't for him being my constant driving force.
The day I graduated from vet school, Edward proposed. We rode out to the meadow on Chester and Midnight late in the day and just as the sun was going down he got down on one knee to ask me to marry him. I always assumed he would eventually but I was still blown away and could barely speak. I said yes of course, and we celebrated not only my graduation but our engagement as well, by making love.
I can't be sure, but I'm almost positive there in the meadow is where we created our first child. I found out about a month later I was pregnant, which was a huge surprise to both of us considering he always made a point to use a condom. Apparently this time it failed us. Edward was terrified when I told him I was pregnant. He literally made himself sick for the first week. I knew he worried about being a father considering the childhood he had but I never doubted his ability of being a good father. I knew if he could love me, despite how I treated him when we first, met he could do anything. After long talks with my dad, he seemed to adjust to the news and come to terms with being a father. He was still terrified but at least he wasn't making himself sick anymore.
We were married only two months later on my father's property. My mom was not happy at all about my being pregnant or getting married to Edward but she came to the wedding anyway and pretended to be happy for us. My dad was absolutely thrilled. All he could talk about was being a grandfather. I wished my mom would be the same way.
My pregnancy went fairly well. The only difficult thing was trying to work being pregnant. There were a lot of precautions I had to take to keep me and the baby safe while I cared for the animals. Thankfully, I began working with a fellow veterinarian to get some great hands on experience before I started off on my own.
At the birth of our daughter, Edward cried. I'd never seen him cry, but he broke down the minute the nurse placed our baby in his arms. It took my dad well over an hour to console him. Later on he confided in me that he never thought he would ever be a father. He grew up always believing it was only a matter of time before he went down the same path his parents did. He worried so much about being a bad parent like his parents were. I tried to assure him there was no possible way he could ever be a bad father, but it really didn't seem to do any good.
I named her Carlie as a tribute to my dad. Edward really didn't want much to do with naming her. He said whatever I wanted was fine.
Those first few months he barely looked at our daughter, let alone touch her, which left me to do everything for her. I was just as clueless on how to care for a baby as he was, but I figured it out. He seemed to not want to try at all. He would spend long hours in the barn or out in the fields. He would come up with some excuse to leave all together. If it wasn't someone in the community who needed his help with something it was picking up an animal in need in a different county or even occasionally a different state. He always had an excuse. I didn't understand why suddenly being a father changed him. He was so good at taking care of animals. He always knew how to care for them and what they needed even though he'd never been trained on how to take care of them. At times I wondered if he knew more than I did when I was the one who went through the eight years of school. But Edward had this instinct about animals. What bothered me the most was how he could care for an injured or abandoned animal but he couldn't care for his own daughter.
We fought a lot after she was born. I wanted him to take responsibility and not hide from her. I wanted him to help me take care of her. I wanted him to be a father. I really started to doubt whether I could remain with him if he wasn't going to be there emotionally, mentally, and physically for me and our baby.
My dad took to her instantly and he truly was my only relief. I spent hours at my dad's house nearly every day. He would take care of her for a few hours while I got some rest. Some of those times I was supposed to be resting I spent crying my eyes out. I wanted my husband back. If I had known having a child would cause him to not want me anymore I would have reconsidered marrying him. If he wasn't going to be a father or a husband then why was I still with him?
When Carlie was about six months old, I left him. I moved back in with my dad and left Edward a note saying if he ever wanted to be a father and a husband again, he knew where to find us.
It hurt to leave him but it hurt even more when he didn't come after us. My dad kept telling me I needed to give him time to figure things out, but I didn't want to give him time. I wanted him to be a man and step up to being a father. I wasn't given time to adjust. I had to put my career off, which I'd worked so hard for, to be a mother. He needed to do the same thing.
One day my dad insisted I needed to get out for a while. I didn't want to but my dad wouldn't let me say no. I went into Seattle to do a little shopping and I had my hair and nails done, which was something I hadn't had done in a long time. I sort of forgot how much shopping and being pampered made me feel better. I checked in on Carlie throughout the day, and my dad assured me she was just fine. He told me to take as long as I needed and not to worry about a thing.
After I was done shopping I went to a movie by myself and then on the way home I made a quick trip to the grocery store to get a few things for my dad's house. He never seemed to have anything I liked there since I didn't live with him anymore. Now that I was again, I needed to make sure I had something to eat.
When I got back home late in the night, I walked through the front door to find my dad sitting on the couch watching TV. Carlie was nowhere in sight.
"Where's Carlie?" I asked, almost in a panic.
"I took her home to Edward," he answered.
"What?" I gasped. I burst out the front door and jumped in the car to rush home. I didn't know what my dad was doing but if she was hurt in any way I was going to kill him. I can't believe my dad left her with him when he doesn't want anything to do with her.
I pulled up in front of the dark house and rushed to the house. Inside it was completely dark and there was no sign of Edward or Carlie. I was beginning to panic and thoughts about where she might be were beginning to flood my mind. I rushed back outside and ran across the yard to the barn.
Standing next to Midnight's stall was Edward holding Carlie in his arms. Midnight's nose was hanging over the side of the wall to sniff Carlie. I could hear her tiny little giggle from Midnight's nuzzles. I let out a relieved sigh and stopped at the entrance for a moment to watch.
"He likes you just as much as he does your mom. Maybe even more," I overheard Edward say. "Someday we're going to get you your own horse. Would you like that?" I watched as Edward placed a tender kiss on her forehead.
Midnight bucked his head towards Edward before nuzzling his nose against Carlie again.
"I know you miss her. I miss her too. I messed up though, and I don't think I can make it up to her this time," he spoke towards Midnight, while rubbing his nose.
For the first time since Carlie was born I felt a glimpse of hope. Maybe he was finally coming around.
I walked towards them and placed my hand on Edward's shoulder. He slightly jumped at my touch before turning towards me. He looked pained and sad. I'd never seen him like this before.
"I guess you're here to get Carlie?" he wondered.
I shook my head. "You can hold her."
"I probably shouldn't," he insisted and thrust her into my arms. "Your dad stopped by earlier and pretty much left her with me. I didn't know what I was doing. I hope she's okay. I'm sorry if I did anything wrong."
"Edward you didn't do anything wrong. She's perfectly fine. Why do you keep thinking you're doing something wrong?"
He began to walk away ignoring my question.
"Edward!" I shouted. "Stop doing this. Why won't you answer me?"
He stopped and turned towards me. I could see tears in his eyes. "I can't be a good dad to her. She deserves better. I'll only screw her up like my parents did to me. It's better if I'm not in the picture."
"What did your parents do to you to make you think you can't overcome what they were and be better?" I asked. Tears were beginning to run down my face. "Why did you marry me if this is what you were going to do to me? Carlie and I don't deserve this."
"That's why it's better if I'm out of the picture. You both deserve better."
"Edward, watching you with her just now, proves to me you love her. Why can't you admit it to yourself and be a father to her?"
"I'm not good enough."
"How can you stand there and say you're not good enough? You overcame a terrible childhood to become one of the sweetest and most caring men I've ever met. You have so much patience with animals and can care for anything. But when it comes to your own daughter you turn your back on her. I don't understand it. I can't make sense of why you would do this to us. I thought you loved me and wanted to spend the rest of your life with me. Was it all a lie? Did you only do it because I bought this land and you wanted to keep it? Was it all just a ploy to you?"
"You know that's not true," he argued.
"Really?" I challenged. "Because from where I stand that's exactly how it looks. You have your land and it's built up to everything you've ever dreamed it would be and now you have no use for me anymore. The one who's hurt the most in all of this is Carlie though."
He sighed heavily and walked towards me. He cradled my face in his hands and wiped the tears from my eyes. "I have never stopped loving you. I never once looked at our marriage as a ploy to get this land. I don't want this place without you by my side."
"Then why are you refusing to be a part of our life?"
"I don't want to do to her what my parents did to me. I can't do that to her. I want her to have better."
I laughed jerking away from his hands on my face. "You know the funny thing is, you say you don't want to do to her what your parents did to you, but you did. You abandoned her like they did to you. I guess your worst fear came true. You fucked up as a parent before you even tried. What a great way to show your daughter how much of a failure you really are."
I walked past him, carrying Carlie in my arms and placed her in the back seat of my car. Edward followed me out and stood on the porch of the house to watch us leave. "I'll talk to an attorney about getting divorce papers drawn up."
As I drove out of the driveway, I watched him sit on the steps and his head fall into his hands. Part of me wanted to go to him but the other part was still so upset with him that I couldn't. I drove away and headed back to my dad's house.
I carried Carlie in and put her to bed before taking my anger out on my dad for leaving her with him. I told him as soon as my divorce to Edward was final I was going back to California to live with mom. I wasn't about to stay here and continually have my dad interfere in our problems. I didn't want to live within a hundred miles of Edward anyway. If he didn't want to be a part of our life then I was going to make sure that never happened.
I called my mom later in the night and explained to her what was going on. She insisted on coming to get me and Carlie immediately. I told her I needed to take care of some things first before she came. She didn't seem surprised I was coming to live with her, which made it even worse. She almost sounded vindicated on the phone. She always told me it wouldn't last. She said we were too different and there was no way we would make it. I thought after nearly ten years together this would never happen, but it was happening. Everything I had dreamed of and worked so hard to accomplish was crumbling around me. I felt like the last ten years of my life were a waste.
First thing the next morning I met with a divorce attorney. My heart hurt at what I was doing. Edward was always my saving grace. He saved me from myself and showed me exactly who I wanted to be. He was who I saw in my future. Now it was all falling apart.
I didn't want anything from him. I made it clear the land was his, and all the animals and supplies were to stay. The only things I wanted were my daughter and Midnight. I even signed a paper saying I didn't want child support from him. I honestly didn't want to have anything to do with him. It would hurt too much if I had contact with him in any way. My attorney warned me there was a chance he may sue for more, but I didn't care. He could take all he wants as long as I got to keep the two most important things to me. I knew there was no way he was going to sue for custody of Carlie and I'd really like to see him try to sue me for Midnight. There's no way he would ever have the audacity to sue me for him. Anything else he wanted, I really didn't care.
Two weeks later, my mom flew up to Seattle to help me get packed and take me back to California.
On the last day before I left, I sent my dad over to get Edward to sign the divorce papers. I had every intention of doing it myself, but at the last minute I just couldn't get the nerve to do it. He promised me he would take care of it and not to worry.
I waited around my dad's house all afternoon for my mom to show up. She was over an hour late and she wasn't answering her cell phone either. I was beginning to get worried about her. It was raining fairly hard and she wasn't used to driving in heavy rains.
Thankfully, she pulled into the driveway just as I was about to go searching for her. I met her out on the porch and let her know how worried I was.
"I know I'm late," she admitted. "I just had a few things to do before I came and this storm is dreadful. I had a heck of a time focusing on the road. I'm a little nervous about driving back into the city in this weather."
"Do you want to stay here then?" I asked, in horror.
"Oh God no!" she gasped. "Could you imagine me and your father in the same house for the night? No, I'd rather face the storm. What I was thinking is maybe staying the night in Port Angeles and then driving the rest of the way tomorrow morning. It's going to be dark very soon, but if we wait until the morning, even if it's still raining, the roads would be easier to see."
"Whatever you want to do is fine, Mom. All I want to do is get out of here."
"Let me see my granddaughter," she ordered, reaching for her. Carlie cooed and giggled while my mom played with her. It was nice seeing this side of my mom again. At least Carlie was never victim to my mom's hostility towards Edward.
A few minutes later my dad walked through the front door and shook off the rain from his back.
"It's coming down hard out there. I'm going to have to watch for flash flooding the next few days if this keeps up," he said.
He placed the papers on the table and walked over to us. He knelt down to Carlie and began to coo little things to her. She had my dad wrapped around her little finger.
"Let me hold her," my dad demanded my mom.
My mom jerked her arms away from him. "You've spent the last few months with her and I've barely gotten to see her. I want to spend a little time with her."
"You may be spending a lot of time with her very soon. I'd like to have every moment I have left with her," he argued.
Tears sprung from eyes and I let out a small sob. Both of my parents turned in my direction with concerned expressions.
"Bella, what's wrong?" my mom asked.
"Both of you are fighting over who gets to hold her and spend more time with her when the one person who's supposed to be fighting for her doesn't want anything to do with her," I cried.
"Bella," my dad said with a sympathetic tone. He tried to comfort me but I wouldn't let him. I got up and walked to the table and picked up the divorce papers. I looked through them and noticed the only paper signed was the top one. All the others were left blank.
"Dad, he's supposed to sign all of them," I pointed out.
"I thought he did," he excused.
"No, the only paper signed is the first. It can't be legal unless he signs all of them."
He walked over to me and looked over the papers like he thought maybe I was lying to him. "I'm sorry, Bella. I thought he signed them all. Do you want me to go back?"
I sighed and rolled my eyes. "Don't bother. I'll take care of it." I grabbed my coat and my purse off the counter and walked over to the door. "Can both of you watch her for a little while without killing each other?"
They both looked up, with an embarrassed look. "We'll be good," my mom assured.
"Take all the time you need. We can look after Carlie just fine," my dad added.
I nodded my head before dashing through the rain to my car. I drove the short distance over to Edward's house and noticed it was dark inside. I had a good feeling he wasn't in there. I looked out towards the barn and saw the lights on. I rolled my eyes at the thought of walking through the rain and mud out to the barn. I pulled my hood over my head and slipped on my rubber boots, which still sat on the front porch, and walked out towards the barn.
Just like I thought, Edward stood in the front entrance holding the reins of a new horse I'd never seen. He stared at me as if he was expecting me to come. I placed my hands on my hips and looked away. I was getting the sudden inkling this was another one of my dad's attempts to fix this.
"I'm sorry," he said with barely a whisper.
"For what?" I challenged.
"For being an ass," he answered. "For not being a good husband or a good father, for you and Carlie. I want to try again."
"It's a little late for that."
"I got you a peace offering." He walked towards me and held out the reins for the new horse. I glanced at the reins but didn't take it.
"Do you think every time you fuck up all you have to do is give me a horse and everything will go back to normal?" I asked. "You can't buy my love, Edward."
He coward away from me and dropped his head.
"I'm not trying to buy you. I just want you to give me a second chance."
I sighed and turned my head away. I could feel tears beginning to burn my eyes and I didn't want to cry in front of him. I needed to be strong for Carlie.
"I can't. I have someone else who is more important to me, and I have to do what's best for her."
He let go of the reins and kneeled down in front of me. His arms wrapped around my torso and I heard the slight sound of crying coming from him.
"Please, Bella. I can't lose you. I've lost everyone in my life. I can't lose you too. Don't leave me," he begged. I was struggling to hold back the tears.
"Carlie needs a dad. I have to think of her first." My voice was cracking from trying to hold back the tears.
"I love you, Bella. I'll never stop loving you."
As hard as it was, I pulled myself away from him and walked out of the barn. I couldn't take any more of his begging. If he would have said one thing about Carlie, I might have considered it. But to me it seemed like he didn't even want her to exist.
I rushed back into the rain and almost got to my car when I remembered the divorce papers. "Shit," I complained and stopped in my tracks. I turned around and saw Edward standing a few feet away from me in the rain. He looked lost and broken. He looked miserable and I had a sudden twinge of guilt run through me.
"I love her, you know?" he said through his tears. "I want to be a good father for her. I just don't know how. I'm terrified, Bella. I don't want to lose either of you."
I couldn't hold back the tears any longer, and I knew I was losing my control. I bit down on my lip trying to hold it in but I couldn't.
"Do you think I have some magic power to know how to take care of her?" I shouted. "I don't know what I'm doing any better than you do. But I'm there for her no matter what. I'm the one who takes care of her and is doing everything to be a good mother for her. Do you honestly think I want to leave you? I still love you, Edward. That's what makes this so hard. I feel like I have to choose between the two people I love the most and it's not fair to me. I shouldn't have to choose between the man I love and the child I gave birth to. She's part of me and will always be number one in my heart. I'm sorry, but I'm not choosing you over her."
"I'm not asking you to," he argued. He took a few steps closer. "All I'm asking for is a second chance." His hands rose to cradle my face. "All I want is you back and for you to be patient with me. I'll try as best I can to be a good dad for her. I'll do whatever I have to as long as I don't lose you."
His lips pressed to mine giving me a rough kiss. Part of me wanted to pull away and not give him that power over me but I couldn't. I couldn't help but to love him and want to be with him. He was my other half and I wasn't whole without him.
The papers fell from my hands and landed in the mud at our feet. My arms wrapped around his neck and I pressed my body flush to his as his arms wrapped around me.
Before I knew it he was carrying me into the house and wet clothing was being thrown to the floor. I missed being in his arms and being loved by him.
He walked me up the stairs and into our bedroom. I was laid out on the bed and Edward hovered over me while we continued to kiss and touch each other's bodies like we used to. I closed my eyes and reveled in the feel of the muscles in his back and the strong arms, which encircled me. His kisses down my neck and chest were so intense and full of need. It was a side of him I'd never experienced. It was almost like it gave him physical pain to be with me. His breath was erratic and his movements were just as shaky. I tried to ignore it, but it worried me.
My fingers twirled into his hair and I shushed him to help relax him. "Edward, it's okay. Just relax."
"I can't do this," he cried. "I can't make love to you knowing this is the last time I'll ever hold you in my arms.
I brushed my fingers across his cheek to sooth him. "It doesn't have to be the last time," I assured. "I want to be with you forever. But if you love me you need to love her too."
He sighed and relaxed against me. "I've always loved her. From the moment you told me you were pregnant I've loved her. I just don't know how to take care of her or be right for her."
"There is no right, Edward. All you have to do is be there for her and do the best you can. We're going to make mistakes and probably screw her up for life," I laughed. "But the best thing we can do for her as parents is to learn from our parent's mistakes to give her a better life than what we had. Right now neither of us is starting out very well. I'm about to take her away from her father just like my mom did to me and you're about to abandon her just like your parents did to you. We need to be better."
He thought over what I was saying for a moment before nodding his head in agreement.
I pulled him back down to me and kissed him tenderly. He settled in between my legs and for the longest time all we did was kiss. It was enough for the time being. We needed to reconnect before anything else. His fingers against my face and tangled in my hair were a welcome comfort. I felt whole again. My fingers trailed down his face, making silent memories of every curve, every indentation, and every freckle. He sighed and closed his eyes at the feel of my hands against his face.
When we finally did make love it was slow and tender. This is what we both needed.
Afterwards, we lay tangled in each other's arms and legs with the sheet barely covering our bodies. He drew circles against my back and left kiss after kiss against my hair and forehead. We were completely content just being in each other's arms.
I looked over at the clock and noticed it was nearly ten o'clock. I pulled myself up and tried to find something dry to put on.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"I need to get back to Carlie. My mom and dad were watching her. It's already late and I'm sure they're wondering where I am."
He reached for my hand and pulled me back to the bed. "She's fine with your parents. Stay with me tonight. Please," he begged.
My heart dropped at his words. I let out a shaky breath and tried to hold back the sobs building in my throat. Was this all just a plan he had to get me away from her? Was he even serious about wanting to try? Why didn't he want me to go get her?
"Bella," he began. "I know what you're thinking and you're wrong. I do want her home. I want to try to be better for both of you. I just want tonight to be us. In the morning we can go get her together. I promise."
"I have to at least call to make sure she's okay. What if they've been trying to get a hold of me all this time and I didn't answer? This storm is bad. I was even worried about my mom earlier. What if they're worried about me?"
"They know you're here. It was their idea for you to be here."
"They both came out earlier and sat me down to, I guess, give me some parental guidance. I didn't have parents but yours are the closest thing I have to them. They made me realize how stupid I've been and how much I was hurting you and Carlie. I think having your mom here and telling me to be a better husband and father is what did it. I expected your mom to be happy about you going back to California, but she said as a parent it hurt her more to see you unhappy. As much as having you back in California close to her would have made her happy, seeing you in pain every day wasn't worth it. She wants us to try to work things out so we can both be happy again. For the first time I think your mom is beginning to accept me. They set all of this up for us. They assured me Carlie would be taken care of and we weren't to worry about anything but fixing our marriage."
"My mom actually said that?" I asked.
Edward brushed my hair off my shoulder and kissed it gently. "Yeah," he whispered. "She's not a perfect mom but she learns from her mistakes and tries to fix them. That's what I want to do. I'm just going to need help."
I turned my head to look at his face. "I will always be here to help you. We can do this together."
We both leaned in and kissed before crawling back in bed and falling asleep in each other's arms.
In the morning I woke up feeling content and well rested. I really hadn't been sleeping much because of stress and an infant who needed me at all hours of the night. The sudden memory of Carlie made me jump out of bed. I was worried about her and wanted to know if she was okay. I found some of my clothes and rushed downstairs to call my dad. He answered groggily and assured me she was just fine. He said he was very happy to know I didn't come back to his house in the night and assumed it was a good sign. I laughed and told him it was a very good sign but there was still a lot that needed to be done. He said he understood and there was no doubt in his mind that Edward and I would work it out. It felt good to know my dad supported us and had faith in our ability to make it work again.
Just as I was hanging up the phone I felt Edward's arms curl around me from behind and his lips against the back of my neck.
"Good morning," he breathed.
"Is she okay?" he asked.
"Yeah," I replied. "My parents actually stayed in the same house last night just to help us out. I can't believe my parents tolerated each other for that long."
"They make sacrifices for their daughter," he pointed out.
I turned in his arms and looked up at him skeptically. I'd never seen this side of him before and it really got me wondering what my parents did to him to make him change so drastically.
"Your parents taught me quite a bit," he laughed bashfully. "I like your parents. They're great role models and if they can raise a beautiful daughter like you, despite all the mistakes they admitted to, I think there might be hope for me and Carlie."
I giggled and stood to my tiptoes to kiss him.
"I want to show you something," he revealed, pulling me back towards the stairs. I looked up at him with questioning eyes. "It's something I started working on as soon as you left."
He took my hand and led me back up the stairs and down the hall. We stopped in front of the room I had intended to make Carlie's nursery, but I never got around to fixing it up while I was pregnant and Edward never seemed interested in helping me with it.
He opened the door and we stepped inside. I gasped at what I saw and tears instantly started falling down my cheeks. There was a crib set up with a horse pattern bed set, a dresser with all her clothes put away, a changing table, a mural of a meadow with a painting of many horses, one of which looked just like Midnight, and there was a rocking chair and everything I could have imagined for her nursery. The one thing that caught my attention more than anything was the handcrafted rocking horse next to the mural. The sight of everything took my breath away.
"Do you like it?" he asked nervously.
"I love it," I cried. "Did you make this?" My hands rested on the rocking horse.
"Yeah," he admitted. "I know she can't use it for a while but I promised her a horse so I made her one. I painted the mural too. I didn't know I could paint until now. Did you see Midnight?" He pointed out the black horse in the picture.
"I did. It's perfect, Edward. Thank you." I fell into his arms and hugged him tightly. "I love you."
"I love you too. I want you and Carlie to come home."
I pulled away and looked up at him. "We'd like that."
Within minutes we were both dressed and driving over to my dad's house. He took my hand as we walked up the steps and I heard him take in a few deep breaths.
"It'll be okay. We can do this together," I assured. He nodded his head and we walked through the front door.
Both of my parents were sitting in the living room playing with Carlie on the floor. As soon as they saw us walk in my mom lost her smile and picked up Carlie, before standing to her feet.
I felt Edward tighten up next to me. "I'd like to hold my daughter," he said nervously.
My mom nodded her head and carried Carlie over to him. She carefully placed her in his arms and stepped away. Edward looked terrified and almost nauseous, but he held it together. We sat down on the couch and talked to my parents for a little while. Mostly we discussed how the night with Carlie went. My parents stayed focused on talking to me and not Edward. They were doing everything they could to let him feel comfortable and not like they were watching his every move waiting for him to mess up somehow. It seemed to be working too. As the day went on he got more and more comfortable and actually seemed to be enjoying his time with her. I couldn't be happier. All I wanted was for Carlie to have her daddy and for Edward to see how great of a dad he could really be if he just tried.
My parents were happy we were planning to work things out and reminded us if we ever needed anything they were both available. I felt like I owed both of them so much. Not only did they help me out with Edward, but my mom finally came to the point of accepting him too.
My mom didn't stay long because of her flight back home, but before she left she gave me a hug and told me she was glad to see me happy again. I think it was her way of letting me know she finally approved of my choice and wasn't going to try to meddle anymore. Here I was almost thirty years old and she was finally letting me grow up.
After she left, Edward and I took Carlie home and spent the rest of the day talking things out and spending time with Carlie. For the first few hours I could tell Edward was scared to death, but as time went on and all she did was smile and laugh at him, he eased up. She even fell asleep against his chest when he rocked her in the rocking chair.
Over the next few months Edward got more and more comfortable at being a dad. He struggled at first with how to do certain things like changing diapers or feeding her. But eventually they became inseparable. As soon as she learned to walk, he was taking her out to the barn to care for the animals. Her first word was "dada". She wanted to be wherever he was. She loved the horses and Edward began giving her riding lessons before she was two years old. The way they were now you would never guess there was ever a problem with him being a dad. He was a natural.
I did ask him to start seeing a counselor about his abandonment issues and his fear of ending up like his parents. He was reluctant at first, but the more I pushed it and promised him I would be by his side through it, all he finally gave in. I think it was something he really needed too. He held so much in from his childhood that he needed to deal with and learn to let go of it.
The new horse Edward had given me as a peace offering was a high spirited mare, who needed special care just like Midnight did when he first came. She was beautiful. She had fawn colorings with a spackling of white spots on her back. We named her Rain because it was raining really hard the night Edward gave her to me. All she needed was someone to love her and take care of her. In a way it's what everything needed. Edward needed someone to love and care for him, Carlie needed both of her parents to love and care for her, the animals needed someone to love and care for them, and I needed Edward to love and care for me and give me the life I never knew I needed until I met him.
Within four years, I started my veterinary clinic and our rescue ranch became a great success. We had numerous animals ranging from horses to cats and dogs. We even had a large tortoise dropped off and a couple of sibling Capuchin monkeys. We found new homes for as many of the animals as we could, but most of them stayed with us. Carlie never minded the menagerie of animal friends to play with. She had a new favorite animal every other day. Some days she would find little lady bugs or frogs in the field and bring them to me so I could fix them. She said they were hurting and needed doctor mommy to help them. Most of the time they were just fine and I'd pretend to fix them up before we would go out and let them go back into the wild. She loved helping me in the clinic with the animals. Sometimes I would even let her go on house calls, which were always her favorite trips to take.
Mine and Edward's relationship only grew stronger as the years went by. We worked side by side on a daily basis and loved every minute of it. There were times we butted heads on how to handle certain things, but somehow we always came to a compromise. I didn't think it was possible to love him more than I already did, but every day I seemed to find something new I loved about him.
The day I found out I was pregnant again was a very emotional day for both of us. Knowing the way Edward reacted when I told him about being pregnant with Carlie made me terrified to tell him about this pregnancy. I worried he would shut down like he did before. I wasn't sure I could take it another time. All I could do was pray he'd gotten past that after realizing how good of a father he really was.
Like I expected, he was shocked and his demeanor changed from cool and calm Edward to scared and introverted Edward. We lay in bed for hours discussing the new baby and how it would change things. I really wanted to make this time different. Since I knew what to expect and how to help him I started right away. Reminding him of how great he was with Carlie seemed to help a lot. As long as I kept reminding him of how wonderful and smart she was he seemed okay.
This pregnancy took a toll on my body. I was really sick and most days I couldn't even get out of bed. Around three months I thought I was having a miscarriage, but thankfully the baby was still okay. I was told to stay in bed for the remainder of my pregnancy and I had to go in to see the doctor weekly. Edward had to do everything for the ranch and for Carlie. My dad came over almost every day to help out but Edward did most of it. My mom and Phil even flew up to stay with us for a couple months.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was finally allowed to get out of bed, but I still had to take it easy.
"Mommy," Carlie began, while we walked through the barn and spent a few minutes with each of the animals we had.
"When's Rain going to have her baby?" Over a year ago Edward had the brilliant idea of breeding Midnight and Rain. I was against it from the very beginning, but he kept insisting we should. He wanted to give Carlie a horse of her own and thought it would be a great idea to breed my two horses to make one for her. Eventually he was able to persuade me to let it happen.
"Very soon," I answered. "Just like Mommy. In a few weeks you're going to have a little brother and a new horse."
"I get to keep the baby horse, right?" she asked.
I laughed. "You get to keep the baby horse. But she will need to spend some time with her mommy the first few months."
"You're not going to give my horse to my brother, are you?" she worried.
I smiled and sat down on the bench in the barn. I pulled her up into my lap and kissed her on the top of the head. "I'm not going to give your horse to your brother. She's going to be all yours and you'll have to take good care of her."
"I will. I promise."
"What are my two favorite girls doing out here?" Edward asked, coming up behind us.
"We were checking on Rain, Daddy. She's going to have my baby horse soon. I want to ride her the minute she's born," Carlie insisted.
Edward and I laughed and reminded her she had to wait until the foal was strong enough and she would need to be trained just like all the other horses. She didn't like our answer much but she seemed to let it go as soon as Edward scooped her up in his arms and swung her around a couple times. She giggled and squealed for him to do it again.
"We should probably get mommy inside and back to resting, don't you think?" he questioned.
Carlie sighed and looked down at me with pleading eyes.
"One more time," I gave in, instructing Edward to give her one more spin in the air before we went back in.
After her spin was over, Edward placed her down on the ground and she ran out into the field to chase after the dogs. Edward leaned down giving me a quick kiss before helping me back to my feet.
"How are you feeling?" he asked.
"I'm okay. This little boy is quite active though. He doesn't ever give me any rest. We're going to have our hands full with both of them," I joked.
His arm wrapped around my shoulder to support me as we walked back across the field. "Would you be upset if I told you I'm worried about that?"
"Worried about what?" I asked.
"I'm just worried we won't be able to keep up with both of them and keep this ranch going at the same time. Plus you have your animal clinic to think about. You can't be caring for an infant and a free spirited little girl when you're trying to care for an animal at the same time."
"Edward, stop worrying. Everything will work out. If I need to get help, I will," I assured.
"What if I can't be a good dad for both of them?" he worried.
"You're a great dad. Don't ever doubt that. You aren't just a dad to Carlie either," I pointed out. He stopped for a moment and gave me a curious look. "We have numerous animals here and you are their surrogate dad on a daily basis. They trust you and know you would never hurt them. If you can be a dad to so many already what's one more?"
He smiled and nodded his head in acceptance. "You know I love you, right?"
"And I love you just as much." I smiled up at him and stood to my tiptoes to kiss him.
We gathered up Carlie to go inside for the night.
Later in the night while Edward and I lay in bed I told him there was a good chance Rain would be having her foal very soon. He laughed at me and said he already knew. He'd been helping horses foal for years now and could see the signs. My biggest fear was not being there to help.
"Bella," Edward sympathized. "I know it's important to you to help but if you can't I know what I'm doing. I can take care of it. You just take care of yourself and the baby."
"She trusts me though. If I'm not there for her she might get spooked and hurt herself or the filly."
"You worry too much," he laughed. "You know most of the time animals don't ever need our help. All I'll probably be is a spectator. Don't worry about Rain. I'll take good care of her for you."
It was only three days later when she went into labor. Carlie was jumping up and down in excitement that her horse was finally being born. I didn't think she was old enough to watch the birth but Edward insisted, as did Carlie, so I gave in and let her go out to the barn with Edward to watch. I figured she'd fall asleep long before the birth ever happened anyway.
Edward and Carlie would come back to the house throughout the night to give me updates on how she was doing. I wanted to be out there so badly. I wasn't used to sitting back while one of my animals needed me.
Around midnight I decided to go out and have a look of my own. I assumed Carlie would be asleep by now and I could at least bring a blanket out to her. However, when I reached the stall Carlie was still wide awake perched on a bale of hay in the corner.
"Carlie you should be sleeping by now," I complained.
"But Mommy, I want to see my horse," she argued.
"Bella," Edward interrupted with a worried tone in his voice.
My head shot up to look across the stall where he was standing next to Rain.
He sighed and looked down at Carlie. I understood the silent warning. Whatever was wrong, he didn't want to say it in front of her. I placed the blanket over Carlie's lap and walked over to Edward.
"She's red bagging. I've already called your dad to come over and help but I'm afraid the foal isn't going to survive."
I gasped. "Carlie's going to be devastated."
"I know. But I don't know what we can possibly do."
I looked over at Rain, took a deep breath and knew exactly what I needed to do. "Get her to the clinic," I ordered.
"Bella no," he refused. "I'm not going to let you risk your life as well as our sons to save a horse. Wait until your dad gets here and we'll do whatever we can."
"Edward," I demanded. "If you don't help me I'll do it myself. I'm not losing this horse. I know what I'm doing. I'll be careful."
He sighed in frustration but walked Rain across the yard to the clinic. Carlie was scared and didn't know what we were doing but she followed behind us and found a place to sit in the corner of the room.
I quickly got my stuff set up and put on my surgery attire. I went to work at getting Rain sedated and comfortable. I'd never done a c-section on any animal before but I'd seen it done and I'd studied it when I was in school. I had a good feeling I could do it. I checked the foals heart rate to be sure it was okay before I made my first cut. I told Carlie to turn away but as stubborn as she was she ignored me entirely and watched every minute of the surgery. I pulled the filly out of the womb and passed her off to Edward. He quickly began to work at reviving the nearly dead foal while I worked on Rain.
My dad showed up a short time later and helped out as best he could. Thankfully, Edward was able to revive the filly but he was concerned one of its legs was either broken or sprained because of the way it was bent. As soon as I finished sewing up Rain and instructed my dad how to get her back on her feet as the anesthetic wore off, I rushed over to check on the filly. She didn't have a broken leg, but it was bent in an odd way. I assumed the leg got stuck in the womb and as the foal grew it bent to adjust to the crowded area. All I needed to do was put a corrective cast on the leg and it would straighten itself out. Carlie was very interested in what I was doing to her horse. I assured her I was only fixing her up like I do all the other animals.
As soon as the cast was on we tried to get her to stand on her own. She was wobbly at first and fell over quite a few times, but she eventually got it. Rain was doing amazingly well after the surgery and didn't seem to have any affects from the sedation.
After I was done I took a deep breath and exhaled in relief.
"What are you going to name her, Carlie?" Edward asked.
"Lady Bug," she answered. We all chuckled at the name she chose, but it fit. The filly looked so much like Midnight. She still had the baby fuzz but I had a feeling as she got older she'd be just as dark and beautiful as Midnight.
As we all stood there and watched Rain bond with her foal, I got a sudden twinge of dizziness and had to lean back on the table.
"Bella," Edward cried, grabbing on to me.
I looked up at him just as I felt like all the blood in my body was rushing out of me. I collapsed into his arms and my eyes rolled back. The last thing I remember hearing was my dad saying I was bleeding.
The next thing I knew I was waking up in the hospital bed. I heard the faint sound of a baby next to me and Edward's voice trying to sooth the baby.
I opened my eyes and looked over at him. "Hi, Baby. How are you feeling?" he greeted.
"What happened?" I asked, still a little disoriented.
"I watched two c-sections tonight," he answered with a slight chuckle. "You started bleeding and the blood loss was so sudden you passed out. I rushed you to the hospital and they did an emergency c-section. It took them a long time to get the bleeding to stop. They almost thought they were going to have to remove your uterus, but they got it under control before it came to that. You needed a blood transfusion and you've been asleep for about six hours, but the doctors say you're going to be fine. You just need to rest for a while."
"Is he okay?" I asked, gesturing to the baby in his arms.
Edward smiled and looked down at him. "He's perfectly fine. Do you want to hold him?"
"Yeah." I tried to sit up but found it only made me dizzy so I turned to my side a little and had Edward place him next to me.
I smiled down at him and traced his little face with my fingers. "He's beautiful."
"Yes he is," Edward agreed. "He looks just like Carlie."
"Where is Carlie?"
"She's with your dad back at the house. Last I talked to him she was fast asleep in her bed. She didn't want to leave her horse, but Grandpa finally insisted she go to bed.
"Are the horses okay?" I wondered.
"Yeah they're fine."
"We're going to need to keep an eye on the filly's leg. I don't want it to become permanently bent. I'm going to need to change out the cast a few times to get it back to where it's supposed to be. She'll probably need some physical therapy on it too."
"Everything is fine, Bella. Just worry about taking care of yourself right now. We can take care of the filly later on."
"Did we ever decide on a name for him?" I changed the subject.
"I was kind of thinking about giving him my name or maybe my middle name."
"You want to name him Anthony?" I asked.
"Yeah I was thinking Anthony Edward Cullen," he explained.
I laughed thinking about how much different this time was. With Carlie he didn't want to have anything to do with naming her, but this time he wanted to give our son his name.
"As long as we don't call him Tony, I'm okay with Anthony," I agreed.
He chuckled and nodded his head in agreement.
I was in the hospital for about a week before I was released to go home but I was still told to take it easy. I was willing to stay in bed for another nine months if it meant I got to go home.
We walked through the front door to an excited Carlie. She'd been up to the hospital a few times to see us but she was happy we were finally home.
She wouldn't stop talking about her horse and all the great things Lady Bug could do. Everything Lady Bug did was fascinating to her.
As the weeks went by I got my strength back and was able to continue with my work. I hired a new graduate from vet school named Angela Weber to assist me, and my dad spent most of his time at our house to help out with the kids. He loved being a Grandpa and took much pride in being a part of their life.
As much as I worried about Edward having the same fears with Anthony as he did with Carlie, it never happened. He was the devoted and caring father to Anthony like he now was to Carlie.
One night I woke up in the middle of the night to find Edward gone. I glanced over at Anthony's bassinet and he was gone too. I got up and walked downstairs only to find they weren't there either. I happened to see in the corner of my eye that the light in the barn was on. I slipped on my coat and boots and walked out there.
Just like he did with Carlie when she was a baby, he held Anthony up to Midnight and let him nuzzle against him.
Midnight was getting older and probably didn't have many years left but he was still my baby. He loved my kids and was always so gentle with them. I trusted him with my children more than any other horse we owned. He knew those were my babies and he had to take care of them.
"Someday we'll be getting you your own horse too, Anthony," I overheard Edward say. "I hope this old guy has it in him to leave his legacy with one more offspring for you. I know how much it would mean to your mom to be able to pass him on to both you and Carlie."
I smiled at his words and nearly broke down crying. I walked up behind him and wrapped my arms around him. "Do you have any idea how much I love you?" I asked.
He hummed while thinking it over. "As much as I love you?" he asked.
"Nope," I argued. "More."
He laughed and turned around to face me. He leaned down to give me a passionate kiss. "Thank you," he said.
"For what?" I asked with confusion.
"For making my every dream come true. I don't know where I'd be without you. I don't think you realize just how much you saved me."
I placed my hand on his cheek and smiled up at him. "I don't think you realize just how much you saved me," I countered. "I'd be lost without you."
"Yeah, you probably would," he agreed. I scoffed at this answer and he laughed at his joke. He pulled me into his side and kissed the top of my head.
"We just fit together in every way," he pointed out.
"We do, don't we? Who would have thought almost fifteen years later we'd still be together and love each other despite all the hurdles we've had to go over."
He chuckled again and started to lead us back to the house. "Bring on the hurdles," he challenged. "I'll take a hundred more as long as I have you by my side."
The End (officially)
Foal- baby horse
Filly- female baby horse
Red Bagging- term used to describe what happens when the placenta starts to come out before the baby. This is a very dangerous thing to happen and in most cases the foal won't survive. However, Bella is a vet and can do what needs to be done without hesitation.
In case anyone is interested I entered the "Fanfic My Fanfic" contest and there's only a couple more days to vote. Information and a link is on my profile.
Also, I'm donating an Edward Point Of View of "The Best Day" to FGB: Autism Awareness if you're interested in donating to receive all the stories. There is information on my profile.
Last thing, I signed up to contribute a story to Fandom Fights the Tsunami. I'm thinking of writing a brand new oneshot which will be a western style story. On my profile is information about where to donate and where to send in receipts to receive the compilation in May.
Thanks for reading :)