SM owns all things Twilight but it has been my great honor to own this story.
Thank you all of your interest and love. It has been a great joy to write this story.
I began to gather my wallet, keys and change and put them into the pocket of my suit pants. As I was picking up the change my pewter angel coin caught my attention and I pulled it out of the coins and looked at it. It was always with me, had been every day since Bella had given it to me for Christmas.
It didn't always catch my attention like it had currently but instinctually I always knew it was there, a reminder of the love that Bella had for me.
Looking at it I could see that it was worn and that the angel was starting to look a little weathered. Of course ten years would do that to something.
It was still hard to believe sometimes that it had been ten years since Bella came into my life making me the luckiest man alive. They had been the best ten years of my life and I prayed everyday for many, many more years to come.
As I thought about our first ten years, my mind was flooded with memories, oh so many wonderful memories.
When I was accepted to medical school at the University of North Carolina, Bella was so thrilled for me, despite the knowledge that I would be clear across the country. She was happy for me because she knew that was where I really wanted to go. We talked about the possibility of her transferring schools but in the end it was decided that she would finish her degree in Communications at UW. It was a long, hard two years, but we persevered, spending as much free time as we possibly could together and in the end I think it made our relationship even stronger if that was possible.
After Bella graduated she moved to Chapel Hill with me to get an M.A. in Mass Communications from UNC. She finished her Masters at the same time I finished Med School. I applied several different places throughout the state and country for my residency but the one I really wanted was in Wilmington, NC. Bella and I had gone there many, many times and we just fell in love with the area and both of us had decided that if we could live anywhere, we wanted to live there.
We were both thrilled to death when that was indeed where I was going to my residency. It was hard on our parents, especially Bella's to learn that we would be so far away from them, but all they ever wanted was for us to be happy and they knew this is what we both wanted.
I thought back to when I asked her to marry to me. After we both finished school, I rented a house on Bald Head Island for the weekend, a chance for us to get away from research and exams and everything else and just be with each other for a change. Bald Head Island, NC is like heaven on earth and it seemed like the perfect place to ask for Bella's hand in marriage, I just wasn't sure when or where. I carried her ring with me everywhere that weekend, waiting for the perfect moment. We went out for a walk on the beach our second day there to collect sea shells. Bald Head Island is well know in the area for being a great place to go shelling and Bella was very excited about what she would find. We had been walking for about an hour, Bella stopping every few feet to collect shells. She was a vision to watch, her hair blowing in the wind, the sunshine reflecting beautifully off her hair, bringing out the red in her locks. As I watched her, this feeling of love washed over me and I knew, knew with all of my heart, that this was the perfect time. I bent down to find the perfect shell, mirroring her actions to a tee. She was just ahead of me and focused on shelling and I was able to take the ring out of my pocket without her knowing it.
"Bella come look at this shell I found." I said to her. I was kneeling down on one knee, holding a shell in my hand, the ring underneath the shell. She didn't seem to think too much about the way I was kneeling. I guess she thought it was just how I had stopped to pick up the shell.
She walked over to me and pulled the shell out of my hand. "Edward, this is just beautiful. This one is a…" Her words halted as the ring in my hand caught her eye. She suddenly seemed to be aware of how I was kneeling and her eyes filled with tears.
"Bella, as I kneel here on the beach of one of the most beautiful places on earth, looking at the most beautiful woman in the world, I know with all of my heart that you were made for me. I love you more and more each day. We were meant to be together, forever. Bella, will you share forever with me? Isabella Swan will you marry me?"
We both knew I was going to ask her one day, that one day she would say yes, but she still seemed so surprised and so full of love at that moment.
"Edward." She whispered as the tears streamed down her checks, a smile lighting her face up like a Christmas tree.
She held out her hand for me to take and I gently slid the ring on to her finger. She still hadn't said yes but the look on her face spoke volumes.
"Yes." She whispered at first but than her words grew louder and louder. "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!" She said until she was squealing the words, rivaling Alice at her best. She flew into my arms, knocking me off balance, both of us landing in each other's arms in the sand.
She peppered my face with quick excited kisses before she rested her soft lovely lips on my own and gave me a kiss that poured with emotions. As we laid there lost in our moment the water began to slowly edge closer and closer to us before it finally rolled underneath us. We both got soaked but neither of us cared. We just stayed there, consumed by our love for one another, locked in a passionate moment that would have given the scene in From Here to Eternity a run for its money any day!
I thought back to our wedding day. The images that I had been flooded with of Bella in an ivory wedding dress all those many Valentine's Days ago, paled in comparison to the stunning beauty that appeared before me as she walked arm and arm down the aisle with Charlie. She was literally breath taking. It took my dad's hand on my shoulder and Emmett's smirk to draw me out of my trance and the breath back into my lungs.
We decided against traditional vows, instead each of us reciting our poem to the other, a poem that to this day I know we each will remember by heart until we are old and gray and our memories finally fade away completely.
We danced our first dance together to At Last, which I know is clichéd and over done, but we didn't care. It is the perfect song for that perfect moment.
I thought back to the day Bella told me she was pregnant. We had been married for a year and I was deep into my residency and currently working in the ER. The hours were long and the people I was dealing with were at one of the worst moments of their lives. The emotions of everything could take hold of me and stay with me for days, that one day in particular. There had been a terrible car crash and a family of four had all lost their lives.
The youngest of the four was a five year old boy named Matthew who I worked desperately to save but in the end was unable to, his injuries just too severe. I fought tears the whole way home that early morning and all I wanted to do was crawl into the loving arms of my beautiful wife.
I walked into our bedroom to find my very own sleeping beauty, the rising sun softly casting a glorious spotlight on her through the blinds. I could feel the pain of the day slowly began to fade away and I knew once I had her in my arms everything would be ok again. I quickly took a shower and as I walked back into the bedroom in nothing but a towel I noticed for the first time a gift box sitting on the nightstand by my side of the bed.
I opened the box to find a small diaper, a small pair of baby shoes and a very small Carolina t-shirt. I stared at the items as I pulled them out of the box, my head still dazed from the previous nights events, trying to figure out what all of these were. I peered into the box one last time and then I saw it, a positive home pregnancy test. I pulled the piece of plastic out of the box and just stared at it for a moment before everything hit me all at once and I fell to my knees and began to sob.
"Edward?" Bella's raspy voice called out to me. "Edward my love what's wrong?" She rushed out of the bed and kneeled down next to me on the floor and pulled me into her arms. Ringlets of water from my still wet hair dropped down, soaking her tank top and skin. In the safe loving arms of the keeper of my heart and soul I began to tell her about the pain of losing Matthew and the joy that I now felt about finding out we were going to have a baby, the tears flowing more freely than they ever have before in my life. She just held me as I cried, not saying a word, just soothing me.
When there were no more tears to shed, my emotions finally clamed, Bella pulled my face up to look at hers. "If it's a boy we will name him Matthew." She said with the most loving smile on her face and she leaned in and kissed my lips.
"Daddy." The magical sound of our two year old drew me from my memories. I quickly kissed my angel coin and put it into my pocket.
"Yes Matthew." I answered him as I turned around to look down at my exact replica standing in the door way of our bedroom. He was the spitting image of me with the one beautiful exception of having his mother's warm brown eyes.
"I go to?" He asked.
"No sweet boy, you are staying here with Ms. Sadie." Bella's heavenly voice answered him as she walked into the room. I picked Mathew up and we turned to take in the vision of the love of our lives. She was dressed in a simple black dress, her hair swept up perfectly in a twist. She was wearing the sapphire earrings I had gotten her so many years ago, the necklace her parents had gotten her for Christmas. On her wrist was the charm bracelet that I had gotten her that same Christmas. A bracelet that was now filled with so many charms that it hung gracefully from her wrist, her beautiful wrist that was now gently resting on her ever growing belly.
I walked Matthew and I over to her so that each of us could give her a gentle kiss on the cheek.
"My sweet boys." She sighed as I put my hand on her belly and felt the baby kick.
"She does that every time you touch my belly. She is so going to be a daddy's girl and will so have you wrapped around her little finger."
"Like mother like daughter my vision of love." I answered her as I kissed her softly on the lips.
She crinkled her nose up at me and held up her arms to take Matthew.
"No my beautiful wife, he'll mess your dress up and we wouldn't want to do anything to alter this stunning masterpiece that now stands before us. I'll take him to Ms. Sadie."
I walked Matthew down to the kitchen where Sadie, our nanny was putting his dinner on a plate for him.
"Are you ready to eat little man?" Sadie asked Matthew. He began to squeal with delight at the sight of macaroni and cheese on his plate.
I placed him in his high chair, kissing him on the head before heading back up to the bedroom to finish getting ready for the evenings events.
When I reached the bedroom door, I stopped short of walking in; the sound of Bella talking to our daughter filling my heart with love.
"I know sweet girl, your daddy's touch makes me all jumpy too." She was sitting on the bed, her arms around her beautiful belly, looking down and talking to it. "The first time I touched him I got just as jumpy as you do. It was just a simple handshake, but his touch took hold of my heart and never let go. Your daddy is very special, he saved my life. He's like my own superhero. He is my world, but I am more than happy to share him with you and Matthew, because his heart is big enough to love all of us the same." She kissed her hand and then put it on her belly, stood up from the bed and went back to the bathroom to finish getting ready.
I just stood there letting the tears fall down my cheeks. My Bella never failed to amaze me and every day, even after so many years, I still fell more and more in love with her.
I waited for a minute before I finally went into the room. I didn't want Bella to know that I had witnessed her little talk with our daughter.
"Bella sweetie, are you about ready? I told Charlie we would pick them up at 7:30." Charlie retired from the Forks police department two years ago, about the same time Matthew was born oddly enough. Although he had been with the department for a little over twenty years, he was still too young to retire but he did anyway. Renee and him packed everything up and moved across country to Wilmington. They claimed it was the best place to retire, the weather was warmer, he could still fish and maybe on occasion they would get to see their grandson. Bella and I both knew the truth though. They just wanted to be with their grandchildren.
"As ready as I can be I guess given what I have to work with currently." She said as she walked out of the bathroom.
"You are perfect my love, just perfect." I answered her knowing that she thought she looked bad. In the ten years I was blessed enough to admire the beauty of Isabella Swan Cullen it was when she was pregnant that she was at her most beautiful.
She kissed my cheek gently and then headed for the door. We both kissed Matthew goodbye and made our way out for the evening.
As we drove to Charlie and Renee's I could see Bella growing more and more nervous by the minute.
"Bella Luna, you need to calm down. You have been through this before; you should be an old pro at it by now." I said as I took her hand in mine and kissed her knuckles.
"I know, but all of that attention still makes me nervous." She said trying to calm herself down.
"You deserve all of that attention and more, besides all of your family will be there to help you through."
"And that's the other thing. They were all there at the first launch party so I don't see they felt like they had to come to the second one."
While Bella was in graduate school she did her Master's Thesis on food as a form of communication, her idea being that food speaks for us and about us and therefore should be considered a form of communication. She did two years worth of research, did countless interviews and wrote the most amazing paper on the subject. Her advisor was so intrigued by the idea, she convinced Bella she needed to write a book based on her research. She even went so far as to contact a publisher to pitch the idea to.
A week before we found out Bella was pregnant with Matthew her book, Cooking with Love was published. It was part cookbook, part self-help, part motivational and part humorous look at life. For all of its parts what it equaled was one hundred percent Bella. It was amazing, smart, funny, sweet and touching. And once Oprah got a hold of it, it was everywhere. Almost three years later it still sits on the New York Times bestsellers list.
In two weeks, her second book, Cooking for Lovers is going to hit bookstores and tonight is the launch party. It was being held at a huge beach house that had been rented out for the evening in Wrightsville Beach.
"Sweetie, they are coming because they love you."
"But it is too much for them all." She protested, always worried about others.
"If it was too much they wouldn't be here."
"Alice is seven months pregnant." She began to rattle off.
"Yes my love and you are six and a half months pregnant." As hard as it was to believe sometimes, Bella and Alice were pregnant at the same time for the second time. Jasper and Alice's daughter, Addyson was born one month after Matthew was. Their son was due two weeks before our daughter was due. Bella and Alice really were one and the same, platonic soul mates as Alice always said. The fact that the children were either born or due to be born so close to one another and the fact that they were opposite sexes gave Alice even more reason to believe that our kids were destined to carry on that bond to their own children.
"But she is flying. She shouldn't be flying." Bella began to protest again.
Alice and Jasper were flying in from New York City. After Alice graduate from UW she got a job working as an assistant for one of the designers at Gucci. After several years in the business she had enough confidence in herself and had made enough of a name for herself as a designer that she left Gucci and was currently running her own little boutique fashion house. Jasper finished his post-graduate work in Psychology in New York and currently had his own private practice in the city as well as working with several support groups for victims of rape and violence.
"Bella, if she couldn't fly, her doctor wouldn't let her. Besides you know Alice, she wouldn't miss this for the world."
"Ok so what about Emmett and Rose?" She moved on to another target now.
"What about Emmett and Rose?" I asked already knowing where this was going.
"Signing day is in two weeks; Emmett is very busy with last minute recruiting, Rose is opening a new store in three weeks and neither of them has time to spare to trek cross country to see me. Not to mention having to find sitters for their children."
Emmett and Rose were still living in Seattle and they had four children, two girls and two boys. The signing day that Bella was referring to was the last day that high school basketball players had to commit to a college. Emmett was a recruiter for the University of Washington's basketball team. Rose had opened a small clothing store in Seattle which had become quite successful and was about to open another store in Portland. Both stores had the luck and privilege of being the only ones in the area that carried the new spring line of a certain up and coming designer named Alice Whitlock.
"Bella they have all of that worked out. Emmett is working in a last minute visit to a kid in Raleigh and Rose is well, Rose and can run anything she needs to with a phone and her Rose tone. As far as the kids, her parents love having the chance to spoil them at every turn.
"What about your parents Edward. Carlisle is very busy and I know Esme had to turn down a potential top client to be here." Next target acquired.
Dad had recently become the Chief of Staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which did take up a great deal of his time. Mom was still running her own design firm but had several designers on staff now who handled the majority of the work for her, allowing her to focus on other things, like her grandchildren.
"Bella sweetie, first of all, dad is kind of the boss now and if he wants to take some time off, he can. Second of all, the client mom turned down was the wife of the Bulls' new center who wanted her to design a five story dog house. Mom would have turned that one down any day of the week. Third and final do you really think either of them really need an excuse to come and see Matthew. This just gave them a reason." Knowing she was out of targets and we were pulling up to Charlie and Renee's house, I turned to Bella.
"My sweet wife, every one of them would be here no matter what because they love you and want to share this wonderful accomplishment with you. So no more arguing ok, Dr's orders." I winked at her with those words and got out of our Suburban to go and get Charlie, Renee and mom and dad, who were staying with Bella's parents while they were in town.
After several minutes of hugs and kisses we all made our way to the beach house, the rest of our family meeting us there.
The house was done up in a total culinary theme, with tables of food from the recipes in Bella's books everywhere. The doors of the houses were opened so that party goers could meander out on the porches but it also allowed the ocean air to linger in. The combination of smells of the ocean and food was intoxicating.
Squeals of delight erupted in the room when Alice came in and found Bella. They hadn't seen each other in five months and now their two halves were whole again. Jasper and I could only shake our heads with knowing smiles as we gave each other manly hugs.
Shortly after the squeals died down from Alice and Bella, they erupted again first when Rose came into the room and greeted the girls and then second when Emmett came in, grabbed both Bella and Alice up at the same time and looked like he was going to spin them around at the same time. Jasper and I both rushed towards them to protect the girls from Emmett when he stopped abruptly and began to complain about the girls weight when a glare from Rose had him quickly change his complaint to him getting too old to do the things he use to do.
Bella spent the evening mingling around the party, talking with different guests. Although she hated to be the center of attention, she handled each conversation with grace and charm. I watched her all night long as she worked the crowd and I saw those speaking to her have the same reaction I had seen so many years ago at her eighteenth birthday party. They were all enamored with Bella, drawn into all that was Bella.
The night began to wind down and our family gathered together out on the second story porch to spend some time together. We had been chatting for a while when I looked at Bella and nodded my head to her, asking her a question she knew all too well. She shook her head yes and I tried to gather the attention of our families.
"My dear sweet family, Bella and I would like to thank all of you for joining us tonight to celebrate Bella's great accomplishments. It has been too long since we have been able to gather together like this as a family and we wanted you all to know how much this means to us." Everyone raised their glasses up in response to my gratitude.
"We also have an announcement to make and are so glad all of you could be here together for this news."
"We already know she's pregnant Edward." Emmett chimed in.
"Emmett!" Several voices went after him at once.
"Aw come on, you all know you wanted to say it, I was just the first to do so." That Emmett shit eating grin plastered all over his face. God I really did miss him sometimes.
"Yes Emmett, I am most definitely pregnant." Bella answered him. I looked over at her with so much love and placed my hand on her belly. Our little one reacting immediately and moving into my touch, Bella giving me a told you so grin.
"No this news has to do with the book." Bella continued. "The Food Network has bought the rights to my new book and they want to develop a show around it." I could see the pride on her face as she told our family the news. This was one of the few times in her life; I knew she wouldn't mind being the center of attention.
Our family began to shout out congratulations to Bella, drawing her into hugs.
"She didn't tell you the best part though." I said trying to get their attention back. "They have asked Bella to help them develop the show and want her to be one of the Executive Producers." I could only imagine the look of pride coming off of me at that moment would rival the moon for brightness.
A second round of cheers and congratulations wound around Bella, everyone so proud of her and so happy for her accomplishments.
"Wait, Food Networks studios are just around the corner from my studio. Are you going to be spending a lot of time there?" Alice asked bouncing up and down. I could see the look of concern on Jasper's face, fearing she would go into labor right then and there.
"Not until a few months after Gillian is born but yes I will be up there some." She smiled at Alice and I could tell she was excited about the idea of being able to spend some time with her.
"Oh Bella I am so happy I could just…wait…did you say Gillian?" The smile on Bella's face was suddenly replaced with an oh crap look.
Matthew's full name was Matthew Jasper McCarty Cullen. It was a very long name, we both knew that but we wanted to pay honor to our friends as well as to the memory of the little boy who lost his life the day I found out about our new life.
When Emmett found out Bella was pregnant for the second time he began to hassle us about the baby's name, trying to figure out ways to have his first name worked into her name. Alice and he even made a bet as to what the name would be and how we were going to work their names into our child's. When Bella found out about the bet, she refused to tell anyone to punish the two of them for betting on our baby.
"Yes Alice, I said Gillian. Her name is going to be Gillian Rose Cullen." We both looked over at Rose who had tears in her eyes. Although she never said anything about her not being represented in Matthew's name, I knew deep down it hurt a little. She mouthed thank you to us both before turning away to dry her eyes.
"Gillian Rose Whitlock." Alice grinned. "Yes I like that, it has a beautiful ring to it."
"Not as beautiful as Addyson Isabella Cullen though." I responded with a grin of my own.
All eyes turned to me suddenly, shocked that I would say something like that.
"What? Ten years has taught me never to doubt Alice and her visions."
Everyone chuckled and shook their heads knowing all too well the truth behind the words I had just spoken.
"I'd like to make a toast." My dad said, raising his glass. "To our Bella and her grace. A grace that the rest of the world is finally going to be privy to, that the rest of us have been blessed to know for years."
"To our Bella." We all said raising our glasses as well.
The love and pride that everyone felt for Bella at that moment overwhelmed me and I was taken back to the first time I saw Bella cooking in my dorm room kitchen. I thought back to the lines of the song she so beautiful sang that night
Have you ever…held your breath…and asked yourself will it ever get better than tonight.
At that moment, our family awash in the glow of Bella, all of the love we felt for her floating out into the atmosphere, I knew the answer to that question. With Bella around the answer would always be yes. Because no matter how great a moment was, with her, the next one would always be better.
A/N: Thank you all again for the love you have given this story. I hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Let me know what you think!
My next story will be a serious of one-shots called Kiss. Each one will be different short stories that all deal with different types of kisses, first kisses, sexy kisses etc. Some will be funny, some will be sweet and some will be sad. Not all stories will be Bella/Edward centered as some kisses just call for the others to share. I should have the first one up shortly. Hope you will check them out and look forward to getting feedback on them.
Nothing but love to you all!