Disclaimer: All characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 28: Release
I was a nervous wreck. Today was the day of my book release and signing, and Bree had me running around all morning. I just wanted it to go according to plan. Bella's meticulous nature had rubbed off on me.
I'd spent the last eighteen months writing, and my book was finally ready to be released. It was an historical fiction about a young couple traveling through Guatemala and Central America. I hoped it would open people's eyes to the realities of life there and provide insight into the incredible struggles, yet enormous faith of the people. I was very proud of my work, and it had truly been a labor of love.
I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and texted Bella.
You guys going to make it on time? Remember it's at noon. ~E
She texted back immediately, and I had to laugh when I read it.
You're worse than me. Now I know where Oliver gets his impatience. See you at noon. ~B
I was predictable, I guess, always worried about things being perfect. Oliver was our six month old son, and he wasn't known for his patience. He certainly kept all of us on our toes. Bella and I hadn't exactly been trying for a baby, but we weren't preventing it either, so although we were happy, it was a bit of a surprise when Bella found out she was pregnant. We'd expected to have to wait a lot longer.
Oliver Edward Cullen was born on October 3rd at 4:15 pm, much to the chagrin of his older sister, Grace, who was none too eager to share the spotlight. Over the last few months, though, she'd really come to love her little brother and was even quite protective of him.
Bella was still working in her practice, which she really enjoyed. The research she'd done in her previous job had been widely recognized, and she'd been invited to speak at several conferences on the subject of childhood cancer. It would always be something near and dear to her heart, but her own practice was much more suited to our life.
I watched the kids a few hours a day while Bella was at work, but it was impossible to get anything done with them around, so we had a nanny come to the house to help. Our daily life involved a lot of balancing of our schedules, but we'd gotten into a pattern that worked for us.
Life with two kids was certainly hectic and kept us busy, but it was a good kind of chaos. I found myself unable to remember what we did before they came along. I became used to the near constant noise in our house. It made our house a home.
My book signing went exceedingly well with a huge turnout. It was exhausting, but one of my favorite parts of my job to get to meet my readers. Afterwards, we had a small reception for family and friends at our place so I could thank them for all their love and support. Grace and Jane, Alice and Jasper's daughter, ran around on the grass playing tag. They giggled and hid behind the adults, who tried to carry on conversations amid the screams of laughter.
"Hey, I hear congratulations are in order," I said to Emmett as he approached. He had just proposed to Rosalie this week, and I hadn't had a chance to congratulate him yet.
He gave me a half hug and chuckled. "Yeah, I couldn't let you have all the fun."
He joked, but I knew he'd been thinking about asking Rosalie to marry him for a while. The rest of us knew it was just a matter of time.
"We're happy for you," I said. "So, when's the big day?"
"Don't worry. You'll be the first to know. Bella and Rosalie have been busy as bees with the planning. I told Rose just to tell me when to show up."
I laughed. Bella really was anal-retentive, and I recalled the precision with which she planned our small, informal wedding. I could only imagine how she'd be planning something more elaborate. Rosalie was the same way.
"Daddy," I heard a small voice say from behind my knees. "Uppy, uppy."
I reached down instinctively and picked Grace up. She was growing like a weed, and I wondered how much longer I'd be able to carry her like this without throwing out my back.
"What's up, mija?" I asked, giving her a kiss on the cheek.
"Doggy," she said, grimacing as she pointed to the black ball of fur in front of me, lifting her feet to protect herself.
I laughed. Jasmine was a medium-sized dog and completely harmless, but she thought she was tough. "It's just Jasmine, sweetie. She won't bite."
Grace buried her little face in my neck and squeezed me tightly so I could protect her from the imminent attack of our house pet. I hugged her back, loving the feel of her little limbs encircling me. I hadn't known what to expect from parenting, but it was the little moments like these when I realized how happy my family made me.
We made a point of speaking Spanish to Grace and talking to her about her heritage. It was important to us to honor that, and we looked forward to taking her back to Guatemala one day.
"Sweetie," Bella said as she passed me holding a tray of food. "Can you bring that tray of cold cuts from the kitchen?"
I handed Gracie off to Emmett, who immediately threw her in the air, eliciting a squeal of laughter, and I walked into the kitchen.
I felt Bella's arms come around my waist and leaned my head back against her shoulder.
"You having a good day, baby?" she asked.
I nodded and turned around in her arms, pulling her into me. "I am. I can't believe it's finally published."
She reached up and brushed a hair away from my face. "Well, you've worked really hard. You deserve it."
I leaned in and kissed her sweetly. "Thank you for believing in me and for throwing this party. I love it."
"How else could everyone show you how proud we are of you?"
"Well, we'll see if the book sells," I said, shrugging.
"It doesn't matter if it sells one copy or a million. What's important is that it came from the heart."
God, I loved this woman.
Just then, the monitor in Oliver's room came to life, indicating he was up from his nap. Bella made a move to get him, but I stopped her.
"I'll get him," I said.
"But it's your party?"
"I don't mind."
She ran her hand along my cheek, smiling, and turned to grab the cold cut tray. "Okay, I'll see you outside."
I climbed the stairs and opened the door to my son's room quietly. The room was darkened, the shutters drawn closed, so my eyes took a moment to adjust.
I walked over to the crib and Oliver was beaming up at me, kicking and happy.
His dark brown eyes were just like Bella's, and his smile was just as captivating.
"Well look who's awake?" I returned his eager smile.
I felt a surge of pride flow through me. I had a wonderful wife and two beautiful children. We were so fortunate, and each day I tried to forget the little things that bothered me and focus on that.
I tried to remember that, even amid the devastation of Guatemala, the people there felt undying devotion toward family and friends. I strived to emulate that devotion with my own family.
In that moment, standing over Oliver's crib, while he smiled and kicked at me, just waiting for me to pick him up and hold him, I knew it had all been worth it. Everything I had been through had gotten me to this point. Had I made any different decisions along the way, I might not have been standing here. I might not have been so lucky in life.
I was eternally thankful – for Guatemala and the adventures I'd had there, for Bella, for Grace, for Oliver. For everything.
A/N: *sniff* So, that's it. I hope you enjoyed this story. It's been a fun ride with you all. Thank you for your support. I appreciate it very much. Please leave me a review with your parting thoughts!
This story is infinitely better because of my betas – TwiHart and Viola Cornuta. I can't thank you guys enough. Thanks, as always, to my pre-readers, who make me smile.
A couple of things:
Voting is open for the Pick a Pic Challenge until January 15th. My entry is called Little Miss Sunshine. I'd very much appreciate your support. The link for both the story and the voting is in my profile.
Please be sure to add me to author alert so you'll be notified when my next fic posts. It's in the works right now, and I have to say, I'm pretty excited about it! I can't wait to get it going. It should be up very soon.
My other fic, What Happens Now, is being re-written, and that will also be posting very soon.
And with that, I click the "Complete" button. Thanks again for a fun ride, and I hope you'll stick around for my new (and improved) stories.