Love Come Last
A/N: All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer. If they belonged to me Edward would have been naked, a lot.
Special thanks to LoveLeVampire and linnforia from PTB for making this readable. I had tweaked this a little so all mistakes are mine.
This is it. What a journey it has been. I had to totally change this chapter from what I envisioned, I will explain why at the bottom. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my little story and sticking with me through so much. I love you guys.
Many, Many, years later...
I walk softly down the hallway, looking at each of the pictures that adorn the walls of the Cullen estate. I smile as I watch my life in pictures. Esme loves using her camera, and has recorded her family's history in picture that are displayed all over her home. The home I had spent so much of my life living in. My mind floats over the past years, spending so many afternoons here with Alice, hiding away because I was so shy. Moving here permanently after Charlie was killed.
I smile to myself as I come to the first picture I ever saw of Edward. He was probably seventeen, lying on the couch with a book in his hand, his other hand in his hair. Some things never change.
As I make my way down the staircase, I can't help but smile at the photographs Esme has arranged going down the wall of all her grandchildren: Edward and my five, Alice and Jasper's two, Emmett and Rosalie's six.
I watch my children age from birth to the present. Carlie, my first beautiful girl, who was followed seventeen months later by Elizabeth Esme, our little Lizzie; then, two years after her we welcomed Charles Edward, or Charlie, and fifteen months later, Sarah Alice Rose.
We thought we were done. Four healthy, happy children was enough. What a surprise when seven years later we welcomed Brandon Christopher.
I had fairly easy pregnancies with each child, until Brandon. Each pregnancy I had very little morning sickness, I felt good, each of my babies were delivered by c-section. Since Carlie had been born by emergency caesarian section after my accident, my obstetrician, and Edward, recommended having follow up c-sections even though I wanted to try to have Lizzie naturally. I lost that battle.
My pregnancy with Brandon was a nightmare. Morning sickness occurred all day long, for almost the entire pregnancy. I was miserable, I felt terrible, everything hurt; I believe to this day that it was my age, but Edward swears it was just Brandon, being Brandon.
Brandon was our wild child. He was born full of life, and he has never slowed down. Again, I think it was my age, and trying to keep up with a toddler; Edward thought it was just Brandon. He wasn't a bad child, but he was so stubborn, and he was determined to do things his way or else.
I know I gave birth to him, but it was almost like Edward had cloned him. He is the splitting image of his dad. Regardless of their age, if you put pictures of Brandon and Edward side by side you couldn't tell them apart. I believe to this day that is the reason Edward and Brandon clash so often is because they are so much alike. Neither of them agree with me, but I'm sure I'm right.
Each of our children are entirely different. Carlie fell in love with medicine at an early age, much like Edward did at an early age. While Edward would take her on his rounds, and encourage her love of it, he also made sure she had a normal childhood.
She went to Harvard Medical School and graduated with a medical degree. She now runs Cullen Medical, and according to Edward, better than Carlisle or himself ever could.
He never missed a little league game, a school play, or any event that occurred in our children's life. He turned out to be an amazing father, even though he didn't have a good role model. He told me once, he knew all he to do was what his father never did, and do what his mother did.
You could see the love he has for his children shine through his eyes whenever he is with them. Even Brandon.
Lizzie has my love for books and learning. She is a fifth grade teacher at Forks High School and loves her work.
Charlie became a doctor also, hoping to specialize in Cardiovascular surgery. He works at HarborView in Seattle, the hospital that saved my life after my accident so many years ago.
Sarah takes after her Aunt Alice. She is in design school, and has already designed her own line of clothing. Thankfully, she doesn't have Aunt Alice's personality, she is very laid back and thinks things through before acting on them, which drives her Aunt batty.
Brandon is a brilliant musician. He can play any instrument you place in his hand. He writes music of any genre, but leans toward the heavy metal variety. He has a band, and has been getting a lot of buzz lately. Edward thinks he is wasting his life by not going to college, but as long as Brandon is doing what he loved, it was okay with me.
Alice and Jasper have twin boys. They had trouble conceiving, and an extremely difficult pregnancy and delivery, so they decided they were happy with their two healthy boys.
Emmett and Rosalie have five girls and one boy. It was hysterically funny each time one of their daughters was born, Emmett seemed to age a little more, and he gets more and more adamant about locking his daughters in a nunnery. He cried like a baby when his son was born, so did Rosie, since she swore after their fifth daughter she was done, but Emmett convinced her to try one more time.
All in all, the Cullen's offspring are wonderful people who make their family proud. We are blessed.
Esme is a wonderful grandmother, who loves each of her grandchildren and enjoys having them around, they all love their 'Grammy.' Even though she had a stroke four years ago, it didn't slow her down. She still gets around with a cane, and live life to its fullest.
I silently make my way down the steps and approach the door to the family room. The sight before me freezes me in my steps. My husband, standing with his back to me, elbow resting on the fireplace mantle, with a drink in his hand. I can't help but smile. I lean against the door jam and stare at him for a brief moment.
"You know, you were standing in the exact same spot the very first time I laid eyes on you."
Edward turns toward me and smiles the beautiful crooked smile that still melts my heart all these years later. He is still the most handsome man I've ever laid eyes on. He reaches out his arm to me and I go to him, wrapping my arms around his waist. His free arm wraps around my waist and he kisses my head. I feel the butterflies in my stomach that his touch ignites.
"Okay, what's wrong?" I ask him.
He looks at me with sad eyes, as he takes my hand and leads me over to the couch. He pulls me down into his lap.
"I can't do this, Bella."
"Edward, yes you can. I know how hard this is going to be for you, but you will do it for Carlie. She's counting on you." I run my hand up and down his back.
He shakes his head, pulling me to him tighter.
I place each of my hands on the side of his face.
"Edward, children grow up. You've been such a good father to our children. The best father. Tomorrow afternoon you will walk Carlie down that aisle, smile, and watch her go off to live her life."
"She's too damn young. She has no business getting married. You know what will happen next, don't you? She'll be having sex, and then we'll be grandparents. You're too young to be a grandmother."
He says this so seriously, I can't help but laugh and kiss him all over his face.
"Edward, darling, she's thirty." I curl up even tighter against his chest. "I thought you liked Jared?"
"I do like Jared. He's a great doctor, hard worker, and all around good guy. He's just not good enough for my daughter."
I laugh even harder. "No one is ever going to; be good enough for Carlie in your eyes, or either of your daughters, but she loves him and it's her choice. Oh, and FYI, I'm pretty sure they are already having sex they've been together over five years."
Edward's eyebrows shoot up into his hairline. "I'll kill him."
I laugh and kiss Edward's cheek.
"You'll do no such thing. They are both adults, and capable of making their own decisions."
"But, you're supposed to wait until you are married before you have sex with my daughter." He pouts. "We didn't have sex until after we were married, I thought you said she wants to do everything the way we did?"
I lean back and frown at him. "Edward, we didn't have sex until we had been married for five years."
"Exactly!" he yells. "And after we had married twice. That is what they should do."
"Do you realize what you're saying? You're saying that our daughter should marry a man that doesn't really love her, to make his dreams come true, instead of marrying a man she loves."
"I most certainly am not."
"You're saying she should do what we did." I raise my eyebrows at him, and dare him to contradict me.
"Ours was a special circumstance." He looks at me sheepishly.
"Edward," I reach up and stroke his face. "Don't think for a minute that I regret what we did. All I ever expected when I married you was five years with an incredible man that I was head over heels in love with. A man I loved enough to let go, if necessary, as long as he was happy. That didn't happen, thank God, so everything else I got is the icing on the top, and it turned out so much better than I ever imagined."
"I think I did love you when I married you the first time, I was just too stupid to realize it. I didn't understand love. You taught me what unconditional love is and so, love came last, for me at least, but I also thank God every day that I woke up before it was too late."
He looks deep into my eyes, then lays his head back on the sofa.
"Where did the time go? It was two weeks ago they were all running around the house, driving us crazy. The boys chasing the girls with bugs, the girls trying to cut the boys hair. Brandon trying to blow something up."
I slap his chest. "Stop it, Brandon never tried to blow anything up."
"Only because I kept all flammable items under lock and key." He laughs.
"You and Brandon knock heads together all the time because you are so much alike."
"Are you insane? I was never like Brandon."
"You would have been, if Carlisle hadn't been so tough on you. There is no doubt in my mind you would have been exactly like Brandon. Look at what a ladies man you were in college and after."
"Yeah, well maybe I should open up a can of Carlisle on his ass. Maybe then he would settle down and get serious about life."
"Now you sound like Carlisle. Edward, he's doing what he loves, following his passion. Maybe it's not the traditional way, but he's happy." I want him to understand his son is not rebelling just to rebel.
"I know." He sighs, as he looks at me in defeat. "As much as I hate to admit it, he is very good at what he does." His eyes roll. "At least, I think he is when he's playing something that isn't making my ears bleed."
"Careful, sweetheart, you're showing your age." I smile at him.
Edward's arms tighten around me. We sit, quietly, his hands rubbing up and down my back. It's nice to relax in my husband's arms, especially after all these years.
"Maybe we should make another batch," Edward says suddenly.
I lean back and look at him. "Another batch of what? Cookies?"
"No silly. Babies. We could make more babies." His head is leaning back against the couch, and he is looking down his nose at me.
I stare at him, stunned.
"First of all, Edward, I don't think that's biologically possible, and second. . .NO!"
"Yeah, I know you're right. The house feels so empty with them all gone."
"Brandon still lives at home."
"He's never home."
"We could get another dog or dogs."
That earns me a sad smile. Bear and Killer lived until the ripe old ages of eleven and fourteen, respectively, but it was so hard on us and the kids when they died, and we were so busy we never got another animal.
"Yeah, maybe," Edward says.
"Look, hopefully, we'll have a house full of grandchildren, and they're even better. We can spoil them rotten, fill them full of sugar and send them home."
He smiles his beautiful, crooked smile.
"Sometimes, Mrs. Cullen, you are evil. And brilliant."
I stand up and grab his hand.
"Come on, Dr. Cullen, take me to bed and ravish my body. We have a busy day tomorrow."
"Best idea I've heard all day," he tells me, before picking me up and throwing me over his shoulder as I squeal.
"Put me down, you fool, you're not as young as you once were." I'm laughing and beating him on his perfect ass.
"I might not be as young as I once was, but I can still handle your ass." He smacks me on said ass and runs up the stairs to his childhood bedroom.
"Yes you can," I tell him.
Alice and I walk around the back yard. I am amazed at how she has transformed it into a fairyland, once again. As she is pointing out all the different details I glance up and see Edward standing on the back deck, still dressed in his sleep pants, an old, tight tee shirt, sipping on a mug of coffee. I wave at him to join us.
"It's about time. I thought you were going to sleep the day away. There are things to be done, Edward," Alice says to him.
"It's eight-thirty, Alice. All this damn noise woke me up." He looks around and frowns.
"Why do I feel like I stepped back in time?" he asks.
"Because Alice has re-created our first wedding." I smile up at him, as I take Edward's hand. "She did an amazing job, huh?"
Edward wraps his arm around my shoulders, leans down and whispers in my ear, "Happy Anniversary."
I smile up at him. "Thanks, and right back at you."
"Where is everyone?"he asks. "The family, I mean, not all these strangers who are making noise in my mother's backyard."
"Your mother is in the kitchen, overseeing the caterers, and the girls are off getting their hair and nails done. I have no idea where the boys are," I state.
"Okay, guys," Alice says. "I'm going to go check with Mom to see how things are going inside. Edward, Bella, you need to stick close so you're available in case anyone has any questions. The firework guys should be here by noon to set up. You need to show them where. Be sure you are dressed and ready no later than six. If you have any questions, you can reach me on my cell."
Alice takes off, leaving Edward and I to survey the area. It is amazing how much it looks the same way it did over forty years ago, when we married the first time.
"It's kind of creepy, isn't it?" Edward asks, as he walks down the yard, taking every thing in.
"Carlie said she wanted it to be exactly like ours. She has spent hours poring over our wedding pictures with Alice."
"Something is different," Edward says. "But, I can't for the life of me figure out what it is."
"The color scheme."
"What?" He frowns.
"She wanted red, white, and blue." I laugh. "Alice fought with her, stating it was too cliche, exactly as she told us. But, Carlie stood her ground. She told her it was the fourth of July; it should be red, white, and blue."
"Good for her. She always has stuck to her guns. If she knows what she wants, that's it." Edward turns and smiles at me.
I walk up to him and wrap my arms around his waist, looking up into his eyes. "Are you okay, this morning?"
Edward sighs deeply, and rubs his hands up and down my back.
"Do I have a choice? My little girl has found another man to spend her life with. I have to let go."
"Edward. You don't have to let go. She will always be your daughter, your little girl. She will be living her life, the life you gave her. Not only the biological way, but the way you helped raise her, and guide her. She is the amazing young woman she is, because of you. I promise you, she will always want her Daddy in her life."
I glance up and see Edward wipe the tears from his eyes. "She is amazing, because she has an amazing mother."
He leans down and kisses me deeply. I feel my toes curl, and wrap my fingers in the back of his hair, holding him to me tightly.
"So, what do we have to do to between now and this evening when all this gets underway?" Edward asks.
I look up at him and smile. "Absolutely nothing, as long as Alice doesn't catch us and we are dressed and in place by six, we are free."
"Good," Edward says, grabbing my hand. "Let's go back to bed."
I giggle as we fly up the stairs, and lock our bedroom door.
I watch as Alice zips my daughter into her wedding gown. The same wedding gown that I wore so many years ago, with a few minor adjustments. Carlie turns to face me, and I can't stop the tears from flowing.
"Mom, stop. You're going to ruin your make-up," Carlie tells me, laughing.
"I can't help it. You have never looked more beautiful, and you're such beautiful girl ever, so that's saying a lot."
"It's all Aunt Alice's hard work," she tells me, as she pulls me into a hug.
"No," I tell her, as I lean back to look at her. "It's all you. You are radiating happiness, as you should on your wedding day." I kiss her cheek.
"Alright, that's enough, both of you," Alice yells. "Bella, get it together, before you smear mascara everywhere. Carlie, come over here, I'm not done yet. Sit." She point to the stool in front of the mirrored vanity. "Mom, we're ready for the final touch. You do the honors."
Esme walks behind Carlie with her veil in her hands and tears flowing down her cheeks. She places the veil on Carlie's head and straightens it, the same way she did for me years ago.
"Oh, Carlie," Esme cries. "So beautiful."
"Oh for God sake! Will you all just stop." Alice starts handing us all tissues. "This is worse than when Bella and Edward married. This is a happy day, now stop crying."
"Mary Alice, you stop. These are happy tears, and we are allowed," Esme tells her daughter.
Thank goodness for Esme. She has us all laughing at ourselves.
There is a soft knock at the door, and Alice opens it a crack, peering out.
"Good, get in here. We're ready."
Edward slowly walks into the room, and I see the stunned look on his face as he takes in the vision that is his first born. His eyes fill with tears, as Carlie stands and turns to face him.
"Oh, baby girl. You are so beautiful."
"Daddy," Carlie says, as she walks into his arms.
I turn away, and try to get my emotions under control. I know how hard this is for the two of them.
Luckily, the door flies open, and the rest of the girls burst into the room, all giggling and loud. It's what Edward and Carlie need to pull them back. Everyone gushes about how beautiful Carlie looks as they begin to line up, to make their way downstairs.
Edward's eyes meet mine, and we nod at each other, knowing how magical this moment is. Our oldest daughter is moments away from marrying the love of her life, on the day that we married, in the dress that I wore, and our lives have come full circle.
"All right, all right, everyone listen up," Alice shouts. "Girls, you line up and head downstairs. Wait at the French doors for me to give the signal. Go, go, go!" She practically pushes them through the door, before shutting it.
"Okay, you guys, I'm giving you a few minutes to do whatever it is you feel you have to do. Bond, share, whatever...but no crying. Don't you dare mess up your make-up or someone is going to pay. Brandon will be up to escort you down, Bella, then five minutes after that you," she says pointing at Edward, "better be walking through the door down the aisle. Got it?"
"Yes, ma'am." Edward salutes her.
"Don't be a smart ass, Edward,.I can still take you down."
Alice flies out the door and the three of us stare at each other in awe. Edward walks up to Carlie and takes her hands in his.
"You look amazing. You're almost as beautiful as your mother was on our wedding day, almost." He smiles his crooked smile at our daughter.
"Thanks, Dad." I watch as she takes a deep breath.
"You know, you don't have to do this, if you're not one hundred percent sure. We can steal out the front door, and be two states away before your Aunt Alice even notices were gone," Edward tells her, semi-seriously.
Carlie laughs out loud, relieving some of the tension. She reaches up and strokes Edward's cheek.
"I'm just a bit nervous, Dad. Walking out in front of all those people. Jared and I should have eloped.
"Your Aunt would have killed us all," I tell her. "Your father and I suggested doing that, and I thought Alice was going to have a stroke."
"Carlie, I want you to be absolutely sure that Jared is the one. That he loves you enough to make you happy for your entire life. Marriage isn't easy, it's hard work. Are you sure he's up to it?" Edward asks, holding Carlie tight to his chest.
"Dad, marrying Jared is the one thing I'm absolutely positive is right. I love him, and I know he loves me. I've waited a long time to find someone like him, and you know how I know he loves me enough?"
Edward shrugs, looking very dejected.
Carlie smiles at her dad. "Because he looks at me the way you look at Mom. I've always said, since I was a little girl, that if any man ever looked at me the way you look at Mom, I'd know he was the one."
"Okay, then," is all Edward can say.
Luckily, the door flies open, saving the three of us from crying hysterically.
"Whoa, Dad! You clean up good, who knew." Brandon teases his father, with the same crooked smile he inherited from his dad.
Edward narrows his eyes at our youngest, who is dressed in the identical tux as his father.
"Who knew you could look almost human when you aren't wearing holey jeans and a dirty shirt," Edward shoots back.
Then they give each other the same grin, and my heart swells. They are so much alike.
"Hey, sis. Wow, you're actually, kinda beautiful. I mean more beautiful than normal," he tells Carlie.
Carlie walks over and puts her arms around her little brother's waist. "Aw, thanks bro."
He bends down and kisses her cheeks and whispers softly, not wanting us to hear. "I love you, Carlie."
All of us stand and look at each other, before Brandon finally snaps out of it and grabs my arm.
"Mom, it is my honor to escort you to your seat. If you'll come with me."
"Well, thank you, I would be honored."
"Oh, and Dad? Aunt Alice says if you're one minute late, you will pay. Five minutes, from now." He taps his watch.
"Just make sure your mother doesn't trip going down the stairs or the aisle, I'll take care of the rest."
I turn and smile at my husband and daughter, before taking a deep breath and walking out the door.
The wedding goes off without a hitch. Everyone is teary eyed, including my stoic husband.
The reception is loud and boisterous. Unlike our first wedding, only family, friends, and colleagues that are close to Carlie and Jared have been invited. It isn't a show for the Cullen Corporation, as ours hand been.
Brandon's band provides the music and they do an amazing job. Even Edward is impressed. More tears are shed when Brandon and all the kids insist that we dance to Brown Eyed Girl,and I'll Be Your Lover, Too, to honor our anniversary. I cry when Edward thanks Brandon, and I noticed the tears in Brandon's eyes.
Lizzie and Sarah giggle with Carlie and Jared about how over the top their wedding is; while Charlie flirts with all the girls. I look around at my family, and realize how blessed I am.
The cake is cut, the bouquet thrown, the garter removed, under Edward's sharp eye, and a few threats to Jared's manhood. Things are winding down. The best man is finishing up his speech, when Edward excuses himself, and walks up to where Brandon is and whispers something to him. Brandon nods, and when the speech is finished, hands the microphone to Edward.
All eyes are on Edward when he clears his throat. I frown, because I had no idea he wanted to talk.
"As the father of the bride, I would like to thank everyone for being here to celebrate the marriage of our daughter, Carlie, to Jared. As many of you know, many years ago, on this exact spot, I was lucky enough to marry the love of my life, Bella, on this very day. I have a few things I'd like to say to Carlie and Jared." He cleared his throat as he turned to look at them.
"Carlie," he says. "My beautiful little girl. You're all grown up now, but to me I still see the little girl, who followed me around, and hung on my every word. I am so proud of you, as I am of all my children. Your mother and I waited a long time for you to come into our lives, and I almost lost you and your mother on your birthday. I've never been so scared in my life as I was that day. Until today. In my heart, I am losing you. You have found another man to watch over you, and love you. You know how I am feeling, because we've always had this special connection. Upstairs, after your mother had left, you said the one thing I needed to hear above all else. I hope I don't embarrass you by sharing this with everyone, but I want everyone to know what a smart woman you are."
I glance at Carlie, and watch as she nods her head at her father. Her way of telling him it's okay to share their personal moment. Edward wipes his eyes, and smiles before he continues.
"My beautiful little girl who has had me wrapped around her little finger since the day she was born, wrapped her arms around my waist, and looked deep into my eyes and said – Dad, today I'm marrying the love of my life. I picked today as my wedding day, because it's the day you married the love of you life, and Mom, married the love of her life. I know you're worried about losing your "little girl", but Dad, I will always be you "little girl" and you will always be my "Daddy". You will always be my rock, no matter what. Please know this. I'm not leaving you, or Mom. I'm adding to our family. You have guided me, coached me and loved me my entire life, and for that I will be forever grateful. I have watched you and Mom, the way you love each other, and that is what I want. I don't know what the future holds, but I have the best foundation any girl could ever ask for, and that is because of you. You and Mom have made me the woman I am, and I hope that someday, my children will feel as grateful for me as I am for you. I love you, Daddy."
Edward has to stop for a moment to get his emotions under control, and to allow everyone in the room to get theirs under control also. I look over at the family table and see everyone with tears flowing down their cheeks, from Esme to Emmett. Thank God, because seeing Emmett in tears allows me to giggle, and get my emotions together.
"Carlie and Jared, I'm only going to give you a bit of advice. Marriage isn't easy. It's the hardest job you will ever do. Sometimes, you will want to walk away because you'll wonder if it's worth it. When you feel like this, sit down and think about what your life will be like if they're gone. When Bella and I married -" He stops and shakes his head, before looking over at me. His eyes never leave mine.
"I was basically an idiot." Everyone laughs, not realizing how serious he is. Only I know.
"My beautiful Bella. You taught me how to love. You taught me how to live. You are the best thing that ever happened to me. You loved me unconditionally, even when I didn't deserve it, you allowed me live my dreams, you gave me five incredible, amazing, hard-headed children, who are a perfect combination of the two of us. You never gave up on me, no matter how many reasons I gave you, and for that I thank you." I blow him a kiss.
"Mom," Edward says, turning toward Esme. "You raised me to be the man I am. Dad and I butted heads more times than I like to remember. I never understood growing up what he wanted from me, he pushed me so hard. When I became a father, I was determined to do everything the opposite of him. But, as I raised my children, I began to understand him a little better. I don't agree with how he did things, but I understand it better. I want you to know, I forgive him. You loved him, as I love Bella. I understand that, now. I thank you for being the best mother a man could ever ask for. For loving me, for being the best grandmother any child could ask for."
All the grandchildren shout out, "You rock, Grammy."
Now Esme is in tears.
"Okay, enough of this." Edward continues. "To my family – my wife, my mother, my brothers, my sister, and mostly my children. Thank you. Carlie and Jared – go forth and live your life. Enjoy each other, never take each other for granted, but most of all love each other, especially when you want to kill each other. I love you all."
I get up and walk to my husband and wrap my arms around his waist, as everyone claps.
"I love you, Bella."
"As I love you, Edward."
Brandon walks up to Edward and takes the microphone from his hand. He runs his hand through his hair, exactly like his father has always done.
"Yeah, Dad's cut off for the night."
This cause everyone to laugh, and Edward turns and grabs Brandon and hugs him tight. "I love you, too, son."
Brandon laughs, as he hugs his father back. "Yeah, definitely cut off."
The receptions starts to wind down. Carlie and Jared have left for Seattle, where they are spending the night in the honeymoon suite at the Alexis Hotel, before flying off for two weeks in Hawaii. The guests are leaving, and the family has collapsed around the head table.
"One down, four to go," Alice says. "In your family anyway."
"My girls are never getting married. I forbid it," Emmett grumbles, and Rosalie rolls her eyes at him.
"And what about you son?" she asks.
"He can elope...when he's forty."
"You can't stop love, Emmett. No matter how hard you try, and believe me, I tried." Edward sighs.
Rosalie and Alice stand up to go round up their offspring, leaving Edward, Emmett, and I with our feet propped up on chairs, sipping the last of the champagne.
"So, you okay, little brother?" Emmett asks Edward.
"Yeah, it's just been a long day."
"Did you ever think all those years ago, that you would be sitting here, still married, with children?" Emmett raises his eyebrows at us.
Emmett is the only family member, including our children who knows the truth about how our marriage came to be. He solemnly promised to never mention it to anyone, and he has kept his promise.
Edward reaches over and cups my cheek.
"No." He turns and looks at Emmett. "I'm a blessed man, I don't deserve everything I have, but I thank God every day that I do."
"I feel you, man. Somehow I knew you two would make it."
Edward rolls his eyes.
"No, I'm serious. I knew Bella, and I knew if anyone would be able to turn your ass around, it would be her. I knew she loved you, and I knew how special she was. I knew what kind of man you were, even if you didn't, so I knew as long as Bella didn't lose faith, or her patience, you would fall, and fall hard. You don't have to thank me." He grins this huge toothy smile at Edward and me.
Edward laughs. "Exactly what do I have you to thank for?"
Emmett narrows his eyes at Edward. "For not kicking your ass."
Emmett is so serious when he says this, that we all burst out laughing.
"Okay, thank you," Edward sputters out, between laughs.
Emmett pouts, which makes us laugh even harder.
When Edward gets himself together, he pulls me onto his lap. He kisses me deeply, before he turns to his brother.
"You're right about one thing, Emmett. Bella is special, and she has loved me unconditionally since day one. Because of that love and faith in something she believed was special and worth the trouble, I'm sitting here today, happier than I deserve to be. If anyone ever writes a book about my life it will be called Love Comes Last. But, because it came last, I think that's why it has lasted through everything we've gone through, and for that I will be eternally grateful." He leans down and kisses me deeply.
When we look up, Emmett is wiping tears from his face.
"You didn't have it easy growing up, with Dad and all, but I think the rewards you have now is payment for that. You're a good man, Edward. Never forget that."
Edward and I make our way up the stairs to his old bedroom, deciding we were too tired to drive home, and Esme was thrilled to have us stay another night.
After changing into our pajamas, and brushing our teeth, we look at each other. Edward kisses the top of my head. Both of us are exhausted.
"You know, I meant everything I said to Emmett tonight," Edward says to me.
I smile up at him. "I know."
"I hope you know how much I love you, and how much I appreciate that you didn't give up on me so many years ago."
I pull myself up so I can look in his eyes.
"Edward, I'm not the only one who didn't give up. You could have taken the easy way out, continued to party, sleeping around for the first five years, and then walked away. You could have supported me financially, as we agreed and nothing else. You don't give yourself enough credit. Before you ever admitted you loved me, you gave me everything a wife could ask for from a husband."
"Except sex," He interrupts.
"True, but I didn't go sexually frustrated. You took care of my needs, and that wasn't part of the deal."
"I was just being selfish."
"Really? You didn't have to do that. You had permission, so to speak, to have sex outside of the marriage."
"I couldn't do that to you."
"Exactly! Because of the man you were...are. You cared enough to not hurt me, even if you didn't love me, then. So, don't you see? It's because of the man you are in here," I tell him as I place my hand over his heart."
He smiles as me, and laces his fingers through mine.
"I think you were seeing what you wanted to see. You were looking through the eyes of love."
"Maybe. But I don't think so. I saw the wonderful man you tried to keep hidden. You were afraid of love, because of how deeply you had loved your father, and how he had hurt you. You didn't trust or believe in love because you associated it with pain."
Edward frowns. He doesn't say anything for awhile then he smiles at me.
"You're pretty smart, you know that?"
"Yep. I married you, didn't I?"
He chuckles, as he rolls me over and shows me how much he loves me.
Now and forever.
A/N: When I originally planned this out, this chapter was suppose to be Esme's funeral. Same time frame, only the family saying goodbye to the matriarch, but with all the death in my real life, I couldn't deal with it in my fiction, so I had to totally revamp it.
Thank you from the depths of my heart to all my readers. You are the best. You have stuck with me through some terrible times, and it's your kind words, prayers, and support that have helped me so much.
Special thanks to SamIAm for all her help and kind words in the beginning of this little journey. Best of luck on your career in the Air Force, you will rock it.
To Morgan and Scarlett71777 thank you for your help and kind words
Susie, you read this first and gave your opinion and encouragement even though you know nothing about Twilight. "Gasp"
To the wonderful Project Team Beta, you guys are the best. This story would totally be unreadable if it wasn't for these wonderful folks. Anyone, who is writing, or thinking about writing, but are scared, send it to PTB. They are so helpful and wonderful.
I totally suck at answering reviews, but I read each and everyone of them, and they mean more to me than I could ever say. So to everyone who read, reviewed, place it on their favorite list...THANK YOU.
I am working on a couple of new stories, but I want them to be complete or very close to completion, because I know how real life can sneak up on you, and kick your ass. I know when I read I hate waiting for updates, and I don't want my readers to have to wait months for an update ever again.
Once again, thank you so much for allowing someone who is NOT a writer, only someone with a vivid imagination, and a serious love of all things Twilight to play around.
KISSES AND HUGS to everyone.