Days Like This
Chapter 38 - Final Chapter
The way my major life achievements came together for me in such a short period of time left me astounded. I was on a roller coaster that never seemed to end. The moment of disappointment I felt when Harry informed us of the year's wait after marriage until the adoption could be finalized was soothed by my pending wedding. It was to be exactly as Bella and I wished – quick and intimate. If any stress should be felt in those last days before, well that was eradicated by the pregnancy. And just when I'd feel ready to explode with joy over my family life at home, my practice grounded me and kept me wonderfully preoccupied until it was time to return home to my lovely girls.
Bella was over the moon about being pregnant and I was looking forward to every day of it myself. I wanted to be involved in every step and, lucky for me, I had a lady who indulged that desire and encouraged it. After my initial greeting to our baby – aka, tummy-talk – Bella would greet me with a kiss, promptly lift her shirt to bare her belly for me to kiss and then I'd go nuzzle my Sunshine for a while. It was pure bliss.
My senior partner had given me Thursday off, to prepare for the wedding on Friday. Rose and Alice had given Bella a certificate for the spa so I took Juliet over to the beach house while Bella was being pampered to see if we could help with anything. The biggest help, according to Dad, was bringing Juliet – she provided a distraction for Fussing Mom, who was about to drive him completely insane. He gave me the rundown on the preps and who was doing what. It seemed an awfully big fuss for such a small gathering, but it clearly made Mom happy. Dad seemed more animated than usual as well. And more than a little emotional. I was relieved to see the girls arrive before he got me crying again as well.
"Where's my sweet little girl!" My sister pushed me out of the way to get to Juliet. Hmph.
Alice came in jumping – literally jumping – and didn't even stop while she attempted to clutch on to me. I put my hand on top of her head. "Woah there, Jumping Bean. Are we excited?"
"Ohmygod! Can you believe it's tomorrow? There's still so much to do!" She gave me another squeeze for good measure.
"Talk to my mom. She's got it under control. Can I hug my future wife now, please?" Alice scurried off and I stood, admiring my glowing bride-to-be. She looked radiant. "Hi."
"Are we allowed to kiss? I'm not breaking any rules if I plant one on you here and now?" Bella was taking Juliet to spend the night at Charlie's, following tradition of the bride and groom not seeing each other on the day of marriage until the wedding. I wasn't thrilled with that.
She placated me with a sexy smile. "Suck it up, big man. It's one night. And tomorrow night, it's a free-for-all. Trust me on that one." The kiss that followed put me in a very happy place. "We'll miss you, though."
"At least you have each other! I'll be all alone." I was dying to get at her belly too, but that would definitely give us away. I was in the process of starting up a really good pout when my sister approached.
"Hey, how's my best brother?" She wrapped her arms around me as Bella released me. I continued pouting. "That's very effective. Now quit whining, Fuckface – it's one night. And you won't be alone. You're coming home with me and Em."
I turned to catch my mother's scathing glare in our direction as she held her hands protectively over Juliet's ears. I cupped my hand over Rosalie's mouth. "Sorry Mom!" I said for her. "Will you please watch your potty mouth around my daughter?" I scolded with the biggest grin on my face. "Since when am I coming to your house, anyway? I've got things I have to do…"
"Since I said so. Bella packed a bag for you, it's in my car. Em or I will take you home in the morning so you can get ready however you'd like, but tonight, it's the three amigos – one last time, baby!"
I felt the wave of tears that Dad started up earlier threatening again. My new life had grown so rapidly and with such ease that it felt like a decade had passed since the three of us hung out. In university, we were inseparable and even after my sister and best friend became a couple, we made a habit of doing pub nights or beer, pizza, movie nights all arranged on days when Tanya would be at work. She didn't tolerate Emmett very well at all. After the break-up, it became a weekly ritual again for a short time. They were always there for me and still were. Rosalie had taken my girls into her heart with such enthusiasm, it amazed me. And Em… I was seeing a whole new light where he was concerned. As ridiculous as his random outbursts seemed, it appeared at least some of them had merit. He actually knew what he was talking about – amazing. After all these years of doubting his wisdom, he showed me that I had underestimated him and I vowed I would heed the words of my friend in future.
As much as I loved being a family man, I did miss my close friendships and considered myself blessed that my sister was one of those friends. I hoped Juliet and her new sibling would have the same kind of bond Rosalie and I shared. I could tell when I looked over at Bella, her hand on her tummy, that she was thinking the same thing.
"You packed a bag for me, did you?" I grinned at her. "That's rather… wifely."
"Isn't it?" she smirked. "I was packing for Juliet and myself for tonight and I knew what Rose and Emmett had planned. I thought you might appreciate a few things yourself – your toothbrush, a clean shirt… should I have included the bucket? Would your sister hold it for you, too?"
"Please…" I rolled my eyes with a smirk of my own. "First of all, I'm a more practiced drunk than you are. Secondly, I don't intend to indulge tonight – I want a clear head for the most important day of my life." I wrapped her in my arms. "That's tomorrow. The day I marry the woman of my dreams. That's you. And, I think, since you're insisting on this one silly tradition of us not seeing each other before it's time to take our vows… we should practice."
"Our vows?" Bella looked at me with confusion.
"Noooo… our first kiss as husband and wife! Will we do chaste and proper? Full-on make-out? Somewhere in between with just the right amount of tongue…"
"Appropriate passion, yes, I think so." Bella smiled into my eyes as I stooped to try some techniques out with her.
"Oops! Looks like Mommy and Daddy are busy. We'll just wait." Esme stood to the side with Juliet, the picture of bliss. She was in her element – marrying off her son, holding her granddaughter. Juliet had other ideas, however. She missed her mom and as she didn't care much for our smooching to begin with, she let us know enough was enough.
I took her from Bella for a moment when we headed out to the cars later on. "Okay, Sunshine. Got some night-night kisses for me? I won't see you at bedtime tonight… I bet Grumpy will get my kisses, won't he?" I held my cheek out to her and pointed. She planted a wet one on me and graced me with her smile. "You be good for Mommy and Grumpy and I'll see you tomorrow, okay? In your pretty dress? I can't wait to see you in your new dress. And after Mommy and I are married, we're all coming here for a party… we'll dance and sing and whenever you've had enough, just let me know and you and I will sneak off for our quiet time. Sound good?" Without prompting, I got another wet one smacked on my cheek. "Thank you, Sunshine. I love you, too."
Bella's eyes were shimmering with unshed tears when I stood from buckling Juliet in her car seat. "I'm regretting this night apart already." Her voice was hoarse with emotion.
"Last one… well, aside from my hospital shift… and if I need to get that changed… we'll talk about that. Anyway, Ms Swan," I drawled, taking her in my arms dramatically. "Get some rest tonight. And I'll see you at the courthouse."
Our friends gently pried us apart and placed us in separate cars. My eyes couldn't leave hers, so filled with love as we gazed through the windows at each other. Blowing kisses as Alice drove away with my girls, Emmett's car filled with taunts as he and my sister laughed at my starry-eyed grin. "What?" I demanded, unable to control the grin even in mock anger.
We hit up our old pub for a round of not-exactly-good-for-you platters and a few drinks before heading back to their place. Rosalie let us guys kick it off ourselves so she could drive us safely home. It wasn't like the old days, tying one on before cramming into the back of a cab to Emmett's apartment where we'd continue drinking until we got really stupid. We had evolved into something more, I thought, as we sat in their tasteful, lived-in home. This was the real deal… homes with real families who bickered at times, and got silly with each other occasionally, but always supported and loved one another.
"You know we couldn't be happier for you, right?" Rosalie asked softly. She had her head resting on my shoulder as I nursed a beer. "Bella is great. And Juliet… gah! I want one of her. Em and I are trying, did he tell you?"
"No!" I twisted my head to look down at her. "Seriously?"
"I can't believe he didn't tell you…"
"I can't believe you waited for him to take a dump before you brought it up," I teased. "You're trying, huh? Well, I can honestly say, you'll have one gorgeous kid. And smart too. I never gave Emmett much credit for his brains, but I have recently come to the conclusion that he is fucking brilliant. He just needs to work on his delivery – it's a little rough…"
"Just a little!" Rosalie laughed with me before turning quiet once more. "Edward, don't say anything yet, because we're not sure… but I am a few days late…"
"Seriously?" I whispered and shifted so our heads were pressed together. I placed a hand on her tummy. "Wow. My niece or nephew could be in there right now? That would be awesome."
"Wouldn't it? If I am, my baby can be best friends with Juliet… it's not the same as what you and I have, being siblings, but cousins can be best friends too."
I was itching to let my own secret out, but it wasn't only mine to tell. I hoped she'd forgive me once we finally did announce that Bella was pregnant. That spawned the realization that if Rosalie was pregnant too, Emmett and I would have a lot to talk about over the next several months of hormonal instability. A lot. And my niece or nephew would have two cousins to be best friends with since Bella was already further along. I really liked the way our lives had evolved. "My fingers are crossed for you Rosie. You'll be an amazing mom."
"And you are an amazing dad." Her hand moved up to pinch my cheek. "Do you have any idea how good it is to see you this happy? You were so sad after… well, I didn't even know the depth of your anguish at the time, I thought it was just losing Tanya that made you unhappy. Now? God! You were never this happy with her, you know that, right?"
"I do know that," I agreed.
"All you went through… it… I don't want to demean what you lost, but it's like there was a reason for it. Because you weren't ever meant to have a life with Tanya. You were meant for Bella and Juliet. Period. I hope that doesn't sound cold. I know you would have done anything to have your own baby at the time… please don't be upset with me."
I pulled her into my arms and squeezed the life out of her. "My brilliant sister," I whispered to her. "You've got it all so right. And your baby will be beautiful and so incredibly astute. Now, are we done? I can't spend the night before my wedding crying. My eyes will be all red and puffy and I'll just look dreadful!"
"Especially if you can't get your hair just right," Emmett chimed in as plopped himself across from us. He added a flamboyant wink which, for some reason sent Rosalie into a fit of uncontrollable giggles. We stared at each other, equally in the dark on this one. I guess Emmett didn't know everything about women after all.
Awake at the crack of dawn, my mind was flooded with thoughts of not only my wedding day, but Christmas coming up and next Christmas with two babies… possibly three if Rosalie was, in fact, pregnant as well. Mom would be in her glory having all of us over for Christmas; her home filled with children, just as she loved. Would Charlie come? Would the McCartys? Or would Em and Rose be taking their baby to Emmett's family for the holidays? And why was I even worrying about next Christmas when we had this one to get through first? Bella and I figured we'd share our secret then, after all the excitement of the holiday died down. Christmas… raking my hands through my hair, I sat up and got out of bed. Christmas was another story; today, I would marry Bella. I would have a wife this time tomorrow…
A smile spread across my face. "Tomorrow, I'll be waking up with my wife."
Too anxious to get on with my day, I rushed through my bathroom routine – I'd have to shave and shower properly later on anyway – and started up the coffee machine in hopes of luring my hosts out of bed as well. I didn't want to just leave without seeing them and thanking them, but I really needed to be home.
"Good, you're up!" My sister wrapped her arms around my waist and snuggled into my back as I reached for three mugs. "Excited?"
"Anxious," I replied. "I'm glad you're awake. I'm going to head out after coffee…"
"I was going to make you breakfast!"
Turning around, I embraced her and placed a kiss on her forehead. "Give mine to Em. He won't complain. Have coffee with me before I call a taxi."
She stopped me from pouring into her cup. "I'm off caffeine – just in case." She gave me a wink as her cheeks glowed. I was sure I'd be an uncle by this time next year. It made me feel bad that I hadn't shared my secret with her as well. She was only surmising, and still told me – but I was certain of our pregnancy. "I'll take you, just let me get dressed. Have your coffee and I'll be right back."
The minute she fled, I had my phone in hand, texting Bella to seek permission to tip off Rosalie. She responded to my text instantly. 'Of course you can tell your sister - she's kept everything she knows to herself and she'll be so happy for you… wow… I hope she's pregnant too!'
Instead of immediately spilling my excitement, I held back when Rose came back to the kitchen and throughout the drive home. When she pulled into my driveway, I still hadn't told her. She unbuckled and got out of the car with me. "Want to come in for a bit?" I offered, wanting to get this out before the moment passed and I never got to tell her about the baby. The more I thought of it, the more I knew she'd be hurt if I didn't share my news with her from the beginning.
"Nah. I don't want to ruin your surprise."
I narrowed my eyes. "Surprise?"
"You'll see." Standing in front of me with watery eyes, she squeezed my cheeks. "My baby brother is getting married! Are you not nervous at all?"
I held out my still hands to offer proof of my calmness. "Under control. This is exactly what I want. And besides, there's not a single person coming whose name I'll forget! Piece of cake!" We shared a laugh as we hugged. I held onto her longer than usual. "Rosie, I want you to know how much it means to me that you've made Bella one of us – I know you loved Tanya, too and you got burned right along with me, but Bella is different."
"I know that. Why do you think I'm all for this? I told you honey, this is what you went through all the shit for – to get to this place with this woman and her beautiful, sweet little girl. Enjoy it. You deserve every bit of happiness with them. And I love having a sister, too." She gave me a crooked grin as her tears spilled out. "And a niece."
"There's more," I began, mirroring her grin. "Um… swear you'll keep this between us…"
"Oh my god! Bella's pregnant, isn't she?"
I felt my cheeks reddening as a nervous laugh escaped. "What…? How did you come up with that?"
"Holy shit! She totally is! You've been different lately, a step above the elated person you've been for the past months… I thought it was the wedding and adopting Juliet… no… no, this is different. Edward? She is, right? You're going to have another baby?"
I nodded, my own happy tears forming. "She's a couple of months along. Her hormones have been out of sync since she had Juliet – she didn't get the early warning signs to clue in. We just got confirmation… You're the only one who knows. Rose… I…" I hesitated, needing to get my words right. I needed her to understand. I took her hand in mine and gave it a squeeze. "I love you, you know. I love that you've been at my side for every event in my life – good or bad. I love that you always take my side and look out for me. You're the best big sister ever created and I don't know how I got so lucky to have you to myself. I know how much you want to start your own family… Rose, I really hope that it's already underway for you. I don't want our baby to steal your thunder because if you are pregnant, that's every bit as thrilling for me. I can't wait to see you with a big belly and thick ankles." I wiped the tears from her cheeks as I grinned at her. "You know I won't keep my hands off that belly. And when your baby arrives, I'm going to be there with you. Not in the delivery room… unless you want me there… I'll be there for whatever you want because you've always been there for me and I love you… so, so much. Your baby will be perfect and our kids will be best friends."
"Our kids," she repeated with glee. "We're old…"
"We are!" I laughed along with her.
"You're sweet… for spewing all that out… thank you." She gave my hand an extra tight squeeze. I hoped she wouldn't take me up on my offer for the delivery room – that was shit for Em to suffer through. Rosalie would break my fingers. "I kind of thought something was up with Bella. When we went to the gym the other day, she wasn't doing her tummy routine with the same vigour and she had quite an appetite after the workout. Usually she sticks with fruit and yogurt. Oh fuck!" Her hand flew to her mouth. "That night! All that wine… she was definitely pregnant then! Is that…"
I shook my head. "The baby seems fine. She wouldn't be having morning sickness this bad if the pregnancy wasn't going well. We're going to have an ultrasound next week to make sure – between that and Juliet being premature… But I'm sure we'll be fine. She got most of it out of her system anyway," I snickered as I mimed her heaves that night. "No more wine on girls' nights though! For either of you." Stooping down to get a good grip, I picked her up by the waist, lifting her off the ground before setting her back down gently. "Sorry, I just had to – I don't know if I'll ever be able to do that again."
Rosalie slapped my shoulder as she chuckled. "Your neighbour is staring." Her head tilted across the street. "Probably thinks you're having a fling while your wife is away."
"Fuck 'em. Nosy neighbours! I'll love up my sister whenever I please. It's not our fault some people have their mind in the gutter… who the hell would think we're anything but brother and sister anyway?"
"That's right, Fuckface." She pinched my cheeks again for good measure. "Oh and I won't let my kids call you Uncle Fuckface, just so you know…"
I grinned as she shoved me aside to open the back door of her car. She placed a box in my hands when she turned around. "What's this?"
"For you. I know how you like saving little things as memories – probably should have gotten you a trunk with the way your memory is, but when I saw this, I thought it was perfect for you." She watched as I took the lid off the paper box and lifted out the small chest. "It's the same colour as your hair! Weird… I didn't even trip off that when I bought it… what drew me to it was…"
"The sun," I finished for her. It had an old-world look to the design, but the focal point was the image of the sun etched into the centre. Opening it, I smiled when I saw she had started off my memory box for me. There were four photos inside – one of me and her, as kids, sitting on the edge of the pool with our arms around each other. Another showed Emmett and me hamming it up at the pool table from the pub. I choked on a sob when I pulled out the two remaining photos; one of me with Juliet in the pool at the beach house and then there was Bella… "When… who took this?"
"Em," Rosalie grinned smugly. "It's from our wedding – on one of Bella's breaks. You two looked so cute together. And, as you can tell by the expression on your face, you were in love with her even then. We saw it, too. Be happy, Edward. You were meant to be right where you are in life." She stood herself up straight and tall and cleared her cheeks from the remaining tears before she did the same to me. "Now, no more tears! You've got a big day ahead of you, so get in there and make yourself gorgeous! Em can come over early, if you want or else we'll just pick you up an hour before the ceremony?" I nodded my agreement. "And keep that box handy. You'll be needing it."
I went inside through the garage door so I would stick to a routine and leave my keys and phone where I'd know they'd be later on. A smile spread across my face when I glanced at my message station – 'Welcome home Daddy! We miss you and we love you lots!' was written on the white board. There were also some random scribbles, I assumed from Juliet. Sweet. I could picture my girls standing there, markers in hand – I loved that Bella had taken the time to do that when she had so much going on. I went to put some feelin' great music on in the living room while I whistled my own happy tune.
Still smiling, I carried on through the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. A Post-It on the fridge caught my eye and I tensed up. I had been very careful about taking my stickys to the message station. Very careful. I relaxed when I saw it was Bella's handwriting, not my own. I'd have to remember to tease her about it later on.
Egg mix ready for you in the fridge – instant hangover cure!'
That elicited a chuckle. "Great Bella, but I told you I wasn't going to be hung over." I was hungry however, and I liked the idea of eating something she'd left for me. We may not be eating together, but it still felt like she was with me. There was another note inside.
'Please bring my ginger ale with you for later – DON'T FORGET!'
"Okay, not a problem. You may be sharing with Rosalie, too!" I peeled it off and stuck the note on my keys so I wouldn't, in fact, forget. I ended up making the eggs as an omelette and then made it into a sandwich so I could wander while I ate. I was too wound up to sit down and eat. Some of Juliet's toys were left on the floor in the living room so I tidied them up before going to turn my music off. It was then I spotted the hospital bracelet that had been placed by the card it came with. I took both down to store them in my memory box. Little Nicholas deserved a spot there. I re-read the card his parents had sent me with one of many of the bracelets he had worn before I placed them in the box together. 'Dr Cullen – Edward, Any child who comes in contact with you is blessed. Our son was more than blessed, he was loved. Thank you for all the extra time and love you put into his care. You made all the difference for Nicholas in his short time with us. We will never forget you.'
"Nor I, you Champ. You were the bravest boy I've ever known and I miss you." My first patient, my most special patient until my Sunshine came along, would never be forgotten. I took a deep breath to clear the sadness away and tried to think of his brighter moments. There were plenty of those as well during our hours together late at night when he was hospitalized. It struck me that I had met him for a reason – he was the one who inspired me to spend extra time getting to know the kids I was tending to. If not for him, I may not have spent so much time with Juliet when she was born. I may never have developed the bond we have. I may never have really known the woman I'd fallen in love with and was about to marry. Nicholas was tied to us in the best way possible and soon, the smile returned as thoughts of him and my girls filled my heart.
I returned to the here and now, taking the laundry basket off the couch and headed for the nursery to put its contents away. Ahhhh, the smell! I bid a round of silent thanks to Bella for not having time to do this before she left. I missed Juliet and her heavenly scent already. Popping the remainder of my breakfast in my mouth, I took the blanket from the top of the basket out and shook my sandwich crumbs off it before inhaling deeply. Her baby scent, more than anything else, turned me to a pile of goo instantly – every time. Just with the scent, my mind could see her beautiful smile, hear her saying Edaddad. I could feel her snuggled up under my chin. "Jesus… I'm done for when our Little One arrives," I muttered to myself. They would own me – the two of them. The three of them, I corrected myself; Bella had hold of me as well, in an entirely different way.
Bella… today was about her; legalizing my commitment to her, declaring my love and devotion to her. Our babies were part of that, of course, but I'd have nothing without Bella and her love for me. I finished putting Juliet's things away and left her room to prepare for my wedding. In the doorway of my bedroom, I stood stunned at the sight before me – dozens of yellow sticky notes spotted the room. Some had reminders for me, some were naughty teasers of what was to come later on and they all made me smile or laugh as I made my rounds reading them. The ones that made my knees weak were the simple declarations of her feelings.
'I missed waking up next to you – I owe you a chin nibble'
'I love the feel of your arms around me when I'm waking up. You're my cocoon. My safest place in the world.'
'Do you know a word than describe how much I adore you? Think about it – I'm not sure one exists.'
I was a total wreck of emotion when I came across a yellow strip of Post-Its along the closet door.
'I never knew who I could be…'
'Until I met you…'
'And fell for you…'
'And felt everything you have in your heart…'
'It's beautiful – YOU are beautiful…'
'And you make me feel beautiful…'
'Marry me, Edward…'
'Be my greatest love…'
Suddenly, I knew what Rosalie's gift was really meant for and I ran back to the living room to retrieve it. Gathering up each sticky note with a grin, they were all stashed in my box. Grand events didn't necessarily need tokens to remember, they would be permanently etched in memory. It was the little things that caught you by surprise and made you feel something or somehow changed how you looked at things that needed to be kept. Reminders of the how something made you feel at that precise moment when you're simply going about your day. Bella had taken the time to write out her thoughts as she was preparing for our big day – moreover, she used her pet peeve to make a statement. All the little things we do together – the misunderstandings, the chores, the discussions and laughter, the arguments, the stolen smooches – theyre my life. My reality. My dream come true.
My memory box would be overflowing with snippets of times – of days – just like the ones already represented. As I set out hours later to partake in another memorable event, my smile could not be displaced. I was completely in love; in love with my bride, my babies, my family – my life! And days like this would never be forgotten.
A/N ~ And so DLT comes to an end. *sniffles* There will not be an epilogue to this one as I just may revisit the happy little family in future. You all know they get married and the four have nothing but an HEA. :) UPDATE: Little rays of Sunshine can be found in "Days at a Time", a WIP that I'm leaving open for future little snippets of their lives. Thanks, all!
Many thanks to The Fictionators for the feature review and Teacher1209 for guest reviewing. You are awesome! XX (www . fictionators . com)
Also, the TwigirlsNextDoor Blog for the review and rec. Thank you! Check them out! (www . twigirlsnextdoor . com)
I can't express my full appreciation for all of my readers - your comments, recs, reviews and messages have made my days so much brighter. *mwah mwah mwah!*
Much love and thanks for reading. XX ~ SR
NEW UPDATE: The Avant Garde Award for Best Happily Ever After has been awarded to DLT! Thank you Kyla, and all readers who selected my little fic. It was in good company. You've put a huge smile on my face! :D Thanks for your continued support all!