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A/N Special thanks to some very dear friends of mine, my beta Jeanne without you this story would still be just a crazy dream of mine. Thank you for sticking by me from beginning to end regardless of the road it took us to get here. Jackie without you this story would just be words on page with no meaning behind them thank you so much for everything you have ever done for me. I love you both more than words could ever say.
"Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream: a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love."
By: Lucinda Franks
Standing here in front of this full length mirror, in this silky white dress fit for a princess. I turn this way and that way, smiling as I admire the way the soft material falls just right over my slender form accentuating every curve in all the right places. Not one strand of hair out of place. Soft white flowers strewn throughout my brown locks highlight the way my hair falls perfectly over my bare shoulders. Reaching up my fingers brush across the pearl necklace that Esme had given me moments ago now hanging at the base of my neck "Something old," she'd said.
"These belonged to Edward's grandmother she wore them on her wedding day too," she finished as she wrapped the delicate strand of pearls around my neck, clasping them. She looked at my reflection in the mirror and smiled. A brilliant shade of red spreads across my cheeks, as my fingers trace each opaque pearl. I don't think I've ever felt more beautiful than I do in this moment.
Still staring into the mirror in amazement, I notice Esme reappear just behind me with tears in her eyes as she glances over her nearly complete work of art. Sheer joy and happiness wrap her feminine features and for a brief moment I picture my own mother standing in her place watching her only daughter as she prepares herself for the most important day of her life. A face much like mine appears in my mind as I try hard to remember what she looked like the last time I saw her. I reach up and run my fingers down the outlines of my face as I look back into the mirror it hits me that the face I see there is nearly an exact replica of hers as I remember it. I imagine how different things may have been had she not walked out of my life all those years ago.
A deep sadness threatens to consume me, as my memories of that cold winter day when I awoke to find that my young life was suddenly changed forever replays in my mind. The sound of Esme's sweet voice pulls me back to my reality.
"Bella," she says with a shaky voice stepping closer to me as she gently wraps her hands around my shoulders turning me around to face her. "I know I'm not your mother, but I hope I can speak for her as if she were here today in my place. You are without a doubt the most stunning bride I have ever seen and my son is the luckiest man in the world to have found such a beautiful person inside and out. I have no doubt that if Renee were here right now she would be the proudest mother on the face of the planet for having brought such an amazing creature into this world. I hope you can find peace in your heart one day when you realize that although your mother did the unspeakable by abandoning her only child, there were other forces that drove her away. What happened was not your fault and you can't spend the rest of your life carrying the weight of blame on those tiny shoulders of yours for her mistakes."
I take a deep breath and push the pain of the memories away. I won't allow anything, not even my mother, to take away my happiness today. I look directly into Esme's eyes through my tear soaked eyelashes so thankful that I have her here by my side on this day. This day, that for almost a lifetime it feels like now, would never come. This day, when Edward the man I've loved since the moment I looked into his dazzling green eyes on that fateful fall day and I, say our vows to each other and turn two hopeless souls that have been spiraling towards each other for years into one...one magnificent, glimmering soul destined for greatness and full of new beginnings.
"Thank you, Esme. I don't know what I'd do without you. Having you here by my side today means everything to me."
A simple thank you would never seem enough to repay this incredible woman for all that she has given me. I'm not just talking about planning my wedding day down to the last detail or offering up her beautiful home so that there could be a wedding at all.
No, I'm talking about her opening her heart up to two lost little boys so long ago. Showing them what real love is, making them a part of her family and giving them a home they could call their own. Guiding them into the brilliant men they are today, despite all the pain and suffering they had to go through to get here. If it weren't for her God knows what would have happened to them but I'm pretty sure had she not been there to save them, none of us would be here today and there is nothing I could ever do to repay her for giving me Edward and making my dreams come true.
"There is no need to thank me, Bella. This is what a real mother does for the children she bears. She feeds them, clothes them, loves them and tries to guide them, hoping against hope that after everything she has put into the pot to make the recipe just right; they choose the right path leading them to the happiness that she has envisioned for them from the beginning. When that happens, that, is the only thanks a mother ever needs."
I stood there speechless and mesmerized by her words contemplating what has been, what is and what will be. Realizing that nothing is random, every event that happens in our lives has a purpose, dragging us towards the future we are destined to live. I recognize that fate truly does play a strong part in each of our lives, guiding us down the path we were predestine to take from the very beginning. It's the gentle hand that nudges us when we lose our way, guiding us back on course until we reach the destination we were determined for.
I'm not sure looking back now, if I would change one single thing that brought us here to this moment today. Sure I would probably give just about anything to have Alice standing here with me on my wedding day, but if it weren't for all of the pain and sorrow, heartbreak and tears that we have all shared down this long and winding road would we even be here now? Would any of this be happening if Edward hadn't suffered his tragic past drawing him to me in the first place and then ultimately ended up breaking my heart pulling us apart only to be brought back together through more heartbreak and tragedy.
If I hadn't met and married Jacob or if Edward and Alice hadn't been thrown together in a marriage out of desperation through our separation, would we be here? If Alice hadn't gotten sick and paid the highest price of all of us, losing a lifetime of happiness with Jasper the only man she really ever loved, would Edward and I have ever crossed paths again? It's hard to say what would have happened to any of us had all those things not played a role in getting us here but it scares me more to think about not being here with Edward then all of those tragic events combined. I know in this moment with absolute certainty that I am where I am today for no other reason than fate bringing me right where I am supposed to be.
"You look so beautiful, Bella," I hear my dad's voice coo from the doorway pulling me from my thoughts.
I turn and start towards him and he opens his arms wrapping them around me the moment I am close enough. He sighs and I look up into his eyes to see teardrops forming there.
"I love you, Dad," I whisper as a sad smile spreads across his haggard looking features, features of a man broken before his time by life's cruel jokes. I reach up brushing my hand down the lapel of his tuxedo jacket and beam up at him thinking to myself how handsome he looks all dressed up.
"I love you too, Bells. This is a difficult moment for me. My little girl all grown up. That beautiful wedding dress pales in comparison to the woman who now wears it. I feel like I've only just gotten you back into my life and now I'm losing you again," he croaks out quickly trying to wipe the tears away that are now streaming down his cheek.
"You're not losing me, Dad. I'm not going anywhere. I'm just completing the life that I should have lived from the moment I met Edward, fixing what has been broken for so long. But I promise you that I'm never going away again. You're stuck with me." I lightly chuckle through my tears.
He looks at me and there is a light in his eyes that I haven't seen in a very long time and for a moment I am given a glimpse of the younger, tender and more vibrant version of my father I remembered as a young girl. A smile plays on his lips as my words sink in and he opens his mouth to speak but can't seem to find any words. Instead he wraps his arms around me once more pulling me close to him and in that moment no more words need to be spoken. It's just my dad and I in the room. I cling to him as I once did as a small girl and realize how blessed I am that even through all of his falters he has been the one constant in my life, never wavering in his love for me.
After several moments Esme appears beside us and gently pulls me away from my dad.
"I'm sorry, Charlie, but I must steal here away. Come on, Bella. Let's fix that make-up that's running down your face. You don't want to be late for your own wedding, do you?" she says pulling a tissue out of her pocket and wiping the mascara away from under my eyes.
I watch my dad as he looks at Esme and mouths the words "Thank you," to her as he turns to walk away. She smiles a sweet smile at him and turns to busy herself with fixing her masterpiece.
"Oh, Bells, I almost forgot the reason I came in here to begin with," my dad says reaching into his pocket and pulling out a gorgeous blue handkerchief with the letters C.S. and the words I love you delicately sewn onto it and holds it out to me. I reach up and take it from him and a distant memory is pulled from the recesses of my mind of my father curled up in a ball on his bed clinging to that handkerchief the night my mother disappeared from our lives.
"Something borrowed and something blue. Renee had that made for me on our wedding day," he said barely audible.
"Thank you, dad," I whisper.
"You're welcome, sweetheart," he replies forcing a smile, as he turns to exit the room once more.
I stand there looking at the small piece of blue material and trace my fingers along the embellished letters. I grin a little as I realize there was a side to my mother I had never known. By the time I had arrived into the world she appeared bitter and so angry towards my father. Clearly this showed that she did love him very much at one point, but that love faded quickly when she realized that she would never be able to convince him to leave Forks and the thought of being trapped here for the rest of her life was more than she could bear.
"It's beautiful." Esme said looking down at the handkerchief resting in my hands.
"It is isn't it?" I reply softly.
She smiles as she continued to fiddle with my make-up.
"You really do look stunning, Bella." Mary says as she works behind me to fix the few strands of hair that had fallen out of place.
"Thank you, Mary. I'm so glad you're here."
"No, Bella, It is I who am honored that you allowed me to be a part of this day with you."
Shortly after Edward proposed to me I asked Mary to be my maid of honor. We all had become very close dealing with the loss of Alice and well let's face it I don't have many friends left in Forks. She was so excited that she blurted out yes even before I could finish asking her.
She's become such a big part of Jasper's life over the last year. I worry sometimes where he would be if she hadn't been there to pick up the pieces after Alice's death. Some people might say that Jasper only sees Alice in her, because she looks so much like her at times it uncanny. But I know Mary is so much more than that to him.
She's a strong and compassionate woman, so full of patience and love for Jasper that I honestly believe she was sent directly from Alice above to watch over him and give him what he has been missing since the day she died. What else could really explain Mary appearing in Jasper's life on the one day he so desperately needed her.
"Bella, pick your foot up." Rosalie nudges the back of my leg from the floor beneath me. I do as she asked with a groan as she slides on one of the dreadful heels I've had nightmares about for days now. I could barely stand up straight in my flats let alone walk down the aisle in four inch heels and nothing could ruin a girls wedding day more than falling flat on her face while making her way down the aisle towards the man of her dreams.
"Stop worrying, Bella. Charlie is not going to let you fall." Rosalie says noticing my hesitance with the shoes. I look down at her with a grimace, still terrified despite her attempt to console me.
After asking Mary to be my maid of honor, I reluctantly called Rosalie and asked if she would be my only bride's maid. I say reluctantly because I had only met Rosalie one other time and that was on the day of Alice's funeral. I thought she might think me strange for asking her to be a part of my wedding when we barely knew each other and lived so far apart but it seemed only fitting since Edward had already asked Emmet to be his only groomsmen .Rosalie gladly accepted thankfully. Because without her grace and sense of style I would probably be walking down the aisle in my favorite Levi's and flip flops.
She and Emmet met while still in college and from what I have heard, fell in love almost instantly getting married just short of the two of them graduating. They chose to make a life in New York instead of coming back to Forks since Emmet had chosen the more traditional role of following in his father's footsteps to become a doctor he could pretty much practice medicine any where they chose to be. But Rosalie set her sights on turning the fashion world upside down, as she put it, graduating at the top of her class earning a degree in fashion and design and well let's face it forks is not the fashion capital of the world.
So staying in New York was the better choice for her career path and she has already worked with some of the top fashion names in the industry; designing outfits for some of the worlds highest paid models. Currently she has stepped back from all of that to pursue her dream of running her own fashion magazine and it has taken nearly every ounce of her energy to get it off the ground and running.
They were definitely a match made in heaven; Rosalie was absolutely beautiful with her long blond hair and tall slender frame. She was the perfect complement to Emmet's large well built form. They made a fierce couple and everyone who had the pleasure of being in their company could feel the genuine love that radiated from them.
A throat clears from the doorway and we all turn to see Jasper standing there.
"Holy shit, Bella, you look hot!" he exclaims.
"Jasper Cullen, you watch your mouth. I taught you better then to spew trash like that in front of a lady." Esme chastises him.
"You're right, sorry mom." he says apologetically. "You really do look beautiful, Bells. Edward is a lucky man."
"Thanks Jasper." I say with a chuckle.
"You ladies about ready to get this show on the road? You have a room full of people waiting and one very anxious groom. I don't think I'll be able to keep him calm very much longer."
"You tell him to hold his horses. We're almost ready just a few more minutes." Esme replies.
"As you wish." he smiles, blows Mary a kiss and mouth's the words I love you before disappearing out the door.
I look over at Mary and the blush that has spread across her face at Jasper's gesture. "It won't be long ya know?" I can't help but say to her.
She looks at me with a puzzled expression on her face. "It won't be long until what?" she asks.
"It won't be long before the two of you are right here where Edward and I are." I say with a smile.
"You really think so?" she questions, smiling back at me as that blush consumes her cheeks once again.
"Of course I do Mary, there has never been a doubt in my mind since the day you walked into Jaspers life there could be no other for him. He loves you, you know that."
The smile fades briefly from her face as she looks at me. "I'm not her." she softly whispers.
I walk over to where she stands, taking her hands in mine. "No Mary, you are not her. You're you, the woman that brought light back into Jasper's cold dead world. The woman who saved him from a lifetime of pain and misery. There will always be a place in his heart for Alice, but there is only one woman who will ever be a part of his soul and she is standing right here."
The smile returns to her face as a tear escapes down her cheek. "You have no idea how much that means coming from you Bella. I know how much Alice meant to you. How much she meant to all of us but especially to you. I would never attempt to fill her shoes Nor could I, even if I tried. She was beautiful in every sense of the word and no one could ever replace her. But I do love Jasper and would give just about anything to spend the rest of my life being everything he needs me to be."
"You mark my words Mary Brandon. Jasper will be on his knee in no time showing you just how much he wants that too." I whisper reaching up to wipe her tears away.
"Bella, are you ready, it's that time." Esme says walking over to me and taking my arm in hers.
"I don't think I've ever been more ready for anything in my life Esme." I reply as she smiles and pulls me towards the hallway where my dad is waiting at the top of the stairs.
He sees me and holds out his arm awaiting mine. I cringe at the site of the stairs before me and look down at my heels and back up to my dad as I take his arm. "Dad, whatever else happens please don't let me fall." I beg nervously.
"Never," is his only reply as he locks his arm with mine.
We begin the descent down the staircase and for the first time Esme's hard work comes into view. Little white bell shaped flowers and satiny white bows adorn nearly everything I see and as we reach the bottom of the staircase I almost want to get down on my knees and kiss the ground for having made it a least this far without falling on my face.
I look up, as Canon in D major by Pachelbel begins to play in the distance, to see Edward standing there at the end of the aisle, our eyes meet and everything else in the room vanishes.
In what seems like an instant I am standing next to him as the music stills and complete silence fills the air around us. He takes my arm from my father and intertwines it with his never looking away from me. Every bit of nerves that littered my body only moments ago disappear as I stand there looking into his eyes.
That crooked grin I love so much appears on his face as tears of joy fill my eyes. Nothing else matters in this moment but him and I and a lifetime filled with hope and happiness. After what feels like an eternity I have awoken from my dream into the reality of a world illuminated by the promise of everlasting love and hope. Standing beside me is my life, my love and my future, for which I am ready to finally bind myself to until death do we part and even after, as fate deemed it so from the beginning.