Age of Edward Contest
Pen name: Melolabel
Title: A Love Not Forgotten
Type of Edward: WWII Edward (1943)/ Grampa Edward (1993)
Rating: T/YA, AH/AU
If you would like to see all the stories that are a part of this contest visit
The Age of Edward 2010 C2 Community.
"Alright Mum, you all settled then?"
"Oh, I'll be fine Carly dear, you've nothing to fret over. I've got my books and my programs on the telly," she pointed at the fancy new console television that sat in her room. Even though they'd lived in the states for decades, she took pride in her refined English accent and was always careful that it was still pronounced.
"I think you'll have a famous time here, Mum. Looks like they've got quite the schedule of activities as well."
She nodded, a serene smile on her lips. "I'm sure it will be splendid. I think I fancy the dance on Saturday." From her over-stuffed, Chinz recliner she glanced over the calendar of activities offered by the assisted living home she'd just moved into, and nodded in approval. "I do love a night of big bands and dancing. It's too bad your father isn't here. Oh how he enjoyed the big band music."
"He'd want you to be happy, Mum. The dance sounds perfect." Carlisle Cullen looked around the comfortable and fairly well-appointed room that he'd just finished settling his mother into. The wallpaper was a bit dated but cheery and the window coverings were all slightly too bright for good taste. The director said it's because the old folks eyesight is so bad that it looks normal to them. Still, it was comfortable and they had an excellent reputation and staff. He personally checked the references and resumes of every doctor on staff as well as the head nurses. She had only just finished convalescing from hip surgery and couldn't manage living at home alone anymore. But she was stubborn beyond reason and she'd be darned if she was going to move in with her bachelor son.
So they'd come to a compromise and had chosen The Seville, active-adult, assisted living center to become her new home. It was halfway between where he worked and lived and seemed the perfect solution to getting his mother the help she needed, while not stomping on her independence. She would have meals with everyone else but she had her own apartment, and because it was on the first floor, she also had a little outdoor garden where she could plant a few flowers. She had always enjoyed tending her flower garden in each of the homes they'd lived in over the years.
"Okay, let's have it then," he said pointing a finger to the side of his face.
"Oh you! Always such a cheeky monkey. You got that from your father, too." Bella Cullen reached over to the weathered black and white photograph of her long-deceased husband and ran her finger around the oval frame. "Come here then," she said leaning forward and planting a soft kiss on her only son's cheek.
"I love you, Mum. I'll see you on Sunday after the dance then, yeah? Unless you want me to come early and meet a few of the ladies…" He waggled his eyebrows at her; Carlisle couldn't ever resist an easy opportunity to tease his mother.
"You scoundrel! Visit after the dance, now shoo. The Price is Right is coming on and I don't want to miss Bob Barker, he's quite the looker, you know."
He chuckled as he dropped a kiss on her silver hair and strolled out of what would now become her world.
Bella settled in and enjoyed her programs. She fell asleep for a bit but woke suddenly when the remote control fell to the floor. "Oh drat. Well, I do suppose it is time for me to toddle on down to the dining room," she said aloud, ghosting a smile at the fading photograph sitting on her side table, before reaching down to pick up the wayward remote. "Wouldn't you agree, Albert?" she said with a soft grunt before straightening back up and replacing the gadget in the homemade tapestry pocket that draped over the arm of her recliner. That handy pocket also housed her copy of readers digest, the tv guide, several travel packs of Kleenex and at least 2 pairs of reading glasses.
She stood and walked with measured steps to her bathroom to check her appearance. She took the pins out of her disheveled coiffure and pulled a brush through her hair. She sighed, remembering a time, much too long ago, when her hair was a glowing chestnut brown that flowed easily and shined in the sunlight. She wrapped it up in her customary chignon and reinserted the pins, smiling at her renewed appearance. She wasn't vain by any means, but she had been raised by her proper English mother to always put her best foot forward when entering a new situation.
Bella walked down to the dining room, proud to be doing so without the aid of a walker or cane. Though graciously nodding to those in the hall that were shuffling toward the dinning room with a variety of mobility devices. She was a bit overwhelmed by the large salon with tables set up to look very much like a restaurant. There were menus on each plate and they actually had servers to bring the food right to your table. She wasn't sure if she'd ever get used to feeling like she was eating at a restaurant every single meal.
She picked her way between the tables and found a quiet corner with a view to the garden outside. There weren't very many people in the dining room yet, as it was only 4:30 in the afternoon. But she was of the mindset early to bed, early to rise, so she'd be settled in her nest with a good book by 7:00 at the latest.
Halfway through her meal, a hunched-over woman with a kind smile approached, leaning heavily on a four-footed cane. "I haven't seen you before. Are you new?" she asked, helping herself to the seat right next to Bella.
"I just moved in today. My name is Bella," she extended her hand to her new table-mate and noticed how strange it looked to see two old hands shaking. It suddenly felt very unfamiliar and she almost didn't recognize her own hand.
"Angela, and it's good to meet you," she said with a faint wobble in her voice. "You don't mind if I join you, do you?"
"Oh, pish posh. Not at all. It's good to have some company." Back in reality, Bella was glad to have someone to talk to. Her mind had been wandering back to that younger version of herself over and over, to that time so long ago…
The two women ate in silence for a few minutes before Angela asked, "Are you going to the watercolor class tomorrow morning?"
Bella chuckled, "I hadn't even thought to. I don't know that I'd be any good at all. I'd produce nothing more than a muddled mess, I'm sure."
"Oh, you should come. The gal that teaches the class is really quite good. You'd be surprised the things she can get you to do! Besides, look at the geezers around here, no one is expecting to find the next Monet, they're happy if you don't fall asleep during the class." She smiled with crinkled eyes and a knowing nod. Bella already liked Angela's easygoing personality peppered with snarky wit.
"I am looking forward to the dance tomorrow evening," Bella said with enthusiasm.
"Yep, they get all the good stuff playing. It's a lot fun, especially with that bunch over there," she nodded toward a group of men laughing heartily on the other side of the room.
"They do seem like a fun group. Who are they?" Bella asked, while curiously studying the four men sitting around the table from over her shoulder.
"Oh, just a bunch of fly-boys. They like to show off that they can still WALK around instead of wheel. They all served in the USAAF during The War. There's Normy, Ervy, Frank, and The Captain." Angela shrugged her stooped shoulders and smiled wistfully at the mention of The War. There was no need to specify which war, because for these women, the one war of greatest significance in their lives had been World War II, so it went without saying.
Once they were finished with their meal, Bella excused herself for the evening, promising to meet Angela for watercolors the next morning. As she exited the dining room, Bella couldn't help but feel a strange prickle on the back of her neck, as though she was being watched. But that was absurd! No one was looking at her. At least she didn't think so.
The next morning she awoke, refreshed and looking forward to the day, but more particularly, the evening. She did enjoy the watercolor class and was glad she had taken Angela's advice and attended. She managed to produce something that one could passably recognize as a watering can full of daisies. She would have to get Carlisle to find a frame for it so that she could put it up on her wall.
She'd gone down to dinner extra early so that she'd have enough time to get herself ready for the dance. The employees at the center had been busy moving furniture around in the main hall and decorations had been going up all day. They'd left the piano in its customary corner, and made a bit of space so the DJ had room to set up his equipment.
As Bella looked at the old lady in the mirror, her brain kept asking, "What happened to that young woman you used to be?"
She shook her head and said out loud, "Oh, fiddlesticks, Bella! You are who you are, no regrets!" She took care to drape the antique string of pearls around her neck, and clipped the earrings on in similar fashion. She smoothed over the front of her navy blue and white polka dotted dress, smiling at her reflection in the mirror. She hadn't worn this style of dress in ages, and for a moment felt almost transported to another time and place.
She'd seen the dress in a vintage shop years ago and just couldn't resist buying it. Tonight was the first time she'd worn it.
She made her way down to the main hall and felt almost giddy as the strains of the Glenn Miller orchestra filled the air. As she rounded the corner the lights were slightly dimmer than during dinner, just enough so that the sparkle from a small mirror ball, hung in the middle of the room, could scatter on the dance floor. The room was covered in American themed decorations: Red, white, and blue bunting around the tables, gold stars on the paper napkins.
She paused at the refreshment table and filled a cup full of punch before taking a seat next to a few of the ladies she'd met earlier that morning in her class. She listened contentedly as they traded stories between them of grandchildren, she personally not really having anything to add. When one of the ladies inquired, she simply responded, "Oh, my darling boy is a confirmed bachelor. I doubt he'll ever settle down!" Her response brought forth more than one look of pity from the group and a small smile of understanding from Angela. "But he did threaten to come snatch up one of you tonight!" A few of the ladies gave her a small chuckle.
After a half hour of mingling, the director, Lindsay, stood at the microphone and welcomed everyone to the party. "We're so pleased you've all come down to the dance. We have a special treat! Our own resident Pianist has graciously agreed to treat us with an opening song. Captain? The ivories are all yours!"
Everyone began clapping and Bella looked around for the man known as The Captain. She only caught a glimpse of him from behind as he strode confidently to the piano, though she noticed a very slight limp in his otherwise strong gait. He was wearing the tan uniform of his days in the service, complete with the garrison cap, slightly askew on his silvery gray head of hair. His back was tall and straight, and as he turned to sit down at the piano, Bella's heart nearly stopped in her chest as she was caught up in a sudden wave of déjà vu. All her stunned mind could think at the moment was, "How can this be happening?"
If she had felt transported earlier, she now felt as though she was having an out of body experience. He was older, obviously, but still had that same roguish smile he'd had when he played for her back in 1943.
He sat down, his fingers tickling lightly on the keys a bit, and cleared his throat into the microphone that was angled toward his mouth. And then he began to play in earnest. Starting softly, a chord here and there, but it was as if Bella's body was instantly tuned to the music coming from that instrument. Had she not already been sitting down, she was sure that she would be a melted puddle on the floor, as she finally convinced her mind to believe what her eyes and ears were telling her.
His voice was a bit rougher, but just as mellow and entrancing as it was nearly fifty years ago. Goodness sakes! Had it truly been that long? One by one, people stood up and began to dance, but Bella was rooted to her chair. She couldn't have gotten up even if someone had been pulling on both hands.
She closed her eyes and imagined herself a young woman again, leaning on the side of a piano in a dance hall in London. She felt herself swaying to the music, an eager smile gracing her lips as the devastatingly handsome Captain Masen serenaded her in front of the entire crowd. Hundreds of service men and women gathered for the send off celebration of the B-17 bomber, Sweet Mama. It was to be their last mission; if they completed it, they'd be sent home with honors. But they hadn't completed the mission and they hadn't returned.
The music was loud and there were bodies pressed closely together everywhere inside the dance hall. The servicemen and nurses and all the locals were in high spirits. A large orchestra was on the bandstand doing justice to one of the latest swing songs and everyone was dancing. Legs were up in the air, gals being tossed around waists and hands shaking in time to the music as they twirled about.
Bella arrived on Captain Edward Masen's arm and they immediately dove into the fray. All of the men on his crew were already there and greeted him with boisterous yells and claps on the back. They were going home in less than a week's time. Once their mission was flown, they'd be on their way back to the United States.
She'd only met the Captain a couple of weeks prior, but they'd been inseparable at all of the social functions. When the thumping beat of Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing" began, an enormous shout of approval echoed through the hall. Edward immediately grabbed Bella's hand and began swinging her around and leading her through the quick steps of the swing dance that was so popular. Bella wasn't a great dancer, barely a good dancer, but with Edward, she felt like Ginger Rogers."In the Mood" came next, eliciting just as enthusiastic a response as the previous song and they just kept dancing like they were the only ones in the room.
Thoroughly winded from the energetic dancing, Bella clutched at the flowy dress she'd worn and pulled Edward toward the refreshment table.
"Are you havin' fun darling?" he asked, breathlessly.
"How could I not with such a splendid dance partner. I hardly have to do anythin' at all, it's a good thing I've got my frilly knickers on, with as much as they've been up in the air!"
"Sassy girl! Come on, let's go get some air."
They walked out and sat side by side on a pair of swings in a park just next to the dance hall, enjoying the cool evening breeze. He reached over and held her hand, stroking his thumb softly across the backs of her fingers.
"You know tomorrow's gonna be a piece of cake, right?"
"Oh, Edward, let's not talk about tomorrow. Just promise me you'll come say goodbye before they ship you home?"
"Say goodbye? Love, I'm taking you home with me."
"You know I can't just leave. I've got my work in the nursing corps. I have to stay."
He turned so that their bodies were facing one another. He smiled that killer smile and leaned in close. Their eyes met and his grin doubled in size as he watched her eyelids drift lazily closed and her lips pucker ever so slightly. When she leaned forward and closed the miniscule distance between them, it seemed as though angels sang. Her soft, full lips pillowed against his and moved in complicit harmony.
Slowly, he reached his arm around her back and drew her further into his embrace, deepening the intensity of their kiss. He pulled her over onto his lap. She gasped slightly at the feel of his tongue tracing the seam of her lips and moaned when her own tongue came into languid contact with his. Slowly they broke apart, breathing as hard as when they'd just come off the dance floor.
"Bella, I wish I could promise you the world, but know that you've already got my heart. Maybe we can work on the rest once I get back?"
"I'd like that, Edward." He was leaning in to kiss her again when one of his men came bounding out the front doors calling his name.
"The Lieutenant Colonel is about to make the big speech, then you're up!"
"What does he mean 'you're up'?" Bella asked.
"Oh, nothing big. They just want me to tickle the ivories before we head out."
They reentered the large hall where an older man with a stiff and starched uniform was whipping the crowd up into a right frenzy. He all but had these boys who were flying the mission tomorrow, vanquishing Hitler and flying home as heroes. It just didn't sit well with Bella. She was all for supporting the boys and wishing them the best, but the way the Lt. Colonel was talking...he was just so sure of the outcome.
Bella hadn't even realized that the speech was over when the crowd began chanting, "Captain! Captain!" With fingers intertwined Edward pulled Bella with him toward the stage and settled her right next to the piano.
He cracked his fingers and grinned. "This one goes out to my girl, Bella-bee."
He played a few slow chords and looked straight at Bella as he began to sing, "Darling, je vous aime beaucoup. Je ne sais pas what to do...". His handsome face was alight with happiness and love as he continued to croon. She longed to run her fingers through the neatly styled pompadour hair.
A smile grew wide on Bella's face as she leaned up against the piano. She paid no attention to the couples on the floor who began swaying together, locked in close embraces, drinking in these last few minutes of carefree fun before the seriousness of tomorrow's mission pressed in again. She only had eyes for the man at the piano.
He winked and continued caressing the tender melody on the keys during the instrumental portion of the song, while the band joined in and added color and movement to the notes he played.
His voice entering in on the last verse broke her out of the trance-like stroll down memory lane she'd just taken. Somehow, somewhere, she found the strength and guts to stand up and walk toward the piano. His eyes were closed as he continued the chorus. Her first thought was that perhaps her senses were deceiving her and that it wasn't really him. After all, his plane had been shot down and maybe her mind was further gone than she wanted to believe.
As Bella neared the piano, the name on his uniform came into focus. Masen, it read. It really was him. A warm sense of familiarity and happiness flooded through her as she leaned up against the curve of the grand piano, accepting the truth as it sat before her. When the last chord echoed through the hall, a round of applause burst out.
He opened his eyes and looked around, a broad smile causing his glittering green eyes to crinkle up around the edges. When his eyes finally fell on Bella, his smile faltered for the briefest of moments before he stood up slowly from the bench. Lindsay could be heard in the background thanking him for playing while the DJ brought up a slightly faster song for the rest of the people to continue dancing to.
But for the two standing next to the piano, the world fell away and there was nothing but the young man in his uniform and his girl, sending him off. He slowly began to make his way from behind the keys toward her; the gravity of 50 years and whispered promises drew them together with a force that was beyond anything they could control.
"Edward?" she whispered softly, not wanting to break the spell.
"Bella-bee?" he reached out one slightly gnarled, arthritic finger and stroked along the edge of her jaw and she instinctively tilted her head into his touch. It was like seeing a ghost from his past, but in the very best of ways. Her brown eyes and beautiful smile had stayed with him for these past fifty years.
"I thought you were dead." She could barely say the words. "Your plane was shot down."
"That it was. I was the only survivor. Spent months in a P.O.W. camp in Germany."
"But you're here. How are you here now?"
"By the good grace of God, I suppose. When I was in that P.O.W camp there's something I promised myself I'd do, if I ever got the chance." He looked deeply into her eyes, that mischievous smile playing across his lips.
He leaned forward, and, as if their lips had magnets that only reacted to each other, they connected with as much passion as they'd had the night of the dance in London. Bella was so caught off guard by the rush of emotion coursing through her that her knees nearly gave out from under her. He was still strong enough that his arms wrapped around her waist and held her tightly to him.
They were both filled with a love their hearts and souls hadn't forgotten over time. Smiling like fools, they parted and cast a glance around them, taking in the sudden quietness of the room save the sound of the music. Poor Lindsay looked as though she had no idea what to do, while Edward's buddies, as well as Angela and the other ladies from the painting class, began clapping, tapping their canes on the floor, and whistling loudly through their dentures.
It had been years since the last time Bella felt the rush of blood warming her cheeks, but there it was. Edward took both of her hands in his own and smiled warmly. "Bella Swan," he said with a wan smile as he cocked his head to one side. Then he asked quietly, "It's not Swan anymore, is it?"
"Cullen. Bella Cullen."
"Bella Cullen, I have loved you since the first time I met you. I regretted not being able to find you after I was freed. I did try, but you no longer worked at the hospital and all the records that would've led me to you were in total disarray. I married a nice girl, had a good life and a family. I suppose you did too?" She nodded at the implied question as he continued. "But now, I have you back and I'm not letting you go this time."
"Oh, Edward, I've carried you in my heart all these years. Not as an ache, or a loneliness, but as a love that burned bright and pure and beautiful. How I've missed you so. I love you too and now my heart is so very full. Albert didn't dance. I've missed that a great deal as well, so how about it?"
"Now that, I can do. Mr. DJ," he called out joyously, "I'm feeling 'In the Mood'. Can you help me out here?"
The DJ pointed his finger like a gun at Edward and said, "Sure thing, Captain!"
The famous saxophones poured out of the speakers and as if it was choreographed, everyone who could stand or roll with some nimbleness took a partner and began dancing.
Bella laughed freely as Edward spun her around the dance floor. The loss she'd felt at the passing of Albert was once again filled to overflowing as she danced in the arms of her Edward.
The music shifted seamlessly to play "Moonlight Serenade" and Edward drew his Bella in close and struck out in a smooth fox trot. Even with his slight limp, he was as light on his feet as he ever was. They danced cheek to cheek, no words needing to pass between them. It was truly as if they'd been plucked out of the present day and sent back to the night before the big mission.
As the evening wound down, the reunited sweethearts sat huddled together trying to reacquaint themselves.
"Am I going to wake up from this dream soon? I hope not. Tell me what happened, Edward. How were you captured?"
Edward sighed and ran his fingers through the once-coppery colored hair and Bella smiled at the familiarity of the gesture. He'd kept the sides cropped short, but the top was still longish. "It was just after bombs away. We'd dropped our entire load on the hydrogen peroxide factory and were heading back to base when we started catching a lot of flak. The guns were going off every other second sending shot after shot into the air. The waist gunners were dodging the hot shards of metal left and right. Then the fighters swooped in and started downing planes left and right.
"They took out one of our engines and shot the hell out of the rudder. I couldn't get it back under control. I saw a field and did the best I could to land us safely, but the whole thing burst into flames. The crash had blown out my windshield, so I was able to climb out, but when I jumped off the nose I broke my leg. Somehow, I managed to drag myself far enough away before the whole plane just exploded. None of the other boys made it out." The grief that poured from his face was so fresh, she could tell he felt it as keenly today as he had back then.
Bella had heard similar harrowing tales from some of the injured fly-boys she'd tended to as a nurse. Her heart ached for him and she wished she could have been there to help him when it happened. He had always taken his responsibility, as Captain of the crew, so very seriously. In fact, Bella was positive that Edward still blamed himself for their deaths.
"It wasn't your fault, dear." She placed her hand on top of Edward's and squeezed.
He looked into her eyes and smiled a bit sadly. "After all these years, you still know me so well," he said softly. "Anyhoo, I was captured by the farmer who's field I had crashed in and turned over to the German army, for a reward I'm sure. They stuck me in a P.O.W. camp and once the war was over we were liberated by the Russians first and then I went to England and looked and looked for you. Finally, the army said I had to go, so I returned back to Chicago. That's where I met Jessica. She was a nice girl; passed away from breast cancer about fifteen years ago. We had a daughter, Esme. She's got a couple of kiddos herself."
"What is her husband's name?"
A scowl darkened Edward's face. "It was Chuck. The good-for-nothin' bum is lucky he's still alive. They're divorced. He knocked her around, served his time in jail for it, and is now living somewhere far away." From the tone of his voice, Bella could tell the surface of the sun would have been Edward's first choice.
"Oh that's terrible. He didn't hurt the children, did he?"
"No, Emmett was nearly the same size as his father by the time he was twelve. Once he found out what Chuck had been doing to his mother, he called the cops and put up his fists, daring his father to hit him. He's a good boy." Again Bella smiled, this time at the quiet pride in his voice.
A calm silence stretched between the pair as they listened to the music and watched their neighbors dancing and talking, all the while holding hands.
"Have you been happy, Bella?"
She turned and smiled at this impossible vision before her. Just to hear the voice of her long lost love was enough to make her feel like she could fly. "I have, Edward. It took me some time before I was able to let go of the idea that you were still coming home, but eventually I met Albert. He loved me dearly and treated me well. We lived in England until Carlisle, my son, was a young man. Albert had a business opportunity here in the states, so we moved. That business fell through, but we liked it so well here, and Carlisle was in school and had so many friends, we decided to stay.
"Carlisle became a doctor and now works down at the hospital. Poor man has spent far too much time taking care of me—just had hip surgery a few months back, you know." She sighed and played with the sleeve of her dress, looking off at the dwindling group of seniors in the main hall. "Albert passed on a couple years back; he had a heart attack."
Edward nodded in understanding. The passing of your spouse was never an easy topic of conversation, and although he knew exactly how she felt, the feeling between them seemed to express that nothing needed to be said about it.
"Carlisle never married, but he doesn't seem to regret it, though I would have liked a few grandchildren," Bella mused after a few minutes of contemplative silence.
Edward leaned over and drew Bella's face to his, placing small, tender kisses on her lips. "How about I share mine?"
"What do you mean, Edward?"
"I mean, that we're not getting any younger, and if I've learned one thing in life, it's not to take time for granted. If I had come home from that mission, I would've done this fifty years ago, but better late than never, I always say. I would've gotten down on one knee that very same day and asked for your hand. I didn't get the chance then, so I'm asking now." He scooched his way off the chair and got down on one knee, grimacing a bit at the feel of the hard floor underneath the sore joint. "Bella Cullen, I think the next fifteen or twenty years would be much more enjoyable with you by my side. Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
Bella's hand flew to her mouth as she tried to contain the gasping breaths she was sucking in. She'd never been in love before she'd met Captain Masen. And while she'd loved Albert deeply, she knew that he wasn't her soul mate. And now, kneeling here before her was that person: Her soul mate; asking for her hand in marriage.
A slow nod and a tender smile preceded her vocal answer. "Yes. Yes, Captain Masen, I will marry you." She placed her trembling hand on his cheek and leaned forward to kiss him. As they moved apart, he grunted as he braced himself on the chair pushing back up to standing. He shook his leg out a little, and winked.
They'd discussed a few of the relevant particulars, and were talking about when they might want to set a date for the union, when a thought popped into Bella's head.
"Edward, what do you think the children will say?"
"I guess we'll find out tomorrow, won't we?"
"I suppose we will," she sighed. "Now, I'm quite ready to turn into a pumpkin. Be a gentleman, won't you, and walk me to my door?"
"Of course, milady," he responded and rolled his hand as he bowed.
She gently pushed his shoulder and looped her arm through his as she muttered, "Cheeky."
~*~A * L * N * F~*~
"Oh you guys, Grandpa is going to be so excited when you tell him your news!" Esme Evanson was bursting with happiness as she pulled up to The Seville and waited for her two children and future daughter-in-law to pile out of the car.
They walked up to the newer brick building that, according to twenty-two year old Emmett, was just a fancied up nursing home, passed through the automatic sliding glass doors, and signed in at the front desk.
"Morning, Lindsay, how are you today?" greeted Esme when she saw the center director.
"Good Morning, Mrs. Evanson. How are you?"
"Good, good. We have some happy news! Emmett and Rosalie just got engaged! I think Dad's going to be thrilled. How is he?" Esme was simply making polite conversation, but when she saw the odd look on Lindsay's face, she became concerned. "Everything's alright isn't it? Did he over-do it at the dance last night? You know how he is…"
"Uh, no. No, he had a really good time at the dance last night. I think he's in the solarium right now, as a matter of fact." She was shifting her weight from foot to foot, and it was making Esme nervous.
"Oh. Okay, well, that saves us a trip upstairs then. Perfect. Thanks, Lindsay! Have a great day!"
Emmett, Rosalie, and Alice were already down the hallway as Esme wrapped up her conversation with Lindsay. She nearly crashed into her stunned children as they all stood gaping through the arched doorway into the solarium.
"Holy Crap!" shouted Emmett, as sixteen-year old Alice exclaimed, "Oh. My. Gosh. Grampa's totally sucking face with some old lady!"
At this declaration, Esme shouted, "What?" and pushed through the immobilized young people. "Dad!" She was completely floored at what she was witnessing. Her seventy-five year old father was indeed engaged in a serious lip-lock with a very beautiful and stately silver-haired woman. And either he forgot to change the batteries in his hearing aid or he was just ignoring her, because he didn't even flinch at her exclamation.
There was some shuffling and noise from behind her, but she was more perplexed by the scene in front of her to pay attention to what was happening out of her sight.
She felt, more than saw, the warm body that stopped short right next to her and called out with just the faintest hint of an English accent, "Mum, what the devil is going on?"
Esme turned to the man standing next to her then back to the elderly couple who were only just now disengaging from their embrace.
"Esme! Kids! Come here and give your old Gramps a hug. Alice, honey, I've got a spot on my back that's itchin' something fierce. Do you think you could...?"
"Dad! Would you care to introduce us to you lady friend?" Esme had plastered a ridiculously fake smile on her face and tried to keep some rational thoughts available, as she walked up to the woman next to her father, with her hand outstretched.
"Why of course, I was getting around to that part. Essy, this," he indicated by turning fully in her direction and staring adoringly, "is my Bella."
Emmett and Alice both let out a low whistle and both said a soft, "Wow."
Rosalie whispered loudly to Emmett, "Who's Bella?"
Emmett rushed to explain, "She's the first girl Grampa ever fell in love with. He lost touch with her during the war when his plane was shot down and he was captured."
It was now Rosalie's turn to utter a shocked, "Oh, wow."
Esme stepped forward and bent down slightly to take Bella into a hug. At the mention of her name, Esme's entire demeanor shifted into gentle understanding. "It's such a pleasure and an honor to finally be able to meet you."
Bella was a bit taken aback with the reactions she was receiving from Edward's family. So much so that she nearly forgot that Carlisle was standing there in shock. "Oh heavens! Carlisle, this is Captain Edward Masen, and his lovely daughter, Esme, and her children, Emmett and Alice, and I'm not sure we've talked about the beautiful blonde, have we Edward?"
"This beauty is Emmett's girlfriend, Rosalie. They've been dating for about a year now."
It was now Carlisle's turn to be amazed at the convergence of so many different strings of kismet.
"This is an honor, sir," he said stepping forward and shaking Edward's hand firmly. He then finally turned to regard Esme and the grandkids and was stunned into silence himself.
She was a vision: Long, flowing, caramel-colored hair, plump lips, perfect skin. He shook himself and moved forward to shake hands with Esme. She smiled radiantly and took his hand. In that moment, he felt his whole world rearrange itself, as if a missing piece of his soul had finally found its home.
"Look, Bella, it's happening to them," Edward whispered as he held his beloved's hand.
"I thought it would never happen for him. Oh, Edward, he's entranced," Bella let out a soft giggle as she lifted their joined hands and kissed Edward's.
They watched as their two children, a confirmed bachelor and divorcee, fell in love, right before their eyes. They smiled widely and turned to face each other, stealing little kisses and staring into each others eyes while the world once again began to dissolve away.
Emmett cleared his throat loudly, snapping both enraptured couples from the foggy haze of love that was surrounding them. "So, Grampa, I've got some news."
"Well, spill it son, we aren't getting any younger around here!"
Emmett grinned at Rose, who grinned right back. "Rosie and I are engaged!"
Edward cast a side-long glance at Bella and broke into a cheshire grin as well. "Is that so? Well congratulations, son. I'm happy for you. I guess I ought to mention Bella and I are engaged too! Care to make it a double wedding?"
Bella reached up to touch Edwards face just to remind herself that this moment was real. Her man had finally come home from the war and their love was so strong, that fate brought them back together across oceans, countries, and finally, time. She leaned into his chest and felt more at home than she had in fifty years.