Are you ready for the epilogue? I'm so excited about the response that I received from this story. It was my first and the fact that I've finished and that readers actually liked it means so much to me. Thanks for all the support and kind words. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Twilight and all characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
If I'm incorrect in crediting the songs it is by mistake. It's what's in my iPod, folks.
Let us be in love
(Let us be in love)
Let's do old and grey
(Let's do old and grey)
I won't make you cry
(I won't make you cry)
I will never stray
(I will never stray)
I will do my part
(I will do my part)
Let us be in love tonight
"White Demon Love Song" by The Killers
Seven years later…
"How you put up with that bitch is beyond me. I would have kicked her Botox ass out of my bakery the second she implied my godchildren were bastards," Laurent said, wiping his hands on a kitchen towel.
The owner of that Botoxed ass was Mrs. Stanley. I had just handed her a box of macaroons while she asked for the hundredth time when Edward and I were getting married. Apparently destination weddings didn't count because they weren't invited to our beach wedding in Barbados. Of course they weren't invited. Why the hell would I want them there on our day? We were surrounded by our family and closest friends. The last time I checked that didn't include the vipers of Forks. Then if that wasn't bad enough, she not so quietly implied my children were born out of wedlock in a phony, concerned whisper.
I smiled at the protective vibe that was radiating off of Laurent and gave him a peck on the cheek. I knew Edward and I had made the right decision to name Laurent and Paul the guardians of our two children under the stipulation that if something ever happened to me and Edward, they would move to Fork or close enough to Edward's family. The main reason was because Rose and Emmett had three children, and Alice and Jasper had their second on the way. Some would think me crazy for entrusting my kids in the hands of a former assassin, but I knew if my children needed love and protection they would get it from Laurent and Paul.
After obtaining my GED, I focused on my relationship with Edward. It had taken a year before I even considered taking the trip down the aisle. There was the matter of building myself back up, making sure I was emotionally stable before taking that step. Carmen was a big help in those early years. In the end, Edward took all the trepidation out of the experience, even if it meant removing the aisle completely. We got married at Bottom Bay Beach…. in the sand.
A year and a half later, we welcomed into the world our first child, Deanna Esme Cullen. She weighed in at seven pounds three ounces and arrived on May 3rd at two in the morning. She had my brown hair and Edward's green eyes. We decided to name her Deanna in honor of one of the men we owed our lives to—Dean Wilder. Of course it would be years before we told her that story—if we told her that story. For now, all she knew was that she was named after her Uncle Dean, who never missed a birthday or the holidays, and her Grandma Esme, who spoiled her rotten.
Three years after Deanna was born, I had her little brother, Charles Paul Cullen, who weighed six pounds and eight ounces and had to be delivered during an emergency C-section. He too was named after people that helped me claim my future. When Paul found out we named a child after him, he got tears in his eyes and excused himself from the room. Laurent had told me that it was one of the highest honors Paul had ever received.
It was no wonder Laurent was so protective of our children. The couple stayed with us whenever they were in town. They flew in frequently from their home in France, neither able to stay far from our kids for very long. While Paul was a help with taking care of Deanna and Charlie, Laurent was a blessing with helping me with my bakery, Bella's Dent Sucrée. He was responsible for most of the connections I had made in the Seattle area with suppliers and advertising, and he helped inspire me to pull on my big girl panties whenever I felt like throwing in the towel. As much as I hated to admit it, not even Edward's encouragements were enough when I felt that defeated. Of course Edward said all the right things, but I believed his opinion was biased. I could always count on Laurent to give me the brutal truth. "Isabella, mon doux. The filling in these macaroons taste like something that came from your kids' diapers."
No, he never said that, but if that day ever did happen, he would be the first to tell me the truth. The days he was in town, he spent at Dent Sucrée. He always made tiramisu because I hated the taste of it, and he said I couldn't have a French bakery without tiramisu.
All of the customers had been helped and were happily enjoying their treats. I was in the archway between the kitchen and the counter nibbling on one of Laurent's latest experiments when Alice poked her head out of the office and said, "Bella, Deanna's teacher is on the phone."
I laughed while she rolled her eyes and asked her to man the counter while I took the call. Alice too had been a blessing. She put aside her job as a personal shopper and had taken it upon herself to help manage the bakery. I was lucky too because she kept everything running smoothly. She did the books, handled suppliers and orders, help me set-up a website, and even fielded calls.
This was the third time that Deanna's teacher had called. She was going through the point in her childhood where she was still discovering the importance of respecting other people's possessions. Unfortunately, when my daughter saw something she liked, it became hers. She had already caused two fights and she was only in pre-school.
After ending the call with her teacher, I called Edward. When he picked up, I said, "Hey, babe, do you have a minute?"
"Yeah, I'm at Mom and Dad's," Edward said.
"Oh, what did Carlisle say?"
"He said it was an ear infection, prescribed some drops, and said it was nothing to worry about," Edward grumbled.
I wanted to laugh at his irritability. Edward hated having to watch our son cry without being able to take the pain away. It was the same whenever Deanna got sick. I was convinced the only reason why Edward was civil with Carlisle was because he was our kids' grandfather. Had it been any other doctor, Edward would constantly question everything thing they did.
"Esme just left to pick-up Deanna," Edward said. "Not that I mind receiving a call from my beautiful wife, but was there any particular reason you called?"
I sighed before telling him about the parent-teacher conference that was scheduled. I listened to Edward rant about our daughter being singled out and treated like a hoodlum.
"It's not funny, Bella. Deanna's behaviors are perfectly natural for her age group; I Googled it," he said, hotly.
I was about to respond to him when a shout outside the office window stopped me. I peered through the blinds to see what the commotion was about, barely registering that Edward was talking again. It wasn't that I normally tuned out my husband, but what I saw had to be the funniest thing I had witnessed in quite some time. A crowd of patrons was filing out of my establishment, following Paul, who had arrived while I was in the office. The funny thing was, he had Mrs. Stanley's daughter, Jessica, by the collar of her jacket and was non-too gently throwing her out on her ass.
Jessica was like her mother—a vapid, jealous bitch. I put up with her flirting with my husband because I wasn't worried she could steal him away. Most of the time when Edward caught sight of her, he used me, our children, and sometimes Leah as a shield against her unwanted attention. He didn't find it nearly as funny as I did.
"Baby, I got to call you back," I said as I was hanging up on him. By the time I made it back to the register where Laurent was standing, the small crowd was coming back into the shop.
Laurent sadly watched as Paul rounded the glass cases and helped himself to some coffee. My mentor turned to Alice who was standing on his other side and said something to her. She quickly nodded her head and said, "Alright, folks! Macaroons on the house!"
While the patrons got in line and were talking about what happened, I nudged Laurent's shoulder and said, "What did I miss?"
He sighed, his eyes still on his lover who had taken a seat at one of the tables next to the large shop window, and he said, "That stuck-up bitch just got herself and her family kicked out of your shop, mon doux."
I wasn't too upset, but I was curious about what led up to the expulsion. Knowing whatever it was must have been bad, I rested my head against my mentor's shoulder and said, "What did she do?"
"She mentioned your husband in passing. I wasn't in the mood to hear her talking about things that would never happened and told her she was dreaming. She didn't particularly like hearing the truth," he said, trailing off.
I cocked my head to the side and looked at Laurent. He was upset, his French accent more pronounced, and I knew that I wasn't going to like hearing what she did in retaliation. "What did that skank say?"
"Something about Edward growing tired—"
"Dammit, I'm not talking about the delusional bullshit she's always spouting," I hissed. "What did she do that caused that reaction from Paul?"
He let out another weary sigh and said, "She called me a Euro-trash faggot."
After the shock of hearing about Jessica's bigotry, I wrapped my arms around him, saying, "Oh, Laurent. I am so sorry that you had to put up with that. I should have kicked her and her mother out of here years ago."
"I am not terribly upset, Isabella. The 'F' word I've been called before, but Euro-trash—never. Paul was pissed off and told her to leave, but she would not listen. She even said he would be stupid to try anything. He grabbed her by the collar and told her she and her family were no longer welcomed here."
After placing a kiss on Laurent's cheek, I dished up some of the cappuccino mousse that I made specially for Paul and made my way to his table.
"Thanks, Bella," he said, using the spoon I offered him to scoop out one of his favorite treats, but the smile on his face didn't reach his eyes.
"I should be thanking you. I've been meaning to take out the trash," I joked.
He chuckled and said, "I have never liked that woman. She makes a part of me that I've long since buried want to come out, and it scares me. I despise that her hatred could trigger my own like that, Bella; I'm better than that. Christ, what if one of the kids was here? What if I didn't have a better grip and I knocked out that ignorant bitch like I wanted to?"
Taking his hand in mine, I said, "But you didn't, Paul. Like you said, you're better than that. I'm happy with how you handled the situation."
"So, you're not mad that I chased away some of your customers?" he asked, peering up from under his ridiculously long lashes.
I smiled at him, stood from the table, and cleared my throat before saying in a loud voice, "Folks, can I please have your attention? It seems we had a bit of excitement earlier, and I want to make one thing clear. That kind of small-mindedness will not be tolerated here at Bella's Dent Sucrée. If you have a problem with the way I run my shop or who helps me manage it, I suggest you find another bakery."
Both Paul and Laurent beamed at me and we spent the next hour talking to customers who felt they needed to voice their support. They told us that they were appalled at the way Jessica spoke to Laurent and said they were ashamed to know her. That loyalty was tested when Mr. Stanley, Jessica's father, entered the shop. It was funny to see the way spines stiffened and people glared at him as if he was responsible for the things his daughter said.
I smiled at him while he hesitantly made his way up to the counter and said, "Mrs. Cullen, Mr. Revine, Mr. Kwoli." He continued after we each retuned his nods, saying, "I wanted to stop by and apologize for the appalling way my daughter has acted. I heard about what happened and I am deeply ashamed that she said those horrible things."
"Be that as it may, Mr. Stanley, I stand by Mr. Kwoli's actions. She was out of line and your family is no longer welcomed here," I said, eyeing the timid man. It seemed his only fault was his inability to stand up to his wife and daughter. Unfortunately, his inability to raise his daughter better caused an upset in my establishment.
"I understand that Mrs. Cullen, I do," he said, shuffling from one foot to the other.
Then, like a light bulb, everything clicked. He wasn't here to plead on the behalf of his daughter and wife; he was here to fight against being banned himself. Paul seemed to reach the same conclusion I had and was fighting against laughing out loud. I turned and arched a brow at him and Laurent, wanting to know if they had a problem with what I was about to suggest. Paul, the jackass, shrugged his shoulders while Laurent rolled his eyes, muttered something in French, and pulled Paul away to the kitchen archway.
Turning my attention back to Mr. Stanley, I said, "Mr. Stanley, thank you for the apology. It is my understanding you do not wish to join your wife and daughter in being banned from my bakery?" He nodded his head, probably in relief that he didn't have to grovel anymore. "I have no problem with you. I actually happen to like you, Mr. Stanley, but I can't allow you to take any of my pastries back home. It would defeat the point I am trying to send to your wife, daughter, and anyone who believes it's okay to verbally assault the people who work here."
His shoulders slumped almost comically, and he said, "I don't blame you."
"However," I said, interrupting him, "I see no problem if you happened to stop by and ordered something, had a seat, perhaps read the paper just to get away for a little bit."
Mr. Stanley's eyes lit up and he said, "I am so happy to hear that. I don't think I'll be able to find better pains au chocolat than the ones you make. Thank you, thank you."
I smiled knowing he would probably find the means to break away from his horrid wife and bitch of a daughter. Yep, we were going to see a lot more of Mr. Stanley.
"How about this?" Edward asked before playing another tune on his Steinway.
I sat curled on the window bench that had become my spot. It had been two weeks since the Stanley Stand-off, as Emmett called it, and I was chewing on the end of the pen in my hand, thinking about the jazzy little melody that Edward was playing. "It's a little salty, a bit of a tease. Perhaps a peanut buttery-hazelnut sweet?"
Edward moaned, licked his lips, and said, "Will it go good with my coffee?"
Grinning, I nodded my head and started jotting down the ingredients that would be needed to make the peanut butter hazelnut cookies I had in mind, or perhaps it could be a coffee bar. In the five years since opening the bakery, Edward helped me change up the menu when it needed new life. He always said I was his muse, the two Oscars in our "Room of Accomplishments," aka the study, were proof of that claim. But the truth was he was just as much an inspiration to me. Listening to the music that his talented hands produced, I could visualize the sounds and turn them to flavors.
"Next," I said, leaning against the window, watching my husband.
"Okay, okay. I got one for you," he said, turning back to the keys.
It was a lullaby I had heard many times. Over the years it had altered slightly, each obstacle and event giving new meaning to the composition. The notes twirled and played in the air with a carefree innocence that nearly brought tears to my eyes. I moved to the piano bench, leaned my head against Edward's shoulder, and whispered, "Light, sweet, and a refreshing tartness. Orange cream… possibly a cake?"
"Cupcake," Edward said with a determined nod.
"Deanna's Dreamsicle Cupcake," I whispered, looking at his strong jaw line. "Simple."
"Sweet," he responded.
He turned, his gaze drawn to the lips that I had unconsciously licked. My breath deepened, and the current that had always run between us was fighting to break free, charging the air surrounding us. Just as he lips brushed against mine, we heard a tiny voice shouting, "Daaddyyyyyy!"
I laughed at Edward's defeated groan and said, "It sounds like you're being summoned."
He hummed, stood from the piano bench, and placed one last kiss on my head. "I'll meet you upstairs, love."
While Edward checked in with the kids, I locked up the house even thought I knew Edward would double check later. Making my way upstairs, I stopped outside my daughter's bedroom. I didn't need to poke my head in to know what was happening. I heard two things, Edward humming a lullaby he composed for his princess and the creak of the rocking chair as he rocked Charlie to sleep.
Smiling, I headed for our bedroom. After washing my face and taking off my shirt and jeans, I stood before my dresser where my jewelry box was perched and reached behind my neck to unfasten the clasp on my necklace. Edward had given me the simple white gold cross which held a diamond in the center as a birthday present.
As soon as I placed it in the box with my other necklaces, I felt two strong arms wrap around my waist and Edward's lips place a soft kiss on the side of my neck. Without saying a word, he unclasped my bra and trailed kisses down my spine as he slid my panties to the floor, causing me to shiver.
Lifting me in his arms, he carried me to our bed and gently placed me down before quickly shedding his clothes. I sighed as he spent time kissing every inch of my body, including the scar that was left from the C-section. I couldn't understand how he still found it and the little pooch that was left after my pregnancies beautiful.
Almost like he could read my mind, Edward said, "You are so beautiful. I'll never know how I got so lucky that you said yes to me."
I groaned as he slowly pushed into me, relishing the feeling of my husband filling me so completely. "Edward," I gasped.
He swallowed all of my whimpers and cries and used his tongue to gently stroke mine as he worked up to a pace that had me panting for more. He never stopped his pace as he held me and told me how much he loved and needed me. We spent the whole night making love, only stopping once when we heard Charlie crying. I was truly lucky and would always be grateful that Edward wanted me as much as I wanted him.
"I love you, Edward," I said, placing a kiss on his chest. The bed sheets were tossed to the side and we were a mess of tangled limbs.
He smiled at me while brushing away strands of hair that were plastered to my damp forehead and said, "I love you, my beautiful angel."
I had come a long way from being the shy, broken girl he first met. But with Edward by my side, I felt like I could take on the world.
A/N: I hoped you like it. Remember that this is the last chance you get to comment on this fic, so please leave me some love!
I'm also going to start posting Apple Dumpling Club soon! (So be on the look out for that.) It's very different from Control… more lemons… more swearing… tattoos… Bikerward… yeah.