There was nothing left to do, but wait. I had finished the nursery. One side was blue and brown and the other was pink and brown with various patterns of stripes and polka dot accents. Their names hung on the wall above their empty cribs. Empty cribs. I hated seeing empty cribs. I was put on bed rest a few weeks ago, just about the time the nursery was finished. I never went in there anymore. I had this horrible feeling that the cribs may never be filled. I know it's irrational, but I couldn't help it. I just wanted them to be here and to be warm and safe and perfect.
Bed rest made me stir crazy. Edward would literally never let me out of bed. He took it way too far. I even had babysitters! Between his mother and Rosalie, I was always under someone's watchful eye. It was kind of nice to have the company sometimes. I enjoyed his mother and despite Edward swearing his sister was a bitch, she was really quite helpful. She was really excited about being an aunt. Every time she came over she was always bringing something new she bought for them. She even had a small baby shower for me. Edward and I had everything we could ever need or want for the babies.
Rose was just getting ready to leave. She had an interview at a law firm this afternoon.
"Are you sure you'll be okay?" Rose asked.
"I'm fine. Edward will be here soon anyway, we have an appointment this afternoon."
"Okay, call me if you need anything."
"I'll be fine. Good luck!"
I heard the door close behind her and it was back to silence. I was grateful. I had the worst headache. They were getting increasingly more painful as the pregnancy progressed. The doctor said it's due to the preeclampsia, which is why I'm on bed rest and at the doctor's office twice a week. They were trying to hold out another two weeks before they did a c-section. I didn't know if I could hold out another two weeks.
Edward was running late as usual and I met him at the door to head out to our appointment. They were becoming so routine. We waited for half an hour before we were seen by the doctor who did his regular routine of checking various things. He said my blood pressure was still too high and getting higher. He's only giving me another week. Although it was still a few weeks early, he felt the babies were doing well enough that they could be safely delivered next week.
Edward was excited. I was too miserable to care. Everything ached. I was dizzy and just uncomfortable.
Once home, we collected the mail before heading upstairs. I sat on the couch with the mail and a glass of water while Edward started dinner. He was becoming much more domesticated since I had been put on bed rest.
Behind our electric bill was a dirty white envelope with my name on it. My correct name. Mrs. Bella Cullen. It was from Renee. I stared at it momentarily because I couldn't believe she used my correct name.
I opened the envelope slowly. There were several pages inside. I hesitated momentarily and wondered if I should just throw it away. I said my peace. I wanted nothing else to do with her.
I pulled out the folded sheets of paper anyway.
I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. This is it. By the time you finish reading this, it will all be over.
My heart raced. My head pounded. What did she mean?
I remember very well the day I married your father. I was in love with him, then. I don't know what happened along the way to change that. I guess I was just never satisfied. I remember the day you were born and all the excitement leading up to it. I'm so happy for you and Edward. Children are a beautiful gift. I know you'll do better than I did. You always have, even when I tried to hold you back.
Bella, I killed Charlie. I did. I'm sorry.
I gasped and dropped my glass of water. It shattered against the hardwood floor. I couldn't breathe. It felt like one of the babies were crushing my lungs.
"Bella, are you alright?" I could hear Edward's footsteps making their way towards me from the kitchen. I ignored him.
I just couldn't see any other way around it at the time. I knew if you stayed in London he was going to leave me with nothing. I just thought if it looked like an accident that everything would be okay, but it all just got out of control. We had all drank too much and I only put the drugs in your drink because I didn't want you to see it. I didn't want you to watch me do what I did. It all just happened so fast. You hit your head and Charlie wouldn't quit fussing over you. I called him to the kitchen to help me get some ice for you and that's when I did it. We started arguing about my affairs. He knew, Bella. He knew all along. He just pretended to be blind to it because he didn't want to mess things up for you. He didn't know that you knew so much. He was angry at me for being so careless in front of you. He didn't want a divorce, he always wanted to work things out and it made me so angry. I just wanted out, Bella.
I was not in my right mind at the time. You were an after thought. I panicked. There was blood everywhere. I pulled you into the kitchen and set up before I cleaned up and went out on an errand like it was no big deal. I half expected the police to be there when I returned, but you were still out cold until I started screaming.
I hate reliving that night. It plays over and over in my mind. I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking correctly. I just saw it as a way out of my marriage. I didn't comprehend that I'd be taking your father from you, and your own life. I really couldn't believe I got away with it for as long as I did.
I could hear Edward yelling at me but it was all muffled. I just kept seeing images of that night.
I know that I'm sorry will never be enough. I somehow knew I'd always end up here and I'd never get out. I'm okay with that now, I suppose. I'm sorry for what I did to you after the fact. It's amazing what money can buy you. I was sleeping with your doctor at the psychiatric hospital. Did you know that? It was a private facility. We had the option to send you to a facility of our choice or to a state appointed facility. I promise the medication was for your own good. I didn't want you to remember. Not because I didn't want to be found out, but I didn't want to put you through it all, over and over again.
To this day, I don't know how Edward found you or what he did to learn the truth. I do know that he must care a great deal for you to go through all that trouble. I'm happy for you, really. I know that I'll likely never see you again. I know that I'll never meet my grandchildren. This was the only thing I could do to attempt to make it up to you.
I will plead guilty. There will be no trial. You won't have to disrupt your life. It's over. I'm sorry, Bella.
I want you to know that your father loved you more than anything else in this world. He is probably rolling over in his grave for what I have done to you. Believe it or not, I do have a conscious. Charlie haunts me in my sleep, every time I close my eyes. I'll live with the nightmares and what I've done forever. I hope now, you can move on.
Hot tears poured over my cheeks and landed on my belly. I still hadn't caught my breath. The room was spinning and Edward was yelling.
A sharp pain in my lower back shook me from my daze. I cried out in pain and I vaguely remember Edward grabbing the letter from my hand and pulling out his cell phone. It was all a blur after that.
I woke to an obnoxious beeping sound. There were people in blue scrubs dancing all around me in a hurry. I was flat on my back and it felt like a million pounds were sitting on my chest. I began to cough and realized there was tube down my throat which instantly made me want to gag.
His eyes. His green eyes leaned over and found my brown ones. Edward was in blue scrubs, too. A mask also covered everything below his eyes.
"Relax, Bella. It's okay. It'll be over soon."
I had no idea what he was talking about. I was so tired. I remember blood splattering onto the doctor's clear plastic mask in front of me. That's when it hit me. Seconds later I felt them being pulled from inside me, one by one. I was terrified. All the blood made me sick and made me think of that night. I never heard anyone's cries but my own. Edward was gone. I was empty and alone. It was cold, so cold.
I don't know how long I had been out. When my eyes opened, everyone was there and it was more peaceful. No more beeping. I could feel Edward's hand inside mine and I squeezed it. He stood and came into my line of vision. I knew everything was okay when I saw that big goofy grin on his face. I'd never been so relieved.
"What happened? Are they okay? Where are they?" I tried to sit up, but was immediately met with an amount of pain that could've knocked me on my back. I winced and leaned back at Edward's insistence.
"They're okay. She's in the NICU, but he's doing good. He's in the nursery."
"Why, is she alright?"
He nodded. "Just a little trouble breathing, but she's going to be fine. They're so perfect, Bella."
"When can I see them? I want them."
Carlisle left Esme's side and stood at the foot of my bed. "Edward, go get your son from the nursery. We'll keep an eye on Bella."
He kissed my forehead and left the room.
Rose filled me in on our daughter's condition. Her lungs were just slightly under developed. She was on a ventilator but was otherwise healthy. She was on medication to speed up the development of her lungs. They didn't expect her to have to remain in the NICU for more than a week.
It seemed like Edward was gone forever. I started to fill his family in on the letter I received, but they already knew. They were all excited for us.
Finally, Edward returned to the room, carrying our baby boy. The nurse pushed his little mobile crib behind Edward.
The nurse adjusted my bed so I could sit up a little bit. Edward placed our son in my arms and pulled his little cotton hat off to reveal little baby strands of copper and honey colored hair.
He was sound asleep, but when Edward left him in my arms he began to cry. His eyes opened and I instantly fell in love. He was perfect and beautiful. Our eyes met and his cries softened.
"Hi, sweet boy." I could hardly see through my tears. I was so happy. He was even more beautiful than I imagined. I kissed his face and told him I loved him a million times. He just stared at me intently. I never wanted to let him go. Ever.
I met my daughter in the NICU early the next morning when I was well enough to be transfered to a wheel chair to go see her. She was smaller than her brother but was the most beautiful baby girl I'd ever seen. She had traces of chocolate brown hair on her head and creamy white skin. She looked like me.
I'd visit with her as often as I could and the nurses would occasionally let her brother lay next to her for a little while. Seeing them together melted my heart.
Slightly less than a week later, our daughter was released from the NICU and we were preparing to go home.
I was packing a small bag with some of my belongings when Edward entered the room pushing the little cart with our daughter in it and his mother was right behind him with our son.
They positioned them next to each other in front of me and I was elated to finally have them together and to be going home.
I observed their little pink and blue name tags on the end of their carts.
It's A Girl!
Charleigh Elizabeth Cullen
5 lbs. 6 oz.
It's A Boy!
Cayden Edward Cullen
6 lbs. 4 oz.
It took me a while to convince Edward to name our daughter Charleigh. I knew I had to name one of them after my father, and I wanted it to be her. I wanted the name to be unique and different. I wanted people to ask her about it one day so she could tell them about the incredible grandfather she never met but heard so much about.
Charleigh and Cayden were more than I could have ever asked for. They owned me like nothing ever had before. All of my time was devoted to them. I always felt like maybe I had been spending more time with one or the other and I'd have to switch. I'd spend hours just watching them sleep. Edward said it wasn't healthy, but it was so calming to me. They looked so peaceful and content when they slept. I wanted them to feel that way forever. I would never be capable of hurting them the way Renee hurt me.
Renee was true to her word. A few weeks after the twins were born, we got the news. There would be no trial, only her sentencing hearing. It felt like such a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I was so grateful that my children's lives wouldn't be disrupted.
I kissed Edward. "I'm so excited and relieved; I almost feel like I should thank her!"
Edward laughed as he went to pick up Charleigh from her little swing. "I don't know if I'd go that far," he teased.
I laughed. "You're right. I hope they sentence her to life without the possibility of parole!"
Edward and I laughed as we looked at Cayden sleeping in his swing and Charleigh staring at her daddy. Charleigh had an odd fascination with Edward. She constantly just looked into his eyes. I think his green eyes fascinated her. She was definitely going to be a daddy's girl.
"I can't get over how much she looks like you. She's so perfect," Edward said.
I kissed her cheek and agreed with Edward. "They're both perfect."
"I wonder if all of this would've happened if you had of stayed in London that year for Christmas instead of going home?"
I pondered his question as I looked around our cozy home, the wedding band on my finger and our two perfect children. I didn't know the answer. Somehow I felt if none of it had of happened, I would've focused on my career and children would've been the last thing on my mind. "I don't know," I finally said aloud.
"Me either. I think it took you disappearing to realize how desperately in love with you I was and how much I wanted, needed, all of this, with you."
I smiled. "Yeah, I certainly don't think all of this would've been on my to do list had I never returned home, but I'm glad it all worked out the way it did. I cannot imagine my life without them, and you, now."
"I agree. It didn't happen on quite the timeline I expected, but I'm grateful nonetheless. I have the most beautiful and amazing wife and two perfect children."
I grinned. "I love you."
He leaned down and kissed me gently on the lips. "I love you, Bella."
Right after Edward told me he loved me, we heard the unmistakeable sounds of an infant dirtying a diaper. We both turned and looked at a little red-faced Cayden who burst into tears. We both laughed as I went to pick him up and change him. "You're going to be just like your daddy!" I teased.
Edward followed me to the nursery. "No way! I do not smell that bad when I go to the bathroom!"
I laughed and assured him I was just playing. Stinky diapers and all, my babies were perfect, and so was Edward. My only regret was that my father wasn't there to witness the perfect creations we made, but I'm sure he was up in heaven somewhere, looking over us all.
Sorry for the delay in getting this one posted, my real life is out of control, really. What's new, though, right? :)
I hope you all enjoyed it! There WILL BE an epilogue, so stay tuned for that.
I also hope you all had a good holiday. Ring in the new year with something fabulous and go get what you want in 2012!