Here it is, the final chapter. Thanks for reading. Longer A/N at the bottom.
Note the POV is now Edwards. :-)
Glancing down at my watch, the second hand ticked by, too quickly for my taste. Planning for this moment took a couple of weeks, but only because I needed to find the perfect place, the perfect date, the perfect... it's going to be perfect, but she needed to hurry up for it to happen at the right moment.
"Are you ready?" I asked for the third time.
She popped her head out, looking from the bathroom door. "Yes, just one more moment. I'm almost ready."
What in the world could Bella be doing?
The length of time it had taken her to get ready for a walk in the park made me wonder if she knew what was coming. I patted my pocket for the umpteenth time to ensure it was still there, causing me to smile.
Bella entered my life at a time I needed her. It was completely unexpected because I was focused on finding my sister. But every girl I met through VIP, I tried my hardest to encourage her to leave the business. I never expected them to listen - it was up to them to make the choice to quit. But walking in one day, meeting Bella, ignited a spark within me. Not only did I want her to stop pursuing the idea of being an escort, I wanted to learn more about her, touch her, be near her. After she'd left me, she consumed my every thought.
I followed her home that night, as was typical after I entertained one of the VIP girls, to ensure they made it home safely. To an outsider, they may have thought I had stalker tendencies, but I really was about protecting the women I met. Bella was different - she was pretty upset when she left me - so I definitely wanted to make sure she made it home. But from the moment I met Bella, it became different. The night ended too early - there was so much about her that I wanted to know and understand.
Luckily, fate kept intervening and our paths continued to cross. Had she not joined that escort business, I firmly believed we would have met. Her dad essentially sent her to my father. And, her best friend had met my brother. It was bound to happen eventually. I'm just glad it did.
She brought so much to my life. The way she looked at me, I knew she loved me. The way she touched me, I knew she felt who I was. The way she acted around me, I just knew she got me. I knew this, because it was the same for me about her.
We met less than a year ago, and have dated most of that time. It just felt right. I'm ready.
I just hoped she was. And, I wished she would hurry up. She left the bathroom and went to the bedroom.
I paced in the living room, touching my pocket repeatedly. I played Angry Birds on my phone, all in an effort to calm my nerves and pass the time.
Finally, she turned off the bedroom light and walked down the hallway.
"You ready?" she asked.
I said nothing, but smiled and picked up my backpack. Grabbing her hand into mine, I led her to my car.
We arrived after a short drive and parked the car. Most of the patrons had cleared out, which fit into my plan.
"You know, even though I go to school here, I've never actually been here," she said.
"That surprises me. I thought all Duke students would check out all the things in the area, including this place." Secretly, I was glad she had never experienced the Duke Gardens. If everything went according to plan, this could prove to be a special place for us. I've only been here once before, but only because of Jasper and Emmett. They knew of my plan, and had heard this would be an ideal place. I came here to check it out and instantly my plan formed.
"Well, Mr. Cullen, have you been here before?" She smiled as the question came out.
"Yes, actually, I have. But this visit will be so much better because I am with you."
"Awww," she flirted with me as she grasped my arm.
I reacted by pulling her to me in a hug, and kissing her forehead. Hearing a car start so they could leave the parking lot reminded me that others were near and I wanted her as secluded as possible. This visit was just for us.
We parted and I led her to our destination. We stood in a clearing off the beaten path. Out from the backpack, I pulled a thin blanket placing it on top of the grass. She sat down on it Indian-style. I reached in to pull out a bottle of Pinot Noir.
"You brought wine?" she raised her eyebrows.
Wine glasses would have been better. Improvising, I uncorked it, then poured some into plastic cups. We talked casually about the weather, the gardens we passed on our walk over here, and about other areas we would like to visit, like the pond.
The time was upon us, the setting perfect. Taking a few deep breaths while she looked off into the distance, I mentally recited my words.
"You OK?" she asked, concern apparent on her face.
"Yeah, why do you ask?"
"Because you have this worried look."
"I have a worried look?"
"Yes, your eyebrows furrowed together and you have look of extreme concentration."
And that being further confirmation she just understands me. She knows something isn't completely right with me. Little does she know...
"You're right." I began. "I'm not OK. I am more than OK." I placed my wine carefully on the ground. She still held her cup, so I took it from her and sat it next to mine. Taking her hands into mine, I began my speech. "Bella, I'm not sure you realize how much you mean to me. We met last year under unusual circumstances, but I believe fate played a huge part. Between our fathers knowing one another, and our friends dating, I think we were destined to meet. There's a plan for us. A plan I want to keep moving forward. Some of our memories are filled with sadness, but having you in my life during the difficult times helped me tremendously. You are my strength, my guide, and my other half. I can't imagine life without you."
I moved so that I sat on my knees. Reaching into my pocket I pulled out the one thing I hoped would prove to be our symbol of love. I released her right hand, but held firmly on her left.
"I am incomplete. But, having you in my life makes me whole. And, I wouldn't want it any other way. Bella, would you do me the honor of accepting this ring and becoming my wife?"
From the moment those few words spilled from my mouth, time stood still. I waited for her answer. I heard the blood rushing through my veins. A bird chirped off in the distance. I even felt a slight breeze and watched as it moved a tendril of her long brown hair. The time that passed was probably all of a second, but it was long enough to cause my heart to skip a beat. I waited.
And then, she jumped up, "Edward, I would love to become your wife." She launched into my arms and kissed me. Her lips moved, opening to allow my tongue to enter. We stayed like this for a moment, before we remembered we were at a public park. She smiled then glanced down to check out the diamond now resting on her left hand. We finished off the bottle, and left even happier than we arrived.
Bella would become my wife, and this made me a very happy man.
Once word spread about our engagement, planning for the wedding became a topic of conversation... a lot - especially with Bella and the girls. Every time the six of us would get together, the topic always led to the wedding. Someone would usually ask a question, make a suggestion, or simply just check on the progress for the event.
The one thing I made certain Bella understood from the very beginning of our engagement was that I love her, and that is all that matters. I didn't care if we were married by the Justice of the Peace or somewhere fancy in the tropics. As long as the end result was that we were married, I would be fine with whatever avenue we took to get there.
Throughout the process, at times, it became emotional for Bella. Soon after we were engaged she moved in with me, we didn't see the need for separate housing for just a few months. It was the end of the semester when she officially moved in with me.
I came home from work one day to see her sitting on the couch. A box of tissues in her lap. She had one in her hand as she used it to blot away tears from her cheek.
"What are you doing home so early?" she managed to ask.
I wanted to know why she hadn't left yet. She was supposed to be dress shopping. Rather than forcing my questions on her, I immediately sat and took her hands into mine.
"I left some paperwork here and had to pick it up for my next meeting."
I paused knowing she might share why she was crying. Instead, she said, "Well, don't let me hold you up."
"Bella, my meetings important, but you are more important. Talk to me."
The silence was excruciating. She took a deep breath. "I... I'm... I wish my mom was going wedding dress shopping with me."
She's right, her mom should be going with her. But someone took that opportunity away from her. My heart broke for her knowing the pain she experienced. This was supposed to be the happiest time of her life, yet here she was thinking about wishing her mom was with her.
I pulled her to me tightly. We held each for other several minutes as she cried for an experience she would never get to have. Finally, she pulled away from me. "I'm so sorry."
"Bella, why are you apologizing?"
"I shouldn't be crying like that."
"It's OK that you are. We've both lost people who mean so much to us. And we want them to be a part of this exciting experience. So, it's understandable for your heart to ache knowing they aren't able to. Come here." I pulled her up from the couch and gave her another comforting hug.
As we parted, she said, "Thanks, I needed that."
"Any time, Bella. I am here for you, always."
"I know." She wiped her tear stricken face. "I am better now." We continued to hug a little longer, but she finally pulled us apart. "I need to pick up Alice and Rosalie."
A few minutes later, we both left the house. I knew her friends would be exactly what she needed in this moment.
We decided the wedding party would be small. Actually, the wedding itself would be small. We chose the Duke Chapel. It seemed fitting since she attends the school. It's also romantic with its Gothic look.
The week leading up to the big day was a flurry of activity for us - picking up the tuxes, final head counts for the reception, and picking up family and friends as they arrived at the airport.
Bella and I chose not to have the typical bachelor and bachelorette parties. Instead, our closest friends gathered at our house for an evening of fun. Alice and Jasper arrived first, but once Emmett and Rosalie showed up, the laughter kicked up a notch. Even my parents made an appearance.
"Yo, Mr. and Mrs. C, glad you came by," Emmett said to my dad.
"Mr. C and Mrs. C?"
"You know, short for Mr. and Mrs. Cullen."
"I gathered that." My dad just laughed at Emmett and his obvious attempt at trying to make him sound cool. It worked.
Even though our group was small, we had it catered by a local restaurant. We filled our plates with deli sandwiches, pasta salads, and meatballs, then made our way to the living room. My mom brought a DVD she requested to play. We watched it as we ate. Soon after it started I cringed. On the screen were pictures of me as a child. She even added some videos in the mix. But the images and video were rather funny so after several minutes we were all laughing hysterically. I glanced over at Bella and saw her smile and occasionally chuckle, but something was lacking.
"You OK?" I put my plate down and wrapped my arm around her shoulders pulling her closer to me.
"Yes." I knew it was a lie.
I whispered in her ear, "Talk to me."
After a moment of silence, she quietly said, "I don't have anything like this. I feel a little guilty that I have nothing to show our friends in the way of pictures and videos of me as a child."
My mom, sitting near us, joined our conversation, "Bella, I don't mean to pry, but just be patient." She winked at us.
Bella nodded. A few moments later, after the pictures shown were more current of me, we started seeing pictures of Bella as a child. Glancing over at her, the look on her face was pure excitement. "How did you get these?"
My dad spoke up, "Your father gave me some of his valuables. These were among them."
Tears welled in her eyes, threatening to fall. My mom said, "Bella, you are very much a part of the family, I hope it was OK that we put this together."
She began to cry so all she could do was simply nod her head. I noticed others left the room to get more food, and I followed suit after my mother gave me a look. She took my place and had a conversation with Bella. I noticed from a distance my mother speaking with Bella who nodded in response. They ended with a hug. Later, my mother informed me she reminded Bella even though her parents aren't physically here, they are with her in spirit. She equated her feelings about Bree because she felt the same way.
Soon after the video, my parents left leaving just our friends.
"So where's the honeymoon?" Emmett asked.
"I don't know," Bella answered.
Emmett already knew I wanted it to be a surprise, so he was just testing to see if I finally shared our destination. I hadn't, and I won't until we get there.
"Well, I know it will be fabulous, wherever you end up. Be sure to take pictures," Alice said.
"Of course. We are all packed," Bella said.
"You knew what to pack?" Rosalie asked.
"I had to know a little information so that I could pack. All he said was that it would be warm and we would be able to swim. I'm still wondering if that means swimming in a pool or an ocean."
I just smiled because our honeymoon was going to be great. But to get there, we had to get through the wedding.
The rehearsal went smoothly. We had a nice family style dinner at Maggianos. The wedding party was there along with a few of our extended family members.
Part way through the meal, my dad made a simple toast, "Tomorrow is a day we will all cherish forever. My son and his beautiful bride become husband and wife. And my wife, Esme, and I have a few words of wisdom to share.
"Edward, I've watched you grow from a mischievous little boy to become an amazing business man. But until Bella entered your life, you weren't complete. Take care of her in every way that you can. Be there for her. For having a woman... Bella... in your life will make everything worth it."
My mother stood, clutching his hand as she said, "And Bella, while we've only known you a short while, you have become a second daughter to us." There was a slight pause as we gave a silent unexpected tribute to my sister. My mom wiped a tear, then continued, "As long as the two of you look after what is important to both of you, things will be OK. Communicate with each other. There will be good times and not so good times. But remain true to each other and everything will work out. We are so glad to have you as part of our family. To the happy couple."
Everyone raised their glasses and drank to us, the happy couple.
After dinner, Bella gave me a hug. We wanted to linger longer together, but Alice and Rosalie had other plans.
"Come on Bella, you can have him for the rest of your lives. We get you for the rest of the night," Alice said.
"I'm coming, I'm coming."
Alice and Rosalie walked away, allowing us a moment to ourselves. We wouldn't see each other again until she walked down the aisle.
"I can't believe my bed will be empty tonight," I said to her.
"I know, maybe I can sneak away."
"As much as I would really like that, I don't think I could handle the wrath of Alice or Rosalie if I were to allow that to happen." She nodded in agreement. "I guess this is it."
In the distant, we heard Rosalie holler, "Bella, come on, you're stalling."
We both chuckled. Pulling her close to me, I kissed her goodbye and watched as she walked away from me - her last night as Bella Swan.
I woke up on our wedding day feeling refreshed, and like a brand new man. On this day, Bella would become my wife, making me the happiest man alive. I met my dad, Emmett, and Jasper for breakfast.
"Son, are you ready?"
"Of course. I can't believe the day has finally arrived."
"And I can't believe you are actually getting married," Emmett said.
"I know, but I am positive both of you will be right behind us."
Emmett had this look that made me think he knew something. "Spill it, Emmett."
"There is nothing to say."
Jasper coughed while saying, "Thatsbullshit. Your look says otherwise."
"Fine, but I will not be responsible for ruining Edward and Bella's day."
My dad chimed in, "I don't think that's even possible."
"Yeah, well you haven't heard it, yet." He took a deep breath then said, "We wanted to wait until you arrived home from the honeymoon before we said anything because we didn't want to overshadow your event."
"At least you are begin considerate, but I still want to know," I said.
"Rose and I eloped two weeks ago."
We all just stared at him, stunned into silence.
My dad coughed to release us from our shock. "Well, that is rather exciting news."
"Unexpected news," Jasper said.
I just laughed knowing I wasn't first, and I wasn't the last of us to get married. It certainly didn't bother me in the least, as long as they were happy. And my friend certainly seemed to be. "I guess a congratulations is in order."
"Yeah, well, like I said, we wanted to wait until after you and Bella returned from your honeymoon to share the news. Rosalie didn't want us to say anything just yet, so please keep it on the down low. I would hate for her friends to resent the fact that we did this on our own. She wants to be able to tell them."
"No problems here. I don't want to be the bearer of this news to Alice. She will go all crazy. Better to have you be on the receiving end them me," Jasper chuckled.
After finishing breakfast, we all left to get ready for the big event.
I was in a room by myself putting on the jacket of my tux. I stared in the mirror as I mentally prepared for the next few hours. Bella was somewhere in this building putting on a beautiful white dress. I hadn't seen it yet, but I knew that it would be perfect. I started to get anxious, but only because I wanted to see her, to hold her hand, to pull her close to me. I'm ready to become a married man.
I stood at the alter, my father next to me. The music started signalling the beginning of the processional. Emmett walked to the end of the aisle and waited as Rosalie made her entrance. They walked arm and arm towards me. Once they reached halfway down the aisle, Jasper did the same thing. Alice entered and they proceeded in my direction. The music stopped, then Pachelbel's Cannon started. Bella came into view. My beautiful bride. She walked alone towards me. It felt bittersweet, but she chose to do it this way. If her father couldn't be the one to bring her to me, she felt he would be doing so in spirit. As she reached me, she paused and looked towards the heavens and said a silent prayer. She looked at me signalling it was time for our hands to connect.
The minister married us in a simple service. The reception followed immediately after. Everyone enjoyed themselves. But I was ready for the honeymoon.
We left through a sea of bubbles blown our way. We got into the limo and waved through the window. Once the party was behind us, I asked, "So , what shall we do next?"
She answered by leaving her seat climbing on top of me. Her lips pressed onto mine. I wrapped my arms around her lifting her on top so she straddled me. Her dress surrounded us. She began grinding into me, which felt great, but we had a bit of an audience in the form of the driver. We kept kissing, my hands roaming her back. I wanted the white material off of her, and fast. But I knew the time would come.
The drive to our the hotel went quickly, thankfully. As we checked in, I couldn't keep my eyes off my beautiful bride. They knew it was the first night of our honeymoon. I pushed the key into the door, thinking about the fact I would be pushing into her soon. Once the door opened, she began to step forward. I stopped her by lifting her into my arms and carried her bridal style into our room. She laughed but then leaned down to kiss me. She started to unbutton my shirt but I pulled back.
"Our luggage is still in the hall. Be right back."
After bringing in all our stuff, we noticed the bottle of chilled Champagne waiting for us. We poured ourselves a glass.
"To us," she said.
"Yes, to us."
We clinked glasses and drank some, but they were never finished.
I placed my hand on her neck and pulled her close to me, our lips meeting. They parted as my teeth pulled on her lower lip. She moaned causing my dick to react. My hands made work on her dress finding the buttons to undo them. How many buttons does a wedding dress have? Too damn many! But once her dress finally came off her, I was amazed at the white lingerie. It had royal blue ribbons laced throughout on it. The material didn't last long on her. Before it came off, though, she worked on loosening my tie and taking each article of clothing I wore, off. Once I was naked, towering over her we removed her bra and panties. I stared down at her, admiring her beauty.
Her hand found my dick and began to stroke it. I licked my hand and placed it on her sex. My mouth found her breasts as I rubbed down below. She was so wet and with each stroke of her hand, I became ready. She moved me so that I was nearest her entrance.
"Edward... I want you."
That's all she had to say. My tip found her entrance.
"Mmm, God, Bella." She was ready, so moist for me. I pushed in slightly and my eyes rolled to the back of my head. The feeling was amazing. I wanted more. I wanted to be all the way inside of her. I wanted to be deep within her. I pushed, then pushed, and pushed again, and again.
She grabbed my ass as I continued to pound into her. Her hands roamed towards my back pulling me closer. She lifted her head slightly so our lips could meet. She kissed me passionately as I continued to push into the depths of her.
"So... close," she hummed.
I reached down and rubbed her clit to help her come.
"Edward... gah... mmmm...," and ended with incoherent mumblings as she tightened around my dick. Once she was satisfied, I focused on thrusting into her for my finish. A moment later, "Bella, I'm gonna... cum."
I collapsed on top of her, kissing her cheek. She had random strands of hair strewn about her face. My hand reached to move some for her. She looked up at me and smiled.
"I love you, Bella."
"I love you, Edward."
We cleaned up and prepared for a quick night of sleep. Our journey to Cancun left earlier than we would have liked. The honeymoon was just beginning.
Four years later.
We joined my parents for a lovely dinner at their house. We caught up on most topics during dinner, but as we left, a few more came up.
Walking to the car, my mom said, "Don't forget to give Jasper and Alice a call."
"I won't. I'll call him as soon as we get home."
After the girls graduated from school, things really began to change. Jasper and Alice moved to New York. We rarely saw them, but talked to them at least once a week. Alice and Jasper married a year after us. She was now pregnant and due any time. We were just waiting for the call but my mom alluded to the fact she had a check up today and we were waiting to find out if she would be induced in the coming days. Bella was excited about the pregnancy, considering our situation.
My dad chimed in and asked, "Oh, and how is your buddy Emmett, the funny guy, and his wife?"
"They are great. Living in California. Keeping busy as usual."
They found out they couldn't have kids but were considering adoption. I knew if it was meant to be, it would happen for them.
"Where's my hug?" my mother asked before we climbed into the car.
Bella walked to her and hugged her tightly, "Thank you for dinner."
I was next, but afterwards mom said, "Now you know, the hug I want most is from you." She looked at our beautiful three year old daughter who went running to her with her arms wide.
Our daughter was the most amazing thing our marriage brought to us. Seeing my mom with her reminded me of the day she came into this world.
"Edward, the doctor is sending me to the hospital."
She was three weeks away from her due date and had a check up appointment. But her blood pressure was high. As a precaution, they sent her to the hospital. They checked her out, connecting her to various machines. Our child was ready, whether we were or not because Bella's water broke within hours after her arrival.
Soon after the delivery, once it was clear everyone was OK and healthy, my parents were in the room oo-ing and ah-ing over our little bundle of joy.
"What's her name?" my mom asked.
Bella and I waited to find out the sex of our child until the day she was born. We picked out names for both a boy and a girl to be prepared. So when my mother asked our little girl's name, I was surprised to hear Bella's response, "Uhm, if you don't mind, can you give Edward and I a moment?"
My parents looked at us confused, but agreed. My dad handed our daughter to Bella. Once they were out of the room she said, "I know what we decided, but looking at her, it just doesn't feel right."
I looked at our child and repeated the name over and over again. I could see what Bella was saying. Something was amiss. "Well, what do you think?"
Bella gazed into our daughters eyes. "I keep hearing two names over and over. Don't get upset when I suggest this. I just feel compelled to at least try it out."
Her statement confused me, but when she spoke again, I understood. "I think it should be Bree or Renee, you know, to commemorate our loved ones no longer with us."
I felt honored. "I like it, but which one do we choose? Or should one be the first name and the other be her middle name. And if so, which one is her middle name?"
"How about Bree Renee Cullen as a formality on paper, and we call her Brenee?"
I stared into Brenee's eyes and tried out her new name. It fit perfectly. We called my parents back in to share the news. My mother began crying and smiling while nodding her head. My dad expressed his acceptance as well.
We finally left my parents' house for our own. After Bella graduated, we picked up and moved near them. Brenee was just about to turn two and we both felt my parents should become an integral part of her life. Living on separate sides of the country wouldn't work. So we decided to live in Seattle.
As we drove home, our daughter asked, "Mommy, tell me a story?"
"Sweetheart, it's dark and we don't have any books in the car."
"I don't care, I want to hear a story."
"Alright, alright." She glanced at me then smiled as she began a fairy tale that sounded rather familiar.
"There once was a beautiful maid who worked at a run down store. A handsome prince showed up. The maid quickly noticed him, but was attached to her job in a most unusual way. He tried to convince her to leave. Truth be told, he had swept her right off her feet. But she was afraid. Eventually, the maid dealt with a very rude customer, forcing her to question her very existence. She finally quit. The next day, she happened to run into the prince. He offered to take her on a date. Although hesitant, she accepted his proposal. They enjoyed each others company during the date, which turned into two, then three. Eventually, the prince asked her hand in marriage. She graciously accepted. The wedding was a fairy tale dream come true. After the reception, they rode in a white horse drawn carriage into the sunset and lived happily ever after."
I glanced into the rear view mirror and noticed Brenee had fallen asleep during the story.
"That was beautifully told, Bella."
"I know, my Edward, my prince. Our story inspired it."
And they lived happily ever after.
A/N: Yes, this story is finally complete. Now's your chance to really tell me your thoughts about this story, my writing, etc. I am always looking to improve. And I would like to hear what you think about the journey Bella has taken throughout this story.
Because of a contest, the first chapter was created, then came the vision, which allowed me to run with the plot of the story. Thanks for reading, reviewing, and sticking with me along the way.
A huge thanks goes out to my betas - brodeurgirl30 and capitalab. Without you this story would not have become the way it is today. Thanks for all your thoughts, edits, and of course, thanks for just encouraging me along the way. Both of you made me awesome banners for this story. Be sure to check them out.
Also, put me on author alert because I have several more stories in the works.
Join me as I continue to grow as a writer.
Thanks and love to you all!