All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer; all things Perfect Game belong to me.
PLEASE see the long winded A/N at the bottom! =)
Once again, this is in Edward's point of view.
Bella and I sat out on the deck of our cabin in Leavenworth. The sun was slowly rising behind us as the muted light sparkled against the early January snow that covered everything. We sat in our favorite chair, nestled into a sleeping bag with a blanket wrapped around us, skin on skin and it was the best feeling in the world. Nine years together had brought us to this moment and I could clearly see the memory of us sitting the same way years prior. We were still together, and Bella was finally my wife.
"Happy Mr. Cullen?"
"Incandescently, Mrs. Cullen," I murmured into her hair.
"I finished our story," Bella said softly.
"Mmmhmm. I tried so hard to finish it to give to you as a wedding gift, but that just didn't happen, so I brought it with me and I worked on it here. A little bit each day, but I finally finished it. Anyway, I think it's more fitting that I give it to you on our anniversary."
"Bella … I can't wait to read it. It means so much to me that you even finished it. I'm so proud of you, baby."
Later that evening as we sat down to dinner at our favorite restaurant in town, Bella handed me a beautifully bound copy of the story she had written about us.
"Bella … baby, it's beautiful."
"Thankfully your mom knew someone who could print and bind it for me on short notice."
A few days later, we flew back to Boston. Both of our classes were starting up again the following week and we wanted a few days to relax before jumping back into them. As the weeks passed, Rose and Emmett kept us up to date on the happenings with their surrogate. They couldn't wait for March to get here. Alice kept us in pictures from every moment of Charlotte's life it seemed, and had begun to count down the days until Spring Break when I flew home to Seattle to try and find a place for Bella and I to move into once she graduated. I also had a job interview at UDub that week for a position in the music department there.
Bella had worked so hard on her thesis, and she was in the final stages of finishing it up. She had worked tirelessly on it and poured everything she had into it, that when St. Patrick's Day rolled around, I convinced my gorgeous wife to go out and celebrate with me and some friends of ours. We hadn't seen Kate and Brian in a couple months. Kate went to school with Bella and Brian and I became friends because of them. It helped that he was a guitar player too and we could talk music when we got together. Sometimes on weekends when Bella locked herself away at the library, I'd grab my guitar and go over to Brian's and we'd spend an afternoon playing together.
The pub that we had chosen was packed with people celebrating. Green beer was everywhere I looked. We found a booth that had been vacated and we quickly sat down and ordered our Guinness. The conversation and company were a refreshing change from the monotonous life we'd settled into, although Bella and I swore to each other that it wouldn't be like that forever.
It was a good thing we'd taken a cab to the pub as we were far too tipsy to have driven ourselves home. It was the first time I'd ever seen my Bella like that, so happy and giggly and carefree. It was like everything melted away that night – except us. We got a little handsy in the cab on the way home and I couldn't wait to get her upstairs to our loft.
We fell on to the bed in a needy heap; our kisses sloppy and demanding, as we caressed each other's naked forms. We left a trail of clothes from the front door to the bedroom, but we didn't care as long as we tended to each other's needs.
"Edward …" Bella breathed, "I need you … now."
I sheathed myself in her warmth as she whimpered beneath me.
"Ugh you feel so good, baby."
I thrust in and out of her languidly, worshipping her – loving her. I carefully rolled us so that she was straddling me and I could run my hands over her heated skin, brushing my thumbs against the soft curve of her hips.
"God, I love you, Isabella."
She rose and fell on top of me in a sensual rhythm as she worked her body against mine, bringing us closer and closer to what we both so desperately wanted. She whimpered and brought herself closer to me so our chests were nearly touching.
"Edward … I'm …" she whimpered again.
"I know, baby. Let it go. I'm right there with you," I panted.
Her muscles fluttered around me, her orgasm washing over both of us as I released stream after stream deep inside her. I wrapped my arms around her as she shivered, her entire body quaking above me.
"I got you, baby."
"I love you so much, Edward," she breathed against the sticky skin of my chest before placing a sweet kiss just above my heart.
The following morning as we laid lazily in bed, we received a text message saying that Miss Ella Rose Swan was born late the night before. We were elated for Emmett and Rosalie and couldn't wait to call them later that evening to congratulate them.
Spring break was just a few short weeks later and I hated the thought of leaving Bella for the first time since we'd been married. Something about it just made it harder for me to leave her. It was only for a week and I knew that I had to do it, not only for my interview but to find us a place to live in Seattle. Bella was jealous of course that I'd get to see Ella before she did, as was the case with Charlotte.
"Give her kisses for me, please?" Bella begged.
"Of course I will, sweet girl. Are you sure you'll be okay here by yourself?"
"I'll be fine, Mr. Protective. I have a couple appointments with my advisor and I'm hoping to have my thesis completed and turned in before you come home."
She softly kissed my lips and encouraged me to climb into the cab.
"If you need me, just call and I'll be on the first plane home, baby."
"GO Edward! I love you. Call me as soon as you get to Seattle."
My week in Seattle without Bella seemed to crawl by. Jasper met me at the airport and we immediately went to look at a house that was for rent close to their neighborhood. Everything I found that was in a neighborhood that Bella and I liked was either too big, too small or way out of our price range.
"Why don't you guys just build a house? Land prices are pretty reasonable and Rose and I can get you a deal on the materials, not to mention I happen to know a great architect." Jasper grinned.
"I'd love to do that for Bella. I guess I could if I really wanted to, but I'd rather not use my inheritance and my savings. That's why we're not talking about buying right now. Bella and I really want to be able to pay for things with our income and not rely on that other stuff."
"I get that. I do. Ali didn't want to touch hers either and we haven't for the most part really. We pay a mortgage like anyone else, but we saved a lot of money thru Rose and my connections; being able to get the materials at a discount was a huge savings."
"I don't know. Maybe in the future it'll be a good idea. Right now Bella and I are just concerned with getting out of Boston."
Over the course of the week I looked at a lot more rentals. My mom even came into the city to take a look at a few of them with me.
"Edward, sweetheart … this one looks promising. It's in a good neighborhood, it's a three bedroom two bath and looks like it's been renovated recently."
"Mom … that looks great actually, but at that price? It's probably already gone."
"You never know until you call, Edward."
So I called, and surprisingly the realtor was willing to meet us there thirty minutes after I called. My mom and I never got in the car so fast. We drove straight over to the address, and my mom was right. From the outside it looked really promising. It was a craftsman style home with nice landscaping and a two car garage in the back. That was definitely a bonus for the area the house was in. The inside of the house reminded me of Renee and Charlie's. The family room had a large fireplace made out of flagstone, the floors were all done in a honey colored oak hardwood. Opposite the family was a smaller size room that would be perfect for my baby grand piano. It had a window seat that would work for Bella to sit and read in while I played. As we walked further back into the house we reached the kitchen which was large and open. The cabinets were cream color with dark granite countertops. I could just picture Bella's excitement once she saw the kitchen.
The kitchen flowed in to a small breakfast nook type area before opening up to a larger dining area. I could picture us sitting in that dining room with our family and friends gathered around.
"This is great. Bella would love it," I said softly to my mom.
"She would. Let's go see what the upstairs looks like."
I was pretty much sold when I saw the Master Bedroom. There were dark exposed beams in the ceiling and the room was huge. It had a large en suite bathroom with a large jetted tub and a separate shower with several shower heads. It was entirely done in travertine and looked like something out of Better Homes and Gardens.
The two smaller bedrooms were still good sized and the hall bathroom was every bit as nice as the master bathroom, it was just done on a smaller scale.
"This is really nice. My wife would love it, but the rent can't be $1,200 that seems way too low."
"I promise Mr. Cullen. The rent really is $1,200. I'm sure that you and your wife will be very happy here."
The agent smiled at me and handed me a set of keys. My mom smiled softly at the woman before she made her way down the stairs.
"Edward … your father and I bought this house for you and Bella. Emmett , Rosalie, Jasper and Alice all helped us fix it up and make it beautiful for you and Bella. I know how important it is for the two of you to pay your own bills and make your own way, so that's why we've set it up the way we did. You and Bella will basically take over the mortgage and make the payments on it. Of course you don't have to worry about any of that until June, but at least you have a nice place to move into."
"Mom … Jesus … I can't believe you guys did this. This is way more than Bella and I could ever have hoped for."
"I know, sweetheart. Think of it as a belated graduation gift for you and Bella. The only thing I ask is that you fill it with love and lots of beautiful little grandbabies for me."
I pulled my mom into an enormous hug and kissed the top of her head.
"Thanks, Mom. I'll have to call and thank Dad."
"I'll call him while you call Bella."
Bella was excited to say the very least. I hope my hearing will recover one day from the scream she let out. Of course, she apologized profusely and it really wasn't that big of a deal. I was just relieved that she was okay with the arrangement. She insisted that I go through the entire house and take pictures of everything. When she saw the master bedroom she was in tears.
"It'll be perfect for our furniture, Edward! I love it. Oh my gosh, we have so much to be thankful for."
"That we do, sweet girl."
The following day after touring Bella's and my new home, I had my interview with the Head of the Music department at the University of Washington. All in all, I thought my interview went very well. He was impressed that I had my Master's from Juilliard and spent a year overseas with the London Philharmonic. At the end of the day, he offered me two positions; one as the piano Chair and the other as a Professor teaching piano and composition. I wouldn't need to start until the fall semester began, but he promised that he had a few things going on over the summer that he would welcome my help with. I told him that I was definitely interested in the positions and that I would get back to him after talking everything over with Bella. He also suggested that I have Bella submit her resume to the English Department as they had an opening for a Literature Professor.
"Edward …" Bella breathed. "I feel so overwhelmed by all the good luck we've had this week. I turned in my thesis and my advisor was extremely happy with it, we were blessed with a beautiful house and now … you've been offered a great job. If you will be happy there, I think you should take it. I'll submit my resume to the English Department first thing in the morning."
"I know, baby. It seems like everything we've worked so hard for is finally falling into place."
I called the Head of the Music department back the next morning and accepted both positions. Two days later, I flew back to Boston one last time.
Five weeks later ….
"Bella, are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Just a little dizzy. I think I'm going to go lay down for a while."
Napping wasn't something Bella did. She had only a couple classes left to attend and while for the most part she had gone back to a normal routine where she wasn't researching and writing all the time, she was still tired a lot and seemed to have quite a few dizzy spells.
"The twelfth why?"
"I'm late. Two days late. But if I really think about it, I don't think I had my period last month either."
"Bella?" I asked concerned. "What's going on? Aren't you still on the pill?"
"Well, yeah but we haven't exactly used condoms since we got married."
"Relax, baby. I'll run down to the store and get a pregnancy test. No big deal," I said, rubbing circles on her back soothingly.
I hurried down to the nearest drug store and bought three different tests. I quickly made my way home and back into our loft. Bella was laying down snoozing on the bed when I got back.
"Baby?" I said softly as I kissed her temple.
"Hmm?" She asked sleepily.
"Do you want to take the test now?"
I helped her sit up and I opened one of the boxes and carefully read the instructions. She took the test from my hand and went into the bathroom. I sat on the bed with my head in my hands. Could she really be pregnant? In just over a week she would be graduating with her Master's. Our parents were flying in for the ceremony and our moms were going to pack up our loft and make sure that everything made it back to our house in Seattle. Two days after graduation, Bella and I were leaving for a three week long trip to Ireland. Maybe everything really was falling into place.
I looked up to see Bella standing in the doorway to the bathroom smiling timidly.
The most beautiful smile graced my wife's face.
"We're gonna have a baby."
I leaped off the bed and pulled her into my arms, swinging her around. Her beautiful giggles of sheer happiness surrounded me. When I finally set her on her feet again, I tugged her over to the bed and I sat down, pulling her to stand in front of me. I gently lifted her shirt and placed a sweet kiss on the soft, warm skin of her taut belly.
"I love you …" I whispered against her skin.
Bella tangled her fingers in my hair, lightly scratching her nails against my scalp. I was perfectly content in that moment, next to my wife, her body glowing and blossoming with the life inside her.
"Should we call our parents?" I asked quietly.
"Not yet. We should go over to the student health clinic and have them confirm it. I'm pretty sure that stick was right though. It had a plus sign before I could put it down on the counter."
"Can we go now?"
"Yes …" Bella giggled, "We can go now."
The student health clinic wasn't busy at all when we got there. Bella filled out her paperwork and handed it back to the nurse. Within a few minutes she was called back to triage. Ten minutes later, she came back out to the waiting room.
"They did another test and took some blood. They said they'll call me back in a few minutes for the doctor to look at me."
When they called Bella's name a few minutes later, she grasped my hand and pulled me along with her. Not that I minded, but a little notice would have been nice. In all honesty I didn't want to be anywhere but there with Bella. I knew that she was a little bit scared and wanted me to be there with her.
The nurse explained that they had put a rush on her blood test and since the lab was right there it wouldn't be too terribly long before it came back. We waited in the exam room for another twenty five minutes before the doctor came in with a smile on her face.
"Good afternoon, Mrs. Cullen. We have the results back from your blood pregnancy test, and you are indeed pregnant."
Tears fell lightly from Bella's sweet face. I took the hand that I was holding and softly kissed her knuckles, reminding her that I was there and that I loved her so very much.
"Is … is there a way to find out how far along I am?" Bella asked timidly.
"Yes. As a matter of fact, I was just going to ask you if you'd mind us doing an ultrasound. I know you need a few moments to gather yourself, so I'll just grab the machine and while I step out, I'd really appreciate if you can try to remember when exactly your last period was, okay?"
The doctor stepped out of the room and I pulled Bella off the exam table and onto my lap. Bella looked at me with wide and hopeful eyes.
"Are you happy, baby?" Bella asked softly.
"Immensely so, beautiful girl. You don't know how long I've waited for this baby."
More tears fell down her face.
"I think I have a good idea, handsome."
The doctor knocked a couple times before re-entering the room. I helped Bella back up on the exam table as the doctor inquired again as to the timing of her last period.
"March eighth. It lasted six days."
The doctor nodded and asked Bella to lay back on the table. She pulled her shirt up and her yoga pants down as the doctor squirted warm gel on her stomach. She moved the wand around until we saw the little bean on the screen.
"There's your baby. Congratulations, Mom and Dad," The doctor smiled. "From these measurements … I'd say you're about ten weeks along and everything looks really good."
"I guess we'll have to make one of the guest bedrooms into a nursery, huh?" Bella asked as we made our way back up to our loft.
"I guess we will. Good thing we have a little bit of time."
Two days later, while Bella was indulging in an afternoon nap, I made my way to the airport to pick up our parents. We had another whole week before Bella's graduation ceremony, but we agreed that we wouldn't say anything about the baby until dinner the night after graduation. Honestly, I wanted to wait until we came back from Ireland, but I still hadn't told Bella where we were going and how long we were going for. I spoke quickly to the doctor about it and she said Bella would be fine as long as she checked in with her doctor when we returned to Seattle. I called the next day and scheduled her appointment for the day after we came home.
"Edward!" My mother cried. "How are you, sweetheart? Where is Bella?"
"She's at home enjoying a little bit of peace and quiet."
"Is she okay?" Renee asked, concerned.
"She's fine. I just insisted that she needed to stay home and relax. She finished the last of her classes this morning and she just has a few loose ends to tie up next week. She's looking forward to graduation next weekend, that's for sure."
My Dad gave me a sly look – like he knew I was hiding something. Instead of acknowledging it, I shrugged it off and greeted Charlie.
For the next week, we packed and got everything ready to move. Bella and I packed our suitcases for our trip.
"Still won't tell me where we're going?" She asked, hopeful that I would spill the beans.
"I'll tell you when we get to the airport. I promise you're going to love it though."
The morning of graduation, Bella was a little nervous.
"Edward, sweetheart, Bella's calling you."
I walked into our bedroom to hear her calling me from the bathroom. I knocked lightly on the door and opened it to find her sitting on the toilet with her head in her hands.
"Are you all right, baby?" I asked as I knelt in front of her on the floor.
"Can you just hold me for a few minutes?" she asked quietly.
"Sure, baby but let's get out of this bathroom, okay?"
I led her out of the bathroom and to the oversize chair in the corner of our bedroom. I pulled her down into my lap and wrapped my arms around her. She was only wearing a thin silk robe, but I could feel the outline of her lace panties and bra through the fabric.
"Talk to me, Bella. What's going on in that head of yours?"
She nuzzled her head into my neck and inhaled deeply a few times before sighing.
"I just needed this – you – us. You've always been my rock and I just needed you. Today is the culmination of everything I've worked so hard for in the last six years. I'm finally done. I don't have to worry about ever being away from you again. I'm so proud of myself for sticking it out even when all I wanted to do was tuck my tail between my legs and go running to you. You gave me the support and encouragement I needed to stick it out."
"I'm so proud of you too, baby. So fucking proud. You're right, sweet girl, we never have to be away from each other again. We've set our goals and surpassed them together. Soon we'll be moving into our very own house thanks to our family and we'll have a little one of our own by Christmas."
I reached down and put my hand over her stomach.
"This right here … that's all us, baby. Always."
"I love you, Edward."
"I love you too, Isabella."
I kissed her softly and urged her to go finish getting dressed so she wouldn't be late to her own graduation. No sooner had she closed the bathroom door than my Dad was standing in our bedroom doorway.
"How is she feeling?" He asked.
"She's fine. She just needed a bit of a breather."
"I'm sorry, Son. I couldn't help but overhear part of that. How far along is she?"
"Dad … we …"
"Edward … I'm happy for you two, son. I just noticed over the past week that she's been more tired than usual and she's taken a few naps which is out of character for her. She takes vitamins every morning and she's not taking her birth control. So again, son how far along is she?" He asked quietly.
I hung my head in my hands and sighed.
"She's eleven weeks. We just found out last week. Jesus, Dad we're so excited. We just didn't want to tell anyone until after graduation. I didn't want the baby to overshadow Bella's day. She's worked so hard for this … she deserves this."
Dad smiled broadly.
"Congratulations, Son. I know you've wanted this with Bella for a while. You're absolutely right though. Bella does deserve today. I won't say anything to your mother, but be warned, she and Renee are both suspecting that Bella's pregnant. They've watched her like a hawk for the past week."
"I know. Just help me give her today. That's all I'm asking for. Tomorrow morning, we can go to brunch and we'll tell Mom, Renee and Charlie," I begged.
"Of course, Son."
"Isabella Marie Cullen."
Bella walked across the stage wearing her black cap and gown. She shook the hand of Dean of the English Department as she took her diploma and looked over where I was sitting with our parents and smiled and mouthed 'thank you'. Both my mom and Renee were in tears, and Charlie was so proud he looked as if his chest would burst.
"That's my little girl," Charlie said proudly.
Later that evening, we took Bella out to dinner at her favorite restaurant on the wharf. She looked at me a little worriedly.
"What's wrong, love?"
"Edward …" she whispered. "Can I eat lobster?"
"Yes … " I chuckled. "Lobster should be fine for one evening."
Much to everyone's surprise, Charlie ordered a bottle of champagne. My dad must have seen the worry in Bella's face because he got up and came around to her, whispering in her ear and passing her a box as he did so.
Bella blushed and sat the little blue box on the table in front of her.
"Go on, open it," My father insisted.
Bella pulled the white ribbon loose and lifted the lid to find a graduation cap charm for her bracelet.
"Carlisle … Esme … thank you so very much. For everything."
I leaned over and kissed my wife's temple and wiped a few of the tears off her face. Charlie cleared his throat and raised his glass.
"To my little girl. She's grown into a beautiful young woman, she's a trusted friend and an adored wife. She's smart and funny and the best daughter any Dad could ask for. Isabella Marie … you've always made me proud but today … well today has been more than I could have ever hoped for. You dreamed your dreams and set your goals and you've gone out and achieved all of them. I've had the sincere pleasure of witnessing it all. I love you so much, baby girl and I'm so damn proud of you."
I watched as the tears poured down her sweet face, completely helpless to stop them. I knew the day would be a lot for her emotionally, and I knew the next day wouldn't be any better. That evening, when I finally pulled her down onto the air mattress that we were sleeping on in the middle of our living room, Bella was entirely spent. As soon as I gathered her up in my arms, she was asleep.
For brunch the next day, I made reservations for Clink a restaurant inside the Liberty Hotel where I had taken Bella for her birthday when she first started school in Boston. I thought it would be nice to pay homage to the place where Bella had spent the past six years.
As we were seated, Renee ordered mimosas for everyone. Uncomfortable, Bella finally spoke up.
"No mimosa for me, thank you. Just orange juice would be fine."
"Bella …" Renee chided. "Last night you hardly drank any champagne and now you're saying no to a mimosa? Are you feeling alright?"
"I feel fine, Mom."
"Are you sure? Because you've been kind of off all week. You've been napping and seem to still be tired even after a nap."
"I'm sure, Mom."
She looked over at me with a small smile and squeezed my hand under the table.
"Guys … Bella and I have something to tell you. Bella's pregnant."
Mom and Renee both gasped and my Dad had the biggest canary eating grin on his face. While Mom and Renee burst into fits of giggles and came over to hug and kiss on Bella, Charlie remained stoic, like he was in shock.
"My baby's having a baby?" Charlie asked quietly.
"Yes, Daddy," Bella said softly.
A smile broke out across his face.
"I'm gonna be a grandpa again … hot damn. Twice in one year. How about that?"
"How about that?" Dad chuckled.
That afternoon, Bella and I took one last stroll around the campus – lingering on the places where Bella liked to stop and study so much.
"I'm really going to miss this place."
"I know, baby. There are days that I still miss Juilliard, but I wouldn't trade them for the days I get to spend with you."
A beautiful smile crossed her face.
"What is it Bella?"
"I just thought about it. We conceived our baby here, so I guess we'll always take a little piece of Boston with us."
"That's true," I chuckled. "You know Bella … I think I figured out the night we got pregnant. I'm pretty sure it was on St. Patrick's Day."
"Ella's birthday … wouldn't Emmett get a kick out of that? His daughter is born that day and our baby was conceived that day. But I think you're right because I've thought about it too. When we make love it's always incredible, but that night it was different. It was more."
I couldn't have agreed with her more.
We spent the evening having a quiet dinner with our parents one last time in our loft. We were leaving the next day for our three week vacation before returning to Seattle for good. Our parents were going to see us off to the airport and then they were going to wait for the movers to load everything up for transport to Seattle before catching their own plane home. My SUV would be towed behind the moving truck.
"Soo … Mr. Cullen, now that you have me here at the airport, care to tell me where we're going?"
"I'm taking you to Ireland, Mrs. Cullen." I grinned.
Bella wrapped her arms around me and peppered my face with kisses.
"I promised, sweet girl. It might not be a relaxing vacation on a beach, but it's something you wanted and who am I to say no?"
"You are the best husband any one could ever hope for, Edward. I love you, babe."
It's been three hours since I brought Bella to the hospital after her water broke. My son is just over a week late. Bella's been so miserable for the last month, I just want it all to be over for her and I want to hold my son in my arms.
The doctor came in and gave her an epidural about an hour ago and she's resting finally. The painful contractions weren't helping her misery and I wish that I could have absorbed the pain for her.
"Edward?" Bella whispered.
"I'm right here, beautiful."
"Can you help me move? I'm uncomfortable."
Just as I was helping her get comfortable, the nurse came in and announced that the doctor would be in to check Bella again in a few minutes. Everything happened in a blur after that. Several pushes were involved, and Bella squeezed my hand so hard I thought it was broken at one point, but when the doctor asked me to cut the cord, I fell in love all over again – with my son.
Masen Avery Cullen was born on December 17th at 9:07 p.m. weighing in at 7lbs. 4 oz.
The nurses wiped him off a bit and laid him on Bella's chest. Tears were streaming down her tired face, but I watched as my wife fell completely under our son's spell. I didn't want to share my Bella with anyone, but I'd happily share her with my son. She gently placed a kiss on his forehead before giving him back to the nurse so they could examine him and tell us what we already knew – that he was perfect.
"You did so good, baby," I whispered to Bella as I wiped the hair from her forehead.
The doctor was still busy fixing her up, and I wanted to stay with her.
"Edward … I'm fine. Go be with our son."
"He's with the doctor and nurses, Bella. He's fine, I can see him kicking and I can hear him."
The doctor announced that Bella did great and no stitches were necessary. She told Bella she'd be sore for a few days but it wasn't anything that Tylenol couldn't handle. She wished us luck with our new son and left the room. The nurse came back over with our son, and handed him to me for safe keeping while they helped Bella clean up and change into another gown. The nurse excused herself saying she'd give us a few minutes but she'd be back in to help Bella breastfeed.
I'd always loved Bella's breasts but I found new respect for them as I watched her feed our son. Watching Bella with Masen was breathtaking … it was like she was born to be a mom. She was so natural and tender and loving with him. My heart swelled with love for her and the little part of us that lay sleeping in her arms.
"Bella …" I whispered softly. "Thank you."
"For what, Edward?"
"For Masen. He's the best gift you could ever have given me."
"Mase! Come here, buddy."
My nearly three year old son was a handful that was for sure. My entire family had come up to my parents' cabin in Leavenworth and the kids were running everywhere. Bella was in the kitchen attempting to get our one year old twins fed lunch and I was trying to chase down Masen so we could get him fed and down for a nap. Easier said than done.
Natalie Renee and Christopher Andrew were born just fourteen months after Masen. Bella's second pregnancy was much harder on her than the first one. She was plagued for months with morning sickness which wasn't easy on her considering Masen was still really little. During her eighth month she was put on strict bed rest so my Mom moved in with us for a couple months to help take care of Masen and Bella.
I was teaching at UDub still. I started the fall before Masen was born and I loved my job. I felt challenged and it allowed me to do my second favorite thing – compose music. I knew that priority would be changing when my son came along, but at the time I had no idea how much.
Bella had enjoyed being a stay at home mom, but she'd been itching to do something different, so she found a position as a teacher at a private school not far from home. Thankfully it had pre-school facilities for Masen and a daycare for the twins so Bella could see them whenever she wanted. My classes were all in the afternoon, so I was able to spend the mornings with my kids. Bella was home with the kids by four and I usually got home around five-thirty so we had the evenings together unless I had a concert.
"Eddie! Give me my nephew! We're gonna have us a grilled cheese sammich and then me and the little man are gonna play some ball."
I'd finally managed to wrangle Masen. It was Emmett's fault he was so riled up in the first place. From the moment my son could crawl, Emmett began to wrestle with him. He was a rough and rowdy boy, but I wouldn't have it any other way. On the other hand, he loved to cuddle with his mama. He was definitely a mama's boy.
"Don't get him too excited, Em. Bella wants him to go down for a nap and that will never happen if you get him more riled up than he already is."
I handed my son off to Emmett and wandered into the kitchen to help Bella with the twins. Natalie, my baby girl was happily sitting in her high chair munching on cheerios while Christopher was feeding himself macaroni and cheese. Rose and Em's daughter, Ella was sitting at the table with Jazz and Ali's daughter Charlotte finishing up their lunches while Rose, Ali and Bella all cooed over Jackson who would be a year old in October. He was Jazz and Ali's youngest and he looked every bit like his Dad, while Charlotte still looked like Alice.
Renee and my Mom sat out on the deck chairs sipping iced tea while my Dad and Charlie were out on the lake fishing. It was the Fourth of July and later that night we'd be having a big party to celebrate Charlotte's fourth birthday. When we realized that Em would be off for a few days, it just seemed like the perfect time for everyone to get together because during the summer, our gatherings were few and far between.
"Daddy! No seep!" Masen argued.
"Mase … you've got to take a nap, buddy. Do you want to go out and play in the water later?" I asked.
"Uh huh," he sniffled.
"Then you have to take a nap, buddy."
Bella had already gotten the twins to sleep and they were crashed out in their pack and plays in the living room along with Jackson and Ella. Charlotte was outside on the deck with my mom. She'd never been much of a napper, and it was just easier to keep her away from the rest of the kids.
I finally managed to get Masen to lay down but he was still fussing a bit. Bella peeked around the corner and came in to kneel next to me beside the bed.
"Hey, little bear," Bella cooed, rubbing circles on Masen's back.
She spoke softly to him as his eyes got heavier and heavier. Before long, he was completely asleep.
"Come on, beautiful girl. Let's go somewhere for some time alone while the kids are sleeping."
"Edward … we can't just leave them."
"We're not just leaving them, love. Our moms know where we're going and that we'll be back. Besides, I have my phone in my pocket and they can call if they need us."
I led my wife up the trail to the meadow we'd sneak away to just for some time alone when we were teenagers. I carried a backpack with some snacks and drinks and a blanket for us to sit on. It was a clear, sunny day and the meadow was thankfully still green and lush but all of the flowers were long gone.
"It's just as I remember it … so beautiful," Bella murmured.
"It's still not nearly as beautiful as you, baby."
I watched with rapt attention as she pulled off her tank top, leaving her in just her bikini top and shorts. She was still the beautiful creature that I had fallen in love with so many years before. Bella unknowingly had my heart before either of us were aware of it. The pregnancies had changed her. Her breasts a bit fuller and her hips a fraction wider, but it gave her great curves in all the right places. There was a scar low on her belly from the twins, and every chance I got I'd kiss it reverently thankful for the risk that she had taken to give me two more beautiful babies in addition to the one she'd already given me.
I remembered what Bella had told me when the doctor suggested reducing the pregnancy to make it easier on Bella.
"Edward …" she began softly, "the risks that we don't take will always be our biggest regret."
My Bella was so incredibly selfless, but I couldn't bring myself to argue with her. I vowed then and there to do everything in my power to keep her and the babies inside her healthy. When they were born, they came a bit early, but they were perfect and healthy, and so was Bella.
In my thirty years if I learned anything it was the fact that maybe the game wasn't perfect, but our life was.
A/N: There you have it. I hope that you've enjoyed this journey with me as much as I've enjoyed writing these two. This truly was my baby and I'm happy with the end result. This is where these two needed to be. Please be kind enough to leave me a review and let me know what you think!
Thank you to EVERYONE who has stuck with this story from the beginning. Everyone who has read, reviewed, tweeted, rec'd in their own stories – THANK YOU. Your encouragement has meant the world to me over the course of the last year. To les_16 , Drotuno and Suzie55 for encouraging a newbie writer with patience and advice. *mwah* You ladies are inspiring!
As ever, a HUGE thanks to my partner in crime, twimom817. Without you, I'd have flounced writing this long ago. Luv U!
Now … I am writing a new fic AND it's nearly finished! Titled "A Father's Hope" it's a bit different from Perfect Game, but I really hope that you'll check it out. Shorter chapters and the length will be shorter over all. Said and done it should be about 13 chapters including the epi. Here's the summary:
Edward is an ex-Marine devastated by the manipulation and betrayal of his ex-wife and subsequent kidnapping of his daughter. Bella wants him to let her in and he wants his daughter back. Encouraged to find a way to let Bella in and fight for his child, he has nothing but hope.
I hope to begin posting in the next couple weeks. I won't post until it's complete, and once complete I hope to post *maybe* twice a week because of the shorter chapters. If you're interested, put me on your author alert! =)