AN: Well this is it, the last chapter of How Can I Help You? It's time to send Dadward and Momella off in to the sunset. I hope you all enjoy this last look at them a few years down the road.
Stephenie Meyer created all things Twilight, I don't own the characters, I just played with them. No copyright infringement intended.
How Can I Help You?
"Bella, do you know what the girls did while we were out of town?" We had just returned from a week long trip to California. I had been nominated for an academy award for the score of the last movie I worked on. I didn't win, but it was a great week for Bella and I to get some much needed alone time.
"What could they possibly have done? Riley and Cole were home all week and Alice promised to check in on them." I just shook my head and pulled up the security footage of the new pool area we had built last summer. There in the midst of what looked to be thirty or more teenagers were our twin daughters, Charlie and Carlie. I really had to hand it to them, at fifteen they managed to pull off more stunts than any of their siblings. The boys had been so easy compared to their sisters.
Kate was an easy girl; nothing had ever tempted her to stray to the 'dark side'. After graduating from high school, Kate attended Columbia University. She decided two years into college that she wanted to go to law school, so she changed her major and worked very hard on her degree. Kate was now practicing in Portland, where she and her husband were living and raising our first grandchild, Ryan.
Irina floundered a bit in college and wasn't sure what she wanted to do with her life. The one thing she had been sure of was Alec. They met her freshman year at UW. He was pre-med and taking her Intro to Psych class. They literally bumped into each other walking in to their first class and have been together ever since. It took Irina three years to settle on her major, that and a discussion with Bella and me. She wanted to become a psychologist, specializing in helping children. Once she had settled on her course, everything seemed to fall into place for her. She found her niche in the Seattle public school system taking cases that are referred to her by the elementary schools in the area. She and Alec lived together for several years, much to my dismay. Bella had to stop me several times from taking her father's shotgun over to their house. I knew he loved her, but I couldn't understand why they weren't making the move to get married. His saving grace was the moment they announced to the entire family they had eloped. That was the moment I had to stop Bella from killing our new son-in-law. "But Edward, we didn't get to see the wedding. Our little girl got married without us?"
Irina wrapped Bella in her arms as she cried, "Momma, please, we just wanted to get it done. I did make Alec promise one thing though. I want to plan a ceremony to renew our vows on our anniversary. We'll have the big wedding then for you and Grandma to go crazy planning."
"Hey handsome, so what were the girls up to while we were gone?" Bella walked over to me and I immediately pulled out the office chair for her to sit in. At forty-four, Bella was simply stunning. She seemed to share the same anti-aging gene as my mother, and was only now starting to show any signs of aging. She was not happy about the necessity of staying off her feet these days. We had just returned from a Labor Day trip to Mexico when Bella started feeling sick. I worried she had picked up a parasite on the trip, so she went to her doctor to run tests. When she came home from the appointment looking pale and shocked I immediately thought the worst. Bella took one look at my frightened face and said "I'm pregnant."
After the humiliation of having my seventeen year old son picking me up off the floor I just stared at a concerned looking Bella. "Are you sure? What did the doctor tell you?"
She just nodded her head. "Todd says I'm about ten weeks. He wants me to come in for an ultrasound next week to pinpoint the date for me."
"What happened? You've had an IUD for years…how is it possible?"
I'll be honest; the thought of becoming a father again at the age of fifty-five was scary. We were already grandparents and now we were supposed to just start all over? I looked over at my wife of the last eighteen years and realized this new life was a miracle. Bella had suffered a miscarriage after the girls were born, so we were sure it was only going to be the six we had, and that was plenty.
Once the shock wore off for everyone, the absolute joy set in. Kate and Irina kept in contact with Bella every day, Charlie and Carlie helped around the house, Riley came home from school on the weekends so he could be here for Bella if I had to be out of town. Cole, however, floored us both. He came home from school the first week of his senior year telling us that he quit the football team. He wanted to make sure he was at the house in the afternoons that I was working and Riley was at school.
Both Bella and I tried to talk him out of quitting, but he'd inherited his stubbornness honestly, from both parents. Our boys were extremely protective of Bella. Like me, they knew, not thought, she hung the world. They were also in like mind when it came to their baby sisters. Kate and Irina were long gone from the house by the time the boy's were an intimidating size, Bella told them they lucked out that boyfriends only dealt with me. Charlie and Carlie weren't as lucky, which is why I suppose they managed to throw a party. I would have to speak to my sons about their whereabouts that evening. As Bella and I knew and spoke often of, we had been truly blessed in our lives. I traveled more as the children got older, if the kids could not go because of school I made sure the trips were not longer than a few days. I did schedule longer trips during their breaks and over the summer. As our sons-in-law joined our family they would travel with us as well. The airlines just loved when the Cullen clan went on vacation. Having to arrange seating for ten or more passengers to be seated together, it was fun. We did enjoy showing the children the world. Whether traveling when I worked or following Bella on a book tour, the children had experience our wonderful country and the world.
Not long after our second son had been born, Bella's friend Angela gave her the news that her manuscript about a young boy that was part vampire growing up in a mortal world had been green lighted for publication. I was so proud of her. It had been her dream to write children's fiction. I had assumed she would write storybooks for younger children, but this was a junior novel one that took off in popularity. It ended up being the next year's Harry Potter.
We all traveled with her as she did her first ever book tour and it was while we were in New York at the flagship store of Barnes and Noble that we learned Bella was pregnant again. She became dizzy and passed out so she was taken to the hospital. She had apparently missed her last shot in the craziness that was our life before leaving on the tour.
Eight months later after a surprisingly easy pregnancy, especially considering twins, Charlotte Esme and Caroline Renee were born. Both were happy and healthy children.
We considered stopping at having four children under the age of five, and for a while we did. Then Bella got bitten by the baby bug, Alice had just had a baby boy named Jackson and Rose was pregnant with Emmett Junior. It didn't take us long to get pregnant, but just before the end of the first trimester, she miscarried. Not wanting to deal with another heartbreak like that, Bella insisted that she get an IUD instead of either of us having surgery.
According to her doctor, her IUD must have become dislodged and come out without her knowledge. It happens. Apparently we are very fertile for an old married couple.
Like I said we have led a blessed life. Our children grew, thrived, and developed into the kind of people we hoped they would become. They were strong, intelligent, loving, kind, and selfless (most of the time). My parents retired and moved into the cottage permanently, adding an extra room onto the house to hold all of their grandchildren. Charlie married Sue Clearwater the summer before the twins were born and he and Sue had eight grandchildren from Sue's children. It was incredibly noisy when everyone would get together.
Bella was anxious for this pregnancy to end, but after coming close to losing this baby once and being nervous about another miscarriage, she was doing everything Todd told her to do. Again around her 26th week, Bella's blood pressure started to creep up again. She was ordered to bed rest for six weeks and Todd kept a vigilant eye on her condition.
After the nominations came out she spoke to Todd, even though I had told her not to worry about it. I didn't care about an awards show even if it was the Oscars.
She had begged Todd to clear the trip to Los Angeles. He told her that if her pressure was fine consistently for three weeks before the trip he would agree to it, but on the condition that she would not be on her feet longer than twenty minutes without sitting for an hour. That was fine by me; I chose to hold her hostage in bed with a few exceptions, such as the awards ceremony and the brunches we had to attend. We had a very relaxing trip while our daughters apparently had a very messy party.
I clicked play and showed Bella the footage from the party. "You have to give them the credit due, there is no mess anywhere, so Cole, Riley or Alice got them cleaning."
"So what do you propose we do, Daddy? You know they have you completely wrapped around their little fingers." She laughed, pulling me down to kiss her.
What could I say, she was right. From the moment they were born, I had been completely ruled by them, but this was taking it too far. They knew the situation with their mom. Bella was not supposed to be stressed at all. We were in the final weeks of her pregnancy and as she was at high risk, I had tried to make things as easy on her as possible.
"Don't worry, love, I'm going to talk to them, and they will be punished." God, I should be prepared to deal with teenage daughters after Kate and Irina, but nothing had prepared me for the double trouble twins.
I shook my head, trying to clear it before helping Bella up from the chair and back to our room. I knew I drove her crazy being over protective, but she had gone through so much to make it this far, I didn't want to chance anything going wrong.
"I'm going to track down our sons and find out where they were and what they were up to while their baby sisters invited the school to party. Then I'll come up with something, don't worry about a thing. If you need me, call my phone, don't yell."
I found my teenage sons where I thought I would, down in the basement that had long ago been converted to the Cullen Men's Man Cave or as we affectionately called it the
CMMC no estrogen zone. This room had been the refuge of every male member of our family whether Cullen, Swan, McCarty or Whitlock.
Riley was sprawled out on the sofa and Cole was sitting in the recliner, both were wearing headsets and yelling into them as they battled with other teams during some war game. "Guys, pause the game for a while, ok?"
Without a grumble Riley disconnected the game. "What's up, Dad? How was your trip? Mom's alright, isn't she?" Our sons were definitely Mama's boys and proud of it. They treated her like the queen she is.
They took one look at my face though and knew they were busted. "Where were you guys? How on earth did a party happen here while we were gone? I left explicit instructions guys."
Ry looked up at me, "Dad…I'm sorry. They are teenagers. You had to know they'd do something while you both were gone. It didn't get too crazy and we had it all cleaned by the next morning. I was out with Bree; she drove up with me for the week. C was at Marcy's." I looked at Cole with a raised brow, he flushed and I knew I had yet another thing to worry about. It was difficult easing back on the boys because Riley was an adult, going into his sophomore year at UW, Cole was a senior and he'd been dating his girlfriend for over a year. While I wanted the boys to experience life, I wanted nothing more than to keep my little girls away from teenage boys.
It was a delicate balance between the girls and the boys that until recently had not been much of an issue. Now apparently our daughters were calling me out on it. I was going to have to punish all around it seemed.
"Did you both know about the party? Before it happened?" Cole nodded, Riley shook his head no.
I swear I would be so happy when Bella was able to handle these issues again. Trying to keep my wife stress free was stressing me out.
"Come upstairs guys, you, your sisters and I are going to have conversation about this. All of you seem to have forgotten that right now isn't the time for teenage shenanigans."
We were heading up to the living room when Carlie came running down yelling for me. "DAD!"
We met at the landing and she was speaking so fast I couldn't understand her. The only word I made out was 'mom'.
I ran to our room to find Bella hutched over, holding her stomach. "Love, what's happening?"
She looked up at me and I saw a mixture of fear and excitement in her eyes. "We need to go; my water broke in the bathroom." I grabbed my wallet and keys, helping Bella towards the door. Riley was already outside and starting his truck. "Come on, I'm driving, Dad, you sit with Mom." I eased Bella into the back seat, gathering her in my arms. I thanked God that the hospital was not far as her contractions were very close. This baby was not supposed to be born naturally. We'd scheduled a c-section a month ago. Cole was on the phone with Dr. Philips telling him we were on the way to the hospital.
I don't think I took a deep breath until Todd walked into Bella's room. She'd already been given the epidural and we had been waiting for Todd to appear and take her to the surgical delivery room. "Well it seems the latest Cullen was too anxious to wait another two weeks. Let's get Bella down there and welcome Baby Cullen. Kids I saw your grandparents heading this way, and Cole, Marcy drove in with me. Eric is still out of town and she wanted to wait with you."
Each of our children kissed us as we headed down the hall. Bella was calm now that we knew our baby would be with us. We chose to be surprised this time and did not know if we were having a boy or a girl.
I was anxious to know now. This child would complete our already wonderful and sometimes exasperating family. We would love him or her unconditionally, just as we loved all of our other children.
It seemed to take no time for Bella to be transferred to the operating table and everything to be set up. I help her hand trying to watch as our child was delivered. Bella cried as a wail pierced the air. "It's a boy!"
'The End'… I sighed as I typed those words. I had been working on a gift for Edward in my spare time over the last year. Now that Joshua was in kindergarten I had a few hours a day to myself. Edward and I would usually spend and hour or two of our new found 'alone time' reconnecting and pretending that all of our children had left home. Riley was in his last year of medical school, in Seattle. Cole had followed in my footsteps going to Stanford, where he was a senior in their engineering program. Charlotte and Carlie were both at UW. I think it was doubly hard on Edward when his last girls left for school. They were sharing an apartment in the same building that Riley lived in. It had been their suggestion, but I think it was to help alleviate their father's worry.
After Josh's birth Todd had performed a hysterectomy at my request. I did not want to chance the cancer, which had ultimately killed my mother, taking root in me. We loved our little Joshua, he was a very happy little boy and the spitting image of his father, but had a little devil in him as well. He'd changed our lives, our miracle boy. Edward took a break from composing and I took a hiatus from writing. We spent time with our children getting first Cole ready for college, then sadly our little girls. Kate and Irina both had babies in the years after Josh was born. We were elated to have not only seven beautiful healthy children but also four grandchildren.
It was while I was sitting with Irina's youngest, Gavin, that I got the idea for Edward's present. I wanted to give him a written account of our story. We were both getting older and I never wanted us to forget how incredible our life had been together. We'd been married for twenty-three years and lived for each other every moment of that time.
Once it had been bound I would give it to him for our anniversary. This year everyone was coming to our house to celebrate it with us, as it fell once again on Thanksgiving.
I knew just what I would say when we each gave our thanks before the meal.
'I am thankful every day for my love, my Edward, my children, our family and my life.'
And none of it would be, if I hadn't been given a job by Tanya all those years ago.
I am so grateful she came into my life, even though it was for such a brief time. My life changed forever the day I heard, 'How can I help you?'
So that's all folks. The end has come and I admit I am sad to mark it complete but it is. I hope you all have enjoyed it and I want to thank you for taking this ride with me and for loving my Dilfward and Momella as much as I do.
The summer is calling me and RL will be a little crazy this summer, but I may sit and write when I get the time. For now I'll go back to just being a reader.