A/N ~ This story is dedicated to my lovely friend ButterflyBetty, who has given me so much encouragement and support in my journey here on FF. Thank you!
I don't own Twilight or anyone in it!
This story is rated M for future Lemons. Fluff only in this opening chapter. Please review. xx
It had been quite a few years since Edward had last travelled on a bus, but after the doctor's appointment he had just been to, it was where he ended up.
In-operable, there was nothing they could do about the cancer eating him up inside. He had maybe a year or two to live they had said.
He would rather enjoy the time he had left, and live his last few months with dignity than suffer the side effects of the toxic treatment that will only give him a short while longer on this earth.
As sad as he would be to leave his loving family, the strong belief in his heart that he one day be reunited for all eternity with his beloved wife was filling his heart with a little more joy than sadness.
She had been his everything, Elizabeth, the love of his life, taken from him and their devastated family when a drunken driver crashed into her, changing their lives in a heartbeat. Their sons Carlisle and Peter had feared their devoted Pop would die there and then of a broken heart. Their wives and sons had all rallied round to comfort him as best as they could. All the while each and every one of them was missing their Mom and Nana so very much.
Ed had fallen head over heels for his Beth from the moment he laid eyes on her over fifty years ago. His was just 22 and yet to find the financial success in his family business would eventually enjoy. No one could have known just then the extent his success would bring. They would never have to worry about their being food on the table, clothes on their back or a roof over their heads ever again.
Life had been tough for his family for a long time so Edward never took any of it for granted, finding comfort in his ability to provide for everyone and still have money to donate to charities for those who still suffered from poverty.
His driver Demetri had been very concerned at Ed's request to leave him alone with his thoughts since he walked out of the private clinic. Ed just wanted time to process the news about his diagnosis before he attempted to explain it to the family.
Carlisle would know the prognosis was poor, his years as a hard working doctor would make him realise the situation was without hope. Peter would know what was going by the look on his brother's face.
It was as he had walked down the pavement with Demetri slowly driving along the street following in him, that he caught sight of the bus stop before him. It was the very same stop that he had been at all those years ago when he first meet his Beth. She had been standing under the shelter taking respite from the heavy rain fall.
He was struck by her beauty, her soft smile and caring eyes. The fact she had holes neatly repaired in her clothes was only something he never noticed until later on. The bus arrived and Edward had enough money in his pocket to pay both their fairs.
Beth had been too embarrassed to admit she was only sheltering from the rain as she never had enough money to travel anywhere further than her own feet would take her.
They sat beside each other, getting to know one another, unable to look away from each other's eyes. Cupid's spell well and truly cast.
Ed's newly found financial security allowed him to persuade Beth to meet him each day to travel with him back and fore from her daily work, and it was at this very bus stop he found the courage to ask to date her, and eventually to marry him.
Knowing he was providing for his bride and then their two boys made Ed work hard, but never to the detriment of his loved ones.
Beth had been a devoted mother to both Carlisle and Peter, having missed out on family love herself as a child. When both boys married Beth extended her love to their wives Esme and Charlotte. When grandchildren arrived Beth thought life could not get any better.
He missed her so much every day. Time had not been the great healer people had promised him. He learned to exist without her in his life, but he grieved for her every day.
He sat down on the seat in the shelter, remembering when he donated money to the city to provide the improved shelter and seating at all the bus stops along this route.
He didn't need to be here to think of Beth, she was with him in every moment of his life. He had struggled to live without her, only knowing the damage it would cause if he took his own life had stopped him joining her sooner.
"May I sit down?"
Edward turned to see a pretty young woman stand beside him.
He nodded as she melted his pain a little with a gentle smile.
She sat down, sighing as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
"It's a beautiful day isn't it?" She whispered.
"Yes it is." Edward agreed. The sun was shining down and sky was blue without a cloud above them.
Ed felt peaceful for the first time since the doctor had told him about his Cancer.
"Are you going somewhere nice?" The young woman asked.
"I was just sitting here thinking that I would take a bus ride down town and stop off at the cafe on the main street."
"Oh I work there!" She smiled, "I do some shifts there while I finish school."
"I used to take my late wife there; we had our first date in there many years ago."
"Mrs Stanley's family have had that cafe for a long time."
Suddenly the woman blushed and giggled.
"I didn't mean you were old or anything rude like that! Sorry!"
Ed chuckled and turned to look at her. "But my dear I am old!"
"My name is Isabella but call Bella." She smiled at him.
"Lovely to meet you Bella, I am Edward, but you can call me Ed."
They chatted for a short while before the bus appeared. Bella counted out the change she had in her purse and stood up offering Ed her hand to help his weary bones to stand.
He in return offered her his arm to walk the few steps towards the waiting bus.
Demetri looked on puzzled as Ed got on the bus with the pretty girl and waved at him across the street. He decided the best thing to do was turn the car around and follow the bus. His boss was acting a bit strange today, and Demetri wanted to be nearby in case he was needed.
Bella and Ed sat down on a seat near the front of the bus and continued to chat away. She told him how she was studying music. Ed grinned as he spoke about one of his grandsons who had just to finish the same thing and was now moving back home from a University across the country.
His eyes lit up as he spoke about his family to this enchanting girl. She played the cello, and lived with some friends. Edward could see pain in her eyes, but he knew it was too soon to ask her what was making her so sad.
All too soon they arrived at the stop beside the cafe. Bella again offered gentle assistance as they got off of the bus. Ed was please that she tucked her arm back into his again as they took the short walk toward the cafe.
Mrs Stanley was surprised to see the two new friends walk in to her establishment. Bella walked Ed over to the best table in the house and told him she would be right back to take his order.
Bella gave her boss a hug before tying her hair up in a messy bun, washing her hands and popping her apron on ready for work.
Ed ordered some tea and a scone, smiling as he thought about his Beth ordering the same thing the last time they had been here years ago. Mrs Stanley chatted to him, remembering the man from years ago, thinking how she had not seen him or his pretty wife in such a long time.
The cafe was busy, but Bella made sure Ed had all he needed.
After he was finished his refreshments Ed stood up to leave, Bella held his coat up for him to put on.
"Would you like me to walk you to the bus stop? I have my break just now." Bella asked, not sure what it was that made her feel the connection to the gentleman who seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders.
He seemed so very alone, and being alone was something Bella knew all too well.
He father had died a few years ago, shot in the line of duty, her mother, well who knew where she was...with her latest husband, somewhere hot and sunny, spending money no doubt.
"That would be lovely my dear but my friend D will be here soon to collect me." Ed pulled the phone he rarely used out of his pocket and made a brief call to his driver.
"It's a shame he couldn't join you for tea." Bella said as she moved a small piece of fluff from Edward's lapel.
"I must take him along the next time, he would love these scones." Ed smiled remembering how much D enjoyed the baking Beth used to send him away with, to keep hunger away on his long days sitting around waiting on her husband as he worked.
"Well then, you should take him something to enjoy later on."
Bella returned from the wonderful display of cakes and pastries with a box that she had placed two pieces of baking into.
Just then Demetri walked in looking around for Ed.
"There you are." Demetri felt much calmer now he was talking to his absent employer.
He had been Ed's driver/body guard for some years now, and today was completely out of character for the elderly gentleman.
"Yes, come and meet Mrs Stanley and Miss Bella." Ed gestured to the ladies beside him.
"Please to meet you both Ladies." Demetri offered his hand to both and nodded his head in their direction.
"Are you ready to go home now?" He asked, concerned how frail and tired he was looking.
"I am yes thank you D."
"Well until we meet again Bella." Ed smiled as he pulled her closer for a gentle hug. Bella grinned telling him she hoped to see him again soon. Ed made his mind up there and then to call back again next week to feel closer to Beth in their favourite cafe and to see the young woman who had put a smile on his face.
And so their weekly ritual started. Demetri dropped Ed off at the bus stop just before Bella turned up. He felt happier about this arrangement since he had done a background check on the young woman Ed had become friendly with. Nothing to report, she lived within her meagre means, had no debts and got good grades. She had no family to show off apart from a mother who seemed to move around all the time. Demetri had worried that Bella maybe after something from Ed, but she seemed genuine and their weekly bus trips made Ed happy.
The family had been devastated at the news of Pop's prognosis, but understood why he had chosen not to have any treatment.
He had enjoyed a long and happy life, and now was looking forward to enjoying what time he had left, ending it with what he hoped was with as little pain and as much dignity as he could. Ed agreed to move into Carlisle's home, taking up residence in the self contained apartment at the side of their huge house.
He maintained independence and yet had the security of being close by. Regular visits from the family, without overstepping their welcome reminded Ed how much love surrounded him.
His grandson Jasper was the first one to notice Pop's went out every Wednesday and returned home, usually with a box containing home baked goods. "May I join you today Pops?" he asked one afternoon. "You may."
"Where are we going?"
Pop's told him all about Bella, their bus trips and the cafe that had been his regular enjoyment for a few weeks now. Jasper was concerned that Bella maybe after his money.
"She has asked for nothing." Ed replied.
"She must know who you are. That you have money."
"Come and meet her."
Demetri drove them both down to the car park beside the bus stop, as Jasper asked why they could not just offer Bella a lift to work.
"Just come with me." Ed shook his head and started to get out of the car.
They were early today; Ed sat and told Jasper all about the bus stop, and meeting Beth there all those years ago.
Jasper had heard the love story many times before. They all loved hearing tales about their beloved Nana. "She reminds me of her you know." Ed muttered.
"Please tell me you have not fallen in love with a girl young enough to be your granddaughter!"Jasper exclaimed.
"NO!" Ed looked horrified at his grandson. "No...I love her just like I love Alice or Rose, she is special, and you will see when you meet her."
Jasper frowned, wonder how he would explain all of this to his parents. He wasn't really sure he understood it all himself.
Ed smiled when he noticed Bella walking towards them.
"Ed!" Bella grinned as she noticed Ed was there early too. She had come to look forward to their weekly chats.
"Bella...how are you my dear?"
"I am very well thank you Ed, how are you?" she stepped into his open arms and snuggled against the man she had come to love as much as her beloved late father. Jasper watched as his Pops gave Bella a soft kiss to her forehead.
"Bella Honey, I want you to meet someone. This is one of my grandsons."
"Oh wait let me guess which one..." Bella giggled stepping back to look at Jasper.
"Well he doesn't have hair like a shiny penny, so I am guessing he is not Edward. He is tall, but is not built like a big grizzly bear...so...he is not Emmett...is he Jasper?"
Jasper grinned and stepped forward offering his hand to the pretty young woman before him.
"Pleased to meet you miss."
"Call me Bella."
"Well Bella, as you know I am Jasper Cullen."
Just then the bus arrived, Bella took hold of the arm that Ed offered and Jasper followed them onto the bus. He had not been on a bus since he had gone on school trips. He laughed thinking what his cousins or their wives would make of sitting on public transport with their Pops.
The three travellers chatted away on the journey to the cafe.
Mrs Stanley had taken to reserving the preferred table by the window for Ed, knowing he accompanied Bella every week now.
Bella walked in with him and Jasper, gesturing then both towards their table, before heading off to prepare for her shift starting.
"These are the best cakes I have ever tasted!" Jasper exclaimed having his third piece of baking as Bella refilled his coffee mug.
"Thank you, the sponge is my Granma Swan's recipe." She blushed.
"My wife would love some of this."
"We shall need to put a piece in a box for Alice then." Bella smiled before walking away. She felt like she knew Ed's family from all of his stories.
"You have told her about the family?" Jasper asked as his eye brow rose in question.
"Yes, and she has told me all about her family, well lack of." Ed nodded; sadness filled him at the thought of Bella being alone again once he died.
Edward had secretly set up money to be put into a trust fund for Bella once he died, he knew she would not take any money from him while he was alive, she was difficult enough about taking payment for the tea and cake he took each week, and she had caught on quickly to him trying to leave generous tips hidden on the table for her.
Even the cakes she sent home with him for D were not to be paid for.
He had made sure his will and funeral arrangements were all up to date and had left pieces of Beth's jewellery to the women in the family, but he wanted a small silver bangle to go to Bella. Inside was inscribed with three words. "Live, Laugh & Love." He thought this summed up Bella in the same way it summed up his beloved Beth.
He knew his family would miss him when he died, but they had each other. Who did Bella have? To strangers, maybe even to his own family the affection he felt for this girl would look strange. But to him it was simple.
She was meant to be in his family, Beth would have loved her, Esme would love her, the rest of Carlisle's family, yes they would love her once they got to know her, but Peter and his wife Charlotte would possibly not be quiet so welcoming. Peter's choice of wife had surprised Ed, but as long as he was happy that is all that mattered to him. Compared to Esme, Charlotte was a bit of a cold fish. She was not as comfortable with the way the rest of the family shared hugs and interacted daily in each other's lives.
Jasper's phone rang; he recognised the ring tone that he had sent for his wife Alice. "Hello Darlin'."
"Hey Jazzy, where are you?"
"Down town with Pops...what you up to yourself Baby?"
"Nothing much now, finished at work and was hoping to meet up with you."
They chatted for a few moments before Jasper called Demetri and asked him to collect Alice and take her to the cafe.
"Bella Darlin, can we take this chair over Alice is coming to join us."
Bella smiled and started to move a chair over towards Ed's table. Jasper stood up, "Allow me." He lifted the chair and nodded towards Bella with a gentle smile.
Alice arrived a little while later at the cafe along with a slightly confessed Rose.
"What are we doing here again Alice?"
"Pops has a friend here that Jasper wants us to meet." Alice shrugged her shoulders as she bounced into the cafe.
"What? Pops has a lady friend?" Rose questioned. She loved Emmett's grandpa very much, and was heartbroken to think about his illness. She had come from a broken family who never cared about the lost young girl that they abandoned to the foster care system without a second thought.
Alice had befriended Rose at school and introduced her to the Cullen's who took her into their hearts and lives. Rose had never looked back. Falling in love with Emmett had been a gradual process, building trust up in a fragile heart that all the Cullen's had rebuilt under the care of Ed and Beth.
Both girls looked at Pop's smiling at the girl who appeared no older than themselves before they turned to look at each other.
"He is dating someone our age?"
Mrs Stanley walked towards the girls and asked if she could help. Jasper stood up and said they were with them, and asked for another chair.
Alice and Rose hesitated before walking towards Pop's and his new friend.
"Ahhh good, Bella, I have two more people for you to meet."
Bella turned and smiled cautiously, taking in the slightly hostile energy coming from the women before her.
She put her hand out before her, "Hello..."
Alice looked to Jasper for guidance, he nodded and smiled letting her know it was all ok.
"Nice to meet you I am Alice."
"You are Jasper's wife...it's lovely to meet you."
Alice grinned and turned to introduce Rose who seemed slightly intimidating with the look she was giving Bella just now.
"And this is Rose."
"So you must be Emmett's wife? I am pleased to meet you as well."
"You seem to be at an advantage over us, Bella was it?"
Ed stood up and walked slowly over towards Rose. He knew she found it hard to let new people into her life, she was always wary of strangers.
He whispered into her ear as he hugged her gently.
"She is no threat my Dear Rosie."
Pops was the one who started calling her Rosie. He was the first man she trusted to hug her when she arrived from foster care damaged and shut down. He had told her they were no threat, and she believed him. He was the man who walked her down the aisle when she married Emmett. He was the one who told her that it was ok to speak to the fertility doctors when she lost her second baby to an early miscarriage. And after Emmett, he was the first one she wanted to tell when she found out she was pregnant again. Now at five months, she was still sacred but the thought of her Pop's not being here to see this child in her grow up was filled her with even more pain.
Rose stepped towards Bella and smiled. "Pleased to meet you too Bella."
Mrs Stanley helped Bella move the tables and chairs so there was room for the two new guest and Demetri.
Bella laid the table with all sorted of baked goods, preserves and extra cups. She sat a teapot down for Alice and Rose, explaining just what all the cakes before everybody were.
Jasper and Ed spoke quietly to the girls telling them all about Bella and the girls relaxed a little. Still unsure just what relationship Bella had with Pops. They knew how easy he was to love. It was Bella they needed to get to know.
Ed had few regrets in life, he had loved the most perfect woman for him, seen his children marry and his grandkids grow up.
If he was blessed he would see Rose and Emmett have their baby, maybe even more than one, he had seen Jasper find the love of his life when he met Alice. Peter's kids although they didn't live close by were happy and settled.
If hoped to live long enough to see Edward find his love then all his prayers would be answered and he could go to join his Beth a happy man.
All too soon it was time for them to go. Bella's shift was almost finished; Ed stood up and offered her a lift home.
"Oh yes please...I am pretty tired today."
She sighed as she rolled her head back to relieve the tension in her neck.
This was the first time Bella has agreed to a lift, Ed had offered before but she had always declined before.
"Do you pass my stop on your way home?" She asked Demetri, who nodded without even looking at Ed. He knew Bella would refuse if she knew taking her home was out of their way.
"You can go now Bella; you have done me a favour by helping me with the extra shifts these last few weeks."
She handed Bella her pay check after including an extra few notes in it that Edward had given her and asked her to say that they were tips to be shared out between all the staff. She agreed to this knowing how much Bella struggled to get by, but was too proud to ask for anything. Bella walked over to the closet to get her bag and jacket.
Mrs Stanley moved to change the open sign on the cafe door as two tall men walked in looking around.
"Sorry boys were closed for the day."
"Excuse me Ma'am; we are looking for our Pops." Emmett said politely.
Rose had sent him a text asking him to come and meet them, explaining where they were and what was going on.
They had been looking at apartments near the cafe for Edward junior to move into when he moved back from University.
Emmett walked over towards the group, wrapping his huge arms tenderly around Rose while giving her lips softest kiss, his hand reaching down to caress her swollen tummy.
As they started talking together Edward junior turned and noticed the young woman standing next to them.
She removed her apron, folding it up to take home to wash, took her down her hair from the bun she always tied it up in and shook her curls loose.
He could not look away, standing there with his mouth open he gazed at her. Bella's brown eyes met with his emerald green.
The connection was made.
The world moved around them as they saw nothing but each other.
They both took a step at the same time towards the other.
"I'm Edward." He mumbled.
"Bella..." She whispered back.
The family stood and watched the spell being cast over the two youngest people in the room. Alice squealed as quietly as she could, realising what she was witnessing.
"May I help you with your jacket?" Edward needed a reason to step closer to this enchanting creature before him. Bella nodded and handed it to him, too consumed with the man before her to worry about the worn coat with several small patches where she had repaired it.
Edward moved closer and held the jacket up as he stood behind her; Bella turned her head to try to keep focus on the handsome man beside her.
She bit down on her lip as his hand moved to carefully release her hair that was caught down inside the back of her jacket.
"Bella," Alice asked hopefully. "Would you like to join us all at our Parents for dinner?"
Bella looked towards Edward before turning back briefly to Ed for guidance, who smiled and nodded his head in encouragement.
"Yes please." She whispered, while staring directly into Edward juniors eyes again. His smile dazzled her. She blushed as he grinned back at her.
"Oh...wait...I am not sure we have enough room for everyone in your car D..." Alice contemplated out loud. Bella's heart sank until Rose spoke.
"Edward, could you take Bella home in your car? Emmett and I need to call into our house to pick something up before we head to Mom's house."
"Sure." Edward grinned knowing he would be able to spend some time getting to know Bella before he had to share her with his family again.
Pops held his hand out to Bella and pulled her into his arms before whispering in her ear. "Bella my dear...He won't hurt you. None of us will...come and let us all love you."
Bella felt the tears fill in her eyes.
She knew what she feeling, what it was like to belong, for people to care about her.
Nodding against his chest, she felt him kiss her head. "It's ok Little one, trust Pops." Bella took a deep breath and stood back from the man who was helping her find love, both as part of a family and in time, as something more with his grandson.
Edward junior held his hand out and cautiously she took hold of it, reaching out, holding on...