Learning to Fly
These are the words I never wanted to write, but here goes: this is the final chapter. I have shed so many tears saying goodbye to these boys, but the time has finally come for me to leave them.
Since ch23 posted, my boys have won Best Other Non Canon Paring in the Non Canon Awards & second place in those same awards for Best Romance. I am overjoyed for them & can only say thank you to anyone who voted. This story has done better than I ever dreamed possible & I, for one, can't believe it's over. I hope you've all enjoyed the ride as much as I have.
Thanks to my beta and friend, mxpi1970.
As always, all characters created and owned by Stephenie Meyer.
I looked over at Carlisle, an empty box in my hands.
His eyes met mine and he nodded before looking away.
Together we gazed up at the enormous Christmas tree in the lounge room, bathing us in the rich glow from hundreds of tiny, coloured lights.
It was our first Christmas together and we were doing everything we could to make it perfect, to be one we would always remember.
Carlisle's hand reached for mine and we took a moment to just admire our handiwork. I turned in surprise when he then let go, reaching for a small shoebox amongst the debris of empty decoration boxes strewn around our feet. I put down the box.
"We forgot one thing." Opening the box, he delved carefully into it and produced a small, vintage angel figurine. "This lady belongs on top. Will you do the honours?"
I grinned, and reached for the step ladder, settling it into place to reach the topmost point of the tree.
"Be careful, she's old and fragile, and parts of her are loose. I keep meaning to try and fix her every year and I always forget."
I climbed onto the second rung of the ladder, reaching down for the angel, preparing to place her on the uppermost bough of the evocative, fragrant tree. Leaning forward against the ladder for balance, I was about to secure her into place when she flopped forward, her halo unravelling and falling into my hand.
"Carlisle, you really should fix this before we put her up. It's far too heavy for..."
I stared at the object nestling in my palm.
I turned to look down at him and the words froze in my throat when I saw my man on one knee, his eyes shining up at me, colours from the twinkling tree lights playing over his hair. He cleared his throat.
"Edward Masen, when I look into my future all I see is you. Will you marry me and be mine forever?"
Blinking hard, I stepped carefully down the ladder, falling to my knees on the carpet in front of him. My hands found his face and I gazed into the eyes of the man I wanted to wake up next to for the rest of my life.
"There's nowhere else I want to be, and no one else I want to be with. Yes, Carlisle, of course I'll marry you."
I kissed him and felt his whole body relax into it. His soft lips moulded to mine, arms winding around me, pulling me in tightly against his warmth. When we broke apart, I rested my cheek against his before finding my voice.
"You weren't scared I'd say no, were you?"
He chuckled against my ear.
"Maybe a little worried that you wouldn't feel ready, that's all, but I just couldn't hold it in anymore. I had to ask."
Lifting my head, I met his gaze with a smile.
"I'm ready; in fact, the sooner the better!"
Remembering the halo in my hand, I opened my hand to examine the object. Carlisle sounded uncharacteristically nervous.
"They're platinum. I got us both the same, but if you don't like it, we can get another..."
Not like it? I didn't know much about men's jewellery having not had the money to spend on such luxuries, but I could tell that the ring in my hand was exquisite.
He took it from me and slid it onto my ring finger, smiling delightedly.
"Perfect fit! I measured your finger with a piece of paper when you were asleep; I was so worried I'd get the wrong size!"
Looking down at my hand, the ring circling my finger snugly like it belonged, I saw the glint of diamonds embedded in the sheen of the metal. On closer inspection, I noticed something else. The tiny stones formed a 'C'. Reaching into his pocket, Carlisle pulled out his matching band and I saw the same diamonds there, instead forming an 'E'.
I swallowed hard, not able to speak.
Carlisle interpreted my silence correctly.
"I had them made for us." He half laughed, somewhat self consciously. "I wanted them to be as special as you, but I realised that was impossible. This was as close as I could get."
With a knot of warmth unfurling in my chest, I took one more look at the diamonds sparkling in the intimate light before sliding the ring regretfully from my finger, handing it to him for safekeeping together with his own.
"I can't wait for the day I get to wear that forever." Leaning into him, I felt his strong arms enfolding me when my head found his shoulder, my nose in his neck.
His lips brushed my ear.
"Let's make it soon."
"How are we doing in here?"
Alice entered the room beaming, looking me up and down approvingly.
"Do I pass, Alice?"
Her hands clasped over her chest.
The smile that I couldn't contain spread over my face at the thought of what I was about to do.
"Is mom okay?"
"She's fine – oh, here she is now."
My mother, in true form, came straight over to me and adjusted my tie, fussing with my collar. I let her do whatever she wanted because I knew it was simply her way of showing her love for me.
"My beautiful boy, all grown up. I'm so proud." Her voice cracked and I hugged her tight for a moment.
"I love you too, mom. You better go take your place out there." I kissed her temple.
I looked over at a smiling Alice. She looked so beautiful with her aqua dress, sparkling with crystals, swirling fluidly around her skyscraper heels. Seeing my gaze sweeping her ensemble, she twirled and her dress rippled like the sea. I leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"Come along, Edward – it's time!"
She floated off to the main room and I heard her say the same words. My heart was in my mouth as I waited for my first look at Carlisle in his finery. On Alice's cue, we stepped out of our makeshift changing rooms and into the main room, walking the short distance to where our friends and family waited in a backlit semi circle of almost unearthly light. There might have only been a few people standing waiting, but we had an audience of thousands.
When at last we stood before the Officiate, I couldn't restrain the smile of happiness that bloomed on my face. My hand edged toward his, seeking reassurance and contact, and my smile grew wider still when his fingers found and laced with mine.
It was so right that we were doing this here, the scene of our first official date, with all the creatures of the sea bearing witness to our solemn vows. The light from the Dome was breathtaking, bathing everyone present in its soft glow, casting shadows far across the open space. The soothing sounds of the water calmed me, enabling me to focus and fully appreciate this moment, this memory in the making.
Looking around me I saw the smiling faces of Alice and Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie, my beloved mom clutched Emmett's other arm, Alistair and Liam, and Esme. Rosalie was dressed in a darker shade of blue that accentuated her features, but in a similar style to Alice. Emmett looked proud enough to burst. I saw Jasper's hand clasp Alice's and a smile pass between them; their love shone.
Esme had told us that Lauren couldn't face seeing us take our vows and had asked that we not expect her for the main event but set a place for her at the reception. We had agreed and I knew that Carlisle was hoping beyond hope that she would come and face the reality of this day; who knew, maybe she would even enjoy herself, given time.
When it was time to take our vows, my voice was shaky with emotion as I declared my love for Carlisle before our family and friends. My final words were my promise to him:
"I never thought that love like this existed outside the movies. I certainly never expected to find it for myself. I don't know what I did to deserve it, but I will never take it for granted; I will be thankful every single day of my life that I found you."
I took the ring from Emmett, the diamonds sparkling in the reflected light, and placed it on the finger of the man I loved before lowering my head to brush a kiss over his knuckles.
When it was his turn to speak, Carlisle was, as always, poised and refined. Speaking clearly, his eyes never leaving mine, he spoke of our bond and our strength as a couple in that we had endured so much to get us here today. I felt tears prick my eyes when he then spoke to me as if we were alone:
"Learning to love again is like learning to fly, trusting that one person to always catch you when you fall. Edward, my love, with you my heart soars. I love you now and forever ."
I held my breath, burning every precious sentiment into my memory, until he reached out to Alistair for the remaining ring and placed it reverently onto my finger where it would sit for evermore. Our hands clasped together once again, he raised them to his lips to kiss my finger above the gleaming band.
I vaguely saw my mom dabbing her eyes.
We turned to face the Officiate, her smiling face so genuine, and heard the words we were waiting for.
"By the power vested in me by the State of Washington, I now pronounce you husbands to each other."
We turned to each other and I felt my heart swell to impossible proportions, unable to contain my love for the beautiful man gazing at me. I vaguely heard the words "You may kiss if you wish," before Carlisle's lips found mine in a kiss so tender and loving that it catapulted me back to that 'first' kiss of ours in this very spot, evoking all the same feelings of desire and longing from that night.
Somewhere in the distance I heard the soft ripple of applause from our approving audience.
After Carlisle had proposed, we had broken the news to our friends and family. My mom was wonderful, and said she had been waiting for this day to come. I felt humbled that she had finally taken it in her stride and was embracing it with all the traditional enthusiasm of a proud mother of the groom.
After that, Christmas was a joyous affair. Our angel now sat regally atop our tree, new halo in place, and I smiled at her every time I entered the room. Presents for everyone were underneath awaiting the Christmas Eve get together we were throwing. I had been hesitant about it, feeling that the others may have alternative plans, but it turned out that it was a regular event in their circle, and Emmett and Jasper would have to learn to go along with it if they knew what was good for them. This made me smirk and I just knew that the girls had probably made and enforced that particular rule.
In the past Emm and I had traditionally shared a few beers at mom's house on the night before Christmas, saving the rest for the day itself to wash down a spectacular lunch. This year he and Rosalie were spending it together, as were Carlisle and I, and my mom was coming down on Boxing Day to spend a little time with us. It was all change for us all, and as it turned out, this party was a great way of seeing everyone and kicking back before the big day.
We served rustic, simple food, nothing rich or heavy, and all sat around eating and chatting. Old Christmas movies played in the background, evoking the magic of childhood Christmases along with the fragrant spruce - a wonderful scent of tradition. It wasn't a crazy party, there was no karaoke and only a little slow dancing to the classic Christmas crooners, but it was wonderful - a lull before the craziness of the day itself.
The others left just after midnight amid a flurry of hugs and kisses, arms clutching parcels that Carlisle and I chosen together. Closing the door, Carlisle clicked the locks and walked back into the softly lit lounge room where I waited, the strains of White Christmas spilling softly from the speakers. With a heartbreaking smile, he gathered me into his arms and we let the song carry us away.
When Bing became Nat King Cole, Carlisle kissed my throat before murmuring against my neck:
"Have you ever made love under a Christmas tree?"
My hands sank into his hair, holding him in place as he placed slow, open mouthed kisses against my sensitive neck.
"Not yet, no."
Hot kisses trailed up under my jaw until they reached my parted lips. When he nipped my bottom lip my tongue reached for his and they fluttered in greeting before our mouths joined fully in a deep, heated kiss. My heart rate soared at the fervency of his touch, desire flooding my being, a long groan escaping my chest.
When our lips parted, he murmured breathlessly:
"I think we should rectify that situation..."
He captured my mouth once again, the pair of us sinking to the rug. My hands found his shirt buttons and I revelled in the simple pleasure of undressing him, baring his body to my hungry eyes. I grinned as I teasingly loosened his belt, preparing to open his pants, but he took me by surprise when he suddenly rolled me over. He now had the upper hand and I was about to fight back when he lazily stroked my awakening flesh through the fabric of my pants, his eyes burning into mine.
I surrendered; his gaze held a promise that needed to be honoured. I submitted to his massaging fingers, the feel of the zipper chafing my flesh only adding to my arousal.
"Tease..." I breathed.
"You love it."
His eyes widened in response, his fingers dragging down my zipper. In seconds my belt was open, the fabric parted to reveal my cock, swollen and desperate for attention. He knelt over me, dipping his head down to lick the tip, mouthing it with his lips before circling the point of his tongue around the sensitive head. I bucked upward, trying to encourage him deeper, but he just shook his head from side to side, holding my gaze as his tongue danced across my aching flesh. It was maddening.
I found myself divested of my pants, whilst my hands finished off the task of loosening Carlisle's. They slid down and bunched around his thighs, thus forcing him to free himself. Sitting back on his heels, his underwear bulged in the most obscene manner. I reached out to cup his imprisoned balls, giving them a gentle squeeze, his sharp intake of breath all the reward I needed.
With Carlisle still on his knees, I pushed myself up, tilting my head back as far as it would go to meet his lips. His tongue flicked under my top lip, his breath warm on my skin, lips hovering just out of reach. A current of heat burned through me when we finally kissed, his feather light touch inflaming my senses. My hand slid up his thigh to his firm ass, cupping one luscious cheek through the cotton. So slowly, my fingers slipped under the waistband and I felt warm, solid flesh under my palm. Letting my fingertips whisper down his crease, I felt him shiver under my touch, his cock hardening still further against my stomach. Hands splayed across my ribs as he kissed me again, my neck straining as I strived in vain to deepen it. Refusing to be denied, my fingers sought out his treasure and began to trace circles around the tight furl. As I had anticipated, he leaned forward, granting me better access to both his ass and his lips; I teased him with a fingertip, loving his moans of encouragement.
My need for him was urgent and powerful.
"Stay right where you are."
I shuffled across the rug to the desk. Locating the condoms and bottle of lube secreted in the desk drawer, I walked back over to him on my knees, my erection leading the way. He still knelt, waiting in the same position as instructed, and I took a moment to enjoy the sheer erotic delight of sliding down his underwear and baring his perfect ass to my view before feasting my eyes on his engorged flesh standing proudly to attention.
"You're beautiful." The words were little more than a sigh of desire.
Shuffling up behind him, I ran my thumbs up his spine, my tongue following the same path. When my mouth reached his neck I moulded my body against his, my tongue finding his ear and slipping inside, feeling the flare of goose bumps shiver across his skin. When he leant back against me, I spread my knees for balance; my hands slid under his arms and wandered over his chest, holding him flush to my body. As I teased his delicate shell, his guttural groan vibrated through my fingertips as they fluttered over his nipples, grazing the stiffened peaks before gliding down to his stomach. Carlisle's breathing was harsh, his body jerking when I scratched my nails across the sensitive skin above his groin.
Flexing my hips, I rubbed my cock along his crease, leaving him in no doubt of my intentions. His head fell back, eyes closed, and my palm stroked his throat and neck, lowering my face to nibble and kiss along his jaw. I dragged my lips back up to his ear and leaned in.
He could only gasp out his response:
Shifting backward, I eased him down onto the rug, the tiny coloured lights forming a kaleidoscope pattern across his skin.
I wanted to worship him, overcome with the beauty laid out before me. Crawling up his body, I ran my tongue from his taut sac up the length of his straining erection, savouring the sound of his sighs. Retreating back, I encouraged him to lift his legs, giving me access to his delectable ass. I took my time, lapping at his entrance, listening to his moans increase in volume whenever my tongue breached his tightness. Reaching blindly for the condom and lube, I coated my fingers before gently entering him, testing his readiness for me. His body swallowed my fingers with ease, his eagerness apparent, and I ripped open a condom packet, smoothing it down my throbbing length.
Taking a steadying breath, I pressed into him, feeling his hand grip my bicep when I was fully seated inside his welcoming warmth. Leaning over him, I slid one hand under his head, supporting his neck so I could feast on his succulent lips and get lost in the darkness of his eyes.
It was truly a meeting of souls, each slow thrust transporting me home to where I wanted to be. Our combined gasps escalated as I slid in and out of his tightness, each withdrawal only serving to heighten the anticipation of my next thrust when he would welcome me back inside his temple once more.
I felt his muscles clutch me, trying to keep hold of me, and I wanted to stay there in that perfect moment of synchronicity.
He is mine and I am his. He's all I will ever need.
I sank into him, feeling a deep connection that words could not express. It was beyond intense; the raw passion in his loving eyes sent me spiralling and I knew I was about to come undone. His hand reached up and cupped my face, the emotion etched on his beautiful face matching my own as he cried out my name in ecstasy, jets of come splattering his stomach. I slowed my movements, riding the edge until my own blinding orgasm consumed me, my eyes never leaving Carlisle's as his body clutched me tightly.
After I reluctantly slid from his welcoming body, I collapsed onto the rug next to him. He whispered to me with a chuckle:
"Doesn't the tree look lovely from this angle? Merry Christmas, my love; you're the best present I could have hoped for."
My heart swelled with love for him as I stroked his cheek with my thumb.
"Merry Christmas, love; I can't wait to be your husband."
We had appointed Alice as our wedding planner with strict instructions to run everything by us before booking. The venue had been Carlisle's idea and it was perfect. My only regret, if you could call it that, was that I had a secret longing to be on a beach somewhere hot, the two of us dressed in cool white linen on equally white sand, saying my vows to a celebrant with only a couple of locals for witnesses. I knew it was a selfish notion and I had no intention of denying friends and loved ones the opportunity to be present on our big day. It was the one fantasy that I couldn't have and I pushed it to the back of my mind.
The next couple of months had passed in a whirl of suit fittings and menu samplings. Alice went in search of the perfect cake topper, determined to find a blond groom and a red head. I did offer to magic marker a blond one and turn it red but her face made me think better of it.
Alice could be scary when she was on a mission.
Our guests had started to arrive for the reception whilst the private wedding ceremony was taking place. Walking out into the otherworldly space, one entire wall displaying all the marine life of the Sound, I was amazed at what Alice's planning skills had accomplished. We had managed to agree a smaller wedding that was usually permitted by the venue due to Carlisle's friendship with Sam. The end result was a gathering of mine and Carlisle's friends and colleagues, along with the main wedding party. I was especially thrilled to see Irina and Demetri from the restaurant, having not had the chance to go see them since Carlisle's somewhat rowdy birthday dinner. Memories flashed before my eyes as I remembered the fun we had had: the cake made by Irina herself for her friend, the laughter, the teasing and the singing, and not forgetting the gratuitous use of Top Gun quotes whenever possible.
It had been a fantastic night.
Scanning the room now, I realised who I was searching for. I felt my shoulders slump with relief when she appeared, looking somewhat younger and less confident than I remembered. She gazed around nervously at the faces of those both familiar and unknown to her, and I went in search of my husband. He was talking to the Officiate, shaking her hand as she prepared to leave. Catching his eye, I discreetly signalled to him and he took his leave to follow me into the room. I wordlessly nodded to the door and saw him exhale, touching my hand before heading through the guests towards his darling daughter.
Keeping out of sight across the room, I saw Lauren's face light up when she saw him, her arms reaching out to hug him tightly. I saw her speak and to my surprise I watched Carlisle turn, his eyes roving the room until he saw me. His smile told me everything was okay and I relaxed and nodded, my worries finally erased.
After the meal it was time for our first dance. As the soft strains of a love song poured from the speakers, Carlisle took my hand and led me to the dance floor, my arms winding themselves around him.
The song of a little bird
The joy in three little words
I know it's real
That's how it feels
To be loved by you
I felt my husband's loving arms hold me tightly and I buried my face in his neck, my eyes closed, as we moved to the music.
A smile to put you on a high
A kiss that sets your soul alight
Would it be alright if I spent tonight
Being loved by you
If everybody knows
It's only 'cause it shows
I felt his hand on the back of my neck, his fingers caressing the nape and I pressed a subtle kiss to his throat as we swayed.
Your love is released
And you move me with ease
And you rescue me time after time
Oh oh you give your all
And you take it all in your stride
"I love you."
The words uttered so softly into my ear sent shivers of joy rippling through my entire body. My nose caressed his cheek, my lips yearning for his.
Oh with all the power of a symphony
That's how my heart beats when you're holding me
I can't conceal, this is how it feels
To be loved by you
Oh yeah, to be loved by you
If everybody knows, it's only 'cause it shows
Because I take your love everywhere I go
I lifted my head to meet eyes so full of love and trust that I felt a lump in my throat. As the song reached its crescendo, the lyrics so meaningful to both of us, he rested his forehead against mine, his lips now only a breath away.
I know what it is I need, it's clear as a shallow stream
It's as it seems, my only dream's
to be loved by you.
Uncaring that we were being watched by friends, family and colleagues, as the song faded out we kissed, the pull between us so strong that we could no sooner deny it than fly to the moon.
One thing was for certain - I would never deny him for as long as we both should live.
Hawaii was every bit as beautiful as I had imagined.
Even more stunning was the secluded island outside of Waikiki where we reaffirmed our vows, standing barefoot on powder white sand by a turquoise ocean, both dressed top to toe in white linen open-necked shirts and pants.
The ceremony was like a dream, the pair of us relaxed and starry-eyed as we made our promises to each other under the open skies. Our witnesses took lots of pictures of us standing before the celebrant, holding hands, green maile leis around our necks as we promised to love each other for the rest of our lives.
I knew I would never ever underestimate my handsome husband; he had known about my dream and had made it happen for us when he booked our honeymoon in Hawaii. The wedding package was arranged separately, and our clothing packed in his suitcase to ensure I had no idea.
When he finally let me in on the secret, he was radiant, explaining simply that he considered himself the luckiest man in the world to marry his love twice. As he had kept the entire arrangement a secret from everyone, we could only imagine how surprised our friends back home would be when we emailed them the pictures.
Two weddings, two sets of perfect memories.
One incredible husband.
How was it possible to love someone so much? I had no idea.
All I knew was that I fell even more in love with him with every passing day.
ONE YEAR LATER
The word rang out as we all raised our glasses in a toast.
It was Edward's and my first wedding anniversary and we were spending it with dear friends. 'New Beginnings' was moored at Bainbridge Island and we were having drinks and lunch on deck after a leisurely stroll around the island. It was warm and sunny, the sea calm as a mill pond.
Emmett was laughing, a beer in his hand, when Rosalie suddenly grimaced. He was at her side in a second, holding her hand to steady her.
"You okay, Rosie?"
Her hand rubbed circles on the swell of her belly as she smiled ruefully.
"I think she's wearing hob nail boots in there - that kick nearly knocked me off my feet."
Emmett sat her down and fussed over her to make sure she was comfortable. To my surprise she didn't object, allowing him to help her with a somewhat weary smile.
"Not long now." I smiled at her, Emmett's face showing a mix of worry and excitement at the imminent birth of his baby daughter. "That is one lucky little girl to have you two as her mommy and daddy."
Emmett's face relaxed.
"She'll do okay, especially with two strapping godfathers to pick up the slack!"
He grinned at us, happy that Edward and I had agreed to the honour. As if we could have ever said no! Edward had been over the moon when they asked us and planned to spoil her rotten when the time came. I was thrilled to be invited into the life of another precious little girl who would be so loved by everyone around her.
There was one more surprise to come today that only Edward and I were privy to. When everyone held a glass of something, either champagne or sparkling grape juice, Jasper turned to a beaming Alice, reaching into his pocket.
"Alice Brandon, on this special day with all our friends around us I wanted to ask you one little question." He popped open the box in his hand and held it out to Alice whose mouth had dropped open in shock. "Will you marry me, Alice?"
Her face flushed pink with joy and she squealed as she hugged him. He had to carefully extricate himself long enough to place the ring reverently on her finger where it twinkled in the sunlight. More drinks were dispensed to properly toast the happy couple and I marvelled at how far we had all come in a little under two years.
Edward and I were married and happier than I ever dreamed possible, Emmett and Rosalie were having a baby, and now Jasper and Alice were heading up the aisle.
Life was good.
I reached out my hand to Edward, pulling him in close with a smile.
Our lips met and for just a moment everyone else melted away. When we parted with a soft sigh, he stroked my jaw, his rich green eyes capturing mine.
"Happy Anniversary; I love you so much."
Gazing back at him, I gave him the only answer I could.
"Happy Anniversary, my love; this is only the beginning for us." Unabashed, I kissed him again before smiling blissfullly. "And I love you more."
A/N - Thank you to everyone that read and loved this story, to everyone that nominated it for awards and to everyone that voted. It breaks my heart to leave them, it truly does.
The wedding song is a longstanding favourite of mine called To Be Loved by Westlife. It truly was the perfect song for them. www dot you tube dot com/ watch?v=oE11CG1w6_I