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WINNER: First Place (E/B)
Beautiful Bellies Contest
Thanks to my pre-reader, Angemclure and my beta, Browns for their help with this one. I heart you girls, so much! :)
Thank you to GinnyW, Shug, & Twitina for hosting the contest.
Thank you to everyone who read and voted!
"Mrs. Cullen, you're pregnant."
The words the doctor had spoken to me over an hour ago were on repeat in my head. My brain couldn't seem to function much beyond them. I was on autopilot as I drove home, the music on the radio a quiet backdrop to Dr. Banner's voice.
"Mrs. Cullen, you're pregnant."
I pulled into the driveway barely noticing Max, the German Shepard we got when Nessie moved out, jumping up and down in front of the plate glass window. I walked through the garage entrance where he was waiting for me, full of energy and desperately trying to lick my face in joy.
Normally, I would have petted him and accepted his puppy kisses, but unable to handle his exuberance, I made a beeline for the kitchen and opened the back door. Always one to take advantage of his freedom, Max went tearing outside without hesitation.
I clicked the door shut behind him the moment he cleared it, and moved directly to the kitchen table. I didn't know what to do first, although the urge to cry was becoming increasingly overwhelming.
When I entered the doctor's office that afternoon, I had expected him to tell me I was suffering the effects of too much stress, or experiencing early onset menopause. Even the possibility of cancer had crossed my mind.
Never in a million years did I consider the fact that what he would tell me was that I was pregnant.
Considering my oldest - and only - child was twenty years old, I might be forgiven for missing the signs.
Being pregnant with Renesmee had been a breeze. With her, other than my expanding belly and being more tired than usual, there had been few signs. There had been no morning sickness, no backaches or headaches, no strange food cravings – other than wanting to eat really rare meat for most of my pregnancy. So a few weeks ago when I started feeling exhausted all the time, and fighting a constant headache that never seemed to go away, the only reasonable explanation I had for everything was that the stress of the last few months had finally caught up with me.
Yet, here I was, pregnant at forty-two.
Pregnant at forty-two and recently divorced.
Oh, and the baby's father was my ex-husband.
I wonder if I should put Jerry Springer on speed dial.
Hindsight was 20/20. Had I known this was where we would have ended up, I never would have kicked Edward out last December. If I hadn't kicked him out, he never would have called my bluff and filed for divorce. And if he hadn't filed for divorce, I wouldn't have gone out with the plan to get stinking drunk the night my lawyer called and said everything had been finalized. I wouldn't have run into Edward coming out of our favorite restaurant and invited him back to the house for old times sake. One thing wouldn't have led to another and we wouldn't have fallen into bed together.
I would not be pregnant at forty-two wondering how I was supposed to tell my daughter –who had stopped speaking to me when I kicked her father out – or my ex-husband – who I hadn't seen since the night our divorce was final – that I was pregnant.
Maybe I should call Maury instead. Isn't he good at breaking this kind of news to people?
The thought made me laugh, but it didn't take long for my laugher to turn to hysterical sobs. I might be carrying another person inside of me, but I had never felt more alone in my life.
It took me twenty minutes to pull myself together. Max was scratching at the back door and as I stood up to let him in, a wave of dizziness passed over me. Even if I had wanted to forget, even for a little while, that everything was normal and nothing had changed, the child inside of me refused to cooperate.
Max came bounding inside, all puppy excitement and love. He and I had bonded quickly when Edward had brought him home, but I could tell how much Max missed him by the way he sometimes sat in the front window. He'd wait patiently for Edward to come home, only to drop dejectedly to the floor when he realized it wasn't going to happen. Some nights I found myself lying next to him, just as depressed.
I had no one to blame but myself and my own stubbornness.
Well, that and my husband – ex-husband's – inability to be anything other than a workaholic.
Max sat patiently beside his food bowl, waiting for me to give him his evening meal. Feeding the dog reminded me that I had to eat something too, although I had next to no appetite. Between the stress of the divorce and what I knew now to be morning sickness, eating hadn't been a top priority for me in months. Obviously, that had to change. My doctor had been concerned with how much weight I had lost since my last physical, especially considering my pregnancy was already considered high-risk due to my age.
I forced myself to make some pasta with a side of vegetables and have a yogurt for dessert. I was full before I finished half of what I put on my plate, but I ate it all anyway. Once the dishes were in the dishwasher and I made sure Max had enough water to last him through the night, I went through the house, shutting off the lights and making sure the doors were locked and that the alarm was on. Our home was in an affluent part of Seattle, with very little crime, but as a single woman living alone, I couldn't be too careful.
My father had been a cop for over thirty years and he had ingrained some lessons deep.
I thought about Charlie as I climbed the stairs and trudged down the darkened hallway to our bedroom – my bedroom. He was recently retired and hating every minute of it. Forks had two police chiefs in the last few months – the official one and the one who couldn't let go.
Thankfully, no one seemed to mind and they let my father be. He was good at recognizing when to step back and let the current chief be the boss, knowing that if he didn't, they wouldn't allow him to stick around and "supervise," as he liked to call it. Sue kept me updated on a weekly basis, since my father wasn't speaking to me.
Not having Charlie and Renesmee's support through the divorce had been difficult. Of course, it wasn't just me they were angry with – Edward was right up there next to me on their shit lists. My father called me a fool on a daily basis until he just stopped talking to me completely. My daughter was disgusted with me. The last time I saw her she told me what a horrible person I was and how much she hated me before running out of the house in tears.
I hadn't spoken to either of them in more than four months.
Walking into our bedroom, I glanced to my left, just as I always did, my eyes landing on the picture next to the bed. It was of Edward and I on our tenth wedding anniversary, standing outside his parent's house. The smiles on our faces and the sparkle in our eyes relayed just how happy we had been. My eyes moved from the picture to fall on our bed. It looked inviting, more so than usual, but I by-passed it just like I had every night since Edward left.
Or I had made Edward leave.
Tomato, tomahto. The point is…he's not here.
Since he'd been gone, I hadn't slept in our bed, except for that night. I continued to keep my clothes in our bedroom, I used the attached bathroom every day, but I didn't step a foot near the bed. It didn't feel right to be there when he wasn't.
I changed into my pajamas before washing my face and moving into the guest bedroom across the hall. Max followed me, settling down with a sigh on the floor next to the bed. Every once in awhile I would let him come up and cuddle with me, but for the most part he just kept watch from the floor beside me. He was one of the only reasons I had been able to hold myself together all these months. Taking care of him gave me something to focus on other than what I had lost.
Closing my eyes, I tried my best to let my exhaustion take me under and allow me to just forget for a little while what a mess I made of my life. However, my brain wouldn't turn off. The mistakes I made over the last few months crashed over me, causing more tears to fall.
If I had just…
I should have…
I could have…
There were a million different ways things could have gone. But ultimately, my stubbornness and my husband's pride led us here.
Edward and I had been high school sweethearts who knew from almost the moment we met that we were destined to be together forever. After our high school graduation, I followed him to the University of Chicago where he majored in Biological Science and I worked toward a degree in Comparative Literature. He wanted to be a doctor like his dad, and I just wanted to be anywhere he was. Being away from him – and him from me – wasn't an option. We went to college leaving shaking heads behind us, everybody absolutely positive we wouldn't stay together through our first year.
We had the last laugh when we married the summer between our junior and senior years of college.
Graduation came, and we moved back to Washington to be closer to our families. Edward started the MD program at UW, and I got a job teaching high school English. Renesmee Carlie Cullen was born almost eight months to the day we landed in Washington.
Life was nowhere near perfect, but we somehow made it work through Edward finishing med school and his residency. He was there for the important things, like Nessie's first day of school and her first piano recital. He may not have made it home in time for dinner most nights, or to every one of Nessie's soccer games, but he had made the effort. If he missed Christmas, Nessie's birthday, or our anniversary, we understood it was because he had an important job. My daughter told me more than once that she missed her father because he wasn't home as much as some of the other dads were, but she always felt loved by him. If there was one thing my daughter hadn't ever doubted it was her father's devotion to her.
Maybe if I'd had one ounce of her faith, I wouldn't be sleeping alone in the guest room.
I did my best to be understanding throughout the early and middle years of our marriage. Edward had promised me that, eventually, things would slow down. He'd no longer be the low man on the totem pole and his workload would lighten up.
"Just a few more years, baby."
"Soon, Bella, I promise."
The problem was it had never happened. Instead of getting better, it just got worse. It was almost like the older Nessie got, he tried even less to be around.
Instead of missing dinner only a couple of times a week, he would only make it home in time for dinner once or twice a month.
He missed every single one of Renesmee's soccer games her senior year and didn't make it home in time to see her off to her senior prom. He barely made it to her high school graduation.
Our regularly scheduled monthly dinners with our friends were blown off with, "Tell them I'm sorry, babe, but I'm just not going to make it tonight. Give everyone my love. Tell Rose I'll call her soon."
Rosalie, Edward's twin. She was the only one who understood where I had been coming from when I kicked Edward out; the only one who hadn't voiced her displeasure at my decision.
She got it when no one else could understand how I could do that to my husband, to my family.
Maybe it was because she had been just as hurt as I had been by Edward's behavior. They had been very close growing up, and that hadn't changed even when Edward and I fell in love, or when Emmett came bounding into her life. The four of us had been incredibly tight, and then we brought Emmett's business partner, Jasper, and his wife, Alice, into our close knit group. The six of us began hanging out together not long after Edward and I returned to Washington, and we became the best of friends. We cried when each other's babies were born, celebrated our successes and were there with support when times were tough. Our children grew up together; we spent holidays together. They weren't just our friends, they were our chosen family.
They all noticed and were hurt by Edward's absence too, but were able to move past it. Anytime he was late, or just didn't show, they shrugged it off because they understood. He was a busy man, an important doctor. They forgave him.
So had I…until, I just couldn't anymore. I had been tired of going to bed alone and waking up alone. Our daughter went off to college and I was left to ramble around our big, empty house without anything to do. I still had my teaching job, but it hadn't been enough. It wasn't until I no longer had my daughter to concentrate that I could no longer hide from the truth – my husband was at work more than he was home.
I sat Edward down, and begged him to cut his hours, to spend more time at home. He was no longer the lowly resident who had to work long, grueling hours. He had enough vacation time saved to take six straight months off, and was owed enough favors from other doctors where if he had wanted to do just that, it wouldn't have been a problem. It had gotten to the point that the excuses he made about working so much just no longer made sense.
I didn't feel secure in our marriage. I needed his help to figure out what was wrong and how to fix it.
Edward had said all the right things and made more promises, but the minute he walked in the door with Max in his arms and handed me that puppy, I knew he just didn't get it.
Over the next two years, I tried to make him understand that I loved him, and just how much I missed him. I suggested counseling, a second honeymoon and even showed up at his hospital dressed as a slutty nurse. Things would change for a week or two, but then he'd go right back to working his crazy schedule and I would be left on my own again, wondering if there would ever come a time when I would come before his life at the hospital. I knew he loved me, I had never doubted that, but we didn't have much of a marriage when we would go days without even seeing or speaking to each other.
Looking back, I know I had reacted too hastily. I said things I hadn't meant, and tried to force his hand in a way that was unforgivable. I never should have put my marriage on the line unless I meant it. I never should have told him he needed to leave because I refused to come in second to his job. I never should have told him how much I despised him for leaving me to raise our daughter alone.
What I had said to him that night had been inexcusable. I may have been tired, worn out from a lousy week at school and at the end of my rope with the students I was teaching. I may have had a fight with Nessie when she called looking for money after she overdrew her bank account – again. I may have been upset when he promised to be home for dinner and didn't show until well after we should've been in bed.
I may have been trying to save my marriage, to wake my husband up to the fact that we were hardly even friends anymore much less a married couple.
However, I had gone about it in the worst of ways.
I had confronted him the minute he walked in the door, wide-awake and pissed off, the remnants of the dinner I cooked still on the table in the kitchen. He was surprised, but not unhappy to see me.
Then I lit into him. I screamed at him every offense he had committed in our twenty-one years of marriage. I yelled that I had done everything I knew how to do, but I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't try and save a one-sided marriage and I wanted him gone.
I refused to let him speak, just told him to pack his bags and get out. I told him I was calling a lawyer and filing for divorce. I was crazed, and nothing he said could get through to me.
Call it a moment of insanity; call it a spontaneous mid-life crisis. Call it whatever the hell you want.
It had cost me my marriage.
He did as I asked and left without a word. Rosalie called the next day and asked me what the hell had happened, since he turned up on their doorstep looking for a place to stay. I was still mad enough, still hurt enough that he left without even trying to fight for me, that I shook in anger as I described what happened the night before. She sat silently on the other end of the phone and then all she said was, "okay" before hanging up.
The anger and hurt had stayed with me much longer than they should have, but I was tired. I was tired of trying to hold something together that I wasn't even sure Edward wanted anymore. If he loved me, if he wanted to be married to me, why hadn't he fought for us? Why hadn't he tried to do something about the state of our marriage every time I talked to him?
I swear that when I kicked him out and promised to call a lawyer, I was bluffing. I was mad and I was hurt, and I acted irrationally. When I calmed some, I convinced myself that what I had done would be the wake up call Edward needed to fight for our marriage.
Instead, he had called a lawyer and started divorce proceedings.
My hurt and anger bubbled up once more and I hired my own lawyer. I had been too stubborn and prideful to back down. If this was he was willing to do – to take my cry for help and turn it into walking away – I would happily help him on his way.
Our families were devastated. To everyone except Rose, whose shoulders I cried on more than once before my marriage imploded, our separation was a shock. My daughter flew home from New York, sobbing as she walked in the front door of our home, asking what happened. We fought bitterly as she told me how selfish I was and asking me how dare I destroy our family because I couldn't accept that her father had an important job and didn't I see, or care, or give a flying fuck who I was hurting?
She stormed out and hadn't come home since. She had only spoken to me once when I called to wish her a happy birthday. She thanked me, and then asked me if I had come to my senses yet. When I said nothing, she hung up on me.
I found out later from Rose that she wasn't speaking to Edward either.
Everyone else had chosen sides, and I was the loser. My father was upset with me for kicking Edward out in the first place, telling me I should have been more understanding and that I was no better than my mother, who had walked out on Charlie when I was four. Edward's parents said nothing to me, but he was their son and I assumed they felt as though they needed to support him. I had no idea what his side of the story was, and I hadn't the opportunity to present mine, leaving Carlisle and Esme to make their own assumptions. I was sure Esme had a difficult time understanding where I was coming from, despite being in my same shoes many times with Carlisle. However, she had found a way to make her marriage work and I hadn't.
Emmett said nothing, telling me he wasn't taking sides, but it was easy to see the hurt in his eyes. Alice and Jasper just stayed away, not wanting to get in the middle, but I heard through the grapevine that Jasper had been calling Edward, trying to offer him some support.
According to Rose, Edward was devastated but hiding it behind anger and indifference. She knew her brother almost better than anyone and being twins made them closer than most siblings. She told me she tried to talk some sense into him, but he refused to discuss anything with her. She finally told him that he deserved what he was getting. He had moved into a hotel room the next day.
Our anger and hurt, stubbornness and pride had carried us through the meetings with lawyers and our mandatory 90-day waiting period in the state of Washington. I never considered contesting the divorce, reasoning that if he was willing to file so quickly and get away from me, then I'd let him go. Our negotiations and settlements were done through the lawyers. I kept the house, although I offered to sell it. When he refused, sending a message through the lawyers that I should keep it, I was relieved. We had lived there for almost fifteen years and our daughter had spent most of her childhood there. As painful as it was to walk through it with all the memories, it was more hurtful to think about giving it up.
Our bank account was split right down the middle, despite the fact that he contributed more than I had over the years. He offered alimony, but I declined.
Then, eight weeks ago, my lawyer called to tell me that the judge had signed off on our papers and Edward and I were officially over. I was no longer considered a married woman, but a divorced one.
The reality of the situation had hit me…hard. I had thrown away over twenty years of marriage because I was pissed off at my husband. We were both too stubborn, too prideful to admit that maybe we screwed up and jumped the gun. And it seemed like it was too late to fix it.
I had lost my husband and my marriage. My daughter and the rest of my family refused to speak to me. My closest friends had chosen their side – and it wasn't mine.
I had my house, and I had my dog, but that was about it.
The night my lawyer had called to tell me it was all done and over, I hadn't been able to stay in the house – our house – one second longer. I took off in my car, not even sure where I was headed, but getting drunk was at the forefront of my mind. Somehow I ended up outside Edward's and my favorite restaurant. It should have been one of the last places I wanted to go, but subconsciously I must have wanted to be near him, remembering the good times and trying to forget how badly I screwed everything up.
I found a parking spot on the street not far from the restaurant, and sat in the car for almost ten minutes before finally deciding that I should either leave or go inside. Sucking it up, I climbed out of the car and started toward Cascina Spinasse. It was just about twilight, and the warm spring air from the day was cooling rapidly. We had been blessed with clear skies that particular day, although I could see the clouds rolling in from the direction of the Sound. I hadn't been paying attention to where I was going, watching the sky instead, still debating about going inside, when I ran into someone.
My body recognized him before my brain did. I immediately relaxed against his hard chest, tucking myself more comfortably into his arms as they caught me, a sigh escaping my lips before it computed that it was Edward who was holding me.
My Edward. The man I loved since I was seventeen years old.
The man who I had just divorced.
I stepped back, and his arms dropped from around me. Neither of us spoke, instead we briefly made eye contact before dropping our eyes back to the ground. I was about to turn and run when he finally broke the silence.
Unable to do anything else, I gazed up into his emerald green eyes. They were full of surprise, but also of hurt and pain. My heart broke, knowing I had done that to him, that I had no one to blame but myself for how things had turned out. I deserved nothing less than him turning and walking away from me, and walking completely out of my life forever.
Our eyes finally on each other's faces, we took each other in, gulping in the changes that had taken place over the previous months. He looked tired, and there seemed to be more wrinkles around his eyes than had been there the last time I saw him. He looked like he had lost weight, his suit jacket hanging on him in a way that I had never seen before. It seemed to swallow him now instead of emphasizing his broad shoulders and strong back.
"How are you?" His voice was gruff and he cleared his throat when he finished speaking.
"I'm…" lost, confused, a mess, horrible, sad, pissed off, terrified, so happy to see you… "okay."
He nodded, but said nothing else. Taking that as my cue to speak, I gestured toward the restaurant. "Did you have dinner yet?"
Edward said nothing for a second, just looked into my eyes before he tore his gaze away and shrugged. "I was going to, but I…changed my mind."
It was my turn to nod. "Yeah, I was trying to decide if I wanted to go in when I ran into you."
Apparently he had no response to that, and the silence stretched between us for a long minute. I was about to say goodbye when he reached out and touched my hand with his.
"Bella, do you think…" He sighed heavily and kept his eyes on our hands. "Do you think we could go somewhere and talk?"
The words were out before I thought them through. "I have a bottle of wine at the house from Christmas I haven't opened yet. I'm sure Max would be happy to see you, too." It was all I could get out over the lump in my throat; I couldn't actually make the words, "come home" come out of my mouth.
"I'll follow you back?" Edward asked softly and I nodded.
I spent the car ride home alternating between freaking out, trying to get a hold of Rosalie and trying to smooth out my hair and check my makeup. I hadn't seen Edward since he left – or I threw him out, whatever you prefer – and I knew I didn't look my best. I too, had lost weight, and hadn't been sleeping well.
By the time I pulled into the driveway, Rose still hadn't picked up her phone and Edward was right behind me. I could see Max going crazy inside the house, and I realized he was thrilled to have his dad home.
Edward and I were silent as we walked inside. He immediately got down on his knees to greet Max, who swiped wildly at Edward's face with his long tongue. I couldn't help but smile at them, thrilled to see them so excited to be reunited.
When Edward had enough of Max's affection, he stood, and looked around. Not sure exactly what to do, I kicked off my shoes and then walked toward the kitchen. I sensed rather than heard Edward follow behind me, Max sticking close to his side.
I removed my jacket and placed my purse on the counter before moving to the wine rack to grab the bottle of wine while he let Max outside. When he turned and saw me with the bottle, he moved toward me slowly. In one smooth movement, he took the wine from me and went to the drawer where we kept the bottle opener.
Once the drawer was open, he had stood there, staring into it, unmoving.
"Edward?" I asked quietly, unsure why he hadn't pulled the opener out yet.
"Everything's still here." He looked up at me, his eyes shimmering with something I couldn't place.
"Yeah…I haven't…everything's the same. Nothing's changed." I knew there was more behind my words, but I wondered if he recognized it.
Suddenly, his eyes were blazing with a fire I hadn't seen in a long time. The bottle was dropped to the counter unceremoniously and he crossed the kitchen in three long strides until he was right in front of me. As I raised my head to meet his eyes, his hands came up to cradle my face and his lips crashed to mine.
There was nipping and sucking, biting and moaning. Our tongues entangled, the two of us gorging on the first taste of each other in months. Hands were busy roaming over each other's bodies, squeezing and stroking over familiar planes and curves. My back was pressed up against the refrigerator, my legs wrapped around Edward's waist. His lips moved from my mouth, over my chin and down to my neck. He sucked at the skin there, causing me to throw back my head and moan loudly.
"Jesus, Bella. I need…I need you. I can't…" His words were whispered against my skin, but I heard them loud and clear.
My fingers pulled at his jacket, pushing it off his shoulders. He moved back just enough so he could remove it, and then moved right back to my throat.
The shirt I had been wearing went next, followed quickly by my bra. It was heaven to feel his hands against my skin, molding and squeezing me in a way I never thought I'd feel again. I couldn't help the groan that escaped my mouth when his lips wrapped around one of my taut nipples and I pulled at his hair as his teeth grazed the tightened peak.
"Baby, drop your legs…" His voice was husky and deep, causing goose bumps to pop up over my skin.
"I can't…" The thought of moving away from him even the littlest bit filled me with dread. I had let him go once, and now that he was in my arms again, I couldn't fathom doing it again.
"Just for a second, 'kay?" He pulled back and gave me a quick smirk, the one that was so familiar and left my heart beating faster.
I dropped my legs from around his waist and slid them down his body until my feet hit the ground. Seconds later, he had my pants undone and on the ground along with my underwear. He held me steady as I stepped out of my clothes, and his gaze warmed me as it swept over my naked form.
My hands went to the buttons on his shirt, undoing them quickly, my years of practice having not left me. I let him shrug it off as I moved to his waist, undoing his belt and unbuttoning his pants.
He kicked his pants and boxers away once I had them down around his ankles and he gave me a quick grin before pulling me back into his arms. Our mouths attacked each other once more as I reached for his erection and his fingers found my center.
We moaned in unison as our fingers played over each other in the most intimate of ways. Our movements were frantic…rough…I couldn't get him close enough to me and I just wanted to feel him inside and out.
I couldn't help the whimper that escaped when his fingers left my slick heat. "Shhh, baby, I got you." He gently removed my hand from where it was wrapped around his hard length, and reached down to pull my legs up around his waist once more. Our eyes met and with a cocky grin, Edward slid inside me…
…and I was home.
The months apart hadn't caused me to forget how good it had always been between us, or to drive the point home of just how much I had missed him. I sighed at the sensation of him filling me up, completely, in more ways than one.
He gave me a second to adjust to him, then pulled back and pushed forward once more. It felt amazing and my hands grasped his biceps tightly, nails digging into to his smooth skin. My grip seemed to ignite something inside of him and he began a punishing rhythm that gave me no other choice but to hold on and enjoy the ride.
Minutes later, our orgasms pulsed over us, one right after the other. He had always, always, waited for me to come first and this time had been no exception. As soon as he felt me squeeze around him, he let go inside of me, coming hard and fast.
Our breath came in hard pants and I didn't have the strength to keep my legs around his waist any longer. I adjusted my body and Edward instantly knew what I needed. He supported me up against the fridge until he got a good grip on me. Next thing I knew, I was swept up in his arms and he was moving us up the stairs and into our bedroom.
He lowered me gently to the bed and I scooted back toward the headboard so I could push down the blankets beneath me. As I lifted my hips, he helped me draw the sheets down so I could crawl inside.
The silence continued between us, but not in an uncomfortable way. It was more anticipatory, as if we both knew that the night was far from over.
An hour later, Edward was deep inside me once more, but the tone of the night had changed from hot and sexy to slow and sensuous. We didn't speak, letting our eyes and bodies do the talking for us. As I fell asleep in his arms, I wrapped myself in the love I could feel pouring from him and knew that the morning would be soon enough for us to face what we had done.
Edward had let Max back inside at some point, reset the security and drove away without a note or a whispered goodbye. After waking, I stood in our foyer for the longest time, hoping that at any minute I would see his car come pulling up the driveway, where he would jump out, a box of doughnuts in his hands, a smile just for me on his face.
I had called in sick to work and spent the day sobbing and berating myself for thinking that anything had changed and everything that happened between us could be fixed. Rosalie called fourteen times that day, but I ignored every single one of her attempts to reach me. Unless it was Edward, I hadn't wanted to speak to anyone.
It had taken me two days to pull myself together enough to face the world. I showered and promised myself that I was done crying over Edward Cullen. I had made my bed and I had no choice but to lie in it. I would not call him and beg him to come back and I wouldn't speak of what happened to anyone. I came to the realization that our making love had been his way of saying goodbye and I needed to let him go.
That had been my plan until I walked into the doctor's office and found out that our last night together had resulted in something – someone – tangible.
Max stood, bringing his furry body closer to the side of the bed, whining softly when he heard me let out a hiccupped sob. Needing the comfort of someone who loved me close by, I patted the duvet and he jumped up. He settled in front of me, curling up against my body, giving another soft whine. I wrapped my arm around him and buried my face in his soft fur, letting him catch the tears as they fell from my eyes. I would allow myself the night to fall apart. Tomorrow would be soon enough for me to pull it together and figure out what I was going to do.
My resolution to figure out a solution to my problem dwindled until one day turned into three and three turned into seven. I was officially nine weeks along, but no closer to telling anyone about my pregnancy. Part of me thought it would be smart to wait until I was out of my first trimester and the risk of miscarriage dropped. Being over the age of forty made the pregnancy risky in ways I hadn't had to worry about when I carried Renesmee at the age of 22, and I was terrified that something would happen to the baby. My doctor told me that other than my age and being slightly underweight, he had no reason to believe that this couldn't be anything but a healthy pregnancy resulting in a healthy, happy baby. He believed in being pro-active rather than reactive and would keep a close eye on me throughout. There were tests to be run, including the dreaded amniocentesis. Having a needle of any size anywhere near me usually caused a panic attack; I couldn't imagine how I would react to one the size that would be needed for that test.
There were so many things to worry about that hadn't ever crossed my mind when I had been pregnant with Nessie. The truth was though, things had never seemed worrisome when I knew Edward was going to be by my side. Having to go through a high-risk pregnancy alone was more than I could handle.
Which why it wasn't long before I caved and called Rosalie.
My worries about the baby and how to tell Edward were keeping me up at night and I feared I would crack under the pressure. I knew the stress wasn't good for me or the baby, and being unable to discuss my fears with anyone just made it that much worse. I had struggled with dealing with everything alone for a week, and I was a mess. So, I picked up the phone and called the one person I knew would give it to me straight but also support me no matter what.
Rose had no problem agreeing to meet me after work at our favorite diner not far from her and Emmett's house in Redmond. Emmett was out of town on business and their twins, seniors in high school, were more than old enough to handle looking out for themselves for an evening. In fact, Rose was positive neither would be home before curfew since Melinda had a new boyfriend and Trevor was coming to the end of a winning baseball season. He and his teammates had been celebrating non-stop.
I got to the diner before her, and after glancing over the menu, I decided on a vanilla milkshake.
My stomach in knots over what I was about to share with Rose, and I was feeling slightly queasy. I would be thrilled when the morning – and afternoon and night – sickness finally ended.
I was also craving the smooth ice cream like it was my job.
Rosalie arrived before my milkshake did, sweeping into the restaurant looking less like the high-powered attorney I knew she was and more like a model right off the runway. She scoffed anytime we told her that, but the truth was Esme and Carlisle had created two beautiful children. Edward had taken after his mother in coloring, but had his father's features, whereas Rose had Carlisle's blonde hair, blue eyes and height, but Esme's delicate bone structure.
"Holy hell, it was a long ass day. What'd you order for dinner? I'm starving. I had a client lunch today and he insisted on meeting at this upscale place downtown that served portions the size of my pinky toe. I'm so fucking hungry, my stomach is eating itself."
She threw her coat into the corner of the booth and flung her purse down next to it. Taking a moment to shake out her hair, she slid into the booth and flashed me a quick grin.
I smiled back and handed her a menu, not bothering to answer her question. When Rose was hungry there was no standing in between her and her food.
The waitress returned at that moment with my milkshake and a glass of water, but before she could even ask Rosalie what she wanted, Rose was already rattling it off.
"Cheeseburger deluxe, extra crispy fries and hold the pickle. Uh…" She looked over at my milkshake. "Chocolate shake. Thanks."
She and the waitress looked at me expectantly, but I just shook my head. "I'm fine for now, thanks." The waitress nodded and sauntered off, while Rose just raised one perfectly groomed eyebrow at me. She appraised me for a few seconds before speaking.
I knew there would be no hiding anything from her, but I hadn't expected her to have sussed it out so quickly either.
The waitress returned with Rose's milkshake, but my sister-in-law did nothing but stare at me with an unreadable expression on her face. I waited for her to say something, to yell, to sputter – hell, even to blink – but all she did was look at me. Eventually, I grew so uncomfortable that I couldn't help but fidget and look away.
"Did you tell my brother yet?" She reached down and took a hold of the straw that was lying on the table next to her, unwrapping it slowly and placing it in her drink.
I shook my head. "No."
"I wish I could be there to see the look on his face when you tell him he's going be a dad again." She took a sip of her milkshake before settling back in the booth. "Have you been talking this whole time or –"
I shook my head to clear it. "I'm kinda surprised you're not questioning that it's his."
Rose rolled her eyes. "Oh please, Bella. Seriously? Just because the two of you were stupid enough to actually go through with the divorce doesn't mean any of us believe that you stopped loving each other or having the hots for one another. If anyone could give Emmett and I a run for our money in the bedroom, it's always been my brother and you. You can't keep your hands off each other. I'm just surprised it took this long."
When I said nothing, Rose continued. "Not to mention I'd have a hard time believing that you'd jump into bed with someone this quickly. You're pissed, but you're not vengeful. We've all known since we were kids that Edward and you were it for each other. So there's no other choice. If you're knocked up, it's my brother's."
I couldn't stop the tears that started when she said that Edward or I were meant for each other or the laughter that came at the term 'knocked up.'
"Oh, Rose, what am I going to do? I messed this up so badly." I sniffed and gave her a grateful smile when she handed me a pack of tissues from her purse.
Once I composed myself, Rosalie sat up and regarded me shrewdly from across the booth. "Well, the good news is I don't have to smack you around to get you to realize just how wrong you were to push things this far."
I huffed. "You agreed with me."
"I agreed with you to a point. I knew my brother needed a wake-up call and I thought throwing him out for a night or two would be enough. No one was more surprised than I was when he filed for divorce. Then for you to go ahead and not contest it?" Rose shook her head and leaned forward for another sip of her milkshake. "Morons, the both of you. Everyone knew – knows – just how much you two love each other. No one could believe you actually went through with it." She looked thoughtful for a minute. "Well, Emmett could. He said it was almost inevitable when the two most stubborn people on the planet were married to one another. Neither one of you would back down and admit you were wrong. He also gave it three months before you were back together."
Rosalie glanced at my stomach before looking back to me and grinning. "Guess I owe him fifty bucks. I had you holding out for at least six."
"We're not back together, Rose. I haven't even spoken to him since that night."
Rose's expression became serious once more. "What are you talking about?"
I shrugged. "We had sex the night our divorce became final. When I woke up the next morning…he was gone."
She was silent for a good ten seconds before she exploded. "That stupid son of a bitch. That motherfucking dick. I can't fucking believe him. I'm going to castrate that asshole!" Murderously pissed Rose was a scary Rose.
I started crying again. These pregnancy hormones are killing me. "I just…I don't understand what happened. I mean, I knew we needed to talk, but after everything…I didn't expect him to leave like that. I thought…I don't know what I thought. I was being stupid, again."
Rose reached out and grabbed my hand. "You ran into the man you loved and thought that maybe you'd have a chance to fix things, am I right?"
I considered and then nodded. "Yeah. Kind of like fate stepping up and saying 'enough is enough.'"
She released my hand to point to my stomach. "Um, I'd say so. If that baby isn't a sign that you two need to get back together, I don't know what is."
We left the diner an hour later with me no closer to figuring out how I was going to break the news to Edward, but knowing I had Rose's support no matter how he reacted. The one thing that was non-negotiable was telling him, but I told her she didn't have to worry about that. I loved him too much – I needed him too much – to keep the pregnancy from him. Despite the mistakes we had made in our marriage, I knew he had done his best to be a good father. The things I screamed at him the night we broke up about him being a shitty parent weren't completely true. Maybe he hadn't been around quite as much as I wished he had been when Nessie was growing up, but he had been there when it really counted and he loved our girl. I had no doubt he would love this child just as much.
I put a game plan together. Rose had done some detective work and found out when Edward's next day off would be and whether or not he had any plans. Thankfully, he didn't. The only other help she gave me was his address, which I had anyway from my copy of the divorce papers.
Edward was working that coming Friday, but was getting off shift around 6pm, which meant he wouldn't be sleeping his Saturday away. If I knew my husband at all, I knew that he'd rise early on Saturday, go for a run before returning to the apartment to veg in front of Sports Center for an hour or two. If I planned it right, I could get there after his run but before he became too engrossed in ESPN.
Rose stayed with me Friday night, to keep me calm and keep me company. I think it was her way of making sure I didn't chicken out, but I had no intention of doing so. I was just happy she was there to keep me from jumping out of my skin. The stress of what the next day could bring was making me sick to my stomach and had Rose not been there, I wasn't sure how calm I could've kept myself. Thanks to her, I was able to relax somewhat and even get some sleep.
I was up early Saturday morning, and my body shook all through my shower and getting dressed. Rose gave the okay on my outfit, telling me it looked innocently sexy, which is something I didn't know I could even be at forty-two…or pregnant. Too wound up to worry much about it, I hugged her as she climbed into her car and thanked her for all she had done for me. I know Edward's absence had hurt her over the years, and out of everyone, she knew where I had been coming from when I took such drastic action in trying to save my marriage. She may not have agreed with everything I'd done, but she gave me the love and support I needed when my mistake caused everything around me to fall apart.
I arrived at Edward's apartment just after 10AM, and hoped that I still knew my husband well enough that some of his habits hadn't changed. I parked the car and took my keys out of the ignition, only to sit there, unmoving. It was as if my entire body was paralyzed and didn't know how to even begin to get it working again. I sent up a silent prayer, asking God to give me the strength to do what I needed to do – tell Edward about the baby and hopefully begin to repair the mistake we made so many months before.
I entered the apartment building, unsure if I should have the doorman call up to let Edward know I was there or just arrive on his doorstep. The choice was taken away from me when the security guard glanced up and saw me standing there. I expected the third degree, but instead, he smiled.
"Mrs. Cullen, you can go on up. Mr. Cullen is in 622."
I could only stare at him. "I'm...I'm sorry?"
He gave me a small smile. "Your husband told us that if you ever stopped by we were to send you right up." At my still perplexed look, he continued. "He showed us a picture, explained who you were. I think he's been waiting for you to come see him."
My heart felt like it was going to gallop right out of my chest. I could only nod at him, unable to even push the air through my throat to whisper a thank you to him. He just continued to smile as he gestured toward the elevators.
The ride up to Edward's apartment was the longest, and shortest, of my life. I had no idea what to expect when I knocked on his door, but the man downstairs gave me something I hadn't had before.
Edward lived at the end of the long hallway. I could hear the sounds from the people who lived on the floor with him from behind their doors, muffled, but there nonetheless. Part of me wondered what these people were doing, if they were facing life-altering news…if they had mistakes that turned out to be the worst of their lives…if they wondered how to make it right and what to do if it all went wrong…
Before I knew it, I was standing in front of his door. I raised my hand to knock, only to notice I was shaking like a leaf. I had to pull it together. This was Edward. I had been in love with him most of my life. We had shared a daughter together and our love had created another child. I had to hold on to that knowledge if nothing else.
I raised my hand and knocked.
I heard nothing for a few minutes, then a slam and a muffled yell. There was a shuffling sound and the door flew open.
Edward was standing in front of me, dripping wet. His shorts rode low on his hips showing the V shape of his pelvic muscles. He was breathing heavy and looked irritated as he flung open the door.
My presence obviously surprised him, as his mouth dropped open and he just stared at me without saying a word.
"Um…hi." I bit my lip, unsure what to do or say next. He continued to just stare at me, as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing. When he said nothing, I spoke again. "Are you okay?"
That seemed to shake him out of his fog. "Hey, hi! Um, yeah…I just…I didn't…I can't believe…I had no idea….you're here." He shook his head, as if he was trying to clear it.
"I'm sorry I bothered you, but I really –"
My words got cut off as I noticed a person come out of the hallway from behind him. "Edward, do you have any more towels? We made a mess…"
She was beautiful. Breathtakingly so, and exactly the type of woman I had always thought Edward should have ended up with rather than plain old me. She was blonde, had legs that went on for miles and eyes that were a clear, crystal blue. She filled out the top of her sports bra with breasts I had only ever dreamed of having. She looked completely at home and comfortable walking around in a sports bra and a pair of short running shorts. She too, was dripping wet.
And she was young – or at least younger than I was.
My heart fell to the floor and cracked around me in a million little pieces. Out of everything I had expected, out of my worst personal nightmares, nothing had prepared me for this.
I stepped back, literally feeling as though Edward had struck me. My hand came up to rest on my stomach, as if I was protecting the child that was inside from what I was seeing. I felt sick.
Edward glanced over his shoulder at the woman and then back at me, a look of horror crossing his face. "Oh Jesus, Bella. I…"
I took another step back and shook my head. "I…um, I should've called. I need…uh…I need to talk to you at some point…soon. Just…um, call me when you can, okay? Sorry, for…uh…" I waved, unable to find the words for what was happening.
I was trying really hard not to jump to conclusions about why a gorgeous, younger blonde was walking around practically naked and dripping wet in my ex-husband's apartment, but it was damn hard not to.
Think of the baby. Think about the baby.
We were divorced. We hadn't spoken in nine weeks. He had every right to have whomever he wanted in his apartment doing whatever they were doing. I had no right to feel hurt or betrayed.
Just because I still loved him didn't mean he felt the same way.
"Bella…it's not what you think…" Edward moved toward me, reaching out a hand.
I shook my head. "I'm not…I'm not thinking anything. I'm just going to go, though…okay?" I turned and moved as quickly as possible up the hallway and away from whatever was happening in that apartment.
"Bella, my shower broke. It's leaking all over the floor and Kate is here helping me clean it up!" Edward yelled up the hallway. I could hear his footsteps behind me, but I couldn't seem to stop moving. My entire body was screaming at me to run.
When it came to flight or fight, I always – always – took the flight option. After forty years, it was almost impossible to do anything different.
"Bella, please. Just come back. Let me get the shower straightened out and we'll talk. We need to talk." There was no mistaking the plea in his voice, or the tears behind it either. I had reached the elevator, but didn't press the button to go down. I couldn't stand it when he cried. I never could.
I turned toward him. His eyes were brimming with unshed tears and he had the most heartbreaking look on his face. "I promise you that nothing, nothing, is going on with Kate. I'll explain everything, but I really need to go back and get the shower fixed before it gets any worse."
He held out his hand to me and I knew that our future would be made or destroyed in that instant. Maybe we couldn't fix what we had done to each other, but if I took his hand, there would be the chance that we could.
Not taking it would throw away any chance of us getting back together.
Taking his hand meant I trusted him.
Walking away meant I didn't.
And it would mean the end of the epic love that was Edward and Bella.
As if I ever had a choice.
His hand grasped mine tightly and he let out a short, relived laugh. "Come on, before we all float away."
Kate was nowhere to be found when we entered the apartment. From the front door of the apartment, the kitchen was on the right and a small hallway with two doors off of it to the left. Straight ahead was the living/dining area. There was a couch set up in front of a fireplace, where a flat screen hung over the mantle. The dining area was empty with the exception of a few boxes.
The entire place was void of any personality or personal touches. The couch was black leather, the walls white. He didn't even have curtains up. The only thing small splash of color was a small area rug that the coffee table sat on in front of the couch.
Edward gestured toward the sofa. "Make yourself at home, while I figure out what the hell is going on. I'll be back as soon as I can." He dropped my hand and began to move away from me, but hesitated before he'd taken more than a half a step. Turning back toward me, he moved his arm up quickly and grasped the back of my neck. His kiss was hard, fast and wonderful.
He said nothing, just turned and left me standing in his living room.
It took almost two hours for the apartment to empty out of the property manager, the plumber and Kate, which finally left Edward and I alone.
As it turned out, Kate was just a friend. A young, beautiful, helpful, very lesbian friend who lived down the hall with her partner of six years. She'd met Edward at work and assisted him in finding a place to live when she found out he was in need. They'd also become running partners, which is how she happened to be in his apartment fixing his shower. After their run, he'd returned to find the place flooding and being the type of person she was, Kate offered to help.
After the excitement of the last few hours, and Edward's relief with the fact that I believed him about Kate, we were now stuck in some sort of weird limbo. There were so many things for us to talk about it seemed neither of us knew where to start. The silence stretched between us, tense and uncomfortable.
Edward rubbed a hand along the back of his neck. "Do you want something to drink? To eat? I might have something…somewhere…" He trailed off, his cheeks turning just the lightest shade of pink.
I started to shake my head no, but changed my mind. "If you have any water, that would be good."
He nodded and stood, turning toward the kitchen without a word. The kitchen had a half wall with a bar on the dining room side, so I could see directly into it from the living room. Edward stood in front of the open fridge for a moment before reaching inside and grabbing what I assumed was the water I'd asked for. As he turned back toward me, I quickly looked away, not wanting to get caught staring at him.
Edward returned, handing me the water before sitting back down at the other end of the couch. We sat there silently before we both began speaking at the same time.
"I should apologize for what happened –"
"Um, there's something I need to tell you –"
We stopped at the same time, the curse of two people who had spent most of their lives together and usually more in tune to each other than this. The months apart had taken their toll on more than just our relationship – it had messed with our rhythm.
Edward spoke first. "I want to apologize for what happened a few weeks ago. The way I treated you…" He shook his head. "It's unforgivable. I took advantage of you and then…well, I shouldn't have left the way I did."
I swallowed. "No, you shouldn't have. Why did you?"
He blew out a breath and ran his hands over his face. "Plain and simple, I was scared."
I was taken aback. "Scared? I don't…"
"I was scared that you were going to wake up and tell me nothing had changed. That what happened between us was just your way of getting closure or something. That it didn't mean to you what it meant to me…"
My heart was beating a mile a minute. "And what did it mean to you?"
He turned his head just enough to look at me, straight on. "It meant everything. I thought I would never hold you again, or touch you…and to have that opportunity after everything I put you through…it meant the world to me."
Tears pricked at my eyes and I knew it wouldn't take much for them to fall. I had to hold it together though, because we had so much more to get through then just this. Knowing that he took the chance to be honest with me, I felt I owed him the same.
"It meant everything to me too. I thought that it was a chance for us to reconnect and begin fixing what I had messed up. When I woke up and found you gone…"
I couldn't fight the tears. Just thinking about how he left me after giving me a night I would never forget ripped my heart in two once more.
"Oh, Jesus, Bella." He was across the couch in an instant and I was in his arms. "Baby, I've managed to fuck this up every way I possibly could, didn't I?"
I shook my head against his chest. "No, it was…my…fault." I could barely get the words out through my sobs.
"No, no. I should have listened to you when you tried telling me what you needed. I was too wrapped up in my own head and my own importance that I lost sight of what really mattered." His lips skimmed over the crown of my hair and I felt him place a tiny kiss there.
"I know your job is important, but I wanted to be important to you too. I just didn't feel like I was anymore…I didn't feel like you cared…"
"Oh, sweetheart, I never stopped caring; I never stopped loving you. I just…I wanted to give you the world, and I went about it in all the wrong ways. Fighting the ghost of my dad in those halls, it was all I could think about…beating him…being better than him."
Carlisle had completed his residency at UW Medical Center and had been the star doctor among staff there for many years while Edward was growing up. When Edward was eight, the family moved to Forks and Carlisle took over as Chief of Staff at Forks General. Apparently though, his memory and legacy still lived on at UW Medical, even after all these years.
"Why didn't you tell me?" I leaned back and reached up to take Edward's face in my hands. "Why didn't you tell me how you felt, what was going through your head?"
Edward's hands reached up to lay over mine. "Because I knew how ridiculous I was being. I knew that the only competition that was happening was in my head. But it all became so big… Everyone would tell stories about my dad until I felt like he was constantly standing over my shoulder, watching me, judging me, and that they were all doing the same. I could only think about working hard, doing more, doing it better, so I could get rid of the feeling of…inadequacy."
My hands slipped from his face. "Inadequacy? Are you kidding me? We threw our marriage away because you were feeling inadequate next to your father's memory in that hospital?"
Suddenly, I was livid. I couldn't believe that we had tossed everything away over something that had happening only in Edward's head. "Do you know how much they love you there? How much everyone gushes about you? I can't call or walk in the place without someone telling me how wonderful you are!" I stood up and began pacing the empty dining room. "I don't believe this…"
Edward stood, but didn't move any closer to me. "I know, Bella, I know."
I whirled to face him. "Do you? Do you have any idea what we've done? What I've done? I broke my daughter's heart! I destroyed our family because I couldn't get you to listen to me, to see what your workaholic ways were doing to me, to us. And now, to hear it's all because of some imaginary contest you have going on with your father…who hasn't worked in that hospital in over thirty years?"
I was disgusted with him, with myself. Maybe he had tried to tell me and I just hadn't listened. Maybe I had been so wrapped up in trying to get him to talk to me, to save our marriage, I didn't hear him tell me what the real problem was. Had we really been so far apart that something that seemed so simple had broke us?
Apparently, yes, we had been.
I sank to the floor, the weight of what we had done almost crushing me. At some point in our marriage, we stopped talking and stopped listening to one another. Edward felt he couldn't confide in me about his fears of not being good enough and I couldn't break through my own haze to realize that what was happening to us, to our marriage, had little to do with me and more to do with him. He couldn't see past his feelings of inadequacy to listen to me when I said we needed help.
And it caused everything to blow up in our faces.
I took drastic measures to try and get him to open his eyes, saying things that I hadn't meant and I could never take back. Instead of calling me on my bullshit, he had just gotten angry and left, pushing things so far that we ended up miles apart instead of closer together.
"Bella? Baby, come on. It's okay. We'll fix it. Sweetheart, please stop crying. I can't stand it when you cry…" Edward's voice sounded thick, like he was talking through his own tears. I had no idea I was even sobbing until his voice finally broke through my inner monologue.
I allowed him to lift me and carry me over to the couch, where he set me down before kneeling in front of me. "Baby, I need you to calm down. We're okay. We're here, and we're going to fix this. We're okay."
I pulled myself together, although it was harder than it should have been. My hormones were completely out of control, causing me to act irrationally and break down over things that no longer mattered.
Because…they didn't matter. Not anymore. We were finally…finally…talking and putting it all out there. We were going to fix this.
We had to, because if it was one thing I learned in the last few months, it was that being away from Edward wasn't an option. I had been living a half-life without him. It wasn't until I was in his arms once again that I realized just how heavy my heart had been, how hard it was to breathe without him.
Crawling up next to me on the couch, he soothed me as I calmed. His hands ran over my hair and my back as he whispered words of love and comfort in my ear. My crying slowed, until I relaxed completely next to him.
"I think…I think we need to figure out what we're going to do about your job, because I can't go back to the way it was." My voice was quiet, but firm. I was dedicated to moving forward, but we weren't going to be able to do so without making some changes.
Edward was quiet for a long time, so long I wasn't sure that he had truly heard me – or was willing to give me what I was asking for. Just as I was about to pull back and look at him, he answered. "I'll turn in my resignation tomorrow. I'll give my two weeks and…I'll retire."
This time I didn't hesitate to look at him. "Retire at forty-two?"
He shrugged and gave me a small, sad smile. "I'll take up deep sea fishing or something. I've got time to figure it out."
I rolled my eyes and shook my head. "I don't want you to quit your job, Edward."
"But…you said –"
Sighing, I moved forward until my forehead was lying against his. "I said we had to figure something out and some things had to change, not that you had to quit your job. You love being a doctor. You're the best damn doctor I've ever seen. You're amazing at what you do, and I wouldn't ask you to take that away from people or give it up for the world."
"You are my world. You and Renesmee. Nothing else matters. Nothing."
"And that's all well and good, and despite the horrible things I yelled at you all those months ago, I know that. I know how much you love me and how much I mean to you. Even when I was saying those things, I knew it. It was my hurt and anger talking, and I let it consume me until I couldn't see anything else." I leaned back so I was looking into his eyes once more. "But Edward, I also know how much being a doctor means to you, and I'm not going to let you give that up. We can make it work; I want to make it work. I just…I need you around more. Especially now."
Edward nodded. "I know, and I should've listened to you when you said that you wanted to spend more time…wait... What do you mean, especially now?"
I hadn't meant to tell him quite like this, but as long as we were spilling our guts…
"Don't go crazy on me, okay?." I took his hands in my own, rubbing my thumb along his knuckles.
"That's a surefire way to get me to go crazy, Bella. What's going on? What's wrong? Are you sick? Is Renesmee? She won't talk to me, did you know that? She won't answer my calls…Jesus, I knew I should've flown out there and…"
"You need to calm down or you're going to give yourself a heart attack. What happened to my even tempered, cool as a cucumber Edward?"
"He left town when he walked out on you and almost threw away the best thing that ever happened to him. Now, tell me what the hell you're talking about."
Taking a deep breath, I began. "That night? The night our divorce was final?" I said softly, trying to calm him down.
A look of pain crossed over his face and he scraped a hand through his hair. "I remember. I'll never forget it."
I gave him a small smile. "Yeah, it was one of the worst days and best nights of my life…I don't think I'll ever forget it either. For more than one reason."
He couldn't hide his exasperation from me. "Will you please just –"
"Edward, I'm pregnant."
He didn't move for a good fifteen seconds. "Come again?" he said finally.
I let out a small chuckle. "I'm pregnant. We're going to have a baby."
He shook his head. "But…what…I don't…how?"
"Well, Dr. Cullen, when a man and a woman decide to show their –" I teased before he cut me off.
"Jesus, Bella." He pulled back so he could look over my entire body. His eyes landed on my stomach for a while before coming up to meet my eyes. "Really? But…you were on birth control?"
I shrugged. "I kind of didn't get my prescription refilled after you left. I didn't see the point. I never wanted to be with anyone but you, and since you were gone…"
His hand came out to rest on my stomach. "We're really going to have a baby?"
I laid my hand on top of his. "We're really going to have a baby."
The smile that lit up his face was one I would remember for the rest of my life. Leaning forward, he pressed his lips to mine in a sweet, gentle kiss. Then he leaned down and kissed my stomach.
"Baby, I love you and your momma so much."
He straightened back up and looked into my eyes. "So much, Bella."
"I know. I love you, too." I'm sure if anyone had been looking at us in that moment would have rolled their eyes at the goofy smiles on our faces.
It had been a long few months. We had made mistakes and we almost lost each other in the process. We had more talking to do, things we needed to figure out and amends we needed to make. However, I had no doubt that we would do it all standing by each other's side.
"Can you…will you come home now?" I asked quietly. "Max and I miss you. Our bed misses you…us."
"Are you sure? You don't think it's too soon?" His head tilted to the side as he pondered my words. "Why would our bed miss you?"
"I haven't slept I our room since you left…except for that night."
He flashed me a brilliant smile, and gave me a searing kiss.
"We spent a lot of money on that bed. Let's not have it sit empty for one more night. Help me pack?"
We held hands as we walked toward the bedroom. I knew that everything that had happened couldn't be undone – but we would build from its ashes.
I hope you all enjoyed it! I wrote this one on a whim when I saw the announcement for the contest and needed a break from the massive research project I was doing at the time. My brain wanted to get creative instead of focusing on facts and figures; this is what it came up with. (Something must've worked, got a 98 on the project and got first place in the contest! YAY!)
As always, let me know what you think. Thank you so much for reading!