Fan Fiction, Sex Gods and Single Girls
A/N: After forever, I'm back with the final re-edited chapter.
If you're a reader of Indelible (I'm working on the epilogue!), you know my hubby has been dealing with health issues. Every morning, we wonder if today is the day things take a turn for the absolute worst, but so far so good; that day hasn't arrived. Thank you for your prayers, positive energy, and good vibes. :)
Chapter 73: Road Trip (Epilogue)
Nine years after Bella first moved to Stardust Lane…
The glow of the laptop screen lit up the dark interior of the car. Edward was driving his family homeward to Seattle after a two-week vacation in California while Bella was silently rereading the last bit she'd written.
"I still want to add something more," she said. "Something about how unexpected life's events can be, you know? Like how you never really know where the road of life will take you." She looked over at Edward's strong profile. He nodded as his mouth curved into a smile.
"I like that. It's a good way to wrap up everything. And it's true—you never know where the road of life is going to take you."
He looked over, shooting Bella a smirk. "You might, for example, drive into your new neighborhood one sunny day, only to have a nearly naked, obnoxious neighbor show up to yell at you and your malfunctioning vehicle...for no good reason."
Bella snorted a giggle, glancing quickly over her shoulder. Thankfully, almost-eight-year-old Stella and E2 were both still sound asleep in the back seat. Turning back to Edward, she grinned. "Exactly. And that new neighbor could become your boyfriend in a surprisingly short span of time."
"And you might even be tempted to ask him to a high school winter formal," Edward added with a grin.
Bella nodded, still smiling. "Of course. Especially if you both missed out on high school formals when you were in high school. And even though you might feel a bit ridiculous, asking your twenty-eight-year-old boyfriend to a high school formal, you just do it. And not merely to pacify his sister."
Edward laughed. "You sure about that? We both know how pushy Alice can be."
"I'm sure. You ask your boyfriend to winter formal because your friends are all going and because you really want to see your ridiculously sexy boyfriend in a tux." Bella paused, imagining the sight, because Edward in a tux…mmm-mm-mmm.
Edward pursed his lips into a pout, but his eyes twinkled with amusement. "I see. It was all about peer-pressure and the allure of formalwear."
Bella laughed. "No, I also asked him because I was hopelessly in love with him."
Reaching across the console, Edward grasped her hand, raising it to his lips for a kiss before resting their joined hands on his thigh. "Little did you know your winter formal date had plans to propose that evening."
"I doubt many girls attend formals with a boyfriend, expecting to return home with a fiancé."
Edward chuckled. "Yeah. The odds are probably against high school dances culminating in marriage proposals." His thumb brushed over the two rings he'd placed on Bella's left hand, marking her as his for all time. "I was so relieved you said yes, but if you hadn't, I would have kept pestering you until you gave in. I wasn't about to let you get away. Now you're stuck with me forever."
She smiled at his crooked grin and twinkling eyes. "I am. And it's a lovely predicament."
Looking back at her laptop, Bella saved what she'd written before closing the laptop and placing it near her feet. Settling back in her seat, she watched the freeway rush by. There wasn't much to see this time of night, but her mind was elsewhere, seeing a different night, when they'd ducked out of a winter formal for a bit of fresh air…
At the time, Bella hadn't known there was a gazebo in the courtyard of the Gardenview Hotel, nor that said gazebo had been closed to the public for a "private event" that evening. Nor was she aware that she was to be a part of that private event. She had also been unaware that Alice was waiting to fulfill an assigned duty—notifying hotel staff when it was time to illuminate the twinkle lights in that gazebo, specifically for that private event. Bella had also been oblivious of Emmett, waiting to fulfill his own duty—making sure the appropriate music was played over the speakers in the gazebo at the appropriate moment, based on visual cues he observed as the private event unfolded…
As they walked hand-in-hand outdoors that night, Edward retrieved his phone from his pocket, navigating to an uploaded document-in-progress on the Star-lighted site. When he handed his phone to Bella, and she saw The One and Only Shot by Stardusted on the screen, she squealed in surprise. She'd had no idea Edward had been writing a story of his own.
He wanted her input on the ending, he explained as they sat on a bench in the gazebo, beneath twinkling lights and soft music spilling from hidden speakers. And so Bella had begun to read…
It was a short one-shot, about a successful Ethan Collins who assumed he had everything he needed or wanted. Until he met what he hadn't realized he'd been missing: Stella Brown. Upon falling fast and hard in love for the first time in his life, he knew he needed and wanted more. With her.
"I love what you've written so far," Bella murmured, knowing his story was their own. "So…where are you thinking of taking it from here?" she asked, handing his phone back and looking up. Her breath caught in her throat at the intensity in his eyes, and the cold night air crackled with something supremely electric.
"I was thinking…first, I would put my phone back in my pocket. Then, I was thinking I'd take something else out of my pocket…"
Bella's eyes dropped from the determined expression on his face to the small black velvet box in his hand. Her eyes widened and her lips formed a silent ohmygod as she pressed her hands over her flip-flopping heart.
Edward's eyes held hers as he rose from the bench. "And then…I was thinking I'd do this…" He paused to drop gracefully down to one knee before her as Train's Marry Me began playing softly through the overhead speakers in the gazebo.
Edward's eyes were earnest and soft and filled with love. "Please don't faint on me," he begged in a low voice, grasping her hand and giving it a reassuring squeeze. "I have something to ask you, love, so stay with me, alright?"
Bella couldn't speak. She managed a trembling smile beneath watery eyes, squeezed his hand and nodded.
His Adam's apple betrayed his nervousness, but his gaze was scorching and sure as he opened the little box. Bella gasped at the brilliant cluster of diamonds nestled inside. Her hand flew to her mouth, and her teary eyes darted back up to his. His tongue peeked out, wetting his lips, and then Edward Cullen posed his proposal to Isabella Swan.
"I'm not trying to rush you, Bella, and I'll wait if you're not ready. But I can't imagine the future without you by my side. You are my life…my everything. Will you marry me?"
It was all Bella could do to croak out a soft sound and nod as she fought back the tears blurring her vision.
Edward blinked and his entire face lit up, radiant as the sun. "That's a Yes?!"
"Yes." Her voice cracked as she reached for the love of her life.
"Really? Yes?" Edward dropped the ring box in her lap, cradling her face in his hands as he brushed away her escaping tears.
"Yes!" Bella laughed and nodded. "How could I say no to my own Happily Edward After?"
He laughed at her words and crushed her against him as his lips crashed down on hers in an exultant kiss. When he pulled back, he gave her a wide smile. "That went so much better than I expected! Damn! I'd better get this ring on you before you come to your senses and change your mind!"
"I'm not changing my mind!" She giggled at his joy as he plucked the ring from its box. With their hands shaking from the excitement of the moment and their future, he slid that ring into place.
"Ohmygod," she murmured, staring down at the brilliant proclamation of his love and intent. The fit was perfect, as if the ring had been custom made. Which it obviously had, judging by its design.
"It's beautiful, Edward."
"Do you really like it?" His eyes were anxious. "I worried you might think it was a bit much."
It was actually a lot much, but the significance of its stylized sunflower design overrode any hesitation Bella might have had about its size or the number of diamonds in the arrangement. And so, she smiled lovingly into his hopeful eyes. "It's absolutely perfect, Edward. Like you. I love you so much."
He burst into a megawatt grin, looking from her eyes to the ring with such pleasure that Bella just couldn't contain her giddy laughter.
"What?" Edward asked, grinning at her.
"You! You're so excited to see this on me, aren't you?" She wiggled her finger, the diamonds sparkling, catching the light.
A laugh burst from his lips as he captured her hand. "Well, I wasn't certain I'd get to see this on you tonight, so yes, I really am!" His gaze softened as he leaned in to kiss her. "You're mine, Bella. For always."
"I am," she agreed with a happy sigh. "And you're mine, Edward. For always."
He exhaled and stood, tugging on her hand. Marry Me had begun playing a second time over the speakers. "Come, they're playing our song and I'd really like to dance with my fiancée." He smiled broadly as he pulled his beaming girl into an embrace, and they began dancing around the little gazebo.
As the last of the students left the formal, Bella and Edward returned to the ballroom. Their friends were all waiting, wearing expectant smiles. They hadn't all been aware of what was transpiring in the gazebo until they'd noticed the photographer taking photos of something outside from the doorway. Then they'd heard Alice's high-pitched, "Yes!" as Emmett crowed, "Hellz, yeah!" And when Alice and Emmett high-fived each other, exclaiming, "She said yes!" the puzzle pieces had fallen into place.
"Yeah, Bro! Congratulations!" Emmett's voice boomed as Edward and Bella reentered the ballroom. He hugged Edward, thumping him on the back, and then he grabbed Bella up in a bear hug, proclaiming, "Little Swan's going to be Ward's Little Cullen!"
"OhmyGOD!" Alice shrieked, pulling Bella away from Emmett, and grabbing her brother and his fiancée into a fierce little group hug. "I'm so happy for you both I could just CRY!" She actually was crying at that point.
The others crowded in then, smiling and offering congratulations, best wishes, handshakes, hugs, and kisses. The women oohed and ahh-ed over the icy fire of Bella's engagement ring as Bella and Edward stood there, grinning from ear to ear.
An hour later, after some post-proposal photos and celebratory glasses of champagne while dancing with their friends in the hotel bar, Bella and Edward bid everyone goodnight and slipped away. But Edward surprised Bella, leading her deeper into the hotel rather than toward the valet outside the hotel's entrance.
"Where are we going?" she asked as they approached the elevators.
"I booked a room and packed us a bag in the unlikely event you said yes. I figured we'd stay the night and celebrate at the hotel where we became engaged." He pressed the up button as he spoke, and an elevator opened with a ping. With a devilish smile, he tossed their coats haphazardly inside, wrapped his wife-to-be in his arms, and marched her backwards into the elevator as she giggled. Hitting the button for the uppermost floor, Edward then pinned Bella against the wall, engaging her from lips to hips as the doors closed.
When the elevator door opened on their floor, he released her and scooped up their coats.
Flushed and breathless, Bella had to ask... "What would you have done in the highly unlikely event I'd said no?"
He chuckled as his arm wrapped around her waist and he ushered her down the hallway. "We still would have still stayed…but we wouldn't have had to buy time, celebrating and drinking champagne with everyone in the bar."
His cryptic words confused her until he opened the door of their suite, and her eyes swept over the soft glow of flickering candles, champagne on ice, and a crystal bowl filled with strawberries.
"Oh, Edward…" she exhaled, turning to slide her arms up over his shoulders and around his neck. She pulled him into a long kiss, twining her fingers into his hair as he kicked the door shut behind them. Smiling against his lips as he growled appreciatively into her mouth, Bella marched her husband-to-be backwards toward the bed.
"You sleeping?" Edward asked softly. Bella blinked and turned her head to smile at him as he drove on into the night, toward their home in Seattle.
"No, I was just remembering that night." She looked down, adjusting the engagement ring he'd given her. "It all happened so fast."
"Too fast?" Edward asked, but whatever fleeting concern he might have had faded with her responding smile.
"No. I think everything happened when it was supposed to. I just meant, we met right before school started that September, and barely a year later, we were married and had two children. You have to admit that was awfully fast to become a family of four."
He nodded. Then he shrugged and shot her that killer crooked smile of his. "What can I say? I knew what I wanted and I was impatient to start our life together." Then he nodded toward the somewhat-matching twin sleepyheads in the backseat. "And apparently they were anxious to start their lives, too—though I guess I had much to do with that as well."
Bella smiled at him, blaming himself for her unplanned pregnancy. She was the one who had inadvertently missed a pill. In the hubbub of contacting parents with the news of their engagement that next day, she had misplaced the pill, then figured she must have already taken it, only to discover the errant thing a week later while cleaning the kitchen floor.
"It takes two to tango," she reminded him. "And I wouldn't trade our two little surprises for the world. They came along at the right time, too."
Edward had no regrets about the outcome. He loved his little family fiercely. He'd thought Bella was the love of his life, but in becoming a father, he'd just fallen in love two more times over. Watching his own children grow and experience the world brought him a profound joy he'd never anticipated.
Bella stretched her legs and sighed contentedly. Then she yawned. "It sure is going to feel good to get home and into our own bed. It's been such a busy two weeks."
"That's quite the understatement," Edward said. "The past four years have been busy, especially this year, and in particular these past weeks."
Bella nodded, smiling. "They certainly have."
After publishing her first book four years ago—the commercially successful Fan Fiction, Sex Gods and Single Girls, Bella had continued writing their story with Edward's input. The second book had become so lengthy and unwieldy that it had ultimately evolved into two books: Fan Fiction, Sex Gods and Wedding Belles, followed by Fan Fiction, Sex Gods and Diaper Bags. Both been equally as successful as the first book, and their readership had only grown as the series expanded. They now had fans eagerly awaiting the publication the final book in the series: Fan Fiction, Sex Gods and Families. Bella was only waiting for the exact right inspiration for the final touch of the final chapter of that final novel.
"I have a hunch things won't be settling down for a while yet, love," Edward stated.
"I think you're right about that." Bella smiled and then thought about that last paragraph she'd been pondering. "Who would have guessed where the road of life was going to take us?" she asked.
Edward chuckled. "For now, I'm just glad it's taking us home."
"Same here," she agreed with a yawn.
The trip, from which they were returning, was supposed to have been a fairly short business trip for Bella and Edward. Instead, it had grown and evolved into a road trip and extended two-week family vacation. More than your average family vacation, the adventure had grown to become an extended families vacation for twenty-four people.
When Bella brought up the idea of expanding their trip to California to include others, Edward was completely agreeable. He only hesitated when she added that she, not he, would be footing the bill for everyone's accommodations. He relented when she stubbornly reminded him of her own earnings as an author.
Angela was the first one Bella contacted, and the Cheneys were delighted. The idea of a road trip with the Cullens certainly appealed to them. It made them think of another road trip so many years ago, when the four of them had had a cosmic brush with their futures in a restaurant and movie theater in Port Angeles. Edward and Ben had long reestablished the close friendship they'd had back in high school, and six years ago, when Angela and Ben married, Bella and Edward had stood up for them at their wedding. They double-dated often in the past nine years, even when those double dates had simply meant showing up at each other's homes with take-out food, diaper bags, and crying babies. So piling five-year-old Joshua and four-year-old Rebecca into the family van and joining Edward and Bella on their road trip was a no-brainer for the Cheneys. Ben, now teaching at Seattle Community College, was off for the summer anyway, and Angela certainly had vacation time coming from Stellar Publishing House. Stellar owed much of its recent success to Angela's fanficitonal connections…specifically to a wildly popular and nearly-completed four-book-series, published by Stellar and written by Angela's best friend.
So the fairly short business trip became a longer road trip for the Cullens and Cheneys.
The Whitlocks were the next family Bella contacted. They also loved the plan. With Alice and Jasper off work from Fawkes High School for the summer, they were only too happy to tag along in their SUV with their two little blond, curly-haired, pixie-like girls, Sylvie and Claire, ages seven and six.
When Edward and Bella had married that first April after they'd met, they'd had no idea Alice and Jasper had already begun talking marriage. They'd kept things quiet until school was out that June, had then gotten engaged, and had a very small wedding that August. Alice had done the big wedding thing her first disastrous time around, and Jasper's first engagement hadn't even made it to the altar, so when they tied the knot, they hadn't wanted hoopla, they'd just wanted each other. Not long after that, though, they'd wanted more, and they'd had Sylvie and Claire, within the first two years of marriage.
So the Cullen and Cheney family road trip grew to include the Whitlocks, making it an extended-family road trip.
The day after the Whitlocks had agreed to join the trip, Esme Cullen heard about the family vacation in a phone call from Alice. Esme immediately contacted Bella and Edward, offering up her and her husband's services as baby-sitters—if Bella and Edward wouldn't mind them flying down and meeting them in Los Angeles for the duration of their stay.
Free babysitters? Of course they didn't mind. The more the merrier. So the extended-family road trip had snowballed into an extended-families vacation. But the snowball hadn't stopped there. It gathered speed and mass as the word passed, and the vacation-ball kept rolling.
The McCarty clan, including Emmett's Nana Esther, was next to hop on board the extended-families-vacation-avalanche. Rose, however, put her foot down and opted her family out of the actual road-trip portion of the vacation. She was willing to deal with a flight from Seattle to L.A., but she was certain she'd lose her mind on a road trip with her brood, even with spry, eighty-seven-year-old, great-grandma-in-law Esther McCarty's helpful presence.
Seven years earlier, Emmett had decided to take Nana McCarty to Las Vegas to celebrate her eightieth birthday. Esther McCarty wasn't a big gambler, but she'd heard a lot of good things about Vegas from friends in the retirement complex where she lived. Rose had gone along for the ride since it was spring break at Fawkes High at the time...and because she and Esther McCarty had become thicker than thieves by then. When Emmett hit it big at a craps table in Caesar's Palace on the very first night of their Vegas trip, he had celebrated his win by taking his two "girls" to a jewelry store in the Caesar's mall. He bought Nana McCarty some pretty earrings for her birthday, and then he bought a ring Rose had admired in the window, dropped to his knees, and before everyone in the store, told Rose she was his lucky charm, not just on this night but on every night since they'd met, and would she please make him the happiest and luckiest man on the Las Vegas strip—and in the world—and agree to marry him?
Rose had said yes. She had actually squealed her yes as she threw herself at him, nearly knocking him into the engagement ring display case.
Edward and Bella had gotten the call shortly before midnight. Emmett wanted to know if there was any way Edward and Bella could possibly make it to Vegas the next day, because he and Rose had gotten engaged, had made some calls, and had decided to tie the knot there the next evening. And since Emmett had been Edward's best bro/best man when he and Bella had married, Emmett needed his best bro to be his best man when he married Rosie at their wedding that just couldn't wait.
Edward had just hung up when Alice had called her brother, sobbing hormonally about how Rose had called, and she and Emmett were going to make it official in Vegas before God and Nana McCarty and an Elvis impersonator officiant, and Rose wanted Alice to be her matron of honor, and Alice didn't want to miss out—even though she was already seven months pregnant and as big as a dirigible and probably didn't have anything acceptable to wear—and she wanted to know what flight Edward and Bella were on, did they have a hotel room booked, and could Edward get her and Jasper on the same flight and into the same hotel and if at all possible, into a room close to theirs, if not adjoining?
Of course Edward Cullen could do just about anything for those he loved. He said he would do his best, and then he asked Alice to please put Jasper on the phone and then go lie down and get some rest. Then he told Jasper to just worry about his crying, pregnant, and hormone-saturated wife, and he, Edward, would take care of everything else.
The following morning, Edward and Bella packed for themselves and their 17-month-old twins, dropped the babies off with an ecstatic Esme and cooperative Carlisle, picked up teary Alice and empathetic Jasper, drove them all to Sea-Tac, flew into Vegas, took a limo to Caesar's, checked in, dressed up, met up with Em and Rose and Esther McCarty, and watched Elvis perform the ceremony for the happy couple in the Graceland Wedding Chapel, while Alice dabbed back a deluge of tears and Edward and Bella bit back snorts of amusement.
The same night, Rose tossed away her contraceptives. She wanted babies and she wanted them right away, especially Emmett's babies, especially since she was already thirty, like Emmett. Emmett was in agreement with whatever his beautiful bride wanted and if it was starting a family ASAP, he was totally on board with that. After all, if Edward and Bella could manage twins, surely he and Rose could manage one.
But then the McCartys had trouble conceiving, despite the fact that they'd been having sex regularly…and irregularly…lots of sex…all kinds of sex...sex in every position known to man…on weekends it was nearly non-stop sex.
All to no avail.
After several years of trying and hoping, they finally turned to fertility drugs.
And that sure changed things up.
Rose and Emmett wound up with what Emmett was currently referring to as the "Insta-Fam."
Triplets Thomas Emmett McCarty, Timothy Emmett McCarty, and Terrence Emmett McCarty, (yes, Emmett, all three of them) had just turned three. Their cherubic little faces—with their tarnished halos of dark curly hair—were all slight variations on their proud papa's face. They had the same twinkly blue eyes and adorable dimples with their I-can't-help-being-naughty smiles. Emmett referred to his band of boys as "The Terrible T's" although Tommy, Timmy and Terry weren't actually terrible, they were just very active little toddlers who were into everything constantly. And since there were three of them, they were into three different everythings at any given moment.
At the height of her pregnancy, Rose had worried about ever losing the weight she'd gained during her pregnancy. But to look at her now you'd never believe she'd given birth to triplets. She was in the best shape of her life. That was partly due to the fact that, as an athletics instructor, she'd always been in great shape, but mostly it was due to her chubby little cherubs running her ragged on a daily basis. Rose was actually convinced the concept of "pulling pranks" had been passed down in the triplets' DNA, from father to son, son, son.
But the McCartys and the elder Cullens weren't the only ones to fly into Los Angeles to join the young Cullen, Cheney, and Whitlock clans. With Edward's parents so willing to join them, Bella had decided to extend the invitation to her own parents, which meant two more sets of grandparents.
Grandpa Charlie and Grandma Sue had allowed themselves be talked into a Southern California vacation after a pair of excited grandchildren had called to beg and plead over the phone. Then Bella had gotten on the phone and filled her father and step-mother in on all the details.
The Swans hadn't been able to say no.
Neither had Renee and Phil Dwyer, in a similar phone call placed a few minutes later.
and so, near the end of July, the young Cullen, Cheney, and Whitlock families caravanned down to sunny Southern California over the course of three days, occasionally switching up seats, vehicles, and children, for maximum entertainment and minimum meltdowns. On the last day of that trip, the elder Cullens, the Swans, and the McCarty-Six-Pack all flew in from Seattle together, met up with the Dwyers, who'd flown in from Florida. After boarding a fifteen-seat Econoline rental van with Emmett at the wheel, they headed for Santa Monica, where they were to meet up with the younger Cullens, the Cheneys, and the Whitlocks. They converged on a trio of spacious vacation rental condos, close to one another and within walking distance of the beach.
The vacation was quite the adventure, with day-trips to Disneyland, Griffith Park and Observatory, the San Diego Zoo, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, and Universal Studios Hollywood—a must for cinephile Edward. Those hectic day-trips away were alternated with slower days spent at the beach or on the pier in Santa Monica. They breakfasted together at Bella and Edward's large condo, with its long dining table and numerous patio deck tables and chairs. Everyone contributed to the breakfast buffets, alternating between Dad-breakfast-sandwiches, courtesy of Uncle Edward and Grandpa Charlie, Aunt Bella's pancakes, or Aunt Alice's French toast. Afterwards, they were off to the beach, returning in the afternoon for naps and quiet time to just hang out and relax.
Multi-family dinners ranged from pizza or fast food on the run, to communal barbecues at the condos. On several evenings, the older couples enjoyed an early dinner out while the younger couples fed their children and then suited them up in pajamas for the evening. Upon the grandparents' return, the kids got to enjoy a movie night in while their parents went and enjoyed an evening out.
On one of those evenings, Bella, Edward, Alice, Jasper, Emmett, Rose, Angela and Ben had all gone out for their own movie night.
It was actually the whole reason for the entire trip—the reason for that bit of business in Los Angeles, to which Bella and Edward had to tend.
Because it was actually more than the usual movie night out.
It was really more of a…movie premiere…sort of night out.
It was an American film from Equinox Entertainment, directed by Kathleen Hardtack, with a screenplay by Marissa Blumenfeld. The indie romantic-comedy, set in the Pacific Northwest, had been financed, in part, by Constellation Group—a subsidiary of Masen Entrepreneurial, which was rumored to be composed primarily of teachers and business-owners from the Seattle area.
The film, Fan Fiction, Sex Gods and Single Girls, was based on the commercially popular novel by the same name, written by Isabella and Edward Cullen, formerly writing under the pseudonyms of Isolde and Elwood Phoenix. Dressed to kill, the conspicuously attractive co-author couple made a rare public appearance, walking the red carpet at the film's premiere in Westwood.
When the film's young stars hit the red carpet a short while later, the crowd went wild. There had been some speculation that the attractive stars might have become romantically involved during the filming of the movie, and that only heightened the anticipation and interest in the film's upcoming release.
Bella would certainly agree the stars had a definite connection—a certain palpable chemistry. But they deserved their privacy, she felt, especially if they were indeed involved, and Bella hoped the paparazzi wouldn't hound them. They had merely signed on to do a job, acting out their roles. It wasn't like they wanted to put their possible relationship out there for all the world to see…or read…or watch…as it unfolded.
Not everyone did that sort of thing.
The premiere was quite well-received, and it seemed they might even have a hit on their hands, judging by the audience's reaction to the tender moments, and the giggles and guffaws at the more ridiculous ones. Reviews of the premiere had been positive, which raised early optimism among the members of Constellation Group about a possible future franchise, based on the other novels in the series.
Only time would tell.
"Home, sweet home," Edward announced tiredly, finally pulling the car up the driveway and into their garage. "I can bring our luggage in tomorrow morning, but we should probably bring our children into the house tonight."
"I think that would be best," Bella laughed as she gathered up her purse and laptop.
"I'll carry our droopy little rag doll, you steer our somnambulatory son. Last one in bed is a rotten egg," Edward challenged.
"Game on, my dear."
Of course Stella would wake up enough to have to go to the bathroom. And then insist on changing out of her clothes and into her jammies. And then insist the two jammie-halves had to match. And that the set Edward had just put on her were too scratchy so she needed a different set. And then she needed a drink of water.
Edward Junior was so much easier, content to dive into bed in his underwear and T-shirt.
When Edward Senior finally made it to bed, Bella was already there, her laptop open on her lap.
"You're writing now?" he asked incredulously. "It's after midnight. Aren't you as exhausted as I am?"
"Yes, but inspiration struck and I had to get this down before I lost the thought. Let me just save it," she said as he climbed into bed next to her.
"Here," she said, turning the screen toward him slightly. "Please read it and tell me what you think." She scooted closer to him, her eyes following the words on the screen as he read her final paragraph aloud.
"You never know where the road of life is going to take you. You just hop in, buckle up, and hang on for the ride. There are off-ramps and detours and stops along the way. Sometimes you see what's coming down the road but not always. Hairpin curves blindside you with the unexpected and unforeseen, but you just might be amazed when you look around to see where you've arrived. The important thing is to focus on the trip and enjoy every good moment, because you only get one chance at the ride of your lifetime…and that ride could very well exceed your wildest dreams."
"That's perfect!" Edward announced. He looked up and smiled widely at his grinning wife. "It's really the perfect ending for our story."
"I thought so, too. That's why I wanted to get it written down."
"Now can we go to sleep?" Edward asked hopefully.
"Of course, my love."
Bella closed her laptop, put it on her nightstand, and turned off the light. A strong arm pulled her close and warm lips kissed hers in the dark.
"Goodnight, Mrs. Cullen."
"Goodnight, Mr. Cullen. Sweet dreams."
A/N: Thank you for reading/re-reading and sharing your thoughts, humor, and love for this beast in reviews or private messages. Will there be more in the form of outtakes? Who knows. Never say never. ;)