A/N: It's here, the final chapter of this triple shot. Sorry for the delay, it was everything and nothing. I'm posting all the author's notes up here, so you can review after you've read and your review will not be muddled by my words.
There were some of you that reviewed the previous chapters and wanted the EPOV replies, but you had your PMs turned off, so I couldn't respond. I'm sorry and I hope I didn't skip anyone. I'm not too proficient at that. I am MEGA behind on review replies right now, please be patient.
I am truly blown away at the love this fic has received. I thank you all!
If there is a want, some time I'll post a 4th chapter outtake in all EPOV. More or less all the good stuff from this whole fic that you didn't get to hear from Edward, including the snippets I sent out in replies. . ALL of it. Yep, and if you review, you'll get a teaser of it too before it posts on here.
As I've said before, I am NO medical expert. All the info I get is from Google. The medical stuff in this chapter was researched, but don't hold me to it. I hate research.
My wifey, beegurl13 read this for me as I went, you can all thank her for the lemon, it was her idea, then she fixed it and talked me off the ledge of deleting it all. Tracy also has been a good cheerleader and prereader, and held my hand all through this. Kikikinz also was sweet enough to beta'd for me, all three chapters and encouraged me to give you MORE.
Other than the peeps I mentioned above I wanna dedicate this to all of you who PMd me on FFN or Twitter or FB, or who asked about FLH in a review for LG or on GChat, thank you from the depths of my Robward lovin heart.
Amie, this is all for you. I hope I haven't let you down. You bought this in the FGB & ever so slowly I wrote it. The baby's name is all for you. I pray you enjoy.
Everyone, try not to choke on all the fluff below.
Well, if you knew how much this moment means to me
And how long I've waited for your touch
And if you knew how happy you are making me
I never thought that I'd love anyone so much
It feels like home to me...
It's strange how emotions can be the same, yet so different, take love for example. With Edward it was a drip, like a leaky faucet. My love for him slowly trickled everyday, soon overflowing a teacup and spilling into the saucer. Through the years the unrelenting drizzle caused a splash over the rim of a bucket and wet the floors. It never stopped. It was just a tiny bit, every day. The love grew and grew. Slow. Steady. Seeping. Filling and overflowing my heart for as long as I could remember.
Then the nurse gently places my baby in my arms and the love is a tidal wave. It instantly surges over me and I drown. The tide is strong, the current is swift. I can't pull away. The things I feel for this child, this innocence, is such an overwhelming flow of so many feelings, I don't know how I ever lived without it. The wave of emotions mimic a tsunami, they just kept coming, fast and deep. Saturating and engulfing. Taking over.
Love. Adoration. Joy. Awe. Fright. Security. Alarm. Worry. Blessedness. Perfection. Enchantment. Weakness.
I couldn't keep up and I couldn't stay afloat. I never reached for the shore. I never gulped for air. Time simply stood still.
My heart felt too large for my body.
All the feelings that I felt for my baby suddenly filled holes in my soul that I didn't even know were there.
I had purpose. I witnessed miracles. My arms were full and my future was promising.
See, love is the same.
And I wouldn't trade either kind for all the wealth of the world.
"You okay?" Edward talks in a whisper as he stands at my bedside, one hand on the back of C.J.'s head, the other resting above my pile of brown tangles on my pillow.
I nod because words have left me. I don't know what to say, all I can do is let my emotions weigh me down and ground me to this bed so I don't float away.
The bustle around us has finally subdued to nothing.
It's just us three, kind of like I always wanted it to be.
Edward pulls a chair close to my bed and sits on the edge of the seat, I assume not wanting to waste any space between us.
I appreciate the gesture.
"You're naming him C.J. huh?" Edward strokes C.J.'s hair as I hold him. There's so much of it. It's so black and soft and shiny - like a raven's winter coat.
"Yeah. Do you like it? Christian after Emmett Christian, and then James after daddy, Charles James." I can't seem to look away from C.J.'s perfect, beautiful face.
"So, C.J. for short, and you know what?" I ask Edward, because he needs to know this, "if there was a way I could add an Anthony or an Edward to his name, I would." I look up at Edward to gauge his reaction.
He swallows hard, not returning my stare. "Bella..." he shakes his head, "...no."
I look back down to C.J., "Hmmm, I wish …" I quietly state and leave it at that, not knowing how to explain it. Not knowing how to tell him I want to name my baby after all the men I love.
"Will you take him? My arm's going numb." I motion for Edward to pick him up.
He stands and wipes his palms down the front of his jeans. His forehead scrunches in concentration and he reaches forward. I notice his hands are a little shaky. He touches C.J. so delicately and tentatively. He seems hesitant so I encourage him, "It's all right. Go ahead. You won't break him, Edward."
He huffs out his nose and begins to worry his bottom lip with his top teeth. One large hand scoops under C.J.'s head and then the other under his bottom. He slowly lifts him away from my arms and I immediately miss all six pounds and three ounces of him resting against me.
Edward carefully sits back down in the chair and cradles C.J. into his arms.
I've never seen anything more precious.
I watch as Edward studies and admires him. The room is quiet and still, yet all the noise that fills the halls of the hospital around us sneaks into our room.
"You had me so worried Bella, it was all I could stand. It was even worse than before. I couldn't fathom the thought of something happening to you… " he takes an unsteady breath, not looking away from the baby in his arms. "Or to him. It was awful."
I reach out to comfort him somehow. He's still looking down at C.J. so I lightly let my fingertips dance through his hair. "I'm sorry," I confess, easy and true.
From what the doctors have explained to me, I had an eclamptic seizure. Edward did the right thing by calling an ambulance. They arrived right as my body began to convulse. The EMTs immediately gave me an IV of magnesium sulfate to decrease the risk of me seizing again.
I was rushed here to the hospital. As soon as I arrived, the L&D staff prepped me for an emergency c-section because C.J. was showing signs of compromise - his little heart was failing.
I don't remember any of it.
The ambulance ride, arriving at the hospital, my cesarean section, his delivery. All I know is I came to, groggy and sore, and not pregnant anymore. I was in a recovery room and nurses were around me encouraging me to wake me up.
I do recall panicking, worried about my baby, but I was quickly calmed when they carried him over to me and held him up in front of my face.
The nurses told me he was fine, perfectly fine matter of fact. The danger was over and everything was going to be all right. I've never been more relieved in my life, never.
"Ms. Swan, do you need anything?" A tall, older nurse sticks her head in the door and asks.
"We're fine, thanks." I answer.
She nods her head and narrows her eyes at Edward before pulling the door back closed.
"I don't think that nurse and I need to be in the same room," Edward fumes.
"Why?" I question.
He shakes his head and then pauses, before looking up at me. I see tears welling up in his eyes. I notice the muscles in his jaws working overtime. "Right after you were admitted she told me to call whoever needed to make the choice of whom they were to save." He speaks slow and quiet, and there is so much turbulence in this voice, it takes my breath away.
"What?" I gasp out.
He swallows hard and shrugs. "Yeah, she implied one of you was not going to make it." He stops talking and tries to smooth down C.J.'s hair. "I couldn't do it. I couldn't call Emmett or .. I couldn't decide something like that. I'd rather die myself."
"I'm sorry," I whisper again as tears spill over my eyelids and run down my cheeks. "She shouldn't have asked that of you."
Edward sucks in his lips and nods his head. He lifts C.J. up to his face. Edward tucks C.J.'s miniature body up under his chin right after he kisses him on his chubby cheek.
"You're both okay now. That's all that matters. I have you both." He says as his whole body relaxes, maybe saying it to me or maybe to himself, I'm not entirely sure.
I sigh and lean back into my bed as I watch them, and I have to agree, "Yeah, you do."
After an extended hospital stay, I was more than excited to get back to my house and do this on my own.
Being a mother, it seems to come natural to me. Thank goodness!
I mean, I still freak out a lot. I worry about carrying for his belly button and his little pee-pee after his circumcision.
I agonize about if he's eating enough or if his belly hurts. If he needs to burp again and if his poop is the right consistency.
I tried to breast feed him in the hospital and I freaked out about that, too. I know I gave up too easily and should have tried harder to get it right, but I have confidence that every thing's going to work out anyway. At least this way, I can monitor how much he's getting with each bottle.
I fret about his diaper changes and his baths and hurting him while I'm changing his clothes. After the first incident of being sprayed on with runaway pee, I know at least to squint my eyes and shut my mouth until I can cover up his goods with a clean diaper.
I check on him when he's sleeping or when I think it's been too long in between his feedings.
The only time I'm at peace is when that teeny child is in my arms, or in Edward's. Somehow, my brain thinks that we when we hold him he's safe and protected. That our bodies form a shield, a cocoon around him and nothing will or can ever go wrong.
How naive is that?
Six weeks in and Edward's a natural. One day, his wife will be so proud of what an awesome father he can be and I will totally keep my emotions out of it when that day comes. He deserves all the happiness in the world, even if I want it to be with me.
At least I hope he gives me and C.J. credit for all his practice.
He doesn't let me get up in the night, even when I wake up. He strokes my hair and tells me to go back to sleep, to let him do it 'this time.' But 'this time' is every time and it makes me feel guilty.
We still sleep in my bed. When I first got home, it just kinda happened. C.J.'s bassinet was in my bedroom and me or Edward would camp out on the bed giving the other company and then one of us would just fall asleep.
Then C.J. would whimper and Edward would do that thing - his fingers in my hair, his palm on my cheek whispering for me to fall back asleep, to let him handle it 'this time.'
More than once I woke up to Edward asleep holding C.J. on the couch, or the rocker, or laying with him in between us in the bed.
I bet there's a place in heaven like that, one that gives you that warm, smooth feeling inside just by chance of gazing upon it.
I sit in the rocker in C.J.'s room holding him as he sleeps. Emmett and Rose will be here in a few days. C.J. finally gets to meet his uncle Em. I can't wait.
There are lots of times, I don't want to put him down. I just want him as close to me as possible, him sleeping or not.
I can't stop touching his face or counting his toes or caressing his skin.
I'm amazed at just how perfect he is and that he came out of me.
Not even once have I thought ill of his sperm donor of a father. I don't resent Riley, not at all. Everything he put me through was worth it. I would have taken it a hundred times worse if it would have still ended up like this.
I know that sometimes, when I have too long to sit around and ponder, I think about how insecure I was to stay with him. How I let him control me. How, even after he assaulted me and was long gone, I let him break my spirit, too.
His words hurt more than his fists ever did.
Truth be told, I'm not sure I'll ever be confident in another relationship. I think that's pretty evident with how I let myself fall for the unattainable. It''s easy to love from afar, to never put myself out there. To never admit to Edward that I love him like I do. I know it's cowardly. It's a form of self preservation as to not have to hear and accept the rejection.
But it's also so heartbreaking.
So many times I've almost let it slip how much I love him. How he makes me feel so safe. I want to tell him how appreciative I am of him and how I feel like I owe him the world.
And there are times when he looks at me, and there is this tenderness in his eyes, my love for him seems to be the most natural thing in the world.
How when he holds me or touches me that I lose myself. My grip on reality slips. My heart beats fast and my body sings out to him. And how when he's gone away from me, a piece of myself is missing.
I love that moment when he comes back to us, every day, it's always the same. For just a moment, he seems to be as happy to see us, as we are to see him.
I want to ask him to stay with me forever, to see if he thinks that one day he might be able to love me as I love him.
I sometimes feel the need to confess to him that I am scared of losing him in ways that I really don't even have him. Scared that I will never feel for another man the way I do him. Scared that I will lose this feeling that I only feel with him. How even though I've known him my whole life, it's just been in the past year that I've realized that he's the one that changed me, made me find myself. How when he's here with me, I feel at home. It feels like home to me, it feels like I'm right where I belong.
Through all the turmoil I've been through, he's never left my side, and I will never, ever forget it. He's not only been my sun, my constant source of light, he's also been my moon, shining on me in darkness. Always there, no matter what. For me. With me.
C.J. yawns and stretches and I smile and snuggle him closer.
I can't help but wonder if this type of love can sustain me. Will it really be enough? This intense love I feel for my baby may actually be the only fairy tale love I'm destined to have. I'm sure there is no way I could possibly love C.J. more and I almost think I'm a little unworthy of the love and devotion this child already gives to me.
Yeah, maybe that is enough.
I mean, I can't be too greedy. Having one boy love me endlessly will have to be enough.
It will just have to be.
I wake up and look at the clock, it almost three in the morning.
I sit up and notice that Edward is gone and so is C.J.
I stand and stretch.
I hear the creak of the rocker in the nursery.
I creep down the hall on my tip toes and listen.
Edward is talking to him, but he's being so quite I can't make out what he's saying.
Then Edward laughs and my breath catches.
I step closer to the open door and lean my head forward.
"Yeah, soon that little smile will be a laugh, and you know what they say about the first laugh of a baby, right?" I giggle at his baby talk. It's a little higher pitched than he normally speaks and a little faster too.
"Well, when the first baby laughed his very first laugh, the laughter broke into a thousand pieces and those pieces all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. And now when every new baby is born it's first laugh becomes a fairy."
My eyes wet and I open my mouth to breathe easier, although the lump that just ballooned in my throat is making it difficult.
Edward hears me and he looks up, "Look, it's your Mommy."
I slowly blow out as I walk toward them. "What are you two doing awake at this early hour?" I sniff and try to compose myself.
"I'm just being selfish," Edward sighs.
"What?" I ask as I rub C.J.'s crazy hair.
"Emmett will be here soon and I'll have to share him."
I smile and nod, "I've thought about that too."
"This is my favorite time of the day." Edward starts to sway him back and forth. "Being alone with him."
I feel my heart begin to rip a little and I'm not sure exactly why.
"I sure do love this little guy," he says undoubtedly.
It suddenly hits me like a ten ton wrecking ball.
Edward loves C.J.
The rip tears clean in two.
I don't think I can do this anymore.
I can't allow this to go on any longer.
It's a good thing Em is coming tomorrow, I need to talk to him.
"So what you want to talk to me about, Sis?" Emmett asks as he sits down beside me and throws his arm around my shoulders on the porch swing.
Rose is upstairs rocking C.J. I could tell she's been wanting some alone time with him since they arrived a few days ago.
Edward's still at the Academy today, he won't be home until later. He only has a few more days until he graduates and he will become Officer Cullen.
"Did you hear that I got the papers back from Riley. There was no contest. He signed off on all his paternal rights." It makes me so happy to know this will never come up again. Riley will never be able to fight me for my baby.
"Really?" Em asks as he starts to swing us.
"I figured as much. But, yeah, I'm officially the sole parent on C.J.'s birth certificate. And Carlisle said that if and when Riley gets out of prison, we'll file a no contact order or a restraining order, or whatever it is. So, he can never come near us."
"It's a good thing, I don't ever want you to talk to him or see him again. I mean it. I'd hate to have to kill him for what he did to you. I still want to as it is." Emmett looks away and I can clearly see that he's disturbed about the whole Riley situation. The pasts four days he's been here, we've talked a lot about it. I think he understands it was the first and the last time Riley hit me. I've apologized more times than I can count.
"I'm sorry for all that Em, I really am."
"What are you still apologizing for? You didn't know he was going to go all psycho on you. Don't keep apologizing. I knew there was something off about him, I can't believe I didn't figure out before hand." Emmett balls up his fist and hits it against his knee in frustration.
I take a deep breath, I might as well get all this out now. "There's something else, I... um, I think we should sell the house."
"What?" He quickly whips his head around to look at me.
"Please, hear me out. I just think it's time. You and Rosalie, who knows where you two are going to end up being stationed, you don't want to live here, in this house. And C.J. and I, we don't need half this space, and then Edward, he's going to be graduating soon. I'm sure he's ready to move on and get a place of his own. I think..."
"Have you talked to Edward about this?" Emmett interrupts me and stops the swing.
"Wh- um, what? No! Why should I?" I'm surprised that Emmett even cares if I've mentioned this to Edward yet or not.
"Bella, I'm just saying I think you should at least ask him what his plans are."
Now I'm pissed. "What the hell, Emmett? It's not up to Edward, nor yourself what I do with my life." I feel my walls breaking down. I don't know how to make Emmett understand. "This needs to happen. Everyone needs to move on. If you don't want to sell this house, just say so. You can buy out my share or something so I can get a smaller place. I …"
"Baby sis, that's not it. I think this is about more than just selling the house, isn't it?"
Just what I need. I should have known that Emmett could see right through me, he always has been able to. I shake my head, hoping he will drop it.
"Don't lie to me. I've seen the way you look at him Bella. You have feelings for Edward, don't you?"
I keep my thoughts to myself, but Emmett saying the words aloud scares the hell out of me. That's more than I've been able to do.
"Bella, I've always known you crushed hard on him. Now talk to me."
Just like that, I give a little and let Emmett in. I want to tell someone anyway. "You know that feeling that you get when you're around someone and it makes you think you two are the only people on Earth, and everything else just sort of falls into place?"
Emmett nods and rubs my shoulder.
The tears that I've been holding back finally slip down my cheeks and the words so easily fall from my lips, "That's what I feel when I'm with him. Yeah, I love him, Emmett, I do - but I can't be with him."
He sort of laughs, "Why not? Have you even told Edward how you feel?"
"Yeah right," I snort. "That'd go over well. He thinks of me as his baby sister, Em!" The hurt oozes over my heart, just like it has every other time I've thought of it that way.
"And how are you so sure about that?" he asks so calmly and sure of himself. I hate it when Emmett questions me with that tone of voice.
"You see the way you're looking at me right now? That's the same way he looks at me... the exact same way." My shoulders slump and the intensity of the throb in my heart pulses harder.
"I'm not so sure about that, Belly. I think he likes you as more than his best friend's little sister, and C.J.-"
"Don't you see though? He loves C.J. and he may or may not likeme a little? I can't be with him for that reason alone. I deserve more than that Emmett, and I'll never get over him with him so close and so involved in my life. I need this." I'm all but begging him to understand.
"Are you sure?" Emmett asks with a sound of resignation. "I just think, Belly-"
I cut him off, not wanting him to try and sway my opinion. This is hard enough as it. "Yeah, I'm sure, but will you tell him? I think he should hear it from you." I honestly don't think I have the willpower to send him away.
"Of course I'll talk to him."
"Can you wait a few days? I don't want any unnecessary drama while you're here." I can practically feel the impending change in the air.
"Whatever you want," Emmett sighs.
"You leave Sunday right?" I ask trying to get a plan laid down in my mind.
"Today is Wednesday, and Edward's graduation is Saturday, so, maybe tell him Friday or after his graduation. And tell him he doesn't have to move out right away. He can look around, take his time finding a new place, or he can wait until the house sells, I mean, I'll have to find something too and.."
"Bella," he stops my rambling. "I'll talk to him, but I still think you've got to tell him how you feel. He deserves that much."
I nod my head in agreement, I just don't know where I'll ever find the courage to do so.
We settle into a quiet bubble. I watch the clouds drift over head and the breeze rustle the leaves. We casually swing back and forth.
"Emmett, do you ever wish you were a little kid again?" I ask as I rest my head over onto his broad shoulder.
"No, not really, I kind of like being a grown up, it's pretty awesome." he chuckles.
"I do. I wish I were a kid, things were easy then. Mom and Dad were happy and together. Gram and Gramps lived next door. All I ever had to worry about was which cartoon I was going to watch first."
"Yeah. I remember. It was easier." Emmett squeezes my shoulder. I can't help but be sad and wonder how many more times we will share together like this.
"And, you know, skinned elbows and knees were so much easier to fix and mend than broken hearts and dreams." I sigh and close my eyes.
"I can't argue with that, sis. I can't argue that at all."
I go shopping with Rosalie and go to the cemetery with Emmett. I trim the bushes across the street in old man Clearwater's yard. I try and stay busy and I pull away from Edward. It's not easy. I can feel the separation in every fiber of my being and like a rubber band, the need is strong to return to him.
But I fight the force with all I have.
I don't allow myself to sneak and watch him bond with C.J.
If Edward falls asleep in my bed, I take the monitor downstairs with me and sleep on the couch.
I can't even bear to look at him. It makes me feel guilty for pushing him away, knowing that I'm going to be taking C.J. away from him, and even for falling in love with him and causing this whole mess.
I'm sure the guilt is written all over my face.
Emmett and Edward stay pretty occupied doing their guy stuff anyway. I seem to forget that they were friends first and nothing will ever change that.
I was just in the right place at the right time to throw chaos into the mix.
Friday night I hear Emmett asking Edward if he wants to go and grab a beer at Smokey's Bar. My heart wallops in my chest and I feel like I might throw up. I almost want to run in there and tell Emmett to forget I ever said anything.
"Bella, are you okay? You look kind of pale?" Rose walks by and sees me standing rigid in the hallway. I don't think she notices that I'm totally eavesdropping on Edward and Emmett.
"Just a little dizzy," I half lie.
"You want to go rest? I'll listen out for C.J." She rubs up and down my back.
"I think I will. Thank you." I agree only because I don't know how much longer I can stand here and hold back my tears.
Funny how it seems that no matter what I do, I end up with heartache.
I stop in to look at C.J. before I go to my room. I rest my hand on his back, take pleasure in his warmth, appreciate his steady heartbeat, wait for the gentle rise and fall of his chest as he breathes. "I hope I'm doing the right thing Ceej," I whisper. "He loves you. I love you. We all love you. That won't ever change. I'm just trying to do the right thing by us all."
Even though with everything I am, it sure doesn't feel like the right thing.
It's late when I hear Edward and Emmett return to the house. I pull C.J. tighter in to my embrace. I've been lying with him in my bed for hours. He makes my soul relax a little, the hurt's still there, just not quite as strong and powerful.
Holding C.J. at least gives me hope for tomorrow.
And the day after that.
The next month.
And next year.
I hear the floorboards creak in the hall outside. I can't make out what Edward and Em are saying to each other.
That is until Edward's voice gets closer. "I'm sure. Goodnight Emmett. I'll see you in the morning."
My door opens and I close my eyes pretending to be asleep. I can faintly tell that a dim light spills into the room from the night light in the hallway.
I mentally count Edward's steps as he nears my bed. I try my best not to move a muscle.
"Belly? Are you awake?" He speaks so quietly, I barely hear him.
I don't move or answer him and I pray he can't tell that my breathing has increased. He sounds upset. Defeated even.
The bed moves, I surreptitiously open one eye and peek out to see him slumped forward, sitting on the edge of my bed.
"Damn," he whispers and hangs his head. He brings up his elbows and props them on his knees. His hands go to his hair. "What am I supposed to say? How can I fix this?"
It's all I can do to not reach out and comfort him.
None of this is his fault. He need not think so.
I squeeze my eyes closed again.
I hate that I've hurt him.
Soon enough Edward joins us on the bed and rests on the other side of C.J. I refuse to think about how much I wish things were different. It's time for me to move on.
As soft and light as the flutter of a butterflies wings, I feel his fingers trace the outline on my cheek, moving down to my chin before his touch falls off my profile.
"Goodnight," he whispers as his fingers, in their absence, leave a burn on my skin.
Through the cover of the night he doesn't see the tears as they roll down and wet my face before staining the pillow.
"Goodnight," I mouth in return as I settle in to sleep, for the last time no doubt, with both my loves in my bed and with no more worry about how things are going to change.
Because they already have.
Very early in the morning C.J. starts to squirm in between Edward and I. I crane my neck to see that the clock says it's just a little past six.
I look down and smile at Edward's arm thrown over C.J.'s middle. It's such a tender moment to see the fatherly way Edward treats C.J.
I'm not sure if it's even replaceable.
C.J. looks up at me, his pupils still so dark and deep. Recognition and excitement spread over his features. His arms and legs start to flail. He's eleven weeks old and seems to change every single day.
I scrunch up my nose and raise my pointer finger to my lips, "Shhhhh."
I move Edward's arm away from C.J. as gently as I can, careful not to wake him up.
Edward shifts slightly on to his back, freeing up C.J.
I quickly pick him up, eager to love all over my baby, all the while still unable to look away from the sleeping man in my bed.
Edward's so righteous and good. He's been so faithful to me through all this. I swear I think he's a rarity among men, even a perfect man in an imperfect world.
And it is definitely too good to be true to think he could have ever been mine.
"Rosalie, why are you up so early?"
She's already at the kitchen table, drinking her coffee, reading the newspaper.
"Lemme have him." she coos.
I hand C.J. off to her and grab a mug.
"I've just got in the habit of getting up early with your brother, like at the ass crack of dawn every morning. It's my routine now. I couldn't sleep in if I wanted to."
"Hmmm," I respond in a daze as I blow on my coffee. So many things are moving at a warped speed through my mind.
I'm a nervous wreck.
"Edward's graduation service starts at eleven this morning, right?" Rose asks as she bounces C.J. on her knees.
"I believe so."
"Are you going to ride with us or what?" C.J. starts to fuss, so Rose picks him up and puts him on her shoulder.
"It doesn't matter," I answer. I swear I feel so uneasy, as if I know today the sky is going to fall and I'm going to be caught under it's blanket, unable to escape.
"Bella, you seem distracted. Why don't you take a walk down at the shore or something. Get you some fresh air. Clear your head."
C.J. starts to cry louder and I robotically move and begin to fix him a bottle. "He's probably hungry."
Rose stands and takes the bottle from my hands. "Bella, just go. I'll handle little man here."
I would absolutely love some alone time to get myself together, but I have responsibilities. I shouldn't.
But I should...
I hesitantly hand her over the bottle and walk toward the back door to slip on my sandals.
"Just be back by ten or so," she adds as I open the door.
"Okay, I'll be back." I blow Ceej a kiss. "I have my cell if you need me."
"Tell her to go on, C.J., we'll be fine, won't we?"
I step through the door and let the sunshine warm my face while the morning air - still wet with dew, chills my skin.
I take off walking toward my favorite place in the world, the lone bench down past the pier. The place my daddy always took me, Emmett, and Edward when we fussed about wanting to swim in the ocean.
The only place, other than my home, where I can let my mind run wide open until it clears itself.
Where I can let my heart freely bleed with emotions.
I can just sit there on that old wooden bench for hours, doing nothing but watching the repetitive motion of the water, how the tide pulls and then pushes - so strong and sure. Reveling in the way it calms me from the inside out.
I can think about my daddy and what he'd be doing right now, how the fish probably miss his laughter and the hum of his boat's old worn out motor in the cove.
I can think about how Emmett is living his dream, tackling life with arms wide open. Getting everything he deserves and more. His dreams are coming true and I am so proud of him .
I can think about Edward and how far he's come. How I remember when he was little and his parents abandoned him and dad took him in. Edward was so grateful and innocent, even when he should have been out having fun and living it up, he choose to stay home with us and just hang out.
It's no wonder I feel about him like I do.
I slink down and sit on that old bench. I finger over the splintering wood and pick at the curling paint.
The sound of the ocean plays a relaxing song, no matter the hour or day, it always sounds the same. I could listen to it forever.
Before I know it, tears are flooding down my cheeks. I can't wipe them away fast enough. They just take over for no particular reason at all.
Or maybe it's because of all the reasons.
But it seems that as my tears leak, my soul feels a little bit lighter.
And I don't know how that I know, but I do, everything is going to be all right.
Edward pushes through the crowd, loosing up his tie as he walks. He's making a bee line straight for us. Some of his fellow graduates are reaching out their hand to congratulate him, he's quick to finish the gesture and keep moving.
I love watching him from afar like this.
Rose and Emmett stand beside me as Edward comes closer. I haven't spoken to him since last night before him and Em had their talk. I'm a little apprehensive how it's going to be between us now.
When I returned from my walk on the beach, Edward had already left. He had to be at the auditorium early for line ups.
Emmett wouldn't tell me what they had talked about. He only said that he told Edward what I had wanted him too, the rest was none of my business.
Edward finally makes his way to us and he immediately reaches out to take C.J. from me. I oblige and hand him over, but I see the way his eyes look troubled when he looks at me. I feel the shake in the core of myself, everything in between us feels uneasy.
Emmett one-arm hugs him, "Congrats brother," slapping Edward hard on the back.
"Thanks man," he returns the manly hug.
Rosalie opens her arms and Edward steps into them. They hug and laugh. I look away.
Edward steps over to stand directly in front of me. There is so much I want to do and say to him. I want to smile at him. I want to gush at how proud I am of him. I want to tell him how I can't wait to see him in his uniform. I want to say that I know my father is smiling down from Heaven so pleased at what Edward has done. I want to tell him how I think he's one in a million.
Instead I wrap my arms around his middle. I bury my face in between C.J.'s shoulder and Edward's chest. I squeeze them both. I breathe deeply categorizing this moment and the way it feels to have both my boys in my arms.
Edward tightens his arm around my back. I feel his lips on the crown of my head. He gently sways us right to left to right.
"We did it," he says in a docile tone, still not letting me go.
"You did it," I correct still not letting him go either.
"If you only knew," he adds.
I smile and try to ignore how right it feels so right to be in his arms.
I stay in his hold as long as he lets me.
"Let's go eat." He loosens his grip from around me, but instead of letting me go, he pulls me into his side. His hand fits perfectly around my waist, his fingers wrapping around my hip. This space on his side is such a lovely place to be.
Right now, in this second, I am a lucky woman.
Edward watches me a lot as we eat and I know this only because my eyes don't wander far from him.
C.J. is passed all around the table, but mostly he's with being held by me or Edward.
I have no doubt that to a stranger, we would appear to be a happy family. Edward a proud father, me a doting mother. Em and Rose, the over protective aunt and uncle.
If only appearances mattered.
Edward stands to go to the bar and I find the steak sauce on my plate very interesting. I don't know how to start this conversation and get things back to good with Edward.
I hate it.
"Bella," Rose leans over and takes the fork from my hand. "Emmett and I thought about going ahead and leaving soon and taking C.J. with us. You could stay late and hang out with Edward. Have a little fun." She wiggles her eyebrows and I feel the panic start in my toes and creep up my bones.
"Rose! NO! I can't..." I grab a hold of her hand.
"Don't have a good time then, just talk to the man, Bella. He'll bring you home." Rosalie jerks her hand out of mine. Her eyes reverberate her tone of voice, she's aggravated. She's had enough of me skating around my feelings for Edward.
She knows, she always known.
"Rosalie..." I whine.
"Bella!" She says in a condescending tone that I imagine I'll speak to C.J. with one day.
She quickly stands and I follow her over to where Emmett and Edward are now standing. Edward is holding C.J. while they both converse with an older man and woman.
"Bella," Edward says as he reaches his empty arm out for me. I fill the open space like a plug. my side to his. "I bet you don't remember Cpt. Black do you? He was a close friend of Charlie's and this is his wife, Sue."
I reach out to shake his hand and then her's. "The name sounds familiar," I admit.
Cpt. Black begins to tell us stories of my father and his adventures on the police force. Cpt. Black was even his partner when they were both just rookies.
We all laugh at the memories and the pride I've always carried for my father triples in size.
I see out of my periphery Rose take C.J. out of Edward's arms. Edward throws his now empty arm around her and whispers something in her ear. She tells him something back and then she takes off back toward our table.
I hesitantly considering walking away and asking her what's going on until Cpt. Black introduces another fellow officer who was close to my dad and a whole new round of tales begin.
Emmett announces to our circle that him and Rose have to leave and take the baby home so the quote "kids can stay out and play tonight." I narrow my eyes and cross my arms.
He shakes every one's hand and then leans forward to give me a hug, "Stay out as late as you need, Belly. Just work it out, all right?"
He pats my back and kisses my cheek before releasing me and walking away to join Rose at the table gathering our belongings.
Rosalie carries C.J., asleep in his carrier, over to where we're standing. She hugs me and tells me goodnight, also repeating what Emmett said about no curfew and setting things straight. I don't respond to her, I kiss Ceej and tell her to take care of him instead.
I watch as they carry him away and I'm already worrying about him. I haven't really been away from him since he was born.
I remembering reading somewhere that making a decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. Now more than ever I know exactly what that means.
"I'd buy you a drink, ya' know, if I could." Edward says with a cheesy grin as he tips up his beer bottle and finishes it off. Even watching him drink is sexy. How is life fair? "I don't think providing a minor with alcohol would be an appropriate way to start out my career." he adds.
"Please. I'm twenty, Edward. It's not like I'm twelve." I look away knowing he's saying this to get a rise out of me. Even though, around him... I willing float.
"Still too young." He shakes his head.
I turn to face him as the small dance floor near us begins to clear, "Not that much younger than you, Mr." I poke at his chest.
He grabs my hand, "You don't think five years is a lot?"
I look down and watch the way his long fingers wrap around my own. I suddenly feel bare and vulnerable, but I tell him anyway, "Not really."
His slides his palm to mine, lining them up, fingers wide and open. The heat between our hands passing back and forth, the energy transferring. "Good to know," he says as his hand curls around mine, linking us together as he has a hundred times before, yet somehow this time, it's different.
My insides go to mush.
A new song begins and he looks up at me with mischief in his eyes. "You know what song this is don't you?"
I groan and nod my head.
"And you did tell me you'd do the Electric Slide with me." He tugs me toward the lines of people already being formed on the dance floor.
"You're going to hold me to that?" I yell over the music.
"You better believe it." He lets go of my hand to stand beside me in line.
I can't stop laughing watching him dance. He adds extra spins and kicks in the line dance. I'm out of breath and my stomach cramps from laughing so hard by the time we 're done.
He grabs my hand again as we walk off the dance floor. "You ready to go?"
"Yeah, I think I am."
I did have fun hanging out and dancing with him, and it makes me smile like a goon thinking that it almost felt like... a date.
We walk side by side silently on the way to his car in the back parking lot of the city auditorium.
The distinctive smell of ocean drifts around us, I can't imagine living anywhere else where I couldn't walk outside and inhale that.
Some things are just what home is.
Edward tugs me on past his car and we head toward the sidewalk. "Let's walk and talk. Shall we?"
I nod and follow his lead but I am apprehensive of what may come out of our talk.
We walk for a bit, quiet and slow, our fingers loosely entwined as our arms dangle and swing. Our steps almost synchronized regardless of the height difference.
He finally breaks our hushed bubble, "Emmett told me you want to sell the house and why you wanted to do so."
I don't say anything in return.
"I think I need to explain a few things to you beforehand. I don't want you to make any rushed decisions because of me." He turns to say to me.
"Okay," I squeak out unsure if what he tells me could possibly make me change my mind or not.
"This isn't easy," he mumbles.
I squeeze his hand for reassurance because I know exactly how he feels.
"Please let me explain everything before you jump to conclusions, all right? I don't want you to... to hate me." He sounds so pleading.
I already want to run because I'm positive I don't want to hear anything ever that would make me hate him.
I turn to face him and I can tell he's nervous.
He takes a long, deep breath before he talks. "When I was a baby, I think I was like a year old, the doctor told my parents that I had Cryptorchidism, which is... damn I hate this … Um, my testicles had not descended to my ...scrotum. It was a birth defect and it only happens to one percent of males or so, but both my nuts had, you know, not fallen like were supposed to."
I remember reading something about that in one of my baby books. I shake my head and tell him to go on.
"My doctor suggested surgery to go ahead, and... fix them. My parents followed through, but it was about the same time that my mother was due with my younger brother, David."
"I didn't know you had a younger brother." I say in shock.
"I don't. She carried him to term, but he was stillborn, and I'm sure that's what messed my mother up so badly. She never could recover from his death and later on she ran dad off with her depression."
Tears burn my eyes when I think of the misery of losing a baby like that.
"But see, I got sick around that same time, but no one noticed that my abdomen was swelling. My cousin later told me that my mother thought I was crying all the time because she was always sad, but really it was because I was in pain. My incision was infected. My mother had stopped giving me my antibiotics and toxins were invading my body, not allowing me to heal properly."
The tension is literally rolling off Edward, I can feel it.
"After a few months stay in the hospital, I was finally better and sent home. My mother, though, she never got any better. I think I was six when my dad left. I was almost eight when I started staying with your dad all the time."
"I'm sorry, Edward-"
"Wait! That's not it." I swear I think his voice is cracking.
"Go ahead," I urge again.
"When I was fourteen, Charlie took me to a doctor to get a physical so I could play basketball for the middle school team. He ended up taking me to the same clinic my parents had used when I was a kid. I remember it like it was yesterday. That same night you're dad took me, just me, for a milkshake. We sat down on that old bench at the pier that he always took us to."
I smile and shake my head, the one I had just been to today.
"He told me what the doctor had told him earlier that day in the office. He said I'd never have any kids. That I was sterile. I wasn't exactly sure what that meant at the time. But that my illness as an infant had damaged me, that the scar tissue was too much to ever remove."
I swallow hard, my heart breaking more.
"I remember laughing after Charlie told me that." Edward's voice was so dull. "Thinking that maybe it was a good thing, as a teenage boy whose parents had abandoned him, kids were the last thing I thought I'd ever want."
I stay silent, not sure what to say.
"I never thought much more about it until I joined the Army, I told the attending about it and he suggested we run a few test to confirm it." Edward stops walking and loses his thoughts as he stares out into the night.
Our palms are sweaty but I squeeze his hand anyway. I pull our linked hands closer to me and put my other hand atop of his.
"What did the test say?" I ask, hesitantly.
"That I'd never be a dad." A single tear slides down his cheek causing a ripple and crack in my own emotions.
"That's where you come in." He turns to look at me, sad and guilty, and all the pieces of the puzzle begin to click into place.
A sob bubbles up out of my throat and I release his hands to cover my mouth.
Surely, he didn't.
Does that mean?
"Wait, Bella, listen! It's not as bad as it sounds. I swear."
I don't want to hear it.
With all I have I need to walk away from him, but my feet refuse to move.
I can't look at him though, I can't. It's worse than what I thought it could be.
"You know I've always cared about you. Always. And when all that happened with Riley, it about killed me. I was there for you. No hidden agenda. I wanted to be there Bella, I did."
I'm crying again. The sobs squeeze from my body under no control. This hurt is the hurt I've been wanting to avoid - magnified. My heart is no longer broken, it's destroyed. "Stop!" I try to speak but it's more like a strangle of letters spilling from my mouth.
He reaches out for me and I flinch away from his fingertips.
His hand drops and he tightens both his hands into a fist. He twists and stands with his back to me for just a minute. His hand digs through his hair.
It seems as though the unlit night has gotten darker even though the moon is still there, brighter than before.
I don't know what to do.
He slowly revolves back around to face me. He steps one step closer. I don't move. His moves are calculated and deliberate.
"Bella, please listen!" His voice is low and pleading, he sounds so desperate. "You have to know. It wasn't the first thing I though of. I just wanted you to be okay and I wanted to beat that fucker down. And then, when you were all right, and your spirits seemed to be in a good place, I begin to think about it. How about this time with you, how it might be my only chance to be," he shrugs, "to be a dad. Please understand."
I feel his hopelessness, I do, but it's at the expensive of me and my baby's love and trust. We gave it all to him.
And he took it so willingly.
"I understand Edward, I do!" I say through choppy breaths. "But there are other ways for you to be a father!" I argue and I can't help that my voice begins to rise.
"Bella, please. It just seemed-at the time-to be the perfect opportunity. I had already vowed to take care of you. So I thought why not?" He laughs a little balmy at himself.
"I didn't mean to get so involved and so close. I didn't intended to love C.J. the way I do, but I swear, I know it's not right, but I feel like... I finally had the family I never thought I'd have. It was... like a miracle." He sounds as hollow as I feel.
And I want to hate him for making me feel this way.
But I don't think I can.
"Edward just stop! How am I supposed to be okay with this?" It's all I can do to talk and breathe and stay standing upright.
All I want to do is crumble.
I turn to rest my back against the brick building we're standing beside. I lean forward, put my hands on my knees and try to calm myself. My hands are shaking and it feels like each inch of my skin is covered in thorns.
I stand back up straight and lean my head back against the wall. I close my eyes and dig as deep as I can within my soul. "Don't you get it Edward? I mean, yeah it hurts to know that you ...used us, but..."
He interrupts me. "Bella, I didn't use you. Or C.J. It may sound that way, and maybe that's the way it was at first, but it became so much more, please don't think that."
I shake my head and continue where I left off. "You using us for your advantage isn't really the worst part. It's that you didn't talk to me. You weren't honest with me from the start and now we have this big ol' mess. I would have been there for you too, Edward. That's what friends are for."
I look up to find him mirroring my stance against the wall. He's still so handsome, even through all the hurt and anguish that lingers between us. I hate that this is what we've come to. Secrets and hidden agendas.
Yet I know I wasn't any better. He has no idea how I feel about him. How I selfishly kept him around at any cost.
Obviously, even at the price of my crushed heart.
"Then again, Edward, I wasn't entirely honest with you either." Somehow through the tears as they stream down my face, I'm able to keep my voice calm and steady.
"See, I have this wonderful man who lives with me and my son in our home. He treats us like gold. He takes care of us like we are the most precious thing on earth. And I love that man." I point to him, my bottom lips quivers, so I quickly bring my hand up to cover my mouth.
I close my eyes when I continue to speak. "With everything I've ever known, I love him." My lips lift and curl regardless of everything else.
I take a deep breath, "I've always loved him, even more so now. And he... he really loves my son and maybe," my voice falls as I say it, "maybe he likesme a little. And as much as I want to be all right with that, just so I can be with you, I can't." I squeeze my eyes closed even tighter.
The sound of resolution takes over my tone, "That's not the way I'm built and I refuse to live that way any longer. It hurts too much, Edward." I lift my other hand and press it against my chest cavity, I try to stop the pain from the outside.
It doesn't work.
But as the words drift from my lips to float on the breeze wafting past us, it's freeing. Emmett's right, Edward deserves to know the truth.
Then my heart opens up, just a little, and lets out revelation that has camped out on the edge of my lips for years. "I've always loved you, Edward."
I finally turn my head to look at him. His eyes are open and sad. I can tell he's broken too. He's just standing there, still and quiet, watching me. Maybe my confession is freaking him out. Maybe now he'll have a reason to leave. I don't know, but I might as well put it all out there. Purge my feelings, pile them into a mountain before me, maybe that will make them easier to climb and conquer.
"And I don't think you see the places inside me that I find you. You're everywhere in my life and everything to me and I'm so grateful. But I have C.J. now and he's the most important thing to me. I just don't think this is going to work out anymore. I can't do it." The emptiness swallows me as I say it. I feel like he's already gone and left me, even though he's standing right next to me.
A break up of a couple that never even were.
We both deserve so much more.
Edward rubs his palms up and down his thighs. He quickly shakes his head and his lips barely curl up on the edges. "No, Bella. No! You don't understand."
He opens and shuts his mouth a few times.
I realize I'm not even crying anymore.
"One day, Bella, you were taking a nap and you were, maybe four months pregnant. I don't know why, but I was drawn to your bedroom, that happened to me a lot. Anyway, I opened the door and I just stood there, watching you sleep." His head falls back against the wall again, like he's remembering it as though it was yesterday. Even in the moonlight his eyes have this dreamy glaze, the hurt seems to be fading away, replaced with something else.
In his voice, I can hear the emotions that are trying to sneak out. "And it was like my soul woke up and looked at you through new eyes..." He turns to face me, his shoulder resting on the wall. His toes just barely reaching mine, our remorse bonding and lingering. "...and it kind of went 'Oh, there you are, I've been looking for you... my whole life'."
I'm not sure how I feel about what he's saying. If I really understand.
He fidgets shoving his hands into his pockets and them tugging them out again. He looks up and then down.
He slowly reaches for my hand again, this time I don't flinch. His body is like a magnet, and mine is the heaviest of metals, I can't fight the pull.
He takes my one hand into both of his. His thumbs glides softly over my knuckles. I watch with bewilderment and confusion and maybe the slightest bit of... hope.
This has to be a dream.
"And there was no doubt in my mind, I was in love with you, Bella Swan. I felt it down deep in my heart and I knew that we belonged together." I feel his eyes on me, watching, gauging my reaction.
My heart takes off inside my chest with a mind of it's own.
I wonder if my legs are going to give out or not, my body feels too heavy to be held up.
"And I remember thinking that this was what Charlie meant when he told me not to worry about not being able to have kids, that someday I'd be blessed anyway. It was as if he could see the future and he knew about me, you, and C.J."
A different emotion rises through my windpipe. It's one that I can't name. It's happy and sad. It's hope and fear. It's regret and promise. It's all the emotions combined.
His voice fades to whisper, "I'm sorry, Bella. I never wanted to hurt you."
I shake my head, trying to stop the onslaught of all these declarations and words and feelings. It's like I just got off the ride at the fair, I'm dizzy with it all.
His thumb is still touching me so softly, I close my eyes and concentrate on that alone.
I don't think I have ever been this scared before.
"Edward Cullen, did you just say that you love me? Because.. because..."
I think I'm about to hyperventilate. "...you... you just can't casually say things like that to me and pretend like it's nothing. This is..." I stomp my foot and blink away the remnants of the tears that are drying in the corners of my eyes.
He laughs at me and I look up at him. His eyes are twinkling. He just stands there, so confident and sure. I can't decide to scream at him or jump into his arms.
I realize that I'm crippled in fear. Afraid to breathe, afraid to move, simply panic-stricken that this is all a dream, and too soon, I'll wake up.
He bites his bottom lip and his stance relaxes some. His grip increases on my hand, and he leans toward me just a little, or maybe it's that we gravitate toward the other, I'm not sure. "Four years ago, Emmett had one or ten too many at this barbecue. He was a blubbering mess and that night he told me that you loved me. He said he used to find papers and notebooks in your room with my name doodled on them. Pictures of me with hearts drawn near my head." He's looking down at our hands, and his smile is so genuine and youthful. His chest rises with a small chuckle.
I'm glad he thinks this is funny, because I want to find a rock and hide under it for a long time. I had no idea that Emmett knew way back then.
"He ragged me good about it. I wasn't sure if I should believe him or not, but honestly, I was scared. Scared that he was right," Edward's voice drops and his face is tender when he looks back up at me.
"And terrified that he wasn't. It made me feel like this horrible guy because, when we were younger, I did love you like a sister and then I grew up and you," he gestures at my body, head to toe. "You grew up too, and it wasn't such a brotherly way for me to feel anymore."
I can feel it in my heart, the gentle rejoices it's making, the rusting of the armor, the crumbling of the walls, and I want to believe it so much.
"I didn't admit anything to Emmett that night, but you know what the last thing he said to me was in his drunken confession? He said we'd be perfect together and for me to treat you right. Neither one of us have ever mentioned it again.. until last night, when he told me about you wanting to sell the house."
I feel the cries bubbling up out of me again.
Edward reaches out for my other hand. "Bella, please don't push me away."
He pulls and I trail. I want this, I just don't how to believe it. I spent so long thinking this was just a fairy tale, a perfect alternate to how my life is now, that I never dreamed it could really happen.
I step into his embrace. His arms go around me. Mine go around him. I stand in between his legs, that are extended out on front of him so we're the same height. His lips are beside my ear, I feel them even through my hair.
"I was scared I could never convince you." He whispers.
I bury my face even deeper into him. I love the feel of his skin of his neck against my face. Forget air, I'll happily breathe him instead.
"I was afraid I could never convince you that the ocean and the sky you see is the same ocean and sky that I see. I think that's how lovers know: they see the same blue, the same sea." His words are soft and sentimental.
"All you had to do was tell me." I nimbly say.
"All you had to do was tell me." he reverberates.
"I'm still scared." I hug him tighter.
"I am too, but I'm more scared that I had lost you, Bella. You and C.J. are everything to me."
So I take that leap, "I love you, Edward."
He cushions me as we fall, head over heels. "I love you, Bella."
"Do you really?" I have to ask, because come on, this isn't a fairy tale, this is my life.
"Yeah, I really do."
I stand a little taller, my toes extended a little. My arms around his neck, his arms still holding snug around my back. I feel him all around me, more than I ever have. How my chest is pushed against his. How his legs are long and lean and firm and steady, and they keep up standing solid and stable. How his fingertips are gently digging into my flesh, as if he too wonders if this is real. His taunt grip reminding me he's still here, holding me, as if I could ever forget.
I angle my face toward his and I feel his breath, warm and damp against my lips. The air between us becomes ours as it mixes and dallies around us.
There's this anticipation of what's to come, one of minutes and one of years, and along with it is this excitement of all the good that awaits us.
My fingers take the liberty of scratching up his neck, reaching the soft, thick hair that I've wanted to touch just like this for so long.
My forehead drops to his chin because sometimes, getting what you can be too much to handle all at once.
His hair is silk between my fingers as I twist and turn them.
One of his hands moves up my back, pulling me closer, blending us even more. His hand runs under my hair, and when his fingertips find the skin of my neck, I gasp his name.
"Bella, look at me." He breathes.
My eyes lift and gaze at his. There's a lot there, so much in his eyes, we could get lost in it and yet it would be magical, wonderful place.
"I'm sorry," he says, so sincere and cottony, my ears tickle.
"Don't," I shake my head. He's said it enough.
His hand wraps and cradles my neck. I feel like I'm anchored and it's a wonderful thing.
His tongue peeks out to wet his bottom lip, just barely, but it's enough for me to feel the rush all over my skin. His hand is hot as he drags it open and flat along the neckline of my shirt, his thumb open and his pinkie teasing. His touch slows as palm reaches my cheek and soon after his thumb comes into contact with my bottom lip.
His eyes drop down to watch his seduction. My mouth opens a little, the need for me to draw air is urgent and divine at the same time.
His nostrils flare and he clenches his teeth.
The want intensifies.
The tip of his thumb lazily outlines my lips. I close my eyes and swallow the lump of lust that has accumulated in my throat.
Before I even have the opportunity to calm myself, I feel his mouth closed and gentle against my cheek.
And even though it's his lips that have kissed my cheek on more than one occasion, this is different. This is a man kissing a woman. That man kissing this woman. This kiss will lead to other kisses and that kiss will be my last first kiss, I have no doubt.
His lips delay against my cheek, his palm moves back around to hide under my hair.
My desire outweighs my patience.
I gradually turn my face toward his. His forehead angles forward, resting against mine. There's this energy cocooning us, my entire body is on alert. I feel every brush of cotton against my skin, every swoosh of air, every shift of his weight, every breath he exhales, I inhale.
I push forward, just enough, my lips electrify as they touch his. So warm, so soft, so much of everything I always knew they'd be.
A small cry comes from deep inside me, it's more like a sigh with wings, but I couldn't hold it back if I wanted to.
Edward parts his lips as he takes my top lip in between his and sucks, just enough.
I want to crawl up on him as we stand here. If it was only possible.
That tease of his mouth, his wetness, his taste is all it takes for me to do whatever it takes for more.
I tighten my hold on his hair, maybe too much. He grunts and his hand glides down to join his other on my lower back, he pulls me closer, so close it almost hurts.
He tilts his head and open his lips, once again, just enough. Our tongues meet, hesitant yet needy and all it takes is one small touch, to welcome and acquaint.
His tongue is velvet and sweet, gentle and sure. His kiss is good, perfect. Everything.
His hands rub down over the roundness of my behind, his fingers curl and hold pressing me to him. The noises he makes spur the sounds I make and the rest of the world disappears, it gets left behind as we float away.
We kiss and moan and touch and live in a balloon of just us.
I wonder how I ever lived without this. There's this current that covers me and makes me feel more alive than I ever have.
I always knew Edward was different, but how he makes me feel so much is a miracle. He somehow makes me feel a special way that no one else ever has, it's even different than what I feel with C.J.
With C.J. it's a need and a belonging, with Edward it's a desire and a want.
I finally have it all.
He pauses, drawing away. Our lips are wet and chapped and yet, it still isn't enough. His breath teases my lips as he pants. I morn the loss of his hands on my body, but soon enough they are gripping my cheeks.
"Bella," his lips graze my mouth as he talks, "I can make you happy."
I can't stop the giggle that escapes me, "Edward," I put my hands atop of his still holding my face, "You already do."
"Bella? Where's C.J.?" Edward cracks open the bathroom door and yells at me.
"Rosalie has him, her sister-in-law was visiting from Savannah. She wanted to show him off." I yell through the steam of the shower.
"So we are alone?" He questions, his voice a little closer, a little deeper.
"Uh.. yeah." I say with nothing more than a breathy moan.
The past few weeks have been busy. C.J. had an ear infection, so we stayed one night in the emergency room and then he had an allergic reaction to his antibiotics so that was that was two more days spent loitering in the doctor's office.
Emmett left going back to Germany, Rosalie stayed to finish out her clinicals.
There was a murder right outside of Jacksonville and Edward was asked to shadow the detectives since that's what he decided he wants to do with his career.
So even though, we've both been around, we haven't had much time to finish 'talking' or do more than what 'talking' we did the other night.
There have been a few stolen moments here and there. Edward would pick me up and press me hard against the wall. His lips would own mine. He'd kiss me until I couldn't breath and even then, I was still begging for more.
This physical thing between us is unlike anything I've ever experienced with anyone. I want him like the desert wants rain. Like I might die of pure want if I don't have him soon. That's pretty bad.
But somehow it's just what I need.
The shower curtain slides open, the fog escapes and a very naked Edward steps into the shower with me.
I only thought it was already hot in here. His body is amazing. Just the right amount of hair, muscles that are defined, but not too much. Lean.
His hands are all over me before I even have the chance to speak. He teases my breasts, grazes his fingertips over my stomach, tickles up my sides.
My hands scrape though his hair, that darkens from the water. Small droplets being to bead and trail across his forehead, down his nose, drip from his ears.
My mouth waters.
His tongue takes ownership of my mouth. His lips mold to mine, we share air. His moans are muffled, mine are lost somewhere in the water fall.
He backs me up to the tile, curling his fingers around the backs of my knees, lifting me to him. I press myself against his muscular body that's holding me to the wall.
I concentrate on the way his palms slide around on my wet flesh. How he clutches me like I am his life line.
I look into his eyes, and finally I see it, the love. He loves me.
He wants me.
He needs... me.
His breathing accelerates, his chest pumping harder against mine.
Me? I'm not sure I'm breathing at all.
No words are said, he aligns us and pushes into me. My body is suddenly being awakened to a new form – a goddess. I feel things deep inside me like I never have. He reaches depths of my body that were previously untouched, uncharted. Maybe it's the love that shared between us, maybe that takes sex to a new level of fuckawesome.
All I know is that the feelings that course through me are indescribable.
Hot water pellets our skin. I taste it in his mouth. I drink him. He is the perfect elixir of love and sex and man.
He moans my name and it washes over my skin more so that the soap from earlier. I wonder if I am dreaming, if this is real.
He moves in and out, in and out. A new intensity builds, I am so close. I just want to dangle here, right at the edge, for as long as I can.
My body is on fire, and it's not just the hot water. I look down at where we are joined, past my belly and the baby bump that still lingers from my pregnancy.
I see him filling me, joining us, and it's almost more than I can take.
I love this man.
I find myself gripping his shoulders, looking for leverage. My heels cling to his thighs. I need more.
His fingers dig into my skin.
"Shit, Bella. I love you so damn much." he grunts. His mouth open, licking my neck, nipping my shoulder. Kissing me. Tasting me.
Happy tears leak from my eyes, but mix with the shower water before he has time to detect them.
"Oh..." I want to tell him that I love him too, but my body has lost the ability to speak words.
He increases his motion, adding a little twist of his hips and a flick of his thumb of my clit and I am done for.
I fall over the edge moaning his name.
Not long after he joins me in ecstasy. His body shudders and his knees give a little. He presses me harder against the wall. His mouth still claiming me everywhere he can reach.
We stand there, huffing and clinging and touching and loving.
"I love you." I whisper and kiss him again as he releases my feet to touch the floor.
But I don't think they ever make it with my head so far in the clouds.
Edward picks up a sleeping C.J. from between us and rolls over to lie him down on his chest. C.J. pacifier rolls out of his mouth and falls to the bed.
"I've been thinking about something you said right after C.J. was born." Edward's not looking at me, he's studying the sleeping baby on his chest.
I roll over and fluff the pillow under my head. "What did I say?"
"Remember when you told me about naming him, and how you named him after Emmett and Charlie?"
I nod and smile, remembering.
"Well these past six months have been the best days of my life, Bella and I..."
I swallow hard when he pauses, we rarely talk about the past.
"I just remember you saying that you wished he had a name of mine, right?" Edward sounds
insecure. It's an odd thing coming from him.
"Yes, I really did want that." I admit.
"I want to adopt him, his last name can be Cullen. Then he would have my name..."
"Edward." I say with the little bit of breath that is left in my lungs. "I.."
"Wait," he digs around under his pillow with his free hand. "I want to adopt him, after you marry me, of course." He hands me a red velvet box.
I am at a loss for words.
I open it and it's just a single diamond on a wide band. I look at him and he's eyes are just as glassy as I assume mine are.
If I could only verbalize how he makes me feel.
And surely he knew I would say yes.
"I want nothing more than to marry you, Edward Cullen." I whisper as I stare at the ring. My world is spinning so fast, I don't know if I can hold on.
"Really?" He chuckles.
I nod my head and pull the ring out of it's secure place in the box.
"Slip it on." He urges.
It fits me perfectly. I snuggle up on the bed beside him and C.J. I lift my hand to look at it some more.
I don't think it's sunk in yet.
"It's a tear drop diamond. To remind us of all the tears we've shed to get here, to this point in our lives." He kisses the top of my head.
"It's beautiful," I say as it catches the light shining in through the window.
"Like you," he sighs, "my life wouldn't be complete if I didn't share each and every day with you and him."
I try not to cry.
But I don't succeed.
I turn my face into his open arm, I lay my hand on C.J.'s back, and I close my eyes.
I guess it's true what they say, that sometimes, even in an ordinary life, love can come along and give you a fairy tale.
"Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold." - Zelda Fitzgerald