Disclaimer: For the last time, *sniff* we don't own Twilight. But we had great fun messing with her characters!
A/N: So, this is it. The epilogue. The final frontier... or something! Thank you so much to everybody who has stuck with us through my epic failure to stick to anything even resembling a posting schedule. Thank you a million million times to our fantastic beta, Jess, who is not only an amazing beta but also a fantastic person. She deserves cookies, people! To those who have faithfully read, reviewed and told us what you think, we love you and feel privileged to have you read our words. We are so blessed to have the best readers in the fandom!
To our wonderful pre-reader and precious friend, Brey, we would be lost without you! Our final chapter is dedicated to you and our beautiful nephew! Many loves!
Okay, on with the show before I get teary! (As if it isn't too late for that! HA!)
Letting Go of Maybe
Emmett McCarty POV
Being with Bella was amazing. After our night in New York, we went back to our lives as they had been, but the evenings were filled with long phone conversations, and the weekends were spent making up for lost time. We went that way for a month, and then she invited me to her home for Thanksgiving.
I think it was the first time that I ever considered saying no to her. I couldn't imagine walking into her family home and facing her father. I'd played poker with him, I'd been his daughter's teacher, and now she wanted to introduce me as her boyfriend. It wouldn't have been so bad, but the man was a cop and had a firearm. It was not exactly a welcoming thought.
I tried to persuade her to come to my parents' home. Jasper and Alice were doing Thanksgiving there and Christmas at his house, as they'd done every other year as far as I knew, but Bella couldn't turn her parents down, and we both knew it.
I will never forget standing at their front door, hand in hand with Bella as she knocked and then entered, tugging me in behind her. To his credit, Charlie had been calm as Bella explained the situation, but I was certain that had more to do with the two women being in the room than taking the news gracefully. Of course, the moment they left the room, I saw his eyes move to me.
"I think we need to have a talk, son."
"Yes, sir," I replied, my body going cold. I'd known that this was inevitable.
"You and I are going to the shooting range after dinner."
I swallowed. Hard. And I could see the satisfaction in his smile. He had me and he knew it. I don't think I'd ever sweat so much in my life, and my appetite flew out the window. Bella was cooking and I'd been looking forward to the spread she was putting on. She'd been questioning me for weeks whether I liked this or that. At that moment though, she may as well have been serving cardboard for all I could taste. My mouth was dry, and my palms were sweaty as hell.
Before Charlie and I left, I heard her giving him a stern warning. She made him promise to be nice, and he'd conceded, knowing full well I would never tell her if he decided to go against his word. I was trying to get in his good books, after all.
We left shortly after, both of us silent in the car as he cruised across the small town toward the police department target range. It wasn't until he pulled out a bag of shotguns and handguns that he decided to speak to me.
"You realize why we need to talk, don't you?"
"Of course I do, Chief Swan. Believe me, I hadn't planned on this happening the way it did."
"Uh huh. You were her teacher."
"I was, and believe me, nothing happened while she was my student. Nothing."
"You were the reason she was so eager to leave after graduation, though?"
I sighed, my hand hands on my hips as I looked at the shotgun he was pushing shells into.
"I believe so. She came to me and told me how she felt. I told her it couldn't happen."
Charlie quirked an eyebrow at me. "But you felt the same way."
"It was immoral and wrong. She had her whole life ahead of her."
Charlie cocked the shotgun and threw me a set of headphones to protect my ears, and a set of safety glasses.
"It became evident that neither of us were moving on."
Charlie took a couple of shots at the target with perfect precision. I couldn't help noticing that he barely moved, even though the damn gun looked as though it kicked like a mule. He opened it up and dumped the shells before placing the gun on the small counter in front of him.
"I can't say that I'm happy about this. I know you aren't much older than she is, but you were her teacher. It sounds as though your intentions were good, and I believe that you thought you were doing the right thing letting her go, but if you ever hurt my baby girl like that again, you're not going to like my reaction. She's happier than I've ever seen her; as long as it stays that way, you have my blessing."
I stood in front of him with my mouth open like a guppy, staring at his offered hand as his mustache twitched in humor. It took me a second to gather myself together before I shook it. I'd been certain I would be placed on the missing person's list, or suffer accidental friendly fire. In fact, I'd been prepared for it.
We spent hours shooting at the range after that. He asked questions about me and my family. He had me sign a consent form for a background check, and for a moment I was sure he'd ask for a urine and blood sample, but he seemed to restrain himself. He was as much of a good guy as I'd thought him to be, and by the time the weekend was over, things were smoothed over.
Bella and I went back to our lives, and our weekends. I missed her during the week but talking to her on the phone made it easier. It also helped that Edward had a huge thing for Rosalie and that if we had an evening when neither of us were chaperoning, we drove to the city for a couple of hours. It was a long drive, and I paid for it in the mornings, but it was worth it.
This went on for the rest of Bella's college career, and by the time she graduated with honors, she already had a position lined up with the local school in the small town near the boarding school. So I moved off campus, and the two of us found a small house together.
Having all the extra time with her only seemed to make me fall deeper in love with her. She was still that quirky, intelligent and funny girl I'd always known, but she was also my entire universe. Everything about her was mesmerizing to me. I could sit for hours and watch her type away at the computer, her teeth worrying her bottom lips as she leafed through the pages of the book she was studying from. It was when stray strands of hair would fall from her neatly composed pony that I couldn't resist getting up and brushing them away. Her smile was always bright and welcoming, and that moment would lead to me dragging her from her chair and making love to her until she cried out my name in her euphoric cadence.
Every night we ended up cuddled on the couch, my body wrapped around hers as she watched TV and I watched her.
I finally asked her to marry me only a year after we moved in together. It may have been slightly caveman of me, but I saw the way the guys she worked with watched her. More than that, though, it was the fact that I couldn't imagine my life without her. I loved her, so what was the point of putting off the inevitable?
I took Bella out to dinner in New York and, largely thanks to Rosalie nagging Edward, I booked the suite at the hotel where we'd spent our first night together. Rosalie, being the unfailing romantic she was, was given the spare key card to get everything taken care of for me and made me promise to have Bella call her the moment she accepted.
The elevator ride up to the suite was spent pressing Bella against the wall and kissing those soft lips of hers. She was smiling beautifully and I don't think I will ever get her dress out of my head. She'd sworn Rosalie had forced her into the thing, and honestly, I believed her. Bella was, and always had been a jeans girl.
As we stepped off the elevator, I led her to the door and opened it, revealing a huge amount of flowers and petals all over the place. It looked like a florist had thrown up inside, but it worked. Candles seemed to flicker on every available surface, and for a second I thought it was overkill, until I saw Bella's face.
The tears on her cheeks were highlighted by the flames of the candle, and her smile was radiant as she took in the sights around the room. I led her soundlessly to the only open space in the huge room and dropped to one knee in front of her. Her hands moved to her mouth as I situated myself in front of her. And there I unleashed everything I felt about her and put it into words.
"Bella, I don't even know how to tell you what you mean to me. You're the reason I wake up in the mornings. My life without you wouldn't be worth the paper trail I left behind. You make me a better man because you love me. You are everything to me, and there will never be anything else I want more in this world than you. I know what it's like to live without you, and I never want to have to do that again. Would you do me the greatest honor and become my wife?"
She stood staring at me with wide eyes filled with unshed tears. She took a step closer to me, her fingers trailing down the line of my jaw to my lips. She fell to her knees in front of me, her eyes never leaving mine.
"Yes," she replied shakily, drawing in a breath. "I want nothing more than to share my life with you, Emmett."
I pulled the ring Rose had helped me pick out from my pocket, and with trembling hands, pushed the ring onto the finger it would stay on for the rest of our lives. She eyed it with an awed smile before wrapping her arms around my neck and kissing me.
We made love all night and watched the sun rise from the huge windows of the hotel room while wrapped around one another in the bed. Both of us were exhausted and sweaty, but it worked out well because it was us. Just us. Together.
We married only six months after that. Bella wanted something small and meaningful, so we all congregated in our small backyard and Bella and I promised our lives to one another. I think that was the only time I'd ever seen Jasper cry, other than at his own wedding. Bella was his best friend, and the little sister he never had. Of course, Charlie was over the moon that I was still making his daughter happy, but he re-issued his threat about breaking her heart.
Life for the two of us became something of a routine, but there was never a boring moment with Bella around. We had fun together, and I had been smiling since the moment she said, "I do."
"Emmett? I'm talking to you." Bella laughed gently, pulling me out of my ruminations. She leaned over the back of the couch and ruffled my hair. "Where were you?"
"Thinking about us. Have you heard anything from the school in Louisiana yet?" I asked. She'd applied to be the head of the English department in a school that she'd wanted to work in since she'd graduated. She'd been worried that she was uprooting me from a job that I loved, having never really grasped that I would follow her to the ends of the earth if that was where she needed to go.
"Nope. They said it would be a few weeks," she said, dropping a kiss on my lips.
"So what were you saying then?"
"I was asking if you wanted something from the kitchen. A beer or something?"
"No thanks, babe. I'm good."
She gave me a kiss on the cheek and disappeared into the kitchen. Only minutes later she showed back up with a bag of M&M's and a smile. She fell into the opposite end of the couch and swung her feet into my lap, wiggling them at me.
I pulled off her cute little socks and dumped them on the floor beside me before starting to rub her feet. She'd always been highly ticklish, but being on her feet most of the day seemed to outrank being ticklish.
"Oh, that feels so good," she sighed, hanging her head over the back of the arm of the sofa. Her long hair was fanned out around her as she popped M&M's into her mouth.
I continued massaging her feet and watching her writhe until things became uncomfortable for me. The way she arched her neck and bit her lips, all I could think about was being buried between her legs with that same look on her beautiful face.
I dropped her foot and crawled up her body, hovering over her as she popped another M&M into her mouth. She kept her eyes closed, but her lips were a dead giveaway, curled into a smile as she teased me some more.
"You want candy?" she asked, opening only one eye.
I shook my head.
"You want some sugar?"
I nodded my head.
Without hesitation, she dropped the bag to the floor and took my head between her hands. It was easy to see the lust in her eyes as she leaned in to kiss me. As our lips touched, it was hard holding myself back from her. She tasted like chocolate, but there was still that hint of her that always drove me crazy.
"I love you, Emmett McCarty."
"I love you, Isabella McCarty."
I initiated the kiss again, our bodies tangling together and coming closer as I indulged in her. My wife was possibly the most perfect creature on the earth, but knowing her as well as I did, I stopped. As aroused as she was, she was holding back.
"What's going on with you?" I asked gently, pulling back her sweater, kissing the swell of her breast and making her smile. It was different enough to catch my attention, but not to the point of panic. She was distracted, but her smile told me she was happy. It only served to make me curious.
"Well, I was going to wait to tell you, but you're as intuitive as ever," she huffed, scrunching up her nose.
"Tell me what?" I asked, sitting up and pulling her with me so she was facing me. When a flicker of anxiety passed over her face, I picked up her hands in mine. "Bella, you can tell me anything. You know that."
She fidgeted, but never took her eyes from mine. I could see her growing more nervous by the minute as she tried to think about what she was going to say. She was still the open book she'd always been, but for the life of me, I couldn't even begin to think what would make her so nervous.
"I know that, but this is big. Huge actually and we really haven't talked about it much."
I released one of her hands and cupped her cheek. She leaned into my palm and closed her eyes, shutting me off from her and her thoughts. Her emotions had always been worn on her sleeve, but there were so many crashing together on her beautiful face, it was hard to get a read on it.
Finally, she opened her eyes and caught mine in them. She held my gaze for the longest time as she tried to read what I was going to say in reaction. I would have loved to help her out and offer her reassurances, but not knowing what this was about made that difficult. I knew nothing she said would change how I felt about her, and so my love for her was the one thing I focused on.
"Emmett, I'm pregnant."
The world shuddered and stopped as her words slowly penetrated my foggy brain. We were still staring at one another and I was still holding her cheek, but for a moment I just couldn't process the information. My breath was stuck in my throat.
We stayed like that for a long moment before disappointment started to flicker in her expressive eyes. It was then that I realized she was misinterpreting my reaction as something negative. It only took me a second to regain my composure after that. I leaned forward with all the enthusiasm that was bouncing inside me and littered her face with kisses, before dropping a lingering kiss on her lips.
"I'm going to be a daddy?" I asked, my voice almost trembling with excitement.
"Yes," she replied, then laughed as I kissed every inch of her face again. I pulled her in against my body as the words sunk in further. I was going to be a father. Bella and I were going to be parents.
"I can't believe this. How long have you known? How far along are you?"
"I've only known for a week. I took a home pregnancy test when I was late. I didn't want to say anything until I was sure, but I took another two tests this morning and both were positive."
"Oh, baby, I am so happy," I said, kissing her again and making her laugh with the most joyful laugh I'd ever heard from her.
"I wasn't sure how you'd react. You said you wanted kids, but we never really discussed when would be a good time."
"Now is a perfect time," I responded, pulling her into my lap and cradling her in my arms. She snuggled into my chest as I laid my cheek on the top of her head. For me, there couldn't be a more perfect start to our future than this.
When I thought back to all those years ago, when I was certain I would never have the pleasure of being with her the way I longed to be, it suddenly occurred to me that I'd never thought to ask for this. That no matter what dreams I had of us together, I'd never once imagined just how beautiful my life could be. Yet here I was, living beyond the happiness of those silly daydreams and into a whole new realm of perfect that even the love of my life wouldn't be able to name.
Isabella McCarty POV
Huffing loudly, I released the car seat back another notch, irrationally irritated at the ever increasing bump that stopped me from fitting between the seat and the steering wheel. It seemed as though I was getting bigger every second, and with every additional inch of waistline, I seemed to get crankier, too.
Slamming the car into drive, I tried to suppress crabby Bella and harness some of that warm, motherly glow pregnant women were supposed to emit. I was sure that was all an elaborate plot by make up companies to make those of us who sported more of a blotch than a glow feel bad about ourselves.
I'd had the day from hell at work and I just wanted to get home to the only person who could make me feel beautiful when waddling around the size of a killer whale. I had decided, conclusively, that I was never going to be pregnant in summer ever again.
I bitched and moaned my way through the rush hour traffic, cursing my decision to stay after work and get my marking out of the way, because it landed me smack in the middle of the five o'clock rush and I wanted nothing more than to see my husband, soak for at least an hour in a hot bath and then curl up on the couch with Emmett in front of the TV. Glamorous? Perhaps not, but it was my own version of paradise after two trapped fingers, one forgotten lunch, one case of swallowed paint and an appraisal with my unsubtly perverted boss, who struggled to keep his eyes above my neckline. I loved my job. Teaching was everything I hoped it would be and more. But teaching while seven and a half months pregnant was a whole different thing.
As my car finally glided onto the driveway, I smiled to see that Emmett's car was already there. I felt some of the day's tension leaving my shoulders at the thought of being in his arms soon. I uncurled myself from the car as gracefully as possible with a lump the size of Texas on my front, then waddled my way to the front door.
Opening the door to our small but comfortable home, I was immediately hit by the loud music that seemed to be coming from upstairs. Dropping my bags and jacket by the door, I kicked off my shoes and padded my way slowly up the stairs, following the sound of my husband singing along enthusiastically to Bon Jovi's 'Wanted Dead Or Alive' to the room we had set aside as a nursery.
Pushing open the door, I had to stifle the laughter that bubbled up at the sight before me. Emmett was standing, wearing his suit from work, covered in the light yellow paint he was rolling onto the walls.
"I'm a cowboy. On a steel horse I ride. I'm wanted, WANTEEEEEEED, dead or alive," he sung loudly, using the paint roller as part of his air guitar and splattering paint just about everywhere but on the walls.
"Hey, cowboy," I said with a laugh, avoiding the flying paint as I made my way across the room to him. He dropped the roller to the, thankfully uncarpeted, floor and stalked towards me with a huge grin on his face. I felt myself sigh in contentment as his arms enfolded me, dipping me back slightly as he dropped kisses over my face.
"Hey, baby momma," he said, laughing and lifting me into his arms, despite my resemblance to a killer whale.
Giggling, I touched the end of his nose, where a small glob of yellow paint had landed. "You couldn't have changed first?" I asked, rolling my eyes and showing him the paint that transferred to my finger.
"I was excited," he responded with a small, contrite pout. "I picked up the paint on the way home. Do you like it?"
I looked around thoughtfully, pretending to think about it for a moment. "I prefer it on the walls to on you," I offered.
"Hmm." He looked down at himself, taking in the paint that was splattered over his shirt and pants and all up his arms where he had rolled his sleeves back. Even his blue tie was still in place with small yellow polka dots haphazardly strewn across it. "Looks like I need to take a bath."
Without a pause, he started making his way to the bathroom, leaving the paint where it was and with me still in his arms.
"What are you doing?" I asked, laughing and playfully punching his arm.
"I'm going to take a bath," he replied as though I was the one acting crazy. I raised an eyebrow at him and he looked back at me, grinning happily. "Well I'm not going to bathe alone, am I? Where's the fun in that?"
I giggled like a schoolgirl as he set me on my feet but kept his arm around my waist, the other hand coming up and tangling in my hair as he pulled me in for a kiss.
"Happy Friday, Mrs. McCarty," he mumbled against my neck, making me shiver involuntarily.
He still had this effect on me, all this time later and with rings on our fingers. He could still reduce me to a bumbling idiot with just a single look, the way he had when I was in school. He could turn my knees to jelly just by whispering my name, or by touching me with his large but gentle hands. He could play my body like a fiddle, eliciting physical responses from me that I hadn't even known I was capable of. He knew this and used it to his fullest advantage.
He was using it now as his nose crept along my shoulder, nudging my shirt aside as he kissed every inch of bare skin that pebbled at his ministrations. His hands started to unbutton my shirt, as my fingers tangled into his dark curls, tugging lightly.
"So beautiful," he murmured as he pulled the shirt completely free of my body and knelt, resting his cheek against my swollen belly. "Hey, Jelly Tot," he said softly, placing his hand tenderly against my stomach with his eyes closed.
I gazed down at him, blown away by the look of complete adoration on his face as he knelt there, his ear pressed against my stomach as though the baby was talking back to him. My fingers played idly with his hair, enjoying its softness and, for the thousandth time, relishing the freedom to touch him, to be with him every day.
I reached down, pulling his now yellow polka dot tie from around his neck and began to unbutton his shirt slowly, then pushed it from his shoulders.
After relieving myself and him of all our clothes, he lifted me once more and turned to the bathtub that was already filled, with bubbles floating happily on the top. I teared up irrationally at his thoughtfulness, taking in the candles flickering by the tub, and snuggled deeper into his arms as he stepped in and lowered us into the warm water.
I sat between his legs, leaning back against his muscular chest with his arms around me. His hands rested on my stomach, rubbing soft circles into the stretched skin as he murmured sweet words into my neck.
"You look so beautiful like this," he crooned, tickling a sweet spot behind my ear with his tongue and making my whole body come alive at the simple touch. "I used to dream of this, but I never thought..." he trailed off, finishing his thought by nuzzling my neck and tightening his arms around me.
I sighed, letting my head fall back against his chest, my eyes closing in contentment. Even as big as I was, his strong arms and thick chest made me feel tiny and protected. I knew he would never let anything happen to me or our unborn child. He had been protecting me virtually from the day we met - my knight in shining armour.
"We need to think about names," I whispered softly after a moment, breaking the intimate silence we'd shrouded ourselves in.
"You mean we're not rolling with Jelly Tot?" he asked with a chuckle. "I thought it was cute."
"You want our child to be the target of every bully in the country?" I teased, my body shuddering involuntarily at the feel of his warm breath on my shoulder and neck.
"If it's a girl, I think we should call her Hermione," he suggested with a laugh, reminding me of the time I first allowed myself to believe he could return my feelings: the night he compared me to his favourite Harry Potter character.
I smiled at the thought, remembering all the books we ever talked about or even sometimes read together. Some nights I would lie stretched out on the couch with my head in his lap as he read to me, his fingers running lightly through my hair. Reading was what brought us together and would always be a vital part of our relationship. When we chose our home, we deliberately chose one with a room we could use just for our books. It was a comfortable room, tucked at the back of the house with a large window overlooking the garden. We fitted it with bookcases around three walls, with a couch and large beanbags in the centre. It was our haven, where we went when we wanted peace, even if we were together. Emmett had even started a collection of children's books, starting with the tiny soft books for babies and moving up. Neither of us could wait to start reading with our child.
"I like Emma," he said softly, drawing me from my thoughts. "For a girl."
"I like that, too," I answered with a small smile.
We both gasped as a tiny foot kicked against Emmett's hand that was cupped around my stomach.
"You like that, Jelly Tot?" he asked, stroking the area our baby just kicked, lovingly.
"Emma," I whispered to myself, a small smile curling my lips at the name.
Emma Sophia McCarty was born on October 15th. She came out screaming even louder than I did, with a cute tuft of dark hair and the brightest blue eyes I'd ever seen.
I cried the first tears I'd shed since Emmett came back into my life, the moment she was placed in my arms, wrapped in the soft, yellow blanket his parents gave us. Emmett was perched on the bed beside me, his arm wrapped around my shoulders, his poor hand encased in a bandage after I squeezed it too tightly during labour.
"She's perfect," Emmett whispered beside me, his pinky encased tightly in Emma's tiny hand as she slept.
"She has your eyes," I said with a smile, looking up and meeting his bright blue replicas of Emma's eyes that were shining with tears he claimed to be too manly to shed.
"She's lucky that's all she got from me. The rest of her is all you, and she's the most beautiful sight I've ever seen.
Emma stirred slightly in my arms, her tiny ruby lips opening and closing into an adorable pout as her nose scrunched up as though she was concentrating terribly hard on something.
"What do you think she's dreaming about?" Emmett asked, reaching into my arms and scooping Emma out of them tenderly. I leaned back against the pillows, exhausted, and watched as her stood with our daughter in his arms, gazing down at her adoringly as her rocked slowly from side to side.
"Milk, probably," I said with a laugh, certain my ovaries were going to explode at the sight of our tiny, fragile daughter in his strong, sure arms.
"Very profound," he answered with a chuckle, glancing at me briefly before returning his eyes to his daughter, our daughter, sleeping contentedly in his arms.
He was beside himself. Our daughter, so new and precious to the world, had wrapped him around her little finger already. When the tears finally came, man or not, he didn't even bother hiding his sniffles of joy from me.
Seeing that part of him, brought back so many memories. When we'd discussed everything we'd been through, he'd often told me that he never could picture how his life would turn out. Especially when
he believed it wouldn't include me. The first couple of times, I thought he was pandering to my need for reassurance, but the way he was looking at Emma made me rethink. We were a huge part of his life.
just like they were the biggest part of mine. I couldn't even imagine doing this with someone else, which finally made me see the truth to his words.
The journey we'd been on, as long and arduous as it was, had cemented what we had together. Everything we had to go through to be together had made us see how precious the moments we had together really were. I didn't know if I could have said the same if we'd given in to our attraction earlier. Living without him had made me love him all the more. Which is exactly what he'd said to me.
I wouldn't have changed a thing, even when I knew the pain of not having him in my life, and when I looked up at Emmett, I knew he felt the same way.
With my daughter in my arms and my husband beaming beside me, his eyes filling with the same tears as mine as he clinked glasses filled with his precious forty-year-old scotch with his father, I knew I would never need anything more than this: my beautiful family.
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