"Baby," Edward whispered, pressing his body against mine. I moaned as goose bumps spread over my skin, causing Edward to laugh softly. "Baby, are you awake?"
"No," I murmured, leaning toward him.
"I think you are," he purred, and my pussy tingled. "I want you."
"Edward." I moaned again as his hands traveled down my sides, slipping under the cotton T-shirt I had worn to bed. His fingers grazed the stretch marks that never faded after Abigail and Audrey were born, across the small scare from the emergency surgery that saved my life, and into my black shorts and white cotton panties. "Fuck, Edward!"
"Yes, baby, fuck me," he growled, nipping at the small sliver of skin that was exposed on my shoulder.
Edward slipped a finger inside me. Biting my lip to keep from crying out, I parted my legs more, giving him better access. Edward captured my mouth in a searing kiss, but before he could deepen it, the sound of two little girls giggling trickled into our bedroom. Edward barely had time remove his finger from inside of me and roll onto his back when the door was thrown open and Abigail and Audrey leapt onto the bed, landing between us.
"Daddy, Anthony says that when you take us to school, they're gonna lock us away and never let us come home again," Abigail whined with a dramatic flair. "We're not going!"
Smiling, I wrapped my arms around the auburn haired little girl and pulled her onto my lap, leaning my forehead against hers. A pair of dark brown eyes stared at me, a mixture of excitement and fear pouring out of them.
"Oh, my darling girl. What have I told you about listening to what Anthony says?"
Abigail sighed. "Not to because he's just trying to make me mad."
"Why do we have to go to school?" Audrey chimed, her bright green eyes shifting between me and Edward. "Don't you love us anymore?"
"Audrey, you know that Mommy and I love you," Edward scoffed. "You're going to love school. You'll meet all kinds of people, get to play games, and have fun."
"But we like it here with you and Mommy," Audrey whimpered, nestling herself into her father's arms. "We have fun here."
"And we meet all kinds of people at the gallery, too," Abigail added, referring to the gallery Edward opened shortly after the girls were born. A backer had seen his work at the showcase and insisted that Edward allow him to bankroll his next showing, which turned into a huge career move for Edward. He was able to open his own gallery and had become the photographer. "School will be a waste of time."
"Yeah," her sister agreed.
Where Abigail had Edward's auburn hair and Audrey had mine, they looked almost exactly alike, with the exception of their eye color. The girls were a perfect mix of me and Edward. And much like their brothers, Abigail was more flamboyant and outgoing, like Anthony, and Audrey was quiet and reserved, just as Alex was.
"Well, sorry, girls, but you have to go to school," Edward replied.
When they started to whine, I laughed and threw the blankets off of me, climbing out of bed. "Enough of that nonsense! Now, if you hurry and get dressed, I will make you something special for breakfast."
"Pancakes?" they squeaked together and I nodded. Faster than I thought possible, my darling little girls leapt off the bed and were out of our room.
"The magic of your pancakes," Edward snickered, climbing out of bed with a groan. Though he tried to be discreet, I saw him adjust himself through his flannel pajama pants.
"Need some help?" I asked, causing him to look over his shoulder at me.
"Yes," he admitted. "But you and I both know they will be back in here if a heartbeat if we attempt to do anything. Little cock-blockers."
I laughed and walked around the bed to him, wrapping my arms around him. "The sooner we take them to school, the quicker we can come home and pick up where we left off."
Edward growled before kissing me. "Let's fucking hurry!"
Giggling, I wiggled out of Edward's arms and walked into the bathroom. I quickly showered and got dressed, knowing Alex, Anthony, Abigail, and Audrey wouldn't be happy if their breakfast wasn't ready soon. I loved my children, but they didn't have a lot of patience.
Leaving Edward to get ready, I walked downstairs, unsurprised to find all four of their backpacks in front of the front door. It was hard to believe that five years had passed. It felt like just yesterday we had brought Abigail and Audrey home from the hospital, and now Edward and I were preparing to send them to school for the first time. A wistful sigh slipped out of my lips. Time moved too fast.
"You okay, Mom?" Alex asked, and I smiled as I looked over my shoulder at him. Having turned sixteen the April before, Alex had grown into a very handsome young man. He was tall, almost six-three, and had broad shoulders. His blond hair was shaggy and his blue eyes sparkled. It was in moments like these that I saw Brody in him. "Mom?"
"I'm fine," I insisted, bringing my hand up to my chest. "Are you hungry? I told your sisters I would make pancakes if they hurried."
"I could eat," he chuckled, patting his belly. "Need help?"
I smiled. "Sure."
Following Alex into the kitchen, I nearly burst out laughing when I saw my mixing bowl, mixing cups, and the ingredients I needed to make pancakes already sitting on the counter and an innocent looking Anthony sitting at the breakfast table.
"Nicely played, little man," I snickered. Of course "little man" wasn't an accurate nickname for Anthony. Much like Alex he had grown to well over six foot tall and even towered over his brother by two inches. Though, unlike Alex's broad structure, Anthony was lanky. His auburn hair had darkened over the years, turning more of a copper color but his eyes were still as green as ever.
Anthony smirked. "I don't know what you're talking about, Ma."
"Yeah, whatever," I scoffed, picking up my favorite wooden spoon and pointing it at him. "You're in big trouble, by the way."
"It wasn't me!" he insisted, shaking his head.
"You don't know what I am talking about," I said. "Someone feeling guilty?"
"No." But I saw the look he and Alex shared. "So what did I do?"
"Told your sisters that if they went to school they weren't going to be allowed to come home." Alex and Anthony began laughing. "It's not funny! You know how scared they've been."
"I was just teasing," Anthony laughed, but at that moment Abigail and Audrey walked into the kitchen and he quieted down.
Unlike their brothers who insisted on wearing jeans and T-shirts to their first day to school, Abigail and Audrey wanted to look special. Last week, Esme, Alice, Rose, Kate, Angela, and I had taken them and Ivy shopping. The girls had the best time picking out outfits and modeling them for us. While Ivy picked a very simple sage green dress that had a white belt wrapped around the waist, making her look older than her eleven years of age, my girls had picked leopard print skirts that flared out. Under their skirts they were wearing black tights and they each had a black tank under a black lace top. With a pair of black and white saddle shoes, they looked beautiful. They had just recently taken over brushing their own hair and had managed to pull the front up with colorful butterfly barrettes. They were almost even.
"How do we look?" Abigail asked, placing her hands on her hips and throwing her head back like she was standing on the runaway and not inside our kitchen.
"Beautiful," I said, while Anthony and Alex said, "Like brats."
"Mom!" Abigail whined, and I glared at my sons.
"Sorry," Alex and Anthony muttered, but I could tell they didn't mean it.
"Girls, get the juice out of the fridge," I told them. "Alex, turn the griddle on, Anthony, I need plates."
Edward joined us just before I poured the first pancake on the griddle. "Morning."
"Morning, Dad," the boys muttered. Edward leaned around and kissed my check, earning groans from our sons and giggles from the girls.
"Coffee, babe?" Edward asked, ignoring our children.
"Please," I told him.
Just then the sound of Alex's cell phone chimed indicating that he had a new text message. One look at his rosy red cheeks confirmed that Anna was texting him, as she did every morning. Even after so many years, they were still together, still in love, and something told me, they always would be. Sitting next to Alex, Anthony rolled his eyes, but didn't say anything. It wasn't that he didn't like Anna — because he considered Anna to be one of his best friends — it was more that he didn't understand why Alex would tie himself down by one woman, as he so eloquently put it. Anthony seemed to have a different girlfriend every week.
Edward spared me a wink as he began making coffee. Once it was ready, he set my cup in front of me, slipping his arm around my waist. It was moments like these, where my children were seated around the table and my husband was holding me in his arms that I remember just how lucky I was. I had come so close to leaving my children without their mother, my husband without a wife, and every day I am thankful that I am still here, still able to make my family breakfast on their first day of school.
Alex and I quickly made a large stack of pancakes, which were just as quickly eaten by all of us. Once we were done, Abigail and Audrey dragged Alex and Anthony from the kitchen and to the front door with me and Edward following. It was clear that while they were both nervous about school, they were excited, too.
Declaring it was time to leave the house, we filed out of the house and climbed into our suburban. The girls were in the third row, while the boys filled the middle, and Edward and I were in the front. Our drive from the house to boys' high school only took us ten minutes. Edward parked in front, and I turned in my seat to look at them, knowing that after so many years, I didn't have to reassure them that everything would be okay. They were starting their junior year, and I couldn't have been prouder of them.
"We have soccer after school," Alex reminded us, opening his door. He and Anthony climbed out, but before he shut the door, he looked into the backseat at his little sisters. "School ain't too bad. Just remember that you're not alone. You have each other."
"Like you and Anthony did," Audrey giggled.
Alex smiled. "Just like us. Have fun, squirts."
"Love you, Al!" they sang together.
He smiled bigger. They were the only people on the earth he allowed to call him Al. "Love ya, too."
Alex stepped back, and Anthony moved to the open door. "Whatever you do, don't jump off the swings." Anthony quickly looked at me. "Mom will freak out."
"I tend to do that when you break your head open," I muttered, but I doubt they heard me seeing as the girls started laughing.
"Swings are for babies," Abigail giggled.
"Yeah, and we're not babies," Audrey added with a smile.
"Nah, you're just a couple of brats," he teased, reaching a fist into the backseat. "Be cool, okay?"
"Okay," they said, each giving him a fist bump.
"Love ya, brats," Anthony called out before shutting the door.
Alex and Anthony walked over to where Elliott, Mattie, and Anna were waiting for them. The moment Alex reached Anna, he had her in his arms and had placed a simple kiss on her lips. I couldn't help but smile. They were beautiful together.
"Go, Daddy, go!" Audrey cheered.
"All right," Edward replied, winking at me.
The drive to Clover Elementary was made in a mixture of awkward silence and calming laughter — the silence from Edward and I and the laughter from Abigail and Audrey. Their excitement was building while Edward and I were both dealing with increasing nerves. Ten years of marriage had taught me how to read my husband, and I knew he was just as scared and nervous as I was.
After several minutes, Edward parked in the back parking lot of the school and the four of us climbed out. Audrey was quick to attach herself to her father, while Abigail slipped her hand into mine. Together, we walked over to Alice's classroom, smiling when we Angela, who looked like she was struggling not to cry, and Ben standing next to Jude. They'd made the decision to hold him back a year due to the fact that his birthday was in August. They didn't want him to be the youngest in his class, and worried that he wasn't mature enough to start school the year before. Personally, I was glad that Jude, Abigail, and Audrey would be in the same classroom.
"Morning," Alice greeted, looking from Edward to me, and down at the girls. "Wow, you two look beautiful this morning."
"Thanks, Aunt Ali," Audrey whispered. "I mean, Mrs. Whitlock."
"You're welcome." Alice smiled. "Well, are you ready to come inside? We have a lot planned for today."
"I don't want to stay," Audrey cried, turning and wrapping herself around Edward's legs. "Daddy, don't make me stay!"
"Oh, baby girl, you're going to have so much fun," Edward cooed, sliding his arms under hers and picking her up. Audrey nestled herself into his embrace, her sobbing cries muffled by his chest. My heart broke for my daughter.
"I want to stay with you, Daddy!"
Edward looked at me, his eyes wide and full of pain and heartache. "Baby girl, you can't. You have to stay here at school with Abigail and Jude and Aunt Ali. They're gonna take good care of you."
"Promise?" Audrey whimpered.
"I promise," Edward whispered.
Audrey gave a simple nod so Edward put her down. She wiped the tears off her face as she looked from Abigail to Jude, who had a frown on his face. Unlike when Anna started school, Jude hadn't shed a single tear. Instead, he pulled away from his father and slipped his hand into Audrey's.
"Come on," he murmured, giving her hand a gentle tug.
"Okay," Audrey mumbled, looking at Abigail and holding out her other hand. "Coming, sissy?"
Abigail smiled and took her sister's hand. "Let's do this thing!"
While the three of them walked by Alice, I turned toward Edward, struggling to keep my own tears from falling. They say a moment is all you need for your life to be changed forever. There was a time when I would have scoffed and called you crazy if you told me that there would be a moment that changed my life, but I had one. My moment — the second my life changed — was early one morning when I was dropping my then five-year-old son off at school on his first day of kindergarten. We had taken chances and moved forward. Now, we were embracing a new journey.
Wow, that's it. Moving Forward is now complete. I have mixed feelings over this. I have loved creating this family, bringing them together and truly uniting them over the course of two stories. I want to thank everyone who has added this story to their favorites list, added it to their alerts, and those who have leave me countless reviews. Your support has meant so much to me.