Thanks to Bridgette for your help making my words look pretty!
A little over a month had passed since the trial, and it was the eve of Rose and Emmett's wedding.
As soon as we'd left Washington, I felt such a weight lifted off my shoulders. Like there was real closure. We'd succeeded in keeping my father's killer locked away, and I'd gotten the chance to say goodbye.
That part of my life was over and now I could enjoy being home. Being with my family.
And I loved every moment of being where I belonged.
Well, everything except for the fact I was miserably pregnant ... and I meant that in the best sense of course.
I was swollen, achy, constantly hungry, and couldn't see my feet. I'd never been more uncomfortable in my life, and Edward bore the brunt of my discontent. Occasionally, I would almost feel sorry for him.
But then I would remember he was the one who turned me into the Goodyear blimp.
Him and his sperm.
They were evil.
"I'm never having sex with you again," I told him, munching on tortilla chips as I sat on the couch. He had my feet propped up on pillows so I could watch him struggle to put together a crib before our guests arrived.
His wounded expression wasn't going to sway me this time.
Even if he looked gorgeous in those jeans. The ones he had to keep pulling up because they hung so low on his hips. And that white t-shirt, which seemed to be fitting him a little tighter.
Were his biceps getting bigger?
The flexing was distracting me from my food, and I tried to ignore the tools he kept slinging around while playing handyman. For some reason, the sight of him holding a wrench did things to me.
But I wasn't going to have sex with him anymore. Didn't I just tell him that?
Perhaps I'd jumped the gun on that one. My resolve was already crumbling and he hadn't even said anything.
Besides, it wasn't like he could get me pregnant again right now. It was probably prudent to take advantage of the fact his evil sperm had already done their job and enjoy the rest his tools without further consequence.
I blamed the hormones for the craziness running through my head.
He threw the instructions down in frustration, gripping his hair. "I need a damn engineering degree to put this thing together."
I giggled and his eyes narrowed in my direction. He'd been a maniac the last couple weeks, making sure everything in our house was ready for the babies to arrive. We'd been to the OB just two days before, and Emily informed us I was a healthy 36 weeks along and not to be surprised if our twins came early.
"Rose will be here in a little bit, she got the other one together just fine."
He muttered something under his breath about manhood and woodworking skills, but I refrained from reminding him about his disaster of a birdhouse he tried to build.
"How much time do I have before they're all here?"
I looked at the clock. "About an hour."
The original plan was for all the ladies in the bridal party to stay at our house tonight, get Rose ready in the morning and take her to the church, while they guys crashed at Emmett's. However with me and Alice both so pregnant, and because of the occasional Braxton Hicks contractions I was experiencing, Edward absolutely refused to be away from me overnight.
Just in case.
So he was now the appointed pamperer and was going to be here to take care of us.
"I'm not going to have to paint any toenails, am I?"
I laughed at his pained expression and whiny voice. "You're the one who demanded to stay here. I can't make any promises."
He crawled over, taking away my bag of chips and setting them on the table before laying his head on my mountain of a belly. His eyes stayed on mine as he started talking to our babies.
"Masen and Anna, I want you to remember the lengths I'm going to for you two. I'm going to be in a house full of women tonight and won't even be getting any sex out of the deal."
I smacked his head. "Don't talk to them about S-E-X yet."
He started chuckling before one of his kids decided to kick, hitting him right in the cheek. That only made him laugh harder.
"I'm getting abused from every direction."
"Serves you right." I couldn't help but grin at him though. He was so adorable talking to the babies.
Our playtime was interrupted when my phone rang.
"It's your mother," I told him before answering. "Hello, Esme."
"Hi, Bella. Alice and I are leaving the hotel now. We've already been by the church also. Everything is ready to go for tomorrow."
"Great! Thanks so much for helping with this. I don't know what I would have done without you two."
Although I was maid-of-honor, it seemed to be more of an honorary role. I was simply too exhausted the last couple weeks to do a whole lot with wedding assistance. At this point, if I made it through the ceremony itself without needing to sit down, it would be a miracle.
But everyone had been understanding, Rose in particular. And all the Masens and Cullens had pitched in—along with an army of staff they'd hired—to give Rose and Emmett a beautiful wedding. I loved them all so much for making Rose and Emmett a part of their family in every way.
When Carlisle had pulled Rose aside a few weeks ago—after finding out she had nobody to walk her down the aisle—and volunteered for the job, it was the first time I'd ever seen her break down over her family. When my dad died, Emmett and I weren't the only ones who lost the only real parent we'd ever had ... Rose did too. She was usually so strong, so indifferent about her estrangement from her relatives, it was difficult to watch her emotional turmoil when accepting Carlisle's proposal to give her away.
Yet, once the sadness was over, it only strengthened the bond between us all by proving how much she and my brother were considered part of this family.
"Don't be silly," Esme said. "I'm marrying off my last daughter. I want to make sure it's perfect."
I smiled both from her words and from Edward, who had lifted my blouse to place kisses all over my stomach.
"Is there anything left to do at all?"
"No. We have the dress with us and we're about to pick her up. Then we'll be over after that. I was mainly calling to make sure Edward had been by the bakery to get those desserts for tonight."
I ran my fingers through his hair, trying not to laugh when his lips tickled my skin. He was very distracting.
"Yes, he did. He got them this morning, along with the ice cream, sandwiches, salads, and ready-to-bake lasagna from Tony's. He's been a good boy today."
Edward lifted his head and raised his eyebrow, aware I was talking about him. He slinked forward, looking very predatory, and I covered the phone to muffle my laughter when he started attacking my neck with his nibbles and tongue.
"I'm sorry, Esme. What was that?" I missed half of what she said.
Edward snorted and then blew a raspberry under my ear.
"Is that my son?"
"Yes. I think he's needing some attention before everyone arrives."
She laughed while Edward mumbled something against my skin. His lips were on mine as soon as I hung up.
"You taste salty."
I laughed. "And you're awfully handsy."
He hummed, his fingers inching up my inner thigh, and I cursed putting on leggings this morning.
"You know ... they say sex can induce labor."
I moaned when he started kissing my neck again. "I don't want to be in labor during the wedding though."
His chuckles tickled, and when he pulled away, I laughed at what I'd managed to do to his hair.
"Why are you laughing at me?"
I shook my head. "You better fix that mess on top of your head before your family gets here. They'll know exactly what we were up to."
He grumbled as he stood, mumbling something about them being cockblockers anyway.
Soon after, everyone arrived, including both of Edward's grandmothers. Edward lasted about 20 minutes being surrounded by estrogen before sneaking off upstairs with the excuse of finalizing plans for his new practice.
I snickered at the sight of him making his escape.
It was a fun, playful afternoon and evening, and Rose appeared to have a ball. We played games, ate, opened presents, but the best part was being able to relax and simply enjoy each other's company.
Esme took charge of serving and cleaning up, and I started to feel guilty as I watched her bustling around. I waddled into the kitchen, finding her putting plates in the dishwasher.
"Let me help you."
She turned and shook her head. "Don't you dare. I'm doing just fine and you don't need to be on your feet."
I huffed, but gave in when she came over and pushed me onto a stool. She could be so stubborn.
"Thanks for doing all of this. I know it means a lot to Rose. And to me."
"It's really my pleasure." She took a seat, laughing at me grabbing another cookie to munch. "I'm glad I caught you alone. There's something I wanted to discuss with you."
I stopped mid-bite. "What?"
She pursed her lips and hesitated, which made me nervous. I had no idea what she was about to tell me.
"Do you remember me telling you about my friend Elaine? She's with Random House?"
I gave her a slow nod, recalling one of our lunch conversations. "Vaguely."
"Now, don't be upset, but after you gave me a copy of your novel for Christmas, I just enjoyed it so much, I had to share it with her."
My heart pounded, both from fear and excitement.
"Did she read it?"
She grinned and nodded. "Yes, and she loved it as much as I did. She wanted me to give her your number directly, so she could discuss possible options with you, but I told her I needed to talk with you about it first."
One word caught my attention. "Options?"
"Yes. Options for moving forward and getting it published."
Published? Me? An actual published author?
I took a few deep breaths, my mind whirling. It was hard to compute the possibility.
"Are you mad at me?" She looked and sounded worried.
I shook my head. "No. It's just surreal. I can't believe someone would want to publish something of mine."
She grabbed my hand and squeezed it. "Silly girl. I told you it was great."
"I... I'm not sure what to say. I'm still trying to process this. Let me talk with Edward about it before you tell her anything."
He chose that exact moment to make an appearance, walking over to kiss my cheek and rub my stomach before opening the refrigerator.
"Are you done hiding?" I asked. He wasn't really fulfilling his pampering duties.
He turned and grinned at me. "Hell, no. I'm just hungry."
Esme swatted him with a towel, and he slid to avoid it while balancing a variety of plates in his hands.
"What are you two doing in here?"
Esme smiled at me and conveniently disappeared.
"What's up?" he asked again after she walked out.
"Well, she and I were talking about my novel."
He inhaled a sandwich. "Really?"
So I told him what Esme had said while he scarfed down a meal.
He put his arms around me when I finished. "That's fucking awesome, baby!"
"You think so? You think I should do it?"
"Yes. Absolutely. Just think, a doctor and a famous, published author in the same house. Our kids are going to have some badass parents."
I giggled and kissed him, his exuberance rubbing off on me. It would be thrilling to see my name on an actual book cover. It was something I never really dreamed would happen, but now the possibility made me giddy.
"You know what else?" he asked. "I bet your father would have been so proud of you."
A few tears fell from his words. And he was right. My father would have been proud.
"I love you," I told him.
"I love you, too."
The next morning we were all up early, everyone in wedding mode. Mitch and his band of stylists were with us again, making sure we were all styled properly.
Rose was glowing from all the attention and primping, looking like a supermodel in her sleek gown. Alice and I were not quite so glamorous in our bridesmaid dresses, but at least they were fluttery and not confining.
I did have to switch my shoes out at the last minute, my swollen feet not able to fit into anything but some flats.
I'd been having sharper pains all morning, but I kept them to myself, wanting to get through the ceremony without taking anything away from Rose. In the back of my mind, I told myself it was possible that labor had begun, but I begged my babies to give me just a few hours. Thankfully, Edward was scarce during our preparations, because he would have known something was wrong.
Soon enough we were at the church, and Edward had me in his grasp. Luckily, the ceremony started as soon as we arrived, leaving little time for chit chat. He gave me a quick kiss before joining the other groomsmen at the front.
I took a few deep breaths, and made my way to Rose.
"I know I've said this already, but you look gorgeous."
She smiled at me through the veil the wedding planner had just lowered, her eyes watery with tears. "So do you."
I laughed and held my belly with one hand, the bouquet of flowers in the other. "I wouldn't miss this even if they had to roll me down the aisle."
Her hands were shaking, and I set the flowers down to take them in mine. "Are you nervous?"
"A little. I mean ... not really. Not about the marriage, but I guess it's just all the people in there."
That surprised me. Rose usually liked the limelight.
"You're going to be great. This is your day."
She smiled at me again, and gave me a hug before Carlisle appeared.
He glanced between the two of us. "Everything okay?"
We both nodded.
I turned my head at the wedding planner, squeezing Rose's hand one last time before making my way to the door. It was my turn down the aisle.
A contraction hit me just as I moved past the first pew. I had to bite my lip to keep from crying out, but my eyes watered from the pain. I hoped everyone assumed my tears were due to high emotions.
I glanced up and prayed to make it through the next 30 minutes.
I knew something was wrong. She was trying to hide it, but I could read her face like a book. I was close to stopping the ceremony and going to her when she finally met my eyes as she made it down the aisle and mouthed that she was okay.
I didn't believe her, but I also didn't want to ruin Emmett and Rosalie's wedding.
I was antsy during the entire ceremony, not paying any attention to what was going on between the couple of the day. Instead my focus was entirely on my wife, watching her wince and subtly try to bend to her side. Her back was obviously hurting her, but I didn't know if she was simply uncomfortable from standing or whether she was having any kind of labor pain.
The moment the wedded couple were announced and started back down the aisle together, I made a beeline for Bella.
"What is it? What's wrong?"
She squeezed my hand hard, clenching her teeth and breathing heavily. "I think we need to get to the hospital. Quick."
This was it.
I put my arm around her, while looking for my father. He saw me nod and came to us as we moved closer to his seat.
"She's in labor," I told him.
He immediately took her other arm, my mother grabbing the flowers out of her hand. Alice and Jasper were right behind us.
"What's going on?" Alice asked.
"Bella's in labor."
"Oh, God. Edward, you have to get me out of here. Now." Bella wasn't holding anything in anymore. Her face was flushed as she hunched over.
Several eyes were turned toward us, noticing our group standing around at the front instead of following Rose and Emmett out to the foyer.
I leaned down to look in her eyes. "How long have you been having contractions? Do you have an estimate on how far apart they are?"
She took a couple more breaths. "They've been stronger since this morning. But I think they're around five minutes apart now."
I kept my anger in check, refraining from raising my voice, panicking, and asking her why she hadn't said anything until now. The reason was obvious, but it still made me shake my head. She always put herself last.
There were more important things to tend to than lecturing her at the moment. I gripped my hair, seeing the crowd of people blocking the front entrance.
Alice prodded me. "Take her out the side door. Mom and Dad, you go with them. Just take one of the limos. Jasper and I will go tell Rose and Emmett."
Bella burst into tears. "Tell them I'm sorry. I wanted to see their reception."
Mom tried to keep Bella calm while Dad and I ushered her outside. I yelled to one of the valets to put a rush on our car while dialing our OB. The car pulled up as soon as Dr. Young confirmed she'd meet us at the hospital.
"Deep breaths, baby." I helped her into the car, trying not to lose it as I watched her go through another contraction.
She yelled out, almost breaking my hand as she squeezed. "Oh, please! Please hurry." She was sweating and panting, her eyes wild. "I don't think they're going to wait much longer."
The driver floored it when we were all inside, my father and I glancing at each other. I could tell he was wondering if we were going to make it there in time, just as I was. I really hoped we wouldn't have to deliver in the car.
We were still 10 minutes from the hospital, and I was about to kneel down and determine how dilated she was when her water broke.
She was even more of a mess now, teary-eyed and panting. I turned her head so she would focus on my face.
"Breathe with me." I mimed the breaths for her, hoping it would calm her down. "That's it. Everything will be fine. Breathe."
We went through two more rounds of contractions before pulling up to the hospital emergency entrance. I jumped out to grab a wheelchair while my parents helped her out of the car.
"I'm going to take her in, will you take care of the car?" I asked my father, and he slapped my back with a nod.
I imagined the mess in the back meant the family had just purchased a limo, but it didn't matter in the least.
I wheeled Bella in, and we were immediately ushered up to maternity where Dr. Young met us. Bella was in a gown and into a bed within minutes.
Emily took in my tux as she greeted us. "Hello, you two. Apparently the babies interrupted a party."
Bella was squeezing my hand, breathing through another contraction, while a nurse put an IV in her other arm. "It was my brother's wedding."
Emily had Bella put her feet up and checked on the progress. "How far apart are the contractions?"
"Less than three minutes apart now," I answered.
She stood up and walked over to the fetal monitors before moving to Bella's other side. "You're fully dilated. I'm going to change and then we're going to get you delivered."
It was all happening so fast, and both Bella and I were in a little bit of shock. But I shook it off, taking the scrubs from the nurse and scrambling out of my formal attire. I rushed back to Bella's side, brushing the hair from her face.
"Don't be scared. Everything is going to be great. Right? We've practiced the breathing. You know the procedure."
I was trying to calm her down as much as myself. My heart was about to pound right out of my chest.
She nodded, brave as always. "It's all happening so quickly."
I leaned over, kissing her lips. "Next time, no waiting to tell anybody you're in labor. I don't care if we're at the president's wedding."
That made her giggle a little, and a small amount of tension eased from my shoulders.
"I'm sorry. I thought it would be okay. It was around the middle of the ceremony when I really started getting scared I wouldn't make it through."
I nuzzled her nose and waited for her to open her eyes and look at me. "We're about to be parents. Can you believe it?"
A few tears spilled, and I wiped them from her face.
"Stay right here and hold my hand."
"There's no other place I would ever be."
Two hours later, I was holding my son in one arm and my daughter in the other. Bella had gone through the delivery like a champ, only threatening bodily harm to me once or twice.
I didn't mind.
The feeling of having our children healthy and in my embrace was like nothing I'd ever experienced. I couldn't take my eyes off their faces, except the glances I would sneak in their mother's direction to make sure she was still resting and comfortable.
Masen Charles Alexander was born five minutes before Illianna Katherine Renee, and they weighed in at five pounds, six ounces and five pounds, four ounces, respectively.
And they were perfect.
I'd thought after meeting Bella, my heart couldn't possibly love any more than it did for her. But I was wrong. So very wrong.
There was nothing I wouldn't do for the two little ones scrunching their faces and yawning at me. And the love I felt for Bella only multiplied after this gift she had given me. Given us.
Was it possible for a heart to burst?
From a clinical perspective, I knew the answer was no. At least not from feeling too much. But it still felt like mine was nearing that point.
In the following days, we were inundated with visitors, and I put on a polite smile, although I was greedy and wanted to keep the three of them all for myself. It was a great day when Bella and the babies were released from the hospital, and I got to take them home.
It was quite an adjustment, dealing with cleaning and feeding and rocking and taking care of our twins. But it was all worth it.
When the twins were two months old, I opened my new practice. I kept my hours light in the beginning, never wanting to miss anything at home. Our schedules and routines eventually smoothed out, Bella using my time with the babies to finalize plans for her novel to be published.
People say you can't have it all, but maybe they're wrong. I felt like I did have it all.
There were times when I would stand back and watch Bella breastfeeding, and I would wonder how it was I'd gotten so lucky.
Was it a random circumstance which had placed her in my path in New York? Or was it some small act of kindness I'd performed in my past which had been paid back to me a thousand fold?
Or were our destinies fated for us no matter what paths we chose in our lives?
I wasn't sure of the answer. All I knew was to not question when goodness is within your grasp. Take it. Hold onto it. Cherish it.
And consider yourself lucky.
AN: Thanks to those who have made it through to the end of this story. It was my first stab at any kind of creative writing, and I had a lot of fun with these characters. Someday I'd like to go back through and make changes and edits because I really had very little experience at the beginning of what I was doing.
You can probably tell the differences in writing from the start to the finish, and I think (and hope) that I've learned things along the way and improved.
Anyway, I hope you got some enjoyment from reading this fic. I'm still working on finishing Choices and have other things in the works.
Thank you and I appreciate all the kind words, suggestions, and reviews along the way.