Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I'm just having some fun with her characters.
Many thanks to radar1230 for prereading this for me and being my cheerleader and also to LJ Summers, my superb beta who wields her colorful pens with style and accuracy. :)
"Great hit! Great hit! Run, run, run!" Jessica screamed, her voice hoarse from cheering for her boy. She stomped her feet on the metal bleachers, her popcorn long since spilled in the dust. Eric sat beside her, holding a video camera to his eye and a baby on his lap. An unlikely couple from the start but they were ridiculously adorable. And when they got married, they had been the most beautiful little instant family. Eric had been a natural father to Jessica's son, Joey, accepting him like his own, and then came a baby brother.
Relations between Jessica, Eric, and Mike were not always easy. Mike had put up a bit of a fight when he learned of their impending marriage. His eyes strayed up to Jessica fleetingly as she whistled and whooped. As the Assistant Coach, Mike was handing out bottles of water to the players, adjusting helmets, and tying shoes. But he took a break to cheer his son all the way home where he gave him a high five and a pat on the shoulder. He was trying. Despite Mike's change of heart, his naïve idea that he could have the happy little family with Jessica and their son was unfortunately too little, too late.
When he turned himself in for the false distress call all those years ago, he had been prosecuted and convicted. He spent some time in juvenile detention and while he was locked up, his father's career in city government had been rocked by scandal. The good news of it all was that Mike had been completely humbled. His time in jail and his family's shame gave him a good dose of reality and he learned the hard way about earning the things you want, including trust.
It was hard for Edward to give Mike a second chance after everything that happened. When Mike asked for his forgiveness, he'd given it but it was with no small amount of effort. He might not have deserved a second chance, but that's the essence of grace. Getting what we don't deserve.
"Masen! You're up!" my husband called to our son.
Emmett looked at me from the bench and flashed his freckle faced toothless grin and I smiled so wide that tears came to my eyes. That kid had all the charm of his father and he had me wrapped around his finger and he knew it.
The kids on the other team kicked at the dirt, tugged at their uniforms, and one kid even sat cross legged in the outfield, plucking grass and tossing it over his shoulder.
"A formidable force, indeed," Rose observed from next to me and I laughed.
Charis wriggled in my arms and yet another pacifier dropped from her pursed lips to the ground below.
Emmett stood at the plate and nervously raised the bat over his shoulder. I held my breath as he waited for the pitch. The last game they'd played, he'd been hit by a ball and he was understandably fearful. He had yet to even swing on any of his turns at bat since then.
"What'd I miss?" Jacob asked, climbing up to sit next to Rose and leaning over to give her a kiss.
"Joey made a homerun," Rose answered.
The pitcher threw the ball right over the plate and Emmett stood frozen.
"It's all right, son, all right!" Edward called, clapping his hands. "You're doing great! Just focus and swing when it's right."
The fingers of my free hand curled around the sharp metal edge of the bleacher and the cheers of parents and friends around me grew to a roar.
The pitch let fly and I saw the fear on Emmett's face as it once again passed him by. I blew out the breath of air I was holding. "You can do it, Emmett!" I yelled.
Charis gurgled and gnawed on her plump fingers, drool running down onto my arm.
Edward approached the plate and bent down to talk to our son. My eyes trailed down the lines of his strong back to his backside, somehow made even more attractive by streaks of dirt on white pants. His hands held Emmett's head as they were locked in a pow-wow for a moment before my husband returned to the bench.
"Just keep your eye on the ball, Emmett. You got this!"
I saw our son's back straighten and courage strengthened his shoulders. Jacob began stomping his feet and cheering loudly.
"You're doing great, son! You've got this!" Edward called, clapping his hands and cheering for our boy. "Even if you miss, you've got to swing."
The pitcher studied his batter before winding up and letting fly. I hollered and screamed with enthusiasm as I saw Emmett's eyes narrow and his jaw set. His arms were firm as the bat arced forcefully across the plate.
Edward pumped his fist and I jumped from my seat, screaming with all I had.
Sometimes the outcome doesn't matter; you just have to swing.
Btw, Charis is pronounced Care-iss.
Sigh. It's done.
Thank you so much to everyone that has read this story. If you are reading and you haven't reviewed yet, would you take a minute to drop me a little note? I always love hearing from you, it makes the writing process so much richer for me. If you don't feel comfortable leaving a review, just know that I appreciate you for taking the time to read my story. :)
Thank you again to LJ Summers for being such a great beta and great friend. I'm honored by your time and dedication to my story. :) And radar1230, your words always make me smile and I'm so glad we're friends. :)
Also, though, she'll probably never see this, I want to thank Bratty-Vamp. To be honest, she is the reason this story ever saw the light of day. Her excitement for my idea and encouragement to write it is why it's here. It probably would have stayed locked up in my brain if she didn't encourage me to share it. She also pre-read the first few chapters for me before she left the fandom. So thank you, Kat, for your enthusiasm for my idea. :)
I've had questions about if I'll write another story and the answer is yes, but I don't know if I will do any more fanfiction. I think I'm going to be focusing on some original fiction for a while. But if the inspiration strikes for another Edward and Bella story, I may be back. :) I do have some ideas, so we'll see! In any case, I appreciate you all so much and thank you for all your love and support for this story.
I'd love to hear from you!