I know, it's been less than a week since I updated, but I figured the epi is done, why make you wait, right? Yes, this is the epilogue. You will see the story is marked as complete.
I need to thank MaggieMay14 for betaing this mess. She has been a great friend and beta over the past few years and I adore her. Risbee and Acinad816 have been superb pre-readers, giving me their honest opinion and some of the sweetest comments. I may even keep them around for the night story. Yes, there will be another.
I don't own Twilight. I do own this little story, and I am dying to go to the new Picasso exhibit in Toronto this summer.
"Color has taken possession of me; no longer do I have to chase after it. I know that it has hold of me forever... Color and I are one. I am a painter." Paul Klee
Life as I knew it ceased to exist almost a year ago.
I no longer worked for Emmett and had quit in September of last year when I couldn't manage to juggle both working for him and trying to paint. He hadn't minded me leaving of course, and hired a new employee to take my place who was surely more competent than I was.
Rosalie had given birth to a baby girl in July who they named Emma Grace Cullen. She was absolutely adorable, had Emmett wrapped around her finger, and was doted on by everyone in the family, even Bella. Though I had been concerned about her well-being after Emma's birth, Bella was obviously stronger than I gave her credit for.
Things had changed greatly for Bella and me as well. She finally graduated from the University of Washington with her poetry degree and then immediately began to take a degree in Education, having decided she wanted to be a teacher. I was fully supportive of her, but I quickly found that between her course load and working part time at the law firm, we never saw each other. This resulted in me telling her one night in October that I wanted to sell my condo and find a completely new place for us to live. After all, it had been 10 months since we had reconciled and we had made major strides together.
Bella was completely shocked by my surprise, but in a very positive way. We ended up selling both the loft and my condo rather quickly and right before Christmas we were settled in our new loft near the campus. It had two bedrooms, plus a larger kitchen and dining room area. There was also a den, off of the spacious living room, which currently housed all of my art supplies and Bella let me set up my easel in the living room. It was a lot like the last loft, without the old memories, and it was a little larger and closer to campus.
A few days before Christmas we got two more welcome surprises that we were not expecting.
Bella received a call from Kate to let her know that Peter had been all over the news in Chicago. Apparently, Peter had been fired by the law firm and was being sued by them for overcharging their clients and siphoning the profits. According to the article in the Chicago Sun-Times, Peter would apparently charge for dozens of hours of work which he didn't do and the excess funds padded his pockets.
"I always knew he was a complete and utter asshole," I muttered as Bella recounted her conversation with Kate to me.
"It gets worse."
"What did he do now?" Bella pulled up the article from the paper on her laptop and I sat down beside her and read the screen, my jaw dropping open as I read.
'Mr. Masen has also been embroiled in a rather personal battle with Marcus Volturi, one of the partners of the firm. After breaking off his engagement with Marcus's stepdaughter, Mr. Masen began pursuing the wife of Mr. Volturi, Renee Swan-Volturi, who is twenty years his senior.'
"Jesus fuck... really?" I almost choked on the air as I re-read the passage again and before I could say anything, Bella began to burst out into laughter.
"I should have seen this all coming you know?" I looked at her quizzically and Bella simply smiled. "There is nothing my mother loves more than power and money, so if Peter was siphoning off the clients, it was probably a huge turn on for her. Plus, Peter wanted to get ahead in the firm and my mother could definitely help him there. They are both so fucking greedy and selfish... I hope they both get what they deserve."
I pulled Bella against me and hugged her tightly as she continued to laugh.
"For the record, I find it absolutely creepy that your mother would want your sloppy seconds."
"I can't believe Peter would... fuck it, I could totally believe it," Bella smiled as I kissed her temple softly. "Now that I am done laughing at their stupidity, I need to finish this reading before the holidays. I don't want to think about school anymore."
Bella and I ended up having a comfortable Christmas at home in our loft. On Christmas Day, we went over to my parents' house and while Bella bonded with Emma, I got grilled from my mother about when I was going to make an honest woman out of Bella. I had to admit, the thought had crossed my mind, but I didn't feel like either of us was ready to make such a huge commitment. Sure, we had been living together again, but marriage was a whole different ball game.
In January 2013, I had my first official gallery opening following my departure. Leah's gallery hosted the event, which ended up being a huge success that no one could have imagined. I ended up selling 75% of my pieces and the gallery took the rest on consignment to sell for me. Bella and my mother both claimed they knew I would have great success, but I was still on the fence about it. After all, I didn't want to be famous, I just wanted to paint and maybe get paid for it every now and again.
Several of the paintings on display were of Bella, though her face couldn't be seen, because they were of her back, her leg or her arms etc... The pictures showcasing her beautiful face were in our apartment, and the more risqué ones were in our bedroom. They wouldn't be seen by anyone other than Bella or I.
Once word got around that my Seattle showing had been a success and people in the industry knew I was back from the dead, so to speak, the Kensington Gallery in San Francisco began to poke around a little bit more. They were interested in selling more of my works and even had a few buyers lined up, I just had to produce something for them that they deemed worthy. I made plans to fly down for a few days once Bella and I got back from our spring break trip to Washington, D.C.
Sure, it wasn't the typical trip that most college kids took to South Padre Island or Fort Lauderdale, but Bella was not an ordinary college kid. She was already 30 and I would be 26 in June, so hitting crowded beaches filled with drunken kids was the last thing we wanted to do. So, instead we decided to go all out and splurge a bit on a room at the Fairmont before we spent some time touring the National Gallery of Art. Though I insisted to Bella that I would only need a day, she figured I would spend one day in the Calder Exhibit and would need another day for the rest of the gallery.
She was right.
We ended up sitting on a bench in the middle of a portion of the exhibit, side by side, for almost two hours. Neither of us really said anything of importance until Bella reached into her purse and pulled out a small stack of envelopes.
"Those are the letters I wrote you." I looked at Bella completely perplexed by her actions. Why was she doing this? Why now?
"I don't want to read them."
"I want you to."
"Bella, it won't make a difference to me what those letters say. You could state that you hated me, you loved me, you wished everything had been different for us, but it took me months of therapy to face up to the fact that you and I are where we are supposed to be."
"Everything happens for a reason?" she offered as I squeezed her hand tightly in mine.
"Exactly. Dr. Gerandy made me see that even though we had a rough and tumultuous road to get to where we are, we may not have gotten here if it wasn't for all of that shit, ya know?" Bella nodded her head softly as I took the letters from her and stood up to toss them in a nearby trash can, her mouth agape as I did it. "Nothing those letters say can make me love you any more or any less than I do now."
Feeling like it was the perfect time, I dropped down on one knee and presented her with the heirloom ring that Esme had given me. It used to belong to my great-great grandmother and Esme knew the moment I told her that I was going to propose, that I had to have the ring.
Based on the expression on Bella's face as she burst into tears and swiftly nodded her agreement, I could tell Esme was right.
Edward and I were married three months after he proposed in a quiet ceremony in his parents' backyard. Kate & Garrett flew in from Chicago for the event, but everyone else was immediate family, including Leah and her fiancé Embry.
I wore a beautiful knee length white dress embellished with crocheted designs and I had a matching dress made for lil' Emma, my flower girl. It was simple, quiet and perfect for Edward and me. We spent a week afterwards in the Barbados for our honeymoon and it was while walking down the beach, with my hand clasped tightly in Edward's that I came to a major realization.
"I want to adopt a baby."
Edward didn't question me about anything because he wanted to have children, and if we weren't meant to conceive, this was a step towards achieving our dream of having a family.
The week we arrived home from the Barbados, we got in touch with a lawyer from the firm I used to work part-time at, and he put us in touch with a reputable firm that helped people looking to adopt. I had to admit, when the thought came to me, I didn't think it was going to be an easy road, but I also didn't realize just how difficult it would be for us. As each day passed it seemed like things were going from bad to worse.
There were hundreds of papers to be filled out and signed, dozens of meetings with people to figure out if we were worthy and Dr. Gerandy even had to account for our mental well being. It was taxing at the best. Edward and I relocated to a house, since we needed somewhere larger to raise a child, and we chose something near Emmett and Rosalie, so that we had family around. The people from the agency even had to meet our family and interview them to make sure our home was a good fit for a child.
The longer it seemed to take, the worse I became. Edward would find me crying in bed, after he worked late into the night painting, and I would be a blubbering mess. I cried over and over again about how I had screwed up our chance to have our own flesh and blood child, but he consoled me like the supportive and loving husband he was. Edward continually reminded me that even though I might not have given birth to the child we would eventually adopt, I would be the best mother ever.
Sure enough, in June the agency found a woman who was having a child that she wasn't able to keep. Angela was only eighteen years old and had a strict religious upbringing, but she had discovered she was pregnant after a one night stand and couldn't even remember who the father was. Though she loved the child she was carrying, she knew she couldn't raise it properly and we met with her on a regular basis until she agreed to let us adopt once she had given birth.
Edward and I were over the moon when we finally received word that Angela had gone into labor. We rushed to the hospital and barely made it in time to see little Thomas Alexander Cullen come into the world.
It was only five weeks later that I discovered I was pregnant. I took three tests and when they both came back positive; I still didn't believe the results. Though I wanted it to be true more than anything, I had been late, and super emotional, before. I refused to get Edward's hopes up, so I dropped Thomas off with Esme one afternoon and went to see my doctor.
"Bella, it has always been possible for you to conceive following your initial miscarriage," Dr. Elliott informed me, as I sat slack-jawed in front of her desk. "Though your miscarriage and recovery had been rough, I think you may have been given incorrect information from the doctors in Forks. Your tubes have fully recovered and I don't foresee any issues with this pregnancy as long as you continue to take care of yourself."
"Yes, really," she said sweetly as I nodded my head and listened as she booked an appointment for me to come back in a few weeks.
Needless to say, when I walked in the door to our house and found Edward with Thomas, my heart swelled. "I picked him up from my mom, I hope you don't mind."
"Not at all," I said, as I moved over and kissed Edward's temple, as he rocked Thomas to sleep.
"My mom called me cause he was being a bit fussy, so I went and picked him up when my meeting with Leah was done." I nodded, already knowing this since I had called Esme when I left the doctor's office.
"Did everything go alright?"
"Yeah, it's fine. They sold a few more pieces, the usual shit... Leah wants to get together for dinner next week if we can." Edward paused for a moment before eyeing me up suspiciously. "How did your meeting go?"
During the car ride home I contemplated how on earth to give Edward the news about the new baby. After all, we had just adopted Thomas and things were finally falling into place. Could I really have two children born within 1 year of each other? Well, I knew I was going to find out since there was nothing stopping me from having it all.
"I went to the doctor." Edward immediately tensed and I picked Thomas up from his arms and placed him softly in the playpen to continue his nap. "I got some unexpected news today."
"Just spit it out, Bella," he whispered angrily.
Eight months later, little Lila Alice Cullen came into the world and our little family was complete. Thomas was becoming a very precocious one year old and was thrilled to have a baby sister, even more so than Edward and I were excited to welcome a daughter.
Where once there was a lack of color in our lives, Edward and I were now surrounded in every beautiful color in the rainbow and our lives were perfect.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and review this little story. For some reason you guys seem to like me, and I promise I will continue to write. I have a Twi25 short story that I plan to start posting daily next week. In the meantime, why don't you check out twificmeetup . blogspot .com. There's going to a Meetup of Twific Writers, Readers, Friends etc... in Vegas in early June and I will be there. You should be there too!
If you want something to read, you should check out: Dear Maggie by Jenny0719, Rm w a Vu by AngelGoddess1981 and Head Over Feet by iambeagle.
Until Next Time! - cpw