Sooo, this is the last chapter. Ugh. For real, no take-backs. I appreciate everyone who came on this little ride with me again! It was seriously so much fun. Thank you. :')
Before Bella and Kate consume their shots, Emmett takes one for the team and downs them.
"Now this guy likes to party!" Kate howls with laughter, not realizing his interference was for reasons other than partying.
I stand close to Bella's stool, brushing my fingers over her leg to grab her attention. "Hey."
Her smile is warm and she leans over, kissing me. "Hi. You're cute."
I smirk against her lips. "You're drunk."
"Oops." She tugs at my shirt, bringing me closer. "But you're still cute. Like, all the time."
"I'm glad you're having fun," I whisper against her ear, earning myself another kiss. "But I think my parents might want to get home at a decent time tonight."
She nods in agreement, despite the slight glazed look in her eyes. "You're right. Sorry. Did they text?"
I shake my head. "Don't be sorry. And no, they didn't text but maybe we should wrap this up?"
"Okay. I'm gonna go pee." She moves off the stool and kisses me again, letting her hands linger around my waist before walking away. It's cute how handsy she gets when she's drunk. I just prefer it to be in the privacy of our own home.
With a minute alone, I glance around the bar appreciatively. Jasper finally scored and is making out with the random dude he was talking to. Em's busy distracting Kate from drinking too much. And Ben's in the corner, working up the courage to apologize to her.
For a second, a bittersweet feeling tugs at my chest when I think of this place closing. Sure it's just a pub that's probably violating a plethora of health codes. There are just so many memories here—some good, others not-so-great. But that's kinda how life is, anyway.
I grab Bella's beer and take one last swig, tapping the empty pint glass against the worn wood of the bar. It's my way of saying thanks—my way of saying goodbye.
Bella takes a little longer than I thought she would, and I'm about to go looking for her when she reappears. She looks strange, kind of upset. The tip of her nose is red, the way it gets when she's on the verge of crying.
I half think she's getting emotional about The Cellar closing, but when I search her face, there's something more in her eyes.
She pulls on her jacket, seemingly distracted. "What?"
"You look upset. What happened?"
"Right, I just—" She pauses, frowning. "I think I'm late."
"No, like… late late."
My eyes widen. "Oh."
"I was peeing, and you know how they have those little signs in the bathroom that warn you about consuming alcohol while pregnant?"
"Can't say I do."
"Okay. Well, I saw one and realized I don't actually remember when my last period was. Things have been a little crazy lately so I kinda lost track, I guess?"
I try to think back for her, fully knowing I'm gonna be of no help.
"Shit," I breathe out. "Okay."
"Oh my god, and I'm like really drunk." I chuckle lightly because she's saying it like she just realized. But then her mouth pulls into a frown and it's my turn to realize something: she's freaking the fuck out.
I pull her against me. "It's okay."
"No, like, I'm going to hate myself forever if I fucked up our baby."
"What's up, y'all?" Kate's no longer distracted by Em and turns her attention to us again.
"Nothing," I say. "I think we're gonna head out, actually."
She boos me. "What? No! The night is young!"
"It's after eleven. We gotta get back so my parents can head home."
Kate simmers down, eyeing Bella. And when I say 'eyeing,' I mean her eyes go really fucking wide and a little crazy.
"I'm getting… vibes," she assesses.
"Vibes?" Bella repeats.
"I've been really honing in on my psychic abilities lately."
I raise my brows in disbelief. She digs through her purse and I swear to god if she pulls out a crystal or a bundle of sage, I'm gonna lose it. Instead of either of those things, she pulls out a pregnancy test, placing it on the bar. Well, first she pulls out a used test, then quickly replaces it with one that's still in the foil wrapper.
"Why do you have a pregnancy test in your bag, Kate?" Bella asks somewhat nervously.
"Why don't you? These suckers come in handy."
"Okay. And why are you giving this to me?"
"Besides me being psychic, I actually overheard your entire conversation. So. I figured you might need it."
"Got it." Bella looks at me, crossing her arms in front of her stomach. "I'm not gonna take a pregnancy test in the Cellar's bathroom. I'm just not."
"You could pee in the ally. I'll hold up my jacket to shield you. Aw, like old times!"
"Kate?" I interrupt. "Could you just give us a minute actually?"
She looks offended. "Fine. I'll be over there when you need me."
"Trust me, we won't," I mutter as she walks away.
Bella grabs the test, sticking it in her pocket. She looks… well, beautiful. But also worried. "There's a pregnancy test in my pocket… and we're in a bar," she mutters. "This is a real low."
It's not ideal but, "It's fine. We're gonna head home and figure this out. Okay?"
Bella nods, and I see the exact moment in her eyes when her freak out begins again.
I gently grab her shoulder, forcing her to look at me. "Hey—"
"I'm gonna be sick."
She rushes to the bathroom and I grab her bag, following behind. I stick my head inside after a few minutes, asking if she's okay. She yells back for me to not come in so I wait for her by the door, handing her a cup of water when she comes out.
"Pretty sure that was more alcohol puke than pregnancy puke," she mumbles and thanks me for the water.
I give her a reassuring smile. "I had a feeling."
She wipes under her eyes. "Fuck. That wasn't great."
"Take me home?"
I pull her against my side. "Always."
Saying bye to Kate is easier than I expected. That might be thanks to Ben who finds her right before we leave, mumbling that they need to talk. I give him a nod, letting him know he's doing the right thing.
We're standing outside waiting for a cab when Emmett walks over with a bratwurst.
"What happened to watching your weight?" I ask, laughing.
He flips me off, then holds it out to Bella. "Want a bite?"
"Get that nasty pale sausage out of my face, Em."
"Jeez, don't say I never offered you anything," he scoffs. "Y'all heading out?"
"Yep. Will you let Jasper know?"
The cab ride is quiet. Bella sits in the middle, body close to mine and head resting on my shoulder. I can feel the tension rolling off of her, and I hate it. I don't want her to be worried. I don't want her to be upset if she is pregnant again. Just because the timing might not be right, it's not the worst thing that could happen to us.
Kicking my parents out takes a minute. They want to small-talk, asking how the night was, wanting to know who was all there. The conversation eventually shifts to Penny, but Bella disappears after a few minutes. I know she's freaking out and wants to take the test, so I walk my parents out and end up spending another ten minutes talking about how they want to celebrate the upcoming holidays with the Swans.
Locking up the house, I turn off lights along the way and find Bella in Penny's room. She's watching her sleep, tender smile on her lips.
"I want to wake her," she whispers. "But I won't."
It's funny. We're always desperate for her to go down, but once she does, we want to wake her up to be with her again.
"You okay?" I ask, grabbing her waist, pulling her away from the crib.
"Talk to me."
I follow her into the bedroom. She kicks off her boots, sitting on the edge of the bed.
"I'm going to sound like a terrible person," she mutters.
"No, you aren't."
"I mean, I want another baby. I really do… eventually. But the timing?" She sighs, wiping her tears. "And Penny is a handful enough as it is. Like, we'd have two kids under the age of two? I just—"
"Bella. It's okay. You're not terrible for feeling overwhelmed by the idea."
"The first time it was a surprise—a huge one. And I'm not saying I'm not completely in love with our girl, because I am. I just thought the second time would be… smoother? Planned out? I don't like being blindsided."
"We don't know if you're pregnant yet," I remind her, pulling the test out of her pocket and setting it between us on the bed.
Her tears fall faster now. "What if I don't love our next baby as much as I love Penny?"
I don't actually know what to say to this, because it's something I've thought of too. "I think it's a different kind of love. It's not more or less, just... different."
She seems to accept this answer, moving on to her next concern. "I'm just starting to feel like myself again," she mumbles, avoiding my eyes. "You know how bad it got right after Penny was born. Postpartum depression scares the shit out of me. And I know it wasn't as bad as it could've been. But still. It was hard."
I grab her hand. "Baby, I know. I understand, but—"
"Do you miss the person I used to be?" she blurts out of nowhere.
"Like, I used to be fun! I was skinny and showed side-boob to get us a honeymoon suite. I broke into hotel pools to swim and we'd go to Vegas on a whim and—"
"That was just a different time in our lives, Bell. It was fun, don't get me wrong , but we have different priorities other than trying to get a free bottle of champagne from concierge."
"I know. I just still have some baby weight I haven't lost, and imagining having another kid on top of this… just. Fuck." She blows her nose. "I'm supposed to be this confident boss bitch but sometimes I feel like a fake and a phony. When I'm at work, I want to be with Pen. When I'm with Pen, sometimes I feel like I should be at work. This whole having-it-all thing is confusing."
"Okay, let's tackle this one thing at a time," I say, working backward. "First, you don't have to have it all. We're in this together. Second, I'm pretty sure it's normal to feel everything you're feeling. And third…" I give her a look. "I seriously don't think you've ever looked better."
She rolls her eyes. "Shut up."
"I'm serious. You know I've always loved your body but now it's… it's fucking sexier than ever." It's the god-honest truth. She has curves in places I didn't know that she could because for years she was thin and cute and Bella. And then suddenly she was a mom and curvy and still Bella. I can't explain it but seeing what her body did made me that much more attracted to her. Or maybe it was the fact that she gave up so much for us to have a family. I just have so much respect for her, which in turn translates into attraction. I don't tell her any of this because it might come out weird or wrong, and she's being sensitive. I don't want to ruin this moment.
"You don't have to say that," she whispers.
I don't like that she's feeling insecure—don't like that this whole pregnancy thing is up in the air. I watch her face carefully, knowing I need to fix this. Or at least reassure her, so she feels less uncertain and scared.
"I loved the spontaneity of our life before… but I also love our life now. It's equally spontaneous, but in a different way. I like trying to figure out this parenting thing with you. Sure, we have laundry piled up and are constantly doing dishes, but all those little moments with you and Pen make life so fucking sweet. Like finding you passed out with her sleeping on your chest. Or hearing you through the baby monitor, singing songs to her and being the best mom."
Her eyes glisten, and she releases the softest laugh. "She likes when I sing Lizzo."
I laugh. "I know. Our kid is weird."
"No, I'm not."
"You're perfect for me," I murmur.
With a soft sigh, she says, "You're seriously killing it tonight with the charm."
I give her a gentle smile. "Just trust me when I say I wouldn't change a thing about our lives… or you. And if we're having another baby… it is what it is. We'll figure it out and everything will be okay. Okay?"
"Okay. I love you. Okay," she says, smile a little wobbly because she's trying not to cry again. "God. Whenever our kids need a pep-talk—that's all you, man."
"I do have a way with words."
"Yeah. You also have a way with me," she adds, grabbing my face and kissing me. "So… should I go pee on this thing?"
I kiss her back, nodding. "Are we gonna be okay with whatever it says?"
"Yeah." Her smile is small but there's a twinkle in her eyes. "We're gonna be more than okay."