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Chapter 24

8-years-later

University of Louisiana: New Orleans

"We sit here today in a room full of great students who are now embarking on their young lives into adulthood," the head dean smiled. "There's a whole world out there that still needs a lot to clean-up and you guys will definitely be the generation to do it. You have the skills and we expect you to go out and do good…"

"If only he knew that they had a pair of old geezers in the group," Jake whispered into Bella's ear.

Bella smiled and rolled her eyes.

"I still feel young, not a day over twenty-six, thank you very much," she grinned.

It had been 8-years since they left Forks and they had never gone back. They had spent the first two years, traveling across the country living out of a van that Jake had bought with some of the funds from selling his cabin, bikes and other items that he claimed he didn't want or need anymore. Everything else for the most part were off in a storage room, forgotten.

Eventually, after seeing all the sites from the biggest ball of yarn to the renovated statue of liberty that was now a shiny copper. They had their ups and their downs but through it all they had grown closer. They were friends in love. Eventually, the two had decided to attend school. In the process, they bought a small home that they filled with all their mementos and likes. The walls were full of pictures of their times together across the country, just two kids exploring the world. They had already planned their trip to China, they would be there for two years, working with a set of scientist working on replenishing water supplies. He was excited and couldn't wait to show Bella all the places he loved.

"Do you think Jamie and Carol will want to take us out to dinner tonight?" Bella asked, bringing Jakes thoughts back to the graduation.

Jamie and Carol were an older couple that Jake and Bella had be-friended one afternoon while walking through a farmer's market. The pair were into collecting vintage items from clothes to equipment and were impressed with how much the 'young couple' knew about the past.

"I hope not," Jake answered. "I have something planned."

"You do?" Bella asked. "Jake you know I don't like surprises."

"You keep saying that but you can't lie to me, you're already dying with excitement."

She looked down and tried to hide her grin. He did know her, better than anyone.

"Fine, then I won't tell you what I have planned for later, tonight," she teased.

He lifted a brow and grinned.

"Hmmm I can only imagine the possibilities," he teased into her ear.

Bella shivered. All this time together and he still could drive her crazy with anticipation.

"Can the graduates please stand," they heard the moderator say.

"Everyone, please help me congratulate our Masters of Science and Technology graduates!" The Dean hollered.

0-0-0-0

The evening was warm and humid. Bella loved it.

"So where are we going?" she asked.

"You'll see," Jake smiled. "By the way, I love that dress on you."

She chuckled.

"Thank you this wonderful man gave it to me this morning and I couldn't resist trying it on."

"Glad you did," he said.

They walked into a small cottage restaurant at the end of the street. It was decorated with red and blue roses across the pathway. The whole place was done up beautifully had a little bit of old Orleans charm.

"Ah Mr. Black," the hostess smiled. "We've been waiting for you."

They were escorted into the garden, neuvoux jazz could be heard from the inside of the restaurant but it wasn't so loud that they couldn't hear one another.

"All this for me?" she asked.

He nodded.

"Come on, sit," he said.

They sat together on their cushioned iron steel chairs, watching the fireflies in the distance of the dark portions of the luscious green garden.

"How did you find this place?" she asked.

"I've known about it for years," he said. "I came here once a long time ago before you came back into my life. I always wanted to bring you here."

Bella leaned back in her chair.

"Why wait so long?" she asked. "We've lived here for 6-years now."

He nodded.

"The timing had to be right," he answered. "But I'll talk more about that after dinner."

They feasted on delicious spicy dishes and perfectly cooked steaks before dessert was in order.

"A dark chocolate mousse, yum," Bella smiled.

Jake took a spoon full and fed her. Bella closed her eyes taking in every intense taste. Jake looked upon her, she had grown into a beautiful woman with full hips and lush breast. And there was something more to her, a bigger smile and brighter eyes. There was always a glow to her now. No longer was she the fumbling eternal teenager. She was a woman, his woman.

"Jake this is so…" Bella opened her eyes to see Jake before her on one knee.

He looked older as well, in his early 30s, with slight signs of crinkles in the corners of his eyes, that made him even more handsome and good as he ever had been.

"Jake?"

"It was 2022," he said. "I was coming into town and was walking around when I saw this little place. It made me think of you. Even after all those years I couldn't escape you. You had been with me all along. I came in and started to imagine what it would be like for us to come here from day. It was foolish of me I know but I allowed myself to dream that day. I thought about brining you here on a special occasion, not just any occasion like an anniversary but some turning point in our lives, like today. You were here with me and we enjoyed great food, chocolate mousse and jazzy music. And when the moment was right, I would get on my knee, you were wearing a beautiful red dress as you are now and me telling you how much I need you. Well it's been a long time coming and even after 8 great years together, I still want more and I will always want more from you because you are my life. I love you Bella Swan. Will you marry me?"

Bella's hands came up to cover her face, it had been so long since a tear ever had a need to gush down her face and here they were. She laughed and she cried, laughed and she cried. This moment was as wonderful as the moment she had become human. She nodded.

"Is that a yes?" Jake smiled.

"Yes," she said in a shaky happy voice.

Jake pulled out a small ring, covered in blue sapphires and diamonds.

"As unique as you," he said as he slipped it on.

"It's beautiful," she smiled.

He leaned up and kissed her before she wrapped her arms around his neck.

The music continued to play, the fireflies continued to buzz around, life was moving forward and like this moment was still full of surprises and the unexpected.


A/N: So this is truly goodbye for these two. We can go and imagine what life has ahead.

Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed this story. It meant the world to me. Now I'm off to continue moving into my own story, which I have learned is always full of the unexpected.

BEST

MSCAROL