Six years later…
"McKenna, are you back from break yet? I need to get going!" I huffed, wiping the sweat off my brow with the back of my arm before squeezing more frosting onto the cake I was decorating. When I glanced down at my arm, I saw a long streak of chocolate frosting running up my sleeve, which could only mean one thing. Turning to look at my reflection in the shiny surface of the freezer door behind me, I could make out a huge smear of dark fudge right across my forehead. "Son of a bitch!" I grumbled to myself. "That's just great. McKenna!"
"Sorry, Bella!" the perky redhead called out as she ran in the back door and headed to the time clock. "I was grabbing a quick cigarette in the alley. Guess I didn't hear you."
"I thought you quit that shit," I said as I wiped at my face with a clean towel.
"I did," she said with a smile, pointing to a spot of frosting that I'd missed. "Now I only have one when I'm really stressed out or after really good sex."
"It hasn't been that stressful in here today; just a little busy."
"I know." She smiled wickedly. "My new boyfriend took me to lunch."
"Ewwwww!" I cried out. "TMI! Go wash your hands!"
"Yes, boss," she replied, blinking her lashes innocently at me. "You know," she called over her shoulder as she scrubbed her hands at the sink, "I'd hate to point out all the times you've been running late for your shift and showed up covered with hickeys, Bella."
"What? I have no idea what you're talking about!" We looked at each other for a moment before breaking out into a fit of loud giggles. It wasn't until we had both calmed down that I spoke again. "Listen, normally I wouldn't care at all, it's just that I really don't want to be late tonight." I finished decorating the cake as I spoke, piping on the lettering in a bright blue buttercream.
"Oh God!" she gasped. "I totally forgot about your big night!" She stood next to me and looked down at the cake. "Wow… he's going to love it."
"Of course! It's gorgeous, for one, and I'll bet it's yellow and fudge marble, isn't it?" When I nodded she laughed again. "I knew it! Why wouldn't he love it? You're giving him all of his favorite things in one cake."
"You don't think the wording is too cheesy?" I asked, biting my lip nervously.
"We are talking about the same guy, right?" McKenna teased. "There's no such thing as too cheesy or too sweet or too romantic when it comes to him. You have nothing to worry about; he's going to love it."
"You're right," I sighed. "Thanks, hon."
"No problem." Just then the phone rang loudly, interrupting our conversation. "I'll grab that. You go get cleaned up and box that cake up so you can get out of here."
"Thanks again," I said, untying my apron strings. She merely waved me off as she picked up the phone.
"Thank you for calling Bella's Bites, this is McKenna speaking. How can I help you?" As I listened to her take an order for an assortment of our gourmet cupcakes, I couldn't help but wonder what I would have done without her.
McKenna was my assistant manager and the only person I trusted to bake my recipes when I wasn't working. We had met in school while I was studying culinary arts and baking at The Art Institute of Seattle and always kept in touch. When she learned that I was opening my own bakery, she quit her job as a line cook at a local restaurant and joined me full time at my request.
It was a decision that I had never regretted.
I had been on quite a roll with making good decisions, actually. I'd only lasted about three months at U-Dub before admitting that I was miserable. As much as I loved going to the same school as Edward and our friends, it wasn't enough to convince me that I wasn't wasting my time. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life and I felt like I was throwing my family's money away on classes that I had no interest in. The only fun I ever seemed to have was whenever Emmett, Rose, Alice and Jasper would come over to our place for dinner on the weekends. I would spend all day copying recipes from Food TV shows and making crazy desserts and they would all rave over the results.
It was Edward who finally did me a favor by sitting me down one night in our bedroom and suggesting that I look into culinary schools in the area. He explained that it was obvious my true joy was cooking and baking and he felt that I would be cheating myself if I didn't explore it more fully. I wasn't sure which direction I wanted to move in at first, whether I wanted to be a chef or a baker, so when I transferred schools I started out by taking beginner's classes in both areas. It didn't take long for me to start gravitating to the baking side, loving the thrill of coming up with pastries, cakes and pies that earned me high praise in my classes.
It wasn't easy; there were many nights that my kitchen at home was covered in flour and sugar and Edward would find me curled up in a heap, crying on the floor. On nights like that he would just scoop me up and carry me into the bedroom, doing his very best to cheer me up and distract me for a bit. He always stood by me no matter how neurotic I got over each new project, and I could always count on him to be an honest taste-tester.
I was thrilled to be able to repay his favor when I noticed that The Art Institute also had a Graphic Design program. For some reason, neither of us had ever thought to check out the school when we were looking around and it turned out to be perfect for both of our needs. Not only was it great to be going to the same school again, but Edward was able to excel in his field in no time without so many other subjects to worry about.
Just like our life together, once we knew what we wanted, there was no stopping us or distracting us from our goals.
By the time I earned my degree, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to open my own bakery. However, I had been worried about getting a loan for the business… until we went home for a visit and mentioned my plans to my in-laws. As soon as Carlisle heard what I wanted to do, he immediately offered to be a silent partner, his only request being that I offered monkey bread.
That was how, when we opened Bella's Bites six months later, Carlisle's Favorite became a permanent staple on my menu. I had tweaked the recipe a bit to make it my own and offered it in either whole loaves or single servings, which never failed to sell out. I also featured a variety of cupcakes, pies and pastries that I rotated seasonally, as well as the occasional special order cake.
Carlisle actually turned into a not-so-silent partner, spreading the word about my business to all of his colleagues in the Seattle area. Esme quickly followed suit and mentioned me to her clients, and before I knew it I was catering large events, making wedding and birthday cakes for children of the most respected doctors in the city. It turned out that I had referral hook-ups everywhere; Alice had even become a rather successful party planner and always dropped my name when a fancy cake or dessert was needed.
"Alright, McKenna, I'm heading out," I called to her as I grabbed the signature pink box that held my cake. "Charlotte and Maggie are watching the counter, so let them know if you need anything."
"Okay; have a great night!" she said excitedly as she pulled a fresh pan of cookies out of the oven. "I expect some details tomorrow!"
"I bet you do, perv!" I laughed, pushing the door open with my hip to the storefront area. As I walked behind the counter towards the front door, I overheard my part-timer Charlotte helping a customer.
"Do you have any idea who did the adorable logo for this place?" The woman asked her as she picked up her box of pastries, pointing to the picture on the box. "I have a niece who is starting up her own business, but she can't find anything she likes."
Charlotte looked like a deer in headlights. "Uhh… well…" I had told her all of this before, but she was new and still absorbing everything.
"Absolutely!" I jumped in with a smile. "I've got his card right here, and if you tell her to mention this place he'll give her a discount." I grabbed a Cullen Designs card from its holder by the register and handed it to the woman.
"Oh, that's wonderful!" she sighed. "My niece will be so happy."
"I'm sure she will," I nodded. "He's the best."
I waved goodbye to the two girls up front and continued on my way out the door towards the Volvo parked outside. With us both having our own businesses a second car had become a necessity, and since there was no way my old truck was going to work, Edward had convinced me to get a Volvo, too. I hated to admit it, but I really loved the thing.
I drove home, another swell of nerves rising up as I glanced at the cake box in the seat next to me.
"He's going to love it," I whispered to myself. "He's going to love it."
We still lived in the same condo that Carlisle and Esme let us use in college, but we loved it so much that we were in the process of buying it off them. I pulled the car into our assigned space in the attached parking garage and made my way to the elevator, my cake in tow.
"Babe?" I called out as I opened the door.
"Back here!" I heard him yell from the dining room. I stopped off in the kitchen and hid the cake in the fridge, setting my purse down on the counter before heading down the hall. The closer I got, I noticed a warm glow lighting the room. When I turned the corner, it was to find my beautiful husband standing behind the candlelit table, holding his arms open.
"Happy anniversary, baby," he said with a huge smile.
"Oh my God, did you make dinner?" I had fully planned to make us something once I got home, but the table was already set with a lovely meal for two.
"No," Edward blushed. "I'm good, but I'm not that good. I didn't want you to have to cook today, and I figured you'd be too tired to go out after working all day, so I picked up take out for us."
"Awwww… that was so sweet!" I rounded the table and gave him a huge hug, loving the tender kiss he planted on me when I pulled away. The man still had the ability to make my body sing with the slightest effort on his part. "What a nice surprise."
We sat down and had a wonderful dinner together, telling each other about our day as we ate. I mentioned the woman I'd given his card to, and he thanked me for another potential customer. Somehow, with as risky as starting a business could be, we were both thriving.
"I can't believe it's already been six years," he mused, leaning across the table to kiss me again.
"I know; it's gone by so fast."
"The best six years of my life, sweetheart. I'm so happy we've been in this together. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way."
"Me, either. Um… I made us dessert," I said as I started to clear the plates. "Don't get up, though. I'll bring it in."
"Great! It wouldn't happen to be a delicious cake, would it? Or maybe a new pie?" His wide smile made a warm glow spread through my chest. Edward never seemed to lose any excitement over my treats, even though Emmett had needed to help him shed more than a few unwanted pounds from them over the years.
Me too, actually. Just thinking about it made me groan. He'd turned into a real hardass personal trainer after he'd opened his own gym the year before, but I kept him in free cupcakes and cookies and he kept me from going up any dress sizes.
Well, for now. There wasn't much he'd be able to do about that in a little while.
I quickly loaded the dishes into the dishwasher and grabbed the cake out of the fridge. As I took it out of the box I fought back one last burst of nerves, telling myself that I was being silly. Taking one last deep breath, I made my way back down the hall.
"Here we go," I said with a smile as I entered the dining room.
"It is a cake!" he said excitedly. "Is it marble? I bet it's marble, isn't it?"
"You're so damn adorable," I laughed as I walked around the table towards him. "I wanted to make you your favorite… I wanted today to be full of happy memories."
"How could it not be?" He smiled as he reached out and wrapped his arm around my waist. "I have my gorgeous wife here with me on my favorite day of the year, serving me my favorite cake in the world. How could it get any better?"
"Well… we'll see," I sighed. "Here you go."
I set the cake down in front of him, waiting for his response. What I got instead was silence.
"Bella? What… what does this mean?" he squeaked out.
"Don't you know?"
"Are you telling me what I think you're telling me?" His eyes had grown huge, and I noticed that his breathing had picked up. He was either two seconds away from freaking out, or doing cartwheels. It scared me that I wasn't sure which.
I glanced down at the cake in question. Happy Anniversary, Daddy! was written across the top in bold frosting letters.
Unable to speak, I simply grabbed his hand and placed it over my abdomen, nodding slowly as I blinked back tears.
"Is it okay?" I finally whispered. "I know it's earlier than we expected."
"Are you kidding me?" he yelled, causing me to flinch. "Okay? It's fucking amazing!" He jumped up and wrapped his arms around me, spinning me around until I was almost dizzy. "Holy shit, Bella! We're going to be parents!" The look on his face was almost comical, as if the notion of a baby was great, but the thought of actually being responsible for it was another matter.
Believe me; I knew exactly how he felt.
"So, you're happy, baby?" I asked, unable to keep the insecure tone out of my voice.
"Hey, how can you ask me that?" he said soothingly, lifting my chin up until my lips met his. "Sure, I'm shocked… and overwhelmed," he chuckled, "but I'm fucking ecstatic! I've dreamt of this moment with you since I had you naked in our meadow on prom night."
"Ah, yes," I smiled. "Our naked engagement."
"Mmmhmm," he nodded, kissing me again. "Care to turn this into a naked anniversary?"
"Edward, all of our anniversaries are naked anniversaries."
"True… but this would be a naked baby announcement. That's a whole new milestone to remember."
"You know, every memory we have doesn't have to be a naked memory," I laughed.
"That's where I disagree. All memories are better when they're naked." He swept me up in his arms and walked down the hall to our bedroom.
"Why don't you find a way to convince me, then?" I dared him.
And convince me he did. A few times, as a matter of fact.
The cake finally got eaten, but it made a better midnight snack than a dessert.
"I love you, Edward," I whispered into his chest as we drifted off to sleep with heavy bellies and light hearts.
"I love you, too, Bella. I'll love you forever."
"Forever." I smiled against his warm skin as I drifted off to sleep, loving the way that he already cupped my stomach protectively.
So, that's it. *sniff, sniff*
This epilogue was always meant to be just a short look into their futures, to see that they are still making it work and happier than ever.
Thank you so much for coming along with me as I followed this plot bunny. I hope you enjoyed reading these kids as much as I enjoyed writing them.