Disclaimer: The original characters and plot of the Twilight Saga are the property of Stephanie Meyer. The story line of HOPE SPRINGS belongs to me.
Epilogue – Never Goodbye…
10 YEARS LATER
Bella said goodbye to Mrs. Hanson, "Of course Mrs. Hanson, you may call me at any time during office hours…. Very well, thank you again, good bye."
Bella sighed softly. Another satisfied customer! She smiled as she stood up and stretched on her stockinged feet.
Edward teased her all the time about walking about bare feet. She was quite well known for it at school and the other teachers often teased her.
She walked over to a side board to pour herself a glass of water when someone knocked on the door.
"Come in." Bella remembered to quickly slip her shoes on just as the door opened. She almost groaned when she saw Deputy Banner standing in the doorway.
"Sorry to disturb you, Principle Cullen, but there has been an incident in the lunch room. I brought the perpetrators in to see you."
He glared to his right and pointed towards Bella, "In you go and explain yourselves." He looked at Bella again with a sympathetic smile, "I can't get a word out of either of them." He said before he gently pushed the two children forward and closed the door.
Bella stared at her daughter and son with a mixture of concern, exasperation and frustration.
"Anna Beth? Ryder? What's going on? Take a seat. Are you okay?" she asked as her eyes searched her children for injuries.
Ryder Charles Cullen was tall for seven years old. He was almost the same height as his ten-year-old sister and he was another carbon copy of his father.
While Anna Beth only shared Edward's coppery tones, Ryder had the signature Cullen smirk, strut and mannerisms down pat and it showed when he scowled at his sister and ran his hand across the back of his neck as he blew out a frustrated breath.
"Mom…" he began, but Anna Beth stepped forward and met Bella's gaze steadily, "It's my fault Mom. He was only sticking up for me." She said.
Bella raised her eyebrows, "Why was he standing up for you?"
Anna Beth let out a hiss and her blue eyes snapped in anger, "Ask Quill Black!" she spat out.
Bella bit her lip, "Why are you and Quill fighting again? You and he are the best of friends."
Anna Beth flopped into one of the two chairs that faced Bella's desk, "Not anymore! Oh! You wouldn't understand!" she said dramatically as she tossed her long copper hair over her shoulder.
"He kissed her!" Ryder blurted out angrily. He knew all about what to do when other boys kissed sisters – his cousins Jed and Brady had told him all about it. You had to protect your sisters and not let any boy come 'sniffing' around them.
He didn't quite understand what that meant, but Jed knew everything about everything and so if that's what he said, then it must be true!
"RYDER CHARLES CULLEN – I HATE YOU!"
Bella was a little shocked by Ryder's comment, but she stood up quickly, "Okay, that is enough, both of you! Now, you will sit in the corner," she glared at them when Ryder sighed, "and you will wait until your father comes to fetch you – now move!"
Both children knew enough to know that when their mother got that narrowed eyed glare in her eyes and her mouth wasn't smiling, then they had better listen, and so they moved over to the small table and chairs in the corner of the room while Bella sighed and she opened her door and looked at her assistant, "Tammy, can you send Quill Black to my office and get hold of Edward and Jacob Black and ask them to come in as soon as possible, please?"
Tammy nodded as she hid her grin. The entire school was talking about how Quill Black had stormed across the lunch room when he saw Michael Davis, who was only eight years old, put a flower next to Anna Beth's plate, and without a word, Quill had pulled Anna Beth to her feet and had kissed her.
Quill was a good looking boy, tall with hair as black and shiny as a raven's wing, with his mother's large soulful brown eyes and his father's beautiful smile. He was popular and easy going, except when it came to his best friend, Anna Beth Cullen. He was fiercely protective over her and everyone knew it. Tammy almost felt sorry for him when she thought of how Edward Cullen was going to react to this latest turn of events.
Tammy quickly phoned Jacob Black and he said that he would be there soon. Edward was in consultation, but Dale Yorkie, who had taken over the position of receptionist at the Hope Springs Wellness Clinic, had assured her that she would make sure that Doctor Cullen would get the message.
There had been a lot of changes in Hope Springs over the past ten years.
Miss Tessa and Arturo Vicenza had gotten married six years before after Arturo's wife; Maria had passed away from cancer the year before.
Jane Newton had bought the ballet school over and she ran it with her wife, Gina.
Darla and Randall Wilber had gotten married and Randall had surprised everyone when he had opened an IT company and it had become very successful.
Jasper had retired from the Police Force and he had taken up his private practice full time.
Eric Yorkie was the 'new' Police Chief.
Brandon and Megan Hale had returned to Hope Springs upon their retirement and both were practicing out of the Wellness Clinic along with Jasper.
Paul Lahote had taken over the running of Blue Bonnet Farm, once Esme had been forced to step down after she had a mild stroke five years before. Paul managed the farm along with Jared Cameron, Collin Littlesea and Brady Fuller. The Cullen's had sold each of the staff a number of shares in the business, which would ensure the continued running of the business.
Seth Clearwater had eventually moved on and he was currently the Headmaster of a prestigious school in Carolina. Bella had completed her Masters and then her Doctorate in Education and the school district board had been only too happy to offer her the position of Principal of Hope Springs four years before.
Even when she fell pregnant with her and Edward's youngest child, Madeleine Esme Cullen three and half years before, they had been only too happy to allow Bella to set up a new daycare centre so that Maddy was looked after when Bella went back to work.
Carlisle and Esme had convinced Edward and Bella to buy the main house after Esme's stroke which they did only after Edward had insisted that they build a cottage on or near the main house.
Carlisle had readily agreed and so a plot of forest land had been cleared about a half a mile from the main house and a three bed roomed cottage had been erected. There was a great room, which consisted of a kitchen, living room and dining room. An office/library was Carlisle's pride and joy and a bedroom suite with a built on bathroom and dressing room completed the ground floor.
The second story consisted of a large dorm bedroom for their grandsons and another bedroom for their granddaughters with two bathrooms and a playroom/rec room.
Esme had a small sunroom off the kitchen, and a small vegetable garden was planted on one side of the house.
In almost no time at all, Esme had all sorts of flowers growing around the gingerbread style cottage, with its wraparound porch.
At 72 and 70 years old respectively, both Carlisle and Esme were still very active and vital members of the community. They jogged every morning before Esme went into her store, which Makenna had taken over but Esme still helped out each day.
Jed had graduated the previous year and he was studying Agriculture at the University of Vermont, while Emma would soon be leaving for Yale, where she had won a full scholarship. She wanted to follow in her grandfather and uncle's footsteps to become a doctor.
Brianna and Riley had been married in his father's church six years before and Riley was now the associate pastor of Hope Springs Congregational Church. He had completed his degree in Human Resources before he had felt his true calling to become a pastor. Brianna had studied under many great chefs before she had married Riley and she had bought 'La Bella Vita', Arturo's restaurant, and Arturo still went in to assist her in the kitchen. Brianna had given birth to a little boy, Thomas and then a little girl, Amanda. They had bought Edward's old house.
The little town of Hope Springs continued to grow and flourish with each passing year.
Bella had just finished sending an email when there was another knock on her door.
Tammy, her assistant stuck her head around the corner with an apologetic smile, "we had a disturbance in Pre K and Teacher Sandy sent the culprit to see you."
Bella bit back a smile and she leaned back in her chair.
"Luckily, I have just filled the last spot for the fair, so I have some time on my hands!" Bella said in a mock stern voice as she winked at Tammy.
She ignored the two giggles from the corner of her office.
"Send the young rascal in!"
Tammy stepped to one side and looked down at someone that stood to the other side of the doorway, "In you go missy, don't keep Principal Cullen waiting!"
A giggle sounded just before a tiny chocolate haired imp in ballet attire streaked across the office, "That's Mommy printpal Cullen, Teacher Tammy!" Maddy stated in her singsong voice before she climbed right onto Bella's lap – as much as she could.
At five months pregnant, Bella wasn't able to cuddle Maddy as closely as the little girl liked.
Bella heard the door closed and looked down at the little face that was almost a carbon copy of her own.
Madeleine Esme Cullen was three and a half years old and she was the most adorable little girl.
"What have you been up to, Miss Cullen? Were you eating the play dough again? Or did you do 'wall art' this time. Mommy can't always protect you if you get up to mischief, Maddy, you know that." Bella said as she brushed Maddy's riotous curls out of her eyes. No matter how she secured her youngest child's hair, by recess it always managed to come loose. Bella had threatened to cut it on many occasions but Edward had forbidden it.
Maddy's bottom lip pushed out in a delightful pout as she patted her mother's swollen belly, "Hello baby, it's me, Mad'lin 'May Tullen, Mama's mad at me." She whispered loudly enough for her older brother and sister to snicker at her.
Bella shook her head at her older children, not wanting them to encourage her, but Maddy heard them and her head shot up.
"Ryder! Annie! Huh ah! We all in trouble now!" she said as she wiggled off Bella's lap and ran over to her siblings.
She hugged them both and sat down on Anna Beth's lap as she told them about her day and how she had only wanted to 'play with Whiskers and Mitten's, their class rabbits, but Teacher Sandy had been angry with her when they had hopped out of the classroom.
Ryder and Anna Beth laughed as they listened to Madeleine's story. They adored their little sister and just like Edward, she could do no wrong in their eyes.
Bella rolled her eyes as she wondered how she was going to apologize to the pre K teacher for her daughter's latest antics.
Tammy told Bella that Quill Black was waiting for her outside and a few minutes later Jacob arrived.
Bella led him and Quill into an adjoining meeting room where she quickly described the day's events. Jacob's eyes twinkled as he listened to his son's red-faced explanation of how he and Anna Beth had an 'understanding' and he had become angry when she had not thrown the other boy's flower away.
Bella bit her lip and she waited until Quill sat in sulky silence once more before she spoke.
"Quill, regardless of what sort of friend you and Anna Beth are; you can't go pushing other kids around just because you are upset. Now, I would like you to apologize to Anna Beth and Ryder and then you and Ryder are going to spend this Saturday afternoon weeding the front of the school grounds. It will give you time to think about what friendships mean and perhaps you will think before you act again?" Quill pushed his hair out of his eyes as he looked at Bella and she realized that the thirteen year old was becoming a very handsome young man.
"I'm sorry Mrs. Cullen, I would never hurt Anna or Ryder." He said and Bella smiled at him gently, "I know that Quill. You and Anna Beth are best friends and I think that you need to work this out."
The boy nodded before he quietly excused himself to deliver his apology.
Jake looked at Bella with a wry grin, "Edward's going to have my head for this," he said.
Bella chuckled as she tucked her hair behind her ear and she patted her stomach, "Tell me about it! He already thinks that he should put an electric fence around our house. He was counting on the fact that Anna still thinks that all boys besides your son are 'yuk'."
She walked Jacob out and said goodbye to Quill just as Edward walked into the reception area.
"Hey Love, I got your message, are you okay?" he asked as he crossed to Bella and took her in his arms.
Bella smiled, "Of course I'm okay, babe." She pulled away from him and leveled her most severe glare at him, "Your children however, are another matter! You are going to have to discipline them this time, Edward, or else we are going to be bailing them out of jail in the not too distant future!" Bella slapped his arm when he let out a bark of laughter.
"I mean it! Ryder listens to Jed and Brady and does whatever they tell him to and Anna Beth needs to learn to keep her hand to herself – and as for Maddy, well she set the rabbits loose again!" Bella felt hormonal tears well up in her eyes as the words tumbled out of her mouth and Edward quickly got rid of his smirk.
"I'm sorry that they are giving you a hard time, Love. Where are they?"
Bella pointed to her office, but she stopped him from walking into the office, "I don't want you to overreact when Anna tells you that Quill Black kissed her.."
Edward growled, "He what? That little" Bella quickly put her hand over his mouth and glared at him.
"Now, that's what I'm talking about – you can't go off like that, baby! They are children and they are best friends and yes, Quill overstepped, but he apologized and you can't go all 'caveman' on Jake!"
Edward rolled his eyes at her and walked in to see his three children sitting quietly at the table in the corner.
Anna Beth was reading to Ryder and Madeleine and the younger two were listening with rapt attention.
"Daddy!" Maddy shouted as she spotted her father.
Bella went to the bathroom and when she walked back into her office, Edward had all three children lined up in front of her desk.
Bella had to harden her heart as she sat in her chair. Her heart melted at their cuteness, although she knew that they used it in their own favor.
Bella raised her eyebrows and stared at them.
Edward leaned forward and whispered loudly in Madeleine's ear, "What do you have to say to Mommy, Maddy?"
Maddy's eyes filled with tears as she bit her lip, "Sowwy Mommy. I won't let the wabbits fwee again, I pwomise. Even if they ask me to." She whispered.
Bella nodded and she held out her arms and hugged the little girl, "I love you Madeleine, but tonight, you are going to help your brother and sister in the kitchen after dinner and you are going to say you are sorry to Teacher Sandy, okay?"
Maddy nodded and then she ran to her father's waiting arms.
"Sorry Mommy, I won't hit Quill again." Ryder said before he walked over and kissed his mother's cheek. Bella reveled in the feeling of her son's hug.
"Sorry Mom." Bella met Anna Beth's stormy gaze and she nodded, "Anna Beth, we will talk a little more later on, okay?"
After telling her family goodbye, Bella spent the rest of the work day returning calls and completing her admin duties before she walked to her Grade 8 class to teach English.
She still loved to teach and it was the one indulgence that she allowed herself, besides her writing club.
When she got home that afternoon, Bella was greeted at the door by Apples and Dimples. She patted Apples' head and knelt down next to the elderly dog, "How are you old girl, hmm?". Apples smiled at her charge. She and Roscoe had protected the growing family for twelve years before Roscoe had closed his eyes for the last time.
Dimples was an impudent pup that Edward had bought the year before and Apples was glad for the puppy's playfulness that helped to pass the long days without her best friend.
Bella stroked Apples' soft fur as she whispered gentle greetings to her.
"Hey Love! I was wondering what was taking you so long to come inside," Edward said as he rounded the corner.
He helped Bella to her feet and kissed her tenderly, "How are you feeling?" he asked as he gently rubbed her stomach.
Bella rolled her eyes, "Well, considering that one of us did not get the vasectomy that he was supposed to and this," she patted her belly, "is our little reward, I am doing fine! But I will say this, Edward Anthony Cullen, this is the last one, do you hear me? I am too old to be giving birth and having babies!"
Edward just wrapped his arms around her and peppered her neck with kisses until she was breathless and offering her lips to him, "You are not too old, Isabella Cullen! Thirty-two is not too old. Dear God, Woman, you take my breath away every day!"
Bella wrapped her arms around Edward's neck as she blushed, "Yeah?"
Edward dropped a kiss behind her ear and he chuckled as he felt her shiver, "Every day, my Love. Now, I was thinking, what if Mom and Dad took the kids tonight…"
The rest of his sentence was lost as Ryder raced into the kitchen, "Hey Mom! Grandpa Garrett and Uncle Pete are coming to visit next week! Granny Kate is on the phone and she wanted to tell you, but we are going fishing, isn't that cool? Hurry Mom, she needs to talk to you!"
With that he turned to Edward, "Daddy, can we go camping…"
Bella walked to the cordless phone in the kitchen and heard her eldest daughter talking to her 'grandma Kate' with excitement.
Garret and Kate had become wonderful 'foster' parents to Bella and they had assumed the role of grandparents with enthusiasm. Although they still lived in Arizona, they made sure that they saw Bella and her family at least one or twice a year.
Esme and Carlisle readily agreed to take the children for the night and later as Dimples chase moths on the front porch and Apples looked on in approval, Edward slowly undressed his wife.
Despite Bella's pleading, Edward took his time to kiss and nibble every newly uncovered area.
"Edward, please, I need you!"
Edward chuckled darkly, "Not until you agree that you are the most sexiest woman in the world!" his last words were muffled as he licked a path over Bella's stomach towards the juncture of her thighs.
"Okay! Okay! I'm beautiful! I'm the most gorgeous creature you have ever seen!"
Edward crawled up the bed and he quickly pulled Bella up so that she was sitting astride his hips, his almost painful erection teasing her entrance.
All laughter died as they stared into each other's eyes, "I thank God every day for bringing you into my life, Bella."
Bella smiled as she braced herself on Edward's broad chest, "I thank God that he kept you safe for me. He knew that I was coming and he made sure that you waited for me."
Edward smiled as he lowered her onto his stomach.
Later Bella lay facing the large bay window in their bedroom. She smiled as she felt their son kick and Edward's hands soothed the baby.
"Hush now little one. Mommy needs her rest, okay?" he cooed
Edward kissed her bare shoulder as he hummed quietly.
Life wasn't perfect but it was perfect for them.
Where once upon a time she had been a young, lost and abandoned girl, she was now a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. Where she had been alone, now her family grew every year, as there were marriages or births.
Bella nuzzled into her pillow as Edward spooned behind her and she closed her eyes and she let out a sigh of contentment.
Life didn't get much better than this.
A/N: I want to thank each and every one of you for reading, reviewing (almost 3000 reviews between ff & twcs!) and recommending this story. I didn't realize how invested in Hope Springs I had become, until it was almost time to say goodbye. I would love to do a few futurtakes, so if there is anything in particular that you would like, please let me know.
A Family like Ours will be up and running soon, so keep me on authors alert!
I would like to wish you and your families a very merry Christmas, and a wonderful and awesome 2013.
All my love, hugs and kisses,