Paying The Piper
(You may have missed the last chapter as it updated when fanfic was not notifying anyone so check before you read this. It was the chapter where Edward's son was born.)
"Ready?" I asked, lifting Bonnie down off the bench. Her hair was past her waist already now she was three. Chance was just wearing a diaper and undershirt because one thing I had learned about little boys is, you don't put on their final layer of clothing until you are about to strap them into their carseat, and you always take a second outfit because if there is a single spot of dirt in the vicinity, he will find it.
Edward nodded and slipped the blue shorts and top onto Chance, then picked his struggling son up and headed for the car.
"It's sad, of course, to be going to this funeral but I can't help thinking it's how he deserved to die. I know that sounds harsh, but think about it," I said to my husband as he carefully checked the traffic around us.
"It's ironic. Jasper's Father gets stranded when his car breaks down and the passing motorist giving him a ride to the nearest garage crashes because he had Big Tex's faulty brake pads in his car. He was incredibly lucky to walk away without a scratch. The passenger side took the whole brunt of the impact."
"I wonder how Jasper really feels? I know there was no love lost between Father and son, but still, you only get one Dad," I replied thoughtlessly.
"Or you can be really lucky and get a second one who is far superior to your bio," Edward shrugged.
"I keep forgetting, sorry," I replied.
"I do too. Don't worry about it. When I was washing Chance in the bath last week, I looked at his toes and thought, poor kid, he has the Cullen toes that make his foot longer than most, like both Carlisle and I have, then ages later I realised he could have only inherited that from me. It's too ingrained, we just all think we are the children of Esme and Carlisle."
"You all are," I agreed. "It really doesn't matter about biology."
Jasper looked calm and Alice was hanging onto his arm, brushing the strands of hair that tended to fall down across his face away behind his ear.
"Oh, babies," she said happily, reaching her arms out to take Chance from Edward.
"Don't put him down," my husband warned, looking at the gravestones dotted around the cemetery. Chance would think this place was Disneyland, so much to grab and destroy.
Rose and Emmett approached with their spotlessly clean twin girls and I bit my lip. Always so clean and tidy, never a golden hair out of place. Our son was definitely different to the girls.
"Why are you burying here? He never lived here, he never even came to visit you," Emmett asked and I cringed a little. He always cut right to the chase.
"I thought maybe he and I would get along better now he's dead," Jasper replied in all seriousness. "I can visit him and talk and tell him about my life and what's happened since I moved here and he can't shout me down and tell me what a loser I am and how Austin is the only son he has."
"And your Mom and brother don't care where he's buried?"
"Mom's not well," Jasper answered, avoiding eye contact. Mrs Whitlock had been 'unwell' most of Jasper's life. He had secured the plot beside his Father's, knowing one day in the not so distant future, her fragile body would give up the fight. She had survived a liver transplant last year but it was still touch and go, and Austin had welcomed Jasper back into the family fold so he could renew ties with her before she, too, ended up right here.
His father had made a point of never being home when Jas and Alice visited, but as Jasper said, now he would have to endure his son's visits. He had no choice about who visited his grave.
"Can Summer and Skye and I walk around and read the names on the rocks?" Bonnie asked.
"Sure," Rosalie replied. Her Nanny was always in attendance and she nodded to Nessie to just accompany them, but let Bonnie have the illusion she was in charge.
Our daughter liked her brother well enough but she did prefer the company of other little girls.
Summer held out her little hand obediently and Skye looked defiantly at her Mom and put both of hers behind her back. A rebel already.
Rose bit her lip and shook her head.
"Mind of her own, that one."
"She's great, they are both great," Emmett replied, touching the tops of his daughters golden heads.
"I know she is great but you can already see Skye will be the one who brings home the unsuitable boyfriends just to stir us up. The ones covered in tattoos with everything pierced."
"Huh, that will be the norm by the time she is a teenager. The rebels will have tattoo free bodies and no piercings, because they are the individuals," Alice laughed.
"So, may I have a turn holding Chance? He's not usually this patient and calm," Rose requested.
Alice handed him over and our son made us feel proud as he sat complacently in his Aunts arms. Although he was at that really difficult toddler stage of wanting to spend his whole day running amok, he was a very sensitive child and seemed to know when he should just behave and not cause us any headaches and the graveyard seemed to be just such a location.
"There's Jake. It's so nice of him to come today," Rosalie said, smiling as he made his way towards the three small girls. Bonnie saw him approach and ran to him with her hands outstretched.
She had not yet reached an age where she would start to wonder why she had two Dads and she never showed much preference between them now. She loved them both and I was glad of that because Jake had made her the main focus of his life.
Edward was completely fine with the relationship Jacob had with Bonnie, in fact, he always made a point of inviting my first husband to family events, even if just Sunday lunch, and he always pointed out Jake's good qualities.
He will always amaze me, but maybe that is because there are so few truly good men in this world and Edward seemed like a saint walking among sinners sometimes.
I knew he still worried about Jake being alone.
He'd even suggested we start inviting this nurse or that to some of our gatherings but so far, Jake had only showed polite interest in any of them and there had been no dates.
Rose's Nanny was talking to him as he held Bonnie in his arms and he was clearly asking about the joy of chasing after the twins and I nudged Edward.
"What?' he asked, putting his arm around my shoulders, and leaning down so I could whisper into his ear.
"Look at the way Jake's behaving with Vanessa," I hissed.
Edward looked across and shrugged, confused. Such a man.
"He's laughing at whatever she's saying, and he's standing quite close, for Jacob. He usually keeps a lot more distance between his body and any single females body. He likes her," I explained. God, men. They have no idea.
Nessie was laughing back, and her face was slightly blushed with a pink glow as she answered him and her eyes strayed back to him every time after she had checked where the girls had toddled off to.
"Fuck me, I think Jake's going steal our Nanny," Rose stated. "No way. I need that girl. I could never cope with the girls alone."
"You could still employ her days. They don't even wake up at night now. Don't spoil this, Rose," I begged. "He hasn't looked at a girl in that way since..."
"Since you and he were kids," she guessed accurately.
"How do you women know these things? It looks like a perfectly normal conversation to me," Edward stated.
"We can tell," Rose said smiling at him. "We can always read the writing on the wall."
"I can't even see the wall," he admitted.
"It's cool," Jasper replied. "Just watch. It's not even based on lust, he really likes her."
"I think my husband is a very good judge on when men are just feeling the urge to bang someone," Alice said.
Carlisle and Esme joined us and we all made our way over the where the preacher stood.
I took Bonnie from Jake and let him stay with Vanessa and the twins, over on the other side of the yard, while we politely listened to the words Jasper had written.
He was respectful in what he said about his Father but didn't bother pretending the man was better than he had been, but he did say he hoped his father had learned his life lessons and would be a better man next time he was reborn to visit this Earth again. Jasper believes we are all sent back multiple times until we get things right and live a decent life.
He has even said both Edward and I are on our final visits to this existence and next we have an eternity together on the Other Side.
What can I say? Eternity with Edward? I no longer fear Death. If Edward and I will always be together, how scary could it be? And both my husband and Jasper believe I will see Blythe again so I hold on to the hope they are right.
I started to feel queasy as the service proceeded and swallowed hastily. This was not really the time or place to tell Edward he had managed to knock me up again. Alice took my hand and squeezed it tightly in hers and I grimaced at her. The only reason I had held off making my announcement was because she wanted to tell Jasper and the rest of us her news today. It was their first pregnancy, they needed their moment in the spotlight.
It was my fourth, and hardly as exciting, especially seeing I knew exactly what to expect, and pregnancy is not always a bed of roses.
Finally it was over and Edward took Bonnie and put her down on the ground.
"She's getting too big for you to carry her around like that," he said quietly, grazing a finger across my abdomen.
"You know?" I growled.
"Bella, I'm a doctor and a pregnancy sniffer dog. Of course I know. I haven't told anyone but Carlisle knows."
"Of course he does. Like Father, like Son. Does he know about Alice?"
"I don't think so, he hasn't mentioned anything."
"Good. At least there will be one surprise announcement today."
"It won't be a surprise to Jasper. He's so thrilled about having a child at last, he can hardly keep up the pretence that he doesn't know yet. She had better tell us all today or he will lose the plot and announce the pregnancy himself."
"Did you tell him?" I asked.
Edward frowned. "I didn't mean to, it was an accident."
"He said she looked pale and was worried and I just said you did as well and it was just part of the process. He realised right off what I was talking about."
The wake was interesting and Austin was late arriving but he looked so much like a professional version of his brother, it was funny to see what Jasper would look like without the shaggy hair and tanned skin and wearing something that wasn't boardshorts.
It was like the Before and After photos of a makeover show.
He and Jas seemed to get along well, and there was no resentment between them, even when Austin told his brother they had inherited equal third shares in his father's fortune. We all knew Jas had never wanted any money off his Father but Alice was always getting involved in supporting starving children and homeless shelters and such, I had little doubt she would convince him to accept his share and she would spend it wisely.
"So, I have some news," Alice said once we were all finished eating from the buffet she had prepared.
Jasper stood up and moved to her side, putting an arm around her waist and grinning broadly. She narrowed her eyes. "Do you know? How do you know? Edward!"
My husband ducked behind me and held me like a human shield.
"Bella's pregnant too, you can't hit her ," he cried, cowering theatrically.
"Okay, that is not fair," Alice groaned.
"Neither is denying your Father the right to walk down the aisle with you on his arm," Carlisle smirked, holding up his glass. "To Alice and Jasper and their first baby. And to Edward and Bella and their new addition. May they all have a happy ending and another two beautiful grandbabies for Esme and I to spoil rotten and send home jacked up on sugar."
Everyone laughed and did the toast and I nibbled on a plain cracker and avoided looking at the platters of rich food on the table.
This would be our final baby, in all probability. Edward had calmed down and no longer spoke about us having an entire baseball team. It wasn't so much the reality of how much work the two we had were as the fact he wanted to really be involved with them all and didn't want to spread himself too thinly. And he wanted us to always have the time and energy for one another.
Three were good. Three on earth and one in Heaven.
I hoped we would have a little girl. I really wanted Edward to have a biological daughter as well. Even though he did consider Bonnie his, it would be nice for him to have a little girl he didn't have to share, but then, knowing him, he would share her anyway.
Jake was playing ball with Chance and Edward just watched them and smiled. It was no wonder I loved him as much as I did.
As the wake ended, Rose took her twins and helped Nessie strap them in then she turned to my husband. Edward stepped forward and looked at Jake.
"Bella and I had dinner reservations booked for tonight but she's too tired to go. It's all paid for, maybe you and..." he looked around, pretending he really was looking for someone for Jake to take.
"Vanessa has this evening off," Rose suggested, trying to make it sound like the two of them had not conspired to set this up.
"Okay, that would work," Edward said. "Just turn up at Staria's at eight and it's all paid for so, enjoy."
Jake looked bashfully at Nessie and my heart skipped a beat. He truly had never looked at anyone but me like that before, and like Edward, I so desperately wanted him to move on and be happy.
Sometimes I wondered what would have happened had he not initiated the divorce before disappearing. Maybe I would have waited.
I had no regrets because the whole situation had landed me into the right arms, but Jake had paid such a heavy price for his overwhelming grief. I didn't resent anything he had done now that I understood it better.
As my ex-husband and Vanessa left together, Rose gave Edward a high five.
"Tomorrow I tell her I no longer need her to live in, and Jake does have that spare bedroom to rent out," she reminded us.
"Thanks Rose. I'd volunteer to help out with the twins only I'm kept pretty busy with Bella and our own menagerie," he replied.
"If they start waking up in the middle of the night again, I am calling you over to settle them," she warned.
"He always wanted a whole heap of kids," Emmett replied, slapping Edward's back. "he can do night shift at our house."
"No way," I replied, " I have chores for him once our kids are asleep. He's too busy."
"Bella, he's knocked you up again already, what more can you need him for?" Emmett smirked, climbing into his car.
"Any plans to make an announcement yourself, Rose?" Esme asked cheekily.
"No way. Two is my limit," she replied. "I was so lucky to get my waistline back after the twins, I won't be pushing my luck any further."
Emmett winked at Edward, and they both laughed. She had better be the one in charge of the contraception or she could find herself feeling like I did.
Nauseous and tired.
"Take me home," I told Edward, and he packed the kids up and strapped them both in.
Chance fell asleep instantly but Bonnie was as alert as ever and she seemed very excited.
"What's up, Baby Girl?' Edward asked as he drove.
"I want to be a flowergirl again. I don't remember your wedding but I want to wear wings again."
"You may just get your wish," Edward answered, grinning.
"Why do I feel like I'm married to the village matchmaker?" I asked.