Three years ago, I imprinted on Edward Cullen.
Today, I was marrying Edward Cullen.
Alice fussed around me, straightening my veil. She had designed the dress that I was now wearing, a very simple white dress. Without me even having to ask, she'd designed the perfect dress, no poofy bits, no massive skirts, nothing that would get in my way. Just a simple dress. Charlie beamed at me, looking handsome in his tuxedo. Rosalie and baby Henry sat in a chair, watching me with big smiles. Henry, two and a half now, squealed excitedly at nothing in particular and I smiled at him.
"What's up, Henry?"
"Ba ba." He tried to talk around his thumb.
"Tell me about it." I said seriously and Rosalie rolled her eyes, pulling Henry's thumb out of his mouth. He immediately stuck it back in.
"Bella, it's time." Esme's head appeared around the door and I nodded. Alice and Rosalie moved ahead, ready to enter before me, Henry taking the lead. Charlie took my arm and kissed my forehead.
"Yeah." I breathed and he smiled.
"This is all I ever wanted for you, Bella. Just to be happy, whichever way you chose to be."
I loved my dad.
The wedding was brief, just like we wanted. Edward was handsome and I don't think I stopped smiling the whole time. He was grinning at me the whole time too. Jasper and Emmett were the best men, along with little Henry, who spent most of the ceremony playing with toy trucks.
The reception was small. There weren't a lot of people to invite really, our families and a few close friends. Angela and Ben came, Angela now sporting her own pregnant stomach. I spent the evening with the most important people in my life and the night with Edward.
I couldn't ask for more.
Three and a half years ago, I imprinted on Edward Cullen.
Today, I was sat on the bathroom floor, staring in disbelief at the pregnancy test that Rosalie had stuffed into my hand.
Stupid freaking pill and its 0.3 per cent ineffectiveness.
I stared at the test again. The tiny smiling face beamed back at me, bright pink in colour.
I was pregnant.
"Bella, open the door." Rosalie said in a bored tone.
"Open door, Bella!" Henry's voice called happily and I reached up and flicked the lock before settling back into my seat on the cold tiled floor.
Rosalie came in and leaned down to have a look at the test in my hand.
"I don't… how…?"
"You really want me to give you the talk in front of my toddler?" She asked dryly, "Put that thing in the trash and wash your hands. Henry, let's go and make Bella some lunch."
That kid was so freaking cheerful. Like, all the time.
I wrapped the test I toilet paper and tossed it into the bathroom bin before washing my hands thoroughly. When I came out, Rosalie and Henry were making grilled cheese sandwiches. My stomach growled at the sight of them and I sat with the two of them at our table to eat.
"Henry, go play with your trucks." Rosalie sat him down with his toys before sitting and looking at me, "How many periods have you missed?"
"One. No, wait. It's the 28th today. Two. Just two. How did you know?"
"Your ass looks a little bigger."
I glared at her.
"Don't make me call you the word I want to call you in front of your only son."
"You wouldn't dare." She said cheerfully, sipping at her orange juice. I put my head on my arms and Rosalie began to massage the back of my neck. "This isn't such a bad thing is it?"
"Edward's going to be deliriously happy."
"What about you?"
I was silent. I didn't know how I felt. Overwhelmed, maybe? Scared?
I didn't feel unhappy. But I didn't feel happy either.
"Edward and I were looking into becoming foster parents." I said quietly, "It was my idea though. I liked the idea of making a home for kids that didn't have real homes."
"And that's a completely wonderful way of thinking, Bella, but it's not going to stop a little person popping out of your downstairs in around eight months' time." Rosalie said calmly.
I shook my head. I felt incredibly tired all of a sudden. Henry moved towards me, clutching at my knee and I bent to lift him onto my lap. He curled up against my chest with a truck in his hand and I inhaled the scent of warm baby powder and grilled cheese and tiny little person. Rosalie rested her chin on her fist, smiling at us. I nestled my chin against Henry's curly black hair and felt my heart calm.
"How can you have any doubts about this?" She said softly as Henry muttered to himself, his thumb in his mouth.
I shook my head.
A couple of hours after Rosalie and Henry left, Edward came home. He'd just finished up a massive project at work and had decided to take a couple of weeks off once it had completed. I'd booked two weeks of leave from work too. I called for Chinese food while he got changed and was stood at the kitchen bar when he came up behind me, his arms around my waist and his mouth on my neck.
"No point eating me, dinner is on its way." I said dryly.
"Yes, but you taste so good."
I turned and wrapped my arms around his neck, pressing my lips to his.
"Looking forward to two weeks off?" I asked him.
"Definitely. We're not getting out of bed for the next fortnight." He said decisively and I grinned.
"That sounds like fun."
"I know. Why book a vacation? And you wanted to go away…"
"More fool me."
We went to the couch and collapsed onto it, me straddling his waist as I stripped his shirt off.
His fingers dug into my hips and I kissed him again, desperate for his closeness, suddenly feeling very emotional. I buried my head in his neck, kissing his skin, the heat penetrating mine.
Edward stilled as my imprint throbbed for him. Not in a sexual way, more desperate and pleading than that. He tilted his head to look at mine.
"What's wrong?" He murmured and I shook my head as tears began to fall, "Bella, sweetheart… what's happened?"
"Nothing. Nothing bad, I'm just…"
He sat up and reached for his shirt but I clamped my arms around his neck, eager for the sensation of his skin on mine.
"Hold me for a while?"
I curled against him, his hand running up and down my back as he held me.
"What's brought this on?"
"Time of the month." I blurted out and he chuckled.
"I thought you'd just finished. You're usually done by the 25th."
"I am done. I mean…"
My stammered explanation was halted by a knock at the door. Our Chinese delivery place was only a block away so they were pretty prompt with their deliveries. I climbed off Edward and went to pay, mentally flogging myself.
Why? Why say that? That is the exact OPPOSITE of what is wrong!
I paid the delivery guy and took the food into the kitchen, where Edward already getting plates out.
"I'm starving." He moaned, reaching for a spring roll. He seemed to have left the conversation where it was and I was OK with that. I needed some time to get my head around this.
Edward had started running in the mornings so even though it was his first day off, he was out and running by seven in the morning. As soon as the front door closed, I was throwing up in the bathroom.
Well. Wasn't this super?
After about twenty minutes, I crawled out of the bathroom after brushing my teeth and went to find some herbal tea. I threw some laundry in the machine. I cooked some eggs and bacon. I watched the news.
When Edward came back from his run, he was sweaty and I found myself more turned on than I had ever been in my life. I pounced and Edward carried me into the bedroom, laughing as I bit his shoulder.
"We need to take vacation time more often."
"Less talking." I gasped as I tugged his shirt off.
He was very obliging. Afterwards, we ate the eggs and bacon in bed and Edward smiled at me.
"This was nice."
"I know… I think this whole marriage thing is going to work out." I said dryly, chewing on a piece of bacon.
"Good thing. I thought we might want to try and find a house sometime in the next two weeks." Edward said airily, "It would be awkward to do that and find a divorce lawyer."
"What? You want to buy a house?" I sat up, pulling the sheet with me even though I had pulled on one of Edward's shirts and Edward shrugged.
"Well, we can't stay in an apartment forever. There's some nice houses in Rosalie and Emmett's area. And if we ever did get moving on the fostering idea, we'd want somewhere to bring kids home to."
I burst into tears and ran into the bathroom.
I sat with my back against the door as Edward tapped on the door.
"Uh… Bella? Sweetheart, what's wrong?"
"You want a house!" I wailed, pulling a hefty length of toilet paper from the roll to blow my nose.
"We don't have to get a house. Is it too soon?"
"But we need a house." I whimpered.
"Then what's wrong? We can get a house."
I fell silent. Edward was silent too.
"I think I'm pregnant." I said quietly, almost hoping that he wouldn't hear but I heard his intake of breath.
"Open the door, Bella."
I stood, threw my dirty tissue in the trash can and opened the door slightly. Edward pushed the door open the rest of the way and pulled me to him, kidding me desperately.
"You're having my baby." He said hoarsely, his hands at my waist as though trying to feel it, "You're having my baby…"
"Doesn't matter. You're having my baby."
I sniffed, burying my face in Edward's shoulder as he continued to stroke my stomach.
"You wanted a baby the whole time, didn't you?" I said quietly and felt his nod, "You never said anything. You just… went along with the fostering and adoption idea."
"I wanted to make you happy." He said, his head resting against mine, "When you're happy, I'm happy."
"You wanted a baby to be happy. It goes both ways, I can't be happy if you're not."
"I wanted a family." Edward argued back, "Esme isn't my birthmother, but she's my family. Maybe I understand better than you how to make a family, since we added Esme and Alice to ours. All I ever wanted was a family with you and since you wanted to make that family by adopting children, then that is what I wanted."
I pushed past him, feeling irrationally angry.
"Look at how happy you are, Edward!" I said furiously, "Don't lie and say that this isn't what you wanted!"
"Of course I'm happy! You're having my baby, Bella." He looked upset and my heart ached, "Maybe it's the imprint talking, maybe it's the fact that I love you more than anything in the world or maybe it's just part of being human but seeing you and knowing that you're pregnant with my baby… I've never felt anything like it. Our baby… how can you even feel anything except happiness about it?"
His words cut me to the core. How selfish was I? All I had focused on was the fact that I was going to have a baby with the imprinting gene and nothing else. I had done exactly what I'd done to myself for so long. I'd defined our child by its imprint and nothing more.
I swallowed the lump in my throat and Edward tugged at his hair, leaning against the doorframe. I sat on the edge of the bed, my hands in fists on my knees.
We never fought, Edward and I. We just didn't. Not any more than deciding what to watch on TV. I could bear it and the imprint throbbed painfully in my chest. I saw Edward rubbing his own ribs and looked away.
"How can I be a mom, Edward?" I said softly, "It took me so long to accept the imprint. Every time I make a choice, I always make the wrong one first. I ran from you and only realised afterwards that it was wrong. I decided that we should adopt and then realise that you wanted our own baby. How can I raise a child when I always make the wrong choices?"
"You make the right ones eventually." Edward said quietly, coming to sit next to me on the bed. His hand took mine.
After a few minute, he squeezed my fingers.
"What are you scared of, Bella?" He asked and I closed my ears, fighting tears. Jesus, was I going to be an emotional wreck for this entire pregnancy? This could get old and fast.
"I'm… I'm scared that our child will hate imprinting as much as I did. I'm scared that he or she will fight it and hurt themselves. I'm scared they'll imprint on someone awful and blame us for it."
"You know that the majority of imprints are happy ones."
"And since when have we been the majority? I've never really heard of a double imprint before but we managed that one." I pointed out.
"I don't think anyone is expecting us to be the world's best parents from the word go, Bella. All those fears… every parent with the gene must have them, but it's never stopped them having kids."
"But what if-"
"We can if and but all day, Bella. No one starts out as a perfect parent, it would be ridiculous to think otherwise. OK, our baby is going to be an imprinter… please just look back at us and think."
He moved onto the floor and parted my legs, kneeling between them as he traced his fingers over my still flat belly. My hand went to his hair, stroking it tenderly.
"You doubted our imprint. Maybe everyone who has the imprint does."
"I doubted it when you ran. I wondered how I could be the right person for someone who hated this so much." His voice was quiet and I squeezed my eyes shut, "But we fought for us. We made our own choices and it brought us here. I guess that all we can do for our child is give it the guidance that we needed to get to this point. The same as any other parent. Share our life experiences and everything that parents are supposed to do, you know?"
Edward leaned forward, lifting the t-shirt I had stolen from him and kissing my belly.
"I love you, Bella. And I love whoever is in here. I know you're scared and we'll do whatever it takes to make you feel better about this but please believe me… you are going to be an amazing mom. We are going to be amazing parents."
How could I not believe him?
"Of course you're freaking out. Every pregnant woman freaks out at first." Esme said cheerfully. We were doing a girls lunch with Angela, Rosalie and Alice. The guys had Henry and Angela's little boy, Max.
"I think I freaked out extra weirdly because of the imprinting gene. Edward practically had to restrain me." I admitted as we looked over the menus. Rosalie snorted.
"Bella, I'm a fucking midwife. I spend all day watching vaginas tear open and for about a month before Henry was due, that was all I saw. Tearing vaginas."
"Rosalie, we're about to eat." Alice grimaced and Angela snorted with laughter.
"Think about how I brought Alice into the world." Esme said lightly, "I was married to an awful man who beat me every night. I was so scared when I had Alice, all I could think about was keeping her safe, hoping that he would keep his anger confined to me and not turn on her."
We were silent and Alice took her mom's hand. Esme smiled at her.
"I was so nervous when I met Carlisle. I didn't understand how he thought he could love me from a single glance. I pushed him away so much but he was wonderful. He saved both of us."
Well, that put things into perspective. Angela smiled at me.
"You're going to be a great mom, Bella. You just need to take it one thing at a time. You've got at least 12 years before the imprinting becomes an issue and I guess all you can do is make sure that you educate your child about it."
"That's not bad advice. You could do it with the sex talk, get it all done at once." Rosalie said as she chewed a breadstick.
"Great, I'm sure that won't be traumatising for the poor kid at all." I muttered.
Three years and eight months ago, I imprinted on Edward Cullen.
Today, we were going to see our baby from the first time. I lay awkwardly on the bed as Carlisle squirted cold gel onto my belly. Edward squeezed my hand. Carlisle had used his influence at the hospital to sneak in and do our ultrasound for us.
"Well, I'm ready to see my first grandchild. What about you two?"
"Bring it on." I said and watched with Edward as the screen buzzed.
"OK…" Carlisle moved the stick across my stomach. I had a little bump there now, not massive by any means, but it looked like I'd overdone it on breakfast.
"There's a foot." Edward pointed excitedly, "That's our kid's foot!"
"Yes it is. And here, if we move up, that's an arm…. And this is your baby's head." Carlisle smiled widely as we stared at the screen.
I couldn't believe. That was in me. That was our baby.
Edward wiped his eyes and I smiled at him.
"That's our baby."
"Yeah, it is." Edward kissed me before looking back at the screen, "Our baby. Our baby is awesome."
"Strong heartbeat." Carlisle informed us, "Developing nicely. It's a little early to tell the gender yet."
"We don't want to know anyway. Keeps us on our toes." I told him and Edward chuckled, kissing my foreheads.
When we got home, Edward proudly put a sonogram printout into a picture frame and hung it on the wall.
"Not much point hanging that when we're going to be taking it down again to move next week." I told him and he laughed, kissing the top of my head.
"I'm proud of my kid and he or she deserves to be on the wall."
"Suits me." I said, staring up at the picture on the wall.
"You're beautiful." Edward said, not looking up from the paper that he was reading at the kitchen table of our new home.
"No, really. Look at me." He looked up and I gestured to my seven-and-a-half month pregnant stomach, "I'm huge. None of my pants zip up."
"Let's go shopping then."
"I cannot be seen in public like this." I rolled my eyes, "I'm a whale. Look at the size of my ass."
I turned and waited. And waited.
"Leave me alone, I'm enjoying the view."
I turned on him, scowling. He grinned and beckoned me over so that I was standing between his legs.
"Bella, you look fantastic. Your ass is fantastic, your stomach is fantastic and your boobs are doubly fantastic. Because there's two of them."
I couldn't help snorting with laughter as he nuzzled my breasts.
"Shall I take you shopping? We can go and get some sandwiches from that deli you like and go to the bookstore. There must be a parenting book out there that we don't have yet."
He had a point. I may well have every book on parenting that had been published in the last decade.
Four years and four months ago, I imprinted on Edward Cullen.
Today, I was having his baby.
Said baby was almost two weeks late and using my internal organs as a punching bag. I glowered at Edward as he massaged my feet from the end of my hospital bed.
"Once this kid is out, it's your problem. I'm handing all responsibility over to you until I've had slept for a whole day, had a shower and eaten my bodyweight in pasta and chocolate."
"It's a deal."
"I'm serious. I'm just going to sleep and you're going to deal with the crying and the diapers and the pooping."
"Stop being so goddamn agreeable!" I half-shouted as Rosalie came in, donning a pair of gloves. She arched an eyebrow.
"Everything OK in here?"
"Fine." I sulked as Edward smiled at me.
"OK. Knees up and spread please."
"Are you sure that you want to look at my vag, Rosalie? Can our friendship survive this?" I asked as Edward moved to stand by my head. Rosalie rolled her eyes.
"Bella, I don't give a shit about your vagina, just the tiny person that you're going to be pushing out of it. Now spread 'em."
What day isn't complete when your best friend hasn't felt you up?
"Eight centimetres, sweet cheeks." Rosalie said, disposing of her gloves, "I don't think it's going to be long. I'm going between you and one other lady today but she's only just two centimetres, so I reckon you'll be done before her.
"Don't make her competitive, Rosalie." Edward pleaded and I hit his arm lightly.
I won't go into the messy details. There was a lot of pain, no small amount of screeching on my part and at the end of it, I had a small warm body crying on my chest. Edward was in tears, just like me and Rosalie as Baby was bundled up and placed in my arms.
"Holy shit, we made a person." I sobbed as Edward sat next to me, his arms around us both.
"We made her. We made a girl." Edward said softly before kissing my temple, "You're amazing. I love you so much. Thank you."
"She needs a name before you go home." Alice insisted, staring down at her niece, "You can't just keep calling her Tree Frog for ever."
I know that all babies are supposed to be cute and mine totally was, but to be honest, when she first came out, my first thought had been Fuck, my baby looks like a tree frog. She'd squished up a bit since then and everyone was in agreement that she was a cutie now. But I'd made the mistake of telling Edward about it and the nickname had stuck.
"Tree Frog Cullen has a ring to it." Carlisle winked at me and Alice scowled before handing Tree Frog on to Jasper.
"We didn't really think about names." I admitted as Edward smoothed back my hair. I felt distinctly more human now that I was in clean clothes. My bag was packed, ready to go home but we wanted to get all the paperwork filled in while we were still in the hospital, which meant picking a name.
"Let's have a look." Edward went to Jasper and carried Tree Frog back to me. I scooted up so that I could sit with my back against the pillow and we peered at her face. She blinked up at us, her eyes bright blue. I wondered if they would change to green or brown.
No names jumped out at me though.
Everyone filtered out of the room, leaving Edward and I alone. I sighed, leaning my head against him.
"It shouldn't be this hard to name a baby."
"I'm all for sticking with Tree Frog." He said lightly, "Imagine the comedy gold I could squeeze out of that."
"What about… Jasmine?"
"Meh." Edward shrugged, stroking her forehead gently.
"No, she's not a Sarah."
"Well, you suggest one." I said, shifting Tree Frog a little. She yawned widely, her gummy mouth making a smacking noise.
"No. That's a full grown person name, not a baby name." I knew my logic was skewed, but Edward let it go.
Tree Frog blinked at us again and I poked her tiny palm with my finger. She tightened her fist around mine, miniscule fingers against mine. Damn, she was so cute. I loved her already, she was just beautiful.
"Abigail?" Edward said softly and Tree Frog looked at him. I gasped.
"She knows her name! Crap, she's super smart too."
"Abigail Esme… if that's OK?"
"Perfect." I grinned, "Right. Abigail Esme Cullen, let's get you home."
Tree Frog would not sleep. Like ever.
At 2:30 in the morning, I was walking around the nursery while Abigail wailed into my chest.
"Oh please baby, you're fed, you're burped, you're changed… please sleep." I murmured to her, bouncing her a little, "Momma needs sleep too, sweetheart."
She chose to interpret this as 'you're not crying loud enough' and turned up the volume a few notches.
I sank into the rocking chair that Edward had built and started to rock back and forward on it, rubbing Tree Frog's back.
"You're lucky you're cute, kid." I grumbled, "Although Daddy's going to have his work cut out for him, having two stroppy females to deal with. Clearly you have my temperament. But your eyes are turning green, which I like. I like Daddy's eyes."
She snorted loudly before resuming her whimpers. I kissed her soft head.
"Yeah, I like Daddy's eyes. And his hair. You don't have much hair yet, but let's hope you get mine because Daddy's is unmanageable. But everything else is up to you, OK? Anything you want to do with your life."
She was quietening down a little and I kept talking.
"The thing is, you've got this tiny little part of you that is going to draw you to someone. I don't know who, you might not meet him for a decades. But when you do… it's up to you, OK? You decide who that person is going to be to you for you. Hopefully he'll be a really good friend at least. Maybe he'll be more. But you can bet your tiny baby ass that he's not going to hurt you, because Daddy and I won't let him."
I moved her so that she lay in my arms. She had stopped crying and was staring at me with bleary eyes. I sighed, rubbing her tummy gently.
"Problem is… that little part of you is strong. But the rest of you is strong too, understand? Strong enough to decide what you're going to do when that time comes, OK? You get to make your own choices."
She burped softly and I nodded.
"Good girl. Let's see if you're ready to sleep yet."
A few minutes later, I crawled into bed next to Edward. He woke a little and I curled up against him. He kissed my forehead.
"I love you."
"Love you too." I yawned.
As I dozed off, Edward's soft breathing lulling me to me to sleep, I started thinking about choices.
I think it always came down to choices.
I had faced a lot of choices. I had chosen Edward. When I'd found out that I was pregnant, I'd chosen to face my fear and it had been one of the best decisions of my life. I had chosen to follow my imprint.
It came down to choices and I had made the right ones, even when it took me a little while to make them. And how could I ever regret the choices that had led me here?
Edward's hand found mine on his chest and twined his fingers with mine.
I closed my eyes and let sleep overcome me.
A/N: Whilst watching 'One Born Every Minute' (my personal form of contraception because… ew) I blurted out one night that newborn babies look like tree frogs. I have yet to live this down.
So, this is version 2 of the epilogue. I wrote one where Edward and Bella went down the fostering/adoption route but as I was writing it, it felt like the opening to a whole other story and not much of a conclusion so I wrote this one instead. I may post it in the outtakes collection which will start posting as a separate story in a couple of days. I have nine planned outtakes, so keep an eye on my profile or stick me on author alert until it goes up if you want to read them.
Huge thanks to Positively 4th Street for pimping this story. I got over 10,000 hits in the last two days, how incredible! Welcome to all my new readers and thank you for joining us!
Mahoosive thanks to everyone who has favourited, reviewed, put this story on alert and just generally read. Your reception has been fantastic and I've loved your reactions. Thank you!
Oodles of love