A/N: Twilight and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. Any similarities to the original characters or themes from the books or media franchise are used here for entertainment purposes only, with no monetary gain for me, the FanFiction author. All original content, ideas, and intellectual property of Rm w/ a Vu are mine . . .

. . . but the responsibility for the replacement of any ruined articles of clothing due to spontaneous combustion after reading the citrusy parts of this story is all yours.

I know it's been a few weeks, and I apologize. It's the end of the story, and if any of you have read my other stories while in progress, I tend to take longer with the final chapters due to my denial that things are ending. Is it weird? Definitely. ;)

Anyway, I'm not going to bore the shit out of you with a long author's note, because you're probably all wondering what Bella's answer to Edward's question is. Well, here you go :)


Chapter 37. Jumping in Head First

The question leaves my mouth before I've given it much thought . . . actually, that's not entirely true; I've thought about asking her to marry me for weeks—months, even. What I hadn't planned was asking her like this. In this moment.

I guess a part of me just couldn't help it in light of the last seven hours.

Since bringing Masen home, sleep has been hard to come by. Pretty par for the course when it comes to newborns, my mother assures me almost daily when she calls to check in. Not that this made me feel any better about being unable to soothe him the way a parent should. Nothing I could do seemed to help, and it was so frustrating.

I didn't feel right asking Bella for help just yet. I guess a part of me was terrified that it might overwhelm her and she'd change her mind about sticking around.

I should have known better.

Truthfully, I've had this bad habit of underestimating her time and time again. Well that stops now.

When I'd put Masen down in his crib the night before, I'd hoped for at least a couple hours of rest, but he had other things in mind. When I first heard him wake, I'd been in the early stages of sleep, contently nestled into bed, my head rested on Bella's abdomen while she read. This had become our bedtime routine as of late, and while I couldn't wait for a bit of normalcy to return to our lives—or for us to eventually adapt to our new life, more accurately—I appreciated Bella's support through it all.

Masen's cry startled me awake and I prepared to launch out of bed, only Bella beat me to it. Yes, I tried to argue against her offer to tend to him, but she was having none of it. I could tell by the look of resolve in her eyes that I wasn't going to win that one. She'd instructed me to turn off the monitor so I could catch a little sleep while she went to Masen's room across the hall, and I was just about to when I heard her gentle voice . . .

"Hey." Her tone was soft and soothing, and I smiled, rolling onto my stomach and looking at the monitor as I imagined her picking Masen up out of his crib. I was still a little on edge and ready to intervene at the first sign of Bella having trouble. "You sure do make an awful lot of noise for such a tiny little guy, don't you?" Masen's cries ebbed, relaxing me. I probably should have taken this as my cue to sleep, but I couldn't; I was completely engrossed in listening to Bella soothe Masen back to sleep.

"Well now, you really are just like your daddy, aren't you? I guess he must have forgotten how he doesn't like his feet covered up, either, huh? What a silly, silly man."

I raked my fingers through my hair, smiling and shaking my head. This wasn't an oversight on my part; I'd tried swaddling Masen, tried uncovering his feet, tried feeding him and changing him . . . nothing worked.

Silence filtered through the monitor, save for the few soft sounds of Bella shuffling around the room, and I rolled back over onto my side of the bed and waited for her to return. It sounded like Masen was asleep, so I hoped we'd be able to get a little sleep before the next wake-up call.

Okay, if I'm being honest, listening to Bella taking care of Masen, her natural maternal instincts shining through, was such a turn-on. And I planned to tell her exactly that. I'd let her decide what happened next, because I knew what I wanted . . .

I'd already known that she'd be wonderful with Masen. I'd gotten that proof the weekend of Rose and Emmett's wedding when I saw her with Jane in the park and then later that night on the dance floor. She was so warm and loving. Everything I'd imagined the mother of my children would be.

As the minutes ticked by, I closed my eyes and awaited her return. When I opened them again, I hadn't been expecting to see the sun beginning to rise, or the time on my alarm clock reading that it was just before six in the morning. Shocked, and the new father in me jumping to the conclusion that something had to be wrong, I bolted out of bed and ran across the hall.

Only, when I opened the door, the sight that greeted me was far from terrifying. It was beautiful and something I wanted to take in for a few more minutes: Bella lying on her left side, her back to the door, and Masen swaddled beside her, his legs free. Her hand rested lightly next to him, her fingers against his belly, and they both breathed deeply and soundly.

Quietly, I crossed the room and kneeled next to her, touching her shoulder lightly. It wasn't my intention to frighten her, so her initial alarm caught me off-guard. I didn't understand it at first until she found Masen resting peacefully beside her and relaxed. After explaining that Masen had slept through the night for the first time since we brought him home, I crawled onto the bed on his other side. He stirred, and I figured that was it—not that I would have complained; seven hours was more than I could've asked for or imagined at this point.

But, in another act that shocked me, Bella reached out and started to run her finger over his face, soothing him back into a peaceful slumber. It was when he smiled that my heart swelled with so much love and pride and complete awe that I spoke without thinking . . .

Bella looks at me, her deep brown eyes darting back and forth between mine as my question registered. Slowly, she pushes herself up, and I mirror her actions, careful not to wake Masen.

"I'm sorry," I rush to say. Though, if I'm being entirely honest, I'm not sorry. I'm excited about the possibility that she might say yes, and I want her to. Yes, it's soon, but when it feels right, it feels right, you know?

"Sorry?" she whispers, her eyebrows pulling together. "So, you didn't mean it?"

I let her question hang in the air for a minute, trying to get a read on how she feels about my slip. I'm picking up nothing, so I thrust my fingers through my hair and shake my head. "No." I laugh at myself. "I mean, yes, I meant it . . . I just didn't realize I meant it now."

When my eyes meet hers again, I can see her confusion. I take a deep breath and try to elaborate. "I love you. You know that," I begin. "Seeing you with Masen this morning, the two of you both so peaceful and absolutely content, made me realize that this is what I want. You, and only you, for the rest of our lives. I was a fool for not letting you step in before now." I glance down at Masen when he lets out a little squeak and then settles again. "I thought I could handle things on my own because I didn't want to freak you out."

"Edward, I—"

I know it's rude, but I cut her off so I can finish. "It's clear to me now that he needed more than me. He needed you, Bella. Someone warm, caring . . . maternal." Pausing, I reach over and take her left hand in mine. "So, yeah, seeing how you are with him—even just this one, absolutely significant moment—makes me realize that I, without a doubt, want to marry you. It wasn't a question I'd intended to ask today, but one day, yeah . . ."

"Yes," she blurts out, but I'm ashamed to admit that I steamroll right over what she's said without giving it much thought.

". . . I don't want you to give up on your dreams or school. I'll wait for as long as we have to before we even start . . ." That's when it registers: she said yes.

Her eyes glisten with unshed tears as they move from me to Masen and then back again, her smile so wide my cheeks hurt—of course, that could be due to my own growing grin. "I'm saying yes," she repeats, "to you, to Masen, to us—our family. It's true, this isn't how I saw my life playing out last year when I replied to a certain ad." Smiling, I reach across the bed and take her hand in mine as she continues. "I was . . . in a pretty bad place when we met, and you were so great about everything. Yes, I may have misconstrued a few things—"

I bring her hand to my lips and press a kiss to the back of it. "Maybe just a few," I agree, remembering how she first thought I was with Rosalie, and then with Emmett.

"Well, I think that was because I was scared to really open myself up to the possibility of another relationship so soon after Jake. I didn't want to get hurt again," she continues. "But you surprised me—and you continue to do so with every passing day. Our situation may not be conventional, but that's exactly what it is: ours. I love you—" she looks down to Masen again as he stirs, his big eyes fluttering open "—and I love this little guy even more than I thought possible. Honestly, I don't know why I was so afraid of any of it."

When Masen starts to fuss further, threatening to cry, Bella leans over and picks him up, beating me to it. She cradles him close to her body and smiles at him before raising her gaze back to mine. "So, yes. I'll marry you." She stands up off the bed. "But first, this guy is due for a diaper change and some breakfast. Aren't you?" she coos to Masen, making her way over to the changing table. "Would you mind making a bottle for him?"

I hop off the bed and stand behind her while she starts to change Masen's diaper. I kiss her neck, making her laugh lightly, and then exit the room to do as asked. When I return to the nursery, Bella is sitting on the bed with her back against the headboard, cradling a freshly changed Masen. She's traded his sleeper for a cute little outfit that my mom had bought a while back and left in the dresser.

Bella looks toward me, lifting Masen a little as if to see me also. "There's Daddy, Mase." He seems content enough, taking in all that he can with his limited range of view, as I sit next to them on the bed and hand over the bottle. Bella's grin widens, almost as though she expected me to ask for him so I could feed him.

While Masen eats, Bella leans her head on my shoulder. "I want to wait until Masen's a little older before we get married," she says out of nowhere. "I want him to be a part of it, and I do want to finish school and get started on my career, so that should give us a few years. Are you okay with that?"

I kiss the top of her head and nod. "Absolutely."

Once Masen has had his fill, we head downstairs to fix breakfast for ourselves. Bella refuses to relinquish her hold on Masen, and I'm not about to argue, because he seems more than content in her arms. So, while she cuddles and talks to him, I prepare a hearty breakfast for the two of us.

Over breakfast, I mention that I'd like to catch a morning swim before the shower starts at noon, and Bella nods. "Actually, that sounds good. I can bring Masen out and we can sit poolside. How early do you think we can introduce him to the water?"

I contemplate this for a minute. "I don't know. I know I learned early. I'll look into it. I think I read something somewhere about infant swimming lessons. Might be a good idea if we plan to stay in this house."

"Cool." Bella looks down at Masen again and brushes her nose against his. "Doesn't that sound like fun?" As if responding to her, Masen lets out a little squeal, his arms flapping wildly, and Bella laughs.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I'll never tire of seeing the two of them like this. I can't believe I was ever worried about overwhelming Bella when this is clearly so natural for her.

Bella offers to clean up breakfast since I cooked, meaning she hands Masen over to me. Now, a part of me wonders if this has anything to do with the dirty diaper he's packing, but I do it anyway. After everything is squared away, we head upstairs and change. I pull on my swim shorts and Bella changes into a tank top and jean shorts—no, not the illegal ones, sadly, but a pair she won't have to change out of when Masen's shower starts.

While I swim my lengths, Bella sits on a lounger beneath the shade of the eaves. Occasionally, I hear her talking to Masen, and when everything falls silent, I realize that he's fallen asleep in her arms for his first nap of the day, and she's watching me raptly. After my swim, Bella and I head into the house and are just heading for the stairs when the front door opens. My mom and dad walk through with armloads of stuff for the shower.

Mom sees Bella holding Masen and smiles warmly, setting her bags down and rushing over to find him fast asleep. She looks mildly disappointed, but shakes it off when she sees how Bella is glowing. Reaching out, she pushes Bella's hair behind her shoulder. "How are you doing?" she asks.

"Great. He slept for seven hours last night, so that was a nice surprise for both of us."

"Oh, how wonderful for you both," Mom replies. "What finally did the trick?"

Smiling proudly, I step forward. "Bella," I say. "He wanted her."

Mom's eyes start to glisten with what appear to be happy tears. "Well, isn't that something."

Bella turns her head to me. "You know what? I think he's going to be out for a bit. Why don't we put him in his crib, and I'll help your mom and dad set up while you shower?"

I nod. "Sure. I can take him up if you want?"

"Um . . ." Bella draws the word out a little longer, and I think I sense a bit of possessiveness in her voice. Apparently her mama bear instincts have come out of hibernation. "I just don't want to risk waking him with too much jostling from parent to parent and then into his crib."

There she goes again . . . calling herself his parent. I know it probably borders on inappropriate that hearing her talk like that turns me on like this, but all I want to do is put Masen in his crib and throw her over my shoulder like a Neanderthal and throw her down on the bed where I plan to ravage and worship her.

But we have company, so that will have to wait.

Bella puts Masen in his crib and turns on the monitor, grabbing it off our nightstand before leaving me to my shower. I don't take too long, knowing that I should be downstairs helping to get everything together, and when I finish, I find that Rose and Emmett have also arrived and Masen is still asleep.

In the next thirty minutes, we manage to get all of the food put out, and our patio looks like the baby shower aisle of the party store threw up on it. White, green, and blue streamers hang from the eaves, twirling and criss-crossing, and paper lanterns hang from it as well. Bella has brought up a couple of the folding tables out from the basement and has them, as well as the patio table, covered in blue and green plastic table covers, and several large bundles of balloons are scattered about. It borders on ridiculous, but it also feels right that this is how we welcome and introduce Masen to the rest of the family.

Suddenly, Masen's cry pierces through the monitor, and I offer to go grab him and bring him down. As I cross through the patio door, I notice that Bella has brought the baby swing out of the living room and has it set up in the shadiest (and coolest) part of the patio, knowing that today is going to be a scorcher.

I change his diaper really quickly, and have barely made it two steps back onto the patio before I am accosted by my mother and Rose. I'm a little surprised that Bella hasn't joined in the fight to take him, but I suspect that's because she knows that once the party's over, we'll have him all to ourselves.

Mom and Rose take turns holding Masen before letting Emmett and my dad have a turn. Now that everything is in order, all that's left to do is wait for the rest of our guests to arrive. This isn't going to be a huge party, with only our closest family and friends being invited, because we don't want to overwhelm Masen. Not that I really think he'll notice too much between his bottles and napping.

Alice and Jasper are the next to arrive, and while I expected Alice to ask to hold Masen right away, it's clear that she's a little nervous around him. Bella explains that Alice has never really been around babies before. Soon after their arrival, Bella's co-worker, Kate, and her boyfriend arrive. Kate's been another emotional rock for Bella during all of this, and I'm glad to see that Bella has such an amazing network of friends to turn to when she needs them. And I'm more than grateful that none of them planned to crucify me when all of this began so many months ago.

The only people left to arrive are Charlie, Renee, and Claire, and when they finally do arrive, both Bella and I are stunned to see a fourth, and unexpected, person with them.

"Gran?" Bella says, completely shocked. She stands from her seat at the patio table and hugs her grandmother. "What are you doing here?"

"Please, like I was going to miss the opportunity to meet my other granddaughter . . ." there's a brief pause as her dark brown eyes fall on Masen in my mother's arms ". . . as well as that little boy over there."

Bella offers her grandmother a seat and then heads over to Esme, who hands Masen over without qualm. Bella then takes him over to her grandmother and sets him gently in her arms. "Gran, this is Masen. He's . . . um . . ." She looks to me, whether out of uncertainty of what to say or for permission to say it, and I nod once. "Well, he's our son. Edward's and mine, I suppose."

Her introduction of Masen is sweet and a little bit awkward, but that's to be expected given our situation and how it might seem to a woman who comes from another time when situations like this were extremely rare. Sure, I worry about what Gran might do or say, how she might disapprove of this entire thing we have going on, but, just like her granddaughter, she surprises me.

"Well, I'm glad to have met the first of what I hope to be many great-grandchildren," she says, stroking the fine hair from his forehead. She looks up at Bella, then to me. "He's a very handsome boy. You should both be very proud."

Bella laughs. "We are," she assures her.

For the next couple of hours, everyone takes turns holding both Masen and Claire. The food is great—a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with finger sandwiches and wraps—and before Masen indicates that he's ready for his next nap, we open his gifts while Renee and Charlie open the ones brought for Claire since they were born within hours of one another.

Because we already had all of the major necessities, most of Masen's gifts were clothes for when he outgrows his newborn ones and diapers. Holy shit, are there a lot of diapers. It's not long before Masen starts to show signs of being tired, and all of our guests decide it's time to go. Bella's grandmother is going to be in town for another week, so we plan to get together again a few times before she's set to return home again.

After everyone leaves, Bella feeds and changes Masen one last time before she puts him down, and I get a head start on clean-up duty. I've just finished packing up the food and running the dish water when Bella walks into the kitchen and starts washing the dishes.

"Today was fun," I tell her, coming up behind her and wrapping my arms around her waist, my lips trailing up the side of her neck and to her ear. My fingers tease the hem of her shirt, lifting it up until they make contact with her goosebump-riddled abdomen.

"Mmm," she hums, dropping the spoon she was washing to the bottom of the sink and struggling to retrieve it. "Yup. Good times." When she inhales, it's soft and shaky; a sound that proves her acquiescence to my seduction technique.

I slip her button through the eyelet and pull her zipper down slowly, feeling each click as it lowers all the way. She doesn't protest—not that I expect she would—and I slip my hand inside her panties to find her warm and ready for me. She moans the minute my fingers slip between her legs, and I grind my growing erection against her ass, pressing her against the counter. It's been far too long since we've been intimate with one another, so it really doesn't take much to get me worked up.

"Edward," she groans, dropping the dish back into the sink and turning in my arms, forcing my hand from between her thighs as she plunges her wet, soapy hands into my hair and kisses me hard.

Weeks of pent-up sexual frustration explode in that moment. It wasn't my intention to start something right this second—no, really, it wasn't. I'd actually hoped to finish up here, have a glass of wine, and let the evening play out. Of course, I'd hoped that the evening would include sex—I'm a guy—but I wanted to take her upstairs to our bed before anything happened.

Clearly, this isn't happening. Not that either of us is complaining a bit as we rip each other's clothes off.

Bella's shorts and panties fall from her legs into a pool around her feet, and she works fast to discard me of my pants and boxers, as well. We step out of them, and Bella pushes me up against the fridge, making the contents in the doors rattle behind me as she works to unbutton the shirt I'm wearing and pushes it down my shoulders. I stand before her, naked, but before she can kiss me again, I rid her of her top also, tossing it onto the counter behind her before pulling her back into my arms. The fridge is cold against my back, acting counter-productively much like a cold shower would, but when Bella pushes me harder, activating the cold water spout in the fridge door, I yelp against her lips and rush us toward the island and away from the unexpected cold water raining down my ass and legs.

Bella laughs as I lift her onto the counter—a counter that's been used for this purpose before—and then sighs when our lips meet again in a softer, deeper kiss. My hands explore her body, rising over the natural swells of her womanly curves until I'm happily palming her breasts, and she snakes a hand between us to guide me into her.

She must be just as aware as I am that we can no longer afford the luxury of drawing this out for too long. If we do, we risk Masen waking up and being unable to finish what we've started. Not that I want to prolong the actual act; like I said, it's been weeks, and I'm feeling pretty damn desperate to be inside of her.

I waste no time pushing my hips forward, Bella's heels digging into my ass and encouraging me. It's as though she's afraid I'll change my mind at the last second. What a ridiculous notion.

Bella throws her head back, gasping for air as I thrust into her slowly the first couple of times, and I kiss down the length of her throat, continuing over her collarbone and sternum until I'm hunched slightly and drawing a nipple into my mouth. She gasps, arching her back into me when my teeth graze the puckered flesh. Her mounting cries and breathing indicate that she's rounding the corner to her release, so I increase my efforts to join her. The pressure in my belly begins to build, swelling outward until my arms and legs start to tighten and tingle.

Seeming unable to keep herself upright anymore, Bella lays back on the island, her back arched off the marble countertop as I continue to pump and thrust between her legs. At this angle, I hit her a little deeper, causing her to moan a little louder and her skin to blush a little deeper. My orgasm threatens to pull me under, but I need to bring Bella with me, so I drop a hand and begin to stroke her clit with my index finger. Her hips buck upward, her legs tighten around me, and her pussy clenches my length as we both climax together.

My hips move slowly a few more times as I let the after-effects of my orgasm slowly ebb, and Bella sighs happily, relaxing her back against the counter and squirming around me. Still inside her, I kiss the skin of her chest, paying equal attention to each breast, and she brings her hands up and caresses my face before running her fingers through my hair. She's obsessed with my hair, and I'm okay with that, because there's almost nothing more calming than her giving me a scalp massage right after sex.

As she continues to drag her short nails over my scalp, I draw her left hand from my hair and press a kiss to her palm, realizing for the first time that we forgot to share some very important news with everyone today. "We forgot to tell everyone we're getting married," I tell her, resting my head against her sternum and listening to the rapid pounding of her heart slow to its natural rhythm.

Bella hums, still running her fingers through my hair. "That's okay," she replies softly. "We have plenty of time."

We remain in this position for a few more minutes, basking in the sheer perfection of the moment. While I'd originally hoped for it to be a little more romantic—I know, how very masculine of me, right?—this is what we're known for. Our relationship has always been kind of a whirlwind, and we're always doing things a little out of order. But that's what makes it so great. We surprise each other at every turn, keeping one another constantly on our toes.

As I look back on our relationship these last eight months, I realize that I owe it all to one little ad I placed. Had it not been for a certain ad boasting an incredible view, I never would have met this amazing woman who came into my life, somewhat broken and vulnerable, and I helped her rediscover herself while she taught me about the kind of man I want to be. And, yes, while some people may not understand it, choosing to scrutinize and judge us by the choices we've made, we know that everything we've done to this point has been right for us, and I can't imagine the rest of my life without her.

More importantly, I can't wait to see what our future has in store for us, and I start imagining the possibilities immediately.

Yes, I'd say the view from here is pretty incredible.


A/N2: Well, she said yes, and Masen's shower was a big hit. What did you all think of Edward's final chapter? I know you're probably all curious how I could possibly wrap up the rest of this story in one chapter plus an epilogue when we still have yet to see them get married, but believe me, it can be done. Bella's final chapter will also be an epilogue of sorts, chronicling the big moments of their lives as a family over the span of a few years, and then the epilogue will (I hope) be an amazing look into another character's head.

So, do what you all do best and leave me a little love. The continued support of my readers throughout this, as well as all of my other stories is what keeps me going. If not for you, I'd just be that crazy lady talking to herself.

Until next time . . .

xoxo