I lift my eyes from the book I am reading to find my three-year-old daughter kneeling on the ground. Big fat tears escape her small green eyes.
My heart clenches. I try to get up to console her but it is getting difficult to stand up these days.
I smile as my husband runs toward her with our three-year-old son right on his heels.
Edward's world starts with me and ends with our children.
The last few years have taught me so much about life.
Life has changed.
I am a Duchess now.
When Edward and I got married almost three years ago, I was nothing but a naïve girl who thought she knew better.
It took the experience of almost being ripped apart from my husband to realize that the world is different from how I see it.
Not everything is as I see it or rather...how I want to see it.
It was my fault that Tanya had the courage to not only harm my marriage but my children as well.
I wish I had been able to see the seed of jealousy that was slowly growing inside her mind, which later bears the fruit of malice and evil.
But I only saw what I wanted.
I remember the day when Tanya was executed right in front of me.
She was hanged and I only have one thought in my mind.
I wish it had been more brutal. More painful even.
I might have forgiven her for her other deeds but what she did with my children was unacceptable.
I almost lost my son.
I close my eyes to get rid of the fear that cripples me every time I remember those few long, tortuous minutes when I thought I had lost my son.
I would have never been able to forgive myself. Tanya was only able to hurt us because I had refused to listen to my husband's warnings.
The first few months after the birth of my children were not easy.
"Bella, we shall send our children to nunnery. It would be good for them."
My heart sinks as Edward's words reach my ears.
They are just two months old.
Why would he suggest this?
In spite of the fact that my heart is breaking,I do not protest.
Edward knows what he is saying. He knows what's best.
I had objected against Tanya's exile. Its consequences are still heavy on my heart.
"Yes, of course Edward,"
I say, trying to keep my voice from cracking as I stroke my daughter's hair who is lying in my arms. I wonder if it is the last time I would be doing this.
My throat constricts with grief I am trying to keep within myself.
The cold breeze wisps around me from the window I am sitting against. I close my eyes, reveling at the feel of my child's weight against me.
I hear my husband sigh behind me before a pair of strong arms wrap themselves around me.
A tear seeps out of me. Then, my body shakes in an effort to control myself.
"Why are you doing this with me,Bella? Why must you punish me in this manner?"
My eyes snap open and I whirl around in Edward's arms, horrified.
"Why would you say so?"
My voice holds the frustration and sadness I am feeling right now.
"Haven I not done everything you have asked without any complain?"
"That is why I am asking you this,Bella."
His voice is equally frustrated.
"You have become docile,Bella. You are not happy. Not really. You do everything I tell you like you are my slave instead of my wife."
His eyes are full of pain but I have no idea what I did wrong. I do as I am told. I do not argue.
"I do not understand."
My voice is timid. My eyes are on Emma, unable to see so much hurt on his face.
I cannot do anything right.
He steps back and takes Emma away from me.
My arms fall limply to my sides as my heartaches at the loss of my daughter's warmth.
Edward walks back toward me this time without Emma. Lifting my face with his hands, my blurry eyes meet his.
"Bella, you are my wife. Do not walk around me as if you are not my equal-as if you do not have any right to rebuff me,because you do. Argue with me when you think you have to. Fight me when you think I am doing something wrong. I want my Bella back."
His voice is full of compassion and his eyes are so understanding that I bury my face in his chest, sobbing my heart out.
"I know what you are thinking Bella. You made a mistake by letting Tanya stay with us and by trusting her. However, that is what any woman with pure heart would do. Do not let the goodness of your heart go away."
I clung to him, my heart ever grateful for having him with me.
I smile at my son, Alec. Amusement fills me when he stalks toward me with angry steps of a three year old, and an angry scowl on his face.
"Momma, papa is being mean."
I press my lips tightly together in an effort to stop myself from laughing at his words.
"Alec, that is not the way to talk about your father,"
I say once I have my amusement under control. No matter how adorable my son is, there is no reason for him to disrespect his father.
He huffs and crosses his arms together, trying to impersonate the aforementioned father.
"What is wrong?"
I ask, softening my voice.
"Papa does not let me climb the tree."
This is getting old. This is really Edward's fault.
If he had not climbed the tree the other day, Alec would not be here arguing to do the same.
The boy has to do everything his father does.
"You are not old enough, Alec."
My voice is stern. Although I do not like it, it is necessary.
His lower lip starts trembling and my heart melts.
I open my arms and he falls into them, mindful of my swollen belly.
His little body shakes against me. I softly rub his back, trying my best to soothe him.
My eyes lift on their own accord and they fall on my husband's tortured face.
I am fully aware of the fact that this is not easy for Edward.
I am also aware of the fact that Alec's age is not the only reason he is refused by his father to climb the tree. We are afraid.
The midwife pointed out that he might have some health problems due to what Tanya was able to feed me.
Even in the womb-where it was my responsibility to protect my children, Alec has protected his sister from harm.
I thank the Lord on high that there has not been any problems with Alec yet.
It is not easy for me to get back to my old self even though I had that talk with Edward. I am trying but it was difficult.
Every decision I make was weighted down by guilt and self-doubt.
It was Esme who truly helped me.
She was the one who guided me and made me realize my mistakes.
My eyes are on my six-month-old children sleeping on the bed beside me when Esme takes my hand in hers.
"Bella, you need to let go of your guilt."
My eyes keep gazing at my children's soft features to avoid Esme's eyes but she is a perceptive woman.
"Look at me, Bella."
I close my eyes before turning toward her, knowing I cannot avoid her-especially when she is speaking as Duchess Cullen.
Her eyes are full of warmth and understanding. I smile at her.
"I do realize the amount of guilt you must be feeling but it's time to let it go.Besides, your fault wasn't allowing Tanya to stay here."
I look at her, confusion marring my features.
"Your fault was- not talking to Edward. Bella, for a relationship to be successful, the most important thing is communication. If you had talked to Edward instead of completely withdrawing, you would have seen his point better.
That was what Esme told me and it helped us.
Edward was so angry with her after he became aware of the fact that she kept Tanya's deed away from him that he didn't talk to her for a year.
It took him so long to forgive Esme.
But he did once he understood what made Esme hide the truth.
We were both impulsive; both of us are immature enough to do something irrational.
He would have killed Tanya right then and there.
I watch my children run along with young Michael.
Mike Newton's son-the son of the man who had sworn his loyalty but deceived us in the most horrible way.
The man who was at James and Tanya's alley.
He, along with James, was stoned to death.
I smile as young Michael help my daughter, who has fallen on the ground.
He looks so much like his father but still different.
I can see him as a great man one day. Hopefully, he won't turn out like his father.
My smile turns to a fully grown one as I watch two-year-old Charlotte running across the field toward her cousin.
She is Alice and Jasper's daughter who idealizes Emma.
They are inseparable.
It took Jasper some time to receive Alice's forgiveness. He had to grovel as my sister-in-law neither made it simple nor easy for him.
She faked an engagement with Jacob to hurt Jasper. Not that I blame her.
Jacob was all too willing to help her.
Jacob has been a true friend and I am so glad that he has finally found his soul mate.
Kate is a wonderful woman. They will be tying the knot next week.
I lean against the window ledge in my room watching the children and eagerly waiting for my next one.
I close my eyes, sending a prayer of gratitude to the God for giving me the gift of another child.
I wasn't able to become with child for two years after I had my twins. I thought I lost a huge part of my womanhood but Edward never made me feel that way.
He used to say that he is content to have two children. Still, I remember the time when he told me that he want to have lots of children.
Two warm, strong hands settle on my swollen belly. I turn my head to see my husband smiling down at me.
He looks content. I feel content. I step away from window and into my husband's arms.
Finally, my life is perfect.
I have the love of my life with me-the one I thought I would never have.
One sacrifice for my family gave me everything I desired and then some.
Yes, there was heartbreak and pain but I have finally found my happily ever after.
A/N So, All right. This is the epilogue.
Thank you so much for sticking with me till the end even during so much heartbreak. I truly appreciate it. Thank you once again.
I will miss writing this story. I feel like crying...seriously.
Guys I need a new beta to work with my present one. So, anyone interested, please tell me know.
Next story is only heat matters as it got the highest vote but not right away. Give me three weeks and I will start posting it.