Thanks and love go out to Rhi for all your hard work on this story. I'm forever grateful to have you as my beta.
Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. I own the contents of this story.
Chapter 36: I was found
6 months later…
At the cry of my baby, my head snapped up. I got up from my desk and went over to the crib in the corner of my home office.
"Hello, my darling. Hungry are we, little man?"
He cried harder and waved his arms, demanding to be attended to. I was grinning as I picked him up, snuggling him close to me, but he was feisty and mad and having none of that. So I sat back down and unhooked my shirt and bra, none too soon either for my greedy boy. He rooted around and then latched onto my nipple. He started nursing in contentment with happy grunts, his little fist resting against my breast. I just gazed down at my precious little boy as I stroked my fingers over his tiny face and through his soft bronze hair just like his daddy's.
Sensing his presence, I looked up to find Edward leaning against the doorway. Such a look of love and tenderness was upon his face as he gazed upon me and Xavier.
We shared a happy glance before I popped Xavier of my left breast and settled him back nursing on my right. He went back to nursing contently as Edward and I just watched our son enjoying his meal. When he was done, Edward eagerly held out his arms for him and gently placed him on his shoulder to burp him. As he walked around my office lightly patting Xavier's back, he kept up a quiet dialogue with his son.
Then it was me that was watching my men with great love and affection. The phone rang, and I snatched it up, quickly working out a problem with a distributor. It was always something, but I didn't mind. I relished the work. I loved running all the smaller companies of Edward's- well, mine now as well.
All was shared between us. His companies and then the stocks for BHI we'd split between me and Edward and Emmett. I was relieved to have Emmett on our side, blessed even. Josh was in prison and would stay there for a while. Who knew what he did with all the money? I guess it didn't matter. Emmett had filled his spot running BHI and had blown through that company like a breath of fresh air. Profits were up, the employees were happier, and he loved it.
He and Rosie had moved to Seattle and bought a gorgeous estate there. She'd steadily gotten worse, and none too soon had gotten the call that a pair of lungs had become available for transplant. Her recovery had been rough, but she had found a reason to fight for her life in Emmett's devotion and the promise that as soon as she was strong enough, they'd begin looking into adoption. I was glad she lived, not only for her sake, but for Emmett's. I wouldn't have wanted to see the Emmett that would emerge after the loss of his beloved wife.
The phone rang again, shaking me out of my reverie.
"You should turn off the ringer, baby, and let it go to voicemail," Edward said as he finished changing Xavier.
I was very happy with my office that was half-nursery. Too much effort to go up and down the staircase just to change one diaper. The solution of two nurseries had been a brilliant one on Edward's part.
"Hey, just because you took half a day off, doesn't mean I did. You go have fun with your son, while I work a while through this pile of paperwork."
"It would be more fun if you joined us. I spoke with your boss; he's more than okay with you playing hooky." Edward gave me a knowing grin and a little wink.
"I think my boss wants to get me pregnant again already."
Edward laughed. "I think you should come play hooky with me, and we'll just see about that, Mrs. Cullen."
"And why is that?"
He picked up our son and walked around the desk to beside my chair. He gave me a slow perusal with hooded eyes and then darted his tongue out between his lips. Over a year I'd known this man and, still, I wanted him with an urgency that I almost couldn't control.
I gazed up at the tall, delicious goodness that was my husband and wondered that I wouldn't be constantly pregnant from his looks alone. Well, aside from the fact that I had a damned hard time of it keeping my hands off of him and his off of me. Not that either one of us tried very hard not to.
"Well, that would be because I already have a date to play hooky with this deliciously sexy, green-eyed married man. Don't tell his wife."
Edward laughed again. "Lucky him. I promise not to tell her if you promise to be naked for me later."
"Hmm. Only if you promise the same."
"Deal." He shot me a happy, lustful look that promised very nice things for this wife later.
I leaned forward and rested my elbow on my desk, my chin in the palm of my hand, and sighed. "I love you, babe."
"I love you, baby. More than words can say."
"Do you really want another baby so soon?"
"I don't mind, but I'll leave that up to you."
I nodded. "I say, let's wait until the end of the year before we try again. That way there'll be around two years between Xavier and the next baby."
"Sounds like a plan to me. Looks like someone is going to get a very nice Christmas present this year." He shot me a cocky smirk.
"Uh, you give me that present just about every day," I replied with a giggle.
"Yeah, and lucky fucking me, but for Christmas I'll put a bow around it and promise to give you one hell of a getaway weekend for just the two of us."
I couldn't control my giggles. "Best. Christmas. Present. Ever."
"I know. I'm a giver like that," Edward said with a gloating look.
"Oh, yeah. Big giver."
"Keep stroking my ego, baby. It's my favorite next to you stroking my-"
We turned to see Caro in the doorway with her arms crossed. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. I swear, you two are the horniest people I've ever been around. Give me my grandson and you two go play and get it out of your system," Caro said with a laugh.
Edward met my eyes. "She's brilliant. I adore her."
"She is," I agreed with a grin.
Edward grabbed my hand, pulling me up out of the chair. He rapidly had us around the desk and was handing Xavier to Caro. "He just ate, and I burped and changed him. He's all yours, and she's all mine. Be back soon. No, be back when he needs his mama again." He gave Caro a kiss on the cheek and then picked me up in his arms.
"Seriously? You gonna Rhett Butler me again?"
"Oh, yeah. I'm going to carry you upstairs and show you just who the man is."
I fanned my face. "Oh. Lucky me, as you always say. Carry on, babe."
"Have I ever told you that I love being married to you?" he asked as he carried me up the stairs.
"You have. A lot, actually."
"Just making sure you know how happy that I am to be your husband."
"Not near as happy as I am to be your wife."
He laid me down on the bed, a soft smile on his lips as he gazed down at me.
"Beautiful. So beautiful."
I reached for him, needing him near. He fell into my arms and rolled us so that we were snuggled together like two puzzle pieces made just for each other. He kissed my forehead, and I sighed in contentment.
He rested his forehead against mine. "My brown-eyed baby," he whispered.
I closed my eyes and held onto this moment, making a memory. Caro had told me that life was the messy bits, but she'd forgot to tell me that life was also tiny, precious, fleeting moments of joy. I would not take them for granted. I had learned the hard way that life could be cruel and lonely. I now knew to hold on fast to this time I was in, this happy time in my life, for who knew what the future may bring.
I gripped Edward's arm, tugging myself even closer to him. Perhaps I held onto him too tightly, but I didn't care. All we had was now.
"So, Bella. Tell me about what's going on with your life right now. You haven't been here for a month."
"Hmm. Well, Xavier is growing like a weed, but then, so is Zoe."
"How old are they now?" Dr. Byrd asked me.
"Zoe is nine and getting ready to start third grade, and Xavier is five months."
"How's working going?"
"I love it. I did want more, like you had asked. I never knew how fulfilling it would be. I thrive at being a boss and having responsibility. Edward says I run things better than he ever did."
"It sounds like you've got your hands full."
I nodded. "Yeah, but I have lots of help. Caro steps in when I need her during the day, and Edward is in full 'daddy mode' when he gets home every evening."
"And how does all that make you feel?" she asked.
"Well, good. I feel like I'm thriving, truly living for the first time. I'm surrounded by beautiful people that I love and love me in return."
"And what about your parents?"
I shrugged. "We've made some sort of peace. I've met with them a couple of times, and we've talked. I've learned that Renee and Charlie are strange, complicated people and were never really parent material. We still don't have a relationship, and they aren't in my life, but I don't hate them. I actually pity them. All that they missed out on with me, all the bad, wrong choices they made…it's sad. So much potential to be a family and be happy was wasted." I shrugged again. "It is what it is, and it's too late to change things now."
Dr. Byrd looked up from her notes and nodded at me. "You can't change people or try to fix them. You can only do that for yourself. I wish more people realized that. It would save a lot of grief."
"Yeah. Well, except for you. You've helped me a lot. Thank you for that."
She gave me small smile. "It's my job, but you're welcome. I'm delighted that you're in a good place in your life and in your mind now. You seem truly content and happy. So different from the Bella that walked into my office a year ago."
"I feel different, new. I feel like I know who I am now and what I want." I clasped my hands together and leaned forward. "And I've gotta tell you, Dr. Byrd, it's awesome."
She let out a little laugh and grinned at me. "Excellent. Well, it's up to you whether we continue. You can come in every three or six months or keep your monthly appointments. It's up to you."
"Let's do three months for now and see how that goes. I'm not quite ready to give up talking with you yet."
"That's fine. I guess I'll see you in three months. I'm penciling you in for November sixth. See you then."
We shook hands, and I walked out of her office, lightness in my step.
"Whatcha up to, baby?" Edward asked as he walked into the bedroom and pulled his t-shirt over his head.
"I asked what you were doing," he replied with a laugh. "Like what you see?"
I drug my eyes down his lean, muscled torso. "Uh, yeah. Duh."
"You could return the favor, you know," he said with a hopeful look as he lay back on the bed in just his low-slung jeans. He placed his hands under his head, pulling the muscles on his chest and biceps taut, and all I could do was stare. My husband was hot. There was just no other term for him.
"Yeah?" I replied absentmindedly.
"Baby, either answer my question or I'm going to fuck you senseless. You're making me beyond horny with that look on your face."
"Okay? Now we're talking," he said happily as he reached for me. I found myself suddenly under my husband.
"Oh," I said in wonder as I held his emerald eyes.
"Good oh?" he asked as he leaned down for a kiss.
"Yes. We're talking about you, how could it not be?"
"You make my ego so big, it's ridiculous. I feel like a king."
"And me your queen?"
"Yes. My beautiful, enchanting queen."
Talk was lost after that, for he was kissing me and touching me and making me feel everything wondrous in the world. He slowly undressed me, kissing my bare skin as it became exposed. His love-making was tender and sweet, and I found myself so blissful I could cry.
"I love you," he whispered as he entered my body.
"Yes," I replied. "Love you, babe."
I drifted in his loving, tender touches and his warm eyes. I just gazed up at his precious, beloved face and counted myself the most fortunate of all women for I had the love of Edward Cullen. Surely no woman had ever been so blessed.
Later, we lay there in bed, naked and entangled as we discussed our day.
"Sorry to interrupt you earlier."
I giggled. "That's okay. I really didn't mind. I was working on the genealogy of the Swan family by the way."
I sat up in my excitement of my news. "I did, actually. I found out that Laura Swan, who was married to Thomas Barrington who built this house, was indeed a great-great-great aunt of mine."
"Cool. How amazing is it that you bought a house that was once owned by someone in your family?"
"Pretty damned cool, but she also was nuts and killed herself and her daughter. Kind of creepy to be related to someone so crazy."
"Yeah, I guess it would be."
"Oh, I also found some things about Beatrice."
Edward sat up as well, eager to hear this. "What?"
"Well, it's rather sad. She had been courted by a young man named Albert Hanson. They fell in love, and he had proposed marriage, but Laura forbid it. Beatrice was her last child at home, and she refused to let go of her. Thomas Jr. had just killed himself, and Eva and Louisa were long gone from home. Beatrice, perhaps feeling guilt at leaving her mother all alone, bowed to her mother's wishes, and called off the engagement. It was only months later that her mother killed them both."
"Shit. That's all so sad."
"It is. And now Beatrice is trapped here for some reason."
"I wish we knew how to help her move on. Maybe we can find someone who knows something about this. Maybe she's happy here. I don't know," Edward said and scrubbed his hand through his hair.
"I don't know either, but I do know I'd hate to lose her. She's like part of the family now, and I love how she's so watchful and protective of the kids."
"Yeah, I love that, too. She seems happy, content, if ghosts can be such a thing," Edward said with a shrug.
"I think she wanted me and you to have the happy ending she was denied. You know, she also was a matchmaker. She wanted you and me together. She pushed me in that."
I nodded. "Yeah. She kept showing me a favorite book of mine, reminding me not to be stupid and not see what was right in front of me. To not take years and wrenching heartache like Bathsheba did. To realize that right there in front of me was a good man that loved me and I'd be a fool to let you go."
"Beatrice is brilliant. Did I say I like her?" Edward asked with a grin.
I laughed. "She is pretty terrific. I feel so protective of her."
"I do, too."
An extreme cold wrapped around us, and we both shivered.
"Okay, Beatrice darling. We love you, too, but what did I say about you giving us privacy when we're in bed?"
The cold was suddenly gone, and Edward looked at me with wide eyes. "I'll never, ever stop being freaked out over that."
I laughed. "It is pretty weird, but also sweet."
A book landed on the bed, making us both jump. I picked it up and read the title. Baby names?
I held it up to show Edward. "Think she might be trying to tell us something?"
"Sounds like she wants another baby to watch over. I'm all for the baby-making. Bring it on," Edward said with a wicked grin.
I laughed and tossed the book on the nightstand. I then climbed into Edward's lap, straddling his hips.
"Nice." His eyes darted to my breasts and back to my face. "Really nice."
I chuckled. "Well, I thought we'd best get to it. Wouldn't want to disappoint Beatrice."
"No, we certainly wouldn't want to do that," Edward murmured as his lips found mine again.
"Jasper, you're no help!" I exclaimed as I threw up my hands in frustration.
He laughed. "I am helping. I'm helping Edward build a castle."
"You two are ridiculous. It's supposed to be a small tower. Not a freakin' castle!"
"Now, baby, it's still small-"
"Edward." I crossed my arms and gave him a fierce frown.
"Bella," he replied with a boyish grin.
"You spoil Zoe rotten."
"Come on, baby. You know I promised her, and I always keep my promises. Please?" He gave me a pleading look with big, beguiling eyes.
I closed my eyes and shook my head as I let out a laugh. "So unfair. Fine. Build the damn castle."
"Wow. That was cool. I need to learn that look. She's putty in your hands. I need to try that with Alice when I can't get my way," Jasper said to Edward.
"God in heaven. As if you don't mope and pout until you get your way," Edward said with a roll of his eyes.
"True," Jasper replied with a cheeky grin. "No one can resist my pout." He showed us just for good measure.
"I can," Edward said. "You're so weird, by the way."
"Part of my charm," Jasper replied breezily. "And you're not?" he asked Edward.
"I'll leave you two to your blueprints and to hash out who's weirder. I'm off to join Caro and the kids at the playground."
I strolled over to the left side of Edenwick and joined Caro on a bench. I waved at Zoe swinging and looked down into the stroller to see Xavier sleeping soundly.
"Beautiful summer day, is it not?" I asked Caro as I titled my head back, enjoying the sun on my face.
"It is. Any day without rain is good with me."
"Doesn't happen much around here," I said with a grin. "How's Gretchen doing?"
"She's better. She thinks she just ate something bad. Once she feels better, we're going shopping. She wants a new set of living room furniture."
"She still likes the condo?"
"She loves it, and I enjoy having her close. It's nice to have my sister to attend mass with me and to know she's near if she needs me."
I laid my hand on Caro's arm. "I really like Gretchen. She has a wonderful, snarky sense of humor. And man, she makes the best cookies I've ever eaten."
"She does," Caro agreed. "People raved over her cookies at the church carnival."
"I don't doubt it." I leaned back and crossed my arms, looking about to Caro, to Xavier, to Zoe, then around the beautiful finished garden, bursting with green and blooming flowers, then to Edward in deep discussion with Jasper over by the fountain.
I won't be scared, I told myself. This is perfect, but I won't lose it. None of the ones I love will willingly leave me. I'll never be abandoned again.
"You okay, Bella?" Caro asked in concern.
I took a deep breath and inhaled the sweet scent of the garden flowers all around me. This beautiful garden that bloomed under Edward's loving ministrations.
Edenwick had been found with Carlisle's aid, and I'd seen its potential, its hidden beauty. I'd found it sad how lost, forlorn, and broken down it had been. It had been abandoned like me. I'd felt it had needed me just as much as I'd needed it.
I'd taken something in need of love and affection and attention and, with Jasper and Edward's help, made it into something beautiful again. I could almost feel the appreciation emanating from the walls of house, grateful to be given life again.
My God, Edenwick was me, I realized.
I, too, had been lost and broken, feeling abandoned again, and needing love. And thanks to the love of Edward, I had found myself. All the scattered, broken pieces of me hand been patched back together, held together by the love of a very kind, a very good man.
I'd found happiness and was whole for the first time in my life. I was truly loved for myself, and in that, I had freedom like I'd never known.
I was healed. I was found. I was loved.
I turned to Caro with tears in my eyes. "Yes. I'm okay, Caro. I'm more than fine. I'm…" I broke off, too choked up to continue.
She gave me a soft smile. "Happy," she finished for me.
I looked toward Edward, and he suddenly met my eyes as if I had called his name. He gave me a warm smile, love for me clear on his face. Edward. Oh, how I loved Edward. I placed my hand over my heart as I returned that smile.
"Yes," I whispered. "I'm happy."
And that's all, my dears. Thanks for sharing the journey with me.
By the way, I posted a Christmas one-shot if you'd like to check it out.