Two years later...
"Dad!" Maggie called. "We're going to be late to see Mom!"
"Just a second, Kid." I adjusted my tie as I kept my eyes on the TV. The headline was plastered in big letters across the top of the screen. Turner Convicted on Charges of Kidnapping. Fraud, Conspiracy to Commit Murder.
We couldn't make it to the verdict in Turner's trial today. There was something else more important going on. It wasn't that hearing that son of a bitch get what was coming to him wasn't important, but I was definitely more interested in looking towards the future instead of the past. And that was exactly what we were doing today.
Bella and I had both testified at his trial. She detailed his involvement with her kidnapping and I explained what I'd found connecting him to Kate's murder. Carmen even testified for the prosecution. She was the star witness and knew a lot more than she'd let on that day I spoke with her. I felt bad for their daughter. The only side of her father that she knew was a monster.
"Edward!" Maggie said, sticking her head around the corner. She had this strange habit of calling me by my first name when she was getting frustrated, which was supposed to be my job. She'd grown up so much in the last two years; it was hard for me to believe she was just six years old.
"Yes, Maggie?" I sighed.
"We have to go now."
"Okay, okay." I started out of our bedroom and met her in the hallway. "You look pretty."
She twirled back and forth in her dress and smiled. "Thank you, Dad." She'd stopped calling me Daddy last year. It made me feel old.
"Alright let's go." I grabbed my keys off the counter and we headed outside, hurrying to make it in time.
When we got to the auditorium, it was almost full. I found two spots down by the front. Bella's class was sitting in the first two rows, all dressing in their caps and gowns.
The lights dimmed just slightly and a man stepped up to the podium on stage.
"Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. And welcome to the graduation ceremony for our distinguished students of law. We would like to begin the presentation of the diplomas now, followed by a speech by the student speaker chosen by her class. Thank you again for coming." He smiled and nodded as he stepped back to grab the list of names.
The first row of students stood and formed a line to the stage. Bella should be in the 2nd row, towards the end of the alphabet. She wouldn't be moving to the front until later this year. It was she called a compromise. She'd agreed to marry me as long as we could wait until after graduation and the bar exam, refusing to plan a wedding at the same time.
Maggie and I waited very impatiently as we waited for Bella. The second row finally stood and I spotted her across the room.
"There she is," I whispered in Maggie's ear.
Bella's hair was curled just slightly, falling in beautiful waves from under her graduation cap. She tucked her hair behind her ear and glanced over the crowd.
It was finally her turn. She stepped onto the stage as they called her name, accepting her diploma with a smile.
I whistled as Maggie bounced anxiously beside me.
"Go Mom!" Maggie yelled. Bella laughed and waved to us as she left the stage.
Once everyone had been presented their diplomas, the man who spoke before stepped back up to the microphone.
"Congratulations, graduates. We'd now like to welcome our student chosen speaker to the podium. Miss Bella Swan." He clapped as Bella rose and took her place at the microphone.
"There was a time, multiple times, in the last few years that I was a little unsure about my path...if this was the right one," Bella started. "See my dad had been in law enforcement and every time I had a little self doubt, I questioned my motives for getting into this field. Wondered whether it had something to do with him or if I really, really wanted this." She smiled. "I can safely say, right here, right now, that it was the right path. I've learned so much, about law and about life, that I couldn't see myself anywhere else right now. I've created my own path, my own way of leaving my mark on this world. I want to be a lawyer. I want to be a mother and a wife and each of those things are just one aspect that defines me. They drive me to be the best that I can be and strive for something more. Meaning. Love. Passion. So when you're feeling that self doubt creep up, remember what you want and fight for it. Be fierce and ferocious. And never for one moment, forget why you're here and what brought you here. Congratulations, classmates. Go create your own path and make your mark on the world." She nodded. "Thank you."
Applause rose from the crowd as the graduates stood. I laughed, watching their hats fly into the air and come down like rain. I threw Maggie up on my shoulders so she could see Bella.
"When can we see her?" Maggie asked.
"In a minute, Mags." I started to make my way through the crowd, keeping an eye out for her.
"There she is!" Maggie screamed, kicking her feet into my chest. I winced.
"Easy there," I mumbled.
"There's my girl!" Bella said, spotting us through the crowd. She reached her arms up and took Maggie from my shoulders, setting her down on the ground in front of her. "What did you think?"
"You did so good. It was my favorite speech in the whole wide world," Maggie said.
"In the whole wide world?" Bella asked, her eyes wide.
"Wow." Bella smiled, turning her eyes to me. "Hi."
"Hi." I leaned down to kiss her. "Congratulations."
"Wonderful speech, Bella," an older gentleman stepped towards her and shook her hand.
"Thank you, Professor Black." She nodded.
"Is this your family?" He asked, nodding to us.
"Yes." Bella smiled. "This is my fiancé, Edward, and our daughter, Maggie."
I loved hearing her call Maggie our daughter. She was ours. She was hers. Officially. Well almost. The adoption papers were filed so it wouldn't be long now.
"Good luck with your internship. It's coming up soon right?" Professor Black asked.
"Yes, right before the bar."
"Are you excited to get that out of the way?"
"I think he's more excited than I am." Bella laughed, nodding towards me. "I refuse to wedding plan until it's over."
"Well I'll be. A bride who refuses to wedding plan. That's one for the books." He laughed and shook her hand again. "Congratulations, again. It was nice to meet you all."
"You too," I said. "You ready to go meet Charlie for lunch?" I asked.
"Yep!" Bella unzipped her graduation gown, shrugging it off to show off her beautiful sundress.
"Did you bring Grandpa's drawing?" Maggie asked, pulling on my sleeve.
"It's in the car," I said. "She drew Charlie a picture," I told Bella.
"Really?" Bella said. "He's going to love it. Tell me about it." She took Maggie's hand and they started walking. I lingered behind, smiling as I watched them talk.
I wished Kate could see me now. Like this. As a family unit, with two people I loved more than my own life. I hoped she'd be proud of her little brother.
"Dad!" Maggie called, looking over her shoulder. "Are you coming?"
I nodded, putting my hands in my pockets as I started them. More than my own life.
A/N: Thank you guys again so so much for your support and for reading. I'm planning to focus mostly on the sequel for my OF, while also trying to publish the 1st book, but you'll most likely see another FF story from me at some point or another. ImHeretoReview and BonesyBabe know that I can't stay away. They even bet on it ;)