A/N: We've reached the end of our tale. I hope you truly enjoyed it as much as I loved writing it. These characters are dear to me, and I really hope you feel I did them justice. Thank you for reading.
SMeyer owns all…I owned the idea for this story of an almost priest and a shy school teacher who found each other on a flight from Phoenix to Seattle. I've enjoyed the ride and hope you have as well.
15. The Rest of the Epilogue: The Unexpected Window
One Year Later
The whole town had chipped in to pay for the funeral of Waylon Forge, and Bella and I endured the scrutiny of the social workers and endless interviews to be named as temporary guardians for Andrea Agnes Forge. It had been a fucking brutal process, and all thoughts about medical intervention in order to conceive a child of our own had been put aside in pursuit of securing that Andi could live with us permanently.
Everyone in town supported us, and we appreciated it immensely. The adoption would be final at the end of the year, but we'd been assured it was only a formality. In July when we were given the news that it would be final after Christmas, we had a huge party at my parents' place and invited nearly the whole town. We were celebrating the fact that we had a daughter who would be Andrea Agnes Forge Cullen. We were celebrating the fact that our new daughter had turned eleven. We were celebrating the fact that we had found our window and climbed through it together, just as I knew we would.
"Dad? Are you here?" I heard our daughter call as I heard the bell jingle over the door of the studio. School had just started again, and Andi was in fifth grade at Forks Elementary. The bus dropped her off in front of the shop, and she spent time with me until we went home to our new house near my parents' place.
"Back here, sweetheart," I called. At twenty-nine and twenty-seven, it was incredible that we had an eleven-year old, but we didn't let it bother us. Hearing Andi call me "Dad" always made my heart jump a little.
She walked into the office and flopped down on the couch, dropping her backpack on the floor next to her. "How was school?" I asked as I finished up the books for the month of August, always grateful that I had the business I had.
"AJ is a douche," Andi announced which caused me to pause. She was a remarkable young woman, and she had actually come out of her shell since she'd moved in with Bella and me. Hearing her call a boy a 'douche' made me want to laugh, but I knew that Bella would have my ass if I didn't scold her for the language.
"Andi, that's not very lady-like. Who's AJ, and why don't you like him?" I asked as I stowed the ledger that I had as a back-up to the books on my laptop.
"Okay, here's what happened, and if you don't agree, then you can ground me," she challenged. I nodded and then she continued as he pulled her hair up into a ponytail just like Bella.
"We're in gym class, and we're playing volleyball. I'm a spiker because I'm so tall, and Cassie Andrews sets up the perfect ball. I wait for it to come down, jump and spike it on their side of the net. It bounced off of AJ's head because he was too close to the net, and he got embarrassed, so he pulled my shorts down and everyone in class saw my underwear. Wouldn't you agree that it was douche behavior?" she asked as she kicked off her tennis shoes.
As a father, no matter how new I was at the game, I wanted to find the little bastard and beat the piss out of him because he'd embarrassed my perfect daughter. Hell, when Bella heard the story, I had no doubt in my mind that she'd be combing through the school directory to call the little prick's mother.
"Well, I have to agree with you on that count. Boys…well…we behave far differently than girls because we have very fragile egos," I reasoned, not exactly telling her what she did was wrong. She laughed just like Bella would have at my comment. There was a lot to the 'nature versus nurture' concept. Andi had a lot of Bella's mannerisms, and she had Bella's sensibilities. I was truly grateful for it because I knew that she'd never let a boy get anything over on her.
"Whatever. Anyway, we had a lecture today in Health class about diabetes, and I think Mom might have it," she commented. I perked up because if anything was wrong with Bella, I was hauling her tiny ass to a doctor as soon as possible.
"Why do you think that?" I asked as I closed my laptop.
"Well, this morning after you left to go do that thing down at First Beach, she was throwing up before breakfast. You know, she's done it a few mornings, and when I asked her about it, she mentioned that she was eating ice cream at night before bed, and she thought it elevated her sugar levels. I think we need to take her to the doctor," Andi determined.
She was so fucking smart that it amazed me, but the fact that Bella was sick had me worried. "Let's go home. I'll ask her about it. You have a field trip to Port Angeles tomorrow, right?" I asked as I rose from my desk and picked up her bag, noting how damn heavy it was.
"Yeah, we're going to some maritime museum which sounds boring," Andi responded as she closed the door to my office.
We went out the back door of the studio and hopped into the Volvo, both of us eager to get home. Bella drove a used Chevy Caprice that had belonged to the Mayor. We got a good deal on it, and she didn't fuss about it. I was just happy that it ran well.
We weren't wealthy by any stretch, but we had a good life. We had a daughter that neither of us planned on, and we had a great house. I couldn't have asked for more.
I walked into the house and heard my two favorite people in the kitchen cooking. For a hot minute, it smelled incredible…that was until my stomach flipped, and I made a bee-line for the bathroom. I had no fucking idea what was wrong with me. I'd actually fainted at school that day and had to lie down in the nurse's office while Sue Clearwater, the principal, sat with my class. It was humiliating to say the least.
After I brushed my teeth, I changed out of my skirt and blouse and threw on a t-shirt and shorts because it was hot as hell in the house. I strolled into the kitchen seeing Andi making a salad as Edward stirred something on the stove.
"Hello, loves," I called happily. It was a miracle that we had her, and I was so very grateful. I made sure that we went to Mass every Sunday to thank God for Andi's presence in our life.
"Hey, babe. Didn't hear you come in. How was school?" Edward asked as he put a lid on the pot he was stirring and walked over to me, pulling me into a hug.
"It was fine, but I think I've got a virus or something. I got sick again, and I think I have a fever. Based on the way the two of you are dressed, it's not blast-furnace hot in here," I announced. Andi was in jeans and a t-shirt, and Edward was wearing khakis and a long-sleeved shirt, and I could hear the air conditioner blowing when I walked down the hallway.
He held his hand to my cheek and then my forehead, and there was a look of concern on his face. "You're awfully flushed. Do you have a headache?" he asked. Andi had quit making the salad and walked over to where I was standing, taking my hand and staring at me intensely.
"No, but I did faint today at school. I had to lie down in the nurse's office for a while because I was so light headed. I'm thinking it has something to do with throwing up. Maybe I'm dehydrated," I speculated. Hell, I had no idea what it could be. I didn't feel any achiness or anything, so I really was at a loss as to what was wrong.
"Tell her, Dad," Andi ordered. I saw the concern on her face, and I knew that the possibility of either of us being ill scared the hell out of her because of losing Waylon. I didn't want her to worry because I was sure whatever the hell was wrong with me was only short term.
"Um, Andi said that they talked about diabetes in Health class today, and she thinks that you might be diabetic. Have you been throwing up in the mornings?" Edward asked. It had only happened a couple of times, and I blamed it on the incredible sweet tooth I was developing. I wasn't really a sweets person, but over the last week, I'd been craving something sweet before bed. I didn't know much about diabetes, but I knew that eating sweets late at night had made me nauseous the next morning when I was a kid.
"Only the last couple of mornings, but I don't think I'm diabetic," I answered.
"I think we should call Grandpa and have him come over," Andi suggested, referring to Carlisle.
"Oh, now, that's silly. I'll just go to the clinic on the reservation tomorrow and see if one of the docs can check me out. I think Dr. Fisher is scheduled to be there tomorrow, and I like her," I suggested.
"If you don't go tomorrow, I'm going to call Dad. If there's something wrong, I damn well want to know it," Edward threatened. I chuckled and went to the stove to see what was for dinner. Suddenly, I was starving.
"Well, Bella, congratulations," Dr. Tanya Fisher called to me. After I'd described my symptoms to her, she insisted on running a pregnancy test, even though she knew our problems relating to being able to conceive. I knew I was speechless at what she'd just said because if I was hearing her right, I was, indeed, pregnant.
"But I can't be," I finally announced in a disbelieving whisper. We'd both resigned ourselves to the fact that since we couldn't have a baby of our own, God had answered our prayers for a family by bringing Andi into our lives. I hadn't gone back on the pill because it seemed worthless, and my periods had been sort of erratic for quite a while so the fact that I was late didn't even faze me. I'd long given up hope that late periods meant the possibility of pregnancy.
"Oh, but you are. Since you don't remember when your last period was, you'll need to have an ultrasound to determine how far along you are, but you're definitely pregnant," Dr. Fisher reiterated.
I was sitting in a damn paper gown on an exam table with my hands on my lap in shock. She walked over to where I sat and put her hand on my forearm to get my attention, and when I looked at her, she smiled. "Bella, just because you had a little trouble trying to get pregnant doesn't mean that there's any reason to believe that your pregnancy will be anything other than normal. You're young, and you have no history of any problems like tumors or cysts. For whatever reason, you only have one functioning ovary, but your uterus and all of your pap-smears to date have been normal. I'd say you take a few deep breaths, get dressed and go tell Edward the good news. Call my office and schedule an appoint for the first of the week, and we'll get a due date and do some blood work to be sure everything's okay," she instructed.
Then something occurred to me. "How accurate is a urine test?" I asked nervously, still in disbelief that I was actually pregnant.
"Well, your levels are elevated which give the indication that you're pregnant, but I can do a quick pelvic if you need more confirmation," Tanya suggested. I nodded.
"I can't go home and tell Edward that I'm pregnant, only to find out in a few days that it's something else altogether. That would break his heart," I told her. She knew my history because she was my regular gynecologist. It was strictly a coincidence that she was the doctor visiting the reservation that day, but maybe it wasn't as coincidental as I thought. Maybe it was a door…
Fifteen minutes later, I walked out of the clinic with a prescription for vitamins and a fist full of brochures regarding pregnancy. It had indeed been confirmed, and she guessed that, based on the size of the fetus…baby…I was about eight weeks along which meant that I probably conceived right after we found out that Andi's adoption would be final at the end of the year.
I climbed into my Caprice and sat for a minute, just taking it all in. We went from never thinking we'd have any children to having an eleven-year old daughter and a baby on the way. It was miraculous. I drove home to find that Edward and Andi weren't home yet, so I pulled out my cell and sent a text to him because I was busting with the news.
Where are you two? I'm home early – B x
I quickly changed into jeans and a t-shirt, and pulled out the chicken I'd put in the fridge that morning to cook for dinner. Just as I was about to pull it out of the butcher's paper, my cell buzzed on the counter. I quickly washed my hands and picked it up to see a text from Edward.
WE R THE SOCCER FLDS 4 DAD 2 TAKE PIX. B HOME SOON-MAFC
I laughed. Andi didn't have her own cell phone, but she loved using Edward's to text. We'd talked about it and decided that we'd wait and give her one for Christmas after a long discussion on responsibility and appropriateness. She was a very smart girl so we were sure that she'd be fine with it, but we'd decided not to crumble to the "everybody else has one" pressure that she'd pulled. We might be new to parenting and adolescence, but we both remembered how we used to play our parents, and we were determined not to spoil her too much…if that was possible.
I looked at the chicken and quickly decided that there was no way I could handle cooking it, so I tossed it back in the fridge, pulled on sneakers, and walked over to the soccer fields that weren't too far from our house.
I saw Edward trying to corral what appeared to be twenty boys and girls who looked like they were about six, and I was actually impressed that he seemed to have their attention. I put my hand on my stomach and smiled. I knew he was going to be so happy about the baby, and I hoped that Andi was as well.
That was another thing I thought about on the walk over…would Andi worry that a new baby would be loved more than her because she was adopted. That was something we'd need to talk to someone about because I had no idea how the news would be met.
I walked over to the bleachers where she was sitting with her homework spread out and sat down. "Hi Sweetie," I announced, startling her. It was then that I noticed that she had in earbuds and was listening to her iPod that we'd bought her for her birthday back in the summer.
"Hi, Mom. Did you go to the doctor today?" she asked. I wasn't surprised at her question because I knew she was worried about me. The poor child had lost so much in her life, and I imagined it was a constant concern to her that she'd lose more people in her life. There was no way that was going to happen.
Since Waylon didn't have a Will, the Probate Court appointed Jasper as the executor of his estate which wasn't much. Jasper had bought out Waylon's half of the paper, and we'd sold his house down by the river. All of the money was in a trust for Andi for when she was older, and we were happy that there was enough for her to go to college without student loans, and still have some left over to start her life after college.
"I went to the doctor, and I'm perfectly healthy, Miss Worry Wart. Now, I was going to make chicken, but I thought maybe we could go out for pizza instead. You don't have school tomorrow, so maybe we can go cosmic bowling after if you'd like," I suggested, tossing the cosmic bowling thing in at the last minute. One thing I was pretty sure of was that we needed to spend as much time as just the three of us before the baby came along so that Andi would know that we loved her as much as the lima bean that was growing inside of me. That night would be all about her, and the news about the baby could wait another day.
"Cool. Can Claire come?" she asked. Claire was her friend from school who Andi declared was her "BFF." Thankfully, Claire's parents, Eric and Lauren Yorkie, were nice people who had known Andi for a long time, and they, like us, enjoyed having both girls around.
"I don't care. Send her a text, and if you want, she can spend the night," I suggested as I held out my phone. I saw the light in her bright blue eyes when she saw it. Christmas was going to be great for a lot of reasons.
I saw Edward high-fiving the little boys and girls which signaled to me that he was finished, so I walked out on the field where he was packing up and stopped behind him, putting my hands over his eyes. "Hmm…well, you smell like my wife, but she's probably still at school, so I'm going to guess it's my fantasy girl, Natalie Portman," he teased. Since he'd seen the movie with her and Ashley Judd about giving birth to a baby in a Walmart, he teased me that he'd like to be the meat in a Natalie/Ashley sandwich. I told him to go for it…I'd just hunt down the Ryans…Gossling and Reynolds…and have my own sandwich.
"You wish, jackass," I whispered into his ear, and I took my hands from his eyes and shoved him so that he lost his balance and ended up on his ass in the dirt. He was laughing, but not hard enough not to pull me down with him.
"To what do I owe this surprise?" he asked as he held me on his lap and kissed me sweetly.
Wait till tomorrow…the news won't be any less exciting tomorrow. "I went to see Tanya this afternoon, and they had a sub for my class, so I came home early. Andi sent me a text that you were here, so I walked over. I was going to fix chicken for dinner but I had an idea…how about we take Andi and Claire for pizza and then cosmic bowling?" I suggested.
"What did Tanya say?" he asked.
I didn't want to lie to him, but I was going to go with the same half-truth that I'd given Andi earlier. "I'm fine. Must have just been a passing thing," I answered. Well, it was a small lie, but I'd go to confession tomorrow evening and say my penance. I was pretty sure that since God had given us the miracle, he'd understand my position.
"Good. Yeah, that sounds fun. Help me pack up, will you?" he asked. I got up from the ground, and experienced a bit of a head rush, swaying on my feet a little. It reminded me that Tanya had mentioned that I should eat several smaller meals a day to keep from having the light headedness.
"Whoa…are you sure you're fine?" Edward asked as he hopped up from the ground and grabbed me.
"I am…just a head rush. Come on," I instructed as I folded the tripod while he gathered his camera bags and took my hand, leading me back over to the bleachers where Andi was texting away furiously.
"We'll have to get an unlimited texting plan, you know," I whispered as we watched her.
Edward laughed. "I already added it when I paid the last bill. We just need to find out what kind of phone she wants and add her to the plan. You do realize that the first few months are going to be spent looking at the top of her head and yelling at her to put it away, right?" he suggested.
That time, I laughed. I was far too used to the visual. I was pretty sure that most of the next generation was going to have humps on their backs from looking at their cell phones so much. "We'll just set down the rules and enforce them. She's a good girl, honey. I don't think we'll have too much of a problem," I answered. Hell, I hoped I was right.
"I'll pick you up at the soccer field tomorrow morning," Bella informed Andi as she and Claire got out of the car at the Yorkies' home. We'd taken the girls for pizza and bowling, and since Claire had an early game the next morning, Eric and Lauren suggested that the girls stay at their house so that Claire didn't have to haul all of her gear over to our house. I'd been more than happy with the arrangement because it was a pretty rare occurrence that Bella and I had a night alone.
There was a bottle of her favorite red wine in the cabinet, and I decided that a nice night of romance was just what the doctor ordered…especially since she'd been to the doctor that afternoon and found out she wasn't ill. It was a huge fucking relief to me. I'd imagined all sorts of doomsday scenarios, and I was grateful that it was just wasted energy on my part.
After hugs and kisses, we left and started toward the house. "So, Mrs. Cullen, I was thinking that since we have this unexpected night alone, we could turn on some soft music, open up a bottle of wine, light a few candles…what do you think?" I asked as I took her hand and kissed it.
"Um, yeah, uh, that sounds great. Well, except the wine. I'm still full from dinner," Bella responded without too much enthusiasm. She had eaten four pieces of pizza which surprised me, but considering she hadn't eaten much the prior few days, I chalked it up to being hungry. Turning down the wine, though, wasn't like her.
"Okay, but, is there something you're not telling me? Don't put too much into this, but you like your red wine," I responded as I pulled out of the Yorkies' driveway.
"Thanks for making me sound like a damn alcoholic, Edward. Let's just get home," she called sounding a little pissed, which worried me because my desire to get her in to bed and make love to her wouldn't go over very well if I pissed her off.
"Sorry," I mumbled as I drove across town and pulled into our driveway. We parked the car and made our way inside the house. I had no idea what, exactly, to say because I didn't want her angry, so I pulled the mail from the box on the front of our house and walked inside behind her, sorting it as we went.
"There's a letter from your mom. Have you talked to her lately?" I asked. Renee Dwyer was the oddest character I'd ever met in my life, but I truly cared about her. She had a good heart and a kind spirit, and although she and I didn't see eye-to-eye on many things, she was a genuinely kind person who meant no harm to anyone.
"No, but I anticipate a call to her in the near future. Now, um, I need to talk to you about something important. We can talk in the tub, if you'd like," she offered. I didn't really hear anything beyond the point at which she suggested we get naked together.
"Sure," I told her. I walked back to the bathroom and turned on the water in the tub, squeezing in the bubble bath that she loved and waiting for her to join me. I stripped my clothes off and tossed them in the hamper, and I waited.
Bella came into the bathroom with a glass of wine for me and a bottle of water for herself that I found odd, but I didn't hesitate to take them from her so that she could strip for me…well, she was just stripping, but I was watching every move she made.
After she was gloriously naked, she climbed into the water with me and settled into the bubbles. "So, um, I have more information regarding my doctor's visit today that I didn't share because, well, I'm not sure how Andi will take it. I don't want her to freak out about it, and I know you're going to be panicked, so I didn't say anything," she began.
That caught my attention. If there was something wrong with her, I wanted to know, and I wasn't feeling very good about the entire thing. I put my glass of wine down on the floor outside the tub, and took her water from her, waiting for an explanation. "So?" I prodded, cocking an eyebrow at her for her to just get on with it and lower the boom, as it were.
"Yeah, um, you know how Dr. G said that we would have a problem conceiving, and well, he wasn't exactly wrong on that front. And then, we were blessed with Andrea, so we sort of just put it out of our minds. Well, um, apparently, God's offered us another window. I'm pregnant," she told me.
I waited for her to laugh and tell me that she was joking, but when she jumped from the tub and bent over the toilet, emptying her stomach inside of it, she had my full attention.
"Uh, what?" I asked because I couldn't possibly believe my own ears. I couldn't have heard her tell me that she was going to have a baby. That wasn't supposed to happen, and I actually wondered if I was dreaming because it was a dream.
"Look at me. We're going to have a baby," she responded forcefully. I swallowed and took in her appearance as she stood at the sink and brushed her teeth. When she finished, she climbed back into the tub and sat facing me with a beaming smile on her face that told me everything I needed to know. A baby? Hell…I'd reconciled myself it might never happen, but what she was telling me was incredible.
I pulled her closer and looked into those same eyes I'd seen that day when we'd flown on that flight from Phoenix to Seattle. She wasn't lying, and I was completely stunned. "You're sure?" I asked as I swallowed the lump in my throat because it was news I was never certain I'd hear.
"Yeah," she answered as she wrapped her arms around my neck and held me. I took a minute, like I was sure any other man in my position would do, and then, well, I yelled, "Hell yes!"
She laughed and hugged me. "I guess that means you're happy?" she asked.
"Oh, Mrs. Cullen, I'm stunned. Yes, I'm very happy. What do we have to do?" I asked as I held her on top of me in the tub, listening to her telling me everything that the doctor had told her. I was happier than I thought I'd ever been in my life, and I showed her that night when I took her to bed and made love to my wife. It was the best news in the world.
As pregnancies went, from what I was told, Bella's was great. She was healthy and happy, and Andi took the news in stride, just as I imagined she would. Cecilia Faith was born at 1:00 AM on a Sunday morning, which seemed fitting to me because she was a miracle baby. I went to the chapel at the hospital and pulled out my rosary beads that I hadn't touched in too long, and I prayed, thanking God for my daughters, for my wife's good health, and for the life I had.
It wasn't at all what I expected, but it was certainly a blessing to me. In my opinion, there was not a more blessed man on the face of His earth. I had my family and my faith was restored. There were indeed doors and windows that we'd traversed, and faith had guided us along the way.
That faith was what brought us Andi and Ceci. We were doubly blessed, and I was thankful. My life was a gift, as was everyone in it, and I'd never take any aspect of it for granted. There was something to be said about those doors and windows. With faith, I'd traversed every one, finding each more surprising than the other. It was a glorious surprise that I'd cherish forever, just like my family. I had faith that we'd all be fine.
E/N: So…I'm teary eyed as I read the end of it because I loved this story so much. I'd love to hear what you thought about it.
I'll keep posting "Trip" but I might take a break from posting anything new because I'm pretty sure y'all are sick of me by now and maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Thank you for reading and reviewing. I really appreciate your words.
As always, for the last time…xoxo