Set Fire To The Rain
The response to the final chapter was staggering. Thank you all so much. You asked for an epi and who am I not to deliver?
Thanks to Mrs. Meyer for giving us such wonderful characters to play with.
Dollybigmomma is my beta, she deserves a round of applause.
Three Years Later…
It was hard to believe it was three years ago today that Edward and I had run away and gotten married with only Captain Cheney, Angela Webber, and Bill there to witness it. After our small ceremony, Edward had insisted our phones be turned off and stored away in a drawer, not to be turned back on until we sailed back into the harbour. At my insistence, he had sent Esme a text telling her we had gotten married and to cancel all of Alice's plans, and also letting her know when we would be back. We sailed due south towards the Caribbean for twenty-one days of nothing but warmth and each other.
Ben had compiled a comprehensive chart of nautical directions, each securing either a private mooring for the night or a secluded bay in which to drop anchor. It was paradise and I had relived the whole period over and over again, both in my mind and physically. Every single second was perfect, he was perfect. We made love everywhere, we fucked hard and fast whenever we pleased, and I loved every second. We swam naked in the ocean and even made love using the yacht's anchor rope as our anchor.
The fallout had been quite spectacular when we had arrived back from our sun-drenched honeymoon aboard the yacht, 'Breaking Dawn,' three weeks later. Alice finally began speaking to us again about three months after we were married. No amount of saying sorry or cajoling was going to bring her around any sooner. She did eventually start to speak again, but only when necessary at first. However, Alice being Alice, she could not keep it up and all of a sudden I had my best friend and sister back. Everyone else was a little more understanding.
I think my dad was relieved that we had eloped. On the quiet, he'd told Edward he had been dreading all the pomp that Alice had organised. He'd hated the thought of having to dress up like a 'penguin' and deliver speeches at the rehearsal dinner, and was dreading it even worse at the reception toasts. Upon our return to New York, he'd shaken Edward's hand vigorously in thanks.
The first year was hard. Not really the getting used to being married part; that in itself was a challenge I would enjoy any day of the week. Being with Edward almost twenty-four-seven? Hmm, that was hardly a chore. No, the whole trial thing was what was bad. Riley Biers had eventually been brought back to the U.S. and Bill and I were called as witnesses at his trial. Even though it wasted so much government money, I fully understood why it had to happen. He had killed innocent people by arranging that blast at the base. He was up for murder, treason, kidnapping, attempted murder, rape, and many more crimes. He would never be a free man again.
The stupid man could have saved himself an awful lot of time and humiliation if he had pleaded guilty, but Riley being Riley, he believed he had done nothing unjustifiable. The courts had him evaluated for insanity, but the doctors found him to be sane enough; manipulative, yes, psychotic, yes, but definitely fit enough to stand trial. After two weeks of damning evidence, Riley was found guilty of all charges and his sentences totalled one hundred six years of hard labour at one of America's toughest prisons. He was lucky to get away without having received the death penalty. Once it got out that he had been responsible for taking the lives of American servicemen, however, I doubted he would last long in prison.
It was a harrowing experience for me and it brought it all back, but Edward was my rock. He held me night after night while a cried endlessly, he wrapped me up in his arms when I had dreams that I was back there without him. He took me faithfully to the counsellor appointed by the court. The counsellor's evaluation of me was that I was fine, just a blip reliving the whole thing. Edward could not have been more pleased to hear those words.
My article won a writer's award for 'Best True Story' at the acclaimed New York Writer's Awards held at the Waldorf Astoria. Needless to say, it was night of great celebration. Bill also received a nomination for a photography award, but he narrowly missed out to another photographer who had managed to capture a picture of a bird long-believed to be extinct somewhere in Madagascar. He was fine with it, though; such a prestigious award would have put him much more in demand and taken him away from home, and these days he was spending lots more time with his girls. He had even started dating his ex-wife again.
The Cullen Group proudly displayed my award in the boardroom trophy cabinet for all to see. It did wonders for my popularity. Suddenly I was sought out to write articles all over the country. I was happy to hear that Angela and Ryan Backhouse had managed to help Fatima, the girl Riley had raped and impregnated, to flee the country as a political refugee. She hadn't deserved what had happened to her at Riley's hands and her child's life there would never be safe because of him.
Once the dust settled, life pretty much got back to normal; well, as normal as it could be when you were married to Edward Cullen. If I thought I loved him when I was eighteen, or even when he came for me in Afghanistan, I had to think again. Nothing could have prepared me for how I felt about him today. Every day since our marriage, things had just kept getting better and better.
All his worries of not being able to do things right, not being able to express his feelings, were unfounded. Seriously, he was perfect, too damn perfect sometimes. Every day he did little things that took my breath away. There were love notes on my pillow in the mornings, poems sent by email, and he had written me countless songs. The day he presented me with a CD he had made with them all on it made me love him even more. Edward being Edward had chartered the yacht again for our first anniversary and we had revisited each and every spot in every way that we had the first time around. It was our second honeymoon.
I could honestly say that life did not get any better than being Mrs. Bella Cullen. I was more than satisfied in every way. He was a caring, considerate, passionate, insatiable lover, and even that aspect of our relationship improved beyond my wildest dreams. I blushed a little recalling this mornings' particular athletic session in the shower, and then again over the dressing table. We still couldn't get enough of each other.
He was at the office today for a short while. He didn't want to go, but I made him, I needed some 'me' time. That and I had something I needed to do. Tonight we would celebrate our third anniversary and I had something rather special up my sleeve.
Angela Webber, now Angela Cheney, and I had lunch yesterday. Yes, she had married Captain Ben Cheney after a whirlwind romance. They actually married six weeks after meeting each other on the yacht on our wedding day. Edward and I acted as their witnesses. Poor Ben had being distraught when Angela had to return to duty in Afghanistan. She returned a year later and Ben was beside himself when she told him she had resigned her post. She was now an A&E doctor at New York General. We saw each other regularly, both as couples and with Alice, who often joined us if it were just us girls.
Alice and Esme finally got to throw the big wedding of their dreams when Emmett married Rosalie. Everyone looked stunning and I could hardly keep my hands off Edward in a tux. We disgraced ourselves later when we were found in the coat closet making out. Five minutes earlier and we'd have been arrested for public indecency for sure. Rosalie's mum, Cynthia, was not impressed and sneered at us. Our family just rolled their eyes, they were well used to Edward and I disappearing every opportunity we got.
I recalled Carlisle asking when we returned to the table, "Do you two think this," he motioned between us, "will ever stop? I mean you've been married and living together for over two years now, are there not enough opportunities at home?"
Edward and I had looked at each other and replied, "We hope it never stops, and you're just jealous."
The house we bought was everything I had ever dreamed of. It was light and airy with lots of windows. Our bedroom had a whole wall of windows. It was one of the main things that sold it to us. There were floor-to-ceiling glass panels that folded open onto a large balcony. The three other bedrooms were just as spacious and all had en-suite bathrooms which was great for guests. Downstairs was an open plan and I loved it. The large entrance led both ways to a kitchen and dining area that doubled as a family room and was plenty big enough. When it was just the two of us, we spent all our time in there.
At the other side of the house was a more formal living area with Edward's grand piano, and another theatre–style room that housed a large plasma TV. It was a great space for entertaining. I loved this house; it was our home and I could envision us bringing our children home here.
Checking my emails, I had received the necessary confirmation that Edward and I were not required at work for a whole ten days. With two small holdalls packed and by the door, I waited for him to come home. The other things I required for our date were tucked away inside my handbag. A quick phone call to Ben let me know everything was ready.
I heard Edward pull up outside and rushed to greet him. I didn't want him coming into the house. I opened the door and grabbed both bags and walked down the two steps to where my husband was just getting his briefcase out of the back of the car.
"Hey, baby, let me take that inside, you put these in the boot," I said taking his briefcase and dropping a quick kiss on his lips.
Throwing the briefcase inside and closing and locking the door, I turned to face him.
"What are you up to?" he said smiling at me.
"That's for me to know and you to find out, husband. Happy anniversary, Edward, I love you."
"I love you, too, my beautiful Bella, and happy anniversary to you. So, where are we going? I need to go in the house for your gifts." He kissed me a little longer than I had kissed him, but it was still only a peck. "Two minutes, I promise," he said and hurried inside.
I got in the car and waited. I racked my brains, trying to recall if I had left out any clues as to my surprises. He would be surprised to see me in the driver's seat and would argue, I knew.
Seconds later, he was opening the driver's side door. "Bella, I'll drive. Come on, love."
"Nope," I told him making sure the 'P' plopped loudly from my lips, "I need to drive, you need to sit here," I patted the passenger seat at my side.
He reluctantly walked around to the other side and got in. Once he was sat with his seatbelt on, I turned to look at him.
"Okay, so you know that I love you, right?"
"Do you trust me completely and without question?"
"Good, now close your eyes for me and just think about what you said," I told him as I slipped the blindfold over his head.
"Bella, what the fuck?"
"You said you trusted me completely."
"I do, but I'd like to see where we're going."
"All in good time, now be good and shut up. It'll be worth it, I promise."
He grumbled quietly, but I knew the worst was over. I could feel him relax a little when I started the engine and pulled away from the house.
"You can talk to me you know," I said glancing at him.
"You told me to shut up. What do you want to talk about, my darling wife?"
"I don't mind, you decide."
"The weather? Are we there yet?"
"Funny, ha ha."
I turned the iPod on instead and smiled when I heard the classical piece now playing.
"Claire De Lune, Edward? Feeling a little nostalgic today are we?"
"I like it, it brings back nice memories."
"I know; I like it, too, and the memories."
He leaned over and caught my hand in his. He squeezed mine gently, but did not let go.
An hour later, we pulled up at the harbour. I parked the car in the designated spot Ben had told me about. Edward was just about to take off the blindfold, but I stopped him.
"Not you don't, not yet. I'll take it off when I'm ready. Okay?"
I took his hand and helped him out of the car. I placed both holdalls in his hands. He laughed when I told him he needed to carry them for me.
I led him along the pier to where the 'Breaking Dawn' was moored and ready for us. Ben had put up the fairy lights again and a table for two was dressed and ready under the canopy. It looked perfect, just like the night he proposed. This boat had so much meaning to Edward and I; our engagement, our wedding, our honeymoons, everything; and after tonight, so much more. Emmett had been a little surprised when I had asked him to help me buy it for Edward.
A little bird had told me that the owner, an old college friend of Edward's, had fallen on hard times and needed to sell it quickly. I had about half the money already. Some investments I had made had done well and gave me a tidy nest egg. I had also done some freelance work, which I could pretty much name my price for these days.
The yacht was for sale at a cool million dollars and I knew that was cheap. Emmett had insisted I have it appraised properly and the valuation came back at closer to two million. I was getting a bargain. Emmett arranged a company loan for the balance which I could repay, or the company could charter the yacht and pay back the loan that way. It was the ideal plan. I was five hundred thousand dollars in debt, something I had never been before, but Edward was so worth it. I also knew I had an article coming up that would give me at least one hundred thousand of that. A few more articles like that and the yacht would be paid for. The deed in Edward's name was in my bag, along with a couple of other surprises.
As soon as his feet hit the gangplank, he laughed out loud. He knew where we were. I turned and took the blindfold off and we walked the rest of the way on board.
"You do know this is probably the last time we'll be able to use this, love. Matt's had to sell it. I did enquire about buying it myself, but it had already being sold. Poor Matt, one bad investment and boom, he loses everything."
"At least if he's sold the boat, he can keep the house. That's more important, surely? Especially with Vicky being pregnant again," I added. "So, do you like your surprise, Mr. Cullen? Does how it's set out look familiar?"
"I love it, and I love you. Thank you for doing this. It looks just like it did that night I asked you to marry me."
"Good. I'm glad you remembered. So, Mr. Cullen, would you care to join me for dinner?"
"I'd love to, Mrs. Cullen."
We sat down as the Maître de arrived to serve up our dinner. We chatted casually and ate before I started to fumble in my bag, not knowing which of the two surprises I should give him first. I opted for the yacht.
I slid the thick envelope across the table and said, "Happy third anniversary, Edward. I love you so very much and I wanted to do something to show you. I hope you like it," I said, my voice just about held up from emotion.
He took the envelope and twiddled it between his hands. "Bella, I love everything you do for me, and I mean everything. You don't need to buy me gifts. You are my gift. I adore you. I still can't believe you love me as much as I love you."
My eyes were full of emotion now and I did not know if I would be able to hold back my tears. God only knew what I was going to be like when I gave him that. Slowly he opened the envelope and unfolded the papers in front of him.
He read the words slowly before looking up at me. He looked back down again and rechecked before letting out an astonished cry.
"You bought me this yacht, Bella? You bought me this fucking yacht that has so many memories for us! Oh, god, Bella, how the fuck did I get so lucky?"
He was over the table and pulling me into his arms in seconds. His hands held my face and he was looking at me, his eyes now full of emotions, too.
"Do you like it? Is it a good present?"
"Bella, Bella, I love it, I love you. I can't actually believe it, but oh, god, love, I love you so fucking much," he said holding me tighter. "Thank you," he repeated over and over between kisses. "I love you always. It's really mine? Ours?"
"It is. It has a special meaning to me, too, and when I found out from you about Matt, I rang him straight away. He wanted you to have it. I laughed when he told me you'd called him a few weeks later asking to buy it. I knew then it was the perfect present. I wanted to show you just how much you, this," I gestured between us, "means to me, too."
Our kisses were passionate and intense and took my breath away.
"Bella, love, my gift is going to pale in comparison," he said sounding a little subdued.
"Edward, I love all of your gifts, but like you, the gift of you is the most important," I kissed him tenderly on the lips.
Sitting back down, it was Edward's turn to fumble around. He brought to the table two things. One was an envelope, and the one was a square box that looked like it housed jewellery.
"Which one do you want first?"
"You choose," I told him.
He chose the box and slid it towards me. "Mrs. Isabella Cullen, I'll love you to the ends of the earth and back. Happy third anniversary, darling."
I opened the box and looked inside. Lying on a velvet cushion lay a necklace that pretty much was a replica of my engagement ring. A large square-cut emerald was cushioned between two sizeable diamonds.
"Shall I put it on?" he asked me.
"Please, it's stunning, Edward; a perfect match to my ring."
"I know; that's why I had it made."
"Thank you, it's very beautiful. I love you."
"I know," he said kissing my neck where he had just placed the platinum chain. "So, open the other, please, then we can get on with the real celebrating," he wiggled his eyebrows hinting at what was to come.
I rolled my eyes at him, but his words had a definite effect on my panties as I felt an all-too-familiar tingle and then a very wet patch.
The envelope contained two tickets and an itinerary for Europe. Three months in Europe at our leisure; London, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Cannes, Rome, Florence, plus many more.
"Edward, when are these for?" I asked cautiously.
"Do you not love the idea of us going to Europe?"
"I do, but I need to know when you want us to go."
"There may be a problem. When are the dates, Edward?"
"It's open-ended, love, we can go any time from now. Bella, what's this all about? I thought you'd love to travel to Europe to all those crazy romantic places, see all that history, architecture, literature. I thought this would be your dream." He sounded crestfallen and I needed to do something about it. Fumbling about in my bag again, I brought out the rest of my gift to him.
"You are my dream, Edward Cullen. You always have been and always will be. I love the idea of going to Europe with you. Hell, I'd love to go anywhere with you, you know that. All I'm saying is that maybe we might have to delay this trip for a little while."
"Why? We can arrange the time off, no problem. I've already spoken to Em..."
I pushed the small brown bag towards him and sat back. "Look in the bag, Edward."
He looked confused when he brought out a folded piece of paper. It was the results of a recent blood test. A smile started with his adorable lopsided grin when he brought out the stick that had two blue stripes in place.
I did not even see him move. I was in his arms and off my feet in a flash. He was holding me closely to his chest.
"Really? You're really pregnant? When? How? Oh, god, we're pregnant? I love you! Oh, god, a baby, Bella, we're having a baby! Are you sure, love?"
He was a mess. "Yes, Edward, we're having a baby, and I'm sure. The blood test confirmed what the stick said. How? Well, I presume you'd already know the answer to that. When? Your guess is as good as mine. I can't pinpoint an exact time of conception because, well, multiple times a day make that kind of difficult."
"I didn't mean when, as in when we conceived, I mean when are we due, silly girl?"
"Oh, right. Well, I think in about seven and a half months. My first doctor's appointment is late next week. You can come with me if you like. They'll tell us exactly when we're due."
"Try keeping me away. Oh, god, I'm going to be a dad. You're amazing, Bella, did I ever tell you that? Our baby," he whispered as he touched my tummy gently and then kissed me deeply.
He carried me bridal style down into the cabin and I knew it was time for us to really start our celebration.
And they lived happily ever after. Yes, this is really the end. I hope this has tied up all those loose ends for you. Thanks to everyone who reviewed and please head on over to Life Is So Unfair. Things are about to get crazy over there.
Dolly and I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. Everyone please party safely!
As always, let me know what you think!