It was the accident that changed everything.
It just went to show how life truly can turn on a dime.
We'd all been at the hospital, visiting Bella and our third baby, Charlise Marie, when it happened.
Rose had our other two children with her at their house, and Emmett was hanging out in Bella's room with me while we admired my new daughter.
Unlike her siblings, we finally had a baby who looked like we had always expected a child of ours to look. Her skin was pale and her hair coppery already. Carlisle had actually High Fived me when she opened her jade green eyes soon after delivery by Bella's third c section. That meant our baby making days we done, but that was okay. Three kids were three more than I once expected to ever have.
Bella was pretty much still out of it, and I was bathing Charlise while Emmett related the intricate plot of some movie had had watched last night so I was half listening, while smiling at my new baby daughter.
She had Bella's body type and thus was the compact version, unlike Edward Jr who had arrived all legs and arms; tall and slim like me.
Mel and Edward had been in to meet their sister last night. One thing I'd learned was my wife was actually better the day of the operation and went downhill the first night, then spent a few days pretty much in a lot of pain, before turning the corner and improving rapidly, so we had decided to take the kids in soon after the baby was born.
Charlie had been waiting outside the OR so he'd already met his namesake and was still at Bella's bedside when Jasper arrived with our kids.
Mel was impressed though concerned she'd have to share her bedroom, and Edward was more interested in knowing if we could swap the baby for a boy.
"So, Charlise Marie," Charlie had said for the tenth time. He was thrilled that his daughter had named our daughter after him, and the grin on his face made it worthwhile. Bella and I had subtly changed Mallory's name, by calling her just Mel, then changing it officially by deed poll to Melissa Lori. It worked on many levels.
When any of the townsfolk asked if her name hadn't originally been Mallory, I would reply it had just been a nickname. Mel Lori.
It wasn't that unusual to do things like that. We had plenty of Betty Sue's and Jim Bob's in our country.
I just couldn't live with her original names, knowing why Bella chose them.
Emmett had ducked out to fetch coffee for us both while I dressed the baby and positioned her so Bella could breastfeed, groggy as she was, when all Hell broke loose.
Emmett raced back into the room, discarding the takeaway cups on a table and dancing from one agitated foot to the other.
"What's happened?" I asked.
He beckoned me outside so I let the nurse assist Bella and followed him out.
"Shit, Edward, there's been an accident."
The blood drained from my face.
"The..kids?" I choked, feeling myself going numb.
"No, no, God, no. The kids are fine. It's Charlie and Billy Black. Head on collision with a tree. They don't know what happened for sure but the ambulance was not using it's siren or flashing it's lights."
That meant only one thing. They'd been brought in to have them pronounced dead on arrival.
We hurried to the ER and my father intercepted me as we entered.
"Sorry, Edward. If had to make a guess, I'd say Charlie died at the wheel of a heart attack or maybe a stroke. Billy died from the injuries of the crash."
I had to tell Bella.
I was suddenly glad she was still out of it because it may sink in slowly rather than hit her like a punch in the gut.
Dad came back with me and I sat holding my wife's hand as my Dad explained simply that Charlie would not have felt a thing. He was gone before the impact.
She took it well, considering.
I curled up behind her on the bed and held her in my arms while she sleepily reminisced about her father.
Dad topped her intravenous drugs up and she drifted back to sleep and I took the baby down to the Nursery for a break. Alice was on duty so she of course, rushed to mind her niece.
"How did she feed?" she checked.
"I'm not sure. She's asleep so maybe that indicates it went well," I guessed.
"Edward, does Bella know yet?"
"Yes. I have to get back to her. Thanks, Sis. I know you'll take good care of my daughter."
"She will be my top priority," Alice promised.
Bella slept on and off but when she was awake, she handled the news quite well. I wasn't too surprised; she'd known her father had a lot of health issues these past two years and all he really wanted was to hang on until Charlise was born, then go join his Renee.
We'd promised to scatter his ashes on the garden where hers had been put.
"I'm glad he didn't suffer. He would have hated being incapacitated and a burden, needing a lot of help," Bella said in the early hours of the next morning.
I soothed her brow and held her close.
"We know he's back with Renee now, so that's a good thing," I offered.
"Just so long as Billy Black keeps his grubby mitts off her this time," she sighed.
"What do you mean?" I asked cautiously.
"Edward, whoever told you that you were a good liar was a good liar because you couldn't lie to save your own life. I knew your biological father had not lied, by the look on your face when you told us he had. I know why you did it. It didn't take a genius to figure out you didn't want to cause me any further hurt, and you knew Charlie would have rather died than know I wasn't his child.
I always wondered why Renee was so keen to break up Jake and me, and to push us together.
I know how her mind works.
She knew if she banned Jacob and me from being together, I'd probably elope with him just to rebel against her. Instead, she took the softly, softly approach and just made sure our chances of surviving four years apart would be remote. It worked. I dare say she would have spoken up had we managed to be the one couple who coped with long distance against the odds."
I personally didn't think Renee would have ever told the truth. She had so little to lose herself, that I did wonder if maybe she had loved Charlie enough to want to spare him the pain of ever knowing the truth.
A cynic would say she did it to protect her own reputation but what was that worth after the way she had behaved before she left Forks?
"How do you feel about knowing Billy was your biological father?" I asked.
"I've never really thought about it. Charlie will always be my father, and nothing will change that now. But you know what this means? Now he's gone and can't be damaged by the facts, there's no reason that your father can't have a place in your life. Assuming he's better now and all recovered from his death and all."
"I know he's fine. He emails me regularly. But I would like to meet my half brothers. They sound like the kind of guys I would like to spend time with."
"You should do that. I'm sorry I couldn't think of a way for everyone to get what they wanted earlier."
"Neither could I, Bella. There was no easy answer. Charlie had never done anything wrong, there was no way he deserved to be punished for devoting his life to you. He only ever wanted what he perceived to be the best for you."
"I know. I just thank God he let me go to NYU and finally accepted that you and I were the right couple. I shudder a little when I think about what could have happened between Jacob and I had I let Nature take it's course. If I hadn't walked away that night. Our first night..."
"Don't even go there," I replied. "Everything that went down was for the best, after all. We never needed to feel any guilt because really, that night we spent together brought a halt to a very wrong situation and began something so right."
"I could never quite put into words what was wrong with Jacob and me being together, you know.
Until you and I...bonded. Then I knew that our relationship was so very different to the one I had with Jake that really, there were no choices to be made. I think in a way I must have held something inside my heart for you ever since that first kiss."
"Ah, the romance! Rolling around in a pile of dead leaves, kissing my girl so Tanya could never be my first kiss. I was sure the ladies man."
"So, how do we phrase things with the kids? You know the way the Universe works, one of our kids will one day meet up with one of Jake and Vanessa's kids and fall in love."
"I think we need to have a frank discussion with Jacob and start referring to his sons as our kids cousins, because that is what they are."
The funeral of Charles Emmerson Swan took place a week later, delayed so Bella could recover from the birth. Jacob attended, with his wife and three boys, all born a year apart, and we invited him and Vanessa for dinner that night. A funeral was not the place for revelations.
I cooked and Vanessa helped get the kids fed and settled in front of the television so we adults could talk.
Bella insisted she would be the one to break the news to him. Jake knew there was something up, and barely touched his food during dinner. That turned out to be a good thing, seeing the words Bella spoke sent him rushing to the bathroom to throw up.
Vanessa looked shocked but in a way, relieved.
"I always feared he still carried a torch for you, Bella. He's always talking about you and I know he named the boys names you and he once discussed for your own children."
Bella nodded, blushing.
This now explained why she had ranted at Jake over the chosen names of Thomas and Lukas. I had never known why she thought them inappropriate before. They seemed such ordinary, everyday names.
His third son was named Abell, and it took no stretch of the imagination to know who he'd been named for.
Jake returned from the bathroom pale and shaken and wanted to leave.
"I wonder if he'll ever get over this?" Bella mused as we watched them drive away, Vanessa at the wheel.. "It's probably too much to hope that we'll ever just be friends, like we should be. This has really shattered his world. But it had to be said."
"It's all for the best. Whatever he chooses; however he copes, he had to know," I agreed.
As it turned out, we didn't see Jacob and his family for years, but my family stepped in to fill any void. I had two nephews and three nieces so family gatherings got pretty crazy, with the Cullen, and the Masen clans all in attendance.
Alice decided she'd quite like my nephew Rory to one day marry her daughter Elizabeth, but I warned her off doing any matchmaking and pointed out, if it was meant to be, it would happen without her help.
I must admit, I didn't miss Jake. It would possibly always be awkward between him and Bella now. Nobody would ever want to look back at their first sweetheart then have to amend that to half-sibling. There was no way to change what had happened, and he had to learn to live with it and appreciate the family he had, now he knew the one he had craved for even more would have been a disaster of epic proportions.
I couldn't have lived in a world without Bella and the thought of her jumping off that cliff with her child horrified me even today.
I guess it was part of the lingering guilt that my reaction to our first child could have sent her that way as well, had she not been such a strong person.
I thank God for her every day.
Sometimes the very best thing in the world is something you didn't deserve in the first place but you can just get incredibly lucky.
I had a loyal and faithful wife, and it doesn't get better than that.
A/N I bought my first tabloid magazine today. "Famous" because the cover has "Why Rob Took Kristen Back" on the cover.
I do realize that magazine is famous for being wrong but I figured it may well be the only one to ever have that headline.
Cheers for reading.
The next story is a self indulgent little angst fest to convince myself it could have been worse. All the same, I still couldn't make Bella the cheater, I had to let Tanya be the girl who broke Edward's heart. It's called Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love?
I'll upload Chapter one this week.
I hope some of you will read it sometime.