Me: So, this is it.
Bella: Sadly, yes, my story ends here.
Me: Bella, it's been my pleasure to listen to your side of things. Do you have any words of wisdom for our readers?
Bella: As a matter of fact I do. When you find The One, the person who makes getting up every day worthwhile, hold on to them, forgive them, pray with them, and love them. Do that and you'll be able to leave this world with a full and peaceful heart. Oh, and have a tissue handy, but please remember to laugh, too. Sometimes a good crying laugh is better than any antidepressant out there.
Me: Well said. Okay, well, I'll leave you now and let you finish…
CLADDAGH AND CHAOS
Standing in my kitchen, I was tired and feeling a bit sentimental. Slowly stirring my cup of tea, I closed my eyes and began to remember the happy moments that had happened in this very room over the years…
The first morning Edward came down those stairs and found me making him breakfast and how he took his time thanking me. The many dinners I cooked for him and our kids. I turned to the sink, looking out into the backyard, seeing the wooden swing set that still stood as proud as the day Edward had put it together. If those timbers of wood and steel could talk, the secrets it would reveal... The backyard where we held many birthday parties, cookouts, and Sunday afternoon football games still looked the same.
I remembered the camping trip that Deklan and Connor planned when they were both six. They wanted to do it alone, no help from their daddy or grandpa. I smiled as I remembered them heading into the house once the sun set, they'd had enough and wanted dinner and to watch television.
The many tea parties that Katie begged her brothers to have with her and her dolls. It only took one time of Edward joining her and from then on they sat at her table every time she asked. It wasn't until she went off to college that she was ready to part with her tea set.
The many nights Connor stood out there looking at the stars through his telescope. I thought for sure he would be an astronaut as much as that boy knew about the planets.
I moved away from the window and began slowly walking toward the stairs. This had been a long week and I was really feeling it. I was finally able to relax and analyze my thoughts. As I passed the door that led to the hallway, I stopped and placed my hand on the doorframe. It was here, on the children's birthdays, we would have them stand with their backs to the frame and document their growth. I smiled as I remembered Connor and Deklan running neck and neck for several years, Connor eventually won, ending up one half inch taller than Deklan and Edward.
When the kids were growing up, I always encouraged them to follow their dreams, even if it meant they didn't follow in their father's footsteps. When Deklan decided he wanted to major in business, I knew he would run the company one day. Deklan had a shorter fuse than Edward and they worked for years on calming him down. When Deklan brought Kate home, I knew he had found his other half. It took a lot of sleepless nights to get her skin toughened up a little. By the time they were married, she fit right into her role. Deklan became frustrated when Edward didn't immediately turn everything over to him. He kept telling his father that he was ready to be a leader, but Edward insisted he was not quite ready yet.
I would always remember the day Deklan had his eyes opened to the fact that he still had a lot of learning to do. Carlisle and Esme had been away on vacation. On the trip home, a man driving a large truck had a heart attack and died at the wheel. His truck then crossed the center lane and ran head-on into their car, they were killed instantly. Once Deklan heard the news, he went ballistic. He wanted to have the family of the driver held accountable for his grandparents' death. Edward did something that caused Deklan to see things in a different light and changed him forever. Edward went to the widow of the driver and gave her the money to bury her husband. Deklan was a different man after that, and Edward said he was ready to lead the family a few months later.
Connor was never interested in running the family. From the time he walked across that stage at high school graduation, he set his sights on becoming a physician. When the kids would come home from college for the holidays, usually with someone in tow, Connor never did. He told me he didn't want anything or anyone to distract him.
He had just finished his residency and was entertaining several hospitals in Chicago for a job. Having just finished a tour of yet another hospital, he decided to stop and grab a bouquet of flowers for me. He was walking into the florist shop and ran into a young girl. Her name was Elizabeth and he said the moment their eyes met, he was in love. He brought her over for dinner after a month of dating her. He confided in me that he was nervous she would not want to be with him when she found out what his family did. I told him to be honest with her and that I would be happy to speak with her if she had any questions. He took her out in the backyard when he told her, she laughed and said she had known from the beginning, that you couldn't live in Chicago and not know who and what the Cullen's did. They married two years later.
Katie was the apple of her daddy's eye. From the moment we found out she was a girl, he did everything he could to spoil her rotten. Edward was so proud of her brothers for always protecting her. Edward didn't know that I was well aware of all of the fights and property damage they caused over the years.
When Esme died, Katie asked me how the family would survive. I explained to her that we would take everything we had learned from Nana and keep the family together. Whether by accident or divine intervention, I slid into the role of monarch of the family. By the time Katie had her first serious boyfriend, I was just as feared and respected as Esme had been while she was still alive.
Katie never dated anyone her brothers deemed as friends. She didn't want to cause any riffs in their circle of friends. When Tanya and Shamus married, they had a son six months later. Seamus was the most beautiful baby, with his green eyes and dark brown hair. Seamus went to a different school than Katie and so they only saw each other at family gatherings. Seamus received a football scholarship to the University of Georgia and led them to many national championships.
When he was chosen in the first-round draft picks for the NFL, he came home and asked to talk with Edward. Seemed Seamus had had a long-standing crush on our Katie. He had kept his feeling hidden, thinking Katie would have to marry the man of her father's choosing. Once he felt that he could take care of Katie in the manner she deserved, he decided that life was too short and needed to make his feelings known.
Edward gave him permission to date Katie. When we left the two alone together, Edward took me into the garage and wrapped his arms around me. He told me he was happy that Seamus was smitten with his daughter and he hoped they would have a long and happy life together. He then kissed my neck and said he couldn't wait to chase me around the house naked again like we did before the kids came along.
Seamus was chosen by the Chicago Bears and then led them to a Super Bowl championship. During their courtship, he treated her like a queen. He gave her the shamrock necklace and he made it a point to keep his image clean when it came to being seen in public with other women. Katie insisted on working as a teacher and specialized in children with learning disabilities. When Chicago won the Super Bowl and Seamus was being interviewed, he was asked the famous question of what he planned to do now that he had won the Super Bowl. Seamus looked into the camera and asked Katie to marry him. I watched as a single tear ran down Edward's cheek.
Katie's wedding made Alice and Jasper's look like an afternoon tea party. Seamus had many friends and so did Katie. He took her to a private island for their honeymoon and built her a house not far from ours. Katie taught school for five years before she and Seamus decided to start a family. No one ever spoke of Seamus' mother's past. It wasn't important; Tanya was a different woman now.
After Edward "retired" officially, he and Deklan began to work out together. They would run every morning and did various other fitness activities. I was thrilled as I got to enjoy the benefits. Edward and I continued to have a very loving relationship, and despite our age, we still made love several times a week. It was nice to have the house to ourselves now. We took full advantage of that I could assure you.
Deklan and Katie had a son, Aidan. He was a carbon copy of his father. Katie developed a severe case of endometriosis and had to have a hysterectomy. She cried for days after that. After the third day, I went to her house and told her to stop it. She had a beautiful family and she needed to get herself together and quit dwelling on what she could have lost. It was then I knew Esme was still with us.
Deklan had asked for help in molding Aiden into a leader for the family. Edward, of course, puffed out his chest in pride. They worked for several years, giving all of their years of knowledge to him. Edward went to bed each night with the assurance that his family was in good hands when his time on earth was over.
I crawled into bed after setting my teacup on my nightstand. The bed felt cold and sterile tonight. I tucked the covers over me as I turned to my left. Edward's pillow still had his distinct scent that had comforted me all these years. Last Monday night, we had prepared for bed as we always had. Edward was his usual handsy self and let me know I was in for some major loving. Edward had always been an amazing lover and that night was no different. However, when I woke that Tuesday morning, Edward had died in his sleep. The smile on his face was enough to give me assurance he had died happy.
We buried him two days later. He now rested beside Carlisle and Esme. His funeral was attended not only by his friends and family, but by members of rival families. One came up and told me Edward had always been a fair man and he would always be remembered fondly.
Deklan insisted that I sell the house and move in with him and Katie. I refused, this was my home and I didn't want to live anywhere else. I didn't regret a single thing I had experienced during my time with Edward, even when I had tried to divorce him. It showed me that his love for me was true and it made our bond stronger. Connor told his guests at his wedding that he wanted a marriage that was half as happy as his parents had. I believed he would have it.
I closed my eyes and ran my hand over Edward's starched white pillowcase. He was the only man I had ever loved and the most amazing father to my children. He gave me so much during our time together, not just love and support, but heartfelt advice. That was not to say we didn't fight, but the fights we did have helped to make us stronger. It cemented the cracks that others tried to wedge between us.
I placed a kiss to my fingertips as I placed my hand on his pillow, my hands now wrinkled with age, my hair much more silver that brown.
"I love you, Edward," I whispered as I closed my eyes. We had told each other that every night, whether we were together or apart. He would always be locked in my heart and nothing, not even death, could take that away.
I closed my eyes and drifted off into restful slumber. My eyes suddenly opened as the feeling of complete and utter peace filled my body. I rose from the bed and glanced down at my hands. Gone were the wrinkles and in their place was the porcelain skin I'd had as a young girl. I crossed my bedroom to look in the mirror to see my wrinkles and silver hair had vanished and I looked the same as I did on my wedding day. I stared at my reflection as I raised my hand to touch my face. I smiled as my skin was again soft and supple. I glanced back into the mirror to find a young Edward leaning against the doorframe of our bedroom. He was dressed in linen pants and his shirt was open all the way. I turned to face him as the room faded away and was replaced with a white sandy beach. He crossed the sand and took me in his arms.
"Fancy meeting you here, Legs." His voice was as silky as ever. His hair the same as I remembered from all those years ago. I wrapped my arms around his neck as I placed a soft kiss to his lips.
I looked into his deep green eyes as I said, "Edward, forever is a long time, quit calling me Legs."
This is it, the end of the line for this story. I can say with certainty that there will not be a sequel to this one.
However, I do have two more fictions in the works, so I hope you will stick around for them.
Thank you to everyone who read the mental rambling I have put to paper.
Thank you to Dollybigmomma for being my beta and making my words come out right.
To Holly for stepping up to the plate and putting a face to the words. I can't wait to see what you come up with for the next two fictions.
Speaking of those, the first is Diapers, Diplomas, and Deadbeat Dads. This is another strong-willed Bella who, because of past events, has shut the door of her heart and refuses to let men in. Come along and see if Dr. Edward Cullen can find the key to that door.
Second is Signed, Sealed, and Delivered. It's in Edward's POV. At first it will be a drabble, but that will change to full chapters. Bella is the victim of an internet scam. Can Edward be what she needed all along? Militaryward at first, then Tatward…oh, I can't wait!