~** All the President's Men**~
"As to the Presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it." ~Martin Van Buren
Edward strolled through the sparsely-leafed trees, the slight breeze causing a chill to sweep down his back underneath the dark brown coat that stretched across his shoulders. Still, the weather didn't seem to affect Jake as he chased a small flock of birds, leaping into the air when they took flight to escape his advances.
Edward smiled ruefully at the beast that barked in indignation at being denied his game before becoming distracted by a pile of leaves gathered near the path.
How easy a life it was for his furry friend, with his only worry being a game of chase or where to find a bite to eat.
Edward chuckled to himself, amused by his wandering thoughts and how melancholy they seemed to be when he was happier now than he'd been in quite some time.
Edward exited the dirt path of the woods, his eyes landing on the large house with wide bay windows and flower boxes, a red door and warm yellow lights glowing within. It held all that Edward loved in the world.
His wife, and his daughter; the place he called home. It was perfect.
After they'd moved here, leaving the White House and politics behind after only one term, Edward had been concerned he'd long for the days when he was in the middle of it all, taking charge and making a difference in the lives of his fellow Americans. He worried he'd resent the decision they'd made to build a life as far out of the public eye as possible - where they might find peace - but he'd secretly worried at what personal cost?
He'd worried for nothing, of course; instead, finding that the change and peace he most wanted and needed had been within his reach all along - with his family.
Sure, there were times when Edward wished he still had the power that went along with being the President; most days, he was content to be a dutiful son and brother, a caring father, and a devoted husband to his beautiful wife.
He'd never regret the decision to spend more time with Bella outside those impressive White House walls. It had given them the chance to truly grow in their love, letting the weight of the past go as they built a life together.
There'd been fights and there'd been tears. But, there'd also been love and warmth and thousands of kisses and hugs; nights when his body and Bella's couldn't become untangled because they'd loved each other so much.
Those were the times Edward cherished most in all his life.
And Edward did his best to not linger in the past; those memories and hard times wouldn't do anything but bring up pain and anger for everyone. Instead of thinking Victor, who continued to rot away in prison, or the other men who helped bring misery to his family all those years ago, Edward focused on his wife and daughter, and how amazing his time with them had been.
The years since being the First Family may have been behind them, but it didn't keep their futures from being bright.
"Hey, are you coming in or what?" Bella's voice cut across the yard as she stood on the deck, one hand on her hip as she watched him. "They're going to be here soon, you need to get your daughter under control so she'll be ready."
"How come she's only my daughter when she's being difficult?" Edward asked as he came up the steps.
Bella shrugged casually as she placed her arms around Edward's neck. "Because she didn't inherit her attitude from me."
Edward snorted, refraining from reminding Bella of how stubborn she'd always been. "Sure, sweetheart, whatever you say."
"I do say," Bella nodded firmly. "And I also say that you need to get the grill going, our family will be here soon."
Edward smiled, loving how easily Bella claimed his parents and brother as her own family now. It had taken a year or so, but now it seemed to be as easy as breathing for her. He couldn't have been more proud.
"Of course, Ma'am. Any other orders for me?" Edward asked, giving Bella a sloppy salute.
Bella laughed. "Not at the moment, soldier. But," she whispered, leaning in to brush her lips against Edward's ear, sending chills of a different variety down his spine. "I reserve the right to change my mind later."
"Sounds like a good plan to me," Edward groaned lowly, seeking Bella's mouth with his own.
"Oh, ewww!" they heard, breaking apart their increasingly passionate kiss. "God, don't you guys ever stop? You're so gross!" Beth complained as she stomped loudly onto the deck.
"Sorry, Princess," Edward shrugged, still holding Bella tightly in his arms. "Your mother's impossible to resist."
Bella laughed, tucking her head under Edward's chin as he smiled at his soon-to-be teenage daughter, who merely rolled her eyes.
"Whatever! Mom, Auntie Tanya called, she needs you to give her directions again," Beth announced.
"Why didn't you tell her how to get here, Elizabeth?" Bella asked, untangling her body from Edward's but still holding his hand, as she sent a firm look to her daughter.
"I tried, but she didn't get it," Beth replied indifferently. "Besides, she interrupted my call with Cameron."
"Cameron?" Edward asked, his brow wrinkling. "Who's Cameron?"
"A friend, Dad," Beth said with another roll of her eyes. "I'll be inside until Grampie and Grammie arrive. Makenna's coming too, right?"
"Yes, Makenna's coming, too. You remember Auntie Alice and Uncle Jasper are on vacation until the 18th, so she's still at your grandparents," Bella answered calmly.
"Good, we've got lots to talk about," Beth said before rushing back inside with a smile on her face. She adored her adopted cousin, grateful that she wasn't the only Cullen under fifteen anymore.
Edward was still confused about Beth's earlier statement. "Who's Cameron?" he asked again.
Bella laughed, patting his cheek softly. "Oh, baby, you've so much to learn," she chuckled before turning to go inside.
"No, wait, Bella! Who is Cameron? Is that a boy or a girl's name?!" Edward asked loudly as he followed his heart inside, needing answers he knew he likely wouldn't get, no matter who he used to be.
Life was messy, no matter who you were, or what power you held. Former President Cullen knew it didn't matter, not really, so long as you had love.
And love was something Edward would always have, now that he had his Bella.
a/n: Short, sweet, and finally, the end.
Though this ending may seem quick, and perhaps didn't include all that you wanted it to, it does satisfy for me what this family needed. I have no plans as of now to write any outtakes, nor will I be writing a sequel. Let your own imagination give Presidentward and FirstBella more if you want, but as for me and my pen, we are finished.
I hope you've enjoyed this journey as much as I've enjoyed writing it. It took way too long to get here, but if you've been with me from the start, I thank you. To anyone and everyone who encouraged, supported, thought about, and begged for more, thank you.
Thank you as always and many times over to the talented and encouraging mauigirl60 for all her beta work and support- I'm not sure I would have finished this without your gentle coaxing and care, bb. Thank you.
Readers, it's been a truly interesting time and I'm grateful for all the time you've given to me and spent with these characters.
Thank you, and until we met again, happy reading.