This is it, the final chapter and the end of the road. I swore I'd never write a story with an epilogue so I find the title of this one slightly ironic. Enjoy the chapter and thanks to all of you who have stuck with us along the way since the beginning. See you at the bottom.
The song for this chapter is by Dave Matthews, titled "So Damn Lucky" youtu#be/v09G8TesxNM It may seem like a weird choice considering it was originally written about a car crash, but I interpret it another way. It's about hope and thankfulness. That about sums up this chapter. In case you missed the pictease, here it is. Wouldn't you die for this view? goo#gl/AjslbI
Our many thanks to AshesAshes and LJ Summers for betaing this chapter. LJ has been with us since the beginning, offering her expert advice and wicked red pen. AshesAshes came on partway through and has blown us away with her skills. She has truly become a fabulous grammarian. Best of luck to both of you ladies in the publishing world. Xxo
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
The morning sun filtered in through the curtains, spilling light across the bed in a molten wash of color. I sighed and stretched, feeling too warm and comfortable to get out of bed.
"Morning." Edward's voice was low and husky, and I burrowed back against him, wanting to feel every inch of his body against mine.
"Mmmm, good morning."
He sighed and rolled away from me onto his back. I flipped over and watched as he stretched with a jaw-popping yawn.
"I guess we should get up. We have a lot to do today."
"I hate packing," I groaned. "Can we stay in bed instead?"
"You're the one who has an entire closet full of clothes that need to get packed up," he pointed out, his voice teasing. "You're also the one who didn't want the movers to pack your clothing. You're either going to have to pack them later today, or let them do it in the morning."
"No, you're right." I propped my chin up on his chest. His arm moved around my shoulders and he stroked the skin on my back with his thumb. "I just thought it would be a good time to sort through everything and get rid of anything I don't want anymore. I don't wear half of it anyway."
"True. And I'll help you with it, but we have to get out of bed to do that."
"But I'm so comfortable!" I grumbled and then laughed. "I love lying around in bed with you."
"When did you get to be so lazy about getting out of bed? I seem to remember you getting up at before the crack of dawn to run before work every day," he teased.
"I know," I said, running my hand across his cheek. "Things are so different now. Thank you for not walking away."
"How could I?" He pulled me up so our faces were just inches apart and kissed me tenderly. I returned his embrace, pouring every ounce of love I had for him into it. It left us both breathless.
"How about a compromise?" he asked when he finally pulled back.
I grinned at him and ran my fingers through his hair. "What did you have in mind?"
"We stay in bed for another hour and then get up, make breakfast, and pack."
I stared him down until he gave me a crooked smile that made me melt. Leaning forward to kiss him again, I whispered seductively against his lips, "If I agree, what are we going to do in bed for the next hour . . . ?"
We had no trouble coming up with something to keep us occupied. We showered together and then dressed before having a quick breakfast and got to work on sorting through my clothing.
Hours later, Edward was sweaty from lugging bags down to his car, and I was exhausted. Collapsing on the step stool I'd been using, I took a look at what was left in my closet and laughed. "I have too much clothing."
Edward grinned at me and stacked another shoebox in a large tote. "I never thought I'd hear you say that."
"Oh, this is just the exhaustion talking. Once we're moved I'm sure I'll change my mind."
"Should I get started on changing our guest bedroom into a walk-in closet?" he asked with a smirk.
I grinned at him and raised my eyebrows. He just laughed and tossed another shoebox in the tote.
We were in the process of moving into Edward's loft together and I couldn't be more excited. Although we'd taken things fairly slowly in the months following our reunion , now we spent nearly every night together and most of our free time. We were both tired of going back and forth between each other's places and when he asked me if I was ready to move in together, I didn't hesitate to say yes.
A lot changed in the time that had passed, and we'd grown into a couple, intertwining our lives as one. My life with Edward was everything I'd wanted and more. He was someone to wake up with, someone to come home to. Even the ordinary, mundane moments of cooking, washing dishes, and doing laundry with him were good. Sure, we had moments where we grew short-tempered with each other, but we both appreciated each other and made sure we didn't take each other for granted.
I stood up with a groan. "All right, this is the last of it. Let's get it finished."
"Slave-driver," he teased me.
"You know this is all part of the job you hired on for," I teased back, reminding him of my manservant joke from the night we met. When he didn't respond and I turned to see what had distracted him. He was holding the olive green Valentino dress I'd worn that very night.
"Save or keep?" he asked, turning to face me.
"I'd planned to get rid of it. It doesn't really fit anymore."
"Not even enough to go to Leah's, so I can pick you up again?" Edward asked with a gleam in his eyes.
I laughed. "You want to re-create the first time we met?"
"I think it could be fun."
"She'd never let us live it down."
"Who? Leah? Yeah, you're probably right. Ah, well." He tossed it into the donate pile reached for something else.
"Well. . . I suppose I could squeeze into it." I smiled and he gave me a hopeful grin. "And Leah doesn't have any room to talk. We've caught her and Sam enough times in the back room at the bar to earn us a little fun."
He laughed. "True. So, you're keeping it?"
"I'm keeping it—but only because I want another foot rub," I said jokingly.
Edward gave me a crooked grin. "Just promise not to throw any paperweights at me after."
I sauntered over to him and looped my arms around his neck. "Trust me; I won't be kicking you out after, either. In fact, I might not let you out of our bed at all. Ever." I stretched up to kiss him and he wrapped his arms tightly around me.
"I like the sound of that."
"Hey, Ness," I answered absently. My phone was clamped between my ear and my shoulder as I studied two pieces of art, trying to decide which canvas to hang in the living room. I had been living with Edward for several weeks and we were still trying to figure out how to combine our belongings. Unfortunately, he'd taken an unexpected trip to New York to try to salvage a show that was falling apart, and I'd been left to do a lot of the unpacking.
I had been waiting for a call from Vanessa to tell me she'd landed from her flight from D.C. We'd made plans to get together once she'd returned home to discuss where things were at with the new practice. Eight months prior, Charlie, Vanessa, and I turned the evidence against Alec over to the police. In the wake of the investigation, Alec had been disbarred and Swan and Volturi had closed its doors. I had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with, and unpacking gave me something to do.
"Isabella, it's your mother," the voice in my ear spoke and I set the canvases down, turning my attention to the phone. My relationship with my mother was still shaky, but we'd been making some progress. Several weeks after I returned from D.C., we'd had a difficult, but much needed discussion over lunch.
We met at the restaurant and she kissed me coolly on the cheek. Once we'd taken our seats and ordered drinks, she compressed her lips tightly and spoke. "You look tired," she commented.
"As always, it's lovely to see you, Mother, I'm well. How are you?" I greeted, ignoring her comment.
She shook her head disapprovingly. "It's isn't a good look for you. You're not getting any younger, Bella. You have to start thinking about your future. I can give you Dr. Strager's card."
I laughed and took a sip of my wine, unsurprised by her comments.
"I am not interested, Mother. I don't want plastic surgery."
"You're getting crow's feet already; it's not too soon for you to start thinking about it."
"I'm not interested," I said again firmly. She dropped it, waving it away dismissively.
It was then that I began to pity her. My mother had a miserable, unhappy life and seemed intent on making everyone around her feel the same. I vowed then and there to never let myself become her. I'd been dangerously close before, but I felt like I'd really turned a corner. I was happy now, and I wasn't going to let my mother—or anyone else—stand in the way of that. The reason I'd clung so tightly to a routine before was because I felt like my life was out of control. I wondered if maybe she felt the same way. I knew I had to show her that she couldn't walk all over me, but maybe I needed to try to understand why she was the way she was first.
We made small talk through lunch, and we had nearly finished our entrees before she finally brought up why it was that we were at lunch.
"What is this I hear from your father about you and Edward?"
"I'm not sure what you mean."
"Don't play coy with me, Isabella. I know you've been seeing that man for months. Tell me you're not just philandering around San Francisco. You should be with someone of affluence."
I rolled my eyes and took a bite of my pasta. After I swallowed and took a sip of my iced tea, I looked her square in the eyes. I didn't appreciate her words and I wanted her to hear me loud and clear when it came to Edward. "We are in a relationship," I said, "and I'm happy. Really, really happy."
She furrowed her brow, and although much of her face didn't move, it wasn't hard to read the disapproval in her gaze. "You're playing a very dangerous game, Isabella. Riley is only going to be so forgiving."
I laughed softly, shaking my head. It was as if she hadn't heard a word I'd said. "Mother, Riley has no say in my life any longer. I care about him very much, but we are over. I've moved on, and so has he. You need to give up on the idea that Riley and I will get back together. I'm with Edward now, and I don't think it's asking too much for you to be welcoming to him. He's important to me and that should be important to you."
She sniffed and pursed her lips, looking at me thoughtfully. "Well as good as you may think that is and as happy as you may think you are, I think you're making a huge mistake, Isabella."
I couldn't contain the anger that flared inside me at her words. "You have the right to your opinion, but I don't need your approval, Mother," I said with disdain. "Furthermore, there is nothing you could say or do, that would convince me to change my mind. I love Edward, and that is all that matters. He's a good man. Can't you just be happy for me?"
She shook her head and spoke again. "What has gotten into you, Isabella? I raised you better then to talk to me this way. I am your mother and deserve your respect. I am only saying these things because I want what's best for you. I don't like to see you making these mistakes. Really, Isabella? He's a museum curator," she said with degradation. "He'll never be able to support you in the manner to which you're accustomed. And although his family connections are good, his job is hardly something to brag about."
"You really are incredible, you know that? It's like you don't even hear a thing I say," I said incredulously. "I wouldn't care if Edward was a garbage man, if it made him happy. But listen loud and clear: there is nothing in the least bit wrong with his job as a curator. He's brilliant, passionate about his job, and he is perfectly capable of supporting me if necessary. Not that I need him too though; I'm perfectly capable of supporting myself. Point being, I'm choosing to be with Edward because I love him and he loves me."
Her lips pressed tightly together again and her gaze grew even more disapproving. "I just want you to have the life you deserve."
"No, you want me to have the life you think I need. It's my life, Renee, and I'm going to live it the way I want to. I know you think you know what's best for me, but I'm tired of you trying to make me feel bad about every choice I make. I'm tired of always feeling like a disappointment in your eyes—like everything I do isn't good enough for you. I'm tired of you belittling me!
"Can't you see that I'm happy? I have a fulfilling career and a man who loves me more than anything else in this world. There is nothing you can say that will make me change my mind about either of those things. So it's about time you start accepting that or you're going to lose me. I know we aren't exactly close, but I am your daughter. It's as simple as that. We should love each other, unconditionally—regardless of our own opinions on the choices each other make. I should have said all this a long time ago, but I was too unhinged with everything else I had going on. I deserve to be treated better, and I won't put up with you anymore. Either you stop the comments about Riley and accept Edward, or you won't be in my life anymore. I just can't do it any longer."
My voice had elevated slightly but I tried to keep it controlled. The thought of cutting my mother out of my life completely was terrible, but she needed to know that I wasn't okay with the way things were between us.
I carefully laid my napkin down on the table and stood up, gathering my things while she stared at me in shock. I cleared my throat, and spoke again, this time gently. "This was a long time coming, and I know I should have said something before. I love you, Mother, I really do. We used to be so close when I was a child, and I wish we could have that again. But in order to get there, you need to support and respect my choices, and my relationships. I hope you'll think about what I said. If you decide that's something you can do, give me a call."
When I agreed to meet her, I hadn't intended to present her with an ultimatum, right there in the middle of the restaurant. God knew it wasn't easy, but it was something I'd desperately needed to get off my chest. Listening to her attack Edward was the catalyst I needed to take the step to stand up to her and it felt good.
She didn't reply, just continued to stare at me, her lips pursed, posture rigid. I had no idea if she'd take my words to heart, or if she'd even heard a word I said. Either way, I said my piece, and it was up to her to take the next step to fix things between us. . . .
"How are you?" she asked hesitantly and I shook my head, clearing thoughts of the past from my head. We had found a tentative truce since that difficult discussion, and I could see that she was trying with both Edward and me. We were probably never going to be close in the way we were when I was a child, but it was progress, and I appreciated how hard she was trying. I was, as well, and I knew how happy that made my father. Closing Swan and Volturi was been difficult for him, but he was learning to enjoy a full retirement. He'd provided a great deal of help to Vanessa and me as we worked toward opening our own practice.
I took a seat on the couch and curled my legs up underneath me. "I'm doing well—getting settled into the loft."
"Good." She was silent for a long moment. "Have you and Edward thought about having a housewarming party?"
"N—no," I replied, surprised by her suggestion. "Did you have something in mind? That's a great idea. I'll see what Edward thinks, but I think that would be fun."
"Oh!" she squealed and I could just imagine her clapping her hands. "I'm glad. I just thought it would be nice to get together with some of your friends at your new place. Your father and I would like to come if that would be all right—we have a housewarming gift for you. If Edward agrees, let me know if you'd like any help planning."
"I'd like that," I said, my voice softening. "Thank you, Mother."
Renee and I spoke for a short while longer, and she invited Edward and me to dinner with her and Charlie the following week. We said our goodbyes and I resumed unpacking, deciding to wait on hanging art until Edward got home. I smiled to myself at the thought of his return home in a few days.
I went through a few more boxes, waiting for Ness. Her flight had landed about an hour prior and I was beginning to worry about her. Just as I was about to pick up my cell to shoot her a text, my phone rang. It was her saying she was outside the building. I tossed my phone onto the coffee table and rushed out to the street to let her in. As soon as I saw her, I wrapped her in my embrace, squeezing her tight.
She'd just returned from Washington D.C. and her grandmother's funeral. Though she was trying to be strong, from the few conversations we'd had on the phone, I knew she was struggling. She clung to me and held her breath. After a moment, I realized she was trying to hold back a sob. I rubbed her back gently, offering her comfort.
"How are you doing?" I asked.
She didn't reply, just nodded against my shoulder. Eventually, she pulled back and gave me a wan smile. I took her arm in mine and we walked down the hall to the loft.
"Okay," she said with a sigh. "Exhausted, but glad to be back home."
Although her grandmother had been battling cancer for almost two years, her health had taken a final, sharp turn a few weeks back. Vanessa made it out there with just a few hours to spare, although her grandmother was too out of it to recognize her. I'd received a teary phone call from her after. She'd stayed for the following few weeks to help with the funeral and settle her estate. Ness's grandmother made her executor in her will and it had taken some time to get everything squared away.
She followed me into the living room and I got us both a glass of wine. Once we got comfortable, I coaxed her to talk. "Tell me how it went."
I listened attentively as Vanessa talked, knowing she needed someone to vent to. Her voice grew shaky as she described the funeral and the following week as she handled her grandmother's estate. Although our relationship hadn't been particularly close before, having gone through things with the firm closing and taking steps to opening a new practice, we'd grown to depend on each other more and more. Vanessa and I were always been friends, but now it was more than just professional. I could honestly say she was my best friend both inside and out of my career. I was glad to be there to support her.
She took a sip of her wine and hesitated when our conversation regarding her grandmother ended. "Bella . . . I . . . ."
"What is it?" I prodded, sensing something was on her mind. "You know you can tell me anything."
She bit her lip nervously, a very unusual gesture for her. "I went out with some of our mutual friends from Georgetown while I was there."
I gave her a puzzled look. "That's great. Why are you afraid to tell me?"
"It was a whole group of us, probably seven, eight people, and uh, Riley was there."
"Oh," I said, surprised.
"Yeah, it totally threw me," she said. "I wasn't expecting to see him."
"How is he?" I asked, genuinely curious. We'd exchanged a few emails since I'd been back in San Francisco but they were brief and mostly revolved around how his leg was doing, and how work was going—friendly, but nothing of major importance.
"He was good," Vanessa said. "He seemed happy."
"I'm glad to hear that," I said with a genuine smile.
"He's . . . um, well, he's seeing someone, Bella. I met her and she's nice. I don't think he expected to see me there either," she admitted.
I nodded slowly, processing. "What's his girlfriend like?"
"This isn't weird for you?" Vanessa asked with a worried brow.
I shook my head. "Not at all. After saying goodbye to Riley in D.C., I can honestly say I closed that chapter in my life. All there is left now when it comes to my feelings for Riley, is the desire to see him happy—and I'd love the idea of him finding someone. He's a great guy."
A warm smile spread across Vanessa's face and she reached for my hand. She gave it a light squeeze and I had a sense she was proud of me. I'd honestly come a long way from who I used to be. "Well, Charlotte seems nice and they look they're doing well."
I smiled, remembering the call from Charlotte and the look on Riley's face when he'd talked about her. So he had been able to make things work with her. I was glad to hear it. "It was weird seeing him with anyone but you, but I actually liked her quite a bit. They work together at the senator's office, I guess. She seems sweet, but she's no shrinking violet. She's tougher than she looks. I think she'll be good for him."
I nodded at Ness, reassuringly. "I'm actually really happy to hear that."
After that, the conversation moved on to other topics, including Vanessa's love life. She rolled her eyes when I asked about Afton, but I saw a small smile playing at the corner of her lips when she spoke. "He's … good I guess. He called a few times while I was in D.C. and offered to fly out, which was completely ridiculous, but he means well."
I chuckled to myself. Afton Sinclair was a one-night-stand who was ferociously pursuing Vanessa with a single-minded determination that was rather impressive. She'd met him long before the disastrous trip to Napa, but instead of giving in like every other guy, he'd been doing his best to win her over. They weren't officially together, but I'd noticed that she hadn't been picking up any other guys lately either. I had a feeling that in time, she'd give in. From what I'd seen, he was a really good guy. Afton, Ness, Edward, and I went out to dinner a few times, and although she was resisting the idea of settling down with anyone, I could tell this guy was different from all the others. If they were both content, it didn't really matter what they were to each other. I was just glad to see that extra sparkle in her eye when she talked about him.
After the discussion about Afton, Vanessa and I got to work. To our relief, Alec had pled guilty to the charges against him, sparing the time and publicity of a drawn out trial. He was serving time, along with Detective Jared Cameron and Judge Cheney.
We'd never know for sure, but Vanessa and I both suspected that Aro was the one to convince Alec to plead out. Aro also assured me that I had nothing to worry about. Even without a trial, the repercussions of what Alec had done were every bit as dramatic as we'd feared. Our employees were given hefty severance packages, and Vanessa and I were in the midst of working to start up a new firm.
It was exhausting but we were both really excited to make a fresh start on our own. As much as I'd loved my father's firm, there was something thrilling about starting from the ground up. We'd have to fight to build our firm, to create an unimpeachable reputation that even the shadow of our association with Alec couldn't shake, but we were eager to get started. Vanessa and I were still in the planning stages, and the office space we were leasing was in the process of being renovated. The staff from Swan and Volturi—Bree, Gianna, and some of the rest—would be coming to work for Vanessa and me. I knew there would be many grueling hours ahead of us as the firm took off, but we were ready to stand on our own two feet.
"Join me on the terrace," Edward said and reached for my hand. We'd been at his parent's house for the past few hours at a small cocktail party Esme was hosting. Though I enjoyed getting to know Edward's parents and their friends, I was eager for a few minutes alone with Edward.
I took Edward's hand and he led me from the living room, through a pair of French doors, and out onto the sprawling patio. The weather was unseasonably warm for March but the chill of the light breeze was crisp in the air. As soon as we met the railing, I took in a deep breath, staring out over the bay and the bay bridge.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Edward asked, wrapping his arms around me from behind. The warmth of his body seeped into me and I rested my head back against his chest.
"Gorgeous," I murmured. The lights that now adorned the bay bridge were just starting to be visible against the sky, twinkling against the backdrop of Oakland Harbor. Though I'd seen it many times, the beauty never failed to make me speechless.
We spent the evening having dinner with Edward's parents, Alice, and Jasper before the party. In the year and a half since Edward and I reconciled, I'd come to know his family quite well. His parents were wonderful, welcoming me to their family with open arms. Edward told them very little about our relationship initially, so other than being aware that he'd dated someone, and that we'd started out rough, that was all they knew.
Alice hadn't come around quite so easily. She knew most of what had happened between Edward and me, and was understandably wary about trusting me. It took time for her to open up, but once she saw that I was sincere and committed to Edward, she came around. We certainly weren't best friends, but we were getting along well enough for now. Jasper was still quiet and often reserved, but I liked him. In the rare times he opened his shell a little, I got to see his quirky sense of humor and southern-gentleman ways. It was easy to see why Alice had fallen in love with him. They were perfect for each other and it was evident they adored one another. Leah and Sam gave me a run for my money once Edward told them we got back together, but after a few trips to the bar and a lot of reassurance on Edward's part, we'd managed to get past our differences. .
Sometimes, it seemed like my life turned a complete 180 from the day I met Edward. I had friends, family, a wonderful man, and a different perspective on life. Having to let go of Swan and Volturi wasn't easy, but starting a firm with Vanessa only added to the richness of my life.
In the time between when Swan and Volturi closed and before Vanessa and I began the work on our firm, I found myself with nothing to do. It was the first time since summer vacations as a child that I had that much free time on my hands. I decided to take advantage of it and asked Edward if he was interested in traveling with me. We took nearly a month to explore Europe, beginning in Spain and ending in the Czech Republic. The shows he was currently curating were left in the hands of one of his colleagues and he found a way to use the trip as research for future exhibits he hoped to bring to the museum. Traveling with Edward was wonderful, and the time together cemented things in our relationship.
Madrid, Paris, Rome-it was hard not to be seduced by the romantic air of the old cities and fall in love with Edward even more while we were there. But returning to everyday life in San Francisco didn't change our feelings for each other one bit. We were like any other couple. We had disagreements to work through and all of the challenges of a new relationship. But the struggles we'd had made us both realize how much we wanted to be together, and we were both willing to work for it.
Edward took a deep breath, and I shifted my weight when he pulled away and turned to face me. "Bella?" I turned to look at him and he smiled at me. "God, you're so beautiful and I can't think of a more perfect setting."
I gave him a curious look, and he leaned in for a soft kiss. He rested his forehead against mine and whispered, "I love you."
"I love you, too," I replied. He pulled back again and before I knew it, sank to one knee, holding a ring in the palm of his hand. I let out a surprised gasp and he grasped my fingers with his other hand.
"I don't think anyone would call the beginning of our relationship easy," he said with a wry smile and I nodded, my eyes shining with tears already. "But despite the rocky beginning, this has been the best two years of my life. I don't regret a moment of it; I'm just grateful that I found you. I never expected that when I walked into Leah's bar that night, that I'd find the love of my life—but I did, Bella, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"
My fingers trembled in his grasp, and I cried out, "Yes." As he slid the ring onto my finger, I repeated, "Yes, Edward, yes!"
He stood up, cupping my face in his hands and kissed my lips. I clung to him, closing my eyes as I wrapped my arms around his neck, pouring every bit of love I felt for him into the kiss. When I pulled back, it was only far enough to draw a breath and I rested my forehead against his. "I can't believe you proposed to me," I said, my heart racing with joy and excitement. "I never saw it coming, and it was so perfect."
Edward laughed softly, pulling back to look at me. "That's what I was hoping for."
I wiped the tears from my cheeks and smiled at him before glancing down at the ring, watching it glint in the low light on the patio. "It's stunning, Edward."
He took my hand in his, his thumb rubbing the knuckle of my ring finger. "It took me a long time to find the perfect one."
It was an emerald-cut diamond ring; the cut of the stone and the detail of the setting gave it a sculptured, modern look. "I can't imagine anything I'd like better." I touched his cheek softly and leaned in to kiss him again.
He pulled me close, and we stood for a long while, content to hold each other.
"Thank you, Edward," I murmured.
"For what?" He pressed his lips to the top of my head.
"For everything you did that allowed us to get to this point. For not giving up on me."
He held me tighter and I heard the slight roughness in his voice when he spoke. "I meant what I said, Bella. It was worth it. You are the most incredible woman I have ever met."
I tilted my head to look up at him. "And you're the most incredible man I've ever met. I love you, Edward, and I am so grateful to you for helping me find myself again. I've never been happier."
For a long time, I convinced myself that I only had one chance at happiness. Never have I been more glad to be proven wrong. My life with Edward was something precious, something I treasured every day.
Staring out at the glittering lights of the bridge, I let my mind wander, picturing our future. I smiled to myself when an idea occurred to me. "What do you think of get married at the museum?"
Edward laughed. "That would be perfect for us, wouldn't it?"
"Leah's bar seems a little too casual," I joked.
He chuckled against my hair. "Yeah. Might make for a fun engagement party, though."
"I like that idea. Engagement party at Leah's bar, wedding at the museum."
"And then the rest of our lives together."
"Yes," I whispered.
It was more than an agreement or a plan; it was a promise. Whatever life threw at us, Edward and I would do everything we could to make that happen. I closed my eyes and rested my head on his shoulder.
The woman I'd been when Edward and I met two years ago, would have never imagined feeling content and happy like this again. At the time, I didn't believe I deserved the kind of happiness Edward gave me. He'd given me something so far beyond what I thought I deserved that I had no idea how to handle it. But with time, and Edward's belief in me, I'd found the strength to be happy again. Edward helped me put myself back together and find my way.
Now, there was nothing but hope for the future ahead of us.
It hardly seems possible that this story is over. It's been nearly two and a half years since Kherisma and I first discussed the idea for it, and in that time, these characters became a huge part of me. I want to thank all of you who stuck with us as Bella made her journey. I know it wasn't an easy one, and I am grateful that you trusted us to get Bella through her grief and to a point where she was ready to move on with Edward. Although life got too crazy for me to respond to every review, I read and treasured each of them and loved that you took the time to send them. Even when you were frustrated and ranting, the fact that you stuck with us means the world to me and I can't thank you enough. I'd also like to thank Kherisma, who is one of the people I value most in this fandom. Despite life's ups and downs, I am so glad we were able to finish this story together. Her wicked red pen made me a far better writer than I would have been otherwise and her friendship means a great deal to me. As a beta, a co-writer, and a friend I am so glad to have her in my life.
Keep your eyes peeled for "Blood Dream," the Vampward story I've been working on. At the very latest, it'll start posting by Halloween.
What a roller coaster this has been! When this story originally came into my head, I knew I wanted to tell it but I wasn't sure how that would ever be possible. Then Discordia came on board and offered to collaborate; I really wasn't sure how this was all going to go, but I had faith that one way or another it would be an adventure. This story strikes home for me in many ways and in many different situations, I can totally relate. Watching it unfold has been an amazing experience and I love our little Bella—pits, flaws, trials, and all. So proud of her. Discordia has truly done a fantastic job capturing what was in my head, in addition to adding her own twist. Thank you, D, from the bottom of my heart. Your seemingly never-ending patience, even when pushed to extremes, has been so very gracious. (Hugs and cheers!)
As for what's to come, in a month or so, I will have a oneshot posting that is a collaboration with AshesAshes. It may turn into a multi-chapter but at this point it has no title. It's a hot little story about an sexy affair, money, and what else . . . politics. Hope to see you all in the future and thank you for the reviews. My father has been battling cancer for several months now, so I apologize for not responding to them. I read them all and they mean the world to me. Xxo