One delicious, reality-bending, life-changing year.
She was only half-awake, but the fact that today was her wedding anniversary was already fully on her mind. She rolled over, reaching for Edward across the vast expanse of the bed they shared, and found his spot empty, already warming up in the absence of his cold, hard body.
Bella pouted, then stretched lazily back on her pillows, luxuriating in the downy comforter as she began counting on her fingers all the things that had happened since the day she became Mrs. Edward Cullen.
She'd changed her name. It had gone against everything she thought she believed in, but it had meant so much to him - and he had tried so hard to act like it was no big deal - that she just couldn't bring herself to say no.
She grinned like a maniac. She'd known she'd wanted Edward, body and soul. When it all came down to it, it was the whole reason she'd agreed to the marriage in the first place. But she'd had no idea how good it would be; that after the sweet, crazy start of it in the secret forest bower that Edward had designed for their wedding night that it would keep getting better and better.
At the thought of their honeymoon, she paused, nibbled on her lip. The twins. What a surprise they had been! She thought of the painful start of her pregnancy; how fearful she'd been, how strange and foreign her own body had felt to her. Her hand drifted down the front of her crisp cotton pajamas and pressed against her belly, once again flat. She wouldn't have believed anyone who'd tried to convince her at the time, but Masen and Elizabeth, for all the uncertainty they'd brought with them, had cemented her relationship with Edward, had made it clear in her mind that she belonged with him, irrevocably. No more confusion over Jacob. No hesitation when it came time to leave behind the remains of the life she'd had as Charlie's daughter. Pain, yes. But clarity.
Stunning clarity and a powerful love she'd never known possible.
Everything else was icing on the cake. Any sacrifice paled in comparison.
Throwing back the covers, she refused to let her mind wander to all the fears lurking beneath the surface. Leave it for another day, Bella, she scolded herself. Worry tomorrow about when and where Alec may turn up. Worry then about what will happen as the twins grow older and become more aware of how…unique their family is. Push down the lingering doubt that maybe the reason Edward hasn't changed you is….
No. She shook away the shadow that threatened to envelop her, forcing a smile back on her face as she squared her shoulders. She wasn't going to let anything get in the way of enjoying this day, this milestone, with Edward.
She walked to the bathroom and inspected herself in the mirror. Running her tongue over her teeth, she grimaced. This was one human moment she couldn't wait to do without. As she reached for her toothbrush, she noticed the envelope, her name written out in Edward's elegant handwriting, propped up against the mirror.
Her breath caught in her throat. She reached down for the envelope and slowly broke the seal with her finger, being careful not to cut herself with the sharp edge of the paper.
Edward's handwriting dated him, she thought to herself with a smile as she pulled the letter out. It marked him as a gentleman, literate and a lover of words. The ink looped and danced on the thick, creamy page, bringing to mind the richness of his voice as if he were right there, reading the letter to her himself.
My dearest Bella,
I have been going mad these last few months, trying to find the perfect gift to mark this day. Nothing seemed right. Diamonds, pearls, emeralds – they are all gaudy in comparison to your beauty, and I know from experience how difficult it is to get you to wear a gift of jewels from my hand; how even now, you fiddle with your wedding ring absent-mindedly, as if it is in your way more than anything else.
A first edition Austen? A private concert to hear Pachelbel's Canon set in chamber music? I envisioned you in my mind's eye – appreciative, no doubt, but unimpressed by these unnecessary tokens and maybe even laughing at me for being so pretentious.
And a day at the spa? Well you don't need me for that. You have Alice and Rosalie. Together they make up for any lack of self-indulgence you may have.
I think you know how I feel about you. You are the one for whom I waited not one, not two, but several never-ending lifetimes. You are the mother of my children; children I thought I would never be blessed to have; children who fill my days with joy and laughter.
I can never thank you enough for bringing your love into my life. With you, I have changed from a hollow facsimile of a man into someone whom I hope can stand your scrutiny as a worthwhile husband and father. I don't know if you will ever understand what you have done to me…but my gift to you this year is to try and make you see, so that you will never, ever doubt how precious you are to me.
My road to you was like a scavenger hunt, but one embarked upon without any clue as to the prize or how to find it. Today, I have made you your own scavenger hunt. Follow the clues and you will find the story of our love, as I experienced it. The entire house is clear so you may explore at your leisure; Elizabeth and Masen are in good hands with their aunts and uncles. I will be back in a few hours. Happy Anniversary.
p.s. I hope you like Haiku.
Bella drew the letter up to her face, absentmindedly covering the smile that lit up her face in a shy habit she'd still not been able to break. She breathed in the faint traces of Edward's scent that wafted up from the paper, her heart beating faster in response. From between the pages of crisp white stationery, a smaller envelope fell onto the marble counter.
She fingered the lettering, so effortlessly and elegantly laid out in Edward's hand, that skipped across its surface.
Your first clue.
Toothbrush forgotten, she tore into the envelope, ready to begin.
END NOTE: Hi, everyone! This is in part a warm-up to resume where we left off with Morning Star. It is also a celebration - I have published an original novel on Amazon and wanted to thank the FanFic community - you - for being great readers, critiquing and inspiring me along the way. Please look for and download Locked by C. and visit .com. If you like it, spread the word! When I hit 500 reviews on Amazon (whether good or bad) I will start posting the next step in the Morning Star saga. In the meantime, look for weekly updates of this story. Thank you again!