Prepare for a long-ass A/N at the end!
Epilogue – Coming Full Circle
Nearly a year later...
I smoothed down the silk of my dress. I didn't know why my hands were sweaty. Well, that was a lie; I knew why I was nervous, but the sweaty palms thing was new. Usually during anxious moments, I just rambled random thoughts or tried to jump Edward. Neither was an option at the moment. Not for lack of trying, mind you. Edward had tried to get me out of my dress several times, but the intricate satin-covered buttons and the lace detail frustrated him to distraction. Alice had created the ultimate quickie cock-blocking dress.
Edward reached over and squeezed my hand as if he could sense my unease. I lifted my head and caught his gaze. As always, when I looked at my beautiful man, a smile spread across my face.
"You okay?" he mouthed.
I barely got a chance to answer before the doors in front of us opened.
"Please stand for the bride and groom."
The last eleven months had been nothing short of amazing. Full of more ups and downs than a roller coaster, but luckily there'd been more ups than downs.
The weekend that Edward returned to Seattle, after tying up the loose ends of his life in London, we'd barely left the apartment. Hell, the only time we left my, our, bed was to seek sustenance and coffee, and even that was only to go as far as the kitchen. Our sexual passion certainly hadn't wavered, and I was relieved to find that our night together after the gala wasn't a caught-in-the-moment thing.
He seemed to read my body instantly. The thing that surprised me the most was that side of our love-making wasn't like it was in college. We'd been so inexperienced, and our love life had fallen into a rut, as would be expected with two busy students. This time we took the time to learn each other. Mapping every inch of each other's bodies — what made the other sigh or moan, where that spot was that would make the body vibrate and tense all at once. Edward would whisper in my ear words so dirty they'd make me blush right to my toes but still I craved them. And it turned out that Edward was a bonified snuggler. I came home late from a business trip to find him curled around my pillow, deep breathing in my scent. He only let go when I climbed into bed beside him, and he pulled me so tight to his chest, I struggled to breathe. The changes in our sex-life had taken time. More so for Edward than me. His touch and words helped me overcome the insecurities of my changed body pretty quickly. Our therapist, Zafrina, told us that his need to be gentle with me stemmed from trying to make amends for the past. I loved the closeness, but I wished sometimes he would cave to that rawness I could feel bubbling below the surface. But, Edward's reverence of me led him to treat me with the softest of kid gloves and a fragility that I certainly didn't need. It all came to a head one night when I came home tipsy drunk after a night out with my girls.
The cab driver watched me skeptically in his rear view mirror the whole way home. I think he was concerned the drunken light-weight was going to vomit all over his not-so-clean seats! I wasn't that kind of drunk though. After a night out of dancing and gossip with Emily, Jessica and Angela, I was very much in my giggly-drunk stage. We'd found the trashiest club playing pop songs from the nineties and early two thousands. We were in our teenage year's heaven. Eventually, the time hit three AM and the club closed for the night. We were still buzzing, but not enough to motivate finding another club. After pouring ourselves into cabs, we went our separate ways. I was horny as all hell and just wanted my man.
I leaned forward and gave the driver Edward's address. When Edward moved back to Seattle, he stayed with me until he found an apartment of his own. We were in no way ready to jump back into living together. Still, he was only a five minute drive away from me, and I had my own key. I shoved way too much money at the driver as I stumbled from the cab and into Edward's Art Deco building. Nothing registered in my brain about three AM being an unsuitable time to wake up one's boyfriend. He'd been in Portland all week. Rather than driving the three hours each way, he'd decided just to stay there for the week.
I'd missed him terribly. It'd been the first time we'd been apart since Edward moved back. He'd phoned me every night, but the sound of his voice was no substitute, for his warm arms and soft kisses. Though, that wasn't what I wanted tonight. However, one thing stood in the way of my horny relief — the door. I fumbled with the keys, squinting in a hope to improve my aim and get the damn thing in the lock. The only problem was it seemed to be moving further away from me.
I looked up. Edward stood in front of me, shirtless and looking all sleep rumpled. Sex on legs. He looked me up and down, his eyes widening in surprise when he saw it was one of the rare occasions I was wearing high heels.
"Hi." His voice was all gravely and not helping the wet feeling flooding my pussy.
"Hi!" I really was an articulate drunk. "I was trying to, um..." I trailed off, holding up the guilty key.
"So I see." His smile was playful, slightly smug, but totally kissable as he leaned against the door frame...shirtless.
"It's just that I was out with my girls, and I hadn't seen you in a reallyyyy long time. I was feeling really horny, so I thought I would come see my man."
"Is this a booty call, Bella?"
I was affronted. I'd just told him I really missed him, and he thinks it's a booty call. How dare he? Then again, I did call because I was horny. Honestly! Could the man read my mind?
"Maybe." I slurred slightly.
Edward pushed himself off the doorframe and took my hand, leading me into the apartment. The lights were off, the living room only lit by the moonlight. He closed the door behind him, and I pushed him gently back into it.
"Bella, what are you doing?"
"You said it yourself. This is a booty call, and I want my booty."
I ran my hands up his chest, nails lightly scraping his nipples as they passed by. He tossed his head back, banging it gently off the door behind, and let out a moan that went straight to my core. Wrapping my hands around the back of his neck, I pulled him to me for a kiss. The hesitation that was there dissolved, and he kissed me back with bruising, powerful kisses. I squirmed to be closer to him, the need for friction too great.
"God, Edward. I need you."
My voice shocked him out of our kiss-fuelled haze, and his hand came to rest on my forearms, and held me still.
"Bella, we can't do this."
I snorted at him. I could feel his hardness between us. "Believe me, we can! No problem." I moved to kiss him again, but he held me firm.
"Bella," he warned me.
I took a step back in rejection, my overwhelming need adding to the hurt and frustration. "You don't want me?"
Edward crumpled. "God, no, Bella, it's not that at all. Baby, you're drunk, and I don't want to see the regret on your face in the morning."
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. Why couldn't he just take me? Why the need for all this bubble wrap and reverence? I wasn't some little china doll with a 'handle with care' label. I was a strong, independent woman, who was horny as all hell and only wanted her boyfriend to fuck her. Was it too much to ask?
"You listen to me, Edward Cullen." I saw him gulp.
That's right; your full name. Now you're in trouble, buster!
"I'm not that drunk. In fact the feeling's returned to my fingers and toes. I'm very near sober." His face was passive, lips drawn into thin line. Time to try a different tactic. I pulled out the puppy dog eyes and nuzzled in close to his body. "I came to see you because I missed you. Your girlfriend has an itch only you can scratch." I scrunched up my nose — that sounded disgusting, but I was on a roll. "Please, Edward?"
I felt his body sag as he caved in to my demands. I smiled smugly to myself.
"Fine, but the heels stay on."
I giggled loudly as Edward picked me up and carried me across the room. My giggle became a full on belly laugh as he threw me playfully onto the chaise lounge. Crawling over me, his gaze was dark and possessive. Strong, capable hands ran up my legs andfound their way under my skirt to the top of my panty hose, fumbling as they tried to find the entrance.
"What the fuck is going on under there?" He pushed my skirt up further until it was around my waist. He looked at me, then my stockings, then me again. You'd think I was wearing grannie pants a la Bridget Jones.
"Jesus, Edward, they're just stockings."
I went to pull them down for him, but he batted my hands away. "No, I've never seen these ones before. You usually have the ones with the clippie things."
"It's cold alright." I tried to push my skirt back down in embarrassment, but he held my hands away. "I was having a' fat day' and wanted something to hold my stomach in." My voice was small, on the verge of tears.
His eyes found mine, hand cupping my jaw. "You are beautiful, Bella, fat day or not. But, seriously, these have to go."
He took the top of them in both hands and tore them straight down the middle, yanking them off both legs until they were bare. He even took the time to remove my heels then put the back on. Who knew my man had a shoe fetish.
His show of strength brought the heat back, potential crying jag long forgotten. I flexed my body up into him, rubbing myself shamelessly in search of friction. But he held himself away, pushing my jacket awkwardly from my shoulders. His movements were fast, almost frenetic. I could hear his deep breathing, as if the very act of staying in control long enough to get me naked was an overwhelming effort. My earlier thoughts of rejection were long gone.
This man wanted me.
His lithe fingers fumbled with the buttons of my shirt as I ran my hands up and down his back, feeling each clench of his muscles. Soon my shirt joined my jacket along with my bra. It seemed my skirt was to stay around my waist, but my panties had met the same fate as the stockings.
Bruising kisses made their way up my torso, his five o'clock shadow brushing against my skin with each one. I clawed at his hair, needing something to hold on to as he took a nipple into his mouth. Teeth softly gnawed, not enough to hurt, but enough to show me what my nails had done to him earlier. Lightning shook through my body. I was so fucking close but he wasn't letting me get there.
"Please, honey, please just fuck me." I dug my blunt nails into his back, causing him to hiss.
His gaze held mine. "Are you sure?"
"I'm not fragile. I'm just as tough as I've always been. You won't hurt me."
"I just don't want to..." He trailed off, looking away. So many emotions flitted across his face, but before I could catch them, they were gone. "I don't want to debase you."
I held back a snort. As if! "You listen, and you listen good. You could never debase me or make me feel anything near worthless. I love you. I love the way you love me. But, sometimes we need more. I want to show you passion, the raw connection I feel under the lovey-dovey snuggling stuff is wonderful, but right now, I just want you to fuck me...hard." I pulled my lip between my teeth and flashed him my 'good girl' eyes. Still he wavered, so I moved my feet, awkwardly trying to shuffle his sleep pants off his waist.
Slowly, a coy, dangerous grin snuck across his face. My man finally got it. He threw the pants off before sitting back down and pulling me into his lap to straddle his thighs. His length was under me, sitting just between my lips. I rocked slowly, just testing the waters. The coy look was gone, in its place were clenched lips and dark, dark eyes. I hadn't seen this in so long. It was another piece of home sliding into place.
Edward thrust against me causing us both to call out. Our movements were frenzied and uncoordinated. Just trying to find what fiction, what relief, we could.
"I swear to God, Edward. If you're not inside of me in the next ten seconds, I won't be responsible for my actions."
His strong hands suspended me above him. I squealed, more at the loss of contract. With one thrust, he dropped me down, so hard inside of me. My body sang out with deliverance. This was exactly where I wanted to be. Edward's grunt vibrated against me as he held my hip firm to stop me moving.
"I just...fuck, I need a minute."
We stilled. Against everything my body was screaming at me, I waited. Peppering anywhere on his body I could reach with kisses, I felt him tense and relax before tensing again. He was hanging on by a thread.
"Please," I begged in a whisper.
Finally he started to move. Rough, deep thrusts hitting me over and over again. I could do nothing but try and meet him. I ended up just holding on, letting him do with me what he would. Harder and harder, each hitting that spot in me that only Edward could reach. Further and further I soared. The coil in my stomach as tight as could be, so close to springing the euphoria was near-painful.
"Let go, baby. Let me see you come," he panted.
"So close." My voice was more moan than actual tone. "Just..."
My fingers found my clit, rubbing hard. My body spasmed and then sunk into the contact. I yelped in shock when Edward slapped my hand away, replacing it with his own.
"Mine!" he ground out.
I snapped, screaming out his name as I tumbled and fell. Sparks and fireworks — all the clichéd things of romance novels. They were all true. I managed to open my eyes in time to watch Edward as he came; eyes screwed tightly closed, a look of almost pain on his beautiful features.
As we came down, I held Edward's head as it rested in the crook of my shoulder, deep breaths panted out against my skin. I could feel his cum leaking out of me, and it wasn't exactly comfortable. I squirmed against him, his softening cock still inside of me.
"Are you okay?" he mumbled against my skin.
"Ummm. More than okay. I just..." I trailed off, feeling a blush sweep across my cheeks.
Sure, begging for his cock is fine, but the mention of bodily fluids, and I'm blushing like a nun.
"What? Did I hurt you?" His eyes flitted over my torso, checking for marks.
"No, I'm fine. It's just... seepage!" My eyes flashed to where were still joined.
He helped me off him and to stand. My legs were shaky, and I could feel the ache from their workout. Who needed a gym membership? I toed off my heels while he held onto me until I could hold myself up.
"Shit, Bella, I did hurt you."
He motioned to the red, hand-shaped marks on my hips. Yep, they would bruise later. I smiled to myself. My man had marked me in the most delicious way.
"Hmmm, I kind of like them." His face was still pale and defeated. "They don't hurt." My hand cupped his cheek, bring his gaze to mine and away from the marks on my body. "One day, I'll mark you too. But it won't be here, where you can hide. I want everyone to see you're mine. Now, if you're finished spazzing out about this, I need to clean up. You're a messy pup."
As it turns out, Edward became a rough sex convert. His favorite place happened to be over the arm of the same sofa that started it all. In fact, that sofa replaced mine when he moved in with me. It was during one of those times that Emily finally learned the importance of knocking instead of just using the key under the mat.
Edward's transfer to Seattle was pretty seamless, mostly due to Garrett's diligent efforts. Though Edward took full ownership of the Volturi account, we still worked in different parts of the office. Garrett was sure to make our conduct indisputable in case we were caught out by any tightening of HR policies. We both still reported to Garrett, but shared no clients or accounts. It made home life more harmonious as well. Though, Garrett had to call us into line a couple of times over our semi-playful competitive attitude towards the 'Employee of the Year' prize.
Zafrina had been a godsend in helping Edward and I with our communication. Slowly but surely we'd begun to grieve for our baby and move on. We knew losing a child, no matter how early, was something you never fully got over. But, in Edward's words, each day we woke up it hurt a little bit less until we could carry it without burden — without guilt. I'd forgiven him for his actions and could finally move on without the fear he would react the same way again. It hadn't been easy, but I'd wanted to reach that point so badly that I pushed myself.
A couple of months back, Edward and I drove back to Forks to visit our parents, Jake and Leah. We'd taken a day to ourselves to take a hike up the meadow we'd frequented as teenagers. A meadow that held the best of memories for us both. There we both laid flowers by a marked tree. Jake had been up earlier in the week to carve a beautiful memorial to our lost baby. The ornate carving was in the Quileute design and simply read Baby Cullen and the date of my miscarriage. As we lay in the clearing, Edward's head in my lap as he cried, we finally healed.
I'd even been to London. It had been our first vacation and a surprise for Edward for no particular reason at all. We stayed in a private apartment in Kensington, and I fell in love with the old high street and sense of community. He took me to the Notting Hill and Camden markets, we spent hours just wandering around the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum. Edward even relented and we spent the whole day in the Tower of London, though he drew the line at dressing up and having our photos taken as famous prisoners of the Tower. I met his friends and the enigmatic Eric Yorkie. He playfully tried to steal me away from Edward three times, but I fought long and hard for my man, I wasn't trading him for anybody.
Officially meeting Tanya in the flesh, and fully dressed was an experience. It'd been my idea that made Edward squirm with awkwardness before he finally relented.
We met for dinner in Soho. Tanya, and her boyfriend, Laurent, were already waiting for us. The meal started out with the inept menu conversation followed by the equally bumbling conversation about wine choice. When we ran out of distractions, Tanya reached across the table and laid her hand on mine in a friendly gesture to catch my attention.
"I just wanted to say I was sorry about the night we met in Seattle. I would have explained but you were gone before I even registered what the situation looked like. If I'd caught your name, I would have realized that you were the woman Edward had just spent nearly two hours waxing lyrical about."
A month after we returned from our trip, we received a 'save the date' card for Tanya and Laurent's wedding. I knew Tanya and Edward had caught up a couple of times over Skype, even including me. I could see why they had been such good friends before they became something more. Tanya had a wicked sense of humor, but I was more than happy that we kept her as an occasional acquaintance. Plus I was kinda looking forward to seeing her parent's house in the deepest darkest English countryside. Edward promised that he would help bring a certain Jane Austen fantasy to life - though he drew the line at allowing me to call him Mr. Darcy.
Our relationship had been more than a little hectic recently, with the wedding and everything else, but I was beyond happy. In fact, happy was too understated a word to use. Alice's words of wisdom struck home more than I think even she intended. We didn't try to pick up where we left off all those years ago. Nor did we start at the beginning. We started somewhere in the middle. There were first dates, which were worth it just to see Edward all awkward and uncomfortable as he tried to work out if it was polite to kiss me goodnight at my apartment front door. Seeing my usually confident, strong, and occasional cocky, man all unsure of himself was so endearing I grabbed him by his jacket lapels and kissed him until we were breathless.
Luckily for me, six months after he arrived back in Seattle, Edward moved in with me so there was no need to linger at my apartment threshold — we entered it together.
"Bella, they said to stand." Edward gently nudged me out of my daydream.
I scrambled to my feet as the doors to the marquee opened. Even though I'd only seen her ten minutes before, in the receiving line, the sight of Emily in her dress still made me gasp. There was no doubt it was an Alice creation, as was my maid of honor dress of deep royal purple.
Garrett finally decided to make an honest woman out of my friend nine months ago in an unexpected, over the top, romantic gesture. They'd returned to Vail on a long weekend away to, as Emily subtly put it, 'recapture fond memories and ski'. Surprise, surprise, she'd been making mid-night trips to Garrett's cabin during our corporate retreat, while Lauren slept like the living dead. They'd ventured up one of the advanced runs and a little off the trail, Garrett had arranged a champagne picnic, on layers of insulated blankets, where he gotten down on one knee and asked her to marry him. On her return, Lauren and I squealed and gushed, did all the oohing and aching needed over the ring, until Em joked it would be me next. Edward and I had just found each other again, there was no way we were ready.
Everyone clapped as the stunning couple made their way to join us at the top table. They would be making some beautiful babies. The thought of babies had long stopped turning my stomach and making me freak out at the mere mention of them. However, my stomach turned for an altogether different reason.
I tried to concentrate on Garrett's brother as he made his best man speech. Unfortunately, my attention kept being distracted by Aidan, Alice and Jasper's beautiful baby boy, who was bouncing up and down on his dada's lap as only six-month old could do. He was currently distracted by some silent flashing toy as Jasper winced every time Aidan bounced too close to the family jewels. Emily and Alice had become firm friends during the design and production of Emily's dress. We'd seen so much more of them, with Alice and Jasper making frequent trips to Seattle to see the Cullen family. I'd become Auntie B, just another sign of how much I meant to their family, and them to me. Hopefully, I would be able to return the favor sooner rather than later.
"You okay?" Edward whispered, running his hand up and down my bare arm in comfort.
He'd been asking me that a lot the last couple of days. I couldn't deny it, I'd been a little quiet recently, and for the first time since we'd reunited, I told Edward a fib. "Yeah, just thinking. It's so good to see Alice and Jasper again."
Edward flashed me a goofy smile. My man was a sucker when it came to his nephew. "I can't believe how quickly Aidan is growing. You know, they are toying with the idea of moving back to Seattle?"
I flashed a silent exclamation with wide eyes and a wider grin. I would love nothing more than my other best friend back so close to me.
"It's in the early stages, but I think they're seriously considering it. They'll keep the New York studio and Alice will expand here."
It sounded a little more concrete than 'early stages' to me.
At last the speeches finished and the food was served. The sight of the appetizer made my stomach revolt, and by the time the main course was served I was desperate to make a break for it.
"Can you come with me?"
"But, Bella, it's Beef Wellington."
God, I nearly caved at his puppy dog eyes. "Please, it'll just take a second. I promise it will still be here when we get back."
He must have seen the desperation brewing in my eyes and nodded. I took him by the hand and led him out of the giant tent towards the main house of the grounds where the wedding was being held. Not an ideal setting, but my patience had run out.
"Bella, I can't go in there." He ground to a stop, jarring me back to his side.
I rolled my eyes. "I'm asking you to enter a woman's bathroom, Edward, not perform a cervical exam. Just get your butt in there."
"What if someone's in there?"
I smiled at his nervousness before rolling my eyes. Such a boy. "Edward, no one is going to be in there, they are all eating the amazing Beef Wellington that's just been served. The sooner you get your butt in there, the sooner you can get back to the main course."
He walked toward the door, hesitating before shuddering a little and taking a step inside.
After looking in every stall, checking to make sure my assumptions were correct, he turned to me. "What's going on? You've been acting weird for days, and don't fob me off with the "it's the wedding" excuse. You're tired, grouchy and you have no appetite what so ever. Are you sick? Do I need to call my dad?"
I cracked a smile at calling in Daddy C for this one. There was lots of time for that later.
"I'm not sick, I promise. However, I do want to try this out."
I reached in to my small clutch and pulled out a pen-sized object still wrapped in its cellophane packaging. Edward squinted at it before his eye lit up and his body almost started to vibrate.
I wanted to laugh at his high-pitched voice, but I was just as excited myself. I wanted this to be so different from last time. It already was. There was no feeling of dread as I realized what my body was trying to tell me. I was nervous at Edward's possible reactions, but I wasn't scared.
"You said it yourself. I'm always tired, my boobs hurt like bitch and the smell of coffee made me throw up. Not to mention the biggest one of all. I'm late. I haven't been late in over eight years."
He got my hint almost straight away. "Okay, okay. So, do you need to pee?"
"I've had four glasses of water. I've needed to pee since we sat down."
"Do you only have one test? I mean the accuracy has improved since we last did this, but I'd feel better with more than one test."
I grinned and reached back into my clutch and drew out another stick. "There wasn't room for the actual box."
Edward gently pushed me towards a stall. "I'm not going to watch you pee, but I'll hold your purse."
I managed to hike my dress up far enough and went to work, passing Edward each stick. Once I'd redressed, we counted down the three minutes on my cellphone. Some things didn't change with time.
It was pretty obvious what the result was. Bright blue crosses appeared quickly, proving once again, you can never be a little bit pregnant. Edward and I looked up, stupid grins on our faces. He picked me up and spun me around. I couldn't help but shout out. As soon as I did, Edward had me back on the ground.
"Shit, Bella, I'm sorry. I didn't even think. Are you okay?" he asked, patting me down as if checking for broken bones.
I laughed. So very different from the first time. I supposed I'd have to get used to an overprotective Edward. "I'm fine, I'm fine. I'm pregnant, not dying. You know what this means, right?" He shook his head. "There's a new Daddy C on the block." Edward smiled widely before his face blanched. "What?"
"The Chief is going to kill me!" Edward voice was back to being high pitched but this time from stress.
"What? Why? We've just given him his first grandchild."
"Yeah, but I promised him no shotgun wedding."
I quickly looked at the floor, a small smile on my face. Looking up at him through hooded eyes. "Is that what passes for a proposal, Cullen?"
"Was there ever any doubt, Swan?" He gathered me close, his chin resting on my head, one hand on my stomach.
"Never," I whispered.
So that's it! I've grown so attached to this story and what it represents to me. I couldn't have done it without so many people. This isn't just my story, it was collaboration of so many people. Firstly, my readers and reviews…you have no idea how much you influenced and pushed me when writing this. My WC girls who 'made' me start posting this – Twilly and Kikki7, and JMolly and Oneofeddiegirls (who are also pre-readers most amazing!) and to my pre-reader MalloryKnoxx and beta-who-wields-the-multi-colored-pens Kibby. The unending support of EvilNat and Kennedy over at TLS…also Jamie Meredith and Monica on FB, who are amazing, both but crazy as a box of frogs.
This has been an amazing ride, but I am starting a new story, and participating in the PBT 2013 Challenge so put me on author alert if you want in.
Now where is that pesky complete button…