Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended.

Beta'd by HollettLA.

Here we go! This is the first chapter of the time jump...obviously. I'm really excited. It's almost as if I'm introducing NEW characters, but they're not new. They're the same QS/WTS crew you all know and love, only they've gotten older. *squee* Yup. I'm THAT excited. Oh, and please reward me with reviews. I'm hoping this story hits 10k before it ends. (shrug) It'd just be nice.

HUGE thank you once again! Thanks for reading, reviewing, sharing your kind words and thoughts, and being a LARGE part of this story. OK. Here we go...

Welcome to part three of the Storm Series!

Sixteen Years Later . . .

"Riders on the Storm"

Chapter One: Bella

In all my years and days so far, I can honestly say that today has been the most stressful. At my ripe old age, I should be sipping strawberry daiquiris on a beach down in Florida, but I'm not.

Since nine this morning, I've been to the bridal shop, the florist, the caterers, the wedding hall, and the bank. I think I'll have done more today by dinnertime than I did all last week. Hiring a wedding planner was a total waste of time. If you want something done fast and correctly, you have to do it yourself and throw around a bunch of cash.

Worse for wear, I collapsed in a chair across from my husband. "I'm pooped."

He sighed, wearing a shit-eating grin. "You wanted a big wedding."

In no mood, I gave that sexy fucker my middle finger.

"Oh!" he shouted. "You promise?"

Raising a brow, I raised my skirt too. "You have to do all the work . . . have at me." I winked, internally hoping he would have his way with me. Lord knew I needed it—to unwind, relax, numb my brain.

Edward chuckled, standing and coming out from around his desk. "Get on your knees." He reached for his belt.

I giggled, slouching down and licking my lips—anticipating whatever might come, hopefully me!

And just as my skirt was close to my waist, the door burst open.

"You put Aunt Lauren next to Uncle Aro?" Kylie came in with the seating chart. "They fight all the time, and Aunt Lisa hates her. They can't sit together." She didn't even notice me cover up.

I sighed. "So, put Uncle Aro and Aunt Lisa at our table . . . next to Uncle Carlisle and Aunt Alex. It's no big deal, Ky… People only sit in their assigned seats for the actual meal, which is pretty brief."

"You don't get it."

I threw my hands into the air. "What don't I get?" I asked her.

My daughter gave me a glare and stormed out of the room.

"Fucking brat," I whispered. "Doesn't she know how much this is costing us?" My voice started to rise and I turned in the chair, toward the door, hoping she'd hear me. "How much work I put into it? Forget about her not talking to me all summer . . . I don't even know what I've done besides support her. Or is that a crime?" My head whipped back to my husband.

Edward laughed because he didn't want her getting married in the first place. Our daughter is three months shy of turning nineteen. Apparently, she's in love, and age doesn't matter. Of course, my husband is less than enthused about our daughter's fiancé's age. He's twenty-five and used to be Edward's driver. So, yeah . . . it's been World War Three in this house ever since we caught Kylie and Joe Jr. sneaking around.

It supposedly started when she came home from her senior prom. Kylie and her then-boyfriend broke up that night—right at the prom. Joe drove her to the school and back, and they "connected" or something like that.

Since Kylie doesn't talk to me, she chose to speak to Joe about her heartache instead, and, voilà, they've been together since.

The man my daughter chose to marry is like her father in some ways—in trade alone, actually. Funny how my daughter and husband really don't get along these days, yet she chose a man that's kind of like her daddy to marry.

I'm no Freud or . . . anyone, but that strikes me as odd.

Nevertheless, young Joe came and asked for Kylie's hand. You'd think Edward would have had him killed or something, but no.

Not yet.

Edward knows Joe, and so Edward can control him. As long as Joe works for the Skip, Edward has an "in" into controlling Kylie's life.

That, and what I said, "The hell we know is better than the hell we don't". What comes to mind, with how Edward is acting, is what happened with Alex and Ronnie—Mr. Baldassari pushing his daughter onto Carlisle. It's the opposite. Edward doesn't want Kylie to marry anyone, but having his daughter with one of his puppets ensures that the Skip will also be pulling her strings.

Luckily, it worked out for Alex and Carlisle.

Sadly, she did miscarry—actually started bleeding two days after their wedding and needed a D&C, but ten months later she got pregnant again. They had a boy and named him Edward—they snatched up that family name after confirming with us that we weren't having any more children.

It wasn't easy for her, though. Like me, Alex had problems where impregnation was concerned. Well, to clarify, my problem was actually staying pregnant. Then four years ago—in a last attempt, one final hurrah because Carlisle thinks he's too old, even though Alex still has quite a few years at her disposal—she was inseminated and wound up pregnant with twins.

They're identical boys—Blaze and Ronald—and they look like little angels. They resemble Alex more than Carlisle, but they have behavioral issues—ADHD—and I've realized that Alex is a fucking saint, along with being a moron for a while at the beginning. She didn't want them on medication, until she came to her senses. Or, truthfully, just couldn't take her badass, hyper kids anymore and wanted to jump out a window. They're good now.

The happy couple bought a new house—a castle—a few blocks away from us fifteen years ago. All is good, or so I hear. My friend learned a long time ago that it's better to leave people wondering than be the topic of gossip. She stopped gushing about her wonderful husband a few years ago.

Hanna is a socialite, who's still living off her daddy. She has a bachelor's in business but hasn't put it to use yet. Carli is getting her master's in Art History and works at a gallery in SoHo part-time. She's living this artsy, Bohemian lifestyle, yet has a loft that costs an arm and a leg in the Village—with Daddy's help, of course. Anthony is attending Hunter College in the city, studying Liberal Arts until he gets his shit together. Little Edward started the tenth grade this year. He goes to the same Catholic high school Kylie did.

So, their match worked out, but I couldn't say the same for Kylie and Joe. And is Alex really happy? She's taken up shopping like I suggested, and she never went back to work like I predicted. Truth be told, Carlisle went back to not coming home as often when the twins turned three. He says he's busy, working and whatnot, but he's not fooling anyone.

"You still feeling kinky?" Edward jerked his chin to me. "Gonna give it up?"

I scoffed at nothing and dragged my tired ass out of his office.

Having two hours to myself until the rehearsal dinner, I decided to take a long bath in the Jacuzzi.

"Mom?" Kylie let herself in.

"Christ!" I shouted at her. "Can't I have a minute?"

She didn't care. "Which dress?" She held two up for me.

"The blue one." I selected that because it's less revealing. The shit our youngest chooses to wear nearly gives Edward a heart attack. He's all over that, too—teaching young Joe how to be the man of the house, trying to teach him how to dictate. It's not like it'll make a difference to Kylie.

Our daughter never had freedom, not like her brothers. My husband—her father—is a total hypocrite. Although spoiled, she never had it easy growing up in this house. Edward still treats her like she's seven.

It's sad to say, but that may be why she's so quick to run away. She has multiple options, though. She has the world at her disposal, so who the fuck knows? I don't see anything special about Joe, and I can't stand his mother—Marissa.

She smirked, staring at the skimpy one. "The black one it is."

My daughter can be an asshole.

What can I say, though? She still acts like a fucking teenager because she is one.

I never wanted this to be a big wedding in the first place, or, really, for the wedding to happen at all. The only thing I said was that we have to do it up because people will talk if we—the Cullens—don't.

We might as well do it right if we're doing it at all. All of which meant we had to spend beaucoup bucks and make it this huge extravaganza.

It's total bullshit.

At first, I thought she was pregnant. She's not—thank God, but…

It still confounds me.

"Come sit for a minute." My tone was low.

"I don't have time for your Girl, Interrupted today." She sneered, actually fucking sneered at me.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"I don't wanna talk." She turned from me.

"Please," I begged.

"Watch where you're going—" Kylie almost bumped into her father on the way out.

"Excuse me?" Edward shouted, because these days he only has one volume—loud.

"Sorry, Daddy." Ugh. She sounded so damn sweet.

"It's okay, angel." And then my husband intruded on my peaceful time.

"What?" I asked.

He looked behind himself—probably watching Kylie leave our bedroom—and then locked the door. "Thought you might need some help relaxing." He wiggled his brows, kicking off his shoes.

I smiled for the first time all day. "The water's still warm."

"It's a hot tub."

"I know," I said, shaking my head. "I'm just saying." I watched, becoming mesmerized as he undressed in front of me. The years have been so good to my husband—not as good to me, but I work with what I have. Now, since I have no metabolism, I work out, take walks, and I take very good care of my skin. Right now, I'm considering Botox injections, although the expensive wrinkle cream is a godsend.

It's the little things in life . . .

And at forty-nine, I am still one hot momma.

I just don't look as good as my husband, although he'll argue that. He takes really good care of himself, too. Save the gray streaks in his hair, he shows little signs of age and sports a chiseled, muscular chest.

"You ready for this?" That conceited fuck was staring in the mirror, not at me.

I yawned, but didn't mean to.

"You tired?" He scratched his bicep.

I didn't even bother answering him as he placed a foot into the tub and winced. "Fuck . . . you weren't lying. My balls are gonna melt off." He slowly eased himself into the water.

I sighed, leaning back and staring. Little does he know, I could do this all day. "I love you." Underneath it all, I've been extremely happy to have all my kids under the same roof while the preparations are taking place. And being so happy has made the both of us horny freaks. Maybe having all the kids around made us feel younger—reminded us of all the times we had to sneak around.

He smiled, palming my cheek. "It's not too late to get them tickets to Vegas. We can all go." He shrugged, lying through his teeth.

Something was up.

I hummed, sitting up a bit. "You're way too calm for my liking, Skip."

True, he is coaching Joe and has come to terms with our daughter's future nuptials, but the way he was while Kylie was in high school—high-strung and way too overprotective—is a complete contrast to his recent behavior.

"Can I tell you a secret?" he whispered.

I rolled my eyes.

He grabbed my hand. "This is serious."

My lips drew a tight line, and I prepared myself for whatever he was going to say—steeling my nerves.

"I don't think there's going to be a wedding." His smile practically lit up the fucking bathroom.

"We've been over this, and Kylie's feet are hot, not cold—she's so stubborn. God forbid, she talk to me about anything—"

"Peto is coming."

"What?" I shouted.

Peto—Giovanni, who's Aro's son—was the boy who broke her heart on prom night. They were best friends from birth, and then dated from sophomore year until senior prom night. To this day, I have no idea why they broke up. But then he stayed away the entire summer, left early for college out in Texas, all while Kylie had started dating Joe.

Kylie was also accepted at the University of Texas at Austin, but she never went, either because of Joe or because Peto was going there. She was also accepted to three other schools: NYU, Rutgers, and the University of Connecticut. All of which are a commute away, or she could have lived in the dorms—like Damion.

Our daughter had no excuse for deciding to skip college, and that bugged me more than anything . . . having the world at her fingertips—so much opportunity slipping right by.

She said college didn't interest her anymore, but I wasn't about to have that brat lounge around the house while we pay her credit cards, her phone bill, and keep a driver on standby for her. Oh, no. My daughter has lived a charmed, yet sheltered life, but it was work or school with the boys, and I wasn't going to budge on that double standard with Edward.

He didn't give a fuck—said she could chill by the pool all summer for all he cared. Meanwhile, when Sonny and Damion weren't in school, they had jobs. Whether it was busing tables at one of the restaurants or cleaning offices for Aro's janitorial service, every summer they worked somewhere since they were each fifteen.

Kylie, since graduation, runs the tanning salon. She does it to the best of her ability, and when she needs help or advice, I'm here.

I already have one child wasting his potential, and it irked me that I might just have another.

Sonny operates Eclipse on a full-time basis.

And I hate it.

He graduated from NYU with a law degree.

And I'm supposed to believe some bullshit about his anxieties when it comes to taking the bar exam. He's a chip off the old block, but at least Edward is an actual lawyer.

"Two birds—one stone." He clapped, breaking me from my reverie.

"Huh?" I asked.

"We both know Joe Jr. was the rebound guy." He lifted my foot to massage it. "They broke up over some misunderstanding. Peto says some chick that had this mad crush on him told Kylie they kissed or something. He says it's not true, and that he waited months—hell, he still likes her . . . he said so." Edward's face fell.

"They broke up because of a kiss? A rumor of a kiss?" That made no sense. Someone was sugarcoating the real story or feeding Edward some bullshit.

Edward stared into the water. "That'd be awesome—a Cullen and a Andino? We'd be related—Aro and me. But!" He held up a finger. "That's later. If all goes according to plan, our daughter will go to Texas with Peto and get the college education we wanted for her. It'll give her that push—" He punched the air.

I groaned. "But why does she need a man for that push? Fuck Joe. Fuck Peto. What does she need them for? Didn't we raise her to be independent?" I shook my head, getting even more pissed off. "No, we didn't. You had to smother her, so now she thinks she needs a man—"

"Cool it, you." He squeezed my foot. "We're on the same team."

I huffed. "She's so smart. Right now she can have Joe and still go to school, but she doesn't want to. She's also eighteen, and in this day and age, a high school education doesn't get you very far. What the fuck does she know about the world—"

He kept going, talking over me. "And in a few years, I hope they marry. And before you say anything, I already got in touch with the school. Her acceptance is still good. All I had to do was, um, make a donation . . . and, if it doesn't work out, accidents have a tendency to happen. This wedding, however, is not going to happen."

My voice was shaky as I let out a laugh and took my foot back. "Edward—"

"We know Joe was the rebound guy. Every time Aro comes over and Kylie's home, she asks how Peto's doing. Aro said." He nodded, pursing his lips.

"That doesn't mean—"

"She's not marrying Joe," he said sternly. "That's out of the question. When he touches her, it makes my skin crawl." He shivered. "He's a dog just like his father . . . I can't imagine them being married and her giving herself to him . . . He doesn't deserve something so good, so pure . . . you forget, I know Joe. Peto . . . whatever." Edward waved a hand. "He's a good kid, emphasis on kid. Joe's…he's a man. I'm a man—"

"Giving herself?" I grimaced. "What century are you living in?"

He pointed at me. "She's not going to be some wise guy's wife. Got it?"

I snorted. "Well, what the hell am I?"

He grinned. "You're Bebella, my heart—" he came closer, easing his way between my legs, so they wrapped around him, "my soul. You're not a wise guy's wife. You're the Skip's wife—there's a difference."

"Har, har," I said in a dull monotone.

"I set the whole thing up. I mean, you said so yourself. If we forbade Kylie from seeing Joe, she'd just want him more. We went along with it . . . we went above and fucking beyond. We did everything doting and loving parents are supposed to do . . . And now we wait for it to crumble." He let out a maniacal laugh.


"And tonight, we'll still have a great party. We'll have dinner with all our friends and family—Joe's can go fuck themselves." His lips touched mine. "We haven't had any big parties in a while… We'll cancel tomorrow, but chill tonight. It won't be a total waste or loss. A few people owed me favors—" He shrugged.

Wanting him to shut the fuck up with his pipe dream, I deepened the kiss, roaming my hands up, down, and around his chest.

"I know you're trying to shut me up—" Stroking his cock made his words end. He let out a shiver, slumping his head and leaning it against my shoulder.

"You want me?" I whispered.

"Always." He grunted, kneading his hands into my ass to pull it toward him. While his lips kissed along my neck, I aligned myself with him and then came down slowly.

Skimming his nose across my skin, it left what felt like a fire in its wake. A moan escaped my lips when he replaced his nose with his mouth. He placed tender, open-mouthed kisses along my chest, as my hands hugged him tighter to me, my breathing becoming ragged while our bodies rocked.

His hands left my hips to palm my breasts. Lightly, he ran his hands over my nipples, making them pebble. A shiver ran through my body, a groan escaped my lips, and I felt as though my whole body was on fire.

With a growl falling from Edward, he ran his hands down my torso. He held me tightly to him with one hand, and his other disappeared from sight. He ran his finger up my thigh, along my folds, and settled on my clit.

Meanwhile, he held my gaze. I couldn't look away, nearly hypnotized by him—Edward, my love, the man I still yearn for—the only man that sets me ablaze.

Panting and wanting more—always wanting more—he pleasured me with his fingers as his mouth attached to my nipple. He bit it lightly, making my hips buck against him.

I moaned, pulling his hair back to gain access to that delicious mouth of his.

Our mouths came together, fought together for control, and settled into a common dance.

The trust and love we've shared over the years—which grows stronger still—made us both content to go slow.

Neither one of us are going anywhere.

His hands trailed up my back, around my neck, and back down my breasts, letting his hand disappear again. The contact caused me to convulse. "Let me take you home," he breathed.

I nodded, steadying myself, and yet thrusting my hips to his a little faster. His thumb twirled around my clit, and that's when I really thought I was on fire. It started in my gut and spread throughout my body quickly.

My breath caught, my muscles tightened, and euphoria—a feeling only my Edward can give me—replaced the flames. I cried out, gasping for air, while Edward did the same—holding me down onto him, in a grasp so tight as he went the deepest he could inside of me.

"This face—" Edward panted, cupping my cheeks, "does it every time." He drew my lips to his.

"I love you." I grinned, pecking his lips a few more times.

"I love you, too, Mrs. Cullen."

He held me in one of those death-grip embraces, and I felt content to be in it forever . . .


Ready for the evening, I waited patiently for my daughter to come out of her room. Edward had gone on ahead of us—we women were taking too long for his liking. No matter, we weren't late just yet, but I wanted Edward to go on ahead and greet the guests.

Tonight's rehearsal dinner was being held at La Bella Italia, and I couldn't wait to go. With all the preparations for this wedding tomorrow and being busy, it's been a while since Edward and I have had a night out.

"Kylie?" I knocked.

"It's open," she said.

Entering the room, I gasped when my gaze fell on her. She was still in pajamas. "What . . .?" I didn't even know what to say.

"I-I—I wasn't sure." She was wringing her shaking hands together.

"Baby?" I sat next to her, pushing her hair away from her face. "Talk to me. Please?" I pleaded as I held her hands in my own.

I may give her award-winning attitude right back, but I'm always here for her.

She knows that. She knows she can say, tell me anything, and I'd never judge her.

Believe it or not, I'm more of a confidant or secret keeper for Sonny, Damion, and Edward. My daughter doesn't speak to anyone about personal matters lately, except maybe Damion, and he won't betray his sister's trust, as much as I wished he would.

"If you're not sure—"

"I'm sure." She sniffled.

"Looks to me like—"

"Not every marriage is perfect, right?" she asked. "I'm like you, and Joe . . . he's kind of like Daddy, so we'll get along, right?"

"Sweetie, there are many things—so many things that contribute to a happy marriage."

"How'd you know you wanted to marry Daddy?" she asked, and then she scooted her lower half away to rest her head in my lap.

I giggled, running my fingers through her soft hair, reveling in this moment. She hasn't done this in ages—let me play with her hair and hold her. "I think—I think I loved your father at first sight. It just happened. We were adults, and much different from you and Joe."

From what I see, Joe isn't technically like Edward at all. He's in the business, but he lacks the passion I know lives in my husband's heart. He'll care for Kylie; however, in a year or two's time, I was sure my daughter would have to accept a goomah. I did not want that for her. Just like Edward said, the more we tried to separate them, the more they'd want to be together.

Plus, I hold dear to my heart the idea that Edward will kill Joe if he ever played our daughter dirty. This time, I'm calling his bluff on ending Joe's life if he doesn't call off the wedding before it takes place. I highly doubt that he'd do that to our daughter.

"Like . . . how did you feel?" she whispered.

"Like, if I didn't see him soon—if I wasn't near him—I'd die," I laughed, thinking back to how silly and immature we were. "He filled my belly with butterflies all the time. And, my God, the sex—"

"Ma!" She sucked her teeth.

"I'm being honest." I tickled her side. "I was so in love with him. Back then, I wondered if there was a word that meant more than . . . just love, and now it doesn't make a difference. I may tell your father I love him, but he knows just how deep my true feelings really run. It's almost magical."

"I want what you and Daddy have."

I furrowed my brow. "And . . . baby, are you in love with Joe?"

"It doesn't matter. I can't hurt him—"

"What?" I asked, not quite hearing her words.

She sat up to smile sadly. "I always thought I'd marry Gio," she spoke of Peto. "I always—always pictured the dress, our families, this big ceremony . . ."

"Kylie," I hedged, wondering if Edward might get his wish. "Do you still love Peto?"

"Joe makes me forget," she cried.

"Oh!" I gathered her into my arms. "You say the word—you don't even have to tell Joe, Daddy will. We can cancel—honey, you're so young." I rocked us back and forth. "You still have so much to do, so much to learn."

"I want babies and a house, and—"

"You're too young."


"You're settling," I said the words I've been holding back for months. "When I was your age, I would've killed to go to a four-year school—to get away from New York, to get an education. You want what your father and I have . . ."

And if she married Joe, she'd likely get half of it—pregnant within a year, waiting up until all hours while her husband is out doing God knows what. She'll never go to college, even if she changes her mind and wants to go one day.

"You don't know what you're signing up for." I grabbed her face, making her look at me. "I'm going to say a few things. They say the truth hurts, but—"

"Stop." She went to pull away, but I steadied her.

"No. You're a kid. You're eighteen. Your father and I made mistakes—shielding and smothering you. I'm sorry, but you act much younger than eighteen. You're smart, so fucking smart. You're just not people-smart, and you need to be—you're not ready to start a family, either."

"You were young," she argued.

"Still…Even at twenty-three, I had no idea what all this was going to be like. Please, listen to me. I'm begging you, baby…"

She pulled away from me and stood from the bed. "I know what Daddy and Joe do . . . for a living," she said.

"Good. I'm glad you're not blind to it all, but there's so much more that you haven't seen." I stood up, too. "You never saw certain things. You were too young during your father's heyday—you don't remember the bulk of it, and . . . your father has slowed down, immensely! There haven't been any conflicts—" My stomach tied in knots, as if I was possibly realizing all of this now—the stresses that go along with marrying a connected guy.

"Baby girl, I'd give you my blessing, but—"

"I'm marrying Joe." She turned away from me, undressing to redress.

"What happened to wanting to be a doctor?" I asked.

"Things change," she whispered.

"Then you wanted to be a veterinarian. Now, you're just hellbent on being a mob wife?" I scoffed. "Sit at home and raise kids while your husband sticks his dick in whores, breaks the law . . ." My tone was venomous. I needed her to listen to me.

She paused in her movements and refused to face me. "Dad cheats?" she asked, incredulous, and looked like she just found out there was no Santa Claus.

"Never." I stepped closer. "But I don't know Joe like that. He might—it kind of comes with the territory."

"That's how Sonny is."

"Your brother is young and single. He's not married and—"

"And he's a capo." She turned to face me. "Joe's on his crew, so I know." She eyed me from head-to-toe, scoffing before she faced the mirror again. She was trying to hurt me. The difference was my words hadn't been said to be painful to her.

That felt like a blow to the stomach, and I held my abdomen—feeling sick. "We're not talking about your brother," I whispered. "Why are you trying to hurt me?"

She whipped around to face me again. "Because you won't leave me alone!" she screamed. "I'm eighteen. I'm an adult...and I can make my own decisions!"


"How can you be such a hypocrite?" She stomped her foot.

"Me?" I asked, placing my hand to my heart.

"It's okay for Dad, Sonny, and you to be involved with . . ." She groaned.

"Watch your tone!" I had enough of her attitude. "You want the truth? You're a prize, Kylie. You think you know so much…Well, I hope you know Joe could be using you as some get-out-of-jail-free card or whatever-the-fuck! He's using you to possibly move up in rank! You're just his trophy. Sure, he'll give you what you want. You'll have a baby and everything will be wonderful, and then he'll stop coming home, and you'll be home alone with a crying infant and your fucking stretch marks!"

"Stop it!" she screamed, covering her ears. "How can you say that? You don't know him—"

"I know his type." I shrugged.

"No . . . all I want is to love and be loved in return. I'm not and will not be doing anything wrong. I'll have babies and raise them . . . I'd never get mixed up in 'the thing', as they call it." She shook her head at me. "You don't know anything."

I nodded. "You're right. You are so correct, Kylie. I don't know anything." My tone was laced with sarcasm as I shrugged my shoulders again. "I don't know what I'm talking about . . . silly me."

Year after year, I tried to keep my children away from all the garbage, and the more I tried, the closer they got to it. No matter what I do—what I say—my children do what they want, and I was tired of fighting with them.

So, I stopped bitching.

Edward didn't want this life for our children, but it was useless to fight against them—with the exception of Damion, who has nothing to do with it.

After I found out about Sonny's button ceremony—the night he was made—I didn't speak to Edward for two weeks, held a grudge against him for five weeks, and then I accepted it—accepted that Sonny was going to do what he wanted, and being one of Edward's guys ensures that his father will look after him. I'm here for Sonny, even if I don't agree with it, and it makes me sick to think about it. Like everything else in my life that I wasn't a fan of, I learned to like it and embrace it to the best of my ability.

I didn't have a choice.

"Can you leave?" she shouted. "I'm getting dress—"

"You know what?" I stepped toward her, which actually made her cringe back. I really wanted to smack some sense into her, but I restrained myself—never in my life had I been as angry with Kylie as I was now.

"What?" She stood straight and got closer.

I grinned. "You should put the money you make from this wedding away—keep it in a safe place, because you might need it to bail your husband out of jail one day or bury him!"

Trying as hard as I could not to cry, I turned for the door. There was nothing left for me to say. I might as well have had that whole conversation with a concrete wall.

"Come out when you're dressed." I closed the door behind myself.

Kylie didn't take that long to get ready. My daughter with all her natural beauty—green eyes, dark brown curly hair, and gorgeous face—doesn't need makeup or anything special. She left her hair down and wore the short black dress that shows off her hourglass figure.

Edward says she reminds him so much of me, which is true.

She wears those rose-colored glasses proudly, and her innocence shines.

She wants what her father and I have, but she's going about this so wrong. I told her that on our way to the restaurant—that no matter what she and her husband do for a living—no matter where they live or how much money they'll have, it won't be the same.

Because without love—without passion—they'll have nothing.

She never replied to me, nor did she shriek out in anger. I think I finally reached my young daughter during that short car ride.

But I wasn't sure.

And that scared me.

Time was running out, and I was desperate—all my fears for my daughter were coming to the surface. If Edward's plan A didn't work out, I'd go along with plan B, and pull the fucking trigger . . .

My daughter wasn't going to marry Joe.

Nevertheless, I put a smile on and steeled my nerves to greet all the party guests as I left the limo.

Kylie entered the restaurant before me, and I stopped to say hello to Alex. She was on the phone, made eye contact with me and quickly looked away. I found that odd, and then she quickly ended her call. "Hey!" She smiled wide, kissing my cheek.

I scoped her outfit. She looked fantastic, skinnier than she'd ever been actually, and in a dress made for sin. "You look hot."

She giggled. "You know who else looks hot?"

I stuck out my tongue. "Carlisle?"

She barked out a laugh. "No. I mean, yeah. He does, too." She leaned in to whisper, "Aro's lookin' fine. That diet your sister put him on has worked wonders.."

"Oh, God. Please don't go down that road."

Her eyes widened. "It was just an observation…and I've made a few." She glanced around us. "Oh, come on. I'm cooped up in the house. I never see anyone anymore, and I definitely don't see Aro like that. The only person I see is you, when your scraggily ass comes over for coffee in the morning."

I shook my head, ushering her away from the entrance. "What's up with you?"

"I'm just happy." She shrugged. "Everyone looks great tonight…I was only teasing."

"Okay." I knew what she just said was bullshit.

"My mother took the boys." She grabbed onto my arms and shook me. "Freedom!"

"Okay," I laughed, finally understanding. She was just too happy there for a second.

Her face fell a bit. "Listen, I just feel really good today. I look damn good too." She smoothed down her mini dress. "My mother has the kids, and I'm wearing lingerie under this bad boy…Carlisle and me are partying tonight. We have the house to ourselves…he's not working." She sounded wistful. "I have candles set… It's going to be romantic." She let out a squeal.

I giggled, but remembered something. "I heard—I heard they're all taking Joe out tonight, you know? Is Carlisle staying behind?"

She sucked her teeth, placing a hand on her hip. "If he knows what's good for him…" She waved a finger. "He'll chill with me."

"I'm sure it'll be awesome." I gave her hand a squeeze.

She frowned. "He's going to wanna go out, isn't he?"

I winced. "I don't know."

Alex took a wary glance around and then pulled me even farther away from any crowd. "I hired a private detective—"

I laughed at her. "Your husband—shit, my husband, too—spend their days evading Feds and shit . . . What'd this guy find out?"

"Nothing," she whispered. "Unless he's fucking someone at the firm or Edward…Nothing. He goes to work, does whatever he does with Aro and Edward, and comes home. Most times he goes back to the office."

"He could've spotted the dick and paid him off."

She stomped her foot. "I can't catch a break. I have no proof if he's cheating, but he's not fucking me—"


"We haven't had sex in forever, and I look better than I did when I was twenty-five—well, maybe." She pulled on her dress again.

"You're gorgeous. Have you spoken to him? And what's forever?" I snorted.

"Uh, four months? And yeah, I've spoken to him…He's tired, old, like that's an excuse. He jogs more than I do—he's very athletic…Tonight, I'm going to jump him. Whatever happens…We're both busy, and I know I can be bitchy when he gets home. But he's stopped trying."

"It happens," I admitted. "You deny, bitch and moan, and they just don't bother—figure you'll ask when you want some," I laughed. "It's happened with Edward and me. He used to come home so enthusiastic, but after I'd spend a whole day running around with the kids," I sighed. "You know how it is. You're dead on your feet."

"Right, and now I feel like a brat, but no. Fuck that." She pointed to herself and got in my face. "My husband doesn't say no to pussy. You know and so do I. There's something going on. He should be ready to jump on this at any given time. It's Carlisle."

"Men go through funks, too, and get outta my face." I pushed her back slightly, and we're best friends, so we can behave this way and be cool about it after.

"Sorry," she mumbled. "I got too excited."

"It'll work out . . . Now let's go get drunk." I patted her back.

"You totally just read my mind."

We walked in and greeted people as we did. Best friends or not, we were fast to go to the bar, get our drinks, and then meet up with our husbands. If something was amiss within their union, no one would be able to tell. They were all smiles.

"What took you so long?" Edward asked, "and why does Kylie look like that?"

My gaze immediately went to our daughter. She wore a long face, wrapped in Joe's embrace while she shook his father's hand.

"We talked. It wasn't pretty."

"You okay?" He rubbed my back.

"I'll live." I sipped my drink. "You promise me this wedding won't happen?"

"I swear on everything. It's not," he whispered.

"Then I'll be fine." I gave his hand a squeeze. "But…what's up with your brother?"

Edward turned to look down at me. "What do you mean? He's fine."

I rolled my eyes. "Is he…you know, stepping out?"

"That's none of our business—"

I slapped his bicep, and he was fast to give mine a squeeze. "Here, seriously?"

"I'm sorry." And I was—for stepping out of line in front of all these people, not that anyone saw.

"I'm sorry." He rubbed my arm. "What my brother does doesn't concern me or you. To be honest, I don't have a clue. But I will say this," his lips touched my ear, "leave it alone. Don't get involved."

"I know, but you pretty much just confirmed—"

He smiled. "Baby, I didn't say shit but mind your own business. I honestly don't know. I do know that she had some cat following him around, though," he laughed.

"Can you ask him?" I smiled brightly up at that sexy fucker. "Please?"

He grinned at me. "Why? So you can run and tell Alex? And don't say you won't because you will, or you'll have this huge moral dilemma, which will fuck up the happenings in our bedroom. Leave it alone." He brought my glass to my lips. "Drink—be easy."

"I'm always easy," I grumbled.

"And that's why I love ya." He pinched my ass, going back to being the listener and the people watcher that he is at all of these big events. My husband dejects himself for show, but I know why, and I never take it personal. "Where's Sonny and Dame?"

"I don't know," I said.

Thank you for reading.

Please leave me your thoughts.

Sonny POV is up next!

JUST to be clear: this truly does act like an epilogue. The next few chapters will showcase the happenings of THIS day. We'll get a POV from everyone during this party and after.




Hope you all enjoyed that! And I might update more frequently than once a week, considering...