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Riders on the Storm
Epilogue: Magical Day
Sweating bullets, I wiped at my forehead with the handkerchief I had in my breast pocket as decoration. "Shit." I was nervous and sad, more so than I'd ever been in my life.
"That's…Dad, it's supposed to stay inside." Santino folded the silver cloth up to stuff it back in. "Relax." Nowadays, we either call him by his full name or Big Sonny to distinguish between the two Sonnys, Li'l Sonny being his son.
"Daddy!" Little Sonny whined, pulling on his father's pant leg. "Out." He wanted to play outside.
"No, buddy. Come on." He gathered his son into his arms. "Behave and don't whine." He shook his finger.
Even an anxious mess, I gave my grandson the brow that meant business. "You know what happens to little boys who whine, right?"
Little Sonny giggled at me. "Unka-Maymen—" he spoke of Damion "—says you gon'do nuffin'."
"Oh!" My son winced, covering his mouth. "Don't talk back to Pop-Pop."
I narrowed my eyes at that little boy, but I couldn't hold my stare. "Watch it." I leaned in, and he came forward to rest his forehead to mine, giving me the mean eyes right back.
"Iz mean bit'ness!" He poked his thumb to his chest.
I quickly kissed those pouty lips before putting my palms up, backing away. "Holy shit. Guess you schooled me."
"Holy ship-balls, Skip," he giggled, and I laughed with him.
"Dad, can you not?" Santino asked. "You encourage him."
"He's two—it's cute, and all we do is work on his vocabulary." I smoothed out my jacket. "We got fifteen minutes…" I looked around the empty foyer. "Let's go outside, grab a smoke."
"I wanna!" Sonny Junior raised his hand.
My son groaned. "Lemme find Maggie…or Mom." He walked off, and I hoped he'd send Bella my way.
I blew out a calming breath, looking up to the arched ceiling.
It almost felt as though I was transported back in time. The bows, all the decorations—the hues of silver, blue, and white. Saint Anselm's Church looked exactly like it did when I married Bella all those years ago.
That's what Kylie wanted—a wedding like ours.
Only . . . there's about two hundred more people here, and we kept it small. The pews are fucking packed with our family, Aro's family, associates, and people who don't even know our fucking kids.
I bet they make out like bandits, though...money-wise.
We presented our gift to the happy couple weeks ago. They now own a house that's up the street from Santino and Maggie. I felt like saying fuck it—let's buy the whole block—knowing Damion will relent at some point.
In lieu of a house, since I didn't want Damion, our free spirit, to feel trapped, I gave him a choice—a house or four million dollars. They're still living in that apartment on Fourth Avenue, and that money's in the bank. Of course, I'd given that to him after Damion and Jordan eloped. No fuss. No nothing. They got married on a random Tuesday…in the middle of their workday, which…baffled Bella and me.
My wife was upset that she wasn't there, but she forgot all about it when Dame told us that Jordan was pregnant.
It was planned, too—they wanted a baby. It wasn't a "oops" situation. The dude who swore he'd never have kids actively—and secretly—tried for quite a few months to get Jordan knocked up.
With how busy they are, I had no idea how he found the time.
They didn't care about a ceremony. They didn't need one. Damion and Jordan only needed Damion and Jordan, and nothing mattered to them. They already had each other but said they'd make it official when they had to…when that stick confirmed her condition.
I understood it all, though, and so did Bella.
Love is love…
When you find that person…a piece of paper only changes so much in the grand scheme of things.
Jordan is six months along, and she's having a girl.
Whenever I think about that, it makes me cackle on the inside.
Damion spent like how many years being jealous of Santino, who always wanted a girl but now has two boys?
Maggie got pregnant again real quick after Sonny was born. Sonny and his little brother, Edward, aren't even a year apart. There's an eleven-month difference between them, but…Santino and Maggie are happy. They feel blessed.
Especially since I hear Maggie's period is late again, and it's a given.
I'm telling you, when it comes to them…
Every time they call and have big news, I already know what it is…I'll put it that way.
And now . . . Fuck me.
If Kylie's not already pregnant, she will be soon.
I just hope she finishes school—that they both finish school. My soon-to-be son-in-law spends too much time at Eclipse when he's not on campus. And, trust me, his presence has nothing to do with naked women swinging from poles.
He'd be dead already—innocent wandering eye, nothing. Aro's son, my ass.
He does what he has to, to make money, but I didn't want him to worry about it.
I didn't want Peto to feel as though he had a sword hanging over his head. And . . . maybe Aro raised him too well? I don't know. He doesn't have that edge.
But…my offering to help was charity to him, and all I asked was that he manage Midnight Sun, put his degree to work after he graduates. I have a feeling he'll relent, but it's charity. Fuck that.
Family helps family.
It's okay…that his father and I paid for his crib and this monstrosity of a wedding, though.
After all, it's not like Aro would ever let Peto get his hands dirty anyway.
These fucking kids today, man . . .
Carlisle's always bending over backward to wipe Ant's ass. Peto and Ant run the brokerage together and do stupid, silly things, thinking they're these badass . . . wiseguys from some movie of the week.
They're fucking corny—flinch whenever my son and I walk into a room.
Shit today . . .
It's nothing like it was back when I was just starting. It's also nothing like it was when my eldest was just starting. Now, Santino worked his ass off! I made fucking sure of that.
These half-assed pussies walking around like they're down . . .
They make a little money, which makes them happy, but…
More and more I wished Damion had gone into the family business; he was a natural. However, I guess saving the lives of children is more important—that pediatric surgery stuff he does.
Either way, I knew my bruisers were going to make a difference in the world—both worlds. I look at them now and think I raised Al Capone and Dr. Oz from back in the day…or whichever famous doctor I'm too stupid to know about.
Santino runs a few things differently than I did—he's into bigger game while letting the small fish go. There's no shaking people down anymore for a few dollars. There's no drugs at all—well, no made men deal with the likes of it but we do benefit. There's no bookmakers out on the streets. He made that huge—private call centers, like illegal OTBs all over the place—and none of it's traceable, not the way he has it set up.
A few things…he's been able to turn around, and his reputation rivals mine.
Maybe…I never really took a step back. I'm still working. I never retired. I counsel Santino now, along with my brother, and Aro's still our happy little scapegoat.
Not much has changed, and I bitch, but…Anthony and Peto just piss me off. They don't fit. They need to do something else.
Damion's fucking brilliant, and I had so much confidence that he'd go on to do so many great things.
He'd save lives, and when in Rome…
Since I'm in a church…
I mean, all his good deeds—even if he's done some bad—might just get me into heaven, right? My kid saves kids?
And Kylie hasn't made her way yet, but my daughter . . . she just makes the world a more beautiful place when she smiles, just like her mother.
"Hey…you all right?" Bella poked my side.
I breathed a sigh of relief, turning to face my love. "I-I don't know if I can—"
"Oh, baby." She reached up to hold my cheeks, gorgeous in a light purple dress that was age-appropriate and yet still managed to show off her fuck-awesome curves. Now my brain was torn, but there was no way I could walk my daughter down the aisle with a fucking hard-on.
"You're not helping. Go over there." I pointed.
Bella giggled, getting in my face. "Is that your way of saying I look good? 'Cause this Nanna's still got it!" She stabbed her chest with her thumb, and she wore that same bit'ness face that Sonny Junior had on earlier.
I grinned, bending low to bite the fuck outta that nose—nibble it between my teeth.
She scoffed, pushing me away but playful. "Now it's gonna be all red."
"I'll kiss it better." I puckered my lips.
Bella pouted. "Baby…you're not really giving her away. She'll be around the corner."
"I know." I had to clear my throat.
"And…well, I should just tell you now—"
"She's pregnant!" I threw my hands up. "Is there something in the water?" I shouted.
Bella hopped to cover my mouth. "Shut up."
I grasped her wrist tightly, but if I've learned anything over the years, it's that Bella's my partner in crime; I let her go. "I'm sorry." I swore I was going to pull my hair out, and despite being a piece-of-shit, I've been blessed in that I still have my hair. "Seriously?"
Bella squealed while she danced around me. "I love it!"
"She's a baby." I bit my quivering lip.
"She's twenty-one!" Bella had a scolding tone. "They have a house…She's not dropping out of school—not with one and a half semesters left until she graduates. She's not getting lazy now," she laughed.
"She's an art major. Let's be realistic. She's going to be a housewife."
Bella pushed me. "Stop it!"
I huffed a breath. "She's—" My baby was going to be a mother. My baby, my Kylie. "I can't do this." I thought I was going to have a heart attack, and I loosened my tie.
"Edward, you have to." Bella pulled on my forearm. "You cannot—"
I pointed into the church. "I'mma kill that Peto-Fucker!" I sniffled. "They ain't even married yet. They're still in college; Aro owes me money now—"
"Edward…" My wife placed her hand on my back, which calmed me.
I leaned into her touch. "They planned it."
"Yup," Bella sighed.
I whipped around to her. "I told her it was like the fucking chicken pox!"
Bella giggled, crawling her fingers up my chest. "It's a baby…Kylie's having a baby. That's it. It's not the end of the world," she whispered, holding my cheeks. "Look at you, crying…"
"Shut up." I wiped under my eyes.
"Oh…if Little Sonny could see the big, bad Skip now."
"He gets away with things." I smirked. "You don't fuck with Li'l Sonny."
Bella showed me her palms, her eyes wide with mock fear. "No one's dumb enough—he's hard-core."
I pulled her into my arms. "Bebella—"
"You're going to congratulate Kylie." She fixed my tie. "You're going to tell her that you love her, and that she's the most beautiful bride you've ever fucking seen."
Bella had tears in her eyes now. "You're going to let her know you know because…she's been scared, so scared, but…it's not a bad thing. I can't see it as that…considering we're at her wedding," she laughed. "Sonny and Dame both eloped, and…hopefully, God willing, you know…they only get married the one time."
She huffed. "And…you remember the days Santino, Damion, and Kylie were born? You remember the days Li'l Sonny and Littlest Eddie were born, too? Those were all magical days, and we're going to keep having magical days. And you need to be thankful. Remember a few years ago? Joe could've been your son-in-law. It's fucking Peto at the altar, so keep it together."
"You gotta keep it together, Skip." She quirked a bitch brow. "Maybe Dame can sew kids' organs or whatever, but you're going to have to talk him through a few Daddy Panic Attacks. Like that time Big Sonny thought he could give Little Sonny solid foods when he had no teeth? Thinking, 'My kid wants it bad enough, he'll gum it.'" Bella brought her voice down to an alto.
"Giving him fries with no teeth," I laughed but it really wasn't funny. "He should'a known better, and Maggie almost shot him—kicked him out for two days. That bitch is fierce when it comes to her kids, man."
"I like to think good moms are—"
I spoke over her, knowing I'd get laid tonight, and it'll be kinkier if she drinks . . . "Reminds me of you…but you're tough to beat in that fierceness—good-mom-department." I pecked her lips, which elicited a happy hum. "Big Sonny's always been too smart and fucking simple at the same time."
"That's my son you're talking about." Bella gave me a nudge, and fuck me. She was serious, but it made me smile.
I nodded, about to tease her, which might cost me a blow job. "Yeah…he's mine, too. I'll claim the good half."
Bella stared up at me, resting her chin on my chest. "Maybe Peto might need Daddy talks, too…You and Aro can have that joint grandkid youse have always wanted."
I grinned. "True."
"Can I come to the wedding? When you and Aro get married?"
"Not funny." I deadpanned.
She snorted. "Fuck. I thought it was." She reached behind me to palm my ass, but then she was serious again. "You need to help me, too."
I furrowed my brow. "What's up?"
"Kylie…Bridezilla, but you still have to say all those nice things. You're Daddy. She knows I love her and all that squishy stuff. Today, I'm trying to keep those bitch fits of hers at bay, and I hope I don't explode." She nodded, matter of fact. "It's the day we've been—I've been planning for seven months." She looked down to her shoes. "Seven fucking months, and does she say thank you?"
I placed my lips to hers and kissed her deep. My Bebella melted into my arms, and our lip-lock helped to relax me as well.
"You gotta be all…Mr. FuckHot in your tux." She gestured, her chest heaving.
I palmed that fat ass with both hands. "Fuck it. Let's go. Lemme hit it real quick. They won't start without us."
Bella whimpered, her hand falling down to—
"No!" she nearly shouted, hopping away. "We're in church."
"We're married already—been married." I closed my eyes. "I'm fucking you in my mind right now."
"Room at the Waldorf for as many days…if you…stop." She still can't resist me.
"Pop-Pop still got it." I pointed to myself, nodding. "I'm the man."
Bella giggled. "I love you."
"More than there are…" Suddenly, I was weepy again. I couldn't finish, but I had to. "More than there are stars in the sky."
Bella sighed, all wistful. "I love when you're a mush…like we just did anal or something," she whispered.
And just like that, I was fine—had to clear my throat. "Is that, uh, on the table for this evening? I can score some pot—"
"Yes to the weed." She looked around us. "We'll see how that other thing goes."
"That means no..." I almost whined, my body wanting to wiggle while I started to beg like my grandson does. "But you love it, too."
"It's not no. We'll see."
"All right," I said.
If I get her drunk—the wife still has no tolerance to booze, is a cheap date—and maybe if I dance a little bit, she'll totally give it up the ass.
I was going to keep hope alive!
Because…I always wanna fuck Bebella's ass.
That hasn't changed either.
"But you, when you talk to Kylie, you remember what I said about magical days, Edward…just like this one."
"Like the day we got married." I held her close, and Bella's emotions were going haywire, too.
"Stop…You're gonna make me fuck up my makeup." She fanned her face, trying not to cry, and then she shook it off—eyes bright. "Remember how drunk I got?"
"You wore Velcro panties—"
"That's all you remember?" she asked.
"Well—" I smirked "—the panties were a key…plot point…to me. You're the magician." My hands roamed again, those sneaky fuckers. "You pull magical days out of a hat, it seems…and you're magic." Now that…will at least get me a few pokes at her ass, and then I felt bad. "I meant that shit." I pursed my lips. "For real."
Bella winced. "And fucking Nanny!" She held her head.
"God rest her soul." We said and did the Sign of the Cross in unison before chuckling.
"Christ. Remember Carlisle's wedding when he was—" Bella cringed this time.
I laughed even louder. "Oh my God…so many people are dead." It was crazy to think of everyone—faces that you never think about, haven't thought about for decades, flashed across my mind. I didn't feel a certain way about it, and my cackling was…because it was funny…in an ironic kind of way? Oh, who cares…my wife knows me.
"How's Alice? I didn't see her arrive?" I asked.
"She was late like always—came in the side door with Annie and Jacob. She's sitting near Emmett and Rose." She brought her voice down, cupping her mouth with her hand. "She's on Prozac now. She's like torn—told me she doesn't know if she should hate Jasper for cheating on her all these years, or mourn his death. It's…two years later, and…" Bella just stopped talking.
And she has no idea that my cousin was probably just as faithful to Alice as I've always been to my Bebella.
The dead hooker was staged.
Too bad Jasper wasn't faithful to me, got hungry for power.
When there was a possibility that Jasper might bump my Sonny off?
Forget about it.
That was one of those times where I only let Santino think he came to his own conclusion. I planted seed after seed, and I had no problem goading him, making shit sound worse than it actually was—pushing him because even a small threat is still a threat, and that's my baby boy.
I also had no beef letting him take the credit.
Skip killed his own cousin.
Big fucking deal.
But Santino—my Sonny—taking Jasper out?
A move which showed everyone that blood doesn't make you family.
It showed how cutthroat my son could be. Especially since he didn't think twice, no matter what I put in his head.
"Weren't you on Lithium?" I asked.
"No! I was on Zoloft for a few months while you were in the can—like a lifetime ago!" Bella slapped my bicep. "I could probably use some therapy, though."
I grabbed my cock from over my slacks. "I got your therapy right hea!" I meant that shit, too.
She giggled, coming toward me; she's just as bad, and that's when the wedding party flooded the foyer. "Bit'ness!" My wife waved her finger. "Magical day."
Calm now, because Bella is just fucking magical, my eyes traveled around—looking for Kylie.
My gaze landed on Damion, wondering what he was doing chillin' with all the girls—his wife included. He was supposed to be ushering people to their seats or something. The last time I saw him, Damion was helping his grandfather—Big-Big Ed—walk inside.
Dame sighed, sidling up to me. "Kylie's nuts."
"Why?" I asked, and I saw my daughter crying, mid-rant. "What happened?"
"Maggie lactated, which…ruined her dress—not Kylie's dress, Maggie's dress," he explained.
"Who cares?" I asked. "Isn't that Maggie's problem? It's unfortunate, but…" I started laughing. "Big Sonny could just hold her tits in the pictures—cover the wet spots."
"Dude, I totally fucking said that. I got ice glares across the board—my wife, Mags, Hanna, and Kylie almost scratched my eyes out." He shrugged. "I gotta go grab Sonny from Big Sonny." He walked out ahead of everyone, occasionally waving to those he knew in the pews.
"Unka-Maymen!" Li'l Sonny shouted. He was very fucking loud. I think he gets that from me, along with his green eyes that were huge at the moment. But he truly looks just like his father.
Big Sonny just let him go. He was currently standing next to Peto as his best man while he also watched his son run to Dame. It was cute, and they gotta few "awww"s from the crowd.
"Out!" Li'l Sonny wasn't deterred, wanted out of here. "Skip! Get me!" I'd never heard that before. "Pop-Pop, pway wiff me!" He wanted to play with me.
I smiled as I waved.
"Pop-Pop!" he screamed, screeched, like he was being tortured.
"Damn." I gave him another small wave as he continued to whine, trying to run from Damion.
"Pipe down!" Big-Big Ed, my father, shouted out to his great-grandson.
"No!" Li'l Sonny hollered.
"Bring that little shit ova hea!" My father was too fucking loud, too. The crowd laughed, and the church was otherwise pretty quiet despite how many people occupied it.
They were all making a scene, but Li'l Sonny is two, and I've never known a child who behaved in church.
Big Sonny was about to grab his son when Damion slid into a row of seats.
"Shhhh." Damion knows better than he lets on, squashed his nephew to his chest as he took a seat and the music started up.
"Was I supposed to let my child starve?" Maggie asked Kylie. "You want a screaming baby ruining your wedding instead of my dress—"
I didn't want to turn. God help me, if she's still nursing as they speak. Bella told me in passing that Maggie's trying to ween Littlest Ed off boob milk, whatever.
"Uh, no . . . but ya could'a pumped beforehand. S'not rocket science here, Mags. I mean, really?" Kylie had a tone. "And Little Sonny is already making a stink—"
"Is that a crack at my parenting?" Maggie had her claws out, but they fight like real sisters, argue like Dame and Sonny used to . . . when they were kids. Okay, so occasionally those two—the girls—throw fists out, too. "Lemme tell you something—"
"Both of youse—stop!" Bella scolded. "Gimme Littlest Ed." Grandma stole the baby, which always happens. "You—the train's long enough, hold it high," Bella told Maggie. "Cover your boobs. And you…" She narrowed her eyes at Kylie. "No one likes a bitchy bride. I don't care if it's your wedding day. Go cry to your father."
"Daddy…" Kylie came over to me.
I smiled as I placed my arm around her. "So, you're knocked up, huh?"
That stopped those tears right in their tracks.
"The next wedding, you might be leaking everywhere." I shrugged.
"My child will be on a schedule. He or she will understand—"
"You're delusional." I chuckled at my naïve baby girl. "Children don't—they can't understand." I stared down to the floor, and I didn't know how I felt anymore—still feeling the need to protect her no matter what, and now I didn't know if she understood all she'd signed up for already. "You sure you're ready for all this?" I turned to face her, holding her cheeks. "We can go right now—right now. We can just leave—"
"Gio's up there. I can't leave." Her eyes were wide. "I love him, Daddy."
"Good." I kissed her forehead. "Because he loves you, but if you weren't sure…" My words got caught in my throat. "You know, you'll always-always-always have a place at the house, right?"
She sniffled. "I know."
I nodded. "But you haven't been living there for a few. I'mma be real. You'll wanna call first."
"You and Mom are nasty."
"Yeah…" I agreed. "Hell…" Torn again, I tried to think of all the reasons I thought today was bad.
My house was child-free.
A house without children, sans kiddos.
Just Bella and me.
We could be naked…all the time, except for when our children bring their children over, or someone's crying to Bella…or someone's needing to confer with me.
Yeah, nothing's changed.
"You look, my God, Kylie Cat." I kissed her forehead, smiling widely, when I finally . . . opened my eyes, truly looked to her. She was a vision in white, looked too much like her mother—in Nanny's old dress. That fucking dress was over seventy years old, and it was timeless. "Wow."
She giggled through her tears. "You think? Me?"
"I know…I know so, baby." I grabbed both her hands. "Smile, because…" I tried my hardest not to cry again. "This is a magical day. This is where it all begins. Soon, you'll have your husband, your own life. You'll be a mom, have your own family, and then twenty years'll flash by, and you'll think…Kylie, you'll wonder in amazement…where all the time went. You'll just—" I tapped my forehead.
And like times before . . . I didn't see Kylie.
I blinked, and she was two feet tall with the chubbiest legs, a mess of curls on her head.
But then my eyes refocused, and she was in her wedding dress?
That was my problem.
When the fuck did my kids grow up?
When did I grow up?
How can I make all this stop? I wondered.
However, I knew there was no putting a stop to anything.
"Daddy…" The floodgates opened. "I can't see you…" She pointed.
I chuckled, wiping under my eyes, as the wedding party started walking down the aisle. We were up soon. "I love you…and I'm always gonna be here. No matter what. Capisce?"
She nodded. "I capisce. I love you, too . . . don't let me fall." She gripped my forearm tightly.
"Never." I blew out a breath, and I faced the aisle. "I used to let you fall all the time as a kid—thinking you'd learn and stop crawling on the furniture, but you were stubborn," I whispered in her ear. "Toddlers are sneaky fuckers, I'm telling you. Keep your eyes peeled at all times."
"And when you were around two, your favorite word was pussy."
"No way!" She bumped me with her hip.
"I hoped you'd be a lesbian, but…they get married, too, now," I joked.
Kylie wore a toothy grin, yet her torso shook with laughter. "Stop . . . but, thank you. I'm not as nervous." She still had tears in her eyes.
"Dame used to sneak into our room at night and watch Mom and me fuck. Always remember to lock the door when youse want—privacy," I explained.
"Ewwww." She breathed as we followed her cousins down the aisle with Maggie behind us.
"Big Sonny was so pissy as a teenager, he made you look like an angel, the most logical of thinkers during puberty," I said, and I tried not to laugh myself. "Look at him, all big…He's gonna go home and cry because you got married…His baby sis is gone." But Big Sonny only had eyes for the woman behind us, his wife, Maggie. He was smiling so wide, you'd think this was their wedding. It warmed my heart.
"I'll be around." Kylie's face fell again.
"That's right." I nodded. "Just around the corner—down the block from him, actually. Hey, when you're done having this kid? You could get the name of the birth control Maggie uses."
"The rhythm method?" Kylie asked.
"Yeah, sometimes, we listened to music." Maggie had no humor in her tone, but she understood.
I threw my head back and laughed, which earned me quite a few looks. "My heart…it's like the Grinch's…it grows each time one of youse has a kid," I sighed, leaning to kiss her temple. "Congratulations, baby."
"Thank you, Daddy." She squeezed my hands. "I was afraid you'd make me a widow before the honeymoon." Her tone was teasing and then she belched under her breath.
"You all right?" I asked, and we were at the altar now.
She nodded, smiling while she locked eyes with Peto. "He's my future," she whispered. "Mom said she knew—looking at you, that you were hers, and I feel it." Her stare never left his, Peto's, and yet I knew she'd been speaking to me.
"Same happened to me," I admitted, and I was old news now.
Wordlessly, I placed her hand in his, and I gave that fucker a look.
Peto's a lot more intimidated by it than Little Sonny.
Speaking of . . .
"Momma!" Li'l Sonny shouted, standing on Dame's lap as he waved. "Aunt Ky-wee!"
My daughter winked at her nephew.
"Momma!" He blew his mother a kiss, which made everyone chuckle, but it seemed like he didn't know who he wanted anymore.
Still smiling wide, I turned to have a seat with my wife, and Little Sonny sat on my lap for the remainder of the ceremony—quiet, like children should be.
Now that I'm a grandfather, I like 'em loud and a little fresh, funny. I like giving them candy and sugar, and then sending them home to their parents.
Hey, the Grinch had an evil side, too.
Little Sonny is my buddy. We get into trouble together these days, but he never rats on Pop-Pop . . . and I'm supposed to know better.
He's my third bruiser, and Littlest Ed'll be my fourth.
Soon, I'll have my own gang of little bruisers. They'll help me get revenge on their parents—my ball-busting children.
As a parent, it wasn't about being cool, but as a grandfather…?
After they said "I do," Bella and I followed the procession outside. She had Littlest Ed and I had my mini bruiser—Little Sonny on my shoulders. And we said our farewells as everyone left, needing to stay behind and take pictures.
"Boobies, Pop-Pop." He pointed.
"Where?" my brother asked.
Little Sonny pointed again. "Big boobies, like Nanna's."
I reached to give him a high five, and he's the only dude alive who can comment about my wife's breasts and get away with it.
"Ugh…You killed it, kid." Carlisle grinned up to him. "Wanna come with me?" He reached for him.
Little Sonny shook his head no. "Unka-Maymen says youse'a tool."
"Oh!" I shouted. "He fuckin' told you—fuckin' sonned you, C!"
My brother rolled his eyes, and he still doesn't have any grandkids yet. Thank God, I mean, his twins are only going on eight. I don't think he could handle any more. Although, I have no idea what Hanna and Carli are waiting for. Little Eddie—Medium Ed, or whatever the fuck—might just get some chick knocked up before his big sisters pop any out.
Little Ed slash Medium Ed—is in his first year of college. Hanna is newly engaged to another guy who's younger than the last; I think Tom's in his forties. Carli is single, and she lives in the Village.
Blaze and Ronald are cool as fuck. They remind me so much of Big Sonny and Damion it's scary.
All in all, though—my brother's family's the same. Carlisle's still a perv, still appreciates a nice pair of tits, which…apparently isn't age-specific. He's crazy in love with his wife, and it doesn't look like that'll be changing any time soon.
"You gonna take that from a baby, from a baby, bro?" I nudged him.
"Put'em up!" Li'l Sonny probably had his dukes up—that's what I taught him.
Fucking Maggie's gonna hate me.
But she married Big Sonny, and I raised him . . .
I leaned over so Li'l Sonny could throw a punch at my brother, and Carlisle pretended to be knocked out. It caused my grandson to lose his shit, laugh his ass off. "'Gain. Do 'gain." He put his fist out.
My brother placed his face to it. "Oh, man…you got my eye," Carlisle laughed.
I knew my grandson was flexing his biceps while he sat on my shoulders, making The Hulk face.
But before we left the double doors, I pulled him down. "Go with Mommy." I gave him a nudge toward Maggie, and he was so fucking amped—hyper now. He ran to punch Blaze in the stomach instead, but I can't imagine it hurt.
His two-year-old fists don't pack that much heat. "Yeah!" He jumped up and down, and then did a fist pump.
"Mom!" Blaze ran to Alex. "Did you see that?"
"Don't be a baby!" Ronald scolded him.
Maggie grabbed Li'l Sonny's shoulder. "Sonny, please. Be good for Momma," she pleaded.
"No!" He shouted, but then Sonny—Big Sonny—pointed that finger of his, like I used to, and his son went to hide behind Nanna, my Bebella—which is always his best refuge.
"You got it," I told him.
Santino winked at me. "I learned from the best."
"Ha!" I barked. "Oh…Your mother greases my shit just fine. What do you want now?" I stared at our eldest.
He smiled. "Not a damn thing." His ten-month-old—Littlest Ed—barfed on his tux. "It's all over, isn't it?" Santino wouldn't look.
I appraised his expensive tuxedo that was garbage now.
"Shit." Maggie took the baby from Big Sonny.
"I'll just—" He was at a loss as he took off his jacket.
"Ewww. Daddy, pookies." Li'l Sonny pointed, turning to his grandmother. "Widdlest Ed gots'a boo-boo belly."
Bella giggled, only to give him a squeeze. "Gah! You're too cute."
"I knows." Li'l Sonny smiled.
"The pictures are going to look horrible!" Kylie yelled at them both—Maggie and Santino.
"You just got married. So help me, God!" Bella pinched her. "Stop being a fucking brat!"
"Nanna says fucking." Li'l Sonny smiled up at Nanna.
Bella pointed that finger at me.
"Yo, what'd I do?" I asked.
"Doesn't matter! You did something." She gritted her teeth. "Can we take these pictures?" She fanned her dress to her chest, likely having a hot flash.
This time, I felt like hiding behind Maggie . . .
"How you holding up?" I asked Jordan, sidestepping to be next to her instead.
She grinned, rubbing her baby bump. "I'm great. Tired all the time, but…happy."
Damion groaned, his hands roaming everywhere, as did his lips around her neck.
"Cut it out." I punched his shoulder. "I can't be a perv in church, you can't."
"Says who?" he asked.
"God…?" I quirked a brow.
"Seems legit," Dame sighed, standing behind his wife to hold her waist. "Can we take these pictures before Jordan goes into labor?"
"It's hot, right?" Bella asked the crowd. "Or, is it just me?"
No one answered her.
"Get ova hea." I called her with my finger, using my tone that's only for her.
Bella grinned, easing her way to me. "I'mma put Kylie through a fucking wall. I love her, but Edward…"
I gulped a loud one—Bella's going through menopause and Kylie's first trimester, and we have two daughter-in-laws who are also pregnant. "The fuck you worried about? I gotta clip wit' my own name on it."
Bella whipped to me, her eyes as big as saucers, her flushed skin extending down to her chest. "Not if I kill you first," she whispered. "You can't hide in that club—leave me alone with them." Her face threatened to crumple. "Just the thought, you know…? It's scary."
"Oh, Mom…don't cry. I'm sorry." Kylie rubbed her back. "I'm sure the pictures—"
"Piss on your pictures!" Bella spat.
Our daughter scoffed, nestling into her husband's side. "Mom's on the rag."
"Watch it!" I pointed my finger. Married or not, I don't let no one come out their mouths at my wife.
"Come on, everyone." The photographer waved us together, and I looked over to Aro who was unusually quiet. Maybe he still felt a little depressed because Katie wasn't here. No one told her she couldn't come, and he never talks about her . . . around us, anyway.
As far as I know, she's still single; her baby is almost four years old.
AJ—that punk—was here. Since he had a falling out with his long-time girlfriend, I heard he was Ant's unofficial date, which…Aro's still fucking clueless. But those two, along with Little Ed were on the quiet side, too.
My father—Big-Big Ed, as I'm now referred to as Big Ed—wasn't making a stink either—in the corner with his walker, chillin' with Hanna and Carli.
Like always, my immediate family was the loudmouths.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
As if on cue, Littlest Ed started to cry.
"Shhh." Maggie winced and began to rock him, but it looked like he wanted to get down—have his freedom. He's crawling now, about to start walking soon.
"I got him." Big Sonny chuckled as he swung him around, making Littlest Ed giggle.
"Don't!" Maggie warned.
"He already puked." Big Sonny smiled, landing a smooch on Maggie's cheek as he passed the baby over to Damion.
"Boobies, see?" Li'l Sonny told Carlisle, but he was pointing to my brother's wife the whole time—Alex, who had a plunging neckline. "Boobies!"
"Everyone say…boobies?!" The photographer asked, and it made us all smile wide.
"Boobies!" we all shouted, the flash momentarily blinding us.
I caught Aro's gaze with my own, silently jerking my chin.
He rolled his eyes at his wife, so they were likely bickering about something dumb, which made me feel better.
"I'd never leave you with them," I whispered in Bella's ear. "I was never a flight risk before."
She blew out a breath. "I've been stressed out, and…I'm glad they're married. I love her; she's our daughter. She's my best friend, but sometimes…" She groaned, making a fist. "All day, her nagging me for seven months, and I did everything—"
"Magical day," I said.
Bella plastered a smile on. "She's too concerned with everything being perfect…" My wife had an epiphany and left the group to face Kylie. "You're too worried about everything being perfect, and you're going to miss the best parts!" she cried. "The beauty…of everything…is in the flaws. The humor, memorable moments are in the flaws, baby. Maggie's tits are leaking. Sonny has puke on him. Your nephew's dirty mouth rivals yours as a toddler—"
"Why is it my family?" Big Sonny asked.
I shrugged. "It's your turn. Once upon a time, fuck…it was us." I waved a finger between Bella and myself.
"We all had our moments," Aro piped up. "Nothing is ever perfect, but it gets—comes close." He grinned, bending low to kiss Lisa's hair. "Pretty fucking close."
"Boy, did we have our moments." Carlisle winced. "We're a trailer home away from the Jerry Springer Show."
"Who?" Kylie asked.
"Can we take these pictures?" Now the photographer sounded snappy.
"Yo, who you gettin' loud with?" I asked.
"I'm sayin'." Big Sonny widened his arms.
"Put'em up!" Li'l Sonny hopped out to show off his guns.
Photo dude backed away from us.
"Yeah!" Li'l Sonny had a swag as he walked back to his mom. "I haz appy juice now?"
We all shared a laugh again.
And all I wanted to do . . .
All I yearned to do, as we all made eye contact with each other's smiling faces, was tell them just how much I loved them.
I didn't, knowing that they already knew that, as I held Bella tightly.
Like always, I didn't want to let go . . .
Content to hold on for dear life, hold on to us and our family.
No matter how big it gets, no matter how much changes or stays the same, I needed to hold on . . . for the rest of my life, and I would cherish every single moment.