Here's the final chapter. *sniffles* I hope you enjoy it and THANK YOU to everyone who has read/reviewed/alerted/favorited this story. It means the world to know you liked it!
Lolo84 is an amazing and fabulous pre-reader and I luuuuurrrrrrrvvvve her! I made a few changes at her recommendations, so any mistakes are all mine!
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I don't own it. Is anyone surprised by this? :o) See you at the bottom!
The morning of Thanksgiving Day, Edward was out for a run while I busied myself in the kitchen prepping for dinner and getting the turkey in the oven. We were expecting my dad, plus Tori and her brother. Since Tori's family lived across the country, and had opted not to fly back until Christmas, I invited them to spend the holiday with us. Edward had tried to coax Alice into joining our group, but she was still hesitant to see me. She was recently back in Seattle, but still hadn't seen Edward face to face. They were supposed to meet up for lunch next week.
I couldn't lie and say it didn't hurt, because it really did. I'd cried while Edward tried to reassure me that it would be okay in the end. He believed she was slowly coming around and had even begun engaging in conversation about me, and our relationship. I still felt terrible about the fact this would be the first Thanksgiving he would ever spend without Alice. I missed her and I knew Edward deeply felt the loss of not having his daughter physically present in his life. I had emailed and begged her to come, but she hadn't replied at all.
I pushed away my negative feelings as best I could so I didn't ruin our first joint holiday together. I turned on my iPod and got to work preparing the turkey, mixing together the stuffing, peeling Yukon potatoes to be boiled and mashed along with the sweet potatoes I was planning on baking. I'd finished my pumpkin and pecan pies the night before, so dessert was complete. I just had to focus on the main course and side dishes.
As I sang along to the music, I smiled when I felt the baby kicking. I had been so surprised to feel the tiny thump-thump-thump the first time it happened, but now our little bean was getting strong enough Edward could finally feel the movements. We'd had our ultrasound a few days prior and there was a sealed envelop with the sex of the baby burning a hole in our granite countertop. The plan was to open it at dinner tonight, so we could all find out together. I was counting the minutes and dying to know the answer.
Visions of pink walls with butterfly decals scattered dueled with pale green paint and dinosaurs. I didn't really care one way or the other about the baby being a boy or a girl, but I hoped for Edward's sake we would have a little boy. I knew he loved raising Alice and having a girl to dote on, but I suspected he really wanted a little boy this time around. I could already picture Edward teaching his little mini-me how to throw a baseball and building forts in the living room.
A sharp kick to my ribs brought me back to the present and I shook my head to clear my thoughts. Tongue Tied by Grouplove floated out from the speakers and I began to dance a little to the music while chopping celery. I heard the door open as I joined in the female verse of the song.
One, two, three, four
Don't leave me tongue tied
Let's stay up all night
I grinned as Edward strolled in and wrinkled his noise in distaste at my choice of music. I sashayed over to him and tried to get him to move with me.
I'll get real high
Slumber party; pillow fight
My eyes on your eyes
Like Peter Pan up in the sky
He simply shook his head, but I could feel the evidence of his enjoyment of having me grind my ass all over him.
My best friend's house tonight
Let's bump the beats till beddy-bye
I cracked up at Edward's expression of horror as the song continued.
"What are you listening to, Isabella? This is complete crap."
"Grouplove! And I like them, thank you very much." I smirked at him and placed my hands on my hips. "Don't even act like you didn't get any pleasure out of what just happened."
He pulled me close and wrapped his arms loosely around my waist. "I very much enjoyed the feeling of my hot wife's body rubbing against me. Her taste in music, however, is less than desirable. I can see some education is necessary."
I giggled as he switched out my iPod with his own and selected a song. Then nearly fell over laughing while holding my stomach protectively when the opening strains of Peter Cetera's Glory of Love came through.
Wiping tears from my eyes, I straightened myself up as I took in Edward's crossed arms and his pretend 'I'm-not-amused' look. "Baby, your age is showing and it is not attractive," I told him with a smile and shake of my head.
"Oh, is it?" he teased back. "I'll have you know that this song was not only nominated for the Golden Globe Best Original Song, but also the Academy Award for the same category."
I snorted and rolled my eyes. "As if that makes it any better. Didn't some other band also win a bunch of Grammys and turned out they were were lip-synching the entire time?"
"I can't believe you just compared Peter Cetera to MilliVanilli. And they only won one Grammy, which was revoked."
"Uh-huh," I grunted, unconvinced.
"Okay, if this isn't to your liking, maybe this one will be more appealing." He shifted away from me for a moment and I heard Lovesong by The Cure begin to play.
He turned back and gathered me into his arms. I melted into Edward and let him sway us to the music. "This is a much better song. Very romantic," I murmured dreamily.
"I thought you might like it."
When I felt his lips brush along my neck, I turned my head into the crook of his as he lowered his head to mine. And closed my eyes to let the feeling of the moment wash over me.
"Oh, jeez. I didn't mean to walk in on this…although I guess it could be worse."
My eyes popped open in surprise and I jerked my head up. "Alice?! What are you doing here?"
"Yeah, I let myself in. This still my house, right?" Her voice held a hint of snark and I swallowed. She obviously wasn't completely ready to bury the hatchet.
"Of course, I'm so glad you're here!" Edward replied with a wide smile and turned around.
"We both are," I told her sincerely and moved in her direction.
Her gaze zeroed in on my belly. "Holy shit, you're pregnant." She scrunched her face up. "Fuck, I don't think I can handle that."
I faltered in my steps. "You didn't know? Edward didn't tell you?" I glanced between the two of them and saw the answer written on his face. Tears filled my eyes. "Why wouldn't you tell her, Edward?" I asked softly.
Alice laughed mirthlessly. "Yeah, dad. What, are you ashamed of knocking up a nineteen year old girl you married on a whim in Vegas?"
"That's enough, Mary Alice," Edward snapped in a stern voice. "You know that isn't true. I wanted to tell you in person. No ulterior motives."
"Excuse me, I have to pee," I mumbled and hurried upstairs so neither one of them would see me cry. I locked the bathroom door and sat on the toilet, finally able to let my emotions loose. I don't know how long I was up there and couldn't bring myself to care. Obviously, they were going to know I didn't need to use the bathroom. I heard muted yelling for a few minutes, but was more focused on me than trying to decipher the words. I just sat there sniffling and snotting all over the place.
I didn't understand why Edward hadn't told Alice. I was halfway through my pregnancy and they spoke on the phone at least once a week, usually more. This baby was going to be Alice's sibling whether she liked it or not, and she should have been told. As far-fetched as it appeared to be, I truly wanted Alice and my baby to have a good relationship. I knew it wouldn't be conventional and they likely wouldn't have been close to each other regardless, but I'd hoped they would be friends.
A gentle knock on the door startled me. "Isabella, please let me in," Edward pleaded. I blew my nose loudly and shuffled over to splash some water on my face. "Baby, I'm so sorry I hurt you. Please, open the door."
I yanked it open suddenly and Edward startled. His expression morphed into concern and regret as he took in my splotchy, puffy-eyed appearance. He scooped me into his arms and settled us on the bed, all the while whispering, "I'm sorry."
"I truly didn't mean to hurt your feelings, Isabella. I fucked up royally. I should have told Alice weeks ago, but I wanted to see her face when she found out the news. I, very naively, held out hope that she might be happy for us. It seems I overestimated my daughter's maturity."
"Edward, I understand wanting to see her expression, but how could you think it would be a positive one? She won't speak to me at all and barely tolerates you mentioning my existence. Obviously, Alice was not going to be over the moon about our baby."
"I guess I thought if she could see how happy you made me and how excited we were to have a baby, she might rise to the occasion. If I had known she was going to be here today, I would have tried to meet earlier to prepare her. I don't want her upsetting you; it isn't healthy for you or the bean. I told her as much downstairs. I can't risk losing the two of you as well." His voice cracked and I saw tears shimmering in his eyes.
"Oh, Edward," I gasped. I turned so I was straddling him and wrapped my arms around his neck. He held me tightly in return. "I'm sorry. I know how hard it's been for you not to have your relationship it Alice."
"The three of you are my world, Isabella. I can't picture my life without any of you in it." He shifted one hand over my stomach. "And this little one hasn't even been born yet. As much as it pained me to do so, I let Alice know, in no uncertain terms, that she needed to be polite to you in our home and if she couldn't do that then she needed to leave."
"How did she take that?"
"Not well, but I also made it very plain how much I wanted her to stay and try to mend things with you. I want her back in our lives so much, Isabella."
"I know you do," I comforted him. "I'm willing to do whatever I can to make that possible. I miss her, too. So much."
After a few more minutes of snuggling together, we made our way back downstairs hand in hand. Alice was chopping vegetables in the kitchen.
"Hey, Alice," I said softly.
She sighed and turned to me. "Hey." She ran her eyes over Edward's and my joined hands. "Dad, can I have a minute to talk to Bella?"
Edward looked at me in askance. Sighing a little, I nodded. I didn't think this would be pretty, but she and I needed to talk. Edward squeezed my fingers before releasing them and walked into the living room.
"Alice, I realize that this is really hard for you. I didn't mean to hurt or betray you. It's just that your dad and I, we have this connection. We never could fully deny it. He and I love each other. I know our ages don't match up and it probably totally grosses you out that we're together, but we couldn't fight it anymore. I'm sorry." I drew breath and finally paused. "But at the same time, you need to apologize for treating both of us this way. I was your best friend for years and you cut me out of your life completely. Even after you starting talking to Edward again, you refused to acknowledge I still lived on this planet. That wasn't fair, Alice. I was a good friend to you and you threw it all away."
"You're right, it does gross me out. Majorly. But I can't deny you two are happy together. Stomach churning, vomit inducing happy." She sighed. "I miss my dad…and my best friend. I shouldn't have shut you out like that. My dad might have a point about how I've been acting, especially toward you, and I need to get over it. I'm sorry for being such a bitch. I'm going to try not to be one quite so much in the future."
I stumbled forward and hugged her. "I miss you, too. I know things won't be the same as before, but I hope we can start again."
"Me, too. I mean, I'm not going to call you mom or anything, but it could be kinda cool to have a little brother or sister."
After a half fun-half awkward day of cooking with Alice, and Edward occasionally, everyone was gathered around the table and plates were full. I instantly dug into my food, ridiculously enthusiastic about eating. I had a mouthful of sweet potatoes and a forkful of turkey headed the same direction, when I noticed everyone was staring at me. While Edward wore an amused expression, my dad's was one of disbelief, and Tori, her brother Garrett, and Alice looked horrified and disgusted.
"Quit looking at me like that, I'm freaking pregnant! I'm growing a pancreas…or some other organ at this very minute." I narrowed my eyes at Alice and Tori. "You just wait, one day you'll understand." With that said, I returned my focus back to my food.
Edward gave a little laugh that morphed into a fake cough after the look I shot him. "Isabella, should I go get the envelope or do you want wait until your fourth helping?" he teased.
I barely resisted the urge to open my mouth and flash him my half-chewed food, but the desire to know if we were going to have a little boy or girl won out. I nodded furiously and he grinned at me. "I'll be right back," he murmured and kissed the top of my head.
I swallowed and bounced on my chair when he walked back in with the envelope in his hand. Pink or green? Butterflies or dinosaurs? Girl or boy? The suspense was killing me!
Edward held it out to my dad. "Charlie, would you like the honor?"
My dad's Adam's apple bobbed. "Of course." I smiled at him. He had been a little hesitant when we first broke the news, but over time he had become more and more excited about being a grandpa. I growled a bit at the slowness with which he opened the envelope causing him to chuckle. "Well, Bells and Edward," he slid the paper out. "Looks like you two are having a boy!"
I squealed loudly and jumped up to throw my arms around Edward's neck. He kissed me and held me close for a moment. Then he moved one hand down to my stomach and rubbed lightly. "Hey, little man. We can't wait to meet you!"
As I always did whenever Edward talked to the baby, I sniffled and brushed away tears. "We're having a boy," I whispered and he beamed at me. Judging by the look on his face, I knew I was right that he had been holding our hope for a baby boy.
"Hey, congratulations you two!" Tori exclaimed and Garrett nodded in agreement.
"It's exciting news," Alice told us. "I guess I'm going to have a brother, huh?"
"This time at least," I smirked. "Maybe you'll have a sister next time." Alice's eyes grew wide at my comment, but she wisely kept her mouth shut.
A week before my due date, I was sitting for my last final of the spring quarter when I began to feel my first contraction. It wasn't terrible, but definitely more uncomfortable than the Braxton-Hicks ones I'd previously felt. I took several deep breaths while it was ongoing and then rushed to complete as much of my test as possible in between them. Thus far, they were about twelve minutes apart, so I wasn't too concerned about rushing off to get Edward and head to the hospital. All of the classes we'd taken, and from what Dr. Young told us, first births tended to take quite some time and I didn't need to come in until the contractions were closer to two to three minutes apart.
By the time I finished my test, the pain had escalated considerably, the time between had dropped to eight minutes, and I was certain the other students around me knew I was in labor. I'd had a few ask if I needed help and even more of them nervously moved to other seats. I gave a wan smile to my professor as I handed in my tests and then waddled my way out to head across campus to Edward's office.
And by waddle, I do mean waddle. I hadn't been able to walk properly, see my feet, or bend over in weeks. I was miserable and fat and pretty darn sick of getting kicked in the ribs all day and all night long. Not to mention the fact that I had to pee like every five minutes. About halfway across campus, I was hit with an extremely painful contraction. I moaned lowly and braced my weight against a tree to hold myself upright. I was so focused on taking slow, deep breaths I didn't hear Alice calling my name until she was right next to me.
"Bella! What's going on? Are you in labor?"
I blew out my breath and nodded. The cramping sensation eased and I looked at her panicked face. "I was just on my way to find your dad. That one was worse than before."
"We should go to the hospital. Call him and he can meet us there. My car is just over in that lot." She pointed to a parking lot approximately thirty feet way and tried to guide me in that direction.
I shook my head adamantly. "I'll to go to his office, he'll be there. We can ride with him."
"Bella, that's crazy! We should go now, my dad can meet us."
"Alice, I need Edward!" I snapped and sucked in a shaky breath. "Please, I'm…I'm scared. I have to find him." My voice broke and tears fell from my eyes.
Understanding dawned on her face. "Okay, let's go." As fast as I was able, we crossed over to the building that housed Edward's office. I breathed a sigh of relief when we crossed the threshold. My contractions were hitting hard and fast by this time and I was shaking from fear and pain. Thoughts of my mother kept crossing my mind and I was desperate to feel the comfort and security Edward's presence always gave me.
Quil happened to be walking in our direction as Alice and I wound through the hallways to Edward's office. He saw me paused and leaning into the wall while I rode out another contraction. "Oh, my God. Bella!" He rushed over to us. "Lauren, go get Professor Cullen, now!" he yelled out as he reached my side. "Hurry!"
I was a complete mess, crying and whimpering over and over, "Edward. I…I need Edward."
"I'm here, love. I'm right here." His smooth, velvet voice washed over me while he pulled me into his arms. I sagged against him in utter relief.
"I'm scared," I whispered into his neck.
"I know, baby, but I won't let anything happen to you or our little guy." He scooped me up and began walking toward the door. "Alice, can you drive, please?"
"Of course, Dad."
He settled the two of us in the backseat. "Don't worry, we're not far. We'll be at the hospital soon and get the attention you need." He pressed his lips to my forehead and I melted into him for a brief moment until another contraction slammed into me. Edward held me close and murmured reassuring words. Even though it was just as painful as the previous ones, I felt so much better having him by my side.
When we arrived, we were rushed through triage and settled into our room quickly. I opted for an epidural and was finally able to truly relax my muscles as soon as it took effect. Reclining on the bed, I tangled my fingers with Edward's and closed my eyes to focus on resting while I was able. I was still afraid of what could happen during the birth, but it was an amazing relief not to be in so much extreme pain.
Dr. Young arrived soon after and shoved her hand up my kitty to check how much I had dilated. I was shocked when she announced I was at ten centimeters already.
"The baby is in place to deliver, but I want to get a few things in order before you start pushing. Keep in mind, even if you start pushing now, it may take a few hours before he comes out. Or it could take minutes. That's why I want to be prepared for anything."
I gulped and nodded. She gave me a reassuring smile and walked out. "Edward," I said in a small voice.
"I'm right here, Isabella. Everything is going to be okay. Remember, Dr. Young believes your mother hemorrhaged due to placental abruption and there's no genetic link to that. You aren't having any signs of it, either. There are no signs anything is wrong. Try not to fret and just focus on bringing our boy into the world."
Forty minutes later, fifteen of which were spent pushing, a small cry echoed through the room and I burst into tears as I saw my baby for the first time. Even though he was covered in gunk, red faced, and had a mop of dark hair matted to his head, he was so beautiful my heart ached. Edward proudly cut the umbilical cord while Dr. Young wiped our boy off and then handed him to Edward.
He carefully walked around the side of the bed and placed the baby into my outstretched arms. "Oh, Edward, he's so beautiful. He's perfect," I wept.
"He is. You did so well, love." Instinctually, the baby turned in my arms and began rooting for food. I shifted him to my breast and helped him latch on properly. It was an interesting sensation to have him suckling and I was quite glad to have taken a breastfeeding class so I would know what to expect and how to help him latch appropriately. This may have been natural, but it wasn't very instinctual for either of us. Once he was finished, he blinked his gray-blue eyes and then promptly fell asleep before being rudely awakened moments later when our nurse returned to take all of his vitals, give his vaccines, and complete cleaning him up.
A few hours later, we had settled into our recovery room when there was a knock on the door. Alice, Garrett, and Tori walked in. I was surprised to see Garrett and my eyebrows lifted when I saw his and Alice's intertwined hands. While she and I had repaired our relationship, we weren't nearly as close as we had been. I wondered how long they had been dating, but was happy for her. I knew she had taken Jasper's break-up hard, but had come to realize she was better off without him.
"Hi, guys," I smiled. "We have someone we want you to meet." Edward grinned from his spot nestled next to me. Another sharp rap on the door made us pause. "Come in," I called out.
"Hey, Bells! How are you feeling, baby girl?" my dad asked as he walked in beaming at me.
"I'm so good," I cooed and looked down at the little bundle in my arms. "Everyone, we are ecstatic to introduce Masen Anthony Cullen." I shifted him so they all had a better view of him.
There was a chorus of oo-ing and ah-ing and saying how beautiful he was. My dad was the first to hold him and he was every bit the proud grandpa. Alice shed a few tears as she greeted her new baby brother for the first time. I was anxious to have him back in my arms and I think everyone picked up on it because he was handed to me after only a short time.
When it was just the three of us again, I settled against Edward happier than I ever imagined I could be.
5 years later
"Welcome to Introduction to Structures III. I'm your professor, Edward Cullen. This year, my T.A. is Isabella Cullen." Edward gestured to me and I stood and smiled at the class. I could already see some of the students trying to decide if I was his daughter…or something else, so I raised my left hand to give a little wave, watching as a few of the undergrads caught the band on my finger.
It was my first quarter as a graduate student after a longer than normal time to achieve my Bachelor's degree due to time off I had taken for our family. I was glad for the flexibility, but was also excited to keep moving forward in my dreams to become an architect. Edward reviewed the syllabus and answered a couple questions before dismissing the class.
As soon as the door opened, two tiny figures rushed inside. "Mama!" Masen yelled and I caught him as he jumped into my arms.
"Dada, dada, dada," our two year old, Esme, chanted as she toddled as fast as her short legs would take her over to Edward. She was the spitting image of him with his wild auburn hair and bright green eyes. Masen had also inherited Edward's eyes and I loved that I now had three sets of beautiful verdant eyes to look into.
Alice strolled in behind the rugrats with a smile. "I sprung them from daycare," she said with a shrug.
"And we had ice cream!" Masen announced excitedly.
"I ceam," Esme repeated with a nod.
I turned to Alice with a cocked brow. "Thanks for that."
She smirked. "No problem. What are big sisters for? It's not like they're coming home with me tonight. Oh, my God! Did you know Mae has a little boyfriend? This boy, Carlisle, follows her around like she is the sun and moon and stars. It's adorable!"
I laughed at Edward's dark expression. You'd think since he had already raised one girl and from marrying me, he would know there's no stopping the course of true love but he was just as protective the second time around.
"So when are the sibs coming over again for a slumber party?" Alice asked as we started toward the exit.
I couldn't have been happier at how taken Alice was with her siblings and if I had to deal with an ice cream sugar high, so be it. I wondered how she would take the news of a third brother or sister that was due to show up in another seven months. I was thrilled we were going to have one more baby; Edward and I always had so much fun creating them…and just practicing. Now we could simply keep expanding on our wild lovemaking ventures.
My grin widened as I snuggled Masen closer and Edward walked over with Esme to put his free arm around my waist as we all walked out together. He winked at me conspiratorially. Yep, one more little munchkin would be the perfect addition to round out our family.
Booooo! What's with this author and not giving a big, fat, juicy lemon in the last chapter? Bitch. Tee hee. Sorry, but it just didn't fit with what the other content. I hope the other four chapters make up for the lack of citrus in this one.
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