Well, at long last, here is the next chapter! I'm sorry to have kept you all waiting, and hope I haven't lost too many readers because of it.
I first need to thank my pre reader, Pates Greeneyes. As always, she tells me like it is, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Also, I'd like to welcome back my dear friend, Nic. I'm so glad you are back on this crazy ride with me. Last, but not least, I'd like to thank my amazing friend, beta and author, RE Hargrave. She's a writing, publishing "rock star" yet still finds time to edit my little story. Love ya, girlfriend!
Enough with the chit chat...here is the chapter many of you have been waiting for: the wedding. See you below.
The minister nods his head, signaling that Edward is ready.
"It's time, it's time!" I clap my hands to get everyone's attention."This is it, people. This is not a dress rehearsal!"
Glancing over to Bella, who looks nothing short of perfection, I have to agree that she was right. The dress she chose was spot on: classic and timeless. Charlie looks dapper in his deep charcoal-colored tuxedo while he tucks a stray piece of hair behind Bella's ear. Luckily the photographer was there to capture the precious moment.
I have to choke back the sob that's bubbling up inside me. It's easy to feel the emotion building up within everyone here, in fact. Knowing Bella must be wishing Renee were here, my mind flashes back to the rehearsal dinner.
Charlie reveals a worn cherry jewelry box from behind his back and hands it to Bella while we are finishing dessert. Bella's face pales; it's clear she recognizes it while she places the container on the table in front of her with shaky hands. Tears flow down her face as she turns and tucks her body into Edward's.
Charlie swallows thickly then taps Bella on the shoulder before pulling her away from Edward and into his own embrace. "I felt I needed to come up with something-you know, to represent your mom on your wedding day. This box was a gift from my mother to Renee on our wedding day. It's filled with antique bits and pieces handed down from my family; Renee always treasured it. When we divorced she gave it back to me, and it never occurred to me why. It's so clear to me now. I just wish I'd thought of it sooner."
"Dad...I just can't..." Bella chokes out.
"Now, Bells, if your mom were here she would've created something beautiful for you with these bits and baubles. I'm just handing over these trinkets in the hopes that you girls can create some kind of memento representing Renee. Well, representing all of us, really." He glances over to Sue and she nods, tears forming in her eyes.
We all cry and hug, vowing that Renee is in fact with us in spirit. It seems to calm Bella. Taking a peek inside the box I instantly know what to do and grab my phone to scroll through my contacts.
"Yes, this is Alice Brandon. I need to make a last minute change on the Swan bouquet. No, I'm not taking no for an answer."
As the music begins, an errant tear escapes and rolls down my cheek, forcing me to take a deep breath. Here we go. It's time for this event planner-slash-bridesmaid to walk the petal-covered aisle. I take another breath and spot Collin all handsome in his tuxedo, waiting for me. When we meet he kisses my cheek and escorts me ahead. We part company when we reach Edward and the minister, then turn to watch Rose and Emmett take their turn.
Sneaking a peek at Edward, I realize I've never seen him look happier. My heart clenches when Rose passes and then he sees his bride walking toward him. Another tear escapes and I brush it away; I'll never make it through the ceremony with my make-up in tact.
Edward is standing there in his pristine black tuxedo, his silver tie is smooth against his crisp white shirt. His hair is a wild yet somehow controlled mess and he sports a smile that is wide, contagious: my imperfectly perfect groom. A slight giggle escapes my lips while my pace quickens. The thought of my hand in Edward's forever is all I can think about.
"Bella, relax. He's not going anywhere." Dad's voice is but a whisper next to me.
Rose fusses with my train and adds her two cents. "Bella, Charlie is right, and besides, Ali will kick our butts if we don't do this exactly like we rehearsed."
"Ali is already walking up the aisle, Rose, I think we're in the clear." I chuckle when I realize both Dad and Rose have succeeded in grounding me. I wink at my best friend then squeeze Dad's arm gently. I'm not a bit nervous, just anxious to pledge my love to Edward in front of everyone I hold dear.
A ray of sun streams through the trees and sets the stones embedded in my bouquet off in a blaze of color. Clutching it and bringing it to my heart, I know Mom is here. Ali is truly a genius.
The day couldn't be more perfect. The weather in Forks is cooperating and the meadow is in full bloom. Shades of lavender, yellow, and pale blue stretch as far as the eye can see, an inviting landscape for our day.
Scanning the crowd, I find Suzanne, Edward's grandma, standing proud in the first row. She looks stunning in her plum-colored floor length dress. I'm sure she's feeling the absence of her husband today but she doesn't let it show.
We wouldn't be here, in this location, today if she hadn't suggested we hold the wedding in her meadow instead of in our own. Edward and I had agreed wholeheartedly; this meadow is far more mature and lush, while ours is still a work in progress. Maybe one day our son or daughter would get the chance to pledge their love in our meadow, continuing a tradition that was beginning to bloom with us today.
To be sure, the road here has not been an easy one. Some may say it was paved with heartbreak, and some (who are not here today) might even say deception.
I know nothing of that.
All I see is the love glistening in the eyes of my fiancé while I inch closer to him on this flower-covered pathway. All I hear is the stringed quartet, the loving sniffles of a few witnesses, and the birds chirping around us.
When I glimpse over at Charlie, he's sporting a cheesy grin.
"This is it, kiddo. I'm about thirty seconds away from placing your hand into Edward's. You'll no longer need me to take your hand and walk you safely across the street; your husband will take it from here."
I know he is speaking about so much more than holding hands. "I'll always need you, Daddy. My hand still fits perfectly in yours, and always will."
My heart is so full of love for my bride. I feel it beating wildly in my chest, in time with the music while Bella walks toward me. I want to rush to her, but no, I would never ruin this moment for her. This is Isabella Swan's moment to shine. And boy, does she ever. My smile can't be contained, and as our eyes meet, she smiles back at me.
My forever is so beautiful, graceful, and confident with each step. All around I see the smiles and tears of those we love. For a fleeting second, I think of how much we have overcome to stand here today. There has been hurt and loss, but love conquers all. I honestly believe that now.
Charlie slips Bella's hand into mine, the ever present current grounding her to me. "Edward, take care of my Bells. She's almost all I have left in this world." His eyes are kind but serious.
"With everything I have, Charlie, I will. Thank you for sharing your daughter with me, I'm honored." I shake his hand, a promise made.
There are tears in Bella's eyes, or are they in mine? Both, I think. This moment is our moment and through the tears I see her smile again. My heart melts. When it's time for our vows the words flow easily from my lips. They weren't written or rehearsed, they were etched on my heart the second she accepted my proposal.
"Bella, you took my breath away from the moment we met in that bakery. It wasn't our time then, but you never left my mind or my heart. Years later you came back into my life like a meteor soaring through the night sky. Some may argue that the timing was wrong, but I disagree. Everything happens precisely when it needs to, and that was when the story of Edward and Bella began. Our relationship is my most important consideration; it gives me strength, and I vow to put every effort into strengthening it through love, honesty, faithfulness, and patience. For all the days that we live with one another, I promise that I'll always be there for you."
Ali hands Bella a tissue. Tears are dried then my bride takes a deep breath before starting her vows. My knees tremble when she begins.
"Edward. I love you unconditionally and without hesitation. I irrevocably vow to love you, encourage you, trust you, and respect you. As a family, we will create a home filled with learning, laughter, and compassion. Together, we will build a life far better than either of us could imagine alone. Today, I choose you to be my husband. I accept you as you are, for in my eyes you are everything. It will always be you. You make me whole. I will care for you, stand beside you, and share with you all that life brings our way. With our friends and family as witnesses, I promise to be your forever, forever. Je t'aime."
The chills travel through me like waves. Her words sink into my soul, and when the minister pronounces us Husband and Wife, I eagerly bring Bella's body to mine.
Edward's arms encircle my waist and draw me close to him. Our eyes meet, and in that instant there is nothing but the sound of our anxious breathing. I see nothing but his beautiful face and the love in his eyes. The world could fall apart around us and I wouldn't notice. There is only him; only us. Time stands still.
His kiss is tender and sweet; he is leading and I follow. I'm lost in him until somewhere in the distance I hear Emmett's booming voice egging Edward on. My husband needs no prompting and our kiss changes from tender to more passionate. I hear Rose and Ali giggling next to me and my dad clearing his throat in nervous impatience. I turn the volume down and go with the feelings welling up inside me. Edward is my husband now, I will seal my promise to him until he leaves me breathless.
And he does exactly that.
She is the most beautiful woman here, maybe even outshining the bride. My Rosie looks freaking amazing in her silver dress. It shimmers and shines, hugging all her perfect curves. It compliments her perfectly tanned skin, and doesn't look a bit bridesmaid-ish, if that's even a word. I guess I'll make it a word. I can't wait to dance with her later, but first things first. I have a job to do.
Well, here goes nothing. "So, E, I'll try not to mess this up too much. You know what they say, being asked to be best man is five minutes of sheer pride in the spotlight, followed by a lifetime of panic and misery if it goes bad."
Awesome, they're laughing. Keep it going, Emm!
"Honestly though, I couldn't be happier happy for the two of you. Bella, you are just what this guy needs. I've seen Edward at his worst, and now I can say I've seen him at his best. I have you to thank for that. I think I can speak for all of us here when I say that you breathed new life into this man. Before you, he was stumbling through life trying to make all the puzzle pieces fit. The problem was, all the pieces were from different puzzles. When you came along, Bella, everything became clear, and you found all the right pieces together. And guess what? They fit perfectly."
They are oohing and awing, you are the man!
"So, at this time I'd like you all to raise your glasses to Edward and Bella. To Mr. and Mrs. Masen, may you both have a long and happy life together."
After a bear of a hug from E there is a round of glasses clinking, champagne sipping, and flashes. My best friend looks happy and I've got to say it's about damn time. That bitch Kate did a number on him, and even though E let it go on for far too long, he finally ended up right where he needs to be: next to Bella. I hope they're as happy as Rosie and me.
Okay, enough of this mushy stuff, when are they serving dinner?
My Edward's smile is a mile wide. Watching him sway across the dance floor with Bella in his arms fills me with such joy. What a long road they've both traveled to get here, and finally, their time is now. Everyone we know and love is here, even if only in our hearts. Gerald would have loved Bella, as Renee surely would have been smitten with my Edward.
In all my years I've never seen a love quite like Edward and Bella have. Don't get me wrong, Gerald and I had a beautiful life together, and Liz and Ed are a wonderful couple, but our love stories were somewhat simple. Sometimes I think a greater love blossoms when there are hills and mountains to conquer along the way.
That's not to say I would have ever wished what Edward went through with Kate on anybody, but it was character building for him, and us. We all tried with her, we did. As soon as Edward placed that ring on her finger though, things began to change. Edward became withdrawn and distant. When we did see him, he was moody and short-tempered. In the end we supported him; he had to see for himself that things weren't what they should've been. We waited, oh, how we waited, biting our tongues when we needed to. This old broad had a thing or two to say when Edward was in the thick of things, but I was gentle in my manner even if my mind was screaming tough love. As it turned out, one woman was the key to this all.
So here I stand, my heart overflowing with gratitude for Bella. She brought my grandson out of the darkness and into the light. Things are so much better in the light.
Edward's eyes catch mine as the song playing comes to a close. He kisses Bella and whispers something in her ear. She turns and heads toward Rose and Emmett, who've just finished dancing too.
My grandson is walking toward me with a cute grin on his face. "May I have the honor of this dance with the second most beautiful woman here?"
"Don't you mean the third most beautiful woman here?" I nod over to where his mother is sitting.
"Shhh, don't tell Mom, it'll be our little secret." He winks at me, kisses my hand, and walks me over to the dance floor. Liz and Ed blow us a kiss when we pass them. The familiar strain of Glenn Miller's The Lady's in Love With You fills the air. My heart clenches. This was our song. Edward, my amazing Edward, found a way for Gerald to be with us tonight.
Now, as happy tears flow down my face, it's my smile that's a mile wide.
Thoughts? I know you have them! What did you think of our guest point of views? I thought it would be fun to change things up a bit just for THE special event. For those of you in my "Eternally Edward's Fanfiction" Facebook group, I'm going to add a few pictures. (The bridesmaid's dresses, Bella's gown, and a pic of her special bouquet, designed by Ali. Enjoy.
The next chapter is the honeymoon! Are you ready?
See you soon.