So here it is my lovelies! The epi! Please read the A/N at the bottom of the page! I'm not going to babble here!
But, I will tell you – per Witchy and Sunflower – there needs to be a tissue warning and a blankey needed. Yes, to some of you this is a mascara runner.
Chapter songs: Melissa Etheridge – Come to my Window and John Hiatt – Have a Little Faith in Me.
I sit here staring out the window, wondering where in the hell do I go from here. I don't want to move from this spot. It's where I intended to spend the rest of my days, but that's not happening. I don't want to fathom what moving away from here is going to be like.
Our life has been filled with so many ups and downs, but I wouldn't have changed a single minute of them. I take a deep breath and it makes my heart hurt.
It hurts so damn bad.
I hear sounds coming from every room of our home. People are milling around, moving this and that, packing up what was once our life. They can all go to hell. I'm in hell and they don't seem to care.
I hear kids screaming and laughing, and I secretly smile because those are the only sounds that make my heart actually beat.
"Hey …hey." I look down to find Alec pulling at my pant leg.
"Hey, Buddy. Whatcha need?" I question him. My finger gliding over the smooth baby skin on his cheek, memorizing how soft if feels.
"We found this." He holds up a photo. It's a photo of you. My heart aches and squeezes. Air leaves my body in one swift movement; I swallow the lump in my throat and nod at him.
"There was a whole box of them in the attic." He takes his little finger, pushing some of the dust around the glass. "Who was this?"
My emotions are getting the best of me so I turn and stare back out of the window.
I hear footsteps coming down the steps and I scoot closer to the window. I want to push myself out of it, just to end this madness. I don't want to leave - this is our home. How dare they assume to know what's best for me.
I hear a couple of boxes being placed on the floor. I know what they are. I refuse to turn around and look at the people who are carelessly moving out our belongings.
"Why don't you answer me? Can you not talk?" I look down at the little five-year old that's standing beside me.
"Of course I can talk." My voice comes out harsh.
"Then why don't you answer my question. Mama said it's rude to not to." He nods.
"That's your great-grandmother." I say with emotion lingering in my voice.
"No it's not." He huffs, "who is this? I don't remember her. I don't remember seeing anyone with this face." He's looking at the picture in his tiny little hands, confusion clouding his features.
"It really is." I look down at him. He's studying that picture intently.
It's only been two months since you left. I still make you coffee every morning and set it in your spot. I look over at the cup I made just moments ago and smile to myself, the peppermint stick dances in the black liquid shrinking in size by the minute.
It was your favorite, and I remembered to bring it to you every day. The smell of those sticks brings back so many memories. You were the sweetest, smelling person, and nothing can duplicate it except for that.
"Then tell me about her. I want to know." He taps his temple. He's a smart one for only being five.
I hear feet stop and shuffle around, gaining closeness as the simple question asked. I turn to look over my shoulder and I see our grandchildren pulling the pictures out of the boxes. They undo the bubble wrap from them and gasp. I smile knowing those pictures are of you – from high school and on. They were the ones from my first showing. I've had many other shows over the years, but those pictures were never for sale. I shake my head and remember how you wanted them stored away. Those pictures showing our lives before they were fully ours, and ours alone.
"Yeah, GG, I want to hear about maw-maw too," Brittany says. She's our oldest granddaughter. So much life is in that one's eyes. She is the spitting image of you when you were young. It's hard to look at her now and not see you.
We've been blessed. Our three kids Liam, Makenna, and Paul. Each one a little more of a blessing than the last, and they gave us the most beautiful grandchildren anyone could ask for; Brittany, Bentley, Iris, Gretchen, Adam, Liam Jr., and Ethan. And in turn, two of those made us great-grandparents to Alec and Lilly. I'll never forget the look in your eyes when we found out. The love that poured out of your soul was remarkable. If only I could have grabbed my camera, but it's been stored away for safekeeping because I can't keep my damn hands steady anymore.
"Well, you're going to have to forgive an old, eighty-nine year-old man if he has holes in his memory. But, if one thing is for certain, I remember everything and anything about my Bella." Your name still falls off my tongue as it was the first time I said it.
My back is still turned, not wanting to see the sadness in their eyes. I've had enough of their damn pity and I want to be left alone. But, talking about you makes you seem alive again.
I take a drink of my coffee and settle into my chair. I tell them about how much I loved you from afar and how you had no clue in this universe who I was. I explained to them how much I cared about you and how you never left my thoughts. Telling them in detail about how exquisite you were, the most beautiful thing that had ever walked the face of this earth and you were mine. I reminisced about how I found you again, and went into detail about my plan to get you to notice me and how it worked. I detailed about how I almost lost you after than first showing. I pointed to the pictures and explained to them that's why they were boxed up. I told them about my tattoos and how my body was your canvas. Every part of me was yours, and how yours was mine.
I close my eyes and out of habit, rub my finger. I remember back to the day when everything fell into place.
"So what do you say? Will you marry me?" I ask; a little nervous when you didn't answer the first time I said it.
"You fool, of course I will." You turn toward me, still naked from the night before. You're simply stunning in nothing but my ring on your finger.
You kiss me hard and deep, "Holy fuck, Edward – we're getting married." You squeal and I stand up only to have you pull me down on the bed.
"You have no idea …" tears are welling up in my eyes. I'm finally going to get the girl of my dreams.
Those next three months were a whirlwind of activities. Anything and everything you could imagine was planned. Emmett, God rest his soul, went out and became an ordained minister. I laugh at the memory.
"Hello you sexy people," Emmett shouts as he enters our apartment. It's covered in everything wedding. Lucky for Bella, Rose has taken over as our wedding planner. She's a little aggressive but when she sees Emmett, she mellows out thank god. That's why we constantly want him around. Sure, we appreciate her help, but damn woman – or man – whatever …we need a break.
"What's up, man?" I fist bump him as he twirls in front of us. He kicks a magazine out of Bella's hand and she huffs.
"I was looking at that, thank you very much. Stupid fuckface," she fumes.
"Well, there is one thing you should know. It wouldn't be right to have a Justice of the Peace to wed you both, so…..I took it upon my handsome self," – Rose chimes in with an 'Amen' – "to be an ordained minister." He broadens his chest and puffs it out. "I will be taking care of the ceremony. It's going to be fabulous." He nods as I look at Bella and her jaw is currently hitting the floor.
"No, Emmett. Really?" she whispers out.
"Yes, my darling, blushing bride. Please close that mouth, it's not ladylike. I really don't want to see where little Edward hangs out during special times of the month." With that he winks and moves to sit next to Rose, nuzzling her cheek.
I look over at Bella and she does the same to me. I throw that damn wedding book across the room and scoop her up.
"Fuck this shit, Edward." She whispers, as she grabs my cheeks, looking into my eyes.
"You're reading my mind again. It's kind of creeping me out." I look straight back at her.
"You wanna do this?" She asks me and I nod.
"Now and forever?" She asks again.
"We're crazy like that." I smile against her mouth.
"You're stuck with me until we become fossils, you know that right?" She kisses me gently back.
"Emmett," I ask, and I'm answered with a moan. I look over at him and he's devouring Rose's face.
"Emmett," Bella yells louder this time and he finally pulls his lips away.
"What?" he sighs.
"Do it," I say.
"Jesus, do what? I'm sorry but if you want a free porn show, it's not going to happen. What Rose and I do behind closed doors should not be seen. It's intimate and loving …"
"Marry us …now." Bella says, as she slides down off of me, and walks toward him.
"You two are foolish. You have no rings …" I cut him off when I pull the rings out of the side table drawer that I'm standing next to.
"Done," I smile sheepishly.
"You have no flowers, your parents aren't in attendance, nobody is here to witness it," he starts marking all these points off on his fingers one by one.
"Would you shut up, Emmett, we don't give a rat's ass about petals or white dresses or tuxedos or bowties. I want to marry that man over there. It's been too long and we've wasted enough time. Just freaking put on your fancy little Jewish hat and do it already. Christ, is it that hard." My Bella actually stomps her foot.
"You two are incorrigible," he huffs and then smiles.
"Hold that thought," Bella yells as she starts digging through her closet. After a few minutes, she steps out in a white nighty.
"You're kidding me right?" I laugh and she shrugs.
"Well, fair is fair." I unbutton my jeans and pull them off; leaving me in my black boxer briefs.
"Winning!" Bella fist pumps in the air, and I see a nipple slip out. I quickly tuck it back in and hug her.
The wedding was officially unofficial. We didn't have a wedding license, or a bible. We said our vows, and the rings were blessed on a People Magazine. We did add our own touch though. After we said our 'I do's' and promised each other that we would love one another for forever and a day – we made it official at the courthouse that following Monday. That afternoon, we hit the local tattoo shop and had our 'real', unofficial wedding date, tattooed on our fingers, at the insistence of Bella, my wife.
"You know, this is a perfect idea. Because, when we are old and gray and our knuckles get chunky …we will still have our rings on no matter how jacked up we get." She smiled at me as the artist placed our real wedding date on our fingers.
"You know, I don't give a shit what's on that paper, our wedding was days ago. That's the only one I care about." I hug her as we walk out of the studio.
That was the best fucking night ever. I'll always remember that.
"You kids will never ever understand the power of that woman." I shake my head as my eyes fill with tears. "I'm going to tell you something, and please listen to this old man. Once you find your love, don't forget it, don't give up on it – because one day – it will come back and smack you in the face. You have to hold on to it, chase it, and don't let it get away. The love I had for your grandmother was a once in a lifetime love. I've done my time and I wouldn't change anything about it, not one, single minute.
She loved deeply, and I fell in.
She was mine, and nobody else's. I miss her, every day."
I push tears off my cheeks, and continue on telling them about our life.
We are all silent for a bit too long. I hear sniffles around the room, mixing with my own and I refuse to look at my kids and their kids and their kids. They don't understand the pain in my heart. When they say that you can't die from a broken heart, they were full of the utmost shit. Those people never knew what love was, or have never felt it. I feel it in my bones, deep in myself; and in my heart and in my mind.
I lost my better half.
"Grandpa," Adam asks, and I nod in acknowledgement. "Can you tell us more? I always loved hearing about you and Granny B growing up. That was a story that I never heard though." I hear him chuckle and I smile. "You two have such a history. It should be written in a book or something. How you loved her for so long, then lost track of her, then found her, and then kept her." He takes a breath and exhales. "It's something everyone in this world needs to hear. To let people know that true love does exist, and when people loved, they really loved. You know?"
"Oh, Adam, I know." I laugh because I know where he's going with this.
"So, do you mind Grandpa …if I record this?" He's nervous, I can tell.
"Why the hell not? You all are taking it away from me anyways, now aren't cha." I don't care if I'm bitter and hateful.
I'm not leaving here. Until my last breath, I'll rot in this home. My home, our home.
"Dad, we aren't doing it to be mean, you just need someone with you." Makenna says quietly.
"Bullshit." I lash out. "I had someone with me and she isn't here anymore now is she? Hmmm? I want to go where she is. This is our home and I refuse to take one step out of it without her." I slump in my seat. I need a damn nap.
I look over at the coffee sitting in the chair and close my eyes, opening them with more memories flooding my sight.
"You can record, Adam," he was always our little bookworm, just like his grandmother and mother. Whenever you seen him, his face was deep in literature. He always spoke about crap I had no idea of, but I gave him the head nod, and reassured him that he was great.
"That's funny GG, because it's been recording the whole time." Alec laughs, as I hear his mother smack the back of his head. Good, serves him right.
"How come we never knew Mom's side of the family, Dad?" Liam asks, and I cringe. Still to this day those people are evil. May they rot in hell for eternity.
"They were bad people that hurt your Mom so much. They used her for her name, tried to gain recognition from me, and abused the people they supposedly loved the most. Your mother didn't want them influencing you kids in any way, and I couldn't blame her. When you came into our lives Liam …" I trailed off when another memory hit me. I let the words fall from my lips like they were yesterday.
I was away in a war zone taking picture after picture for almost six months. I rarely get to talk to Bella and it was killing me. I needed these pictures, because they were part of a new piece I was creating called, 'What's it Worth should it be a question? ' It was supposed to show what our freedom costs us every day. I've traveled to different Military bases, and it eventually brought me over here to the Middle East. It's a culture shock to say the least. The things I have witnessed over in this part of the world, I don't think a photo can really tell the story. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well that isn't enough words to cover it.
I'm leaving tomorrow, finally going home to my wife. I miss her kisses, her hugs. Whenever we do talk, we play the "give me a word and I'll sing you a lyric." I know it's her way of distraction because she worries, a lot. I can't say as I blame her, because I worry about her, too. Whenever I go into the green zone, I try to Skype her whenever it was available. But nine times out of ten, it wasn't.
I let my head fall to the makeshift bed that I've had for so many months, trying to fall asleep but it doesn't come. I think about the conversation we had about kids, right before I left. I know something was on her mind but she wouldn't tell me. I just hope when I step off that plane tomorrow, she'll still feel the same way. We both want kids, a lot of them. I want to hold a baby that Bella and I created out of love so much that it kills me. Even though being here is for our future, I feel like it's wasted time.
I fell asleep that night, crying over something I had no idea was already in the works.
"Get me off this plane." I mumble, and the lady in front of me turns and gives me a dirty look.
"Sorry, I just haven't seen my wife in six months and I'm a little excited." I bounce on my toes.
Just one row left.
"I understand, but no need to be push young man," she huffs.
I stay silent, thinking it's the best way. She seems like a big enough bitch that she would be extra slow just out of spite.
When I finally step out of the plane and onto the tarmac, I breathe in the thick air – welcoming it. I jog over to the stairs and take them two at a time. I rush throughout the gates and make my way to baggage claim quickly. The escalator ride down was quick considering I was bobbing and weaving to get to Bella quicker.
The buzzer rings, signaling the bags to begin their ride on the carousel, and to be picked up. Luckily, mine is the one of the first ones to come shooting out of the little hole and I snag it and briskly walk to the sliding doors. I step out and look to my left and then to my right. I look back left and that's when I see her, Bella. I take off running only to stop short when I see her wobble a little.
"Bella – what the …what's going on?" I question.
I see her belly, rounded in a place that wasn't there when I left. I look up to her face and I see a smirk adorning her features.
"Welcome home, Daddy." She smiles.
"When did this happen?" I look into her eyes and I see tears.
"I found out right before you left. I was going to tell you, but I wanted you to have a clear head over there. It was bad enough with me; I could only imagine what it would have been like for these little guys." She pats her belly and looks back up at me.
"Twins?" I choke out and I drop to my knees.
"Yep, a boy and a girl," she smiles covering my hands with hers that are splayed out on her stomach.
"How far along are you?" I ask.
"Six months, almost seven." She says quietly.
"You mean you stopped …oh my God." I cry and I stand up and hug her to me. "I love you and I've missed you so much."
"Edward, I love you and missed you too. I can't wait to tell you all about the munchkins, but that will only be possible if you let me breathe." She laughs.
We load the cab with my bags, and make our way back into the city; my hand never leaving her stomach.
That was a great day. Getting my life back in order, getting you back, and then the thought of two babies coming in a matter of weeks, had my head spinning.
We decided our studio apartment wasn't going to be big enough, so we decided to move upstate. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't our humble abode that we had become accustomed to. I kept that apartment though for years, used it as studio. I was there when I got that phone call the babies were coming.
"I swear to God, Edward, get em' out," she whimpered to me as she squeezed my hand.
"Bella, it can't be that bad." I cringed as she clawed at me.
"Not that bad, fuck you. I've got two mammals trying to claw their way out of a hole that used to be your playground. Ha! Ha! Have fun feeling anything like the merry-go-around ever again, fucker. Strap these bad boys to you and tell me how it feels to pee them out," she screams, and I try to calm her down as another contraction hits.
It wasn't too long after, that our little Liam and Makenna joined us. I have never cried so much joy in my life. You gave me children. My love grew ten-fold that afternoon. I thought I knew what love was, but I was mistaken. A child loving you, when they have no idea who you really are, it's a gift, and I cherished it. I still cherished you every moment I could …even when I was dodging peas and carrots. We made it work, and it was memorable. That was until we got the unexpected, and were graced with Paul's presence.
I swear, if we would have had him first, we wouldn't have had any more children. Now that, my friends and family is a true story. We wouldn't change it though. He was a blessing as were the other two. I stayed around and didn't leave that time. I think I knew Bella was pregnant before she did. I remembered how she was with the twins. I giggled because I knew her secret before her.
I take a drink of my coffee, and move to get up.
"Here grandpa, I got it." I nod in appreciation.
"Thank you. You're mother and I did the best we could to raise you all correctly." I say quietly.
"Dad, I just have to say," Paul's voice carries through the house like it's on a megaphone. It's always been that way. "I don't think any of us would complain about our childhood. To me, they were the best anyone could have asked for. You and Mom, Godamn it, Dad …you both made growing up magical and every, single day special." I hear the tears in his voice. "We want to just be able to repay you for what you gave us all our lives. Mom made me promise when I took over the company I would put family first and that's what I'm doing. I'm putting you first."
Yes, Bella, I still can't believe you gave the company to Paul. Sure, he's making it strive and flourish, but he's doing exactly what you used to do. You ran a tight ship and he's steamrolling it the same way. You would be proud if you could have remembered.
"You rode a bike for her didn't you? I remember that." Adam pipes in.
"Yep, that's how I found your grandma again." I pull up my pant leg, "I still got legs of steel from riding it all those years." I smile. I feel someone tap my shoulder and a cup of coffee is placed in my hands again.
"Thank you." I say and I feel a kiss on the cheek.
I don't like it, even though I know it's from one of our own. I want yours there. I miss those sweet gentle kisses you used to give me. Don't get me wrong, I miss those passionate ones too, but the gentle ones were my favorite. You always poured so much into them.
I love you, and I miss you.
I miss your damn song lyrics that still filtered through your head whenever the perfect time arose for them. You always made me laugh with them.
"So, before Grandpa goes and takes a nap …what else do you spoiled brats want to know?" I take another sip and I hear whispers all around.
"The pictures, why hide them?" Makenna asks.
"Those were before our life started, and what almost ended it." I say no more about it because what lies in those boxes, are truly my most prized possessions. I look over at Makenna and she's holding my favorite one; the picture of you in bed, holding your necklace; naked, and blissed from our night together.
"Give me that!" I shout at her and she almost drops it. She quickly places it in my hands and I hold it to me.
"You don't get to touch this." I sneer under my breath. I turn to them and look at all their faces. Pity, sadness, hope, love …I see it all there in their expressions.
"Any more?" I question again. This time there are no more words.
"Well, before you try to take an old man out of his home, I'm going to go enjoy a nap one last time in my own bed." I huff as I push myself up from the chair. My bones crack and my muscles pull from sitting too long.
I slowly walk up the stairs and push open our bedroom door. I can still smell your fragrance that filters though this room. It brings me peace, knowing that you were here not too long ago.
I step over to your side of the bed and lean the picture of you against the headboard.
I still sleep on my side of the bed, as I slide over the covers, grabbing your pillow and nuzzling my nose into it. Your scent is faint, but it brings me comfort.
I drift off into my afternoon nap and I dream peacefully for once.
It doesn't seem like too long before I hear my name fall from your lips. I've tried to dream about you, but it has always fallen short.
"Edward." I hear you clearer this time and my eyes open to bright sunshine, filtering in the room.
"Would you get up, lazy ass," I hear your laugh and it brings a smile to my face.
"Bella." I say into the open space and sit up. The thing is, I sit up quickly and glance around the room and I notice that things are exactly the same as when I saw them last, but when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror attached to the dresser, I see my younger-self staring back at me. I touch my face, not believing what I'm seeing.
"Believe it, handsome." I follow the sound of your voice and I see you sitting on the window ledge through the reflection of the mirror. It's a younger version of you also, and you look so gorgeous. There is a glow about you and it's mesmerizing.
"Come to my window, crawl inside, wait by the light of the moon. Come to my window, I'll be home soon."
Your melodic voice carries through the room. There it is, one of the things I've been missing.
"What's happening?" I look at her confused. She looks over my shoulder and I turn around and follow her gaze.
I see my old, worn and weathered body lying there, and I reach out to touch it but it doesn't connect. I spin back around to look at her.
"It's time to come home, Edward." She smiles and walks towards me, wrapping her arms around my neck.
"This is our home." I say quickly, shaking my head.
"I love you, Edward. Do you remember what I said to you the night before I left?"
"To have a little faith in you," I smile, but it's quickly turned to sadness.
"I didn't want to leave you that night, it was so hard, but you holding me like that made it easier." She smiles and kisses me and I feel alive again. She pulls back, "I had to leave and get ready for you. I promised you we wouldn't be apart for long again, no matter what happened." I nod moving to kiss her again.
"Well, it's time to come with me and see what I've been doing since you've been sitting down here being a stubborn man, like always." She laughs.
"The kids, they are all here." I move to step around her but she holds me in place.
"They will be fine. They know this is what you wanted; to be here with me." She takes a hold of my hand. "I was watching you know. I noticed what our sneaky Adam was doing." She rubs my arms. "You will be proud of him. And I'm also so proud of Paul, too.
I know I wasn't there in my mind, but I know now. Damn, it sucked when I couldn't remember, but, I always remembered your touch. I remembered your smell; it always brought me back a little bit, but I didn't tell you because I couldn't."
I nod and look at her beauty, pushing the hair off of her shoulder. "I missed you so much." I kiss her and pull away.
"No matter what happened, you were always Cooler Than Me, you know." I laugh.
"I know." She nods, "That's the title of Adam's novel; it is our biography. He showed the world our love and it made him famous. He's talented you know. It's nice to know even though we are gone – we really aren't. He did something that kept our spirit alive. Our love will never die."
"We need to go, Edward.
"What's calling?" I question.
"Our forever and a day."
She winks and takes my hand and I turn it over and kiss hers.
Never in my life did I think I would have met someone like my Bella, and now, she is mine forever. I look down at my hand and the tattoo is no longer faded, but bright, new ink once again. The numbers shown proudly – no longer bled together from age.
This is the beginning of a whole new world for us, and I get to start it with her by my side.
A/N: *opens door to my bunker* Please don't shoot me! *throws hands up in surrender*. Please remember – these two had a roller coaster type of love. They had the good – the bad – and the ugly. I felt like it ended the way I needed it to. Closure. This story was a complete emotional journey for me. It was honestly one of the toughest one to write for me. I hope I captured every emotion I needed to and felt and poured it onto the pages.
I want to thank each and every one of you who have read and a special thank you to the ones who has reviewed. They meant so much to me. They were my encouragement for finishing this story.
A very heart filled thank you goes out to SunflowerFran – without you woman – this story wouldn't be as much as it is.
Another one goes out to Witchywoman – your constant encouragement was very much needed when times got tough and I wanted to give up.
MUAH to the both of you.
Thank you all for your support!