Notes: I hardly know where to start when it comes to thanking people for their help with this story. In the eight months I've been working on it I've had a number of people help me out and I can't thank them enough. First of all, to Sunflower3759 who beta-ed the original one shot and helped me write the summary. To LisaDawn75 originally, then Kherisma, and then Totoro for validating on Twilighted.
To Mandi Nikko, Deb Arrington, and Sandy from Southern Fiction Review for being my first pre-readers for this.
Enormous thanks to my pre-readers who helped me with the bulk of the story: Grnidgirl, ShellShock, and Jules Twifanawesomesox.
And biggest thanks of all to my beta Alice's White Rabbit who not only helped me tidy up my grammar, but did so much to help me out with the plot issues I was struggling with. She helped me get down on paper the way I saw this story in my head.
And thanks to all of you for your lovely reviews. I always love getting feedback on this story and hearing your opinions on the ways the characters have grown.
When I wrote the one shot, I only had a vague image of these characters and where I wanted them to go. But I've truly fallen in love with them—especially with Maggie. She's stolen my heart and I know she's stolen a lot of yours as well.
So it's with mixed feelings that I mark this story as complete as I post the epilogue, set at Maggie's college graduation. Enjoy.
Chapter 35: Epilogue – The Future
"It seems hard to believe it's been over four years since my graduation," I said, turning to look at my husband.
Edward smiled and shifted David to his other shoulder, patting his back gently. I'd given birth to him ten months prior, and he was getting so big. He was an easy-going baby for the most part, sleeping through the night, and eager and curious to take in the world around him during the day. We were lucky parents.
Edward and I were at the Chiles' Center for Maggie's college graduation. The last three years had absolutely flown by, and the fact that she was graduating from college already was a little bit staggering. Between her A.P. courses and taking classes during the summer, she'd completed her pre-med program in three years.
"I'm having a very hard time believing my little girl is all grown up," Edward admitted. He pressed his lips to David's head for a moment, smiling at me. "At least we have quite a while before this one is ready to graduate."
I ran my finger across David's cheek and his long lashes fluttered. He was such a beautiful baby, although I was, of course, just as biased as every other mother out there. To my surprise, he had taken after me more than Edward, with dark brown hair and very fair skin. His eyes were a curious mix of mine and Edward's though, a hazel color with both brown and green in them. At less than a year old, it was very possible that might still change.
His expressions were very reminiscent of Edward and Maggie though, and I loved that. Maggie had been delighted to get a little brother finally, and my fears that she might think we'd love her less because we had a child of our own were unfounded. I knew it helped that she was already in college and beginning her own adult life by the time we had him. Still, it made me happy that they were so close. She lived in the dorms at UP the first few years, and then an apartment, but came home to visit fairly often. Once David was born, she happily babysat for us every chance she got.
Juggling two full-time jobs and a newborn baby wasn't exactly easy for Edward and me, but we made it work with help from our friends and family. Shelly Cope, my former coworker in the patient registration department, had found herself bored by retirement. Shortly after David's birth, I ran into her in the pharmacy and mentioned we were still trying to figure out childcare when I was done with maternity leave. She lit up, offering to watch him for us, and it turned out to be the perfect solution. She had raised five children and was one of the sweetest, most trustworthy people I knew.
Elizabeth and my mother were happy to spend as much time with their grandson as possible, but Shelly was the perfect solution for the day-to-day care. David adored her, and it made it much easier to leave him in her capable hands than send him to daycare with a stranger.
Someone slid into the seat beside me, and I smiled when I realized it was Maggie's fiancé, Liam.
"Hi, Liam," I greeted him. Maggie and Liam had become engaged over the holidays, and were getting married at the end of the summer before Maggie went to med school.
"Hey, Mrs. Cullen." He glanced over me at Edward. "Mr. Cullen."
Edward shook his head. "How many times are we going to have to remind you that you can call us by our first names?"
Liam shrugged and ducked his head a little bashfully, "I don't know, probably a thousand more."
The day Maggie had come home from a tour of UP absolutely giddy, I suspected there was a boy involved. And there was. His name was Liam, he was a twenty-one year old pre-med student, and she was smitten. Of course, she was only seventeen, and still a senior in high school, while he was four years older, and about to graduate college.
A few days later, she confessed to us that they'd exchanged phone numbers and he'd contacted her already. Edward was not amused. He did his best to remain calm while she gushed about Liam and waited until we were in the bedroom to blow his lid.
"She's seventeen, Bella, and he's … twenty-one! He's too old for her!" he ranted.
"Edward," I said gently. "All they've done so far is text each other and talk on the phone a few times."
He groaned and sat heavily on the bed. "I knew this day would come."
"When Maggie met a guy she liked?" I asked.
"When she met an older guy. Seriously, that's just my luck."
I gently cupped his cheek in my hand and tilted his head to look up at me. "It's not the end of the world."
"She's going to throw our age difference back in my face if we tell her she can't date him."
"Probably," I agreed. "And honestly, yes, four years is a bit of a gap at that age, but it isn't the end of the world. Maggie's very mature."
He sighed. "I know she is. I just … don't like it."
I leaned forward and pressed my forehead to his for a moment. "I know you don't. But if you aren't careful, you're going to start acting like my father."
Edward grimaced. "Am I being that bad?"
"No, you were actually quite calm with her, all things considered. I just want you to remember that when she tells us that he asked her out on a date." Edward groaned and fell back on the bed.
"You think he will?"
"I think you have a very beautiful, very bright, and funny daughter. Yeah, I think this guy will probably want to go out with her. He'd be an idiot if he didn't."
"What do I do? I mean, my instinct is, of course, to tell her no. But she's allowed to date, and I don't actually have any good reason to say no other than the fact that I don't like it."
I chuckled. "Well, I think it would be pretty reasonable if you asked to meet him first. Other than that though …" I shrugged. "She's headed off to college in four months. She'll be able to do whatever the hell she wants. I think your best bet is trying to be reasonable about this. Meet the guy, get to know him, and trust that Maggie is a good judge of character."
Edward grumbled a little more, but agreed. He knew I was right, even though every instinct in him wanted to forbid Maggie from seeing Liam. What Edward finally admitted to me was that it made him uncomfortable realizing that Liam was actually a year closer in age to me than to Maggie. It was an odd, discomfiting realization, but that didn't change the fact that Maggie was over the moon about the guy.
When Liam did ask Maggie out, he readily agreed to meet us first. He was tall, and a little lanky, with dark brown hair, brown eyes, and a sweet, boyish smile. He was certainly cute, but not quite the complete and utter dreamboat Maggie described. I smiled to myself when I realized just how smitten with him she was.
To Edward's surprise, he liked Liam. He didn't really want to, but it wasn't hard to see that Liam was smart, ambitious, and hard-working. He was planning to be a doctor, was on the Dean's List, and was polite and well-mannered. And it didn't take long to see that he was just as smitten with Maggie as she was with him.
I would never really understand a father's over-protectiveness of his daughter, but I deeply appreciated that Edward had learned his lesson from the experience with my father and that he was willing to listen to reason. He gave her a few reminders about being careful that had Maggie squirming uncomfortably and the usual rules about curfews and expectations, but he didn't go overboard. He stepped back and let Maggie date Liam, and soon, even Edward admitted that Liam was good for her.
Neither of us had really expected their relationship to last through the last few months of her senior year of high school, let alone all the way through college. They had a few minor rough patches, especially during her sophomore year of college, which I thought was perfectly normal. But ever since then, their relationship had been solid, and now they were engaged.
A hand touched my shoulder, and I was jolted out of my reverie. "Sorry to startle you," Elizabeth said, smiling at me. I got up and turned around to greet my mother-in-law.
"It's okay. Good to see you. You look wonderful." I kissed her on the cheek, and she beamed at me. She and Senior had just gotten back from a trip to Greece, and there was color in both of their cheeks. Elizabeth had needed a hip replacement the year prior, and although she recovered remarkably well, this was the first trip they'd taken since, and clearly it had been good for both of them.
"You do, too." She beamed at me. "Motherhood agrees with you."
I'd been told that several times by various people and brushed it off, but when I'd seen pictures of Edward, David, and me that had been taken a few weeks ago, I actually agreed. Sure, my hips were a bit wider, my stomach was less toned, but the joy on my face was unmistakable. Plus, Edward had a way of making the changes in my body feel like improvements rather than flaws. During the pregnancy, he'd spent as much time as possible glued to me, his fingers softly running over the ever-expanding swell of my stomach. Every awkward, uncomfortable change in my body was a revelation through his eyes, and I quickly learned to appreciate the way he saw me. It wasn't hard to imagine the way Heidi had dealt with being pregnant and how much Edward had missed out on being a part of it.
So we reveled in it together.
It became a ritual every night for him to caress my body lovingly while we talked about the pregnancy and our plans for after the baby was born. Every time, it ended with a sweet kiss on my stomach, and I fell that much more in love with my husband. The man was by no means perfect, but he certainly was the most amazing person I had ever met.
The sight of him holding David for the first time made me love them both so much that I thought my heart would break. We certainly could have been happy without having a child together, but I was glad we'd made the decision to have one. Edward as a father was not something to be missed, and we both loved our son dearly.
Elizabeth moved on to greeting Liam and Edward and then quickly scooped up David. She was delighted to have a grandson and doted on him with all of the love a grandmother could give. I hugged Senior, and we talked for a little bit about their trip while we waited for the ceremony to start.
The rest of the family arrived en masse, with Esme and Carlisle, my parents, Alice and Jasper, Rosalie and Emmett arriving one right after each other. Heidi joined us a little later, and I nodded at her and smiled. Although everyone was polite to her, she always looked vaguely uncomfortable and out of place at large family gatherings.
She'd come a long way, though. As a member of the marketing department, I found myself working with her on a semi-regular basis, creating new campaigns for the hospital fundraisers, and we could have made each other's lives miserable in the last few years. I was grateful she'd chosen to take the higher road.
After Felix left, Heidi focused on Maggie. In the years since then, she'd dated a few men, all successful and well to do. Maggie was neutral on them, and none of the relationships ever seemed to go anywhere. Sometimes, I felt a bit sad for Heidi, knowing that she'd probably never know the kind of love that Edward and I had. But, she seemed content with her recent shift from vice president of the foundation at the hospital to board member. If work brought her more happiness than a romantic relationship, that was her choice. It wasn't my place to judge.
These days, Heidi worked with Edward more than me, and they were cordial at work. We all knew there were people looking over our shoulders, expecting drama from the three of us, but they'd been sadly disappointed.
Most importantly, Heidi had made a real effort to repair her relationship with her daughter, and I could tell that meant a great deal to both of them.
The graduation ceremony began, but it was like mine had been, long and tedious, and I found my mind wandering to think about our family. My parents were doing well, and my father had just a few more years until retirement. He and Maggie were closer than ever, and he still beamed when she called him Chief. She'd nearly given us all heart attacks when she told us about the time the Chief had taken her to the shooting range to teach her how to use a gun. But apparently, they'd had a blast.
Emmett had been promoted at work, and he and Rose had two beautiful little girls. She was still happily working as a teacher, and they'd finished remodeling their home.
Alice and Jasper had gotten married a few years back and seemed blissfully happy—if the way they were cuddling and flirting with each other at the moment was any indication anyway. It hadn't necessarily been easy for them though. Alice's past relationship had certainly led to some bumps in the road, but they had worked through them, and she had moved to Portland about six months after they met. Now, they seemed very content. There was no talk of babies yet, although I knew they both were hoping to have children eventually.
Tanya and Bryan had both graduated; him with a law degree, Tanya with one in business administration. Unfortunately, she hadn't been able to get hired at Providence, but she was still in Portland at one of the other hospitals. They had gotten married the same summer Edward and I did, although they hadn't had any children yet. With Bryan easily working eighty-hour weeks to hopefully make partner at the law firm he'd been hired at, children just weren't on their radar yet.
Garrett and Kate had become quite good friends of ours as well, and Edward and I often hosted dinner parties and more casual get-togethers. They got along well with our other friends, and we enjoyed having so many people to socialize with.
Edward often said I'd changed his life completely, and while that was true, he had changed my life just as much. Maybe settling into a serious relationship with a man seventeen years my senior when I was twenty-three, marrying Edward at twenty-four, and having a baby by twenty-six seemed hasty to some people, but I'd never regretted it.
I felt Edward's thumb skim across the back of my hand, and I tuned back in to listen to the speaker drone on and on. He brushed it slowly back and forth, making my skin prickle. His other arm had settled around my shoulders, and I snuggled as close as the seats would allow. David was happily snoozing in my father's arms, which made me smile.
Whatever my father's initial thoughts about Edward had been, he had more than admitted since then that he had been wrong. He loved Edward now, although he didn't necessarily say that out loud. He did say it to Maggie and David though, and I knew he was pleased by the happiness I'd found.
My attention returned to the graduation ceremony when it was time for Maggie to receive her diploma, and the noise our family made when her named was called was deafening. Tanya and Emmett's whistles were ear-shattering, and I winced when David started to cry. My mother was unsuccessful at soothing him, so she passed him back to me. I hummed a little, gently jostling him, and his tightly scrunched, red face gradually relaxed. Eventually, he fell asleep on my shoulder, and I pressed my lips to his downy dark hair and the soft skin below it.
Sometimes, the thought that he was a part of both myself and Edward astonished me. We had created him, made a whole new life together. I didn't love him any more than I loved Maggie, but it did sometimes make me wistful that I hadn't given birth to her, despite the many reasons I knew it was a foolish, impossible thought.
I still had my hands full with David when the ceremony finished, so I moved a bit more slowly down the steps than the rest of the crowd. I watched our family and Liam congratulate her as I approached. When I finally reached Maggie, she hugged me as tightly as she could, mindful of the baby, and kissed my cheek. "Hey, there you two are!" she said happily, holding her arms out to take David. She held him tight and rubbed her nose against his cheek. He made a soft sound and clung to her neck. I loved watching them interact, and they never failed to make me smile. She continued to talk to other people with David cradled in her arms, his small fists mussing the curls I was sure she'd spent time carefully smoothing this morning. She either didn't notice or didn't care.
"She's a lot like Edward, isn't she?" Heidi asked, and I turned to her and nodded. "She really loves kids."
"She does," I agreed.
"Goodness knows, she didn't get it from me," Heidi said.
I hummed noncommittally and then spoke. "There are plenty of good traits she got from you. Your drive and ambition got her here, graduating in three years with honors."
Heidi smiled genuinely and smoothed down the fabric of her stylish grey dress. "It's nice to see I did a few things right."
"You did more than a few things right," I said honestly. "Maggie has turned out to be an incredible young woman."
"Thank you," Heidi said. "I could say the same to you."
"Let's call it a group effort then," I said with a smile.
Heidi went to say something, but Maggie interrupted. "Apparently, I have to give Davey back to you," she said, handing him to me with a frown. "I'm supposed to pose for pictures, I guess."
I laughed and took him, settling him onto my hip.
Heidi smiled at her daughter. "Your hair's a bit … disheveled now, Maggie."
Maggie laughed and looked down at her hair to inspect the damage David had done. It was long now, well past her shoulders. She shrugged and flipped it over her shoulder, "Oh well."
I could see the perfectionist in Heidi warring with the desire to not be too critical of Maggie. With a small sigh, she nodded. "Never mind, you're perfect just the way you are."
Maggie leaned in and hugged her mother, whispering something in her ear that I couldn't hear.
She stepped away to take photos, and Heidi and I stood off to the side, watching her interact with the family. I watched as she laughed at something her grandmother Cullen said and saw my father hugging her, his mustache unable to hide the proud grin on his face. I caught a glimpse of my mother talking to Maggie, cupping her cheek to look into her eyes like she'd done a thousand times to me.
By the time Maggie was done, Heidi had slipped away, and Maggie and Liam came over to me. She leaned in to give David and me another hug.
"I didn't get a chance to say this earlier, sweetheart. Congratulations, I'm so proud of you," I said, cupping her cheek. I suddenly realized it was a habit I'd picked up from my mother and chuckled to myself.
Her green eyes met mine, happiness making them bright and vibrant. "Thanks, Bella. That means the world to me."
She looked over at Liam, and when he caught her eye, he smiled at her like she was his whole world. They were so sweet together, and over the years, I'd grown to care about him very much, knowing how well they suited each other. Maggie had dated a little in high school, although she never seemed terribly serious about any of the guys. The minute she met Liam though, she was a goner. It didn't surprise me, she was so much like her father, and I was glad to see we'd helped show her what a happy, healthy romantic relationship could be like.
I saw Carlisle and Edward Sr. greet Liam, and they all struck up a conversation. Over the years, Liam had grown more and more comfortable with the family. The fact that Liam was a doctor gave them a lot in common, and once they were sure he was going to treat Maggie right, they welcomed him with open arms. Although, my father still made him nervous. Understandable, as he'd been even less thrilled than Edward about the idea of "his" Maggie dating an older boy. I wanted to roll my eyes at the ridiculousness of fathers, but I appreciated the love that he had for my step daughter.
A short while later, we went outside to take more pictures, and I was hopeful that one of the ones of Maggie, David, Edward and myself would turn out well. I wanted to frame it and put it on my desk at work. Over the years, the collection of photos of my family had changed, but the first one of Edward and Maggie that she'd given me was still there.
After the photos were done, we found our vehicles and all headed for the restaurant where we were going to celebrate with dinner. Due to the large number of people attending, Edward had rented a private room. It was perhaps a bit extravagant, but we could afford it. Together, our combined income was more than enough for us, especially on top of the family money Edward had inherited and some investments he'd made. We had the means to live quite luxuriously, to be honest, but wanting both Maggie and David to grow up with a solid, hard-working attitude, we tried to keep from spoiling them.
Still, Maggie's accomplishment of not only graduating early, but graduating with honors, was something worth splurging on a bit.
Before she'd left for college, Edward and I had made a deal with her. To cover what scholarships hadn't, we, along with Heidi, would loan her the money for tuition, and a reasonable amount for living expenses, on the condition that if the money ran out before she was done with school, she'd have to get a job and pay us back a portion of the money. We'd allowed for a few exceptions, rewarding her with a spring break trip with some friends her sophomore year because she was doing so well. And we'd had to make a few adjustments as the cost of living rose. But she'd actually managed to come out under budget by graduating early, and our surprise for her tonight was that she'd get to keep the money. She had earned a scholarship to med school, so she was covered there. This would be for her to do whatever she wanted with. Although knowing her, she'd probably put it in savings. The girl was nothing if not practical and self-disciplined.
I slipped into the back seat of the car and maneuvered things so I could feed David. With a blanket thrown over us, it was private enough, and it would mean that he would, hopefully, be able to sleep right through our dinner celebration. Edward leaned on the open car door as we discussed the ceremony, although he chuckled when I admitted I'd barely been paying attention except for the parts that directly involved Maggie. When David was done, I watched as Edward buckled him into his car seat and smoothed down his hair. If there was one feature he'd certainly inherited from his father, it was the tendency for his hair to grow in every direction. He was drowsy and content, his face placid, and his cheeks just a little bit rosy.
"Hard to believe we have one kid graduated from college and another that's under a year," Edward said, rounding the corner of the vehicle and opening my door for me.
I smiled sadly at him. "Well, technically …" my voice trailed off.
"Hey, just because Maggie isn't biologically both of ours doesn't mean she isn't our kid." Edward chided me gently as he pulled me close.
"I know," I said with a sigh. "I do. I've just been feeling … wistful about it, I guess."
It was something we'd discussed before, and most days, I didn't even think twice about it. But today, it was hitting me for some reason.
Edward smoothed my hair away from my cheek and his other arm tightened around me. "You shouldn't."
"I know," I admitted.
"She loves you so much, Bella."
"And I love her. Nothing would or could change that. I just have these weird moments."
"No matter how we got here, the four of us are a family. You know that."
"I do. Like I said, I'm being silly."
"I am glad you tell me when you're feeling that way."
I leaned forward and kissed him, brushing my thumb against the creases at the corners of his eyes. I still loved them like mad. "I will always tell you everything."
"We sure wouldn't have made it this far without good communication," he said, letting me go so I could slip into the car.
I replied once he'd closed my door and climbed into the driver's seat. "Very true," I agreed with a soft laugh, threading our fingers together.
"Now, we have a graduation party to get to," he reminded me. "We're hosting, and I think we'll be the last ones there."
We were the last ones there, but the restaurant staff was efficient and well-trained, and our family was already in the private room, sipping drinks and munching on appetizers.
Dinner was delicious and the mood around the table joyous and celebratory. I found myself watching Maggie and Liam interact. It made me smile to realize how much like Edward he was: thoughtful, solicitous, and unafraid of showing affection. They said that women often ended up with men who were like their father. I glanced down the table and saw my father offer my mother the last roll in the basket and whisper something in her ear that made her cheeks flush. My father and Edward were very different, but the love and respect they had for their wives was certainly there. Things were much the same between Maggie and Liam.
Maggie had found a man who loved and respected her as much as Edward loved and respected me, and what more could we ask for? Liam let his hand slide across her shoulder as he kissed her temple. She was laughing, her green eyes sparkling with love and happiness. She had grown, matured into a lovely young woman, inside and out. Her features were more refined, her demeanor that of an adult, but the biggest change was her attitude. Surly and hurting when we first met, she had lashed out at me. Now, after years of love and gentle guidance, she was poised, gracious, and loving. She was everything Edward had always hoped she'd grow up to be.
I caught a glimpse of Heidi sitting on the other side of Liam, quiet but happy to take part in her daughter's big day. She nodded at me and mouthed the words 'thank you'. I dipped my head in acknowledgement and tilted my glass toward her. I mouthed the words back to her. I wanted to thank her for giving birth to Maggie, for all of the choices, good and bad, that she'd made that had brought Edward and Maggie into my life at just the right moment.
If it had happened earlier or later, I might have missed the chance to be a part of their lives, and in many ways, I owed my current happiness to Heidi.
After the delicious dinner was over, gifts were opened. Maggie reacted exactly like Edward and I expected, with tears, when we gave her the check for the remaining money in her college fund. I made a mental note to thank my parents, acknowledging their part in this. Because without them, it might not have occurred to Edward and me to do anything but give Maggie the money for school outright. Having to work to pay for school gave me a good head on my shoulders for money, and although we certainly had the means to pay for Maggie's education, giving her a goal to work toward had helped her value it.
Heidi was the first to leave the party, although she said a long and heartfelt goodbye to her daughter, and politely and sincerely thanked Edward and me. Her gift to Maggie had been a week-long trip to the Caribbean for just the two of them, and Maggie was thrilled. Heidi had long ago learned that Heidi's time meant more to Maggie than anything else.
After the party was over, I took one last look through the dining room to be sure we hadn't left anything, and Edward carried David out to the car.
Maggie and Liam were the last two out the door of the restaurant, and I noticed him head out to the parking lot as she fell in step beside me. "Did you have a nice time tonight?" I asked her, and she beamed at me.
"The best. Thank you."
"We loved doing this for you, you know that?"
"I know, but I still appreciate it." She leaned forward, hugging me tightly.
"We are so proud of you, sweetheart," I said, hugging her back.
It still startled me that I was shorter than Maggie now. Her senior year of high school, she'd had a growth spurt that put her an inch taller than me. I should have been used to it by now, but somehow, it still managed to surprise me every time.
The look on her face when she drew back was surprisingly serious, and it made me pause. "Are you okay?" I asked her, concerned.
She nodded and hesitated a moment before she spoke. "I just don't know if I ever really thanked you for what you did for me and Dad."
I looked at her, puzzled, as she continued. "I don't know, I guess being here today made me think about your graduation and what it must have been like for you. You were only a few years older than I am now, and it's incredible what you managed to do. You were this amazing role model for me, and so strong, dealing with Dad's past, and my mom, and all of my bullshit. I don't know how you did it."
I sniffled as tears ran down my face. "Oh, Maggie, I loved you both. I did it because I couldn't imagine the two of you not being in my life."
She wiped a few tears away, too, and nodded. "I just don't know if I could do it."
I smiled at her through my tears. "Well, thankfully, you don't have to deal with what your father and I did. You and Liam have had a much less complicated relationship."
She laughed softly. "Thank goodness for that."
I nodded my agreement. "I think getting married and focusing on school until you become Doctor and Doctor Sullivan will be enough."
At twenty, she was young, but neither Edward nor I had any doubts about her relationship with Liam or their readiness to be married.
"Just as long as you don't make me a twenty-seven year old grandmother," I teased with a smile.
Maggie laughed. "Well, you know we want kids someday, but I'd at least like to wait until I'm through my residency before that happens. After all, I have to get hired at Providence. You know I'm aiming for Uncle Carlisle's position someday."
Liam actually worked at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, but Maggie was sticking to her plan to work at Providence where the vast majority of our family either formerly or currently worked. We were all happy about it, but Edward Senior, in particular, was thrilled. He proudly bragged about his bright and ambitious granddaughter who'd be carrying on the Cullen tradition.
Maggie grew more serious. "I just hope you know how much I appreciate everything you did for me. I love my mom, you know I do, but you are the one I've looked up to since you became a part of my life, and in a lot of ways, I've felt much closer to you. Mom's changed a lot, and we're so much closer than we were, but I have to wonder if any of that would have happened without you. I aspire to be half the woman you are. I just hope you know I'm grateful."
I reached for Maggie and hugged her again. "You never have to thank me for that; I did it because I love you, Maggie."
"I love you, too, Bella." She sighed and pulled back, looking at me seriously for a long moment. "Not to discount everything Dad did, because what he did was amazing. But believe me when I say you completely changed my life. You might not have been my biological mother, or even the person who raised me most of my life, but Bella, you were a wonderful mother to me. Davey is so lucky to have you."
I burst into tears at her sweet words. Although I had never doubted for a moment how much Maggie cared about me, hearing her say that meant so much to me. And hearing her refer to me as her mother was almost more than I could take.
"Oh, Maggie," I choked out. She hugged me one last time and kissed me on the cheek as Liam pulled his car around.
"Love you, Bella. We'll see you at dinner next week, okay?"
"I love you, too, sweetheart," I said, trying to wipe away the wetness on my cheeks. "See you Sunday." I waved goodbye to her as she got in the car.
"Hey," I felt a soft touch on my shoulder, and Edward's arm slid around me. "You okay?"
"Our daughter is making me cry," I said through my tears.
"Our daughter?" Edward said softly in my ear.
I pulled myself together the best I could and told him about the conversation Maggie and I'd had, nearly ending up in tears again. "Yeah, our daughter."
"I'm such a lucky man to have you, Maggie, and David in my life," Edward said roughly, his lips brushing against my temple.
I pressed closer to him, feeling his arms close around me tightly. I was the lucky one. I had never imagined what would come of my impulsive desire for him. If I had, I wondered if I would have been brave enough to go for it. To cross the break room, to grab his tie and kiss him as if our careers—our futures—weren't hanging in the balance.
Maybe not knowing just what we were risking had allowed me to be bold enough to take the first step. All I knew was that I was grateful I'd done it. Every day, I took a moment to remind myself just how lucky I was to have found Edward. To have become a part of his life and of Maggie's.
I would never know what it was that had prompted me to do something so risky. Was it lust? Or something deeper? Some nudge from fate guiding me down the path I needed to take, perhaps?
I had been stupid and reckless, coming on to my boss at work, pursing something with a man seventeen years my senior. And yet, I'd been given the greatest reward of all in that break room.
Notes: Now that we're at the end of the story, I hardly know what to say and I'm sure you're struggling too. I would love to hear from the regular reviewers what you thought of the final piece of the story. And for those of you who haven't reviewed, I'd love to know what you thought of the story as a whole. Whether it's constructive criticism, a quick note saying you enjoyed it, or letting me know what your favorite part of the story was, I'd really like to hear from you. It would mean the world to me.
I'm sure you're wondering what I will be posting next. I am working on a continuation of my o/s "Blood Dream". Here is the summary for the o/s: Investment banker, Edward Cullen, wakes up covered in blood with a black lace thong on his floor and no memory of the night before except for an image of a pair of bright red eyes.
The o/s WILL be re-posted as the first chapter of the continuation, which will be titled "Dreaming in Blood". It's going to be dark and definitely non-canon. There will be canon couples, but don't expect the typical personalities for the characters, this is definitely a vamp story with a twist.
I have the story partially written and would like to take a few weeks to make some more progress on that and get caught up on review replies. Expect the story to begin posting in Mid-July.
Also, I have written a story for the Fandom for Oklahoma fundraiser called "Doc McCarty and the Big, Purple Cat Toy". If you haven't made a donation yet and are interested in reading this story, please do so!
Summary: Can a tabby cat with an appetite for silicone toys bring together a lonely computer programmer and a hot veterinarian looking for love? Slash Emmett/Edward
Here is the link to donate and read a teaser for the o/s: oklahoma#fandomcause#info/?page_id=19
I have a Facebook group called Discordia's Library. If you'd like to join, add me as a friend on FB, and let me know you'd like to be added to the group.
Please stop by to chat or look for teasers in the following places:
Facebook Group: Discordia's Library
(Copy and paste the link and replace the # with a period)