The Blood Of One. The Sins Of Many.
Chapter 38: Epilogue
Disclaimer: I am not Stephenie Meyer; it's unfortunate, but true. I don't own Twilight or any of its characters either... Though I would love to, I can't take credit for that genius. The plot is my own, but all references to Twilight, its characters and the lyrics used belong to their respective owners. Thank you for letting me play in the playground!
Please don't go just yet
Can you stay a moment please?
We can dance together
We can dance forever
Broken Wings by Flyleaf
I woke up to an empty bed. My hands shuffled over the cool sheets until they hit the edge of the mattress. That was a first. Since we'd come back from Vegas almost three months earlier, he'd been there every morning when I woke up. It had started out of necessity. Once the drugs had completely bled from my system again, I'd gone through a less brutal version of the detox all over again. It hadn't been as bad as the first time, but it still made me determined to never have to go through it again. In all honesty, being as happy as I was with Edward, the cravings started to subside. I knew they would always be a part of my life, but replacing them with sex was a solution I could live with.
Still, Edward wasn't there, and it wasn't so much that it bothered me. It was just – weird.
The house was quiet as I sat up, but that's what living with vampires was all about. It was quiet even when it was teeming with life. I pulled on a ratty pair of flannel pajama pants and ambled toward the door. My legs were aching from being curled into a ball, and the workout I'd had the night before. I couldn't help but smile at the memory as I stretched out my body.
When I finally opened the door, I let out a yelp and stumbled backward, stubbing my toe on a dresser, which in turn had me hopping about on one foot while I massaged the other. The fucking vampires were going to end up giving me a coronary. Their hearts were in the right place, and the thought of a huge mural on the wall across from my door with a banner and balloons that screamed happy birthday was heart warming and all, but not what I'd been expecting when I opened the door.
Rosalie, Tanya and Alice stuck their heads inside the door, all smiles as they tried not to laugh at my pathetic imitation of a one legged bunny rabbit as I massaged the last of the sting from my toe.
"Happy birthday." They all said together. They stepped into the room with a tray of food, several bags and a few garment bags.
"What the hell is this?"
"A surprise," Alice said gently, hanging the garment bags on a hook that was over the bathroom door. "First, eat your birthday breakfast."
Tanya dropped the tray on the bed and smiled proudly as she revealed all of my favorite foods.
"Awe honey, you cooked."
"You know better than to accuse me of something so mundane. Esme made it."
"Thank God," Rosalie said. "Tanya in the kitchen gives me images of complete disaster."
I popped a strawberry in my mouth and looked between the three of them, narrowing my eyes as I tried to figure out what they were up to. They got points for the fresh fruit and whipped cream on the waffles, but they weren't off the hook yet.
"I don't like surprises." I clarified, cutting into the waffle and dropping some cream and fruit on it.
"Tough titties, my friend. Today is all about them. You can be mad later," Rosalie said, dropping onto the bed beside me. "Just be gracious."
"You live simply to torture me, don't you?"
"No, darling. We love you. All of this is about making you happy." Tanya sang merrily. Picking up a blueberry and sniffing at it. She stuck her tongue out and tasted it, screwing up her face as though she'd swallowed a lemon. I stifled my laughter and shook my head. It seemed to be the one lesson she never learned, even with her photographic memory. She had to taste everything I ate, and the reaction was always the same.
Anyway, like I believed that for a second. Well, I knew they loved me, because I loved them with everything I was. They'd become a huge staple in my life. If it hadn't ben for them I could be dead, brain dead, or locked in my room with Edward for the rest of my life. Though the latter really didn't feel like a hardship. They did, however, live to torture me.
"Okay, at least tell me where Edward is."
"Can I say hello?"
"Nope. Not until later."
"What the hell guys? It's my birthday. As much as I love you all I was kinda hoping his face would be the one I saw first thing this morning."
There was a quiet knock at the door, and Tanya hopped up from the bed and danced toward it. The moment she cracked it open, she launched herself at the body on the other side. Ryan caught her easily, his copper colored eyes full of his happiness as he kissed her hungrily. The two of them had been inseparable since Vegas. They were good for one another, and were falling more and more in love the longer they spent together. Ryan had latched onto their diet easily and was able to be around me without having to hold his breath. As happy as I was for them, it didn't mean I was happy about this display when I was forbidden to see Edward.
"You're a heartless woman, Tanya."
She shot me the finger as Alice kicked the door closed. I continued to eat in silence as I pondered what the hell they were up to. My narrowed eyes moved between the two left in the room. I decided Alice was the easiest target, so I zeroed in on her.
"What's in the bag?"
"What's in the garment bags?"
"If this is prom all over again I will hurt you."
"No you won't, and twenty-five is entirely too old for prom."
"Who are you calling old? Weren't you born in the twenties?"
Rosalie started to laugh on the bed next to me. Her eyes alight with humor as she watched Alice and me glare at one another. We weren't mad so much as it was a test of wills. The fact she didn't have to blink really meant that she was going to win. My eyes were going to dry out long before she felt the compulsion to flap the flesh.
"Rosalie Lillian Hale McCarty Cullen, tell me."
"You think full naming me is going to help you out?"
A girl can dream, I thought, giving her a pleading smile and puppy dog eyes. "It works with Edward."
Alice and Rosalie both laughed, and Tanya reentered with a resplendent smile. She nodded once, and both Rosalie and Alice smiled back at her. I was seriously going to scream soon if they didn't tell me something. I finished eating with a fully-fledged pout, which I kept on while I showered and brushed my teeth. I was considering locking myself in the bathroom, but Alice would have seen the choice and had a screwdriver ready. It really didn't leave a girl a lot of options.
I was forced to endure hair and make up, the whole time asking questions, even though I was pretty sure that I already knew the answer as they were working on themselves too. They were throwing me a party, and I had vetoed that a month ago because of the disaster that was my eighteen birthday. My prodding and empty threats did nothing to make them reveal what they were doing though.
"Alice?" I asked as I was finally relieved from the vanity where I wasn't allowed to look at myself.
"Can you tell me one thing?" I said, munching on the lunch that had also been delivered to me.
"Depends on the question."
"Can you see my reaction? When you made the decision to do this can you see how I react to it?"
"Finally. A question I can answer," she said gently, sitting next to me on the bed, her dark hair was perfectly sculptured while Rose and Tanya were still in front of the mirror trying to decide whether they were wearing theirs up or down. "You're going to be very happy. If I hadn't had the answer to that, none of us would be doing this."
It should have made me feel better, but it really didn't. I felt like a spring loaded and coiled tight, waiting for release. I hated not knowing.
"Now," she said getting up, and digging through one of the bags. "Put this on, and put on your robe."
She handed me a flesh colored corset with a garter belt and the sexiest undies I'd ever laid eyes on. I stared at them and then her, and back to them again.
"Just trust me. You'll thank me later."
I moved to the walk in closet and pulled off my robe, and pulled on the crazy underwear. With the laces at the back of the corset, I was forced to open the door and plead for help from my captors. Alice, of course, was more than happy to help. She tugged the things tight until my boobs were perky and my cleavage ample.
"Hello girls." I hummed, looking down in wonder. I'd worn corsets at work before, but they'd always been the hook and eye kind that I could remove easily. After all I had been a stripper, without the boob show it would have been kind of pointless.
"Wow." Tanya laughed from the bathroom door. "I may have to change my mind after all."
"Shut up. You missed your opportunity. You have perma-peen now."
"I'm sure he wouldn't mind sharing if you look like that." She snorted without apology.
I rolled my eyes and pulled the robe around me. I sat on the bed and carefully rolled on the stockings and clipped them, feeling like I should be wearing bloomers rather that the lace number that was shirking up my ass.
"Stage one complete," Alice said, gathering up a bag and the garment sacks from the door. "You get a surprise for being so accommodating."
I was tugged out of my room and down the stairs. All four of us were in robes.
"Are we doing some kind of burlesque show?"
"Dammit." Tanya laughed, looping her arm through mine. "Why didn't I think of that? I guess there's always Christmas."
"Close your eyes, Bella."
I did as I was told on impulse, then fell to their mercy as they guided me down the stairs. My logic was that if I fell, I would be forced back into my bed by the good doctor. I could spend days there while I recovered. I didn't think the thing through well enough though. They were vampires, one sign of a tumble and I would be safer than the president.
I opened my eyes and squealed. Stood before me were Paul and Leah, both of them dressed to the nines, including Paul tugging at the collar of his starched white shirt, and Leah tugging at the hem of her beautiful, flowing, silver dress as though willing it to grow a couple of inches. I launched myself at them, Paul catching me easily before spinning me around and dropping a kiss to my cheek. Leah shoved him out of the way and pulled me into an embrace, she was beaming.
"Look at you."
"I can't, they won't let me see a mirror."
"Then look at your tits," Paul said, his eyes on the spot where my robe had come apart. Leah slapped his arm and rolled her eyes. "What? It's a compliment."
"What are you guys doing here?" I asked, choosing to ignore Paul's last comment and tugging the side of my robe together.
"We were invited, and it's your birthday. We figured why the hell not."
"Then why are you in a dress? And why is Paul in a well tailored suit?"
Leah eyed the three women behind me and shook her head as though she were banned from saying anything. Before I could ask anymore questions, Rosalie stepped forward and grabbed my hand, ignoring my protests. She pulled me to the cavernous downstairs bathroom, as Alice and Tanya followed, garment bags in hand.
"I'll be right back." I called over my shoulder.
I was shut inside, and placed against the wall. The three women were almost vibrating with excitement. Three of the four garment bags were hung on the towel rack, while another was held up in front of me.
"Okay. Here's the big reveal," Tanya said.
"Just remember that we love you and we've been listening to you for months," Rosalie said while Alice started unzipping the bag.
"Which is why this was done as a surprise." Alice finished, pulling out a beautiful, white floor length, empire waisted gown. The bust of the dress had a beautifully intricate design of precious stones. The fabric of the skirts fell like air to the ground, with the capped sleeves in the same airless fabric.
My heart started a weird rhythm in my chest and pounded up my throat until it echoed in my ears. I leaned against the wall as I looked past the three women to the mirror beyond them. My hair was a knot at the back of my head with curled tendrils falling freely, my make up was perfect, but it was my high colored cheeks and bright eyes that made me realize that what I was feeling was excitement.
"I'm getting married."
"Can I just say how glad I am that you know me so well? I was dreading the planning and decisions and this is... Well, it's perfect."
The three of them smiled and rushed forward, arms folding around me so we were a myriad of limbs and heads. I really had been dreading the whole planning a wedding part of getting married. I'd never really had a vision of how I would get married, where I would get married or even what I would wear. It wasn't in my DNA, and the thought of it just stressed me out completely. This though, this had eliminated everything other than me saying I do, and that I could live with.
"Paul's here to give you away," Rose said gently, her hand grabbing mine. "We figured that... Well, he's the closest thing to a brother that you have other than Emmett. He was also part of your life with your dad. I hope we did the right thing?"
I felt the stinging in my eyes and tilted my head back to keep them inside. It was thing like this that made me see how much they cared, and how well they knew the real me. They were the only ones that would have put the two pieces of my life together and come up with the right answer.
"I love you." I finally wept. Annoyed at myself for being an emotional mess. "All of you."
Tanya smiled and grabbed a tissue, handing it to Alice. As Alice tried to fix the mess I made, Tanya shook her head and laughed. "Lets just hope he doesn't want to keep those boobs for himself."
That put a smile on my face.
"Okay, make up is fixed. Let's get you in this dress."
I nodded and waited as Alice unzipped the thing and Rosalie helped me step into it. I stood completely still as they did it up, I'd gained weight since I'd come back to Alaska. Esme was still feeding me like I was three people rather than one. It did up perfectly.
"Oh Alice, you were so right," Tanya said, studying me. "Bohemian while still old school."
"That's why you should trust me more often," Alice said, stepping out of the way so I was revealed in the mirror.
Fuck. I was going to cry again. It was perfect.
"Please say you guys made yourselves bridesmaids?"
"Yup. Leah too."
Alice pulled out a silver dress identical to Leah's. Leah's discomfort suddenly made sense. I stood in a daze staring at myself in the mirror while the others dressed. I still wasn't used to seeing myself like this. It was a bit of a shock.
"Let me get the flowers out of the fridge and we're good to go," Alice said, opening the door and leading me out into the living room to where Paul and Leah were waiting.
Leah covered her mouth, tears springing into her eyes, while Paul's mouth fell open. I was waiting for some kind of wise-crack or cocky comment, but when he approached, he simply took my hands and held them out so he could look at me. He cleared his throat as he pulled me into a gentle hug. In his deep voice he said the one thing I'd needed to hear the most in that moment.
"Your dad would be so proud of you. You look beautiful, Bells."
I closed my eyes and leaned my cheek against his shoulder, my hands grabbing the back of his jacket with a kind of desperation. I was so ready for this to happen. I was ready for my life to start with the man I loved, as it always should have been.
As flowers were shoved into my hand, and shoes pushed onto my feet, I let myself get guided to the big deck out the back of the house. As we moved down the stairs I could see paper lanterns had been lit in the dying autumn light. They were strung from the trees and leading back toward a small clearing. On either side of the makeshift aisle, there were moss covered logs with tea lights place every six inches apart until the stopped where Edward was stood waiting for me.
My breath left me in a jerky hiccup of sound as I smiled at him. Paul's arm tightened around mine as he led me slowly down between the logs toward my destiny. I was like a puppet on a string as I moved toward him. I could barely feel the ground below my feet, or the wind blowing through my hair, or even the warmth of Paul's body so close to mine.
It was only at the trade off that I looked to Paul with a tearful thank you, before taking Edward's hands.
His mouthed happy birthday as I tried to catch my breath, but all I could do was smile at him, the tears stinging my eyes as the ceremony started.
The service, though beautiful, was a blur. The only thing I could see was Edward, his golden eyes locked on me as we said our vows and exchanged rings. I barely noticed the gathering of family and friends until the applause sounded after we kissed.
His lips moved from my mouth to my ear as the others milled around waiting for us to part.
"Are you happy?" he asked quietly, his hands rubbing my arms gently.
"You have no idea," I replied.
"What are you thinking about?"
"How I want to spend forever with you."
He pulled away and captured my eyes with his. "You just say the word, Bella."
"I want it all and I want it with you."
He nodded and leaned in to kiss me again. There was a time when he would have fought me tooth and nail, when he would have tried to take the decision away from me. Yet, here we were, husband and wife, and he was willing to give me the whole world in the palm of his hand.
As I sank into the kiss, I let myself go. I had finally found my happiness after all this time, and I was going to grip it with both hands for the rest of my life.
Authors Note: Sorry this is a day late, but I honestly couldn't bring myself to post it yesterday! I'm going to miss this Bella, and the rest of them. I had so much fun writing this and I had a blast sharing it with you.
I want to thank all of you for taking this little journey with me. You've been here week in and week out. You guys have been more amazing than I deserve. Thank you for reading, adding to faves and alerts and most of all to those of you who left reviews and blew my mind every week. I really do love you all and I am honored that you stuck with me through this. I know the beginning was never easy to read and some of you were amazing and shared stories with me and I will never forget that.
PinkIndeed. I know I disappeared again and I am sorry for that. Just know that I love you to pieces and I appreciate you always being there.
Ronnie... There are no words for how much I love you! You've been amazing and I can't thank you enough!
Hev99 and Sabi'sSookie... Y'all know I love you to the ends of the earth and back!