Thanks once again to Dawn and Cejsmom for helping me out with this :)

Epilogue

BPOV

"Edward. Will you please stop pacing."

He runs his hands through his messy hair and looks at me like I'm out of my mind, then proceeds to pace some more.

"Honey, I know everything will be okay." I rise from my chair, walking in front of him and rubbing his shoulders and neck. He sighs at my touch and drops his head forward.

"I know, Bella, it's just a deal breaker. You know?"

"I do know. But it is what it is. Try to think positive."

I convince him to sit with me, my hands still rubbing his neck. He relaxes slightly at my touch, but the tension flows off of him in waves. We wait for what seems like hours.

A throat clearing behind us, causes us both to jump from our seats and turn towards the sound. Doctor Banner clears his throat again and looks down at the open chart in his hand. "There are a few allergies to consider." He pauses and I want to shake the next sentence out of him. "But no animal allergies." He smiles like he just told us we won the lottery.

I throw myself into Edward's arms and he lifts me and spins me around, his face buried in the hair by my ear. "No pet allergies," he chants. When my feet hit the ground again both of our faces are moist and we're smiling at each other through blurry eyes.

Dr. Banner clears his throat again. "Do you want to hear what the allergies are?"

We both nod and try to focus on what he's saying through our enthusiasm.

"Nuts. Tree nuts to be specific. He had a small reaction to the scratch test, but these types of allergies tend to worsen with exposure. Before you take him home, I want to prescribe an Epipen and have you instructed on how to use it properly.

"No problem. Absolutely. Yes." We affirm at the same time.

"But no animal allergies?" Edward confirms.

"No animals."

"What next?" I ask.

"His social worker will be in touch with you as soon as she gets my results. And before you ask. I will walk these into her office myself if I have to." He says waving the chart in his hand with a chuckle.

"Thank you Dr. Banner," Edward says extending his hand.

When I thank him I give him a giant hug. He just delivered the best news to us. Our boy doesn't have any animal allergies. He's one step closer to coming home.

~M~M~B~

"Your paperwork appears to be in order. You've completed all of the requirements to make the home environment safe," she says never looking up from the papers in front of her on the desk. "This is a huge responsibility. You are taking in a child with tremendous needs. Needs that won't be ending anytime soon." She finally raises her eyes to meet ours, indifference clouds her expression.

"We are not 'taking in' anyone. We are foster-adopting a child, a human being. One we happen to already love and consider our child. I would appreciate it if you would speak with more compassion and understanding in the future," I say, my voice shaking from anger and frustration.

Edward squeezes my hand in support. "Not only that, no one has a better understanding of what he has been through and what he will continue to go through, than me. Than us," he adds.

United, we sit a little straighter, preparing for what may come next.

"I see situations like this every day. People who want a child so badly, they overlook the long term commitment of taking in a child with special needs. Once the novelty wears off, the burden becomes too much. Many of these families don't stay together. There is a very high divorce rate among couples who have adopted a child under similar circumstances."

"I can assure you that we are the exception to that. Bella and I know exactly what we are up against, as a couple and as a family." Edward takes a deep breath. "What happens next?"

"When he is ready to be released from the hospital, you take him home," she smiles, a real smile, not the tight lipped ones we've seen in the past.

"Really?"

"Yes," she pauses. "I must say I'm genuinely impressed with the two of you. I've been very hard on you, on this case," she waves her hand over the mound of papers on her desk. "This boy is special. He deserves loving parents, a family, a home. I'm sorry if I've come across as cold and unfeeling. I'm actually the opposite. First and foremost my job is to protect these children, not to coddle prospective foster or adoptive parents. My exterior has been known to chase away those that weren't fit to raise children like Anthony. I'm certain that placing him in your home is the right decision. With his biological parents deceased and no other relatives that we know of, the adoption process can begin immediately."

Edward and I sit speechless, stunned by the turn of events, the change in her demeanor towards us. Wordlessly, tears roll down my face. We've done it. We are going to be parents. Edward, sniffing at my right, rouses me from my shock. I turn to look at him and his face looks exactly like I feel. I burrow my face is his chest, "We did it. We have a son."

~M~E~B~

"Anthony, remember when Bella and I said we wanted you to come and live with us?" Edward asks as we sit on either side of him on his hospital bed.

He nods hesitantly. The white bandages around his head making his fearful brown eyes look even bigger and wider.

I reach out and touch his arm to comfort him. He doesn't flinch from my touch anymore; in fact he leans into it. In the weeks we've know him I fall a little more in love with this boy each time I'm with him. He still shies away from Edward, but Edward is patient. We know he will come around in time.

"Everything is set. When you're ready to leave the hospital we are taking you home, to live with us. Do you want that?"

He looks thoughtful for a second, a long second. "With all of the animals?"

His answer makes both of us laugh. "Yes, with all of the animals." I take the opportunity to gently hug him. The smiles on my boys' faces are enough to bring me to tears, but I won't cry. There have been enough tears in Anthony's young life.

We sit quietly after our initial announcement. We know he will have questions.

"Where will I sleep?"

"Our house is big. You'll have your own room that we can decorate anyway you want. But our bedroom is right next to yours. We will be there if you need anything at all," I assure him.

"I don't like the door closed," his voice laced with fear.

"Okay, doors open. No problem. I have some pictures on my phone. Do you want to see them?" Edward asks trying to focus on something positive.

He scrolls through countless photos of the construction and the finished project, as well as the animals; most of the animal photos are of Buddy and Booboo. The boys have their heads together. Anthony is close to Edward their arms almost touching. Father and son.

My mind wanders to the past year and a half, especially the last year. The beginning of our unconventional relationship, the house construction, our perfect wedding on the beach, Jasper and Alice's engagement, but most surprisingly Rose and Emmett's baby, that is due any day.

We didn't plan on starting the Foster/adoption process this soon into our marriage, but some things are meant to be. When Carlisle called and told us about a little boy who was flown into the Burn Unit at the hospital from a podunk town in Texas, we had to meet him. He'd been badly burned in an illegal meth lab explosion. One that was created and used by his parents who were killed in the blast. Anthony was cut up, but the worst were the burns on his torso and neck. Thankfully, his arms and face weren't marred. However, he has many years of surgeries to come, just like Edward had to go through. Burned skin doesn't stretch, so as he grows skin will have to be grafted onto the scarred areas.

Anthony knows his parents are dead. He knows they caused the blast that burned him. Not much gets past this six year old boy who seems much older than his years. In his young life he's witnessed, neglect, drug abuse, filth, poverty, hunger and lord knows what else. All I want to do is fill his days with the opposite, with love, happiness, caring.

"You have a silly smile, Bella," Anthony says, pulling me from my thoughts.

"I was thinking about how I can't wait to get you home with us. Any ideas for how to decorate your room?"

"Um, I like trains, and animals, and race cars, and baseball."

"I think we can work with that," I chuckle at his enthusiasm. "What are your favorite colors?"

The three of us sit and discuss room ideas for a while.

"We have a pool in the backyard too. Do you like the water? Do you know how to swim?"

His face lights up instantly, but just as fast sadness sets in. He shakes his head, his eyes closed tightly.

"What's up, Anthony?" Edward asks gently.

We give him a minute to respond, but when he doesn't I whisper, "You can talk to us about anything."

His glassy eyes peer up at me like he's looking for something. "I'm sick. I can't swim, or play, or anything."

"Anthony, you can do anything you want to do. In a few months your burns will be healed and you will be like a normal kid again. When you're ready Bell and I can teach you to swim"

"Really, I'll be normal again?"

"The scars from your burns don't make you different. You are still you. A cute, special kid. You'll just have to be more careful in the sun and when you come back to see the doctor for treatment you'll have to take it easy for a while afterwards," Edward explains.

Anthony still doesn't look convinced, "You and I aren't that different, Anthony. When we get home we'll have a man to man talk and I'll tell you about my scars."

Anthony's eyes widen, brows raised, but he doesn't ask any more questions. We stay until he falls asleep. One day closer to bringing him home.

EPOV

"What are you doing, honey?"

"Well, my brilliant wife suggested we get our house online and I just started the spa, heating it up so it will be ready when we get home," I say wagging my eyebrows. A dip in the water is not the only thought in my head.

"Oh, that sounds great. Today was... wonderful, but tiring," she sighs. "Did you notice how scared Anthony seemed when he mentioned closed doors?"

"You caught that too huh? I'm sure closed doors is just the first of many triggers we will come up against. I can't wait for him to meet Maggie. Family therapy will be good for him, I think," I say thinking back to my first sessions with her. It seems like a lifetime ago, but just yesterday.

"He's a lucky boy to have you," Bella coos sliding up against my side in the booth.

I pull her closer to me, kissing her forehead. "He's lucky to have us."

~M~E~B~

I'm changing out of my clothes but stop to admire my sexy wife sauntering by in her barely there bikini. "You go on outside. I'll get us something to drink and some towels," I offer. "That bikini is just for me to see, right?" She gives me a sexy smile but doesn't respond. I will have to clarify that only I should see her dressed in so little. No one else.

"Champagne?" She smiles up at me from the bubbly water.

"I think our day causes for a celebration don't you?" I set her towel on a nearby lounge chair, mine is wrapped around my waist, barely concealing the semi I've been sporting since I saw her walk past me a few minutes ago. I drop the towel, buck naked underneath. Something I would have never done a year ago. I'm much more comfortable in my skin now.

"You didn't tell me we were skinny dipping," she says eying me from head to toe and pausing in the middle.

"It was optional," I say nonchalantly, knowing she's joining me in nakedness as soon as physically possible. I set a chair cushion on the edge of the spa and set the glasses on the low table close enough to reach. I slowly enter the spa and walk directly to my beautiful wife. "As much as I love you in this bikini, I want it off." I reach behind her neck and untie the string holding it up. It falls slowly revealing the tops of her breasts. Better, but not enough.

I reach for our champagne glasses and hand one to her. "To us baby. To our family. To Anthony. And to enjoying our alone naked time as much as we can until we can't." We clink our glasses and sip the bubbly liquid.

"This is nice," Bella says, eyes closed her head resting on the edge of the spa.

"I think we can do better. Come sit on my lap," I say pulling her with my free hand so she is straddling my thighs. "That's much better." I reach around and untie the back of her bikini top. It loosens and floats away. "Beautiful," I say admiring her hardened nipples and bare skin. I pour some champagne down her chest, she shivers at the coldness, but my warm mouth is there to lap it up immediately, nipping, tongue swirling. Her hands go into my hair, grabbing and holding me to her breast. The sounds she makes spur me to continue. Soon she is rubbing her bikini covered center over my hard cock. I can't wait to be inside of her, always.

I stand lifting her with me and carry her to the cushion I had the foresight to put on the edge of the spa. I untie her bikini bottoms and pull them off before I set her on the cushion.

I kiss her firmly. "I want you. Here. Now."

"I love it when you take charge," she moans against my lips. With that I gently lay her on the cushion and open her up to me. My mouth finds her sweet, wet center without hesitation. Latching onto her clit with vigor. I bring her close to orgasm without penetrating her with my tongue or fingers. She's writhing at my ministrations. "Almost, ugh, I want you inside me," she nearly begs. I bring her to the edge once more before I stand, taking my cock in my hand and rubbing her with the leaking tip. "More," she pleads.

"You ready baby? Cuz I'm ready for you. You make me so hard. Your body, your noises."

Wrapping her legs around my waist I line my cock up and slam into her with a long hard stroke.

Making both of us groan in pleasure.

"So tight. Every time Bella. Every time. I'm not gonna last baby. You feel too good."

I pound into her with long strokes, angling up to hit her gspot. I move her legs until they are on one of my shoulders. The sight of my glistening cock going in and out of her is nearly my undoing. "Are you close? Ugh."

"Right there," she moans when I put one of her legs on my other shoulder. "Don't stop."

Every thrust brings me closer to the brink. I will myself to hold out until she comes. When I know I've got seconds left until I explode I reach down and rub her clit vigorously; causing her to cry out and clamp down on my cock. One more thrust and I'm growling through my orgasm, spilling inside her pulsing pussy.

After we ride out our orgasms I collapse on her, our bodies still connected. "I love you, Bella."

"I love you, Edward. So much."

~M~E~B~

"How do you like the house?" Bella asks stroking the hair of a very sleepy Anthony as we tuck him into his bed his first night with us. He's still bandaged up, but the risk of infection has passed. He can walk around, but his movements are stiff and slow. He has little movement in his arms, but his hands are fine. He will have physical therapy every day for the next few months to keep the burned skin as flexible as possible.

"It's great! Really big!" He shifts his legs under the covers to make room for Booboo who has joined Buddy on his bed.

"We will be right in the next room. We will leave the doors open. The only time we will close the door is to change our clothes. Okay?"

"If you need anything, just call us or come into our room. You are always welcome. This is your house now. Everything here belongs to you, too," Bella adds.

"Even Buddy and Booboo? Are they my dogs too?"

We nod as he smiles and shuffles his body to where he can reach to pet the dogs sprawled by his feet.

"They like you," I say patting the dogs. "They will look out for you, too." My hand accidently touches Anthony's and I freeze, expecting him to pull away, instead he places his hand closer to mine as we pet them together. I look to Bella, who sees what is happening, her eyes glassy with emotion as are mine.

We will break down his walls and help him. Together we will show him what love and family look like. He will want for nothing, especially the things that money can't buy.

"Good night, Anthony," Bella says, giving him a kiss on the forehead. "We're so glad you're here with us. You are a part of our family now."

He burrows into the fluffy pillow and gives Bella a grateful smile.

"Yep, Buddy. You are our son now. We are family. We will always be here for you, whatever you need." He turns his face towards me as I speak, his eyes questioning, looking for answers in mine. I hold his gaze hoping he sees the depth of what I'm saying and what I'm feeling.

He nods imperceptibly, and crooks his finger for me to come closer. I lean down thinking he has something to say, but surprises me with a kiss on the cheek. I try not to react too strongly, swallowing down the very large lump in my throat. "Thanks Buddy. It will mean a lot to me if you can trust me, trust us. We are here for you." I give his small hand a gentle squeeze and join Bella at the door.

"Lights on or off, or just dimmed a little?"

"Um, like that is good." He clears his throat nervously. "Thanks, um Bella, um Edward. I like it here."

We smile and nod, relieved that we've made it through the first day. The first of many easy and hard, happy and sad, but always loving and kind. Bella and I walk arm in arm to our room where we flop onto the bed fully dressed, not able to move from the emotional and mental exhaustion of the day.

We manage to snuggle in closer together.

"I love you, baby. You are a good mommy," I mumble sleepily. "If I wasn't so tired I'd want you under me and naked right now.

Bella giggles through her yawn, "Fat chance. Our naked times are going to have to be carefully orchestrated from here on out."

"Ug. You're right. No matter what happens, know I always want you, because I do and I will."

"Ditto, cute ab guy. I love you Edward. You are going to be a great daddy."

A/N

Well, there is the Epi. Are you surprised they adopted so soon? If you want to hear more from these two just let me know. I will be writing something for the Fandom for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fandom4lls . blogspot . com and I haven't decided yet what it will be. Another Epi from this story, an outtake from The Most Eligible Bachelor? Let me know what you think.

I will be participating in the Drabble War this weekend May 17-19. The whole story, Love 'Hurts' will be posted over those three days. Please check out all of the participating stories. Drabble War Forum is the group that all of the entries will be posted in.

Thanks for reading :) Always good to hear from you.