Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I'm just using the names she created for her wonderful story.
As always, a special thanks to X-NessieCullen-X for all that you do for me :)
Edward put his head back against the head rest and tried to keep his eyes open. Jasper was behind the wheel while Emmett was behind him in the backseat, yammering away about their new coworker. Desperately, Edward tried to follow him but it wasn't going to happen. A few months ago, he would have been capable of staying out until well after two am. It was currently only half past seven and he was done.
"You okay over there?" Jasper asked, nudging him in the arm and bringing him to sit up straighter.
"Sorry, man. I'm fucking exhausted."
The girls had taken Lanie, Benjamin, and Jacks to the mall for the afternoon. As soon as Emmett had caught wind of his wife's plan to get out of the house for a while, he'd gotten the guys together for a day at the casino and a quick dinner at The Tilted Kilt. While seeing girls in skimpy outfits serving them dinner, Edward wanted nothing more to slam down his cheeseburger and get the hell home. He had a two month old waiting at home for him, as well as a wife and a sister.
He'd never let the guys in on it but tonight was going to be the first night he and Bella were going to try being completely physical with each other since before she'd gotten pregnant. They'd messed around but the longer than expected healing from Benjamin's delivery wasn't exactly something either of them were ready to set back for a little intercourse. They took care of each other in other ways but he was chomping at the bit to be inside of her again. It felt like they hadn't been together that way for years, even though it was only since their honeymoon. The kink side of things had gone almost completely dormant since she'd found out about the pregnancy.
So much had changed since he was married, he felt like a different person half the time. Besides the obvious changes, such as becoming a husband and father, he had another new role to step into as well. After being out on paternity leave for nearly two weeks, having used his paid leave and numerous personal time he'd saved up, he had gone into work and been blown away with news of a promotion. Through a few retirements and a couple guys picking up new jobs, Edward had been promoted into the supervisor's position of the department he had been working in.
Between Benjamin's late night feedings and taking on the extra responsibility at work, life was a little more than stressful. The steps were now being taken for Bella to have guardianship of Lanie and he was waiting for their meeting at the courthouse to sign all of the paperwork in front of the official. Lanie tried to act like she wasn't phased by it but he could tell she was excited.
Bella was proving exactly what he already knew. The woman was an amazing mother and he couldn't imagine coming home to anyone other than her after these past few weeks. No matter how fussy Benjamin was during the day, she always came to him with a smile when he door opened and Luca barked at his entrance. God, did he hope she wasn't too tired to enjoy some private time with him later. It seemed like she was a little off the past couple of days and he'd even offered to take the baby with him and the guys so she could relax a little but she had refused. Telling himself to suck it up and accept it if she wasn't into the whole sex thing after all, he formed a plan to let her go to bed early while he bottle-fed and took care of Benjamin if fatigue was getting the best of her.
With his eyes closed again, he about jumped out of his skin when Jasper began beeping his horn repeatedly. It took Edward a moment to process what was happening. They were just coming up the dirt road leading to his house when Jasper had started and now it seemed there were people pouring out onto the front porch of the house. Lanie stood at the foot of the steps and Bella was at the top with Benjamin in her arms. Alice and Rosalie flanked her on either side, waving and smiling. Charlie and Renee were further back on the porch but laughing at something Lanie was saying.
"What...What's happening?" he asked, sitting up a little more and squinting at his friends and family.
Jasper put the car into park and looked over at his friends. "Get out and see for yourself."
A large banner hanging at the top of the steps, right over Bella and the other girls, read "Congratulations and Happy Birthday!"
Lanie ran over and hugged him as soon as his car door was open. "Did we surprise you?"
"What..." he breathed, trying to form a sentence.
"The night you were supposed to go out for your birthday and Bella was too sick...and you stayed home with her but no one could meet up after that because then the wedding and everything happened? We never celebrated your birthday and we wanted to throw you a party for you promotion!"
"I...this...we never really celebrate my birthday..."
"I know. I always have a party but you've never had an actual party so...we decided to throw one!"
Edward was trying his damnedest not to cry and chalked it up to exhaustion. They were almost to the porch and he looked up to find Bella smiling down at him. "Happy Birthday! It's just a little late. We wanted to do something for you after the promotion and when I mentioned how we never really even went out as a group for your birthday like we usually do, it turned into planning a surprise party."
"Bells, guys," he said stepping back from her to look up at everyone, "this is...crazy. My birthday was in April..."
"And you are long overdue for a party. So, we're having one," Alice beamed.
"Besides," Rosalie chimed in, "you're Em's boss now. That's something for us to celebrate."
"You didn't have to do this for me..."
"You've never even had a party before!"
"We'd go out to dinner with everyone."
"It's not the same," Lanie breathed.
Stepping down off the porch, Bella hugged him and whispered, "Perhaps you should just tell everyone thank you."
Immediately feeling like an asshole, he shook his head and felt his face heat up. "This is awesome, though. Thank you. You just...didn't have to."
"We know we didn't have to," Renee smiled, joining them as Edward took his son in his arms. Benjamin snuggled into him as much as a three month old could. "Edward, seriously, it was time you had an honest to goodness birthday party."
"Why don't we go in and cut the cake?" Bella asked. "Or would you prefer to open your presents?"
"What's a party without presents?" Lanie cut in.
"There's cake?" Emmett added, heading into the house.
Edward followed, surprised and a little overwhelmed to see the balloons and banners hanging throughout the house. Luca, freshly shaved for the summer, stayed close at Bella's heels. Edward wondered if the dog was as overwhelmed as he was. Edward was just grateful the dog hadn't gotten territorial of Bella when it came to her giving Benjamin attention. While their living room had been overtaken by more toys and baby items than Benjamin would ever be able to use, everything was neatly organized. He couldn't believe Bella and their friends had done this for him. He hadn't really done anything to deserve it.
The cake was shaped like a car and he laughed when Bella stood beside it with a smirk and knowing look. "No, we didn't buy you a car but you are going to go with me to pick one out tomorrow. I totally trust you with my son but I do not trust that death trap you insist on driving around."
He kissed her while Lanie started to stick a whole boxful of candles into the cake and ran off to find Emmett, knowing he'd have a lighter. Of course, Charlie took it from her and started lighting them upon her return. There were just under thirty and he couldn't believe how old he'd gotten. Despite the fact that some days he felt like he'd lived a lifetime already, having Bella in his life with their baby son made him feel like his life had just gotten started.
He looked down to find Jackson pulling at his pant leg and lifted him up so that he was now holding both boys. "Make a wish!" Lanie exclaimed.
Smiling at his sister, he tried to think of something he could wish for. The friends and family were represented just by the two little ones he was holding, everyone was healthy, he had an amazing wife, and with the new promotion they were gaining money instead of losing it. Glancing over to where Jasper and Emmett were taking in the scene on the other side of the kitchen, he watched his best friend look over at Alice with pain in his eyes.
Blowing out the candles in one quick breath, careful of the small children in his arms, he stood back looked Alice straight in the eyes. He wanted to tell her that one was for her and Jazz but it didn't seem like the appropriate time or place. He owed Jasper so much and it sucked the one thing his friend wanted more than anything, Edward unable to help with.
"Come on, Baby Ben, mommy has a knife. Abandon ship!"
Rosalie scooped Jackson up and used her other hand to spoon ice cream so Bella and Renee could focus on the cake. Lanie zipped around to hand out the heaping plates but Bella handed his to him and kissed his cheek. There was no reason to be getting emotional over a birthday party but he honesty had never had an actual party besides celebrating over dinner with his friends. Suddenly, it was hard to get his cake down. It was even his favorite, chocolate cake with peanut butter icing.
It didn't take long before everyone had cake in hand and Bella was free to join him and Benjamin on the back porch. Luca plopped himself down below the glider they sat on and Bella took Benjamin, cuddling him into her and kissing the crown of hair his son was sporting. Edward took a few bites of cake and chewed quietly.
"Too much?" Bella cringed after a long moment of silence. "Look, this wasn't exactly my idea. It was more my mom and Lanie but then Alice and Rosalie got involved and things just...spiraled."
"I've never had a party."
"It's, uh, kind of...nice. I suppose I can learn to like it."
"Oh! Guess who called today?"
"No. My cousin..."
"Really? How's it going with her and our favorite psychologist?"
"Good. Really good, actually. Maybe a little too good, I mean, for you. You know him better than I do. Can we trust him to keep things confidential?"
Edward shrugged. "I don't see why not. Besides, it's not like there's anything to hide. I don't tell him anything you don't already know."
"Yeah but she's family..."
"It doesn't matter. Honestly. I'd rather not relive it all again but if any of your family had the inclination to ask me about how I grew up, I'd tell them. I'm not ashamed of it. Not anymore. I'm not that little kid."
"Well, this little kid needs a diaper change and you need to get back in their and mingle with our guests. When I come back down from the nursery, you can open your presents. You're going to love what Lanie's gift."
Edward unwrapped his box of candy from the store in Philadelphia he'd loved as a child while smiling at Renee and Charlie. "Thanks, guys. There's enough here to last me a month."
Jasper and Alice had bought him a vintage t-shirt, the exact replica of one he owned in high school. It was from the only concert they'd been to as teenagers and Edward couldn't help but laugh when he opened the box and saw it. "I can't believe we managed to sneak into that concert, Jazz."
"Hey, man, I still have a scar on my ribs from when we jumped the damn fence."
Rosalie and Emmett bought him a new pair of work boots, the same brand he and Emmett both always wore. Charlie and Renee gave them multiple gift cards to local restaurants. He knew they wanted time to babysit. Every time they asked, Bella would explain she wasn't quite ready to leave Benjamin for that long yet. Edward thought it might be a good idea, though, considering she'd be going back to school in a couple months. It had been hard for him to go back after only a couple of weeks and he couldn't imagine how he would feel having to go back after spending months at a time with his son.
Lanie's gift was pretty hysterical. She gave him three, small jewelery boxes, all wrapped in different paper. In the biggest box was a Pittsburgh Penguins key chain for when he got his new car. The second biggest box contained a baggy of cheap ear plugs and a nose plug you would find in the pool supply aisle. He supposed it was because of how loud Benjamin could be...and how bad the diapers sometimes were. Lastly, the largest box contained a folded up pamphlet featuring the beach.
"What's this?" he asked, knowing full well why she gave it to him.
"Bella helped me find it. It's in South Carolina."
"That's quite a hike," he replied, looking over at Bella.
"Well, we can either go this summer before school starts again or we can wait until next summer. Whatever you can do with work..."
"I used my time already," Edward frowned, running a hand through his hair.
"Then we'll go next summer. First thing in June, as soon as school gets out, we'll go. Things will be easier traveling with Benjamin then, anyway."
"Do you like it?" Lanie asked, a worried look on her face.
"A week away with you guys? Best. Present. Ever."
"So," Bella smirked later that night, "were you surprised?"
"Absolutely. I didn't mean to sound ungrateful. I really was a little shocked. I also can't believe you managed to pull this off without my knowing about it. Emmett can keep his trap shut."
"We didn't tell him until you guys were at dinner," Bella laughed.
"Wow. At least Jazz is good with secrets."
"Did Ally seem okay to you tonight?" Bella was a little distracted as she sat back on the bed to feed Benjamin one last time before the three of them would settle in for bed.
"You noticed, too?" Edward nodded knowingly. "Yeah. I still feel so damn bad for them. It has to suck being around the kids all the time. I know they love them but it has to be hard."
"Alice told me Jasper has been looking into fostering. He made comments to her about what you went through and how he'd like to be able to save a little one from that fate. I think it's a good idea."
"And Alice? How does she feel about it?"
"I think she still entertains the idea of having a baby of their own but I also know she's adamant about not being ready. I suggested they foster for now and later on, when she's ready, they can start trying again. Having two kids wouldn't be so bad."
"How do you feel about having two kids? I mean, the two of us having two...when one of them isn't my sister."
Bella raised an eyebrow. "Um, I'd say we have a little while to consider it. Why, Mr. Cullen? Daddy-hood something you're enjoying?"
"I'd like to have another. Maybe try for a little girl."
"And if it's another boy?"
"Edward!" Bella cracked up in amusement. "We need to pace ourselves. I need to pace myself. Being pregnant isn't the most relaxing experience. I need a chance to breathe first. Just because I can have sex now, it doesn't mean I'm ready for you to knock me up again."
Edward kissed her forehead and took his sleeping son in his arms, rocking him gently, he carried him across the hall to the nursery and laid him in the crib. They'd gotten into a routine of Bella feeding Benjamin, Edward putting him down to sleep, and then he and Bella took turns reading page by page one of the million books the little boy already had. When the last word was read and good night kisses were given, Edward scooped Bella up and carried her out of the small room.
Back in their bedroom, she helped him undress and they climbed into bed together. Kissing down the whole length of her body, he ran a finger over her sex and she froze. "So beautiful," he said softly, knowing from the look on her face she needed the reassurance that everything was still in one piece after the delivery a couple of months ago. She seemed to relax and literally purred a little when he began to tongue the area she'd been so worried about. A few minutes later when he pushed into her and felt her body take him in and hug him tightly, it took him everything not to cry out in happiness.
Drifting off to sleep some time later, sweaty and content, he closed his eyes and thought about life. His had been a far cry from great. Edward Cullen had always been misunderstood at school because of how he was raised. He was nobody, completely lost, and desperate to be loved. When Lanie came along, she brought love into his life even if she was too little to love him back for the beginning of it. Now, he was still a brother but he was also a husband and father. He was friend and he was a son to Renee and Charlie.
Feeling Bella's chest rise and fall in a steady rhythm, her soft breath on his arm, he knew none of it would have happened without her. Lanie really had kept him going but it took Bella to make him realize he didn't just simply have to merely survive. He was allowed to live, allowed to find happiness, and allowed to enjoy it. Closing his eyes one more time, the last thing he did before falling asleep was send up a silent thank you to whatever god was watching over them. He'd been given an angel and that angel had given him his son. The angel beside him made his life fully livable by just simply being and he would spend the rest of his life trying to show her his gratitude.
Life is rarely easy. All of the time, people are questioning how horrible things can happen in the world. For a man who grew up on the other side of it, the side where the horrible things happened to them personally, it could sometimes feel like life was completely destroyed. Lucky for Edward, through the burning pain and searing memories, he'd risen from the ashes to find a safe, normal life. All he had to do was follow the path created by a small, brown-eyed angel. He'd found his place upon the ashes.
I'm sad to bring this to an end but the lateness of this chapter is even more proof it is time to retire this story for a while. It will be popping up to visit every once in a while, though. As always, thank you so much for the support throughout this journey. I'm tickled pink to see all the reviews this story ended up getting! It's time to spread my wings out of the fandom that shaped me as a writer but I'll be home to visit soon. This won't be the last of Letzy ;) As I said before, feel free to let me know if you want to know about something specific and I'll consider writing it into an outtake.