Edward didn't say a word to me , just leaned his head back against the pillows and closed his eyes. His lips started to move and I could barely hear what he was saying.
"Don't disappear. Stay. Please stay."
"I'm not going anywhere," I replied.
Hmm, it seems while his brain was pretty much in denial and didn't believe what his eyes were showing it, his body certainly knew I was back.
It would probably be wise to ignore his erection and start saying something wise and soothing but Hell, it had been a long, long time and pregnancy plays havoc with your hormones.
I climbed onto the bed properly and straddled his body. Fuck. Okay, I had sort of forgotten how well he was built, but I was very 'ready' shall we say and I lowered myself onto him slowly, gasping with relief as he filled me.
"Yes, Bella, yes," he whispered, his hands reaching for my breasts.
I stripped the floaty frock off and guided his palms over my quite enormous rack, if I do say so myself.
He massaged the girls and although his eyes were shut, a slight frown appeared on his forehead.
"Too big. Bella's breasts fit right in my hand like they were made for me. Make them smaller."
That was a first.
He'd loved my increase in volume when I was carrying Kristie.
"It's a temporary situation. Enjoy it while you can," I advised him.
"I love Bella's breasts. I miss them."
"Well, they are back, lover. Go to town."
He raised his head and shoulders and clasped my body against his own, then lowered his lips to suck on a nipple. The other one immediately pebbled in jealousy.
"Oh God. Yes, keep doing that, Adonis. That feels so good."
After a few blissful minutes, he pulled his lips away with a loud smacking noise.
Darn. I had been enjoying that.
His body started to rock and he held me so tightly all I could do was cling to him and rest my head on his shoulder and go with it, pushing back as he thrust inside me desperately. Of course I knew I was never going to last, it was just too good and too much time had passed since he had been inside me, and I cried out as he took me over the edge.
Dare I resist the urge to clench and go for a second thrill? That would be mean. It had been just as long for him.
I clenched and an inhuman howl left his lips. He stilled, and filled me but then his body shook.
"Don't do this to me. Don't take her back. I need to keep her."
That was not quite what I'd been aiming for.
Tears poured down his cheeks as he released his hold on me and lay back, an arm over his face.
"Edward, no. Don't cry. I'm really here. It's over. Aro is dead. We are alive and I've brought your son home to you."
His arm dropped away and he finally opened his eyes and looked intently at my face.
I smiled and took his hand and placed it on my belly.
Clearly this was not part of the fantasy he had imagined he was involved in.
The baby kicked obligingly and he looked amazed.
"Bella? It's really you?"
"It's really me. And our son."
"Remember all those delicious nights before the explosion? We created a few explosions of our own, and we started another baby."
Stick to the basic facts.
He looked dazed. I had to say something to ground him and not let this evolve into an intensely emotional situation that neither of us could handle.I did fear for his sanity. Time to lighten up and pretend as if I'd been away a week.
"Oh. By the way, sorry about the short-sheeting incident. It seemed funny at the time."
"You did that?"
"It seemed like something we shared in common. I couldn't think of how else to give you a gentle nudge about me being back. Esme wanted to go with the romantic scented candles and all that stuff, but that was your thing to do for me, not mine to do for you. I owed you a short-sheeting."
"Alice told you?"
"Of course she did. I slept in that little apartment earlier this week. It's not all dungeony at all. It's just got a bed and a very uncomfortable foldout. Nothing's changed."
He lifted me off his body and sat me beside him, his arm around my shoulders then reached over and tucked my hair behind my ears.
"You've let your curls take over."
"Yeah. They don't allow patients access to sharp knives or hair straighteners in Boston Private Nursing Facility. They assume we'd brand ourselves on the forehead or something. I gave up."
"You were in Boston Private?"
"I was. For months. Marcus had me flown there and admitted after the explosion. I was out the back in the forest fossicking for flowers when it blew. I fell and cut my head."
I took his hand and guided his fingers to the scar beneath the shorter patch of hair.
"Feel that? It seems so insignificant but it was bad enough to put me into a coma for weeks. I forgot a lot of things. I forgot Kristie existed," I admitted sadly.
He looked sombre as he stroked my face, then he suddenly grinned.
"You are my Girl Next Door."
"And you are my GreekGod."
"Fuck. And just when you were able to reveal that you disappeared."
"To be honest, I didn't know it was you I was talking to. Sometimes our little chats left me uncomfortably damp, and it worried me because no man could affect me that way but you. I almost felt like I was cheating on my beloved Edward."
"Oh, you captivated me and fucked up my head something shocking. I suspected I was falling in love with you and I couldn't imagine how that could happen. It felt so right yet so wrong. I still loved you with all my heart but this Girl...she intrigued me. Despite myself, I found I was waiting every day for night to fall so I could chat with her again. She was becoming my main focus apart from our daughter. I assumed it was just because I so desperately needed a distraction from those fucking cliffs outside calling my name every time the sun set...she kept me alive in my darkest nights. I fell a little in love with her, I admit it."
"You had no idea she was me?"
"No, but I'm so glad it was you because I felt the same. Like I was betraying the only woman I have ever loved. I knew some people managed to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and find love again after they lost their soul mate, but I never expected to be one of them. And so quickly. I'd figured I'd be old and grey and in a aged care home before I realized other women existed, and yet, just months after you...left...there I was, having feelings for another woman. I started to doubt that I had really changed at all. Was I still so shallow that even you were replaceable? Were women still interchangeable to me? I hated myself. I thought those days were long gone and yet..."
"I forgive you. In the circumstances. How wonderful would it have been if you'd come and rescued me, not knowing it was really me?"
"Fat chance. That nurse Gloria wouldn't tell me a thing when I went there. She said she had no idea where you had gone."
"She really didn't. She lent me her own clothes and money for a cab. I couldn't have gotten out without her help. I signed myself out the last night we chatted. Cass was getting a Court Order to keep me in so I just got out of Dodge. Felix let me use Emmett's place. He was a great buddy. He bought me food and clean sheets and acted as my bodyguard."
"And loved every minute of it. He's always wanted you. It must have made his day to be able to be your knight in shining armour."
"Really? We have always been friends. He's always been there whenever I needed him, even if I only owned the second smallest apartment in the complex. He treated me like royalty from the day I moved in."
"So oblivious," he laughed.
Hearing Edward laugh was a balm that soothed my heart.
"How did you find us? You slept much of the time when we were travelling here for our honeymoon. I'm surprised you knew the way."
"I didn't. Jake put a message on that blog he and Charlie kept. They knew it was for you. That's why they put up all the photos and video's of us together. Jake thought you'd be more interested in them than in the photos of me before we knew one another."
"I treasured every word and every image, from whatever stage of your life."
"Carlisle came to the Res and got me. I've started to re establish myself as Kristie's Mama. She seems happy to have a Mama again."
"She missed you dreadfully. Like I did. Do you want to take a shower? Or a walk on the beach?"
"Why don't those offers sound sincere? What do you really want to do?"
He slid a hand lower, making me instantly needy again just as he knew it would.
"I want to make love to you with my eyes open, knowing you really are here, and it's not just a hallucination or a dream."
"Sounds like a plan," I agreed.
Dawn found us huddled together under a blanket sitting on the clifftops, watching the sun's beams take control of the sky. I was sitting with my back pressed against his chest and his arms held me tightly. Our legs were touching, his outside mine, his feet keeping mine together so I was 'decent'. God knows all my legs wanted to do was fall open and have him inside me yet again.
He'd called a halt to our repeated lovemaking, out of concern that we were keeping our son awake. We hadn't slept, but there would be plenty of time for that in the future.
For now we just needed to be together.
Edward's hands roamed over every inch of me, as he checked I was not a hologram or a dream. His lips kept kissing the top of my head.
We'd talked for hours, and both knew all there was to know about our time apart.
My heart bled for him, because he had really believed I was dead, and had lived with that unbearable pain for six months, whereas I'd never considered his death a possibility. I was grateful to Marcus and Cass for handling the situation so very badly that even when they told me the truth as they knew it, I simply didn't listen or believe them.
The worst pain I'd felt was during the time I'd believed Edward had never come back. And in the back of my mind even then I'd assumed he'd turn up when the baby was born and I'd have another chance. No matter how he felt about me, he would never deprive me of our child, so we would have had to work out a way for both of us to parent the baby, and of course I would take full advantage of that.
I'd already been plotting and scheming ways to get back into his bed.
But that was me. He was mine, in my heart and in my head, and I would have fought as hard and as dirty as it took to make him love me again.
Edward's love was more pure.
It was eternal but would have left him crippled if I'd really been dead and that made me so sad. I always wanted him to be happy, and truly, I would have wanted him to move on and find love again.
But none of that mattered now.
We were both alive and well, and I was back.
Even so, it wasn't until Esme slipped out from the house and came to kneel behind Edward's back and throw her arms around us that he really believed I was here.
"You can see her? You can feel her, Mom?"
"Of course I can, Son. Bella has come back to us. Are you two warm enough? It's cold out here."
"We are sharing body heat," Edward replied.
All I was wearing was his blue shirt and the lime and pink sox Renee had knitted that I'd given him. And of course, I was 'wearing' his body.
She brought us cups of tea,and while they warmed us up inside, Edward realised we should go back to bed and warm up again.
Like I'd argue.
Eventually we did sleep, now he was sure I existed, and for hours we lay entwined in one another, sleeping dreamlessly, because real life was better than anything our brains could invent.
"Bella, just pick up the soap, " Edward urged.
We were sharing a shower prior to going over to the main house for lunch, and seeing Kristie together for the first time.
I just wasn't sure he'd dropped it accidentally, and why would he want me bending over to retrieve it?
"No. The water will make us clean enough," I retorted.
"Just what are you afraid of? Huh?" he whispered in my ear making my skin tingle. "Do you think I want to take advantage as you bend over? If I wanted to make love again, wouldn't I just lift you up, like this, and hold you against the tiles, and push inside you just like this? That would be the more practical thing to do, surely."
I put my legs around his waist and drew him in closer.
The practical side of my brain kept warning me I was headed for a dose of 'Honeymoon cystitis' after such a long period of abstinence and such an intense night of breaking that drought, but what the Hell? I had two doctors on hand. They'd cure it. Especially the one with the vested interest in keeping me fit and ready for love.
I knew this was more about reconnecting and less about sex for Edward, but for me, it was definitely both. The man had turned me into some wanton harlot who was not putting her daughter first at all.
"Oh yes," I moaned, sliding against him, feeling him hit places that must be bruised black and blue by now, but it felt so good. "Oh God, Edward,yes" I hissed, shaking with relief, and barely managing to clench. I know it's important to exercise those muscles inside but it seemed even they tired from overuse.
"Bella, my Bella, I love you so much."
His lips were desperate again and I could feel his heart thumping against my chest as he tried to keep every inch of him in contact with every inch of me, all at once. He was frantic and so afraid.
He'd experienced the worst possible thing, and he had to reassure himself it was over.
It was getting too intense again. Edward was in danger of spontaneous combustion or something if he didn't manage to hold back a little and take control. I understood his desperation but we were in danger of teetering on the brink of insanity here.
"Hey you two. You missed lunch. Are you joining us for dessert?" Rose yelled from below.
"Sounds like they are making their own dessert," Emmett chortled.
"Bella is already pregnant. You can't start the next baby until this one is actually born," Rose yelled.
"Fuck. I can't believe I forgot to tell them," I exclaimed."It's all your fault. All I have been able to think about is you coming back from Boston and it just slipped my mind. Come on, we have to get dressed."
I took Edward's hand and we ran to the house, and I would have blushed at the knowing looks and Emmett's graphic hand gestures as he explained why we were late.
"Emmett, no. Just grow up. Rose, I have something for you."
I handed her the small black and white photos and she looked at them closely.
"Oh. You are having another girl?" she said in surprise.I'd referred to our baby as a boy ever since I'd arrived.
Carlisle had confirmed it with a scan himself.
"That's not our baby. It's yours."
"Yours and Emmett's. Laurent and Siobhan came to find me at the apartment in Boston. Once Cass turned up at their house and questioned them about whether I'd been there, they knew I was back, so they brought those scan photos for me to pass on to you. If you were alive."
"They had one of the frozen embryos left over from the first time implanted the day before they heard the news about the accident. Apparently she had agreed to have that done as soon as she felt ready, after recovering from the birth of their own daughter. That felt like the right day,so she went ahead, knowing you'd be delighted. And she asked for a girl to be transferred. So, in a couple of months, you two have a daughter to go collect. You need to call Siobhan. I can't believe I forgot to tell you straight away. I'm so sorry."
"I think in the circumstances we can forgive that all you could think about was Edward. I can understand that. Thank you, Bella. Emmett, look at our little girl."
"Now you can stop borrowing Kristie and have your own Pink Baby to dress up," Alice stated.
Just then, Esme walked into the room with Kristie. She let go of her hand and our daughter stared at us both. Edward had his arm around my shoulder and it all clicked into place for her.
"That's my Dadda and my Mama," she said soberly to Esme.
Then she walked nonchalantly over to us and held up her arms to Edward. It seemed he was still her favourite, but I could live with that.
This time, I enjoyed every single moment that remained of the pregnancy. No nightmares showed themselves, but then, nothing could dampen my happiness anyway.
At first, having Bella back was overwhelming and I had to pause and concentrate, and ground my mind, because it seriously did attempt to take me to places I may not come back from.
Depression is real and can't be cured in a single day, even if the thing that depressed you was now mended.
Carlisle monitored my drugs and only started decreasing them once Bella and I slipped back into our old manner of being together.
I could feel myself slowly healing and finally the end was in sight. I could almost reach out and touch it. Each day was happier than the last, and even better, more peaceful, and my moods had evened out.
I felt positive about the future.
Someday we might decide it was safe to go home to Forks and live in our houses again. The main house was overcrowded and Rose and Emmett's new baby would need the sole remaining guest room.
I was thinking clearly now, and had come along way in accepting the past was done, and we had a long and happy future together.
The first time I disagreed with something Bella said, Carlisle grinned.
She could not accept that sugar was so bad. Scientists had discovered so many new problems it caused and now knew it was worse for your health than even animal fat. It was linked to cholesterol clogging your arteries as your body tried to repair the tiny cuts sugar, or the additives of sand that kept it free flowing, made inside you.
She'd grown up with a sweet tooth and thought Kristie was somehow deprived because we never gave her sugar.
"If she never develops a taste for it, then she will never know what's she is missing," I pointed out.
"But I've eaten it all my life and it hasn't done me any harm. Okay, I will agree to not giving it to our kids but I'm never giving it up"
I couldn't even say the obvious reply. So far as we know it hasn't harmed you. Yet.
The idea of ever losing her again was too painful to think about.
I'd insisted on always making the many cups of tea that she still drank every day, but I'd gradually reduced the sugar to almost nothing, and because I'd done it over two months, she hadn't noticed any difference in taste.
Then today she'd made herself one while I was showering, and had spluttered in disgust at the extreme sweetness, and I'd been outed.
"I only want to do what's best for you," I argued as I dried myself off. Unfortunately,with barely two weeks left of the pregnancy, tiredness had taken over from lust and my naked body was not distracting her.
"But that was just sneaky. You eat Rose's cheesecakes. They must have sugar in them."
"Nope. Rose has never eaten sugar."
She did know that.
She stood there with her arms crossed, and tapped her foot as she glared at me, no doubt annoyed she couldn't come up with any winning points.
Just then, the argument was wiped from our minds as her water broke with an audible pop.
"Edward," she said in panic, her eyes instantly changed from angry and frustrated to scared.
"It's okay. We knew this would happen one day soon. Today is that day."
I helped her off with her wet jeans and pulled her into the shower when she was as naked as I was. I'd send Carlisle a text, but for now the warm water would help with the early contractions so this was the best place to be. She stood facing me, with her arms reaching up around my neck.
Kristie was napping in the bunkroom in her crib. We'd started by moving the crib down of a day, then left it there for nights as well once she decided she liked her newly decorated bedroom better than our boring plain room anyway.
"Do you prefer that I exam how far you are dilated, or do you want Carlisle to do it?"I asked.
"You,"she gasped as a contraction hit.
I knew she had no issues with him being her doctor, but she wanted this birth to be just between us if possible. I wanted Dad out of sight but on hand just in case anything happened that I couldn't handle alone.
I heard the jug downstairs shrill as it boiled and the quiet chatter of my mother and father as they sat and waited.
"Do you want me to fill the tub yet?"
"Will you get in it with me?" she asked.
"Of course, Bella. I just need to grab a condom to put on the doppler so I can check the baby's heart rate, okay?"
Jasper was the only one who used them so he'd donated a couple for the cause.
I placed her hands on the tiled shower walls and left her for a moment to get the bath filled and considered the best way to check her cervix. Taking her up the stairs to lay on the bed may not be the most practical way.
"Bella, you need to pee so it's not too uncomfortable when I examine you."
She did. She had no inhibitions thank God.
I decided to do it while she was resting against the wall, and warned her when I returned.
"Sorry, Baby, but I have to do this. Pant."
First time I've ever apologised for putting any part of me inside her.
"Six centimeters," I announced. More than halfway.
"Dadda," a small voice called from the room below. Mom's footsteps assured me she had heard and was taking charge.
"Hello Kristie, Did you have a nice nap? Guess what? Uncle Jasper is waiting to give you another swimming lesson. Won't Mama be surprised when she sees how good you are at swimming after this lesson? "
"I want to jump in the water ," Kristie said."And make a big splash like the twins do."
"I bet Jasper can teach you how to do that," Esme replied, carrying her downstairs.
I sent Dad an updated text and then helped Bella into the tub and listened to our son's heartbeat. He didn't appear distressed at all, even during contractions.
Her blood pressure was good. Her temperature normal. Her pulse strong. With luck this delivery would be as textbook as the last.
I was grateful for this baby for a lot of reasons. When all you want is your wife back, and you somehow are granted that impossible wish, it's everything. But when she brings a new life you two created together with her, it's extraordinary.
It also grounded me in a way words couldn't. It pushed us back into reality. Without him I would possibly still be waking up afraid Bella's return was just a dream. Instead my hands ached even while I slept, from rubbing her lower back, and her aching legs and her feet.
Every time I awoke in the night, Bella took it as a sign I was as willing to massage her body as I was to make love to her.
Mainly she won, but we had still kept up a fairly active sex life. She was very inventive when it came to positions to avoid the bump.
And I never wanted our daughter to be an only child. How much easier would it have been for her when Bella was away if she'd had a sibling of her own? I know she'd felt the odd one out, with no brother or sister like the other children, and worse still, no Mama.
She'd had me, but had I been as much of a positive as a negative as I clung to her to keep me willing to live? Some days I'd felt like I was just a burden to her.
"You need to drink," I said, holding out a beaker with a lid and a straw.
For the next few hours, things progressed normally. Bella's vitals stayed good, and the baby's heart rallied after each tightening. I kept the bathwater at the same temperature by letting out the old as I refilled.
Day turned to night.
Second labours are normally shorter than firsts, but there was no reason to worry. Everything that should happen was happening, just slowly.
Bella looked quite serene, and enjoyed the widely spaced contractions and the long gaps of peace in between them.
Rose and Alice popped in; Emmett took the crib back to the main house for Kristie at bedtime, and Esme fed her husband and I.
The evening dragged out, long and peaceful, only disturbed by increasingly strong waves of pain.
"I want to get out," Bella said suddenly, pushing on the lip of the tub to stand.
I hit the alert on my cell and Dad ran up the steps as my wife stood up and the baby's head emerged between her legs.
She moaned and went into a semi squat.
Carlisle supported Bella's body as I caught the baby.
I laughed at his hair. Poor kid. A lifetime of auburn bed hair, though it had worked for me.
He flexed his lanky limbs and wailed, then opened his piercing emerald eyes and Bella smiled.
"What's the time?" I asked.
"You two have a midnight son," Dad replied.
Baby Edward had taken over the family. It was a weird feeling, knowing for the first time since Bella fell in love with me that another male had captivated her heart just as securely.
Kristie was seriously unimpressed and objected to the baby's cradle being in our bedroom when her crib wasn't. She clung to me and often refused to speak to her brother, and would sometimes even shut her eyes or turn her face away.
Bella looked like the original Earth Mother, sitting in the morning sun on the stoop, feeding our son. She ignored Kristie's jealousy and just pulled her onto her lap to read to her or brushed out her hair and told her how pretty she was, while baby Edward slept in his cradle.
I agreed it was the best way to handle things.
Gradually, as he slept less and began to hero worship his older sister with his eyes, she decided he wasn't so bad.
Then baby Annabel came home with Emmett and Rose, and I think Kristie realised she preferred a brother to a sister so there was one good thing about him. Bella didn't dress him up all pink and frilly and have all the women oohing and ahhing over him, saying he was 'just the prettiest little baby in the world' like they did over Annabel.
Kristie was the one in our little family with the 'pretty' label and she liked it that way.
Bella and I lay in bed one night and discussed whether or not we would ever want more children. To me, two seemed a good number.
For many reasons.
We had one of each, so a third child would have to be another boy or another girl, and at the moment the family felt balanced.
I liked having a favourite daughter and hated the idea that things would change if there was another little girl in the running.
Bella had her idea of the perfect son already, so she was happy.
I still hated putting my wife through anything dangerous, and pregnancy is a dangerous exercise. We'd had two perfect deliveries; it seemed like pushing our luck to expect a third to end just as well.
And I wanted as large a share of Bella as there could be for me. Sharing her with two kids was enough.
Carlisle did the honours and performed my vasectomy when Edward Jr turned a year old, so we could be sure there would never be any unplanned surprises.
From what we could learn, it seemed like the threat of Aro Volturi had died with him. Riley confirmed every high ranking member of the company had been executed or imprisoned, and none of the minions had any reason to seek us out. We were not the reason they were incarcerated, their own actions led them to that place. It was likely none of them had even heard of us.
He was living openly, under his own name, in Boston with no consequences.
We had to seriously consider returning to the mainland as Tommy needed to start his education, and his parents wanted him to attend a normal school and mix with more children than just his cousins.
Finally, the decision was made and we said goodbye to the island. It would just be our holiday getaway from now on.
We'd had the houses opened and cleaned, and it felt good walking down the path to the house I'd always wanted to share with Bella and my children, forever.
Kristie held her brother's hand and walked him through the front door,as I scooped my wife into my arms and carried her across the threshold.
As always, Bella got in the last word.
"Honey," she said kissing my cheek. "We're home."
Thanks for reading, kisses for everyone who reviewed, see ya when I'm better, Cheers.