I'm here... I'm here... sorry for the delay... college classes started back up... so I've got work, being a single mom to Braydon and now I've added in going back to school full time... oh, and a new man... ;) (ps it's been a loooong time since i've dated... so besides being a nervous wreck before the first date... he makes me really happy) anyway... no more rambling... here we go...

Beta'd by MidNight Cougar & texasbella


39.

Edward is better than his word, spending almost all his non-working and sleeping hours with Kaitlyn and Bella. He's with them every weekend and most times it's Bella's house that he drives to after work.

He stays until Kaitlyn is asleep, and one night about three weeks later, she asks him to tell her a bedtime story. Edward is downright giddy at the request, not recalling the last time he felt that way.

She settles under the covers of her bed as Edward pulls up a chair. She takes his hand, and Edward racks his brain trying to think of a story, but only one readily comes to mind.

He tells her of a beautiful and kind queen, with hair of spun gold and eyes as lovely as Kaitlyn's, who spent her days teaching the children of her kingdom and wanted nothing more than a child of her own. She and her husband tried for a long time before the king, who was very rich, called upon the finest doctors in all the land to help his wife conceive. But all the doctors said the same thing—that the queen would never bear a child. She didn't listen to them though, she kept on trying, and each night before she went to bed she prayed for a baby to call hers.

Then one night, as she looked outside the castle window she saw a falling star, wishing with all her might upon it, and nine months later the queen had her baby boy. She lavished the young prince with all her love, made sure he didn't want for anything. They rode all over the countryside together on the queen's mighty black steed named Volvo.

"What about the king?" Kaitlyn asks, followed by a yawn. "Wasn't he with them?"

"The king was a very busy man," Edward answers. "He had a whole kingdom to rule over."

"And the prince didn't miss his daddy?"

Can't miss what you never had, kiddo, he thinks bitterly—instead he answers,"Nah, he was too busy playing with all his friends and he had the queen. They were almost always together, as happy as two clams."

"And they lived happily ever after," she mutters sleepily, and Edward has to look away for a moment.

He feels her hand let go and turns to tuck her in more securely, notices her eyes are already closed. "Good night, sweetheart," he says and softly kisses her forehead.

She whispers, "Love you," and from one breath to the next, she's asleep.

Edward has no idea how long he sits there, stunned into silence and chest aching.

It's quiet when Bella steps in from the garage, almost too quiet. She saw the lights on as she was pulling her car in though, so she knows someone has to be home.

She had texted Edward when she got off the plane, letting him know the flight was fine and that she would be home soon. She has steadily become more worried as time passed and she received no return text.

Bella hadn't wanted to leave yesterday, Edward had to practically kick her out the door. In the twenty-four hours since, she knows she's called and texted him an almost obscene number of times, but she couldn't help it.

He had never sounded annoyed or upset though, patiently telling her that everything was fine, and if Kaitlyn was in reach, handing the phone to her.

Bella doesn't bother taking off her shoes, just drops her bag on the laundry room floor that's adjacent to the garage and goes in search of life.

She doesn't need to go very far.

They're piled on the recliner in the family room, sleeping. Kaitlyn is in Edward's lap, the side of her face resting on his shoulder, his shallow breaths causing the hair on the top of her head to sway. One of her hands is splayed on his chest, right over his heart, and one of Edward's is wrapped around her waist, keeping her close.

They've never looked more alike, like father and daughter, beautiful together, and the affection they have for each other is clear as day.

Wetness gathers in Bella's eyes and she struggles to blink it away. She's never going to have that special connection. She and Kaitlyn look nothing alike. People will never know she's her mother just by looking at them.

Bella's heart turns over; she's on the verge of crying when she spots movement out of the corner of her eye.

It's then she notices that Andrei is also wedged into the small space between Edward's side and the chair arm. He starts to slowly thump his tail when Bella's eyes land on him and Bella shushes him as she gets closer. She crouches down and gently helps Andrei carefully jump down from his place, scratching his ears in hopes the dog will remain quiet.

Bella isn't sure if she can face Edward just yet, not when she's sure everything she's feeling must show on her face in big red marker.

Once Andrei is safely on the floor and after checking to make sure the pair is still sleeping soundly, Bella rises, quietly stepping into the kitchen and toward the patio doors to let Andrei outside. She doesn't need to, spotting the doggy door that Edward must have installed while Bella was gone. She looks down as the dog trots through the flap, tail wagging. Bella shakes her head and wonders if he even realizes how much he dotes on that gigantic furball.

He's not any better with Kaitlyn, both have him wrapped around their fingers—or paws—and Bella thinks for a guy that says he doesn't want a family, he's got an awful lot of love to give.

The thought stops Bella right in her tracks, scares the shit out of her.

She's seen that each time Edward's come to visit, the harder it is for him to leave. Bella knows that it's only a matter of time before Edward doesn't want to leave. Not without demanding to take Kaitlyn with him.

Bella has no idea what she'll do the day Edward wises up and realizes he wants to keep Kaitlyn, be a father to her. The court is going to rule with him, she has no false hopes about that, and while she's pretty sure he will allow her visitation rights and won't ever say no if she asks to see Kaitlyn, it won't be the same.

She lightly taps Edward on his free shoulder. "Edward?"

"Hmm." He stirs, tilting his head toward Bella as his deep green eyes flutter open, the exact shade of Kaitlyn's.

Kaitlyn doesn't like the movement, burrowing her face into Edward's neck. Bella remembers that the last time she left for an overnight trip Kaitlyn was impatiently waiting for her at the door, leaping into her arms with a joyous cry as soon as she saw her.

She knows right then and there that she's going to lose Kaitlyn—Bella's whole world for six years and the best thing to have ever happened to her—and she has no idea how to stop it or how she will survive it.


See you next time!

-Jess