AN: Thanks to dazzlingrockstar for betaing this chapter.
"As I watch you sleep, my soul cries tears of joy for the magnificent gift of having you in my life. Twenty-five years have changed our bodies and our minds but, fortunately our hearts remained faithful. We are held together by love. Forever bounded in ways that the human mind cannot comprehend. Only our souls understand the level of our commitment; the extent of our devotion.
"As I pen this entry in, I'm washed by a feeling of loss. It's silly but I will miss writing these little letters to the future, these little confessions of my imperfect love and unwavering devotion.
"Happy anniversary, my love. I hope you enjoy this gift."
"Wake up, baby."
"I don't want to."
"I know but, you need to wake up now if you don't want to miss the reading."
"Did you have to schedule it so damn early?"
"Well, sorry for trying to make our twenty-fifth anniversary interesting."
"Oh, Bella, my love, don't get grumpy. That's my thing, especially in the mornings."
Chuckling softly at Alice's snarky remark, Isabella couldn't help but admire the way the sun illuminated the beautiful woman she called wife. Unlike most women, Alice chose to wear her greying hair with pride. Her skin aged gracefully, retaining the rosy-cheeked complexion that always tugged at Isabella's heart. She had put on some weight but, in Isabella's opinion, the extra pounds were added to the right places.
Yes, her wife was still a head turner. As for herself, Isabella knew that she had never been classically beautiful but, what she lacked in looks she compensated in attitude. She painted her nails black and dyed her hair violet; she rode a motorcycle and wore leather jackets. Old, she might be but, she refused to lose the aura of fierceness that had always been her trademark.
Absorbed by her wife's beauty, Isabella failed to realize that Alice was bent on seduction. As crafty as always, she feigned to squirm sleepily, manoeuvring her plump breasts free from the confining sheets. She had taken to sleeping in the nude ever since the first hot flashes of menopause appeared. It had actually improved their sexual life, since Isabella was easily enticed by the sight of Alice's exposed flesh.
Isabella rolled her eyes at her wife's not so subtle techniques. After twenty-five years, there wasn't much Alice could hide from her. Apparently, her wife had sex on her mind and Isabella wasn't about to deny her. Making love to Alice was the high point of her day, like it had always been and would always be.
The frenzy of their first years was replaced by gentleness and idle exploration. They no longer had the energy for vigorous lovemaking but, they didn't lack enthusiasm and eagerness to please. Isabella was still a bit domineering and, sometimes, a bit kinky. Alice continued to be shy and hesitant - all sweetness, even after all the sexual practices her wife had introduced to her.
When they were done, they showered together and criticized each other's choice of attire. In Alice's opinion, Isabella should learn how to dress according to her age. To Isabella's mind, Alice should stop dressing as a bitter crone. It was an old argument that always ended up in teary apologies and, heated make-out sessions.
"... Up to this day, you still remain the sugar to my spice, my dear loving wife; the eternal holder of my heart.
The eruption of applause that followed wasn't enough to distract Isabella from the brilliance of Alice's smile, obviously pleased by the way Isabella portrayed their relationship. Alice mouthed loving words to her wife, though her eyes conveyed another sort of sentiment. They shone with the lust that only comes with true love.
The reading was a smashing success. Isabella could hardly believe that, a mere second epilogue could garner that much attention. Of course, Mike had done an amazing job at promoting it. Isabella still could not believe that, the child she had come to love as her own had grown into a man. A brilliant publicist, he had the luxury of selecting his clients. Despite his success, his mother despaired over his absent love life. Isabella tried to appease his mother, by saying that he was waiting for the one but, truth be told, he was too much of a success amongst women to settle for just one.
The most noticeable absence of the night was Tyler's but, since he had gone to the hospital in order to attend the birth of his first grandchild, Isabella was inclined to overlook his faux pas. Isabella's heart ached for Tyler. She truly missed him. Life hadn't been easy on the boy.
He knocked up his high school girlfriend and had to struggle to put himself through college. Some years later, his wife was taken away by a car accident. With the family's help, he managed to raise a fine child – Helen. He never remarried.
Even Jasper and Maria had attended the event. After the unavoidable awkwardness of the first few months, the four of them managed to forge a lasting friendship. They never discussed times past, choosing to concentrate on the present.
Despite the thrill brought by the sweet taste of success, Isabella was eager to take her wife home. She had been planning this night for the past twenty five years. The reading had been carefully timed, according to the length of time it would take to transform their home into an oasis of romance.
A beautiful canopy of twinkling lights had been added to their garden, giving the impression of walking into a dream. A dinner prepared by a French chef was waiting to be served and, violinists would be playing Eduard Tubin's violin sonata – Alice's favourite.
After that, they would dance to the sound of Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty. It was the same waltz they had chosen for their wedding, six years prior. Later, Isabella would give her wife the diary, where she had poured her soul for twenty five years. It was only fitting, since she had started it right after their first night together – the day their history had started; the anniversary they were commemorating.
Isabella wasn't sure of how much time she still had left with Alice but, she was considering the idea of starting a new journal... A present meant for an anniversary that, she had no way of knowing if it would ever come to pass.
AN: Thank you to dazzlingrockstar who stepped out of her comfort zone in order to beta this for me - You rock!
To all my readers: Thank you! I'd love to hear from you.
Happy New Year!