Here it is: the finale. I'll see you at the bottom with my final note. Enjoy.
Epilogue Two – Happy Endings
"It you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story."
~Six Years Later~
I meant what I'd said to my husband at the Oscars six years ago; he was and continues to be my happily ever after. Though storms still rage every now and then, Edward was my beckon of brightness and love. To even think of where my life would be without him was soul crushing. Happiness would be but a dream instead of the reality I got to live.
Life by the lake had been amazing and everything I could have ever hoped and dreamed for. Just six months after my fourth and final Oscar win, Edward and I welcomed Ethan, our little boy, into the world. He was a rambunctious child who filled my life with both worry and joy.
Not having had the best example for parents, I was concerned about what I would be like as a mother. I was lucky, though; the moment they placed him in my arms, I knew I would do anything to make sure he knew how loved he was. Both he and Edward were the center of my world until we welcomed little Annabelle into the world just three short years later. She was the light of Edward's life and I was just grateful that it wasn't the twins he was shooting for.
Where Ethan had my chocolate eyes and Edward's light brown hair, Anna had my dark locks and Edward's sky blue eyes. They were both very precocious and loved the outdoors. We spent a lot of time outside with our family teaching them about nature and the wildlife around the lake.
Both Leah and Seth had finished college and had come back home to stay. Leah had taken over the entire day-to-day operations of the resort and her now husband, Paul, was in charge of all the outdoor activities. He took over for Edward when he began focusing on the foundation with me. Leah was currently pregnant with their first child and was very nervous, not that I blamed her. I knew exactly how she felt. Those first time Mom-to-be jitters were the worst, even if you had someone like Esme around for support.
Seth had shocked us all by going to culinary school. He had taken over full time for Carlisle this past year so he could semi-retire with Esme, who was more than happy to watch her grandchildren while the rest of us continued to work—although my work had changed more than once I went from writer, to mother, to foundation president. I wore each title with honor.
The Yellow Ribbon Foundation had taken off since it started four years ago in Los Angeles. We had flagship offices in Virginia, Hawaii, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Washington, and New Jersey. We held two major fundraising events each year, and thanks to many of the contacts I had developed while working with my father in Hollywood, we had continued to be successful in helping many of the military families through the hard times.
The first year wasn't easy, especially with a newborn baby, but with Edward's constant support and understanding, we were able to power through and prosper.
Jasper had shifted his focus along with me. He was a huge help in finding the right support staff and doctors who were willing to work pro-bono a few times a month to provide therapy for the husbands and wives of the soldiers who were overseas and needed help navigating the changes within their households. We held classes for the families on everything from managing the changing family structure to cooking classes and self defense training. The list was endless, but knowing we were there to help reduce the chances of soldiers coming home to broken families or divorces was wonderful motivation.
Although there were times when it was beyond stressful and sad, mostly on days when a spouse or parent was not returning because they were killed or missing in action, we stood by those families and continued to offer support.
Edward had told me that after the burial services, those families tended to fall to the wayside because the military just didn't have the resources to help them anymore beyond that. It was devastating to think about that, so grief counselors were a huge part of our foundation and it helped them recover from such a devastating loss.
Edward and I worked right alongside one another in our in-home office and only made trips around the country quarterly. At least that was how it was once the flagship offices were well on their way. As a company, we now employed more than 200 people and continued to thrive as a non-profit organization. Neither Edward nor I took a salary. We didn't need the money as much as we loved knowing we were doing the right thing for others.
Yes, we were happy, but sometimes the past made for some stormy encounters.
I could still remember when I was seven months pregnant with Anna, and a rather irate Alice burst into our home. She was crying and upset, and I knew it must've been all Jasper's fault. The conversation was shocking and I'd never been more pissed off at Jasper in my life. It caused a rift between us that didn't close until Alice had forgiven him. I was on her side throughout the whole clusterfuck.
"Alice? What's wrong?" I asked when I saw the tears pouring down her face.
"Jasper and I are getting a divorce," she exclaimed.
"What? Why?" I was completely shocked to hear this, since Jasper had told me just last week that he was planning on taking her away for a second honeymoon once award season was over.
"Because he fucked you!" she shouted.
Edward was quickly by my side, trying desperately to calm her down and prevent me from going into labor.
"What the hell are you talking about?" I asked, completely dumbfounded by her accusations.
"Emmett let it slip that you guys used to screw around before we met. Why didn't you tell me? Did she ever tell you, Edward?" she stated, throwing questions at her brother and me.
I wanted to shake my head, but I couldn't because she would have taken that to mean Edward didn't know. I couldn't believe Jasper had never told her about our past, but it was just that: our past.
"First of all, you need to calm down. Second, it wasn't my place to tell you, it was his. And third, of course Edward knew. I told him everything right up front. Nothing has happened between Jasper and me in over 12 years."
Edward nodded in agreement and was now rubbing my back as I continued to explain. The hardest one was explaining Jasper's confession from ten years ago.
"Alice, when I came up to the lake after the whole Jacob incident, Jasper had confessed he was in love with me the very night I arrived. When I told him I couldn't return those feelings, our friendship was almost completely severed.
"Your brother was my rock through that whole time and it help me fall in love with him even more. Jasper has been my best friend since I was thirteen. I certainly didn't think of him like I think of Emmett, but I was never in love with him. We had and still have a special bond, but you know it's nothing beyond that. I love your brother. I'm in love with your brother."
"So I was his second choice?" she asked. I could hear the quiver in her voice and my eyes watered. I couldn't imagine what she was feeling right now.
"No, honey," I said taking her hand in mine. "You were his only choice. Jasper never loved me they way he loves you, just like I never loved Jasper the way I love Edward."
I squeezed my husband's hand as I spoke to both of them. "For Jasper, I was an easy partner. It would have been an easy marriage, but there would have never been that racing hearts and sweaty palms kind of love between us. Meeting your brother solidified the fact that I didn't want easy. I wanted it all, the whole gamut of emotions that came with true love. Jasper understood how I felt the moment he laid his eyes on you. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
She sighed and then responded, "What happened in the past means nothing because Jasper loves me. Today, tomorrow, and always."
"Exactly." I breathed a sigh of relief that she understood where everything stood now.
"But I'm still pissed he didn't tell me about the past you two shared."
"Believe me, so am I. Are you gonna be okay now?" I asked.
"Yeah. Thanks for being honest with me, Bella."
"I always will be." We hugged—at least, we tried to with the beach ball between us.
"Is it all right with you guys if I lay down in guest room? I don't really have the energy to go back to Mom and Dad's right now."
"Of course," replied Edward before he led her down the hall to the room.
Once he joined me back in the living room, he pulled me into his arms. "I'm gonna kill Jasper. What the hell was he thinking by not telling her about our past?"
"I don't know, but I want to hit him for upsetting my little sister." Edward wasn't a violent man, but I understood where he was coming from.
"You and me both. I also want to hit Emmett for even talking about our past. It's been more than ten years. Jasper and I have moved on to bigger and better things. Why can't he learn to keep his mouth shut?" I asked, but wasn't expecting an answer. We both knew Emmett had no filter and also had a bad habit of talking about things he shouldn't.
It took months for Jasper and Alice to get back on track, but they weren't able to do it without the help of their therapist. It took just as long for Jasper to win back my trust, too.
We visited my father and Emmett a couple of times a year. Emmett began working closely with Charlie and was well on his way to making a name for himself as a producer and director. He and Rose still weren't married, but they were happy. They had welcomed twins, Jane and Alec, just four years ago; they were little terrors who Ethan and Anna avoided whenever we got together. Their cherub faces were replicas of Rose's with Emmett's dimples, but looks can be deceiving because they were little devil incarnates and reminded me of their Aunt Emily.
Speaking of Emily, she had been a real piece of work. She actually had the nerve to show up with the rest of the family, minus Renée, this past 4th of July. Her beauty had faded and she had taken to flowing in Renée's shoes with the Botox and chemical peels. Gone was her waif-like figure, and in its place was a skeleton-like physique.
I was completely shocked when I saw her. She never ate and drank like a fish. I'd finally had enough when she attempted to kiss my husband.
It was an utter train wreck.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" I questioned as I ripped her away from Edward.
Before she responded, I could hear Ethan telling Esme, "Uh oh, Mommy cussed. She only does that when she's really mad."
His six year old mind equated cussing with anger and he couldn't be any more correct in his assumption at that moment. I seriously hoped the kids were being dragged away from the scene that could quickly escalate into a Broadway musical.
"You come into my home and then proceed to think you can stick your claws into my husband? Bitch, you have lost your ever-loving mind!" I was furious.
"Please, as if you could ever keep a man like him satisfied. He needs a real woman, just like Jacob did," she slurred.
If she thought the revelation about Jacob would make me cower, she was dead wrong. I snorted and replied, "Oh, believe me, he is completely satisfied. He likes meat on his woman's bones. That way he can squeeze my ass and suck on my supple breasts. You're nothing more than a walking corpse with saline fun bags. As for Jacob, I couldn't care less. At least I know I didn't catch anything from his diseased dick, unlike you and Nessie. Tell me, have you had any recent flare-ups as a result of the herpes?"
Emily screeched and charged for me but before she could make contact she tripped on the rug and smacked her head against the edge of the coffee table. Blood poured from her forehead and we all rushed to try and stop the bleeding until help could arrive.
I knew head wounds bled more than any other, but it was even worse due to the amount of alcohol pumping through her system. The air ambulance arrived just twenty minutes after we called and the biggest concern they had was that she hadn't woken up from the fall yet. They loaded her into the helicopter and rushed her to Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls.
Once they were in the air, Emmett and I quickly climbed into our new SUV and headed toward the hospital. Everyone else stayed behind to look after the kids. I wanted Edward with me, but it was something my brother and I had to handle together.
The drive passed slowly, even thought we made good time. Once we were there, we were informed that they had rushed her into surgery. Apparently she had hit her head so hard that there was swelling around her brain and they needed to relieve the pressure. Emmett and I sat holding hands in the surgical waiting room.
"Emmett, I'm sorry she got hurt because of me."
He squeezed my hand. "Iz, this wasn't your fault. Emily has issues, some that were caused by Renée and others that were caused by our parents' death. She needs help, and I'd hoped the trip up here would be a wake-up call for the way she's living her life, but sadly I think it's just driven her completely off the deep end. I don't know what to do anymore."
"Maybe this accident will be the wake-up call you were hoping for," I said not realizing how hard his life had become because of Emily.
I called Charlie and told him what had happened. It was a difficult conversation and he promised to be here as soon as he could. Then I called Edward and updated him on what was going on so he could inform the others.
We sat there for hours without any word. There was nothing worse than sitting there, unable to do anything to but wait. I was shocked when Edward and Rose showed up four hours after we arrived. Carlisle, Esme, Alice, and Jasper were watching the kids for us so they could be there for Emmett and me.
Finally, seven hours after we arrived, a doctor came out and explained that they had been unable to revive Emily after she crashed on the operating table for the second time.
I collapsed in Edward's arms. Tears poured down my face. While I hated her for the things she did, I didn't want her dead.
Emmett was in complete shock, not talking or moving. When I pulled him into my arms, he broke down. Regardless of the all the drama, she was our sister―his twin—and I wasn't sure if he'd ever be the same.
Edward and Rose handled the calls to the family. Emily would be buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery back in California. She was her happiest in Hollywood, so she be buried among the stars.
The paparazzi were out in full force the day Emily was laid to rest. We weren't given a moment's peace, and I was thankful we were smart enough to leave the kids with Esme and Carlisle. They didn't need to experience this spectacle.
Renée showed up with husband number three, a man more than half her age. He was even younger than Emmett and me. Apparently she had become the new Demi.
She put on a show for the cameras, crocodile tears and all. She supposedly had a reality show in the works and I could only imagine what it would be like. Charlie had already threatened the network with a lawsuit if any of our names made it on air since we hadn't agreed to the show in the first place. If it wasn't one thing with her, it was another even after all this time.
The service was beautiful and Emily's coffin had been covered in hundreds of white roses, her favorite flower. All of the mourners released butterflies to signify her spirit being parted from her body. It was different, but what she had wanted, according to her will.
A catered dinner was held at our childhood home and her life was celebrated. Many people approached Emmett and me and offered condolences. I just nodded and thanked them. Emily and I hadn't been close because of Renée; it was just another thing she ruined in my life. I avoid her the whole night and was finally offer a reprieve when her husband escorted her out after she fell over drunk.
I didn't see her any of the final few days we were in Los Angeles, either.
We had been home for just a few days when Edward approached me with an idea.
"Why don't we get away from everything? Take the kids and head to Hawaii. We could spend a couple weeks on the beach, just the four of us. What do you say?"
"That sounds like a magnificent idea. Besides, I need to check in on the YRF office there as well so why not make it three weeks and I'll only work for one?" I suggested.
He nodded and quickly got to work booking the trip while I packed for us and the kids. We definitely could use the time as a family.
Sometimes the best laid plans fall apart and sometimes they lead to a greater destiny, such as my trip to Oregon had. Our vacation didn't follow as expected. We started off in Honolulu so I could work while Edward and the kids played tourists. I wanted to be with them, but I had an obligation to the foundation. Besides, in my mind it would only be for a few hours a day…or so I thought.
Forty-five minutes after I arrived, a local island woman arrived with two little kids. She had been hired as a nanny for a single mother who had been on a six-month tour in Afghanistan. The mother had been killed by a roadside bomb and the children had no other living relatives. She didn't know what to do because without the mother's pay, she couldn't continue to watch the children.
The eighteen month old twins were very rambunctious. Their sand colored hair curled around their ears and their brown eyes sparkled with joy. I couldn't let anything happen to these precious little boys.
I called Edward and told him I needed him to come into the offices immediately and he promised to be there as soon as he could. Just like with Edward, I was already falling in love with Benji and Liam. I would do anything and everything to bring them home with us. I truly believed they were meant to complete our family.
After Edward arrived, I put the kids together to play. Anna was all about showing them her doll while Ethan sat off to the side with his LeapPad, watching the entire scene. Ethan took after his father, watching over everything and making sure everyone was okay. Being the oldest of all of the grandkids, it came naturally to him.
I explained the situation to Edward, who listened intently as I provided him with all the facts I was able to put together in the time it took for them to arrive. He was quiet and pensive; I wasn't sure he would be on board with my idea, but I'd hoped he would come around.
"Are you sure this is something you want to do? Take on two more kids? What about having more of our own?" he asked. They were valid questions.
"While I think we make very beautiful children, I'm thirty-six; even if I was able to get pregnant right away, I'd be closer to thirty-eight when the child was born. The risks to my health and the baby's continue to go up with my age. These babies need us.
"They have no one left to love them and cherish them. The odds of them being adopted together are slim. Most families can't afford to take on simultaneous adoptions like and we can. We have so much love to give. Please, help me complete our family the right way and help this mother rest knowing her children will not be left to chance." I had tears in my eyes. I knew it was the right thing to do.
Edward just smiled and shook his head, and I knew I'd won.
"You know this isn't going to be easy," he said.
"I know, but it'll sure be worth the storm we have to fight."
What an ending, right? I'm actually in tears as I write this because I truly poured my heart and soul into this story.
First and for most, I have to thank Brie for not only being an amazing beta, but a wonderful friend, too. She's actually stepped away from the fandom, but graciously agreed to continue working with me for as long as I continue to write. I couldn't ask for a better supporter than her.
To Dani, who encouraged me to expand this story just as my first one was ending, I thank you so much. Your novella reviews always make me smile. Jerksper and I love you.
To each and every single one of you who took the time to leave me such wonderful messages and reviews, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It's such an honor to hear from you when choose to share your thoughts with me. I cherish them all.
To the alert and favorite people: Thank you for thinking my story was worthy of those choices. I hope you don't take it off now that the story is finished because you never know when they might speak to me again. (This chapter hadn't been planned and is a result of questions left by the amazing reviewers, it now exists.)
To everyone else, thank you for reading. I hope my story brought you joy, if even for only a few minutes each week.
Hugs to you all.