This was previously close to 2,500 words, and then I lost it all so I had to start again. Shitting hell. Sorry it's so short.
I don't. Stephenie does.
"Ahoy! 'N welcome t' Cooper's pirate ship. I be Captain Tony Stark and this be me trusty sea-dog, Flash."
Cooper was kitted out in his Iron Man suit (sans mask) and wore Jack Sparrow's hat with matching dreadlocks on his head. Flash – his trusty companion beside him – wore a skull 'n' cross bones bandana around his neck. I arrived yesterday, but I wasn't allowed to look into the back yard until now – the beginning of his party.
The pool had fake palm trees dotted around the corners, two plastic sharks bobbed on the water and a fake wooden Captain's wheel at the far end. Spread out on the grass was a few activities for us all to take part in. Thor's Hammer Throw, Stick the Shield on Captain America and Hulk's Balloon Smash. Each activity had been handmade. I wasn't sure what an Avengers-Pirates pool party entitles, but I thought he got pretty close.
"Wow, Coop, this all looks amazing." I wrapped my arm around his tiny shoulders and brought him closer to my side.
"I know, right? My Padre and I spent all week doing this stuff. And what about my costume?" He waved his hands up and down his body to show off the outfit.
"It's very creative."
"Thanks!" He beamed. "And I like yours, too! It's super cool, Bella."
I wouldn't say it was 'super cool', but it was the best I could do with limited time. After searching Google for hours on end I found a selection of long, fitted tee-shirts with superhero designs on them; Wonder Women, Batman, Robin and Superman. I chose Superman, and it also came with matching knee-high socks and a red cape that flowed down the back. I matched it off with black leggings and, hey presto, we have an outfit.
"My Grandpa looks funny, doesn't he?"
I couldn't have agreed more. Even though it's Avengers themed, you had the option to dress as any superhero/villain if you wanted too. Which was why I went as a make-shift Superman, Emmett was the Hulk (he painted his body green…), Rosalie a sexy looking pirate, Alice and Jasper wore Batman themed clothing, Edward was Hawkeye, Esme was another pirate with a flowing red, floor-length skirt, and Carlisle… well, he came as The Joker.
He wore an oddly-similar purple suit, blue shirt and had painted his face white, sprayed his hair an off green colour and it looked as though he had stolen Esme's make-up to smudge eyeliner around his eyes and bright red lipstick on his lips and up both cheeks.
"He did a great job, but I think you look better, Coop."
His arms squeezed my middle in silent thanks. Since I arrived he had hung around me like a bad smell. He may have said it was because he missed me, but he didn't fool me – I knew it was because none of his little friends could make it and he was bummed at that. Lucy's parents couldn't make the journey and that was what crushed Coop the most.
Also it was eight years to the day since his mom passed.
Edward forewarned me that he can be very clingy and it's not unusual if he suddenly starts to cry, and that I was to just comfort him and allow him the time to let it all out. I wasn't to ask if he was okay and if he wanted to talk about it he was free to without feeling pressured.
But everything went smoothly. We had competitive rounds on the activities; those who weren't covered in paint swam in the pool and pretended to walk the plank as Captain Tony Stark commanded the lot.
Towards the end of the day, the guys (and Rosalie) made an assault course out of anything they could find. They took turns in running it two at a time and the one who lost over-all had to buy the steaks and beer for tonight's BBQ.
"Hey mommy," I grinned at Alice who lowered her pregnant self onto the chair beside me. "How's Little Whitlock doing?"
She patted her bump lovingly. "Coming along smoothly!"
"GO DAD!" Cooper shouted, knocking our attention. Edward was running the course with Emmett, and Coop – who still couldn't take part in something so physical – stood at the finish line with a stopwatch in hand.
"Are you still keeping the sex a surprise?" I asked, going back to our conversation.
"Yeah. Jasper and I would love to find out, but, y'know, the element of surprise is exciting. Personally, I think it's a girl though."
"Oh, really? And what does Jasper think?"
Alice flapped her hand, "oh, he hasn't got a clue. But I have that special bond, y'know? Also it just feels like a girl."
I couldn't help but smile. I loved seeing pregnant bellies, hearing about soon-to-be-parents and their different stories. I would love to be a mother one day.
We continued to talk for a while; I asked on the names they had picked, but I had to wait 3 more months like everyone else. When the guys finished with their competition, Cooper bounded over to us to say who won and who lost.
"Hey, Bella, Auntie Alice and baby." Clutched tight in his hand was a scrap of paper which he had scribbled the results in separate columns.
"So, what's the verdict, Iron Man?"
"The fastest over all was Auntie Rose. Second was my Padre! Third was meant to be Uncle Emmett, but he was disqualified 'cause, y'know, he cheated – so third was Uncle Jasper and Grandpa came last, 'cause he was the slowest."
So Carlisle headed off to buy steaks and beer, dressed as The Joker.
That poor cashier.
As the sun went down and a chill wind came out, we sat around the fire pit; full from our BBQ and polishing off the last of the beers. Alice had fallen asleep, leaning against Jasper and Coop wasn't too far from doing the same. Like he often does, he had chosen Edward's lap to curl up on. God, so cute. It looked as though he had succumbed to his exhaustion because he never contributed to the conversation or started his own, but we passed each other smiles and little waves and felt better sitting there, taking in his father's warmth.
By the end of the night, after everyone had gone to their rented hotels, Edward and I took the time to relax and breathe.
"How's our little Iron Man doing?" I asked. Edward fell back with a tired sigh, still in his Hawkeye suit. But I won't lie; it did great things for his muscles.
He rubbed his face with one glove-clad hand before answering. "He seems okay so far. I think I would have noticed if he wasn't. Well, I hope I would have noticed."
I messed his hair with my right hand and scratched the scalp lightly with my nails. "I hope so." I continued to stroke his hair right up until soft little snores rose from his exhausted frame.
Edward stayed asleep, not rising to Cooper's call, so I left the bed and padded to his room instead. I found him sitting in the middle of his bed, pyjama covered, and Tony Bear was perched on his lap. "Can you get Dad for me?" He asked in a tiny voice.
"Dad's sleeping at the moment, Coop. Can I help? Or do you want me to go and wake him up?"
"Um, no," he played with his bottom lip, "you'll do. It's just Dad said he'd come see me when I was ready for bed."
"Oh, I'm sorry, Sweetheart. We all had so much fun at your party that we're completely worn out. But I'll happily tuck you in."
His pyjama pants were an Incredible Hulk comic strip, and the top was the front cover of the comic. "Did you get this for your birthday?" I knew he had, but it was the only topic I could think of to distract him from feeling upset.
"Yeah, Uncle Emmett and Auntie Rose got them for me." He shuffled under the covers and then pulled Tony Bear into a tight hug.
I sat side on to his knees. "Do you have a favourite present?"
"Definitely the bike from my Padre – it's green and black, y'know, my favourite colours, and has eighteen gears! Uncle Jasper said that means I can go really fast on it. And thanks for the Star Wars helmet, Bella! I love Darth Maul."
Edward was kind enough to tell me what he was getting Coop, so I got him the helmet, and other family members got a juice bottle and additional things he'd need for his bike. He cycled it around the garden but Edward ruined the fun and told him to stop after Flash tried desperately to bite the wheels as they spun.
"I think my Mom would have loved my party." He didn't sound upset, but factual. He simply stated that Tanya would have enjoyed seeing her child grow up and celebrate his birthday.
"Who would she have dressed up as, do you think?" I trod carefully, not wanting to step too hard and diminish all the process he had made.
"Um… I think maybe Wonder Women… or, Storm… Or she could have been a pirate and dressed as Angelica Teach." We then went quiet; I soothed Cooper off to sleep and he gazed out the window into the night sky as he fought to stay awake. "And I think she loves it that you're here." He whispered softly.
"And what does that mean?" I spoke in the same volume.
"Um… um, it means that I think Mom likes you being my other Mom… 'cause you're with my Padre."
I sucked back my breath and resisted the temptation to cry. What he said was so meaning full – he doesn't see me as a friend or his father's girlfriend, but a mother. I could never replace Tanya, but I'm under the same category.
"I'll make a promise to you, Cooper – right now. Whatever happens – if I stay as dad's girlfriend or not, I will always be your other mom. You can still just call me Bella, but I will be there for you like a mom and that won't change. Deal?"
A massive, gleaming smile formed on his lips. "Deal."
"You should get some sleep now, Coop, 'cause you've had a busy day." I re-tucked the covers around him and kissed his forehead. "Na-night, I love you."
"Love you." and in the darkness, as I closed the bedroom door slightly, he added: "other Mom."
The weeks and months following were hard, challenging but also uplifting and hopeful. I tried to make a deal with my landlord about ending my lease early, but, unfortunately he wasn't buying my proposal. Being away from Edward and Cooper only seemed to get harder and harder as the weeks went on and on. I taught the kids how to swim on Sunday mornings up until the middle of end of April, and Angela had been kind enough to let me off Mondays and Tuesdays. So I would finish my shift on Sunday afternoon, drive to Seattle and head home again Tuesday evening. Whenever I arrived it seemed like only five minutes until I had to leave again, but I wasn't going to take this spare time for granted.
That was our life up until the beginning of June. I had three weeks left to go until I could leave my house and Forks and jet off to Seattle. Edward and I had planned it out that I would find a cheap apartment close to them, but he was adamant that I moved in with them. After much persuasion, I caved.
On the evening of June 9th Alice gave birth to a baby girl (her premonitions were correct) who they named Charlotte. Little Lottie Whitlock was the apple of Jasper's eye – bright blue eyes, crazy blonde curly hair, and the attitude and personality of Alice.
Edward was allowed time off work to visit his sister and newly-arrived niece (with Cooper, of course), which cut the weeks down greatly. With only a handful of weeks to go, I knew we could do it and that the time would fly by. We spoke every night and sent a text message every morning. That was how we played it and how we both stayed hopeful.
Finally, after months of hellos and goodbyes, the day came to hand in my notice and shove the last few bits and bobs into boxes. I didn't have an awful lot of stuff, and most of the furniture either came with the house or I had borrowed from Charlie's garage, so everything I did own sat neatly in my truck and that was me on my way.
Pulling up at the house (my new house) went down in the history of top moments for me. Cooper was at school but Edward had taken the day off work and we had an hour alone before being interrupted.
"You're here." Edward pulled me into his arms and kissed me tenderly on the lips.
"I'm here," I said, "and I'm here to stay."
And they lived happily ever after… hahah, who am I kidding? We still have the sequel!
Thank you so much for following these crazy guys this far, and I hope you'll all join me with 'Because of Hope' which shall be published sometime in the next two weeks.
I had a lot of problems with this chapter after it deleted itself last night, but I said I would update on my birthday, and here I am doing so.
Now, tell me your thoughts and I'm going off to celebrate my 22nd in style :P