A/N: Welcome back! This will be the last item that I post for this story, so this posting is kind of bittersweet for me. I wanted to give you a wonderful HEA to carry with you.
A final farewell to my fantastic and wonderful betas! I have LOVED working with both of you, and I will miss you so much! Torisurfergirl and starpower31 – you two are amazing!
Chapter 30 – Epilogue
by Bella Black (soon to be Cullen)
As I sit here
Thinking about you
All the times
"Together," I said
"Forever," you said.
A secret bond
We had that
Showed our trust
Our everlasting love
And our joy.
We will love each other,
"Together," I said.
"Forever," you said.
I was a bundle of nerves as I watched Rose do my hair in soft ringlets down my back. Leah and Emily were coloring at the table in the corner, and Esme was flittering about, making sure that we had everything ready. Unfortunately, that wasn't helping my nerves any.
"Bells, will you stop fidgeting!" Rose scolded, placing her hands on my shoulders. "Jeez, you'd think you were eighteen again!"
I laughed, though it sounded more like a cough to me. "You didn't know me when I was eighteen, Rose."
"No, but I can well imagine. Good lord, were you this nervous the last time you got married?"
My wedding to Jake was the last thing I wanted to think about today. Edward and I had moved in together in January and had planned our wedding for early October. The kids had a hand in all of our plans, and JJ in particular had actually enjoyed himself.
His reservations about being Edward's friend had apparently amounted to nothing, because the conversation had never come up again. He continued to have good days and bad days, which were completely normal for a teenager. On his thirteenth birthday, Edward had taken him fishing. When they got home, stinking of the lake and dead fish, we all went out to a movie followed by ice cream. It was understated, just like JJ himself, but it was worthy of a teenager.
Edward was wonderful with the children. After he'd moved in, we settled into a routine very nicely. We both worked, but we shared the children's needs like partners. He would take the kids to school, going in to work later than me, and I would pick them up. It gave me time alone with the kids until he got off work, when we would have a family dinner. The compromise was amazing, and the kids seemed to really enjoy having him there.
Jake was a part of our conversations in the evening. We didn't wait for special occasions, or the anniversary of his death to talk about him. Edward was unfailingly kind toward the childrens' need to talk about Jake and often would prompt them to tell more stories. JJ's relief was evident on his face through each of these conversations.
Esme and Carlisle couldn't have been happier about the arrangement and ended up buying a vacation house in Reno. That way, when they came for a visit, they could stay in their own house rather than a hotel. Since Edward had moved in, his parents had visited at least once a month, often bringing my dad with them.
Everyone I loved was at the wedding, almost three years after Jake had died. I felt overwhelmed by the emotions in the air, but happy to be where I was.
"I don't remember. And I don't want to," I said, answering Rose. She smiled at me in the mirror and went back to working on my hair.
A few minutes later, we all heard a soft knock at the door.
"Bells?" Edward said, not opening the door.
Rose quickly rushed to the door, holding it closed. "You aren't allowed to see her today until you meet at the altar!"
"Rose, I know, but we have a complication and I need her help." He didn't sound angry or upset, but I could tell it was a big enough deal that he had to come and talk to me about it.
"It's okay, Rose, I'll just talk to him through the door." I rose, being careful not to disturb Rose's work. I leaned close to the door so I could hear him better. "What's wrong, Edward?"
"It's Charlie. He's not feeling well, and I think he has a fever. He's okay when he's sitting, but every time he stands up it looks like he's going to pass out."
I sucked in a deep breath. My father was supposed to give me away…if he couldn't stand… "Is he sick enough that we need to take him to the hospital?"
"No, I think he'll be fine once he's back at the hotel and in bed," Edward replied, to my immense relief. "But, he was supposed to walk you down the aisle…"
"I'm open to suggestions," I said to Edward. "Should I just walk down the aisle on my own?"
"Well…" Edward started, but paused.
"Mom?" JJ said, obviously standing right next to Edward. "I have an idea."
"Shoot, kid. I'm all ears."
"Can I walk you down the aisle?"
For a moment I couldn't breathe… "JJ, that's a wonderful idea! Are you sure you are okay with that?"
"Wouldn't have brought it up if I wasn't, Mom." I swear I could hear him rolling his eyes at me.
"Yes, that's perfect!"
"Okay, we'll go get into position. I'll see you in ten minutes, beautiful," Edward said.
"See you then. I'll be the one in white."
After Edward and JJ left, I turned to see Rose and Esme both smiling. They knew that we had finally crossed the last bridge. JJ giving me away was a perfect omen. The first time I got married, it was appropriate for my father to give me away since I was moving from his house to Jakes. This time, JJ giving me away was a sign. A sign that he was ready for me to move on, also.
"Don't you start crying!" Rose cried, running toward me with tissue. "I just got your face looking beautiful!"
"As opposed to what, Rose? Was I super ugly before?"
"No, no, of course not! I just made you look even more beautiful than normal."
The rest of the ten minutes was spent polishing off the dresses and makeup. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I started to make my way to the main area of the church. We had chosen the small church in Forks, instead of anything in Reno, because that town held more memories of us together than anywhere else.
I took a deep breath as JJ slid in beside me, holding out his arm. I stood off to the side and watched Leah and Emily walk down, throwing flower petals as they went. Rose was next, and then it was my turn. My heart was beating erratically by the time I positioned myself in front of the white double doors that led to my destiny.
"Dude, calm down," Emmett said, slapping me on the back. He handed me a paper towel, and I dried the sweat off my head.
Standing in the church waiting for Bella felt like it took an eternity. Finally, the doors opened and there she was…the most beautiful women in the world. Her hair was curled and hanging loose all around her, just like I liked it. JJ stood tall and proud, leading her down the aisle. I had never been more proud of him than I was when he had offered to walk her down the aisle. We had come a long way in the last two years, he and I. And the last hurtle had just been met.
Unfortunately, I couldn't look at JJ for too long. Bella had my full attention. I stared at her, breathless in anticipation of the moment coming. The moment that I declared my love for her to the whole world, the moment where she legally became mine, and the moment where I legally became hers. She had been mine for a while, but now it was out there for everyone, not just us.
Bella reached me just as my emotions threatened again to overwhelm me. She reached her arm out to me, I took it, and then shook JJ's hand. He smirked at me, before turning to stand next to Emmett as my second best man. Bella and I turned to face the minister, and the rest of our lives.
The ceremony was short, we had requested it that way. I hadn't wanted to wait any longer than necessary to be able to call her my wife. We both said 'I do' with voices thick with emotion. But, Bella had something up her sleeve, that I hadn't been expecting. Immediately after she said 'I do,' the kids stepped forward.
"I do, too," JJ said.
"I do, also," Leah said, then looked at Emily. Emily hadn't said anything yet, so Leah poked her in the side with her elbow.
"Oh! I do, too!" Emily said, glaring at Leah.
Bella laughed and turned back to me so we could put the rings on each other. My eyes were moist by the end of the ceremony, knowing exactly what it had meant for her children to say that to me. It meant that they accepted me in their lives; that they found the friend first and step-father second in me, and that they were willing to let me in their family with open arms.
The minister finally pronounced us man and wife, and I leaned in to kiss my bride, my love…my life. Bella stopped for a moment and leaned into me.
"I'm pregnant," she says before leaning back. I pull her toward me and kiss her with all my strength.
"Why didn't you tell me?" I whispered, amid the cheering and clapping from our friends and family.
"I wanted it to be a surprise. The wedding seemed like a perfect time to tell you."
"How long have you known?"
"Two weeks!" By then our families had started to make their way toward us, and our conversation was halted. However, I couldn't erase the smile from my face. I pulled her in for another hug, reveling in the fact that she was going to have my baby. I would always love the children she had with Jake, they were a part of her, and a part of me now. For that moment, I counted myself the luckiest man in the world to have three beautiful children, and one on the way, with the woman I loved.
With our arms wrapped around each other, we headed toward the reception hall and the rest of the guests. Our lives had taken much different paths than we had expected when we met all those years ago. But, eventually, I got my soulmate back, the one person in the world who understood and cherished me.
Nothing was ever perfect, but it was as close to perfection as possible.
A/N: Just a side note, the poem in the beginning of the epilogue was actually written by me when I was in high school. It just seemed perfect to add to this story, so I added Bella's name to it.
This will be my last post (possibly ever), so please leave me feedback! I enjoy each and every one of them!
I have enjoyed writing this story. I hope you all enjoyed the journey as much as I did.