Author's Note: Hello again! This future take is the equivalent of the EPOV Epilogue, which was posted yesterday. This is the end, I swear.
Less than 10,000 views to reach 600,000 on this fic, which is amazing! I'd love to do it by the end of Friday as a birthday present for me. :)
Thanks again to moosals for pre-reading. Stephenie Meyer owns all characters.
"Charlotte, can you watch your brother for me while I finish packing?"
"Sure, Mommy!" I smile as Charlotte takes Ethan's hand, leading him out of the boys' bedroom. I can easily put Masen in his playpen and he'll entertain himself, but Ethan is always too curious about what I'm doing and tends to get underfoot.
As I count out the diapers to place in the bag, I try not to think about how much we spend on them each month. I will be so glad when I can get at least one of my sons out of diapers. Charlotte was potty-trained just before her second birthday, but Alice tells me that boys take longer, so I'm looking at well over a year yet.
Boys seem to take longer at everything. By the time Charlotte was 18 months old, she was talking pretty much nonstop in short sentences. Ethan prefers to just grunt and point when he wants something. Alice has advised me to give him another few months before we start refusing to give him what he wants unless he uses his words.
Despite all of that, Ethan really is the sweetest little boy, so quiet and thoughtful. He's the only one of our three children to have inherited my dark hair and eyes. I was totally looking forward to an Edward Jr. when he was born 18 months ago, but it just didn't feel right to name a child who looked nothing like my husband after him. We did keep his middle name of Anthony though.
Masen giggles suddenly and I turn around to see what has him so amused. He's sitting on the floor of his playpen, one arm sticking through the bars, while Leo licks his hand. I imagine the cat is sharing some of the leftover lunch the teenage babysitter from down the street fed him while I was at work.
"Leo!" I yell. He stops licking for a moment to look up at me guiltily, then goes right back to it. I swear, it's almost like having a dog the way he follows the kids around to sniff at their messes.
"No, Leo," I reprimand him, pulling Masen's hand away and back into his playpen. I scratch behind my cat's ears for a moment then run for my ever-present box of wet wipes to clean Masen's hand. I can't help smiling at my son's giggles as I clean him up.
With our second son, we did get that clone of Edward that I'd been hoping for. Only seven months old and he already has a killer smile; that little boy is going to break a lot of hearts one day. It was Edward's idea to name him after both of his fathers — his original last name of Masen with Carlisle as his middle name. That was the first time I ever saw Dr. Carlisle Cullen cry.
I love my adorable son to death, but I'll never forget the way my stomach fell through the floor when Dr. Senna told me that I was pregnant again.
Edward was very, er… persuasive, in convincing me to have sex exactly six weeks after Ethan's birth, the day before my appointment with Dr. Senna to get the all-clear and go back on the birth control shot. I was breastfeeding exclusively and my period hadn't resumed yet, so I didn't make him run out to the store for condoms. And besides, it had taken us five months of trying to conceive Ethan.
When I went back for my next shot 12 weeks later, Dr. Senna ran a pregnancy test and I nearly fainted when it came back positive. After I finished panicking about the possible damage to my unborn child from the hormones in the shot, not to mention the toll on my body, I wanted to kill my very sheepish husband.
I did make him go two weeks without sex, but then my increased hormones combined with his persuasiveness… Not too hard to guess what happened. Though my husband was very hard.
In any case, Masen was perfectly fine and I'm working on getting my body back, even though Edward swears he doesn't care if my ass is still a little wider than it was when we met. I know I would still be considered thin by today's standards, but I'm not the slightest bit toned. As soon as Masen is fully weaned, I'm planning to join a gym and get a personal trainer. Edward is ok with that plan — as long as I don't get a male trainer, of course.
After Masen's birth, I made sure there would be no more surprise pregnancies by threatening Edward with no sex ever again if he didn't get a vasectomy. Of course I never would've been able to follow through on that threat. He had the surgery a week or so after I came home from the hospital, and I made sure he'd had his follow-up visit to check his sperm count before I allowed him to touch me again.
After changing my son's diaper, I set him back in his playpen, then go find my other two children. Hearing giggles coming from Charlotte's room, I step in there, bursting out laughing at the sight in front of me.
Now when I asked my five-year-old daughter to entertain her little brother, I fully expected her to make him play "tea party" with her. I didn't expect her to dress him up in one of her tutus, with bows in his hair.
"Look, Mommy," she says, sounding oh-so-proud of herself. "Isn't Ethan pretty?"
I can't help my chuckle. "Yes, he's adorable, but you can't even imagine what your daddy's reaction would be if he saw this."
"I know," she replies with a frown, "Daddy hates pink."
Yes, indeed he does. From the moment Charlotte was able to express her own preferences, all she's wanted was pink — pink clothes, pink toys, pink bedroom… Alice came over and repainted the walls a muted shade of rosy pink and helped Charlotte pick out new pink bedding once she moved up to a toddler bed. Edward did a lot of frowning and wrinkling his nose.
My daughter is the very definition of a princess — though I blame her father for always calling her his Princess and putting the idea in her head.
I start pulling all of the girly things off my son before his father has a heart attack, nearly jumping a mile in the air when something rubs against my leg. I burst out laughing yet again when I look down to see poor Leo wearing a dress that belongs on one of Charlotte's dolls.
"Charlotte! Were you torturing the cat?" I ask when he meows plaintively.
"No, Mommy," she says innocently. "I just dressed him up."
I shake my head, relieving Leo of his pink straitjacket. I'm forever grateful that Leo has accepted all three newcomers to the household without displaying any kind of jealousy. He's endlessly patient with all three children. Most cats would've drawn blood while being wrapped in a frilly pink dress.
"Can you go potty so we can leave?" I ask Charlotte, picking up her brother so I can take him back to his room and change him.
Once both boys are ready, I pick up both the diaper bag and the overnight bag full of the kids' things, slinging them over my shoulder. I call out for Charlotte to help lead Ethan to the garage while I pick up Masen in my other arm. I really need a third arm. Grabbing my purse and car keys, I head out to my minivan.
After opening the sliding door, I set the bags down on the floor then strap Masen into his infant car seat. Next, I pick up Ethan and get him settled in his car seat while Charlotte climbs up onto her booster seat in the third row of seats all by herself. She can't quite strap herself in, so I have to help her. We've — almost — got this traveling thing down to a science.
After making the 20-minute drive to downtown Seattle — thank God I'm going against traffic as it's the middle of the evening rush hour — I park the minivan and text Edward that I've arrived. Working in reverse, I help Charlotte out of her booster seat, then Ethan, then Masen. I sling the diaper bag over one arm, leaving the other bag in the car.
My hot, sexy husband is waiting for me at the front door to Volturi's Ristorante, where he's now the Executive Chef. Or at least he will be in an hour or so, when they have their grand reopening to the general public.
"Hey, baby." He kisses me quickly, then takes Masen from my arms. "Wait until you see this place."
"Oh my God," I gasp, stepping inside. "Esme," I begin, noticing her for the first time, "This is amazing!" After agreeing to come back to Volturi's, Edward and his partner Aaron called in ace interior designer Esme Cullen to give the place a badly needed makeover. Aro is in charge of the front of the house and made all of the design decisions while Edward worked on revamping the menu.
I love what Esme has done to dining room. It's a warm, comfortable, slightly upscale atmosphere, but not so upscale that children would seem out of place.
"Thank you," she smiles. "Give him here, Edward."
He passes the smiling baby to his mom, then picks up Ethan before he can run off and get into trouble. "What do you think, Charlotte?" he asks.
"It's pretty, but there's no pink!" He rolls his eyes and I stifle a chuckle.
"Edward," his dad calls, stepping inside. "Hope I'm not too late?"
"Nope, you're right on time. Come on and sit down."
Carlisle grabs two high chairs for our sons as we all sit around a large table. One of the waitresses, Kate, comes by and passes out three menus to the adults at the table — minus Edward.
"Where's mine?" Charlotte asks.
"I didn't think you could read, honey," Kate replies.
"'Course I can!"
Laughing, Kate retrieves one of the children's menus for my precocious daughter. She can't read well, but she's amazingly smart for a child who won't start kindergarten for another week. I smile when I notice the photos of each dish so that even kids who can't read will be able to order from the pictures.
"This all sounds delicious, Edward," I exclaim as I read over the menu. "And look, Harry's Fish Fry!"
My eyes had gone straight to the selections on the page, and it's not until I've made my decision that I notice the words at the top of the page:
EXECUTIVE CHEF, Edward Cullen
Two months ago, Angelo Volturi and his wife Maria decided to retire, leaving their son Aro to manage their restaurant, and the restaurant without an Executive Chef.
Instead of promoting their relatively inexperienced sous chef, they called Edward and offered him the job. He and I talked it over, eventually deciding that it was a good move for him, though of course it'll be a lot of work. Edward was able to take some of the money he won in his wrongful conviction case and invest it in the restaurant.
After we place our order, I nearly get choked up at the way Edward is positively beaming. I'm so ridiculously proud of him. He's come so far from the man I met nearly six years ago.
As our waitress drops off our appetizers, I wipe Ethan's hands then pull a bottle of expressed breast milk out of the diaper bag. Since going back to work, I still breastfeed as much as I can, though I'm about ready to be done as a food source.
"I've got it," Edward speaks up, pulling Masen into his arms to feed him the bottle. I watch the way he smiles at his son, his gentle touches. He's still the best dad I know.
"Here you go," Kate says as she sets down our plates of food. Everything looks amazing.
"This looks delicious, Edward," Esme remarks, digging in to her plate of lasagna.
I begin cutting a couple slices of Charlotte's pizza into tiny pieces that Ethan can pick up with his fingers. No matter how many times we show him how to use a fork or spoon, he still prefers to eat with his fingers. My daughter is fast becoming a foodie like her father, so I know she'll get plenty to eat with sampling some of whatever the grown-ups are eating.
Finally, I am able to dig in to my delicious mushroom ravioli. I watch with a smile as Edward attempts to feed Masen some of the mashed potatoes on his plate. I think more of it ends up on his face than in his mouth though.
"Do you need to go, Edward?" I ask when regular customers begin to be seated around us.
"In a few minutes," he answers. "I'm not going to have many opportunities to sit and eat dinner with my family, so I want to take advantage of this one."
"Do you have the kids' bags out in the van, Bella?" Esme asks, taking a sip of her wine. Edward raises one eyebrow and I try not to smile at his surprise.
"Yep, everything is packed," I nod.
"We're going to Grandma's?" Charlotte asks, bouncing in her seat.
"Yes," I smile at her excitement.
"Can we bake cookies, Grandma?"
She laughs. "Sure we can."
"Your grandpa needs to finish his coffee first," Esme replies with a smile.
I dig into the diaper bag for wet wipes to clean up all three children, then lift Masen out of his high chair, handing him to Edward's dad. I place Ethan on his feet and he runs straight to Esme while I hand off the diaper bag to Carlisle.
"Call if there's any trouble," I remind them.
"They're not newbies at this, Bella," Edward replies.
"Have a great night, Edward," his mom says, giving him a one-armed hug.
"I will." He kisses his boys then returns Charlotte's wave as she walks out holding her grandmother's hand.
And then my incredible man turns to me.
"Sending the kids to their grandparents'?" he asks, eyebrow quirked.
I smile, wrapping my arms around him. "I thought you might be tired from your first night as Executive Chef and need your rest."
"You know we're not sleeping tonight," he argues. That was pretty much the answer I'd expected from him.
"Guess I'd better take a nap before you get home," I reply, kissing him softly.
"Good idea," he grins. Oh yeah, I'm getting lucky tonight.
A/N: Thanks for all the support this story has gotten! To Ms. Swan's Bookstore and other Facebook groups that have rec'd it, thank you!
The EPOV of this story, "Life, Liberty & The Pursuit Of Happy Endings," is in the running for the Top 10 Completed Fics in February 2014 on TwiFanfictionRecs. Please read it and vote if you enjoyed it! You can vote once every 24 hours.
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