As always my chapter would not be complete without the support of my betas beautifulnightmarex, Tds88 and pre-reader Beachlover. I appreciate all the time they willingly gave to this story. They are amazing and I can't thank them enough. Also a big shout out to PTB for setting me up with them. Their services were extraordinarily helpful.
I own nothing related to twilight. The original aspects of the story are my own crazy musings.
See the bottom for ending thoughts and possible plans.
Now, a glimpse into the future.
Epilogue: Perfect Moments
"And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about." Haruki Murakami
Standing on the balcony of the Maldives bungalow, I decide there is not a place more fitting of the word. Lifting my face towards the sun, I try to absorb every aspect of the experience. The gentle breeze carries an intoxicating smell of exotic flowers while the mist of the ocean kisses my face. Closing my eyes, I listen quietly to the calming melody of sea birds and soothing waves. I don't think I've ever felt this relaxed, which is ironic considering what today is.
Familiar arms reach around and circle my waist before a welcome pair of lips place a kiss on top of my head. "Beautiful isn't it?" Edward whispers into my ear.
"Beautiful doesn't begin to cover it. I can't believe we're actually here."
"It's a good thing too," Edward says gruffly. "Jenks knew it was his life on the line if we didn't get here in time."
I can't help but laugh at the seriousness of his tone. I think he's more nervous about this than I am. He's been worried all week that something would mess up our plans. "Oh come on. You know Jenks. He always gets it done one way or another."
"I still think he cut it too close. I told him taking on another case right before we left was risky," Edward argues.
"Hey, we're here, that's all that matters." I lightly run my hands up and down the arms surrounding me, trying to get him to relax and enjoy the experience.
"You're right. I'll stop grumbling," he whispers against my head.
I didn't understand what a "mercenary" was until I started working with Jenks. In many respects, the term describes a variety of behaviors, both good and bad. I discovered that for Jenks, it means finding justice for those who would not otherwise get it through "legal" channels. This could mean taking a case that law enforcement agencies wouldn't because of the limitations of the evidence or contracting with those same agencies to help with high-profile cases that needed a swift, but quiet result.
At the end of the day, no matter what the case or client, I went home feeling as though we were serving a greater purpose and giving back some of what evil tries to take from this world. I can't change what Aro did, but helping make sure that no one takes his place makes me feel good. Our little group has become an unstoppable force, and we are slowly making quite a name for ourselves.
I also discovered that I have a knack for working undercover. I particularly love playing different roles alongside Jenks. Our interview marathon in Seattle helped us develop a unique communication style that translates perfectly to undercover situations where you have to ad-lib and go with the flow. Between that and my ability, we are a seamless team.
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm for undercover work is often difficult for Edward to stomach. His protective nature is as strong as ever, regardless of how many times I've proven that I can take care of myself.
Broken pieces of furniture and the occasional dirty needle punctuate the floor of the grimy living room. The smell of the stale air is thick and almost sickening. I watch the man in front of me anxiously pacing and muttering under his breath. I need to reach him before this gets even more out of control.
"Hey, relax," I say in a calm and soothing tone. Todd is tall, and the way his clothes hang off his thin frame makes him look almost malnourished. His hair is unkempt and his face aged and scarred, which is result of his lifestyle not his biological age.
Our goal was simple; make contact with an informant for the drug ring we are trying to bring down. Sources told us that Todd was the person who kept his ear to the ground and made sure his bosses were up to date with any competing dealers. We need his inside knowledge to bring them down. My job was to "bump" into Todd at the seedy club, flirt a bit and then lead him outside where Jenks and Edward were waiting to grab him. Emmett was in the club watching from a distance, and like always, Seth was our technical guardian angel watching everything from afar.
However, once inside, the plan crumbled. Partly because he was incredibly jacked up on some type of illegal substance, but mainly because a fight broke out causing major chaos. Todd, who was already paranoid, freaked and dragged me outside with him. In the mess of bodies trying to push their way out of the club, Emmett and I lost sight of each other. While the guys were scrambling, Todd was dragging me around the corner and into his car. I could have fought him off, but if we lost him it would cost us a lot of unnecessary time. Logically, I knew that Seth would track me and the guys would follow, which I felt decreased the risk enough to warrant leaving with him. Now, I just need to keep an increasingly agitated Todd calm until they arrive at the abandoned house he drove us to. Whatever drugs he took is making him edgy and fidgety. Reasoning with him will be difficult. I continue to monitor Todd carefully while listening to all the anxious chatter in my hidden ear piece.
"God damn it, I need the exact location, Seth," Edward shouts.
"Hang on, Ace. We're almost there," Jenks says.
"You're two minutes out. Turn left at the next intersection, and the house will be at the end of the street on the left," Seth interrupts, the sound of his frantic typing clear in the background.
"Todd, let's sit down," I suggest as he continues his anxious pacing.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck," he mumbles.
Walking over, I stand in his path and lightly place my hand on his shoulder stopping him. "I thought we were having fun earlier." Flashing him my best smile, I lightly run my fingers down his arm suggestively. "How about we get to know one another better?"
I can't tell if Todd is armed, and I'm worried that if he is, he will just start shooting once the guys arrive. I need to keep him distracted so that he doesn't see them. After several seconds of standing in his way, Todd finally focuses his attention on me. Tilting his head to the side, he contemplates my request. I smile again, rubbing my hand back up his arm. I realize this was the wrong choice as I watch his colors suddenly darken and his eyes narrow.
"Who are you?"
"What in the hell kind of drugs did you do?" I ask incredulously trying to play the role of a frustrated party girl. "I'm Carly, remember. You're the one who dragged me here. What's your problem?"
"Girls don't flirt with me. Who sent you?"
"I can't speak for other girls, but I know what I like, and I like you. Now do you want to have some fun or not?"
Before I can react to the emotional change I see in him, his hand suddenly strikes me hard across the face. His drug induced adrenaline giving his scrawny body more strength than normal. Pain explodes across my cheek. "You're lying," he hisses.
"Almost there, Bella," Edward's voice says tightly into my earpiece.
"Okay, I'm done playing," I mutter angrily.
Swinging around, I punch Todd directly in the nose. He screams and doubles over in pain. Moving quickly, I grab his arm and twist it around behind him, holding it in a position that puts pressure on his shoulder. Keeping a hold of his arm, I follow him as he falls to his knees. Using my own knee, I push on his spine until he is lying on the floor in a prone position. Just then, the door flies open and the guys rush in with their guns drawn.
"Looks like Ace has it covered." Jenks smiles proudly lowering his gun.
Emmett laughs and comes over to quickly place cuffs on Todd's wrists. Once secured, Emmett hauls him up into a standing position. Edward rushes over to me, concern and anger flashing in his eyes when he reaches out and touches the red mark on my face.
"Are you okay? Did he hurt you?"
"I'm fine," I say reassuringly.
"Looks like he got you, Ace," Jenks says pointing to his face before he grabs one of Todd's elbows. Emmett is still holding the other.
"Only once." I smile triumphantly. Jenks laughs, but Edward doesn't seem to share in his humor. Although I'm not looking at him, I can feel his heated stare.
"Okay, Todd. Let's take a drive," Emmett says, walking towards the door. About halfway there, Jenks trips him. At the same time, both Jenks and Emmett let go of his arms, watching as he falls face first onto the floor.
"Fucking pricks!" Todd yells.
"Oh, I'm sorry, how clumsy of me," Jenks says with fake sympathy. Emmett and Jenks pick him back up and start moving again. When they reach the door way, Jenks slams him into the frame. "Oh crap. Sorry again," he mutters as Todd yells out in pain.
Heading out the door, he turns and winks. Out of everyone, Jenks gives me the most leeway when it comes to taking on slightly more dangerous roles. However, that doesn't mean he likes it when I get hurt. Todd is in for a rough night.
"We'll wait for you out here," Emmett says, eyeing Edward carefully.
Glancing over, I see Edward standing with his hands on his hips and head lowered as he tries to regulate his breathing. Looks like Todd is not the only one in for a rough night. After everyone leaves, Edward and I stand in an awkward silence. My annoyance with his behavior builds the longer he takes to say something. If I'm a part of this team, he needs to stop treating me like I'm fragile. I know he's upset, but I'm not going to apologize for doing my job. Edward is the first to break our silent stand-off.
"What the hell were you thinking?" he asks gruffly, keeping his head lowered, his arm twitching slightly as he clenches his fist.
"I was thinking our case was screwed if we lost him."
"Bullshit. We could have found him again."
"And lose needless time?" I ask, my voice getting louder. "I knew you guys were right behind me."
"What if he had a gun? It only takes a few seconds to shoot someone, Bella."
"Actually, it only takes .25 seconds to pull the trigger," Seth's voice echoes in my ear.
"Shut up, Seth," Edward and I yell simultaneously before pulling the earpieces out and turning off our microphones.
"When are you going to realize that I can take care of myself? You don't give this much flack to Emmett or Jenks when they take risks, which they do all the time."
"Taking a risk is different from being reckless," Edwards spits out.
"Are you being serious? You're telling me that you would have let him go?" His silent glare is all the answer I need. "I thought so."
"It doesn't matter what I would've done. We're talking about what you did and the fact that you could have gotten yourself killed."
I can't help the sardonic snort in response. "It's not like we sell ice cream, Edward. Our job is dangerous. You guys put your lives on the line everyday too. How is what I did tonight any different?"
"It just is."
"That's not a reason. You need to start treating me like everyone else. I'm a part of this team too," I yell defiantly.
"Yeah, but I'm not planning to marry the rest of the team, Bella!" Edward yells back, stopping short when he realizes what he just admitted.
A different kind of silence fills the room as his words sink in. Edward looks as shocked as I feel. Neither one of us have talked seriously about marriage. It's not like I haven't thought about it, but since things are going so good, it was more a fleeting thought than an overwhelming desire or concern.
"Shit! That's not how I wanted to bring this up," he mutters.
"You want to marry me?" My anger fades, replaced suddenly by nervous excitement.
"Of course I do," he whispers, moving closer. Suddenly he smirks. "I guess this fits. We've never really done anything in the traditional sense. You know, I had this all planned out."
"What do you mean?"
"I wanted to take you to dinner and surprise you. Sweep you off your feet."
"I'm not stopping you," I say quietly, overwhelmed by the intense look in Edward's eyes as he continues to move closer.
"You drive me crazy, you know that." I nod my head before he wraps his arms around me and lowers his lips to my ear. "I want forever with you, Bella. Just remember that next time you decide to play Superwoman, okay?"
"Okay." It's hard to argue with him when my emotions are spinning.
"Just out of curiosity, if someone were to ask you a question related to a lifelong commitment, what would your response be?"
"Well, if someone were to ask, I wouldn't be opposed to the idea," I say hesitantly "Especially if that someone was Bradley Cooper or Adam Levine." Nervousness tends to bring out my sarcastic side, and I can't help but tease him given the vagueness of his proposal. However, butterflies still explode in my stomach as I contemplate his question.
Edward tightens his grip growling a bit. "I don't think so." Pulling back he looks at me, brushing my hair back before touching my injured cheek. "I'm sorry for yelling, but you can't ask me not to worry. I love you, you know."
"I know, but I still need you to treat me as an equal. On the job, I'm your colleague, not your-" I stop, struggling for the right word. Girlfriend doesn't quite fit.
"My everything. You're my everything, Bella."
"Edward," I whisper.
"How about this? I promise to rein in my feelings a bit on the job, if you promise to be more careful," he suggests. His eyes plead with me to accept his compromise.
"I think I can live with that. And just for the record, I worry about you too. I'm just more rational about it than you are," I joke, poking him softly in the stomach.
"Haha. We better go. I'm sure Jenks is anxious to interview Todd," he says, putting an arm around my shoulder to walk out of the house. "So, can I take you out Friday?"
"I'll check my schedule and let you know," I answer having a hard time keeping the grin off my face. Edward wants to marry me.
As promised, Edward swept me off my feet. After taking me to an exclusive restaurant, he drove out to Lincoln Park to propose, presenting me with his mother's ring. It granted me a second perfect moment, the first being when he told me he loved me.
The feel of Edward's foot gliding over the top of mine, disrupts my mental musings. Turning to look up at him for an explanation, I see him looking down with a big smile.
"Perfectly warm," he mumbles before kissing me deeply.
"What?" I question once our kiss ends.
"Just checking for cold feet." He smirks.
"Funny. Maybe it's your feet we should be checking. Giving up any chance of reclaiming a legendary player status would make anyone a bit nervous," I say casually. My insecurity about our relationship and Edward's devotion to me are long gone.
"Now whose being funny, Swan," he says tickling my ribs, causing me to jerk and giggle. "I think you know my response to that."
Turning around, I glide my arms up around his neck. "You're right, I do." Standing on my tiptoes, I reach up for another kiss.
Before we can get too lost in each other, a knock interrupts the moment. Looking around Edward, I see Alice and Esme standing in the doorway with wide smiles.
"Sorry to interrupt," Alice says, "but it's time to go away, Edward. We have things to do."
Edward looks down with a pout. "Fine," he grumbles, giving me one last kiss before reluctantly letting me go and walking towards the open door. He stops just short of the door frame to turn around. "I'll see you tonight."
"See you tonight. I'll be the one in the dress," I say sarcastically.
The three of us watch him go and as soon as he is out the door, Alice turns and pulls me into a tight hug. "I can't believe you're getting married."
"Me neither," I whisper, my body tingling with anticipation.
"I'm so excited to share this day with you," Esme adds, coming over to pull me into a loving embrace.
I feel lucky to have Esme and Alice's bright spirits here to celebrate with us. Both welcomed me with open arms into the Cullen family and as time goes on, I continue to feel closer and closer to both of them. I have no doubt this will be one of the best days of my life. Edward and I agreed that we didn't want a big, elaborate wedding. The moment was more important to us than having a party. We simply wanted our closest friends and family to celebrate in a ceremony that was personal and meaningful to us. After going around and around on where, we finally settled on the beach. It was always a happy place for me and just seemed right. We also decided on an evening ceremony because we wanted to get married with the stars in recognition that some of our most important conversations occurred under them.
"Okay, we've got a full day of spa treatment ahead of us. Are you ready?" Alice asks, her eyes shining with excitement. Just then her phone comes alive in her pocket. "Excuse me," she mumbles, pulling it out and looking down at the number with a smile.
"Hi, Jaz," Alice utters before walking out on the balcony to continue her conversation.
Alice and Jasper continue to trek on a winding road when it comes to their relationship. A few months after our return from Italy, Alice decided that she needed a break. They spent several months apart, and for a while, I was sure that things were over between them. However, when Banner and Jasper's supervisor were brought up on administrative charges related to inappropriate behavior, including their handling of my case, Jasper willing testified against them. The choice had difficult consequences since most of his fellow agents thought he went against the "blue code of silence". Alice was impressed by his conviction to follow through with his testimony regardless of the consequences. She felt it showed that the person she fell in love with was still there. Their rekindled relationship is still new, but it seems headed in the right direction if her bright colors are any indication.
My relationship with Jasper is tenuous at best. I don't know if I can ever fully trust him, but I can support my friend. I thought about inviting him to the wedding as a gesture of good faith, but realized I'm still not quite ready to share something so personal with him. Edward is actually the one struggling the most with their reconciliation. I don't know if he and Jasper will ever repair their friendship. His biggest concern is that Alice will get hurt again. I hope that as time goes on he can let go of his anger enough to support Alice in her decision. Who knows, we may all be family one day.
Done with her conversation, Alice comes back into the room with a bright smile. "How is Jasper?" I ask smiling at her happiness.
"He's good. He wants to make sure I give you and Edward his best."
"Tell him thank you from me, okay."
"That will mean a lot to him. Thank you, Bella," she says, reaching out to hug me. I can see Esme smiling over her shoulder. Although she was upset with Jasper too, I know she is hoping that her family can reconcile for the sake of Alice.
"Now, let's get our spa on," I suggest happily. "Today is my wedding day!"
Standing in my room, I stare in the mirror. My strapless dress is simple but elegant. It has a fitted bodice and a small beaded belt with a floor length satin gown that flares towards the bottom. My hair is swept into a braided up-do with small white flowers highlighting aspects of each curve. I feel beautiful.
In the reflection, I watch as Esme walks up behind me, lightly placing her hands on my shoulders. "You look beautiful, sweetheart." I smile shyly at her compliment. "Bella, your mother and I never had the chance to meet, but I know if she was here, she would tell you how proud she is and how much she loves you. I truly believe that her light will shine on you and Edward tonight."
"Thank you," I whisper, a tear softly falling with the sentiment of her words.
"It's time," she says, looking at her watch. "Are you ready?"
"I'm going to head down. Don't wait too long, I have a feeling Edward is anxious to see you." She smiles brightly before walking out of the door.
Grabbing the bouquet of sunflowers, I take one last look in the mirror trying to calm my breath. I've felt serene all day, but now that it's finally here, my nerves are showing themselves. I'm not nervous about getting married as much as I'm overwhelmed by the moment. I know that Edward and I belong together, but having it become official causes my body to hum in anxious excitement.
Stepping out of bungalow, I see Seth nervously pacing, waiting to walk down with me. When Edward and I announced that we were getting married, Jenks declared that he was going to "give me away". However, Edward and I had already decided to ask him to perform the ceremony. Since we aren't very religious, we decided that having one of our most trusted friends officiate would make it more meaningful. Although shocked, he was extremely honored and agreed immediately.
My intention was to walk alone, but about a month after our engagement, Seth asked to speak to me. He amazed me by laying out a logical, yet emotional request to walk down the aisle with me. He made it clear that he didn't want to give me away, stating it was an antiquated concept and I was much too independent for that tradition. However, he pointed out that walking down the aisle also represented the journey between your old life and new life. Seth admitted he's always felt a special connection to me, and that connection is what helped him heal and move forward with his life. He thought the least he could do was give me the same support as I walked to the next stage of my life. There was no way I could say no to such a heartfelt request.
"You okay, Seth?" I ask, causing him to stop his nervous pacing.
Wonder colors his features when he turns to look at me. "You look beautiful, Bella."
"Thanks. You ready to do this thing?"
Seth nods his head and holds his shaking arm out for me to grasp. "Let's go."
As we start our walk down to the beach, Seth leans over to whisper into my ear. "Did you know that the feeling of being in love is produced by the same part of the brain that is stimulated by cocaine use?"
I burst out laughing, not at his words, but because the statement is so classically Seth. "I love you," I say leaning over to kiss his cheek. He doesn't respond but the red of his face and the colors swirling around him let me know how he feels.
The sound of the string quartet starts as we get closer, the music a perfect accompaniment to the beautiful scene. Tea lights guide our way to an archway covered in tiny white lights. Only the vibrant stars above out shine their brilliance. My breath leaves me when I finally glimpse Edward standing tall next to Jenks. He is in a simple but handsome black suit. The moon reflecting on the ocean behind him creates a radiant glow all around him. He is beautiful.
Surrounding him are our friends and family: Carlisle, Esme, Alice, Jenks, Emmett and Rose, who recently celebrated their own engagement. Their warm and loving feelings are swirling around, adding to the enchanting glow of the night. To the left of Jenks stand three white pillar candles surrounded by frosted glass. The candles represent the parents Edward and I lost. It was important to both of us that we honor their memory, the glowing light a symbolic reminder that they are never far.
When he sees me, Edward's face lights up, and I find myself automatically returning the brilliant smile. His fidgety hands in front of him are the only signs of his nervousness, and it brings me an odd sort of comfort knowing I'm not the only one. When I'm within his reach, he steps forward and grabs my hand.
"Bella, you take my breath away," he whispers. The emotion shining in his eyes pierces the depths of my soul.
"You look amazing yourself. I don't know how I got so lucky."
"I could say the same thing, baby. Last chance to back out," he jokes winking.
"No way, you're stuck with me. Let's do this." He laughs and together we turn to face Jenks, our fingers tightly intertwined.
"Okay people, let's get this show on the road, shall we," Jenks starts in typical Jenks fashion. "To say I was shocked when Edward and Bella asked me to do this would be an understatement. At first, I was honored, but then I started thinking about exactly what their request meant. First off, I needed to take a class, which Edward knows I hate. Then I needed to prepare, which Bella knows I hate. So the more I thought about it, the more I realized this was probably some sort of strange payback. For what, I don't know, because God knows I'm always on my best behavior. You are just lucky that I didn't bail in retaliation and leave you stuck with an islander and some bizarre native ritual."
Everyone laughs at his joke while Jenks winks in my direction. His humorous and loving nature is exactly why we chose him. Suddenly, his bright face becomes earnest and heartfelt as I watch the colors of love and respect swirl around him.
"In all seriousness, I've never met two people more suited or deserving of each other. I feel privileged knowing them and that I was lucky enough to watch their love unfold. In my line of work, it is common to become isolated, but somehow I defied the odds and actually found another family. I look forward to being a part of their lives for years to come, and I know that their love will continue to grow."
Releasing Edward's hand, I step forward and wrap my arms around Jenks' neck. "I love you too," I whisper into his ear.
Jenks' arms squeeze me tightly. He is not the only one that feels privileged. I can't imagine my life without him. Letting go, I move back to Edward, reaching for his hand again.
"Okay, no more emotional speeches from me, I'm not a pretty crier," Jenks jokes. "Edward and Bella decided to write their own vows and it is now time to share them with each other. Edward."
Turning towards Alice, I hand her my bouquet. Edward clears his throat nervously before grabbing my other hand. We turn to face each other while our friends and family tighten their circle, surrounding us with warmth and love. Even though I feel their presence, as soon as Edward's passionate eyes capture mine, the rest of the world drifts away, leaving just the two of us.
"Years ago, I thought I was content with my life. I had a family that loved me and a job I enjoyed. I didn't think I needed anything more nor did I want the complications of what I thought commitment would bring."
I nod, remembering when I first met Edward and the stories he shared about how the loss of his parents changed him. Back then, both of us unknowingly shared similar fears about getting close to others. It is one of the many reasons we understand each other so well.
"But then this wonderful and frustrating woman walked into my life, changing things forever. The only thing I regret is waiting so long to tell you how I felt, but I will spend the rest of my life making sure you never forget how much you mean to me."
I struggle to keep my tears at bay listening to his declaration. He pauses and looks down at our hands, glancing down myself, I watch his fingers ghost along mine. I feel nostalgic remembering how wonderful it felt the first time Edward intertwined our fingers.
"Bella, I promise to always love and support you even when you drive me crazy. But mostly, I promise to never forget how lucky I am to have you in my life. I may not know exactly what the future will bring, but I know it will be good because we'll have each other. Thank you for honoring me by becoming my wife," Edward says quietly, pulling my fingers up to his lips for a gentle kiss.
"Bella," Jenks states gesturing in my direction.
His heartfelt words have left me speechless. My body starts to quake thinking about saying my own vows. I'm worried that my words will not live up to the sentiments Edward easily expressed.
"Hey, it's just you and me," Edward whispers, somehow recognizing my inner struggle and knowing exactly what to say to give me the courage I need.
Taking a focused breath, I begin. "Expressing my emotions is not easy for me, so I'm going to try my best to put into words how much you mean to me." My voice sounds strangled by the powerful emotions coursing through my body.
"Even though my days are surrounded by color, my world always felt gray, and I grew up believing that my happiness would always be limited. Then you walked into my life and turned it upside down. You taught me the value of love and that life was more than just surviving. I will never take for granted who you are and what you bring to me. I can only hope to give you as much happiness as you give me every day."
Edward smiles through watery eyes and reaches up with our combined hands to brush away my tears. "Edward, I promise to support you no matter what obstacles we may face. I promise to share your joy and pain. But most of all, I promise to love you unconditionally just as I know you love me." I glance towards Jenks letting him know I've finished. He gives me a reassuring smile in return.
"Edward, do you have the ring?" Jenks asks, clearing his throat a bit.
"Yes," he answers, letting go of my hands to reach into his pocket and pull out my wedding band. Holding my hand again, he holds the ring just outside of my ring finger waiting for the cue. His eyes hold mine, another tear drifting down my cheek.
"Do you, Edward Cullen, take Bella Swan to be your lawfully wedded wife?" Jenks asks.
"I do," he whispers, continuing to hold my eyes as he slides the ring on.
"Bella," Jenks says, giving me my own cue. Turning, I take Edward's ring from Seth. "Do you, Bella Swan, take Edward Cullen to be your lawfully wedded husband?"
"I do." I smile slipping the ring on his finger.
"Then by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you officially hitched! You may now kiss the bride. Just remember that your family is present."
Edward's smile is blinding as he wraps his arms around me, crashing his lips into mine. Our kiss continues as the sound of whistles and claps permeate the air.
As soon as Edward releases me, our family bombards us with hugs and congratulations. Together our party moves to the tent next to where the ceremony just took place. Walking inside, I'm taken back by the beautiful sight. A gorgeous table sits on the side covered in fine china and stem wear. Dozens of candles light the room, highlighted by small white lights hanging from the ceiling. It is captivating.
The night flies by quickly in the blur of our happy celebration. The food was wonderful and the drinks flowed freely, making everyone a bit giddy. Luckily we have video to capture all the precious moments, including Jenks trying to show Seth how to dance. It's been an indescribable, fantastic evening.
Sitting at the table, I watch as Carlisle and Esme swing around the dance floor next to Emmett and Rose. They clearly have had lessons, their happiness shining brightly. I admit I was a little shocked by Emmett's dancing skills. He's been successfully rocking the moves all night and he and I even spun around the room a few times.
"How you doing, Ace?" Jenks asks, sitting in the chair across from me.
"Good. That's how it should be."
"Hey, baby, want to dance?" Edward asks, coming over to sit in the chair next to me. Like everyone else, Edward and I have burned up the dance floor as well.
"Not right now, I need a break. This dress is hot." Edward nods and leans over to kiss me.
"So Mr. and Dr. Cullen, you better rest up because we have a huge case when you get back next week," Jenks says casually, taking another swig of his beer.
"Hold up. We agreed on two weeks," Edward retorts.
"No way, we said a week. There's too much going on for you to slack that long."
"Too bad because my wife and I are off for two weeks."
"Oh come on. What about that prostitution ring? Taking them down will be lots of fun. You really want to miss out on that?"
Still feeling warm and not wanting to engage in their debate, I stand quietly, patting Edward on the shoulder as he and Jenks continue to argue. Whether we're gone one week or two, there's no doubt that between the two of them my life will never be boring. Walking outside of the tent, I let the ocean breeze cool my heated skin. Looking up, I stare at the stars. The isolation of the island makes them as bright as they are in Montana.
"Making a wish?" Edward asks, his arms wrapping around me.
Turning my head, I look up at him and smile. "I don't have anything to wish for. I have everything I want right here."
"Good," he whispers, leaning down to kiss me. "I love you."
"I love you too," I whisper, kissing him deeply.
I never imagined that my heart could feel so full. I really do have everything I could ever want, and it is more than I thought I deserved. We stand quietly wrapped in each other, drinking in the beauty around us. The sounds of the party behind us a comforting reminder of all the family I've gained.
It's another perfect moment and only just the beginning.
It's been 9 months since I posted the first two chapters of this story. My hands were shaking and I think I posted and deleted it about four times before I forced myself to leave it. I did it as a challenge to see if I could write a story as well as find a bit more balance in life between my work persona, my mom/wife persona and my creative self. It's been an amazing ride. I cannot express enough gratitude for the support and kind words all of you have given me! It means more than you will ever know and on many weeks motivated me to keep going.
As for future stories, just this week I had a spark of an idea for a new story, so stay tuned to see if I'm able to do anything with it. I also haven't ruled out a sequel, but I don't want to do one for just the sake of having a sequel. I want a plot worthy enough to continue to characters' stories. However, I did learn an important lesson about having the story pre-written before posting. So, you won't hear from me right away. :)
Ironically, when I started posting this story, I did have about 15 rough draft chapters written. However, if you were to read those verses what actually posted, they are very different. One of the best parts of this process was experiencing how a story can evolve and change based on where the characters take you. For example, Seth originally was a minor character who was a friend of Jenks and wasn't going to show up until the last few chapters. When I started getting Chapter 6 ready to post, I didn't like it and wanted something to beef up the suspense, thus the introduction of a new and improved version of Seth. That changed ever aspect of what I had already written, but I'm glad I did it.
Okay, I blathered on enough. Thank you again to everyone who read, reviewed, followed or favorited this story. I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I did. I would love to hear from everyone one last time including my more silent readers.
Until next time. :)