CHAPTER 99 – CHARLIE

Bella's marrying into a family of morons. Yep, morons. But they're good people.

My little girl has another thing coming if she expects me to just walk in here with arms wide open and accept this thirty-second courtship she's had with this...this...Edward.

What kind of father would I be if I didn't put the fear of God into him?

I'm trying not to break my tough guy act when this bean pole my daughter is all ga-ga for walks in, completely oblivious to the fact that I just might shoot his brother, and eats one of my cupcakes. MY cupcakes. Hell, Bells hasn't even pumped them full of cream or iced them yet. Those ya-hoos don't know a good cupcake until they're had my baby girl's finished product, complete with a cherry on top.

See…morons.

This chick Rosalie? I like her. She marches up and introduces herself, then asks me not to shoot her husband.

"For a pretty lady, I think I can make an exception...just this once." I wink at her and her milky white cheeks bloom with red. Bella groans beside me. What? I still got it. "You just tell him to keep his mitts off my goods. You got it, doll?" I give her chin a nudge and smile.

"What the hell, man? Stop hitting on my wife!" Gigantor's upset, but I don't pay him any mind. That'll teach him to touch what isn't his.

"Oh my God, Dad. Please." Bella pulls at her hair and rubs her temples. "I'll make you another batch. It isn't that serious. Stop egging Emmett on. You're almost fifty for crying out loud!"

Okay, I'll stop teasing...for now.

Bella goes around the room making introductions. We finally stop at Edward, who is trying hard to make sure that he has none of my cupcake crumbs on his shirt and mouth. He's a couple of inches taller than me...not a bad looking guy. Sticking out his hand, he shakes mine with a firm, confident grip, and looks me in my eye when speaking to me.

He's all right, but I can't tell Bella that.

The kid's been calling and emailing me for a while. While the girls go shopping on Black Friday, we plan to do nothing. Yep, nothing. The four of us are going to eat our way through the games. The guys have been talking about pizza and sausages, Italian beef, cheesecake...God, I can't even think of what else. I know I packed my loose pants because I've missed Bell's cooking and plan to eat my weight this week. I'm in gastronomical nirvana.

After our initial introductions, I see why Bella loves this family so much. There's nothing but honesty and affection that passes through them all.

She'll be all right. They'll take good care of them.

We fellowship over our meal, lovingly and expertly prepared by my daughter. I look around the table and see how Edward pours Bella a glass of wine, and she dabs his mouth with her napkin after he's dribbled some soup. Esme gets up from the table to get more rolls, and the men move to stand. Classy. I squeeze Bella's hand to let her know I approve. Her eyes well up and I shake my head. She knows I don't do tears. She chuckles softly and leans her head against my shoulder.

My mind takes me to so many moments like this. I may not be the best father, but my kid knows I'll move heaven and earth for her.

With her head resting softly against my shoulder, I feel such calm and happiness. There will be so many more meals together. Next year I'll be walking her down the aisle. After that, who knows...I might be a grandpa.

I run my finger over the diamond that Edward asked my permission to put on Bella's finger.

In less than twenty-four hours, they had declared themselves to be together forever. I always give Bella the abridged version of my and her mom's story, but it was very much the same. I can't cast judgment or tell her that things are going too fast. I'd be a hypocrite.

The very reason why I'm experiencing this moment is because I took a chance and spoke to a girl standing alone waiting for the ferry. I had picked up a shift doing security for Black Ball in Port A, and I took a chance just like Edward did.

Yep.

Everything is as it should be. Twenty-four hours, twenty-four seconds. It doesn't matter. Dreams come true in an instant.

Bending to kiss Bella's temple, I whisper, "I love you, baby girl. Go on, live your dream."

~fin~


My undiagnosed OCD will not allow me to end this on an odd number, however, I'll give y'all an epilogue another time. I haven't decided how far I want to go with this. For now, this fic is complete.

*snifs* Thanks for reading.

I've got a few other things going on. Chief among them, an entry in the TLS Angst Contest: u/4769441/TLS-Angst-Contest, and I am definitely entering the A Journey into the Dark and Twisted: . ?action=add&type=userid&id=4757629. Then, I will focus on completing Sensory and catching up on my PTB Writing Challenge prompts. Oh, and there's also the Age of Edward contest coming up soon. I already have something good outlined for that one.

I wish I could make you all creme-filled cupcakes and give you big hugs. There aren't words to adequately express how humbled I am by the new friendships I've forged through this fic. All the support and encouragement that I've received has brought me to tears on numerous occasions. It is still difficult to believe that you all actually like what comes out of my mind.

Until next time...