Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended.
Beta'd by HollettLA.
I know this is short. It's not like my usual long-ass epilogues, but I realized that Higher truly didn't need one. So, I went back and forth, wondering if I should even post this. It's a small glimpse of their future, nothing epic, and I hope you guys enjoy it. I'd promised an epilogue, so I felt I had to deliver.
January 26th 1998
My feet were aching. In fact, I felt like I'd been hit by a truck as I made my way to the bus stop. Luckily, I hadn't missed the seven forty-five, and I didn't have to wait that long.
When my ass touched the seat, I adjusted and slouched back, gazing lazily out the window.
My eyes fluttered to a close, but then my cell phone chirped. Alice loves that fucking walkie-talkie feature on our Nextels, and she's always paging me.
I held the button, trying to keep my voice down. "What?"
"What are you doing?" she asked.
I rolled my eyes, sitting up a little. "I'm on the bus…dammit." I'd forgotten to leave my finger on the button.
I groaned. "I'm on the bus!" I shouted, embarrassed when the driver looked to me in the rearview. "What do you want?"
"Nothing," she said, and that was it.
Alice was more than likely still at work, bored out of her mind. We graduated as nurses two years ago, attaining our associate's in nursing. While I work in the ICU of a busy hospital, Alice works at a doctor's office, and Wednesdays are her late nights.
Jasper still works on his cars, and he also does some part-time work with Edward and Carlisle since they expanded their business—serving all five boroughs, not just Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Alice and Jasper have a nice apartment in Bay Ridge. They're not married, nor are they in a rush to be, but Alice is trying to get pregnant. They're happy, and I'm happy for them.
My husband and his friend are still happy pot-smokers, but they function. They chill out, watch TV until…whenever. They hold jobs, and our lives are relatively boring. Well, not really. There's always something . . . some small thing that'll drag up the past.
But for the most part—while we're "adults" now—we're still just those confused children running around.
Only, the playground is different.
When we were close to my street, I dinged the bell, indicating for the bus driver to stop.
Like always, I almost lost my footing when he pulled up to the curb.
At eight months pregnant, thirty-seven weeks to be exact, I don't have the best balance, but I try . . . and I won't have to see the inside of a bus for a little while.
I'd planned on going on maternity leave . . . when I went into labor, but I had an appointment with my OB yesterday.
I had to slow it down.
It was suggested I work part-time.
Talking to my supervisor, I opted to just go out early. My position will be held for three months. I'll have the normal six weeks off, and then I also have two weeks vacation accrued.
We'd be fine money-wise.
Nothing will be amiss, and I couldn't wait to…
My phone chirped again, and this time it was Edward. "Where are you?"
I huffed, leaving the bus. "Up the block—be home in a minute."
And that was it.
Seeing our home in the distance, I almost reached for it, which would have been stupid.
I just really needed to lie on the couch, place my feet in Edward's lap.
My husband's work van was in the driveway, like it always is after seven p.m., and the house seemed quiet.
When I swung our front gate open, I smiled, happy to finally be home, but I paused—just enjoying the silence on the sidewalk, the cool breeze, and the atmosphere. There's nothing special about Bensonhurst, but I'm always reminded of the journey it took to get here.
Edward and I, always in such a rush, were married a month after he proposed. During the Christmas break, between my first and second semester of college, we had a small ceremony in the local church, followed by a huge dinner. We'd rented a room at a restaurant, had a DJ. More people showed up to the reception than they did the church, but none of it mattered.
It was one of the happiest days in my life.
My parents, who haven't really changed—Charlie's single, and Renee's still living with Phil—were in attendance. There was no drama at our wedding, thank God.
Edward kept his word.
He took me higher while aspects of his old life stayed at bay, away. I know he gets that itch sometimes—as the money he'd made years ago has been spent. But we do okay. We don't live extravagantly. We don't even own a real car besides the van, but we're going to look for something soon. I do know that. Edward hates that I take the bus . . .
Life is so fucking mundane sometimes, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
We pay bills.
We both work.
We're not rich, but we have love, and that's been the best high ever.
Heaving a heavy sigh, I walked up the few steps to our door. It was unlocked for me, and I smiled when the warm air hit my face—the scent of home reaching my heart.
Edward, who was on the couch watching TV, stared at me. "What took you so long?" The funny thing about that question . . . I could grow wings and fly, be here within seconds, and he'd still ask me that. He does so every day I work.
In lieu of answering, my eyes drank in the sight—the living room, objects scattered on the floor, but something was off. "Where's Coop?" I asked, knowing he runs to the door whenever I come home.
Edward looked about the room, too. "Around…" His eyes were lazy, so he'd obviously smoked.
"Around?" I threw my purse on to the carpet, and Edward shot up.
"Relax." He kissed my cheek. "Coop!" he shouted for our son.
When we heard the giggle coming from the kitchen, my husband relaxed. I, however, knew our son was up to no good. "You have to watch him." I pushed past Edward, and I was surprised. He's a fantastic father. Edward and Coop are always attached at the hip, and I couldn't believe . . .
"Everything is child-proofed," he argued.
Either way, I marched to get my sweet boy, our two-year-old Riley Cooper Cullen. We'd named him after Edward's old friend, his friend who'd passed away. He still won't say much about him, but I liked the name.
During my summer sessions that first year I was in college, I'd gotten pregnant, which came as a shock. With the amount of sex we have, I thought if my pills were going to fail, they'd have done so already. It was logical and totally fucking stupid—a mistake. No, Riley Cooper was the best surprise of my life.
"Coop, what are you—" I stopped in the doorway to watch him. He was as naked as the day he was born, sliding around on the linoleum floor, which was wet.
"Coop…" My shoulders dropped.
Our son was obviously doing his version of the slip-n-slide, sliding around in his own pee.
"Don't say he's fine," I laughed at Edward; meanwhile, Coop continued to giggle, having a great fucking time. "You have to put the onesie on him or else he takes the diaper off."
Edward chuckled, watching him, and wrapping his arms around me. "I forgot, but yo…He's a big boy. He don't need one of those. They're for babies. Right, little man?" He stared down.
"I big boy!" Coop slammed into the locked cabinet, only to laugh some more.
He wasn't hurt, nor was he deterred; he's a miniature brute, just like his father.
"You relax," Edward crooned, nuzzling his nose to my neck, his hands spanning the bump—while my own stomach was tying in knots. Edward was dripping sex. "I'mma get some tonight?"
I grinned, leaning into him but keeping my eyes on our piss-soaked son. "Clean him up and put him in bed, and then…"
Edward sucked his teeth, leaving me to scoop Coop up into his arms. "You say that and then you're snorin' on the couch." He faced Coop. "Tell Mommy to gimme some."
"G'some!" Coop cheered, his green eyes sparkling and his brown hair a mess.
I smiled, reaching for that happy face. "How'd you get so cute?"
"I yook'a yike my daddy." He looked to his father.
"That's right." Edward bumped his fist to his. "I'll be back." He landed a smooch on my cheek, walking around me to get upstairs.
Meanwhile, I was so tired...
I had no idea how long I'd stared down at the floor, my eyes focused on some comfortable focal point.
Edward has a routine with Coop on the nights I work. He picks him up from Carlisle and Esme's, since Esme doesn't work. She's a stay-at-home mom, having given Edward another baby sister last year.
Besides Bianca, Carlisle and Esme have two more baby girls—Iris and Delilah, and they drive Coop nuts, so he says. As the only boy, they mess with him, but it's not malicious. He gets rough with them, but he's going to have to learn. He's going to have a baby sister soon, too.
Anyway, after Edward picks up Coop, they go to McDonald's and then all bets are off until bath time and bedtime. To keep me happy, my husband manages to entertain Coop until I get home. 'Cause I like to say goodnight every night.
I only work three days a week—sometimes four, but only one week a month—and I work twelve-hour shifts.
When movement in the periphery caught my attention, I turned. Emmett opened the basement door, leaving the small apartment he's made down there.
"B…you're home." He slipped on the pee, grabbing onto the counter before he busted his ass.
I laughed so hard, I peed a little, only to grimace. "Damn…"
"Coop slip-n-slidin' again?" He went into the fridge. "Want me to mop it up?"
I opened my mouth to ask if he'd found an apartment yet.
What was supposed to be a temporary situation turned long-term when . . . Emmett just didn't leave.
When we had Coop, the house had gotten a little smaller, and so we made Emmett move downstairs. Now that we have another on the way, I've been hinting at it for the past two months.
Emmett doesn't realize that Edward will kick him out. He thinks we're playing around, saying he has to leave because that's what we always say.
"Yeah, thanks." I nodded, because Emmett is helpful, and I . . . I really didn't feel like mopping right now, although it needed to be done. "Have you…looked at any places?"
He nodded, sipping from the milk carton.
I waited for him to elaborate, but he didn't.
"What'd'ju think of that chick I had here last night?" he asked. "That was our third date, and we're going out again."
"I didn't even talk to her." I chuckled.
"She's Irish. Her name's Siobhan." He smiled.
"Oh...well, good for you. Does she have an apartment?" The beauty of his being downstairs is that he's got his own door—Emmett and his hos come and go. He hasn't changed one bit, but he's respectful and he doesn't bother anyone, and he does his fair share of chores, too. Emmett living here, since we've been getting along with no animosity for years now, truly isn't a bad thing.
But he has to go before the baby gets here, and then it feels like we're living in a sardine can.
"Yeah, she's got her own place. Yo…you know who's her homegirl?" He didn't give me a chance to respond. "Remember Rose?"
Hearing her name actually made me smile. "Oh my God." I rubbed my bump, leaning on the doorway. My feet were achy, and I needed to shift my weight. "What the fuck is she up to?" It hasn't been that long, as Edward and I have only been together four years and change.
"I took this chick for ice cream—Rose is still running Carvel in Bay Ridge, gave me her number on the low. I won't bring her here, and she got fat, too, has a baby." He rambled, taking a bite out of a drumstick from last night's dinner. "Ed gonna eat this?" He left the chicken leg in his mouth, gathering Tupperware containers into his arms.
"I…" Eying the food, I grabbed myself a drumstick, too, quick to take a bite. "So good."
Even cold fried chicken is good, I've come to realize.
Emmett watched his plate spin around the microwave while I washed off my greasy hands. He said he'd clean the floor after he finished eating. Content with that, I went to plop down onto the couch.
Some bullshit was on TV, about Bill Clinton's blow job, Monica Lewinsky. I'd tried to change the channel, but he was on every one.
Restless and wanting to go upstairs but not having the energy, I felt myself doze off.
"Oh, no, you don't!" my husband laughed.
I hopped up, Edward holding Coop an inch away from my face.
"G'nigh-Mommy." He smiled big, puckering his lips.
I giggled, leaning forward to kiss his mouth. "'Night, baby."
"You comin'?" Edward didn't give me a chance to answer, pulling me up to my feet before we all trailed upstairs.
Once in his room, Coop whined a bit, but we were fast to give him a few more kisses, turn off the light, and run out like bandits while he continued, carrying on.
"When's he gonna stop that?" Edward jerked his thumb.
I had no answer, truly not bothered by it. Coop only whines for ten minutes at best before just going to sleep.
"You okay?" Edward embraced me again.
I hummed, too tired to move again, feeling stuck in the hallway. "I love you."
"I love you, too." He squeezed my ass and then hopped back. "You're wet. Did your—"
I winced, having forgotten about that. "No. My water didn't break. I'm fine." I backed away from him.
He frowned. "Again?"
"Shut up!" Mortified, even if he is my husband, I couldn't believe I forgot about my own little accident. "I'm taking a shower."
Edward followed me into the bathroom. "I'll join you."
Honestly, I just wanted to stand under the water, and wash my body. All of which could take five minutes.
My husband picked up on it, my mood. "You don't want me in here?" He was upset.
And he's still as insecure as he's always been. My working a lot is hard on him, too. Our son is actually none the wiser. It's hard on me because I feel guilty, always wishing I could be like Esme, but the alternative . . . Edward has suggested I stay home, saying he'll take care it, meaning all things money. Still having that fear in my heart . . . I work, and I lie, saying that I enjoy my job. Crap like that.
While I do love my job, and under normal circumstances I'm like a fucking rock star, I just wish I could spend every single second with Coop. I don't know. Sometimes it's hard to breathe when he's not around—when Edward isn't around. I feel incomplete without them, but at work I'm always too busy to think about it, which is a blessing. Knowing my own is fine, I worry and take care of other families, other people.
My thought process as a mother makes me wonder how Renee was able to be so blasé. I've spoke to Esme about it, and she says, "Not everyone is meant to be a mother."
Being a mom doesn't define me, but I hardly remember the days . . . when I wasn't one. Things that used to be so important no longer are, and the new fears that come along with motherhood. My God.
"I'm home now." I nestled into his side, staring up at that chin. It was raised, his eyes away from me, but he softens all the more quickly these days. "You get me—all of me until the baby's born."
The side of his mouth pulled up. "You'll get more sleep. You'll have more energy—"
"Uh-huh," I giggled.
He turned for our bedroom. "I'll get your PJs."
When he was out of sight, I closed the door to take a breath behind it.
I made quick work of showering and putting my pajamas on.
After I checked to make sure Coop was asleep, I entered our bedroom to find Edward passed out, too.
I actually got excited.
Both my babies were asleep.
That meant Mommy would get some rest, too.
With a smile on my face, I eased into the bed and turned off the lamp.
But then I felt Edward move, which made me stiffen . . .
"I'm awake," he said.
I laughed at myself, lying back. "Edward…I am so, baby, I'm fucking exhausted." We're total pervs, and we still lust after each other. It's rare I say no, no matter how tired, no matter how pregnant. I can't help myself. I'll be tired and then Edward will drip sex on me . . . and all bets are off.
But not tonight . . . While in the shower, I noticed my feet were more swollen than usual, and they still hurt.
He sighed, placing his arms around me. "Me too…"
"Thank God," I said, because I hate to deny him. It's hard trying to be everyone's everything—meeting their needs, but it gets easier.
After a few seconds of quiet, his breaths became heavier.
"I'm happy," I admitted in a whisper, having really thought about it earlier today. My coworkers are all older. Some are divorced, and they all bitch about their kids.
And once upon a time, Edward spoke of happily-ever-afters. He still does, talks about working our way toward something . . . this imaginary future.
But this was it.
All the love in the world . . .
Coop and our daughter who'll be born before we know it, happy and healthy.
Edward and I are still healthy and young.
"We did it," I told him. "This is it."
"What?" He was asleep already; I heard it in his voice.
"Nothing." I reached over to rub his back. "We're not millionaires, but…I want for nothing, and I'm so happy." I felt myself get weepy, my heart feeling too much, needing an outlet no matter how happy.
"Shhh. It's okay." He had no idea what I was saying, mumbling that out through a snore. "Don't cry…" He gave me a lazy kiss.
It made me smile. "Yeah…I love you. Thanks for…you know. Taking me higher." I thank him almost every night.
"What?" he grumbled.
"Nothing." I squeezed his arms tighter around me, knowing life couldn't get any better. "Love you."
"—ove you." Edward's snores began to serenade me.
I smiled in the dark, staring up to the ceiling, relaxing and rubbing my large abdomen.