Chapter Three: And Then Forever
It's three o'clock in the morning and I can't sleep.
Because it's the last night I'll do it alone. Or anything else I've had to while I've waited to not...
This time tomorrow morning Isabella will be next to me. Isabella, my wife.
And that 'next to me' will come after she's in front of me...
Walking towards me to be next to me in another way. So that I can vow to her that she'll always be.
After seconds and minutes and hours...
But no more than a single evening of...
She'll be in front of me again.
In a way I've never seen her.
Because she'll be my wife.
Because in less than a day's worth of hours I'll make her.
Before the night's worth that follows before I can again.
When I can carry her through our front door for the first time...
And know that I'll never have to carry her back out of it. Or lead or walk her through it to go back to or through another...
I'll never have to tell her no again. And she'll never have to tell me. Not that I ever made her...
Not out loud...
Because when you love a girl enough to make her your wife, you see and feel the nos before she has to say them.
I certainly tried to, anyway. Though once or twice she told me I was seeing things...
Things that weren't there...
And she may have been right, may have meant it with all of her heart...
But I didn't want to take any chances. That her body was confusing her heart.
There are things I think she would have let me do...
Wanted me to do, even...
And God knows I wanted to do them...
But I just couldn't. Because I knew if I did I'd only want to do more.
And, though she trusted me completely, I didn't–couldn't risk her to–trust myself enough.
And will carry my wife through our front door with nearly everything in front of us.
Everything there is to do...
None of which will be a no. Unless she's afraid.
Something I don't think she'll be. Or, like me, is losing sleep over now. Because she won't do that until it's for. And that's...
Something that scares me.
Because it will be a first for both of us. One for her in every way... and, even though not for me in most, not not in every. Because it will be in one very important way.
I've never been with a woman I loved. Or cared about at all, let alone...
Fuck. I'm not just scared...
I'm terrified. Of, like I told her she couldn't, doing it wrong. Taking what she's waited so long to give me. Saved for only.
Of course I don't doubt my abilities...
Isabella will very soon know exactly how hard waiting has been for me...
But I'm not so cocky that I don't know she probably won't know immediately. Won't be moaning or screaming that knowing the first time. And, if she does either, will likely only be because it hurts instead of feels good.
Because I'm not an idiot.
But, even though I'm not, I know most of all that the pleasure I'll make her feel soon after–hopefully the very next time–isn't what the first is all about for her. It isn't at all. It's about so much more...
Something so much deeper than where I'll finally be...
Inside of her...
And I don't want to ruin it for her. Disappoint her or let her down. By doing it wrong.
That thing that's more important than anything else...
To both of us.
The right way.
Something I'm afraid I won't know how to do.
It's completely dark when I wake up in my bed. Telling me that it won't be the last time I do. Because it tells me, before the clock on my nightstand even can, that it's still only the middle of the night. Before the one when I'll be sleeping somewhere else.
In another bed. And not alone.
Like I am now. Which scares me for a second...
Because I know that what made me wake up was a noise. And thinking someone was in here with me, making me not alone at all.
But then my eyes adjust...
And I'm not scared anymore. Because someone is, but this someone would never hurt me.
And didn't come in here to. "I'm sorry," he tells me as I sit up. "I didn't mean to wake you."
"It's okay," I tell him. "I don't mind that you did."
He sighs and wipes his eyes, and the evidence of that noise that woke me, and stands up. "Go back to sleep, sweetheart. I really am sorry."
But I meant it when I said that it was okay. Because he meant everything he said and did yesterday when I was awake.
Before I laid my head down on my pillow in our house for what was to be the last time. Or so I thought...
The last time that the arrival of was sooner than he ever could have expected.
And the last time that made him cry, because it is.
"Come here," I tell him, before he can get to the door, and pat the bed beside me.
"You gave me the whole day, Isabella. You don't have to give me any more. And I sure don't want to be responsible for dark, sleepless circles under your eyes on the one you've waited your whole life for."
"Well, I don't want to be responsible for any under yours, either. Or red, puffy ones around them."
"You won't be. I'll take full responsibility for those."
"Come. Here," I repeat, because he still hasn't moved. Or his eyes from me.
And he sighs again, sorrowfully, but does what I asked. Or told him to do that time...
And sits down on the bed next to me. "You know, when you were at Sam and Emily's, I would come in here sometimes in the middle of the night and just sit in that chair... staring at your empty bed... "
"I thought we were letting that all go?" I try to remind him when he trails off, "And focusing on the todays? And the tomorrows?"
"We are... but I was thinking about some things when I was sitting there. This time, I mean. And they're important. Too important to let go of."
"What things?" I ask him, because if they're important to him, then I want to hear what they are.
"Well... how much it hurt to."
"Then," he clarifies with a sad but sweet smile. "Mostly. Because this is today, and, for the moment, anyway, it's not empty. You're still in it."
I return his sad but sweet with an understanding nod of my head. And a quiet, so that he can say what he wants to say. Finish telling me about important.
"But thinking about that hurt made me think about yours. And I think I finally understand some of the things you do to comfort yourself when your heart is breaking. Or, understand better, anyway.
"Like why you've kept so many of Ethan's things all of these years... and wrapped yourself in them... in him... the only way you could.
"Why that monkey..." he continues, smiling at it where I now hold it in my lap, "besides that it was from Edward... meant–still means–so much to you. And comforts you when you're sad... or merely just closing your eyes to another day that our dad wasn't able to tuck you in after. His precious little monkey... who earned that name from him before you could even walk. Because you climbed–on and up everything you could–before you did. Because you knew where you wanted to be. And didn't want to be kept where you didn't. Waiting for someone to come and take you...
"You only slept in your crib for a year... because that's when you started trying to climb out of it. Dad was sure you were going to fall and bust your cute little head... because every time he caught you trying to, you were farther and higher than you'd been the last. It was only a matter of time–and your little monkey determination–before you'd get to the top of the rail and tumble over it.
"He used to sleep in your room... in the chair in the corner... just in case. Hoping he'd hear you and wake up as soon as you stirred, or that you'd see him and call for him instead of just silently try to get to him... silently and fearlessly...
"He came home one night from work with about 20 new fluffy pillows that Edward and I helped him carry in from the car. He laid them all over the floor around your crib and said at least they'd cushion your fall if you did...
"It made sense to me... but Edward was the one to ask the questions that made more. Why don't you just get her a big girl bed? That sits on the floor or something? So she can't fall at all?"
"And what did he say?" I ask him, because his story has stopped and he's staring down at my bed that we sit on. The new one that he got me when we moved into this house.
"He said that he was glad that he had a brain. And to grab a couple of new pillows to rest it on, and a couple for his mom, too, and that he'd give him–and the new pillows–a ride home. After we went shopping with him to help him pick one out. Because doing that was so much better than his idea..."
I smile at the picture that develops in my head...my dad, Jasper, and Edward choosing that adorable bed that all of my fairy tale dreams began in.
And where I think he's going with this. "It's going to kill me to walk past this room and see the bed that you've decided you've grown out of this time... see it empty...
"And even more so knowing Edward chose the one you'll be climbing into every night..." He groans and squeezes his eyes shut, the 'kill' already pounding its fist as his clenches. That makes me fight a giggle...
"But... just like then, instead of focusing on cushioning your impending fall when you tried to get to that somewhere else you wanted to be...
"He made sure you wouldn't. Because he gave it to you. The very place you were trying to get to. And would have kept trying to get to, with more determination than you'd ever shown any of us, no matter how dangerous the path to it was. Or who or what you had to climb over.
"He made you safe by giving you a place you could be. The place you will always. Because you'll be happy... so happy that you'll never try to climb out again."
"I know I've been asking for a lot lately," I say, "but can I ask you for one more thing?"
"When you walk past this room... and this empty bed... tomorrow or a hundred tomorrows from now... or even if you end up in that chair over there staring at it...
"Will you try to remember that? That you believe that? That I'm safe and happy in another? And not let it kill you? Or hurt you at all?"
"I can't promise you that," is his answer. And I know it's the only one he could give me. "You might just have to remember that I know it now."
"Okay..." I tell him, telling him that I will, "but there's one more thing I want you to remember. And that's that you stood right here in this room and helped me unpack my things right on this bed... the day I came back home to sleep in it... and found something of yours."
That gave me comfort...
Even after everything else you had.
The next time I wake up in my bed is the last time I will.
Because it's light this time.
Lighter and brighter than it's ever been before, I think.
Ever in the history of life's days...
Because this is mine.
A day I won't need comfort from a cute little monkey. Or a man's once worn clothes. Or any, by the end of it...
I bite my lip at that last thought...
In a way that I think Edward would like. And smile at. And in a way that I think I'll see him do later... at the end of this dream come true day...
That's just beginning...
And will in a way my brother will like. Since it's the last one we'll begin together in our house. That I jump–not climb–out of bed and run through so that I can.
After I do necessary, though far less important things...
After which I do, I run down the stairs to our kitchen. Wearing no dark circles under my eyes–believe me, I looked hard but found none–to match the dark blue t-shirt of my brother's that I slept in. The one I put on after he left my room. Not because I needed comfort...
But because when he wakes up, I want him to see. And remember. And understand. Though I hope he already does. Did...
But you never know with Jasper. He can be kind of dumb sometimes...
When he's being hard on himself. And thinking he's not important. To me.
Seriously... so dumb...
But, my day or not, I'm going to make him know that he is. Important. To me. Starting with his favorite breakfast.
That he catches me making. "What are you doing?"
"Oh, Jasper... " I turn to look at him, clutching my heart with Oscar-worthy despair, "this is called cooking. It's what you do to food so that you can eat it... "
He shakes his head with a You're such a brat smirk, but then he smiles. Because he knows, just like I know I'm largely to blame for his spoiled cluelessness, that he's just as much for my bratty not.
And because he sees what I'm wearing. "I wondered where that shirt was. It disappeared from my drawer. There one morning, gone the next."
His playful-intended words turn around and slap him in the face right before my eyes...
But then he smiles at me again. Showing me that he's trying to remember that other thing that I asked him to. "So, um... since you're already doing it... cooking, I think you called it? I'll let you finish doing it... but can I ask you a question?"
"You're going to starve..." I whimper, wiping pretend tears from my eyes, but then smiling a real smile because I know Alice won't let that happen. "Yes. Especially if it's how to turn on the stove, which is this big thing I'm standing in front of, just in case you're confused."
He'd so flip me off right now if I was Edward or Emmett...
But I'm not. I'm me. And he definitely hasn't forgotten that. "Does your fairy tale include superstitions?"
I don't know what I thought he was going to ask me, but it definitely wasn't that. "Superstitions?"
"Yeah. Like the one about the groom not seeing the bride before the wedding."
"Oh. No... I think that's stupid. And just something someone dreamed up because they were looking for an excuse or something. To blame a failed marriage on... or a shattered dream... instead of accepting responsibility for it themselves."
"You really are very grown up," he tells me. With a look of pride instead of one that says he wishes I wasn't.
"Sometimes," I say with one of my own. You've come so far...
"So, it won't ruin anything if I call Edward and invite him to come and have breakfast with us?"
SO far... "No," I tell him, "not for me."
Who's wiping away real tears now.
Because he hasn't forgotten anything.
I've been awake and unmoving in my bed for about twenty minutes. Thinking about last night when I was. And why I was...
And why I was wrong to be.
Not because all of the fear has left me...
But because Isabella loves me. And because I love her. More than anything or anyone in this world.
And because as long as I remember that... and let it guide me... instead of my scared brain...
I can't do today wrong. Or tonight. Or her...
Not do her...
Not in the despicable literal sense...
But in another. And every. That isn't either.
And makes me smile when I hear my phone ring. And then, though still, do it completely differently when I look at the screen and see that the ringing isn't her. "Good morning, sweetheart."
"Fuck you, dude... seriously... "
"Yeah, no thanks, actually," I laugh, "So, what's up?"
"It's not really what as much as it is who. And what she's doing."
"Making you sick with a because-of-me smile?" I ask, because I hope she is. And am cocky enough to be sure it is and want to rub it in his face just a little. For calling me a pussy yesterday, if for nothing else."
"That's everyday," he sighs, "but no, that's not what. The what is the other thing she does every. Making breakfast for me."
Well, that cocky feeling of power didn't last long... "Back at ya with that fuck you."
"Your grand total of cooked-by-my-sister breakfasts will far outnumber mine someday, so fuck yourself. And quit feeling sorry for, because I called to invite you to come and share my last."
"Jasper... I'm touched... "
"Shut up... "
I curb my sarcasm quickly because I honestly am. For a reason he may not have intended to give me with his invitation. "I mean it, actually. Because it will take years for my grand total to outnumber yours. And, though you may not have meant to, you just told me that you have faith in the fact that it will. And that I'll make her happy."
"YOU'LL MAKE HER HAPPY OR YOU WON'T LIVE TO EAT OR OUTNUMBER ANYTHING."
"Deal. But as for your invitation... I'd gladly accept it, too, but I'm not sure she'd be happy about that. Aren't there rules that say I have to stay away from her until the ceremony?"
"Well, I called it a superstition when I asked her basically the same thing, and whatever it is, she said it was stupid. With a smile that supported that sentiment. And starting-to-glisten eyes, so... "
"So, hurry my lucky ass up?"
"Why are you still on the phone asking me stupid questions?" he asks, giving me my answer.
And more than enough motivation to get out of this bed.
For the last time.
"Thank you for not worrying about silly rules and superstitions."
"Thank you for existing," I say breathlessly, because Edward said what he did against the back of my neck. That he lifted my hair off of to do.
"And thank you for breakfast," he says, just an inch lower than where he thanked me first.
And since he hasn't had it yet... "The one that you're about to have?" I ask, even more breathless than before.
"No... " he whispers against the skin just under my ear this time, "I will thank you for that one, but that's not the one I mean. I mean the other one."
"You opened your present?" I ask him now, though his last answer already gave me the one to this before I asked it.
He spins me around, undoubtedly wanting to see the flush I wear because of what I gave him, and know he opened... "Yes, I did."
And he liked it...
I don't have to ask him that.
I can see it all over his gorgeous face...
But did he wait to like I told him to? "Last night?"
"No. This morning. Just like you told me to."
Good boy. Because opening it today was important. "Well, thank you for listening to me. Because I really wanted you to wait. Until today... "
"I knew that... since you did tell me... but I assure you I knew more after I opened it. And after I took my first bite...
"Well... I never wanted to know anything else."
I'm so glad, Edward... but I do. "Was it worth it? Waiting for, I mean?"
His eyes bore into mine with words I can't hear–though am sure I can feel–and then he sweeps my hair from my face and smiles.
A Soon, you won't be able to torment me smile. A Soon, I WILL be able to torment you smile. A And I'm going to love every minute of tormenting you smile. And a And so are you smile.
And I'm a Whatever you say puddle of goo even though he said nothing.
And even before one of his long, beautiful fingers tilts my chin up. And before he pulls me even closer to him with that one long, beautiful finger under it. Closer until his breath tickles my lips, before he does with his own, answering my question with a slow, sweet kiss.
Sweet because he's Edward... but not only.
Because I can taste another sweetness on his tongue. The one I gave him. The gift. That he did have for breakfast, which I think he must have done no more than a few minutes ago, since I can taste it...
The untouched-by-anyone-but-me apple that I put into a pretty white box and tied a pretty white bow around. A silly gift, some might think, but one that I knew he wouldn't think was. Because he'd know it wasn't to me.
Knew all of that time he waited for it. Time that was much more than a night. Time that was seconds, minutes, hours, days, nights and months...
And time that's up. Because today is the day that I can give him everything.
All me because he's giving me all him. Something, like what I'll give him, that he's never given to anyone else.
"Yes it was," he says, the sweetness from the apple on his breath. And his... "And it was by far the best present I've ever been given."
"I hope you don't still think that tomorrow," I tell him, making him smile another smile. And myself blush redder than that apple I gave him. The one I want him to know was truly never in anyone else's hands. "But I'm glad you think it now. I was very patient... and spent a lot of time making sure I would give you as perfect of one as I could."
"I know that, sweetheart."
"I mean your breakfast," I say, as I pull away from him to get the other one on the table. "I went into a forest... okay, an orchard, technically, but since it was a place full of trees and good things I'll call it what I want...
"So, I went into the apple forest... and searched and searched and searched...
"It was frustrating... seconds turned into minutes, and minutes turned into hours, but still I searched, because it was important...
"And then I saw it. The most perfect one I was ever going to find. Hanging there right above me... and looking content to be, I suppose, because being where it was was all it had ever known and it didn't know there was a better place..." I stop and glance up at him as he takes the platter of kept-warm-in-the-oven french toast from my hands, another smile on his face... one that I think says simply I love you...
And then continue my tale because I love him. And want him to know just how much. "But I knew it wasn't really happy... because I knew there was... a better place...
"I knew getting it to that place wouldn't be easy... because getting it wouldn't be. But even in my short life of experience, I've learned that nothing worth it is, so...
"I stuffed my pockets with determination–and tucked my keys in there with it–and climbed up and grabbed it. Snatched it right off of that branch while it smirked at me, trying to tell me I couldn't."
"I never smirked at you when I told you you couldn't, Isabella," he says.
And he's right. He wasn't cocky or cruel when he was fighting me... not intentionally...
Standing rigid and strong up on that branch of another sort... the pedestal I'd put him on...
That sweet, delectable cruelty didn't come until after he stopped...
But I think he knows the moral of my tale.
And, perhaps unfortunately for me, did pay attention to every detail of... "And if you, my little monkey girl, ever climb another tree without me standing underneath it to catch you if you fall, I will–"
"I won't. Because I don't need to. I got what I wanted." And don't think I want whatever you were going to say...
He gives me a I mean it glare... and then his jaw twitches ever so slightly... and then that sweet, delectable cruelty forms on his sweet, delectable mouth. "Though it's quite interesting the way you spun your little apple tale to make me the star of it... "
I look up at him innocently as he pauses... and he chuckles wickedly... telling me I won't be able to do that for much longer... which makes my cheeks feel hot... "Me was not what I had for breakfast this morning. My first breakfast.
"And was not the tale I heard in my head when I pulled it out of that pretty box. With the pretty bow.
"And sure as hell wasn't the one you wanted me to hear when you put it into it and tied that pretty bow around it. And then put it in my hands. And told me to wait until today to open it."
Nope. It wasn't at all...
But... "A good tale–fairy or any other kind–to me... has two stars. And ends... most importantly... with them together. In each other's hands or... "
I leave it there, my words in the air, and my tale for him to finish...
Because it's his turn to tell it. What happens next. To me and to him...
And because Jasper is out of the shower now and has joined us in the kitchen. The kitchen that I won't be making breakfast in tomorrow morning...
Or the one after...
Because I'll be making it in another.
Because Edward told me I was his.
Just like I always wanted him to.
"What the fuck is going on here?" Emmett roars from behind us. The us that is Jasper, Sam, and I. And the here that is the house I want to make all of Isabella's fairy tale dreams come true in. After we get this ribbon tied around it so that I can tie it into a pretty bow for her.
Which is what the fuck is going on. But I don't feel the need to tell him that, since he can clearly see it for himself. So "What are you doing here?" is what I say instead.
"Looking for you!"
"Why? You'll see me soon enough."
"Because I wasn't sure Bella would!"
"What are you talking about, Emmett? Or yelling about, which you can STOP doing."
"STOP? Hell no I won't stop! Because I've been looking for you all day!"
"I could arrest you for disturbing the peace," Sam offers up, but Emmett just tells him to fuck off...
Before continuing to disturb it, though admittedly in a quieter voice. "I thought maybe you woke up this morning and freaked out. And skipped town or something. I was about to go to the airport and try to find out if you hopped on a flight to Yemen or–"
"You're an idiot."
"I'm an idiot? I'm not the one who's getting married! No offense to Bella or anything... just, you know, married... "
I glare at him just in time to see him cringe. And then my glare gets harder, until I remember that he's spent the last almost year with Rose. Which makes me cringe...
And immediately clear my head of everything but what I'm here for. So that I can go somewhere else, before I turn around and come back. With the beautiful girl who could never make me anything but smile.
"Why aren't you dressed?" I ask him, because he should be already, just like the three of us are.
"Because I was looking for you! And not sure, since I couldn't find you, that I had a reason to be!"
"He was at our house all day," Jasper tells him, saving me the annoyed breath. "And you obviously didn't look very hard, since you didn't show up there."
"Why the hell would I look for him there, Jasper? The groom isn't supposed to see the bride before the wedding!"
"Well, his bride said he could. And will kill you if you mess up her becoming, so go get dressed."
Not so much as a cringe, Jazz? Isabella would be so proud...
But not as proud as she's about to be of me. "Let's go!"
Because this lucky idiot has a starring role in a wedding. And I'm ready to smash it.
In every way she wants me to.
Because she gave it to me.
"So, the new is covered easily... new dress, new shoes, new you-don't want-to-mentions... but what about the rest? I know I should have asked this sooner, but do you have old, borrowed, and blue somethings? Or am I the worst maid of honor in history?"
"You definitely aren't, Alice," I tell her, and think about those somethings I hadn't given any thought to before now either. "I have my locket. For the old." I touch my fingers to it against my chest and try not to be sad. Or blue...
And decide I don't want any of that, or anything I can't hold onto. "And old and new is all I need. Borrowed and blue aren't important to me. Because I'm a girl who likes to keep things. And, you know, because I like purple."
She smiles at me and does a little twirl in her deep purple dress, but it's the person who isn't doing either who catches my attention now.
"It's not too late, you know. There's still time to change your mind."
"Enough with the red dress."
"I'm not talking about that, even though I wish you would. I'm talking about what you want to do. In a white one."
"Okay, I know you never would, but... What if HE does? What if he isn't there, Bella? What if Edward doesn't show up, and leaves you in the middle of all those trees with nothing but mascara-colored tears dripping down your face and all over your pretty dress?"
You just couldn't keep your mouth shut, could you, Rose? Couldn't just be the good friend?
"What are you going to do? If all of these plans were for nothing? If all of your dreams are crushed? By the person they're all about?"
Couldn't and still won't.
I've never wanted to hit anyone so much in my entire life...
But I don't. And won't do it, just like she won't stop trying to hit me.
Because today won't be ruined. By her in any way.
Or be anything but right. For me in every.
After I make one change.
That will ensure both. Because there's one more thing I don't want or need. "Well, Rose... it won't be something you'll have a front row seat for. Or a standing not. Not to see it happen... but to not. Because Edward won't do that. And will be there. Letting everything be about him. But you're going to have to take my word for that. Because you are right about something...
"It's not too late. And there is still time to change my mind... about today. MY day. The day that someone won't be there to share with me. Someone in another pretty dress... because you're going to take yours off."
"No. Bella nothing. Not this time. Take off the dress, Rose. And leave it, and me, and my life... behind you."
She rolls her eyes at me and puts her hands up in insincere surrender. "Don't annoy the princess bride, I got it. I'm sorry, I won't say anything else. About the dress, or your prince who may never see you in it... not another word."
Like you just did? "It's too late for I'm sorrys, Rose. You never mean them and I'm tired of hearing them. Their emptiness and their easiness...
"I tried... so many times... but I'm done now. Because some things just aren't worth it. And today is about what is. And who is. And will not be about who isn't. And how much that person thinks I'm not."
"I didn't say that!"
"Yes you did."
"Take. Off. The dress."
"This is hardly the time for one of your tantrums, Bella. For God's sake... "
"What's going on?" Jasper asks, Emmett right behind him as they come through the door.
"It's what's coming off, actually," I tell him. "There's been a change of plans. I've decided Rose won't be a part of today's anymore. Any part."
"What the hell did you do?" It's Emmett asking the question this time, and it's to Rose, not me.
But I'm the one who will answer. "She gave Edward and I a wedding present. The best one she could have. A wish for a beautiful, happy life... and a guarantee of one with it... because she took herself, and her ugliness, out of it for the last time. And now I'm just waiting for her to take herself out of that dress so that I can go start living it. And, since you're here, maybe you could help me with that part? To make up for the other night? Because, like both of you on that one, she's not respecting my wishes and cooperating now either."
"If he won't, I will, Bella." Alice breaks her uncharacteristic silence with a very contrary characteristic smile.
And then Emily, who I know was just trying to let me make my own decisions, and handle things my own way, breaks hers, too. "I could scrap."
Which makes me laugh, because I know she could. And well. Because I saw her do it once, when some stupid, unsuspecting-of-well girl tried to get Sam's attention.
But Emmett saw her, too. And obviously remembers it as well as I do. "Trust me, Rose, you don't want their help, sure as hell not Emily's. And you're not getting mine, not in any way you'd like, so just get moving and do what Bella wants."
"You're serious?" she asks, looking at me and no one else.
"Yes," I tell her, because I am. "And I truly hope that someday you understand why. And have a good friend beside you to be happy for you... and support you wanting to live a new and better life."
Even though you couldn't be or do it for me.
"Are you sure, Bella? I have a mannequin at my house. Well, you saw her... we could stop on the way and–"
"I don't care about the numbers, Alice," I say and then laugh because, yes, I did see her lifesize doll.
"Is she hot?" Emmett asks from the front seat of Jasper's car, because Alice, Emily, and I are in the back.
"She looks like me." She answers his ridiculous question that the rest of us shake our heads at with a cocky smile. "So, yes."
And I may not care about the numbers, but Emmett sure does now. Though the ones he cares about are different... "Jasper, you secret-keepin freak! You've been gettin it on with twins this whole time!"
"You're about to get it on with some PAVEMENT, Emmett," he warns, telling me he's willing to even up those numbers for me too.
But I really don't care if they're even. Don't need them to be to be happy. Because in just a few minutes there will only be one number that matters.
Two becoming one.
"Right feels good, doesn't it?"
"Good? Good doesn't even come close, Sam."
"You think it doesn't now? Just wait, Edward. This is nothing compared to what's coming."
I think I know what he means, and can't wait for all of it, but right now I just want the who.
Want to see the smile on her face. The one that's sweet and sure and proud to be both. And to be the reason for mine.
Emmett asked me a few minutes ago why I didn't look nervous. Why all I did look was calm. And relaxed. And ready.
And I told him it was because I wasn't. And was...
Something that I hear myself repeat as I see her. Seeing me. Waiting for her with a smile that matches hers.
At least, I imagine it does. Because how could it be any different?
I'm about to get everything I want.
I may not have spent all of my life wanting it...
But the time I have has felt like a thousand lifetimes. Because I have spent most of mine with her. Seeing everyday how beautiful one could be.
I never thought of her in a man's arms... until I thought of her in my own...
But that didn't mean I didn't know the ones she'd end up in would be lucky to have her in them. So fucking lucky...
Because she's a gift.
Sent straight from God.
It's how I see her. How I always have, no matter how I didn't.
And how I couldn't possibly see her as anything but now. When she's walking straight for me. With a purpose that is all for.
And all powerful. Which makes me laugh...
Because it really is. She's practically dragging Jasper.
He's trying not to let her, but...
Yeah, he doesn't stand a chance.
And can't help but laugh, too. As he shakes his head at her impatience. To get to me.
Which is happening a little sooner than I expected. Sooner by seconds, only, but sooner nonetheless.
Because someone I expected to see first isn't here. And didn't lead her way. Before Emily did. And then Alice.
But since Isabella is smiling, and clearly in a hurry anyway, I won't waste another thought on it.
Or anything but her. Thoughts that could never be wasted.
Right here. "Hi there."
God, she's beautiful... "Hi here," I tell her, wanting her to have no doubt about how happy I am to be right where we are with her.
"The best here in the world," she tells me back, beaming the most beautiful smile I've ever seen, the doubt never existing for her. "Until you take me to ours."
"If I may," the minister interjects with his own smile, making me 'curtail' my most recent, "we have some matters of great importance to tend to in this one first, so... shall we?"
"Oh yes, please," Isabella answers so sweetly that it takes the breath from my lungs.
Not that the sight of her didn't already...
All dressed up for me in the fairy tale dress of her dreams. And those dreams bright and glistening in her eyes, already threatening to spill over and knock me to my knees.
Because her eyes always have the potential to do that to me, but never more than now...
"We are gathered here today... "
I'll never forget the way Edward looked when I first stepped around the trees and into his sight.
The way he looked at me. And for.
I know he loves me, we wouldn't be here if he didn't, but the way he looked at me was...
Edward. Every Edward I've ever known. Or seen. In my dreams, or right in front of my wide open and wide awake eyes.
The beautiful Edward who takes my breath away a thousand times a day every.
The kind Edward. The gentle Edward. And the sweet.
The strong Edward. The confident. And the encouraging.
The protective Edward. And the possessive. And the makes-my-cheeks-warm cocky.
The BEAUTIFUL Edward... yeah, I know I said that already, but you're not looking at him. You can't see him right now. In his tux, looking at me in my dress. Looking so...
The Edward who's always loved me.
And the Edward who's in love with me now.
And telling me he is without a word as he stands here with me...
Listening closely to the minister's words... "Edward Anthony Masen and Isabella Marie Hale..." that I can barely hear over the thumping of my own heart because he is...
But that I will to ease and slow so that I don't miss any... "If anyone can show just cause why this man and this woman should not be–" or even Emmett's... "You really might want to skip that part, dude. I mean Father. Or..." which the minister hears but pretends not to "...lawfully joined together, let them speak now or forever hold their peace."
A few days ago I was terrified of this part...
But that was before Jasper had given Edward and I our gifts. And before I gave myself another by making a decision about what I no longer wanted in my life... just before we left my old...
And I'm not terrified now. Or afraid at all. And I know that Edward isn't, either...
But we're not alone. And some of that old gets to join us in the new...
Is joining us now... right beside each of us...
They were. Before they moved from their places like they were on fire to put out another they feared would erupt.
"Don't do that to him," I scold them–Emmett and Alice is the them–both, ignoring everyone's laughter at Jasper's predicament between them. The one I remove him from when I smack each of their covering-his-mouth-hands and knock them away. "Get back over there, both of you."
My brother sighs and shakes his head–at them, and maybe at himself for inspiring them–and then whispers a quiet Thank you to me, sending the first tear down my cheek. A tear he reaches up and tenderly wipes away before looking at the minister expectantly. With nothing but that peace he mentioned inside of him. And nothing to say because it is.
Edward's face, in all of its beautiful glory, is proud. And that pride sends the second tear chasing after the first. Because he earned it... and every bit of how happy it makes me. So happy that the tears probably won't stop for hours...
"Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" the minister asks now, and I look at my brother, who looks at Edward–a long look–and then at me. At my face, and then down below it, to who and what rests just to the right of my heart..
My fingers tremble as I reach up with my empty, bouquet-less hand to open my locket, letting him see what he needs to in this moment that means so much to me. Even more than his moment of peace and silence...
The second of which he breaks now... "Charles, Ethan, and myself–her honored-to-be brother–Jasper Hale. We give her." And with those words, the dam holding back my now free-flowing tears. Which he doesn't even try to wipe away this time, instead, wiping his own as he guides me gently closer to Edward.
"I love you," he whispers, and kisses my tear drenched cheek before he smiles at me and takes his place beside his best friend. After he waits for Emmett to move aside so he can... unhappily... which makes everyone laugh again.
And which is okay with me. Because there were too many tears in too many eyes and on too many faces. And, no matter what else it is to us because of who can't share it with us, this is a happy day.
And getting happier by the second. "Please repeat after me..."
Yes, Edward... please do...
"I, Edward, take you, Isabella, to be my lawfully wedded wife. To have..." Gaaaaah! "...and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, to honor, and to cherish, until death do us part."
You're going to be so glad you did...
So so so so so so so so so so so so so so–"Isabella?"
So glad! "Yes, my turn... and I have waited so long to– I, Isabella, take you, Edward–man of my every dream–to be my lawfully wedded husband. To have..." Seriously, GAAAAAH! "...and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse–there will be none of that second part–for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, to honor, and to cherish, un–"
I stop because Edward clears his throat. A gentle interruption to tell me I forgot something.
Something I never agreed to say. And obviously something that he wants me to say so badly that he was willing to delay his pending spoiling my vows promise him.
And it makes me laugh. And the smirk on his face now makes me warm. And willing...
Because I wanted him. All him... and he's giving it to me. So to deny him would be... "To love, to honor, to cherish... and to obey..." I'll never forget the way he looks now, either. Never... EVER... "...until death do us part."
I truly am the luckiest man alive. I'm not even wearing the proof of it yet, but it couldn't be heavier on me.
On my heart and my mind...
That stopped battling each other so that I could have everything I never thought I deserved, especially after I knew I wanted it. Needed it. And couldn't–and wouldn't–live without it anymore.
The girl who loved me no matter what I was.
And who wanted to despite.
Because she knew there was a better life to be lived.
For both of us.
For me for obvious reasons... she's her...
But for her, too.
Because she knew she could make a man out of me. A real and a better.
A man who–long before I was any semblance of either–dreamed agonizingly of making a woman out of her.
Something she knows. Because I was honest with her about that, though without the details of.
And something that didn't make her love me any less.
And maybe made her love me even more because of. Because when I was honest about it, that honest confession also gave her one I didn't have to, though I had made that one, too. Many times in one way or another.
And that was just how hard the waiting for her really was for me.
The her she'll be before the sun comes up again.
The woman I'll make her. Because I did wait. And am making her what she most wanted to be.
Or will, anyway...
As soon as Jasper gives me her ring.
Her wedding band, that Emmett–and even Sam–told me I was crazy to put in his hand. Because, no matter what else he's given me in the last few days, they weren't sure he would give it back. So that I could put it on her finger.
Isabella already holds mine between hers. Alice put it in her hand with no hesitation. But Jasper...
"How bad do you want it?"
Asshole... "Bad enough, I promise you," I tell him. "And I'm willing to do more than make that promise to prove it to you... if it's what I have to do... but we both know she won't like it if I do have to do that. Not that she'll be upset with me for it if–"
"I could scrap, too," Emmett announces, cutting off my whispered threat of sorts. And I have no idea what that means, but it doesn't matter because there's a weight in my hand now.
A light. And a delicate. And a pretty.
For the most beautiful girl in the world.
Who I will have the honor of making the most beautiful woman after I accept another. And give her what she thinks is hers... "With this ring I thee wed..."
Edward's hand didn't shake when he slipped the ring on my finger.
And his other isn't shaking when I do the same.
Not so much as the slightest tremble or tremor with either movement.
He is strong. Steady. And sure.
And I have never been happier in my entire life about anything.
"And now, by the power vested in me by the state of Oregon, I hereby pronounce you... husband and wife. Edward, you may now kiss your bride."
And his hands are still strong, steady, and sure as they reach up to cup my face. Hold it between them as his lips curve into the most beautiful smile I've ever seen on any. And then take away the one I hope I mirror as they meet mine. Sweetly. Gently. Tenderly and patiently.
Like he's been for so long.
And will keep being for just a little while longer.
Before he doesn't have to be anything but him. His entire and his complete.
"Ladies and Gentlemen... Family and Friends... I present to you... Mr. and Mrs. Edward Masen."
Don't hate me. I know you wanted the other thing, too, but this is enough for this one. Says me, I know you probably don't agree at all...
And as for the details I didn't give you, either–we all know I suck at those–there's some pictures posted in my author fb group. Tell me to put you in it if you want to see them. Before I give you a few in the next.
If you stay to get them. I won't assume anyone will since you're all probably mad at me. Again.