A/N: *** I was so anxious to get the first part of this epi out yesterday that I forgot to remind you guys to check out the WONDERFUL write-up Cared Cullen prepared for Nine Months since the story WON FIC OF THE WEEK OVER AT THE LEMONADE STAND!***
Thanks to all of you who voted, and please make sure you go read the write-up. It's lovely. :)
Triple w dot tehlemonadestand dot blogspot dot com
Most characters in this story belong to S. Meyer.
Betad by the wonderful Michelle Renker Rhodes
And without further ado…
THE SIXTH MONTH: JULY – DEVELOPING MOTOR SKILLS, FIRST WORDS, DEVELOPING PERSONALITIES, AND HOW TO PLAY SAFELY AT THE BEACH.
After a long day of appearances leading into the Independence Day weekend, I'm finally done and walk into the living room to join my family.
Bella is typing away on her laptop while the babies play on the floor by her feet. Ellie is with them; books and toys spread out around her while Oyster chews on one the babies' toys. In the past couple of months, we've lost track of which toys belong to the dog, and since Oyster's apparently appointed himself their canine guardian, they're always mixed together anyway. Just yesterday, I walked in to find Charlie teething on a dog bone.
"How's the article coming along?" I ask Bella, kissing the top of her head.
"Very well," she grins. "It feels good to get back to writing." Her eyes flash to the babies and Ellie before she resumes her work.
"And how are my three, little imps?"
"I'm teaching the babies to play peek-a-boo, right, Mommy?" Ellie says.
"Yes, my love," Bella smiles. She stops her typing to check on our kids, her beautiful face full of the same pride I feel. "And they're loving it."
"Watch this, Daddy," Ellie instructs before covering her face with her hands. "Peek-a-boo!"
When she quickly uncovers her face, the twins look momentarily startled. Then abruptly, they both break out into raucous fits of laughter, throwing themselves back over the soft carpet and rolling over and over like little balls while Oyster nips lightly at them, helping them back up to sitting positions.
Once they're upright again, they look expectantly to Elizabeth. She does it again, and they reward her with the same startled and then thrilled reaction.
Bella and I laugh as loudly as they do.
It's the Fourth of July weekend, and we're spending it in Oyster Bay.
Charlie is sitting over a towel on the sand, attempting but not quite managing to crawl off of it. He's dying to chase after the women in the water: his big sister, his mom, Jessica, Victoria, and his aunts Esme and Alice.
Every time he tries to drag himself off of the towel, and either Oyster or I position him right back in the middle of it, Charlie grunts angrily. It's pretty comical, really, and I've got to admit that Jasper, Emmett, Michael, my dad and I are having a bit of a grand old time at his expense. Wren is resting comfortably in my arm watching the whole thing. The world could be falling down around her, and as long as Wren is in my arms, she's good.
Charlie, on the other hand, is always anxious to get somewhere. Anywhere is fine with him, but he can't seem to stay still.
They're twins, but at six months, their personalities are so different.
Wren is petite and thoughtful. She can study her toys for minutes and minutes before actually reaching for them. She giggles at everything. Her brown hair is curly; Bella tells me that hers was the same as a baby. She strokes Oyster's face gently when he nears her, cooing and babbling softly. She loves having us around her, but like I said, when she's in my arms, her world is complete.
Charlie is big and strong, and much more impulsive. He reaches out before stopping to see for what he's reaching. If it's dangling, he's got to touch it. He laughs heartily instead of giggling. When Wren giggles, he looks at her as if she's grown another head. Though the same shade, his hair is much straighter than Wren's, more like mine in texture if not color. He loves roughhousing with Oyster – pulling on ears and paws regardless of how much we tell him, "No. Be gentle with Oyster." I've got to say, though, Oyster is a damn good dog. He takes it like a man, and when he's had enough, simply struts away, leaving Charlie staring after him.
And though Charlie also loves being around all of us, it's Elizabeth that lights up his world.
"Eh, Eh," he's saying now, reaching out his chunky, little hand towards the water.
"Do you think he's trying to say, "Ellie"? Michael wonders aloud.
"I'm sure he is. He says it all the time now."
"His first word wasn't "Mama," Jasper chuckles.
"Don't remind Bella," I warn. "He says "Bama" too."
"He's a future politician!" Emmett howls.
"Future President is what he is," my dad adds.
I simply smirk.
"Eh, Eh," my son yells louder, bouncing on his bottom.
"Tell you what, it'll be fun to see Paul finally move around and try to talk instead of just sleeping, eating and crapping all day," Michael smirks. His infant son sleeps in his arms in illustration.
"You think so, huh? Wait 'til you've got to chase him around everywhere," I smirk back, going after Charlie once more.
Jasper laughs. "Well, better you guys than me."
"Ooh!" All the men hiss at once.
"I bet you don't have the balls to say that in front of Alice unless you want next summer's wedding canceled." I rib him. "Because with the way that one dotes over her nieces and nephew, you'll be chasing after your own kid soon enough."
"Damn straight he doesn't have the balls," Emmett taunts. "Or as Al and Bella would say, "the bollocks!"
We all laugh at Jasper.
"You're right," he grins, "I don't have the balls to say it, but I wouldn't be one to talk about a woman having your balls or bollocks if I were you, Emmett." He jerks his chin towards Victoria. "You ever going to make a move, or just give her your puppy-dog eyes?"
"Ooh!" we all hiss again. Oyster barks.
Emmett simply grins. "I'm just biding my time until those puppy-dog eyes wear her down and then she won't know what hit her!"
We're practically pissing ourselves with laughter. Meanwhile my son is at the edge of the blanket again. "Eh!"
I lunge for him so quickly that I'm pretty sure my board shorts have just revealed the crack of my ass.
"Alright, little Man, I've got you. Okay, guys, what say we join the women in the water?"
I reach down and pluck Charlie from the towel, my heart clenching at the big, fat tears at the corners of his eyes. With a chuckle, I give each of them a kiss on the head.
"We're going to play with Eh now, Charlie."
When I look up, Elizabeth and Victoria's niece, Savannah, who is the same age as Ellie and now a great friend of hers, are running towards us.
"What's wrong, little Man?" She smiles at her baby brother and puts her arms out for me to give him to her. Charlie practically jumps out of my arms to get into hers. A huge grin lights up his face now.
Elizabeth giggles, and together, we all walk towards the shore.
THE SEVENTH MONTH: AUGUST - CRAWLING, CLIMBING, BABY-PROOFING AND MAKING TIME FOR EACH OTHER AS PARENTS.
I'm taking a little lunch-time break.
Bella is in my office with me. The baby monitors are on: two, small screens through which we can watch our twins sleeping in their cribs in their own rooms while I pound into their mother and she grips onto the edges of my desk for dear life.
"God, Edward, yes! Oh, yes! Just like that! Oh!" she hisses as quietly as possible so that the staff members outside don't hear us.
"You like it like that, Bella? You like it when I ram into you like that?"
It's a busy life with three kids and two careers. Some nights Bella and I crawl into bed too exhausted to do much more than give one another a kiss good night before flipping the lights off, even though our room is once again just ours.
But we go out of our way to make time for each other throughout the day, sneak in a kiss here, a whispered "I love you" there, or sometimes we search each other out around the mansion for what Bella calls "a quick midday shag to hold us over."
So now she's bent over my desk, her skirt up over her thighs, and my pants around my knees while I rub and mold her bare cheeks with my palms and thrust anxiously in and out of her, trying not to come yet because I fucking love the sight of my cock disappearing into her round backside, which narrows into her small waist, and I want to enjoy it for as long as possible.
I lean in and growl lowly in her ear: "Do you have any idea how much I love your body?"
She chuckles hoarsely. "Stretch marks and all?"
I give her a good thrust for saying something so ridiculous and she whimpers in pleasure. "I don't see any stretch marks, Bella. All I see are your perfectly full tits and ass and the rest of your wonderfully smooth body."
She moans and grinds deeper into me, and I feel her walls clenching tight.
"Yes, yes! Right there! I'm coming, Edward! I'm coming!"
I'm about to come too, when I glance quickly at the monitors-
-and catch Charlie straddling his crib's railing, one leg on the inside of the crib, the other on the outside.
"Yes, Edward! Yes!"
"No, Bella! No! Look!"
She looks up quickly and shrieks at the sight on the screen, pushing me off of her and adjusting her skirt before rushing to the door. I adjust my own swollen member back into my pants as hurriedly as I can, and we both scramble out past the curious staff members, through the baby-proofed halls, up the baby-proofed steps, and through the baby-proofed doors.
By the time we make it through all the baby-proofing and open the door to his room, Charlie is in the middle of his room standing up by his rocker and holding on to the edges. He looks up at us through huge, innocent brown eyes and a massive smile lights up his face.
Despite the heart attack he's just given us, and despite the fact that he's just blocked Daddy's cock to no end, Bella and I both burst out laughing.
"Yes, little Man," I say, picking him up into my arms. "Mommy and Daddy are here." With a deep sigh, I reach out and ruffle his full head of dark hair.
Bella looks up at me in amusement. "Well, you wanted to experience everything you'd missed the first time around. Your twins are definitely making sure they give you the full treatment."
"That they are," I chuckle, pressing my lips to my son's full head of hair. "That they are."
THE EIGHTH MONTH: SEPTEMBER – MORE WORDS AND MIMICKING
"Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday, dear Mommy!" I help our kids sing, one twin on each arm and Ellie standing in front of me. "Happy Birthday to you!"
Bella's eyes glisten and she blows us all a kiss before dropping her head and blowing out her candle.
"Yay!" Elizabeth applauds.
Wren and Charlie mimic her actions. They clap their little hands together and yell, "Yeh!"
After a while, my dad and Aunt Esme take the twins and walk off together with them. They've been getting along better lately. I suppose my Aunt is finally starting to set aside the hurt my father's actions caused our entire family a few years ago. But while what my father did will always bring with it bitter memories, at this point it makes no sense to hold on to the anger, to the grudges – especially in light of all the good that's occurred since then: Ellie, Bella, our marriage, the twins, Alice and Jasper's engagement.
It's time to move on.
I watch my wife cutting the cake Aunt Esme made for her and walk up behind her, wrapping my arms around her slender waist.
"Happy Birthday, Sweetheart," I murmur in her ear.
"Thank you, Edward."
"Did you have a good day?"
"Of course I did. I spent it with you and our kids didn't I?"
I smile against her cheek. "Well, I have one more present for you."
"Oh, I know you do, and it's large and thick and brilliantly uncircumcised."
I bury my face against her neck and chuckle quietly. My wife will never cease to surprise me, and I love that about her.
"What, did I just make the Guv'nah blush?"
"Maybe a bit. And first of all, that present goes without saying. Second, don't call me "Guv'nah" unless we're alone or I'll make you blush in front of all our family."
She chuckles, still calmly cutting piece after piece of her German Chocolate Cake.
"Seriously, I have one more present for you."
I turn her around and hand her the envelope. She smirks and protests while opening it. "Edward, I don't need anything else. You've given me jewelry and a lovely day with just the five of us, and this wonderful party with our family and close friends. I don't need anything more! What's this?"
Her eyes widen as she scans the printout that had been folded inside the envelope.
"You're taking us to England?"
"I promised you I'd take you back as soon as the twins were old enough for the trip."
"You promised me…"
Once, a long, long time ago in a hotel suite in London, I broke a huge promise to Bella. We both learned some hard lessons after that, but we did learn.
I'll never break a promise to her again.
She throws her arms around me. "Edward…Edward, I love you so much."
"No more than I love you, Bella."
THE NINTH MONTH: OCTOBER – TRAVELING WITH TODDLERS, FIRST STEPS, FORGIVENESS AND…THE FULFILLMENT OF A FATHER'S LEGACY…
I've survived many things in my life.
A cold and confused father, detonating IEDs, insurgents hell-bent on shooting my head off, and crooked politicians.
But there are no words for what I've just lived through: the worst seven-hour plane ride in the history of plane rides – and I've had more than my fair share of plane rides to which to compare it. The ones I took when I was in the service, as well as the ones back and forth across the pond when Ellie and Bella were still living in England were all walks in the park compared to what I've just had to endure:
Endless crying and wailing.
A son who decides that now would be the perfect time to stop soothing himself with his thumb.
Attempts to change peed and pooped diapers in spaces too small to take your own decent piss or shit.
Toddlers crawling over filthy surfaces that will make me cringe for days.
Breast milk spilled absolutely everywhere.
And naps that didn't occur until a half hour until the plane finally landed.
I'm seriously considering resigning as Governor of New York and moving to England just so we don't have to make the return trip back in a week. I think I'd look pretty good in one of those curly, white wigs English Barristers wear anyway.
By the time we make it to Leigh-on-Sea and to my mother-in-law's house, I'm ready to bathe the twins in bleach to disinfect them - right after I drop into a bed for the next few days.
Thankfully, ever a loving and doting grandmother, Renee is waiting for Ellie and the twins with open arms. She swoops the babies up while they look on at her curiously, wondering who the hell she is. Not having seen her since they were two months old, they have no idea.
"Oh my Loves, you've forgotten your Nan Renee, have you?" she chuckles. "Why Wren, you were named after me." She looks at the boy in her other arm. "And you, Darling, were named after your Granddad Charlie, whom you look exactly like!"
They frown at her shiftily, studying her face as if they're trying to figure out whether to smile or howl at the moon. But Ellie is thrilled to see her grandmother. She hugs and kisses her to no end, and the twins seem to take the hint. They offer Renee toothy smiles, and their grandmother melts.
"Oh my Goodness, look at those tiny teeth!"
After a few minutes, Renee disappears with our three kids, and honestly, she could've taken them to Timbuktu as far as I'm concerned. Bella and I sit on the sofa exhausted almost beyond words, and look at one another.
And together, we help each other climb the steps to any bed we can find.
Sometime later, my eyes pop open. The fading sun pouring in through the window of Bella and Elizabeth's old bedroom indicates that it's late afternoon and that Bella and I have been napping for at least a couple of hours. Between the nap and the fact that my internal clock is set to American time, which is probably only about noon right now, I'm relaxed and refreshed.
Bella is tightly spooned into me, so I release her gently and lean down to place a soft kiss on her cheek.
She squirms in her sleep. "Do I really have to get up?"
"No, Sweetheart," I chuckle. "Go ahead and nap as long as you want. I'll go down and check on the kids."
"Mm," she moans. "Thanks, Edward."
Voices float in from the back yard.
When I walk outside, I see my kids and Renee, and a blond woman with them.
She's holding one of my twins in one arm, while Elizabeth holds her other hand. Elizabeth is the first to see me. She waves happily before running off to her grandmother, who's holding Charlie and showing him the fish in her small pond.
And then Rose turns around slowly.
As soon as Wren catches sight of me, she starts squirming, reaching her arms out in my direction.
"Dada! Dada!" I hear her calling.
With what appears to be a deep breath, Rosalie makes her way towards me. As soon as she's close enough, Wren jumps into my arms.
"Edward," Rosalie smiles. "How are you?"
"I'm good, Rosalie, thanks."
"The twins are lovely. They look just like Bella, they do."
"Yeah, they do," I grin, kissing the top of my daughter's head.
"Where's Bella?" Rose asks.
"She's still napping. It was a...long plane ride."
"Yes, I remember how long the flight is," she smiles.
You have no idea how long that flight can be, I want to say. But I don't.
Cue awkward silence.
"So…how are things as Governor going?"
"Pretty good, thanks. It took a few months to learn the ropes, but I've got a good handle on it now."
"I'm sure you do. Bella always says how good you are at what you do."
I snort, looking down at my feet.
"He's doing good. He's doing really good."
Another thing I don't say: that since Em started dating Victoria, he's the happiest I've ever seen him. There was a time when I would've probably gloated over that information, when hurting Rose would've been something to look forward to.
But while I stand there with her, I realize something I hadn't realized until just now:
There was a time when I only stomached Rose because of her relationship with my wife and my best friend, but something's changed in the past few months. I'm not even sure what it is, but that anger, that bitterness and resentment I once felt towards her is…gone.
I'm not angry at Rose anymore.
"Good," she smiles sincerely. "That's quite good."
"And how are you doing, Rose?"
She looks startled that I've asked and I feel a slight twinge of guilt. Was I that much of an asshole to her?
"I'm…okay, thanks for asking. I…" – she swallows thickly – "Edward, look I know that you and I have had plenty of awkwardness between us-"
"Rose, let's not-"
She puts a palm up towards me, "Please let me just say this. I've needed to say it for so long now, but the time never seemed right, and I've realized there will probably never be a right time for it, but I'm truly sorry-"
"I should've just told you that Bella was pregnant. That's all there is to it. The rest would've been up to you one way or another."
I close my eyes momentarily, releasing a long gust of air through my nostrils.
"Thank you," I finally respond, "but I suppose I can see why you would've been wary of me when I came back."
"It was still no excuse for keeping something so huge from you…" – her voice breaks – "and from Bella. But I suppose we've all learned lessons in the past few years, haven't we? And now we have to live with the consequences of our actions."
"Yeah," I nod. "Yes, we do."
The past few years flash through my mind:
Bella's sudden appearance at that fateful fundraiser and how we messed things up in that bathroom.
The shock and disbelief in Bella's eyes on the day I informed her that I had come back for her.
The shock and disbelief in my own mind on the day when I found out I had a daughter.
The fierce love and devotion I felt the second Elizabeth stood before me.
The anger and betrayal I felt when I found out that my father had kept so much from me.
The joy and hope on the day when Bella allowed me back into her and our daughter's lives.
The elation both Bella and I felt on the day we married.
The wariness at allowing my father back into our lives.
The joy and relief on the day our twins were born.
And today – today is the day when we put all past grudges behind us because in the end, we're all a family. And no, we're not perfect. This life isn't perfect. It never will be. There are days when the stress of family and three kids combined with running a state is almost overwhelming, days when Bella and I argue and disagree, but when I hold my children, when I hold my wife, it's all worth it; every joy, pain, hurt, anger and betrayal is worth what I've been given in the end.
It's been a long and hard road, but Rose is right. We've learned lessons, and in the end we can't dwell on what may have been, but rather on what is.
I look over at my eldest daughter. She's holding her brother's small hand while he takes shaky steps around the pond, reaching out and trying to grab the fish. Elizabeth gently pulls him away.
There are years with her that I'll never get back. One small shift in how things happened, one word from Rose or from my father, or Aro Martin, or even Bella may have changed so much. But I have no idea what road that would've put us on, and all I do know right now is that finding Elizabeth will always be the moment that defined the rest of my existence. If things hadn't happened the way they did, I have no idea what sort of man I'd be right now, what sort of father.
I turn back to Rose. She's watching me carefully. Slowly, I reach out and take her hand while silent tears stream down her face.
"Over the past few months, I've learned a lot about everything that Bella went through without me, things she experienced during Ellie's first months, and…despite how we got there, despite the choices we all made that led to that, I want to thank you for being with her through it all. I can now truly imagine how hectic it was," I grin.
Rose chuckles. "It was hectic, but I'm glad we all are where we are now. I'm glad that she and the children have you."
"So am I."
Bella emerges from the house then, and seeing her old friend, she hugs her tightly.
"Did you have a good nap?" I ask my wife.
"Yes," she smiles. "Thanks for letting me sleep a bit longer." She gets on her tiptoes and gives me a soft kiss. "I love you, Edward," she whispers.
"I love you too."
And then she and Rose walk off together to catch up.
By the pond, Renee and Elizabeth point out the different fish to Charlie, who looks on in awe.
"Can you say "fish?" I hear Ellie ask.
"Good job!" Ellie applauds.
I turn my gaze to mini-Bella, happily in my arms.
"How about you, Wren? Do you want to go see the fish?"
Wren claps her hands excitedly. "Fiii, Dada. Fiii."
My heart swells with pride.
Carefully, I lower Wren to the grass and take her hand while she takes her first, careful steps towards the pond and towards the rest of our family…
Towards our Legacy.
A/N: And we're done. :)
It's such a bittersweet feeling to hit complete on this. I can't even express how much I've enjoyed having you guys with me as I took one last little romp with this family, as well as a trip down memory lane through our own pregnancies and births. :) Edward channeled my own hubby in a lot of places throughout this story. :) So yeah...thank you SO much! I truly hope you enjoyed it! Can you believe I'd intended ALL this to be a one-shot outtake? LOL!
Many of you have asked for another outtake with this family, another continuation or a glimpse into Edward's years as POTUS. The only thing I can say is that right now, I have no plans to do any more outtakes on this family. Just as it's time for them to move on, I think it's time for me to move on from them too...:)
As for what's coming up…
First, I've got an entry to a contest (can't say what entry or which contest, LOL) that I'll be posting to my account once the contest ends. So if you've got me on Author/Story alert, you should be notified when that posts.
Second, those of you on my fb page know that I have a new story in the works based on a "Constructionward" and a "Dancerella." I'd originally wanted to try to rush that out by the end of this month, beginning of next, but you know what, Guys? Let's not rush. The holidays are here. I'll be busy. I'm sure you all will be busy. I don't want to promise something and then feel guilty for not meeting my own self-imposed deadline (as occurred with this epi), so let's just say we'll see the new story early in the new year. :)
Thanks so much for your wonderful reviews. I read and appreciated every single one even when I couldn't respond to all of them. You have no idea how much I love hearing from you guys, especially when you share your own wonderful stories with me.
And a special thanks to Ceci Lolypowski and FallingSnow Winter for the wonderful banners, pics and manips they both created for this story. You can get a look at them on my fb page if you haven't seen them. They're truly talented ladies. 3
And…well…yeah, hit me up on Twitter: PattyRosa817 or:
Link to 'Stories by Pattyrose' is on my profile page.