AN: This is the end. Thank you for reading.
Deep Dog Walking Thoughts
Sometimes a change in location is good. It can spur you to be more aware of your surroundings. That change can help you discover the best possible version of yourself as you experience new things.
Change can also help your dog attempt to attack people on bicycles. Not the best possible version of Clementine, but it did make me smile.
Of course, when Mike Newton is on the bicycle wearing an ill-fitting, neon spandex ensemble, it is hilarious.
Edward and I decided to walk downtown with our highly strung pooch in order to help curb Clementine's need to jump on unsuspecting passerby's. We had started watching old episodes of that Dog Whisperer guy to become the leaders of our small pack. It wasn't working out according to plan. She almost took down poor Norma Molina who was shuffling nearby with her walker. It was highly embarrassing.
However, I decided to give her a pass when she started barking viscously at Mike who zoomed by on his expensive bike on the sidewalk. It startled the pretentious, devious jerk and he crashed into a fire hydrant and fell into the sidewalk in a weeping heap.
He deserved it for so many reasons. Messing with my store and my life came to my mind first. There was also the fact that he was an ass who rode his bike on the sidewalk.
"That is the best thing I've seen all day," Edward announced as he glanced at Mike. We continued to walk down the street.
I stopped to glare at him. "I thought seeing me naked was the best thing that you saw today."
"True." He kissed my head. "Newton bleeding in the street is the second best thing."
"That's better." I held his hand tightly and we continued on our way.
It was a lovely walk. At least until Clementine tried to hump Jacob's leg again.
"Do you think your dog is going to marry Jake Black?" Alice asked. She was scribbling on a napkin where we were hiding upstairs from Jasper and Edward. My man had an awfully big mouth with his new buddies. Esme was covering the bookstore with Charlie downstairs. They were probably sneaking kisses.
Carlisle Cullen was out of her life for good and hopefully on his way to prison. It seemed that the not so good doctor had quite the list of misdeeds. Not only did he assault me, but he also had swindled money from patients and helped James break laws with unsavory business dealings. Not to mention that mess with Heidi.
No, he didn't kill her. That was still one of those horrible twists of fate. An accident that had no rhyme or reason. The drugs in her system? That was all Carlisle's doing. He angrily admitted his wrong doings in the small jail cell. Dr. Douche was trying to bribe her to continue their illicit affair with the prescription drugs she used to get high. When Heidi died, Carlisle was heartbroken and he decided to punish Edward. Heidi had chosen to try to make amends with Edward, but it was too late. Their marriage was in shambles and she used the drugs to numb herself from the realization of how her mistakes had ruined everything. That was her final mistake that led to her demise.
"It's been three minutes, Al. Stop trying to avoid the subject," I told her with a grimace. The idea of my poor dog and her obsession with Jacob made me ill. "Go check the test."
I looked down at her napkin scribbles. It was a jumble of baby carriage, rattles, and bottles. There were a few skulls drawn, but it wouldn't be an Alice Brandon Whitlock scribble without the skulls.
"Isn't it enough that I had to pee on a stick? There's nothing in this belly! Look! Completely flat like a pancake!" She lifted up her shirt to expose her stomach.
I headed to the bathroom. "You possibly have a zygote in your uterus, Chicken Little. You wouldn't be showing yet."
"Don't look!" She screamed almost loud enough to break my eardrums.
I ignored her and looked down at the little plastic stick. There was a plus sign. Alice was going to be hysterical.
"Jasper is going to be an adorable daddy," I pointed out.
That girl could wail.
"You will be a great mom, Al!" I tried to console her.
"I will leave the kid in a shopping cart!"
She continued to blubber. "I'll feed it gummy bears all day long."
"I won't let you!"
The door swung open. Jasper, followed by Edward, rushed in and headed directly to his love. "Ali, my sweet amore! What's wrong?"
More blubbering from Alice.
Edward gave me a sheepish look. "Sorry, I tried to keep him out."
I had given Edward a task and that was to keep Jasper busy. I had suggested yoga. Jasper always wanted to be extremely flexible for Alice.
"Good thing that you're cute." I rubbed his crazy red hair. "What happened to doing the downward dog?"
He winked at me, as Alice continued to cry and Jasper rocked her. "I only like to downward dog with you."
"We will revisit that idea later, mister," I pulled Edward to me and wrapped my arms around his waist. "Why are the two of you here?"
"It was the oddest thing. Jasper was mediating upside down near the lava rock pit and all of a sudden his eyes rolled into the back of his head. I was certain that he was having a seizure. Instead, he cried out that Alice needed him." Edward shrugged. "Maybe he's psychic?"
I observed the way that Jasper soothingly spoke to Alice. The way his fingers stroked her back. She nuzzled her head into his neck. Her panic subsided with his words and his touch.
My fingers laced with Edward's. "The love between them created the connection that links them. The same way that our love links us."
"You are poetic in your words, my Bella." He kissed our linked hands.
"Only because of you."
Two months later, the story of Alice's pregnancy trumped that of James and Carlisle's incarcerations. The many crimes the duo perpetrated against the citizens of the town like money laundering and insurance fraud was somewhat forgotten by the excitement of a new addition to the Forks family. The people in Forks loved babies.
"Do you think it will be too soon to get down on one knee the minute the divorce is final, kiddo?" My dad asked as we sat on the worn folding chairs in his backyard. The beers were frosty, but the conversation warmed me from the inside out. If Dad finally found his happy place, then so did I.
The weather was perfect on this warm day. The birds were singing in the trees and a light breeze felt lovely on my face. The smell of hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill filled the air as Edward and his mother talked softly next to the flames. Our loved ones started an impromptu tee-ball game in the yard with the little ones.
The smile on my face could not be contained, until Dad added, "That will make Edward your brother."
"Father, have you gone insane?"
"Esme and I think the two of you need matching sibling tee-shirts." Dad started chuckling.
I tossed a spider on him that he batted away. "You're a twisted old man."
His mustache twitched. "Didn't you always want a big brother?"
"Not one that I'm having nightly sexual relations with." I gave him a wink.
Dad covered his face and let out a muffled scream. "I'll never get that image out of my head!"
"Good. It serves you right." I took a sip of beer. "I'll be marrying Edward first."
"Nah. I want to make an honest woman out of Es." He wiggled his eyebrows. "Your future Mama curls my toes."
"Stop talking about my future mother-in-law like that." That thought was nauseating. Then it occurred to me. "Want to make a bet?"
Dad looked excited. He loved bets. "Who will get down the aisle first?"
"Of course! I bet you a case of beer. I want the good kind of beer, you cheapskate."
He held out his hand. "It's a bet!"
I noticed Edward looking at us. His face was beautiful in his happiness. "Edward? Marry me?"
"When?" He looked excited.
"I love you, Bella Swan." He came over and kissed me. He twisted a flower around my ring finger. "I'll get you a better ring later."
My dad scowled us. "Es, you want to get hitched?"
She just laughed at him.
"Damn it," he muttered. "Why must I always lose to you? I guess I'll buy you some Sam Adams."
Edward gave us a quizzical look. "This was a bet?"
"Partly, but this is also so we will be married before our parents. I don't want to be your sister before getting hitched." I kissed his palm. "God, that sounds so weird."
"Really weird." He sat next to us on the grass. "That wasn't the most romantic proposal. I was planning a moonlight dinner under the stars when I proposed. I guess this works too. But you are sharing the beer with me, darling."
One Year Later
The wedding of Charles Swan and Esme Platt was a floral spectacle of large bouquets of roses and lilies in large terra cotta planters. The ends of every pew had hanging baskets of white daisies. Pink petals were scattered over the floor of the Forks Congregational Church. The pollen count was so high that all the guests, including me, were sneezing through the whole event.
I thought that the reception would be toned down a bit, but the Public Hall was looked like a floral garden threw up with the random assortment of blooms in an array of hues. Every table was decorated with large baskets of hydrangeas. Jane was sneezing loudly as she directed her staff to put bread on the tables. My poor friend's eyes were red from her flower allergy. Alec followed her around with a box of tissues. That was almost more romantic than the wedding.
My father had stated that the theme of the wedding was an english garden motif. All of these flowers were his idea. Once Esme's divorce was finalized and Dr. Douche and James were both standing trial, my father went wild with wedding planning. I think this was the wedding he was never allowed to have with my mom. Now that he was truly in love, Dad wanted to make a memory to remember.
However, the aqua chiffon dress I was forced to wear was not a good fit. It would be more fitting for a toddler flower girl. The princess waist and puffy sleeves were what my nightmares were made of. If my father's eyes didn't get all misty when he looked at me, I would have refused to wear the dress. I had a clean pair of jeans that would work great to perform my role as Best Daughter. Dad lucked out and now I looked like an eighties prom queen. I'm a saint.
"Nice sneeze during the vows," Kate teased causing Garrett to laugh. We sat at a table watching as my dad and Esme kissed. The crowd kept tapping their glasses with various silverware to get the couple to lip lock. The elderly ladies from the knitting group found it hilarious.
I shrugged. "I wasn't the only one. My poor Edward had a coughing fit when Sue Clearwater sang that hymn."
"I think I inhaled too much pollen from those roses," Edward complained. He buried his head into my neck. "You look so beautiful."
"Mr. Cullen, the fake satin might be causing a rash but you are quite the vision." I squeezed his knee. That man looked like a model in a suit. He looked even better out of it.
Jane let out a loud sneeze. Alec gave her another tissue. "Sorry!"
"You two are perfect together," Jasper announced. He carried little Caravaggio in a Baby Bjorn. "I wish to paint your portrait."
Poor Car. I see a name change in his future when he gets old enough.
Alice rolled her eyes. "Don't get any ideas, husband. I'm closed for business. No more babies. The only thing I want is this."
She held up a glass of wine and stared at the ruby liquid. Alice had been waiting to drink wine again and tonight she could finally enjoy her mommy juice.
"Did you hear anything about Emmett?" Garrett asked. "I know all the McCarty's land was up for auction this weekend."
"Yeah, I heard. The Cheney family bought all of it. Newton cried like a baby." I smiled at the thought of Angela and Ben starting their lives together. They were good people and would bring back the former glory of the once beautiful McCarty lands. Newton thought he could get the land and sell it to developers, but when the auction happened it was discovered that Mike was bankrupt. I guess that's what happens when you sell shoddy camping gear. I hope Mikey likes working at the gas station. "I heard that Emmett joined the army."
His mother told me in the freezer aisle of the grocery store between the popsicles and the frozen dinners about Emmett's new career. She slobbered all over my new shirt.
Edward snorted. "That guy won't last a week."
Maybe he wouldn't last in the service or perhaps he would finally grow up and find the correct way to function in society. Emmett never became an adult and hopefully he would get the discipline needed to find his true potential. I wished him no ill will, but I certainly didn't need him in my life any longer.
Emmett better figure it out because there was nothing left for him in this town. He didn't even have Rosalie. She had gotten herself hitched to an octogenarian who had money in the stock market. I've seen him. Old Mr. Jones looks like the Crypt Keeper. They say that love is blind. I say love is blind when the paycheck is big enough and the girl is Rosalie.
"I have a little speech that I've prepared about my new bride and this new family of ours," my father stated as he stood up with a microphone. "Esme, you came into the life of this once bachelor and made him see there is more to life than the one he was living. I love fishing and watching baseball, but I love you more."
Alice whispered loudly. "That man is a goddamned poet."
I threw a roll at her head.
My dad continued, "I only hope that my new son, Edward and my Bella can experience the same love that trumps bass fishing and dreams of the Mariners going to the World Series. Oh Bella, you owe your daddy some beer."
"I'll marry her, Chief!" Jacob interrupted. I turned toward him and the oaf gave me a jaunty grin. He was wearing a Metallica tee to a wedding. That guy shouldn't be allowed in public.
Without thinking I pulled my necklace from under my dress. Three rings hung from it. There was my sparkly engagement ring and two wedding bands. One of those rings belonged to me and one for Edward. "Don't do me any favors, Jake. I'm already married."
"Damn!" Jake exclaimed, before turning his attention to Emily and Leah. I, obviously, was very easy to get over.
There was a collective gasp from the crowd and my father turned purple. He sputtered, "What . . . You . . . Edward . . ."
"Justice of the Peace, Dad," I admitted. I placed Edward's ring back on his finger where it belonged. Mine quickly followed. My finger felt naked without them. "It was on a whim."
It was a whim indeed. We woke up one morning, naked and laughing. Edward kept tickling me and the glow from the morning lit his body making him look like Apollo.
I placed my hands on his face. "You are my everything, Edward Cullen."
His hands roamed my skin. The digits of his fingers caressed the curves of my body, making me tremble.
One kiss. Two kisses. Three kisses.
Entering and moving so very slowly over me with his green eyes staring into mine. "I need."
Kissing my nose. "You have a button nose. I adore it."
Pushing a little harder, as a moan escaped my lips. "Nose flattery will get you everything."
"Will you wear my ring?" A kiss to the forehead and his fingers gripping my hips.
"I—" A collective noise of satisfaction escaped us both. "I'm wearing it now."
Last night was the proposal he dreamed of under the stars. I didn't hesitate to accept. There was love making on a blanket. The moon made us shine.
"The other rings. The bands that will join us together. I don't want to wait." He moved faster, as he pushed into me forcibly and brought me to the edge. "Please."
"Today?" I asked before nibbling his ear.
"Today. Oh baby, today." Edward was so very close.
"I want to be Isabella Cullen today." I placed a kiss on his clavicle and he came undone.
Alice and Jasper were happy to be our witnesses. It was perfect.
It was perfect until I saw my dad's face. He was going to kill me.
That was until he started laughing. Loudly and boisterously, his guffaws filled the hall.
"That's my girl! You're always doing the unexpected." Dad held Esme tightly as she cried.
She blew her nose in a napkin and beamed at us. "I'm so happy! I still want you two to have a wedding."
"We will, Mom," Edward reassured her. "We just want time to plan the perfect event for us."
"I just want a party." I grinned up at my husband. "Dad, is providing the beer."
"Kid, you are getting Vitamin R," Dad stated. I crinkled up my nose. That swill was rank. "Wait . . . Are you pregnant?"
"No! Just in love with Edward!"
I enjoyed watching Car, but I also liked giving him back to his parents. Someday Edward and I would get started on our own booger eaters, but now I just wanted to enjoy being with him.
"Good, I'm not old enough to be a grandfather." My dad winked at me and took Esme into his arms for a passionate kiss.
I watched my dad experience his true love with a smile. Edward linked our fingers. "Come out and get some air with me. Let our parents have some semblance of privacy."
All the guests were gawking, but Dad and Esme were in their happy bubble.
We slowly wandered out of the building and to the oak tree. Someone had strung twinkling Christmas lights on it that made the tree look magical. I imagined fairies and elves hiding among the branches. Edward gently pressed me against the trunk.
"I finally admitted to myself that I was falling in love with you under this tree, Bella." Edward stroked my waist.
"You are an eternal romantic." Oh how I loved him. "You fought it. This attraction between us."
His face was forlorn. "I was a fool."
"You redeemed yourself brilliantly, my love," I stated. I kissed him. "You still taste like peppermints."
"You still taste like berries." He kissed my berry lips. I never knew that he thought that. I decided not to point out that it was my lip gloss and his addiction to Altoids that created those tastes. The sentiments were more beautiful without adding the origins of our flavors.
Kisses under the twinkling lights and the bright stars.
Edward moved away slightly and spoke into my lips. "I can see us doing this when we're old and gray."
With his words, I thought about our future. The good and the bad, along with the sickness and the health.
The answer I gave him was my truth.
"I can see us doing this forever, because this love between us is timeless. The spirit of us will always remain here loving as the world turns on.