Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended.
I am going to take a moment and thank some very special people if you don't mind. This has been a hell of a long ride so indulge me, please?
Amanda, Laurel, Ness, Becky, Jen, Mary, and Bev…my Pea Pod. I have no words to tell you what you all have meant to me and how much your support and encouragement have helped me day in and day out, especially on those days I didn't feel like writing or was positive every word I wrote was terrible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart…and I love each of you more than words can say.
To all of you who have been with me from the beginning. To all of you who have read and reviewed every chapter or those of you who have read and didn't review at all…THANK YOU! Reviews are nice, but knowing that you are reading and enjoying the story I am writing, means even more to me than all the reviews in the world. I had a story to tell and that anyone liked it enough to read it still boggles my mind. That so many of you have enjoyed it…well, it's been a life changing thing for me.
So…without any further fanfare, here is the last regular chapter of The Path We Choose.
Be sure to check out the outtake/futuretake and new story information at the bottom.
THANK YOU AGAIN FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT! I LOVE YOU ALL!
LEMON ALERT…(Come on, you had to know I'd leave you with one!)
~Oh and…tissue warning, too. Just saying!~
After Christmas-End of February~
"Baby, do you have a second?" Edward asked in the tone of voice that let me know he really needed to talk to me.
I put down the cookbook I was currently perusing for new recipes and looked at him. The wrinkle between his eyebrows was extremely pronounced. His usually bright green eyes were worried and he was chewing on the inside of his cheek as well.
We were sitting in the living room in front of the fireplace, listening to some soft music. Maddie and Masen were downstairs in the game room. From the tone of his voice and the way he was nervously rubbing the tops of his thighs with his hands, I knew whatever he had to tell me wasn't good.
"What's wrong?" I asked as I pulled my feet beneath my legs and pulled the blanket tighter around me, as if to protect me from whatever he needed to tell me.
Edward blew out a nervous breath and ran his fingers through his hair the way he always did when he was uncomfortable about something. He twisted his wedding ring around his finger with his right hand. It was a habit he'd started as soon as we'd gotten married. I couldn't lie, I was pretty much in love with the fact he did that.
He raised his eyes to mine and then began hesitantly. "I spoke with Felix while you were downstairs with the kids. He's spoken with Lauren."
I sucked in a deep breath even though we'd all known this was coming.
Shortly after we'd returned from our trip after Christmas and had gotten the move to Lake George done, we'd started to get the paperwork ready for me to be able to adopt Maddie and Masen. While we all knew it was merely a formality, it was something Edward, Maddie, Masen, along with every other member of our family wanted to happen. Mainly it was to give both kids the security of knowing that nothing could take them away from me. In a very surprising, but welcome talk over snacks after school one day, Maddie broached the subject of Lauren with me.
Maddie and Masen came racing out of their new school and climbed excitedly into the backseat of my new car, an Audi Q7, bursting at the seams to tell me all the important goings on at Lake George Elementary School. I laughed at the both of them. I was so relieved the transition to their new school had gone off without a hitch, just like Edward assured me it would. They'd made friends instantly and Masen was already asking about baseball sign-ups. Maddie was a little more hesitant to start soccer someplace new. She missed Nolan and Coach Scott and I had already seriously begun to think about volunteering with the local youth league. I needed something to do, though I was thoroughly enjoying married and family life.
It truly was everything I'd hoped it would be…and more. I wasn't sure what kind of statement it made about me that I enjoyed making my family breakfast every morning or that I got practically giddy with joy going to the market and buying the ingredients I needed for homemade cookies and for dinner. To be honest, I didn't really give a shit what it said about me. Esme Cullen had done it for over thirty years and she was the most amazing woman I knew. If I was anything like her, I was totally ahead of the game in my opinion.
We got home shortly after three o'clock. After the kids set their backpacks by the dining room table so they could do their homework after snacks, they rushed to the island in the kitchen where we had our everyday after school snack so they could tell me all about their day. Of course, I had to sit through the same litany at dinner when Edward had his turn, but I never once complained.
I'd made them turkey pinwheels and sliced some apples and after pouring them each a glass of milk, we all sat down. Apparently they were starting on a new project in Art class that involved making something for Valentine's Day, which was just around the corner. Another first for Edward and me…and I couldn't help but smile at that. There had been a lot of those lately!
It was during our snack time that Maddie brought up the subject of Lauren with me. It wasn't the first time she'd done it, but it was certainly unexpected.
"Mommy, now that you and Daddy are married and stuff and you're name is Cullen like ours, does that mean you're our only mom now?" she'd asked.
I choked on my apple juice and I was sure I looked like I'd swallowed a bug or something as I looked at her wild-eyed. I didn't have any idea how to answer her. I knew what I wanted to tell her of course, but whether that was the right thing to tell her I wasn't sure.
"Baby, what do you mean?" I asked, assuming if I could figure out what had brought her question on, it might help me decide how best to answer her.
Edward and I were both adamant about always being open and honest with Maddie and Masen, even when the questions were difficult or painful. Ever since the wedding and the presents I'd given to each of them, they each had had numerous questions about both Charlie and Renée. Renée's actions toward me weren't anything I really wanted to discuss with them, and certainly not at this age, so I tried to keep my explanations as vague as I could, while still answering their questions honestly.
Masen was fascinated with his Grandpa Charlie. I supposed it had a lot to do with his profession and his love of baseball. I was so grateful to Jasper for spending so much time with Masen telling him numerous stories. Seth loved Charlie, but being sentimental really wasn't his thing.
Maddie spun around on her stool and said, "Well, my new friend, Taylor, was telling me how she had a mom and a mommy, just like me, but that once her daddy and her mommy got married, she was her only mommy now. I want you to be our only mommy from now on."
I took a deep breath and said, "Maddie, honey, you know that I'm not ever going anywhere and that I'll always love you and Masen. I'll always be your mommy, always. Now, why don't you tell me what's going on in that pretty little head of yours, huh?"
"Well Taylor told me she got adopted and that meant her mommy was really and truly her mommy. Can you do that?" she asked me and I couldn't help the tears that sprung in my eyes.
To hear her ask me that and to see Masen nodding his head in enthusiastic agreement meant more to me than I would ever be able to express to them. Right there, at that moment, was something I would never forget. Knowing that they wanted so much to belong to me was mind-boggling and more than a bit overwhelming.
"Is that really something you would like to happen? You know once we did that, it couldn't ever be undone," I told them both, practically forcing out the words as the thought of them changing their mind somewhere down the road flitted into my mind.
I looked back and forth between the two and they were both nodding their heads up and down like bobble heads and I couldn't help but let out a small chuckle at them.
They sure knew how to make my day, hell my year…well, except for that whole meeting and marrying Edward thing that had just happened!
Because this was already a subject that Edward and I had discussed and decided on, I didn't think he would mind me opening the door to the conversation. I wouldn't tell them anything that Edward would want to be there for, but I could certainly lay the groundwork for the conversation it looked like we had to have with our two children.
Taking a deep breath, I forged ahead. "Well, Maddie, like Taylor and her mom and dad, Daddy and I would do the same thing. Have you ever heard the word adopted before?" I asked and when they each nodded their heads at me I continued. "That is what I would do with the both of you. We would have to go see a judge and then once that was done, you both would be my adopted children. Does that make sense?" I asked, wondering if I was making any sense whatsoever.
"Once we got adopted by you, does that mean that you'd always be our mommy, no matter what?" Masen asked quietly as he pushed his food around on his plate.
"It would," I answered back.
Maddie clapped her hands, startling poor Rufus who was patiently waiting for any wayward food that would just happen to fall in his direction. "Yes! That is what I want! I want to get adopted," she stated unequivocally and looked at Masen.
For a few minutes they had one of their silent conversations and then I finally saw a brilliant smile spread across Masen's face as well. "That is what I want, too. Can we do it now?" he asked and I couldn't help the few tears that spilled out of the corner of my eyes.
"We'll talk to Daddy when he gets home from the office, okay? This is a family decision and if we all want to do this, it will take some time to get done," I said and then laughed when they each pouted and crossed their arms at that. "Guys, it'll happen, I promise. But, you know that doesn't matter to me. You two are mine and I'm yours. We don't need a piece of paper to make it any more true, you know."
End of Flashback~
"Bella," Edward said softly, but it was loud enough to bring me back to the present. I looked at him and his eyes were just as worried as they were a few moments ago and I didn't want to see that. I scooted closer to him and then smiled when he lifted me from beside him and set me on his lap. I often wondered if he would still do that when we were Carlisle and Esme's age…or even older. Somehow I had a feeling he would.
He ran his fingers through my hair for a bit; it was what he usually did when he was trying to get his thoughts together. I never complained and honestly, if he ever stopped doing it, it would break my heart.
"You know she can't do anything, right?" he asked me and I nodded my head while I played with his fingers.
"I do," I said on a sigh. "Doesn't mean she won't try to do something."
Edward squeezed his arms around me and kissed the top of my head. "She can try all she wants, Bella, but it won't get her anywhere. Lauren has no leg to stand on here. None. Felix made sure eight years ago and he and Ali have gone over everything with a fine-toothed comb. Pop even had the lawyers at the Foundation double-check as well. We didn't miss anything; there isn't a loophole she can wriggle through. She just wants to try one last-ditch effort to get whatever she can from me and we all know that has a snowball's chance in hell of working. So, stop worrying that gorgeous head of yours about it and concentrate on your very needy husband," he growled as he nipped at my ear.
I giggled and shifted and was not the least surprised when his chest rumbled when my ass rubbed against him. I turned and straddled his waist and bent my forehead against his and whispered, "You're always needy, Edward."
I lowered my lips to his and gasped when his hands cupped my ass and he moved me toward him. I sucked his tongue into my mouth and my fingers slipped into his hair. Our tongues swirled and dipped tortuously, and I could feel the result of our deepening kisses against my stomach. I nibbled on his bottom lip until it was his turn to do the same to mine. He pulled his mouth away from mine and found his…and well mine, too…favorite spot behind my ear and nipped at the skin there. "I missed you today, Angel," he breathed out in between licks and sucks and I could do nothing but melt against his chest.
When I was finally able to speak, because Edward kissing and licking me usually turned me quite incoherent, I said, "Well, that's nice to hear, but somehow I doubt you had much time to miss me."
He sort of half groaned, half chuckled in my ear and I couldn't help but giggle at him. My poor husband seemed to have quite the following in Lake George since he had opened up his practice a few weeks ago.
We got things settled up here pretty quick once we got back from our surprise trip to Colorado to go skiing that Edward had taken us on after Christmas. Emmett pouted mightily when he found out where we were going and the rest weren't any better, but damn. It was a trip for the four of us for cripe's sake! You'd think they would have all understood, and they did…eventually.
I was pretty sure Esme, Sue, and Diane had quite a bit to do with that.
It wasn't that we didn't love spending time with them all, because we did. It wasn't as if we weren't going to miss them all terribly when we moved, because we did. But, that was our first trip as a family and neither me nor Edward wanted anyone else tagging along with us... Emmett pout or not. We'd had an amazing time and it was a trip I would never forget.
By the time we'd gotten back, it had been a mad dash to get up to Lake George and get the kids ready to start school. Before we'd left, we'd made all the arrangements necessary to get them enrolled in their new school and had their records transferred. Edward had somehow, with the help and guidance of Carlisle, managed to find a practice to open. Miraculously, one of the local pediatricians was looking to retire and once he'd found out about our family moving here permanently, had contacted Edward about taking over his practice for him.
He'd heard of Edward and Carlisle as well as the Foundation of course, and was quite persuasive in his pursuit of Edward. Dr. Sanders was a really sweet old man. He was looking forward to retiring and was thrilled to leave his patients in Edward's very capable care. I was thrilled that his receptionist, who reminded me of Maggie, was staying. I was a bit leery of the nurse, Charlotte, until I met her husband Peter and their adorable children Wyatt and Emily. Wyatt and Emily were in school with Maddie and Masen, and they had all become fast friends.
One day I wanted to surprise Edward and brought him lunch, only to enter the office and find the waiting room full of, and I was kidding you not, almost every single mom in Lake George. Wall to wall women and if it wouldn't have so blatantly obvious what they were all doing there, I might have laughed. As it was, I smiled sweetly at them all, flashing them, accidentally on purpose, my wedding ring and walked up to Carol who rolled her eyes at me.
"Go on back, Bella. You know Dr. Cullen is never too busy for a visit from his wife," she said, plenty loud enough for the entire waiting room to have heard her.
I didn't miss the mutters or the sounds of disappointment that followed me as I went through the door to the back of the office in search of my husband.
I knocked on the door to his office and poked my head in. I giggled when he looked up with a disgusted look on his face which quickly morphed into one of relief when he saw it was me. "Bella," he sighed and sat back in his chair, opening his arms.
After setting his lunch on his desk, I sat down on his legs and gave him a quick kiss on his cheek. "What's the matter, husband of mine?" I asked with a chuckle. I couldn't help it. Edward looked so uncomfortable it was funny.
He snorted at me and nuzzled my cheek with his nose before he placed a few light kisses on it. "Did you see all those women out there?" he asked in a voice that was a mixture of terror and humor.
I ran my fingers through his hair and laid my head on his shoulder for a second before I told him, "I did. And just so you know, if any of them didn't know already, Carol made plenty sure they knew you were married. I could feel the knives in my back as I walked back here."
"Bella," Edward groaned and I couldn't help but grin at him.
I reached up and wrapped my arms around his neck and took a few moments to thoroughly kiss up and down his jaw and the side of his neck. "Edward, you're a hot doctor. Any woman in their right mind would throw themselves at you. They'd be idiots not to," I told him as I curled my tongue around his earlobe. "They'd all go fucking nuts if they knew how talented your hands really were."
"Damn, baby," he groaned as I ran my fingernails over his scalp just like he liked.
I pulled his head back down to mine again and kissed him once more, because well, he was my husband and I could kiss him any damn time I wanted to. Those poor women didn't know half of what they were missing out on.
We finally got around to eating lunch and I walked back out to the waiting room. I turned back around to my husband, and in a totally uncharacteristic move of marking my territory and staking my claim, I yelled back at him, "See you at home for dinner, sweetheart," and winked at Carol as I made my way back out of the office.
That would show those women whose man he was.
I chuckled and Edward raised an eyebrow at me and I rolled my eyes at him. "I was just thinking of one of your first days here and I surprised you with lunch at the office. If those women don't back the hell off and stop bringing their kids in for every runny nose and scraped knee, I'm gonna park my ass there all day," I huffed.
I wasn't kidding…not even a tiny bit.
I think I even let out a small growl because Edward flashed me one of his drop dead sexy as hell smirks and then wiggled his eyebrows at me. "Mmmm, tiger, jealous Isabella has entered the building. I think I like it," he said huskily as he slipped his hands beneath my shirt. His thumbs traced circles over the sensitive skin of my hipbones and I couldn't help but rock against him.
"I'll give you something you'll like even more than that, Dr. Cullen," I teased as I licked up the side of his jaw.
"Maddie, Masen, time for bed!" Edward yelled out…even though to me it sounded more like a squeak.
End of March, after trip to Italy~
"Edward, Bella, thanks for coming in today," Felix said after giving us both huge hugs and me a kiss on the cheek. He showed us to our seats in front of his desk and looked back and forth between us for a second before giving us both a big smile. "Married life sure suits the two of you." He chuckled and laid his hands down on his desk.
As always, Edward's hand was in its usual spot on my lap and I gave it a squeeze. "We're very happy," I said simply and he nodded at my response.
I meant, really, why explain when those three words described it so well?
"It's as plain as day, Bella."
"Now," he went on after he cleared his throat and shifted uncharacteristically. Felix Van Allen was one of the most put-together men I'd ever met in my life and to see him fidget was a bit unnerving. "As you both know since we've started the adoption process, Lauren has contacted me to try to set up an informal meeting between her and Edward." I huffed thinking the wench really had some fucking nerve trying to talk with him without me, as if either one of us would ever in a million years agree to that.
"After adamantly and repeatedly telling her in no uncertain terms that would never happen," Felix said with a wink in my direction, "she's agreed to meet with both of you, if you are still willing to do so. Remember, you have no legal requirement to do it. She forfeited her rights; we have all the signed documentation, and the court order granting Edward full and sole custody of Maddie and Masen since birth. If you two choose to do this, which for your own peace of mind I would recommend, know that there is absolutely not one thing she can do to stop Bella from legally and permanently adopting the twins."
"You're one hundred percent positive?" I asked for the umpteenth time.
For something this important, there couldn't be any doubt, not even a minute amount. I needed Felix to be positive. I needed Edward and Alice to be positive. I needed to know, without any equivocation, that Lauren Mallory would never be able to get her hands on my children.
I heard Edward sigh next to me, only because I'd asked him almost incessantly this very question for months now but I didn't care.
I waited for Felix to answer me, my heart feeling like it had taken up permanent residence in my throat, along with the rock that currently was weighing down my stomach. "Yes, Bella. I am absolutely, one hundred and fifty thousand percent sure that by the beginning of summer Maddie and Masen Cullen will have you forever and for always as their mother."
When my chin started to quiver, Felix got up from his chair and came and squatted down in front of me. "Bella, in my line of work we're told from the very first day of law school on to never promise our clients anything…ever. But in this case you and Edward are not only my clients, but my friends as well, so this has been deeply personal for me. I would never, ever promise you something if I didn't fully believe it myself. Maddie and Masen are already your children in every way that matters, but I know how much this means to your entire family. As soon as we can get a court date on the docket, you will, in the eyes of the law, be their mother."
I took a few deep breaths before I felt like I could breathe and talk again and when I did I asked, "So, how soon can we meet her and be done with this?"
"Is tomorrow too soon for you? I can't imagine you have much time to spare anyway," he said with a grin and I shook my head.
I felt Edward's lips against the side of my head and heard him whisper softly, "See, all that worrying for nothing, Angel."
He got a much deserved eye roll for that, even though he was entirely correct.
"I can't believe you agreed to meet us on a Sunday, Felix," Edward teased his old friend who smirked back at him.
"Well, I know you two just got back from your long overdue honeymoon trip," he said and I immediately felt my eyes begin to lose focus as I was bombarded by thoughts of our amazing eight days in Italy.
It had been a magical trip, and honestly one I hadn't even recovered from. We'd only been home a week and I didn't think I'd stopped smiling yet. I sure as hell knew that my much overworked muscles from sight seeing and hot, wild, passionate honeymoon sex still hadn't recovered. I wasn't sure they ever would, not that I was going to complain…at all.
Felix graciously cleared his throat bringing me back to the present and I could feel my cheeks get warm knowing he'd caught me day dreaming. Edward obviously knew, too, because he looked positively beside himself with smugness.
"Well it's apparent it was a wonderful trip," he said knowingly and I shot Edward a warning glare when I heard him about to speak.
It was one thing for Felix to think he knew what happened; it was another for him to get confirmation of it!
"Anyway, Edward," Felix said and coughed a few times. "You said the kids were out of school tomorrow for a teacher workday and I know how you feel about them missing school, so what else could I do? Lauren will meet you both here, in the conference room at nine A.M. That way you should have plenty of time to get back home before dinner."
We made idle chit chat for the next thirty minutes finally filling him on the more listener-friendly aspects of our trip through Italy before telling him we'd see him the next morning.
I couldn't wait for the next morning to get here and be done with. While I could hazard what I was sure was an accurate guess of what Lauren really wanted, I couldn't wait to tell her exactly what I thought of her. It would be my only chance because after tomorrow, I would never see her, much less think about her again.
Maddie and Masen were at Carlisle and Esme's and that was where we were headed once we got in the back of the cab. I stared out the window and absentmindedly traced random patterns on the inside of Edward's wrist as my thoughts bounced from one thing to the next with no rhyme or reason. Talking with Felix about Italy, I couldn't help but remember the things we couldn't share with him. Then thinking about Felix, reminded me of what we'd gone to the office for in the first place and what we'd be doing tomorrow. That led to thoughts of Maddie and Masen, who of course were always in the back of my mind no matter what.
Edward chuckled beside me and when I turned to look at him, he was staring at me…which was really not that much out of the ordinary. He tended to do it a lot. I was kind of used to it by now actually.
"What?" I asked and narrowed my eyes at him when he continued to grin at me.
He picked his hand up off my leg and wrapped it around my shoulder and pulled me right up next his side and kissed the top of my head. "You should see yourself. I'm surprised smoke isn't pouring out of your ears because your brain is running so fast. Stop, Bella. Really. Enough is enough now," he told me in that tone of voice that would normally annoy me because it sounded so patronizing, but in this case, I knew I needed to take a few deep breaths and just…stop.
"She's really not worth all this, is she?" I asked a bit sheepishly, feeling pretty foolish for going on so much.
"Nope, not even a little bit," he answered immediately and bent his head down by my ear again. "Did talking to Felix about Italy turn you on as much as it did me?" he asked as he dropped his voice and I felt his nose along the side of my neck.
I shifted a bit on my seat and squeezed my legs together, knowing he knew exactly what that question and then that damnable tone of voice would do to me…and in the back of a cab no less!
"Mmmm, it seems like I wasn't the only one that remembered the time we spent hours with our mouths," he started and I turned and placed my hand over his mouth to keep him from completing that sentence.
His eyes twinkled above my hand and I felt his lips pucker and kiss my palm. "Edward, stop it," I hissed and then I felt his tongue instead of his lips.
I couldn't help but giggle at him, the man was absolutely impossible when he was in one of his moods…but I sure as hell wouldn't have had him any other way.
We got to Carlisle and Esme's and got out of the car. After receiving a scathing look from a very uptight cabbie and after visiting for a bit, we went up to our room. Well, technically it was Edward's old room, but it was where we were sleeping for the night. Since the trip was going to be so fast and Esme was going to watch the kids today and then tomorrow while we met with the she-bitch, it just made things easier to stay here than at the loft.
After baths, a bedtime story, and prayers, it was time for the kids to go to bed and Edward and I followed right behind. I was freaking exhausted, tired from the travel and even more tired of worrying about Lauren. Edward was right, enough was fucking enough, and she wasn't worth the time I'd spent thinking about her…especially when I had a sexy as hell man in bed next to me every night. If I wasn't mistaken and judging from the tent in his boxers and the wolfish grin on his face right then, I'd say he planned on keeping me more than occupied for the next hour or so.
The next morning after making sure our bag was packed and kissing every single member of our family who apparently thought we were going off to war judging from the extra long hugs, we finally made our way to Felix's office. Edward wanted to make sure we were early so that we arrived before Lauren and not the other way around.
Surprisingly, as much as I had fretted about this meeting for months now, I was as calm as could be. Knowing and believing that she could bluster and threaten and whatever else she might try to get Edward to listen to her, yet would accomplish nothing, made it easy to dismiss it all. Right now, all I wanted was to get through this meeting and then get home and be done with her forever.
"Mr. Van Allen, Ms. Mallory is here," his secretary, Alexis, said over the intercom causing Felix to stand and go to open the door for Lauren and her lawyer.
Edward and I stayed in our seats next to each other behind the conference table, facing the door. He reached over and laid his hand on the side of my face and turned me toward him. "I love you, Bella. Follow my lead from here on out, okay?" he whispered, sitting back in his chair just as the door opened and the others filed into the room.
I watched, unmoving, as Lauren's eyes immediately went to Edward. I couldn't help the internal fist pump I gave myself when I watched her lips purse and her nostrils flare when she noticed his wedding ring as he held our hands on top of the table. If the woman thought I missed the way her shoulders slumped or the way she sucked in a quick breath, she was sadly mistaken. If I wasn't so sure Lauren had more ulterior motives than I could count on one hand, I might even have felt a bit sorry for her. Because I knew she was up to something and it would hurt Edward, the twins, or both, I wasn't inclined to feel much except extreme dislike.
Felix sat down at the head of the table and looked at Edward and me before focusing on Lauren and her lawyer. "I'm sure I don't need to remind either of you that my clients are under no obligation to be here and have agreed to this meeting out of courtesy only," Felix stated evenly.
Lauren shifted in her chair nervously and quickly glanced at Al, as he had introduced himself. "Yes, thank you for the clarification," Al said snidely and then looked at Lauren who nodded quickly. "Mr. Van Allen, my client wishes to speak with Mr. Cullen and Ms. Swan," he said but was quickly and sharply interrupted by Edward, whose hand squeezed mine so hard that it wasn't until I squeezed back that he loosened his grip.
With a quick smile at me, he turned his steely, green eyes toward Al and said, "Mrs. Cullen. Bella hasn't been Swan in more than six months; a fact of which I am sure both you and your client are very well aware. If you planned on this meeting being only a minute long, you've accomplished that because this has been a colossal waste of time," Edward finished and scooted his chair back and started to stand up.
"Edward, wait. Please," Lauren cried out as Edward began to pull me from my chair. "I'm sorry," she said and glared at her attorney who didn't acknowledge the rebuke at all.
She wasn't fooling me in the least with her innocent act and thankfully from the way Edward's jaw was still tensed and his shoulders were bunched he didn't believe her either. He sat down quickly, not letting go of my hand and glared at Lauren, who smartly recoiled from the look he gave her.
"Let's get this done," Edward said in a cool voice.
"Mr. Daniels," Felix said and waited for Lauren's attorney to look at him before continuing. "As this is an informal conversation, why don't we let your client have her say and then we can be done and consider this matter closed," Felix finished and stood and handed Edward a folder before he stared at the man until he had no choice but to stand as well.
"Lauren, I don't think it's a good idea for you to do this without me," Mr. Daniels tried one last time and I couldn't stop the grin that escaped when Lauren just waved him off. He turned with a huff and hissed, "Fine, but wait until I tell Tyler," and stomped out the door.
Felix glanced at Edward and me and said, "We'll be in my office if you need me," before he walked out, shutting the door behind him.
The three of us sat in an uncomfortable silence for quite some time as we took turns staring at one another. I knew there was no way in hell I was saying anything until Lauren did, and from the way Edward sat unmoving except for his breathing, I knew he wasn't going to budge either. Lauren asked for this meeting, she could damn well start it.
Lauren looked around the room, at everything except for Edward and I and kept it up until she finally blew out a breath and straightened her shoulders and faced the two of us. "How is married life?" she asked casually and I couldn't help but snort and roll my eyes at the sheer audacity of the woman.
"Blissfully happy," Edward said quickly and then said, "I know you damned sure didn't make us travel two hundred miles to ask about the state of our marriage. What the hell do you want, Lauren?"
She tried to look shocked at the bluntness of his question but when she realized neither of us were buying what she was selling, she let her carefully constructed mask fall and her entire demeanor changed in an instant.
I was immediately ready for her, though, knowing full well she hadn't asked for this meeting to try to work out something, anything as a last-ditch effort to remain in her children's lives.
She regarded us each silently for a moment before reaching down into her bag and pulled out a manila envelope and then slid it across the table in front of us. Edward didn't move to grab the envelope; he didn't even look down at it, though from the twitch in his jaw I knew he had, maybe, expected her to do something like this. I didn't change the expression on my face even though inside I was dying to find out what was in the envelope.
"What the hell is that?" Edward asked in a steel-hard voice and Lauren grinned evilly at him.
"That, Edward, is proof that your precious Bella isn't who you think she is."
I sucked in a deep breath, ready to say something but was stopped by the miniscule shake of Edward's head, even though he didn't turn to look at me. He squeezed my hand and rubbed a few soothing circles on it and I sat back a bit in my seat to indicate to him that I would follow his lead.
I trusted Edward without question and I was positive he knew what he was doing.
"And what do you want me to do about what is inside this envelope? Pay you?" he asked in an icy voice and I could feel the rage roll off of him in waves.
"But of course. I wouldn't want to make you the laughingstock of Lake George. I'm not a total bitch you know. I could have just leaked those to the press and finished her off myself but figured this was better," Lauren said in a sickly sweet voice.
Edward's nostrils flared and he breathed in and out heavily a few times and I was shocked he was holding it together the way he was. Lauren, stupid bitch that she was, totally mistook his actions and made the mistake of giggling softly in my direction, thinking that Edward was mad at me when nothing could be further from the truth.
"How much?" Edward asked and it took everything I had inside of me not to react to his question, but I managed to keep quiet.
Lauren sat back in her seat with a look of supreme satisfaction on her ugly face. "Same as last time should be just fine," she said breezily.
Edward stared at her in a stony silence before he let go of my hand and reached for the envelope on the table and opened it. I couldn't help the squeak of disbelief that I let out when the glossy pictures that were in the envelope floated to the table.
What the hell?
Picture after picture of Jacob and me from the beach in California spilled out. I immediately connected the pictures to the man that followed us with a camera and shook my head as I tried to figure out what the hell Lauren was doing with them in the first place, and second, what the hell she thought she was going to accomplish by bringing them here today.
Edward held up a picture that was taken at the exact moment Jacob had tried to kiss me and I suppose if you didn't know what happened immediately following that moment or what preceded it, it might have looked bad. Lauren obviously thought she'd hit the mother lode from the look on her face. However, the next second Edward's loud, booming laugh filled the room and the skank didn't have any idea what the hell was going on.
"Jesus, you have got to be fucking kidding me," Edward said as he took a few deep breaths. He turned and looked at me and flashed me a smirk, and though I didn't really know what was going on, I smiled back. "Lauren, I have no idea how you even made it through med school," he said with a shake of his head.
She started to splutter and he slammed his hand down on the table, effectively shutting her the hell up. "For your damn information, though it's none of your fucking business, this," he said as he tapped his index finger against the picture of Jacob and me kissing…or more accurately, Jacob kissing me, "was Bella's bodyguard and friend, Jacob. He's known her almost her whole life and this right here," he said as he tensed his jaw again, "was unwelcome on Bella's part. If your spy, goon, or piss poor excuse of a private investigator would have hung around for another minute or two, you would have gotten some good pictures of Bella kneeing him in the balls and then me, Jasper, Seth, and Emmett kicking his ass."
Lauren gaped at him, opening and closing her mouth in rapid succession and looked at both of us with eyes that were so big I thought they would fall out of her head.
"As a matter-of-fact, Jacob and his father Billy were our very welcome guests at our wedding and hopefully will be visiting again over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. If you want to try to blackmail me, sweetheart, you're going to have to do a hell of a lot better than that. Perhaps, like this," Edward said coolly and opened his own folder and shoved a stack of papers in Lauren's direction.
I watched, stupefied as Lauren flipped through the pages and became increasingly pale with each passing moment. Her hands started to shake and her breath came in short, shallow gasps. I had no idea what she was looking at, but one glance at Edward's Cheshire grin, and I knew we had plenty to talk about later.
"What? How did you…this is…" Lauren stammered as she continued to flip through the pages as if whatever was on there would somehow change or disappear.
"You can keep those by the way, I have my own copies," Edward said icily. Lauren continued to sweep her eyes back and forth across the pages until she finally slammed the stack of papers down on the table.
"How did you find out?" she asked
Edward leaned over and kissed me quickly on the cheek before he stood up and bent over the table. "Did you really think I'd come to this meeting unprepared? You forget I've known you for almost ten years, Lauren. I'm pretty well versed in the way you operate."
Lauren continued to stare at Edward, and he smiled at her, but it held no warmth whatsoever. "You make me sick," he spat at her. "How fucking dare you think you can use Bella, my wife," he hissed as his whole body shook with rage, "as part of your sick scheme to get money out of me. How fucking dare you use our children," he motioned between he and me, "to try to intimidate me. You are a vile, disgusting person. I can't even say woman, because no woman I've ever known would ever use her children the way you have. After today, I don't ever want to see you again, do you hear me? I will fucking ruin you if you even so much as look in our direction ever again. If you think what you have right there is bad, you haven't seen the half of it. You're finished, Lauren," Edward said. He stared intensely at her for a few brief moments and then looked at me. "I'll be outside. I can't be in here any longer," he whispered hoarsely as his voice shook.
I mutely nodded my head and watched him walk out the door, a bit shocked to be left in the room alone with Lauren.
She opened her mouth to say something but I held up my hand and stopped her before one word even came from her lips. "Save your breath, Lauren. I don't know what all that means," I said as I pointed to the papers in front of her, "and frankly I don't give a shit. Any…any thoughts I had of giving you the benefit of the doubt evaporated the second those pictures saw the light of day. I mean really, what made you even think those would get you what you wanted? You must really be desperate," I said and when I saw her slump in her chair, I realized that was exactly what she was. "You know, if you even ever stopped to think about anyone but yourself for two fucking seconds, you would have realized long ago that Edward is one of the best, most forgiving, most generous people you would ever meet. If you were truly in trouble, no matter what your past entailed, the fact that you gave birth to Maddie and Masen meant he would have helped you. Instead, you tried to take him for what you could get, not even thinking about him or those two beautiful and precious children. You took what you wanted then turned your back on them. And now, you try it again? Like my husband said," I sneered, driving my point home, "you make me sick. Stay away from Edward, stay away from my children, and don't even think about coming back…ever.
"You've had your chance and you blew it. I'll leave you with one thought, one that I am positive you won't ever forget even though once I walk out this door, I promise none of us will ever think about you again. By the beginning of summer I will officially be Maddie and Masen's mother. While you may have given birth to them, that does not make you a mother, Lauren. You were nothing more than a human incubator and I am so thankful that you were too stupid to figure out just how wonderful a gift Maddie and Masen truly are. I am going to love officially being their mother, and when my children are successful and loved, I am going to enjoy knowing that it was my love and support that guided them along the way.
"They are my life and I will not let anyone, especially not you, do anything to cause them any pain at all. I have dealt with more horrific people in my life than you could ever dream of. I know the games of those that choose manipulation as a way of life instead of love and understanding and let me tell you, Lauren, under no uncertain terms, if you ever try to hurt my husband or my children again, I will end you."
I gave her one last withering look and walked out the same door my husband had just a few short moments before. As soon as the door shut behind me, I heard Lauren screech and after about half a second, I tuned her out and focused on finding my husband. Alexis pointed to the door out of the office and I knew I would find him standing outside, probably abusing his poor hair.
I peeked out of the door and like I had thought I would, found him leaning against the wall of the building with his eyes closed running his fingers through his hair. When he heard the door click behind me he turned his head in my direction and sheepishly looked at me.
Silly man, how he thought he was anything except always perfect was so ridiculous.
"Sorry, baby," he said quietly as I stepped in front of him. I allowed him to pull me next to him before I placed my fingers over his lips.
"There is nothing to apologize for. She's out of our lives now and that is all that matters."
Edward wrapped his arms tightly around me and burrowed his head against my shoulder and into the side of my neck. He stayed that way for a few minutes and I heard him take a few deep breaths and finally felt him relax against me.
"I love you," I whispered as I ran my fingers through his hair and I heard him mumble the same against the side of my neck. "What on earth did you show Lauren that freaked her out so badly?" I asked, dying to know what he, and I was positive, Alice had done.
He snorted, and on anyone else it would have sounded crass, but on Edward, well, it didn't. "Oh hell, Bella. First, I'm sorry for not telling you about it earlier. Alice started digging as soon as we talked to Felix the first time back even before the wedding. Apparently, Tyler made some really bad investments for the firm he worked at. So, in order to try to cover his losses, he started gambling and wound up owing money to the wrong people…a lot of money. As soon as Lauren let us know she wanted to talk to me, there was no doubt in my mind she was just going to try to see if she could get money out of me, no matter what she had to do to get it. I never thought she'd stoop as low as using you, though. I'm so sorry about that, Angel," he said in a pained voice.
I couldn't help but chuckle at him, even though what Lauren and Tyler were involved in was horrible and the fact that Lauren would try to exploit Edward and the kids for her own gain made me sick to my stomach. Edward picked his head up and looked at me shocked, before his face morphed into a gorgeous smile. "I don't care, Edward. It's over and she's gone. What goes around comes around, and she and Tyler will both get theirs. As long as it doesn't affect you, Maddie, or Masen, what they do no longer matters one damn bit. We tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and look what that got us. Nope," I said popping the 'p', "it's just the four of us now, and that is the way it should be."
"You bet your sweet ass, baby," Edward growled and kissed me…hard.
"Now, let's get the heck out of here, grab our kids, and go back home where we belong," I told him with a smile, knowing that in just a matter of time, Maddie and Masen would officially and forever be mine.
Beginning of June~
"Bella, you need to get up," Edward said roughly, his voice still thick with sleep.
"Nuh unh," I whined and tried to turn over so I could bury my head underneath my pillow. Why I even tried I had no idea. Edward's head was laid across my boobs, his leg thrown over mine and his right arm had my left hip in a death grip. There was no way I was moving until my husband did, and from the looks of it, he wasn't moving anytime soon.
Ass…and he was the one that told me I needed to get up!
I kept my eyes closed but reached up with one hand and ran my fingers through his soft hair and I could feel his smile, as well as his purr of satisfaction against my naked chest. We'd been married just over six months now and there wasn't one minute that had gone by that I wasn't blissfully and totally happy.
Edward could annoy me like no other, there was no doubt about that, but I knew I wasn't perfect either. It took some getting used to once we'd moved to Lake George. We spent most every night together for the months that led up to the wedding, but there were times, though they were few and far between, when we slept apart. Until my contract was up, there were times when we didn't see each other very often. Once I'd gotten out of the hospital, we were pretty inseparable, but we didn't spend every waking moment together.
The rest of the family wouldn't allow that to happen, but up at the lake, there was only us. There was no buffer. I couldn't run downstairs to see Seth when Edward was particularly annoying and he couldn't go to the gym with Emmett when I was in one of my moods. Neither of those things happened with any sort of frequency, but we weren't perfect.
Living twenty-four-seven with him, Maddie, and Masen didn't take any sort of adjustment or anything, since we'd been acting as a family unit for months by the time we'd moved, but it did take some time to get used to being the one in charge of…everything. Schedules, meals, practices, homework…I did it all. Not that I minded one tiny bit, it was just something new to get used to. There was no Esme to come take the kids for the day, there were no girls' nights when the guys were out playing basketball, there were no impromptu family get-togethers for pizza and beer…there were no Sunday dinners at Carlisle and Esme's.
We still came into the city once a month and stayed either at the loft or with Carlisle and Esme. At least once a month, someone, more often than not a few someones, came up to the lake to spend the weekend, but it wasn't the same as before. It wasn't better, it wasn't worse…it was just different.
There was the four of us, and then there were the rest of them. It was the way it was supposed to be of course, and neither Edward nor I were terribly upset by that fact either. We'd always been in our little bubble, moving to the lake just reinforced it. We were as close as ever with the rest of the family; I think I spoke with Esme and Rose more often now than I did living in the same city as them. I sure as hell knew I talked to Emmett more often; the man sent text messages like no one's business.
I took a couple of deep breaths in and out. I knew that the procedure Tanya and Dr. Hughes were going to perform today was one that was relatively routine, but I was still nervous as all get out. I thought what had my mind running a hundred miles an hour was not the fact of being worried about the surgery, but what it represented for Edward and I. Soon, really fucking soon, we'd hopefully start trying to have a baby.
All of the tests that Tanya had performed after we'd gotten back from our trip to Italy in March had all come back indicating that after the surgery to remove the excess scar tissue, there shouldn't have been any reason at all for me to have difficulty getting pregnant. When Tanya gave me and Edward that definitive news, it was as if the very last piece of the puzzle had fallen into place. I was married to, without a doubt, the best man in the world, I had the two best kids in the world, and we were really happier than most could even dream of being. Like I'd told Edward after we'd met with Tanya the first time, it almost seemed selfish to have so much, but like he had said, there was no way I would feel guilty for wanting it or for having it all, either.
"You sure do seem to have a lot on your mind for so early in the morning, wife of mine. Anything you want to talk about?" Edward asked from his perch on my chest.
He'd turned his head and his green eyes toward mine and they stared knowingly at me. I ran my fingers through his hair a few times before I said, "I'm just nervous about today is all."
"Baby," Edward said softly and shifted around so that he laid on top of me, though he kept most of his weight on his elbows. He brushed my hair back off my face and kissed the end of my nose before he placed a few very soft, but incredibly sweet kisses on my lips and then across my cheeks. "Everything will be just fine. You know I would never let anything happen to you," he said protectively and I smiled at him.
"Of course I know that, Edward, but I can't help but be nervous. Maybe I'm just nervous about spending so much time with Dr. Hughes," I teased and giggled when Edward growled at me and grabbed my hands. He lifted them both over my head and held them there while his eyes bore into mine.
"Now you listen here," he rumbled in a deep, low voice. "If that man so much as looks at you the wrong way, I'll kick his ass and have someone else perform your surgery faster than he can fucking blink. You," he growled as he pressed his hardening length against my stomach, "are fucking mine." He brought my left hand down and up to his lips and placed an incredibly hot and panty-wetting kiss to my wedding ring before he turned his bright, blazing green eyes toward me. "This," he went on as he kissed my ring again, "this," he whispered as he rocked against my center, "and this," he finished as he swept his lips bruisingly against mine, "make you mine. Only mine," he breathed out against my lips as his tongue lapped at my bottom lip.
I arched against him and for the moment, didn't give a damn about the time or that we needed to be the hospital in a little over an hour. Right then, all I cared about was my husband and the fact that I needed him, desperately so. "Kiss me, Edward. Please," I implored and before the last syllable left my lips, his mouth covered mine. Any sound I made was swallowed by him and our tongues furiously fought each other's until Edward slowed the kiss down.
My nipples were so hard under the thin material of the cami I'd worn to bed. I could tell that my panties were already damp and the boxer briefs he had on did little to impede the feel of his erection against the ache in between my legs.
"Oh, God, Edward," I moaned.
"Do you have any idea how much what you are going to go through today means to me?" he asked, his voice rough with emotion.
My eyes opened in surprise and I looked up into the intense gaze of Edward and waited for him to go on.
"After today, you're going to be able to have my child. A little person that is part you and part me. It's the greatest gift you could give me; it's the greatest gift anyone has ever given me. I can't wait to watch your stomach grow with our baby inside," he said softly and he lifted my shirt up and laid his large, warm hand across my stomach. "I always think you are the most beautiful woman on the planet, but with your stomach round with our baby inside, I can only imagine you'll be so mesmerizing, it will almost hurt to look at you."
He bent his head down and I felt his warm breath ghost over my exposed stomach right before I felt his soft lips place gentle kisses against my skin. "I want it, baby, so fucking much. I hate that you have to endure any amount of pain at all, but damn, I really can't wait until we can start trying."
His words seeped into the skin he was still kissing and then settled deep inside, right beside my heart. Edward had already given me so much, more than I could ever possibly repay, not that anyone was keeping track or anything. A family, a life that was fuller and more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. If I could give Edward a baby, our baby, well, it would pretty much be the icing on the cake.
"Well, why don't you come on up here and let's practice so when we get the go ahead, we can get it right on the first try," I said with a smile as I pulled him up to me.
When he grinned from above me, my heart was so full of him that I almost couldn't breathe. "I love you so much, Edward," I whispered, barely able to get the words out before his mouth cut off the rest of what I wanted to say to him.
"Mmmm, I love you, too, Angel. And I think," he rasped as he moved to my neck and paid very special attention to the spot behind my ear, "we definitely need to practice."
I tightly wrapped my legs around him and leaned to the side so that we would roll over. "I happen to agree with you," I said against the skin of his chest. I trailed, wet, open-mouthed kisses across his body, taking time to flick and tease each of his nipples, just like he liked.
Edward's hands gripped my hips, his thumbs pressing against the tender skin of each of my hipbones as he held me in place over top of him. He was hard. I could feel the entire length of him as my center moved back and forth and I watched as his eyes turn from green to almost black in an instant.
In the next, my shirt was over my head and my panties were being pushed down my legs as Edward expertly lifted me off him and shimmied them down my legs. I frantically grabbed at his boxers and somehow managed to get them pushed down around his thighs and then down his legs. When we were both finally naked and when our hands, lips, and tongues had their fill of touching, kissing, and licking, he lifted me up and helped me slowly take him inside of me.
"Damn, Bella," he hissed once he was fully buried inside of me.
I could only nod my head at him as I rocked against him, feeling him hit the spot that made my breath catch in my throat. I ran my fingers through his damp hair and smiled against his shoulder, which I knew he could feel when the purr of contentment rumbled deep in his chest as I scraped my nails along his scalp.
My teeth found the neglected skin over the top of his shoulders and along the side of his neck. He smelled a bit like me, only because I'd spent most of the night I was sure with my head nestled right there, but he mostly smelled like him. Spicy sandalwood and a mix of scents I still had no idea of what they were, but it was uniquely him.
"You feel so good inside of me," I whispered as my lips traveled from his neck up his jaw and to his ear.
We weren't in a hurry, we weren't frantic or needy. We made love slowly, feeling every stroke, every brush of fingertips, every muscle that tensed and flexed.
Edward tangled his fingers in my hair and pulled my mouth against his, nibbling my bottom lip before delving his tongue deep into my mouth. Then he slowed the kiss, languidly licking and nipping along my top lip before changing to the bottom one. My arms were wrapped tightly around his neck and my body slid fluidly up and down over his hard length.
"I love when we make love like this," he whispered, grabbing a fistful of hair and stretching my neck to give him easier access. "You look so fucking good above me. I can feel every inch of you as you take me deep inside of you."
"Yes, Edward," I panted as the coil inside of my stomach tightened deliciously.
He reached up with his hands and rubbed back and forth over my hard, aching nipples. I arched my back, making it easier for him to soothe the heat that had risen in my chest with his wicked tongue. His hand slid between our bodies and touched me the way he knew how, the way he knew would make my body sing and explode.
I felt my walls flutter and squeeze and I cried out silently, never taking my eyes off his. He followed immediately after, pulsating as he emptied inside of me.
"I love you, Bella. Thank you for what you're going to do for me, for us today," he said as he brushed my hair back over my shoulder and bent his head down and pressed his lips in a gentle kiss on my chest above my heart.
We had to hurry after that in order to meet Tanya at the surgical center on time. Since the surgery was going to be done on an outpatient basis, a stay at the hospital would not be necessary. We would spend the first few days in the city at the loft until the worst of the pain passed and then after that we would go home to the lake house. After a quick kiss to Alice and Jasper, who were going to watch the kids for the day, we quickly made our way from the loft and arrived at the surgical center on time, but just barely.
Dr. Hughes and Tanya both met with us in the consultation room before being shown to the pre-op room where we would wait before I was taken back for the procedure. Edward was nervous, which wasn't helping my situation out at all, but I tried to keep myself from snapping at him. I knew he just really hated the thought of me being in any amount of pain.
"Bella, Edward, do either of you have any questions?" Dr. Hughes asked as he looked back and forth between the two of us.
I squeezed Edward's hand, because he hadn't let go of it since we walked through the doors an hour ago. "How soon will we know if the surgery worked?" I asked.
He chuckled a bit and flashed me a smile and I could really see where the whole Dr. Dreamy thing came into play. He was a really, REALLY good-looking man. Not Edward-worthy of course, but I could certainly understand what all the fuss was about.
I heard Edward mutter under his breath and I rolled my eyes at him and winked at Tanya when I saw her do the same thing to him. "Well, Bella, as soon as I get in there, I'll be able to tell you whether I was successful in removing some or hopefully most of the scar tissue."
"Edward," he said and my husband leveled a steely gaze at him until I squeezed his hand as hard as I could and he relaxed his jaw and his mouth into a somewhat smile. "Dr. Stephens has already arrived and wanted to let you know that he was here."
Edward let out a breath and relaxed his shoulders and then gave me an apologetic smile before turning to Dr. Hughes and said, "Thank you for letting me know. I hope it wasn't a problem to get him to be able to help. I just wouldn't feel comfortable with anyone else administering Bella's anesthesia. A bit over the top I suppose, but it is what it is," Edward said unapologetically.
I knew that having Dr. Stephens here would make Edward feel better so I didn't give him any argument whatsoever when he insisted that he be here. The procedure was absolutely routine, but there was still something scary about being put to sleep that scared the living hell out of me, and I knew it did Edward as well. I thought a lot of that had to do with when I was injured back in September and was in a coma. Edward never wanted to see me like that again, and though this would only be for a few hours, it was still nerve-wracking.
"Completely understandable, especially because of what happened to Bella not long ago. I don't blame you a bit. If my wife needed to have anesthesia for any reason, Dr. Stephens would be at the top of my list, too," he told Edward and I smiled when Edward ducked his head and the tips of his ears turned a bit red in embarrassment.
The man was married, and happily so from the looks of the smile and the twinkle in his eye when he mentioned the word wife.
"Okay, why don't we get you in your gown and get the IV and things going so we can get this started and get you home before too long. I know you have better things to do than sit around here all day," Dr. Hughes said as he stood and grabbed my chart and walked out, leaving just us and Tanya.
"So, best friend, now what do you have to say for yourself?" she teased and Edward tried to glare at her, but couldn't manage at all. He smiled and shrugged his shoulders at the both of us.
"What? The man is a good-looking guy, even I can admit that. Does the fact that he's married make me feel better? Hell yeah it does. Does it mean I'm not going to watch every move he makes? Um, no. And not just no, but hell no," he said and crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes at both of us while we laughed at him.
The man was ridiculous, but he was all mine and I wouldn't have him any other way.
After Tanya explained a few more things, she left Edward and me alone so I could get changed into my gown. I brought a small bag with me, just in case I had to stay the night, but barring any complications, I should be able to be home by dinnertime.
"Do you need your socks, Angel?" Edward asked softly, his voice shaking just a bit.
I sat on the end of the bed and nodded my head at him and held my hand out to take the socks from him as he grabbed them from my bag. "I'll do it for you," he said and then set to work on covering my feet with my thick, fluffy socks.
My feet were always cold. I had no idea why and it drove me freaking crazy, but they were.
He ran his hands up and down my thighs once he stood up and I laid my hands on top of his to still their movements. "Baby, stop," I said as I turned his hands over and gripped his wrists. "I'm going to be just fine. You know this really isn't that big of a deal."
Edward let out a huff of breath and then leaned forward to kiss my forehead. "Bella, anything that involves you is always a big deal. It's my right as a husband to get to worry about you, you should know this by now. And, you should also know I take my responsibilities very seriously," he said with a crook of his eyebrow.
"No kidding." I giggled and lifted my hands off his and wrapped my arms around his waist. I listened to his heartbeat beneath my ear for a few moments, still quite shocked at how that sound always soothed me, even after all this time.
"Try not to worry so much. I know this is hard for you, but it has to be done if we want to try to have a baby. We both want this, and it's my body that is going to be the cause of it if we're not able to. Let me do this for us. It's my turn to do something for you for a change," I said and felt the hands that were just before rubbing comforting circles on my back still immediately.
He stepped back and reached down to hold my head in his hands and he stared in my eyes until I thought I would go crazy until he started to say, "Isabella Marie Cullen, if you ever say something that foolish again, I swear to God I will put you over my knee and beat your ass until you can't sit down. How dare you say you don't do anything for us!
"You love me everyday, you love our children everyday. You do more than you can possibly ever know just by breathing every day, Bella, so don't let me hear you say you don't ever again. I've told you too many times to count now that if it was just you, me, Maddie, and Masen for the rest of our lives, and you were happy with that, I would be, too. A baby will be a wonderful thing, but don't ever think I want that more than I want you. You are my life, everything else is just a bonus," he said and then pulled me to him and rested his forehead against mine and his lips were just above mine, but not touching. "I love you, Bella, so fucking much. Every day, every single day that goes by, I swear on all that is holy, I love you more than I did the day before. I don't know how it's possible, but I do."
I nodded my head at him, too choked up to say anything. The man surely had a way with words; there was no disputing that fact at all. We stayed that way until Tanya came back into the room a few minutes later and with one final kiss and 'I love you' from both of us, I was wheeled back to the surgical suite.
"Tan, make sure he's okay," I told her as she walked beside me.
She placed her hand on top of mine, gave it a gentle squeeze, and smiled down at me. "Rose is on her way to sit with him."
We hadn't wanted to make a big deal out of today, not that the entire family didn't know what was going on mind you, but we really didn't need for this to turn into some big production or anything.
I smiled up at her and shook my head a bit. Rose and Edward had a really strong and deep friendship. It shocked me sometimes how close they were, only because Rose usually didn't allow herself to be that close to anyone. Out of everyone, except for me and Seth, Rose was closest to Edward and it really warmed my heart to watch them interact with each other.
"They're good for each other," Tanya said and though there very easily could have been, there wasn't any trace of bitterness or resentment there.
Surprisingly, I felt my eyes burn and I blinked a few times to keep the tears that wanted to come out from doing so. "Bella, it's okay. I understand you know," she said quietly as she looked down at me. "Edward will always be my friend, just like I'll always be his, but Rose is different. She is a part of you, if that makes sense, and the connection they have with each other is because of you and that is something I can't give him. I love you, you know I do, but not like Rose does. Just like Alice loves Seth, but it can't compare to the way you love him. It's what makes our big ass, crazy family so amazing. We all have our significant others, but there is a whole slew of people that go along with it. I could never have Seth without the rest of you as part of the deal, just like with Edward, you get me, Ali, Em, and Dem. We're all very lucky in that respect."
"We certainly are," I told her as we began moving again and entered the surgical suite.
"Ah, Bella, how is my favorite patient?" Dr. Hughes said as he approached the bed once I was placed on the operating table.
I rolled my eyes at him, and I could tell he was smiling beneath the sterile mask he had on because the skin beside his eyes crinkled. "What?" he asked, trying to sound totally innocent when the man was anything but.
"I bet you say that to all the women you have as your patients," I told him and he smiled again, especially when I heard Tanya enter the room after she'd scrubbed in.
"Nope, only you, Bella. You're my favorite, and I'm a bit hurt you don't believe me," he pretended to pout and I laughed again, feeling the last bit of nervousness I'd had fade away.
"Bella, I'm Dr. Stephens and I'll be administering your anesthesia today," said a man with a very pronounced southern accent.
I looked up at him, not really able to say much to that and nodded and tried to settle my nerves and my body so we could get this show on the road.
"Any last minute questions before we start?" Dr. Hughes asked and when I shook my head, I felt a mask lowered over my face and the last thing I was aware of was a voice telling me to count backward from one hundred.
I thought I made it to ninety-five before the darkness settled over me and I floated away.
"Bella," a voice I would recognize anywhere said softly what seemed like only moments later.
I squeezed my eyes shut before very slowly and very carefully opening them only to find Edward's worried ones right by my face.
He pushed my hair back off my forehead and kissed me quickly there before I felt his lips against my cheek. "There you are," he said sweetly, though there was more than a bit of anxiety mixed in as well.
"I'm done?" I asked stupidly, because obviously the procedure was over and I was in recovery.
"Yes, baby," he answered with a smile, not even commenting on my idiotic question.
I felt okay; well, as okay as I could for only being coherent for a few minutes by this point. I opened and shut my eyes a few times waiting to see what would happen now that my body was beginning to get the blood flowing through it again, too. I felt a bit, well a lot groggy, but so far not much pain. However, I'd been told that wouldn't last for long unfortunately.
"Has Dr. Hughes been in yet to tell you what the results were?" I asked as soon as my brain became a bit less foggy and I felt Edward squeeze my hand. It was obvious from the way my fingers tingled that he'd held onto my hand for some time in the same position and it made me smile at him.
At least it felt like I was smiling but I couldn't really tell. Guess I must have been because he smiled at me in return. "He's been in and out checking on you, but he wanted to wait until you were awake to talk to us both. I didn't want to do it without you, Bella."
I closed my eyes again, surprised that I felt like I could fall right back asleep with no problem whatsoever but I knew I couldn't yet so I moved to try to sit up a bit, which was a really bad fucking idea. I hissed in pain at my sudden and unthinking movement and breathed in and out a few times before looking into the very worried and very anguished looking face of my husband.
"Are you all right?" he asked once I started breathing normally again and I nodded because other than a bit of lingering pain, I was okay. "Damn, I really fucking hate this," he whispered as he bent his head against the side of the bed. He still had a hold of my hand and I had to pull on it a few times before he reluctantly let it go.
I flexed my fingers a few times to get the blood moving back through them and I reached my hand up and laid it against his cheek. "Edward, we knew this wasn't going to exactly be a walk in the park, but I'll be fine. Now, why don't you tell Travis I'm awake and then we can find out what he was able to do and get the hell out of here? I can lay in our bed at home just as easy as I can here," I told him and grinned at him when he nodded his head at me and stood up to go find Dr. Hughes.
A few minutes after he left, they both walked in with Tanya following right behind. She had a big smile on her face so I hoped that meant he had good news for us.
Travis walked up and stood at the end of my bed and asked, "Bella, how are you feeling? Any pain yet?"
I shook my head and ignored Edward's grunt beside me. The man seriously had an issue with me being in any pain whatsoever. If I stubbed my toe or even got a paper cut he was on top of that shit in like two seconds flat. I shook my head at Edward and shot him a withering glare before I turned back to Dr. Hughes. "No, I'm not. There is a bit of a twinge but so far that's it. I know it will be worse in a day or two, so for right now, I'm going to keep enjoying the drugs you plied me with, if it's all the same to you," I said with a grin.
Dr. Hughes chuckled at me for a second before he cleared his throat and after looking from me to Edward a few times he said, "Well, the surgery was extremely successful, at least from the point of removing the scar tissue. There was a bit more in a few places than I'd anticipated, but it looks like I was able to remove most of it. Based on the tests that were done before the procedure in regard to your egg production and such, along with reducing the amount of scar tissue along the fallopian tubes, I feel extremely confident that barring any further unseen complications, there won't be any reason why you and Edward can't have a successful pregnancy once you have healed properly."
I sucked in a deep breath and once again felt the sting of tears in my eyes but right then I was so damn happy if I could have, I would have hopped up and gave that man the biggest hug he'd ever gotten. One second later, my husband took care of that for the both of us, engulfing the poor doctor in a hug that would give Emmett a run for his money it was so strong.
"Thank you," Edward choked out and coughed and took a deep breath. "Really, thank you so damn much. I don't know how I'll, we'll," he stopped and looked at me, his eyes so full of love and relief and hope it made my heart feel like it was going to burst out of my chest.
"Edward, it was my pleasure and well, my job, too," Dr. Hughes said with a smile as he tried to make Edward feel better for his outburst.
Apparently Edward wasn't done with the hugs yet because in the next instant he had Tanya lifted off the ground as he spun her around, not paying any attention at all to the fact that there were others in the recovery area with me. He whispered something in her ear and she nodded, and kissed him quickly on the cheek before he lowered her to the floor again and came to sit beside me.
"Bella," Travis began again, "once we can get you up and walking around a bit and make sure there are no adverse effects from the anesthesia we can go ahead and let you go home. You'll need to take it very easy for the next few days, which knowing your husband, I'm sure you won't be able to lift so much as a finger."
Edward didn't even look embarrassed by that and instead said, "You bet your ass she won't," earning him a knowing laugh from all of us.
"Anyway, I know you are heading back to the lake at the end of the week, right?" At our nod in the affirmative, he continued. "Well, I'll want to see you Friday for a quick checkup but there shouldn't be any reason you need to stick around in the city any longer than that."
After a few more minutes of technical things they left us again. "I can't believe it," Edward said in awe after we'd been alone for a bit.
"I know," I said softly and looked at him. "We can have a baby, Edward."
"Oh, Bella," Edward said and pressed his lips against mine to kiss me. He placed numerous soft, gentle kisses to my lips, my cheeks, my forehead, and back to my lips again, telling me how much he loved me between each one.
Once he had his fill I held his face in my hands and said with a grin, "Well, at least now we don't have to tell our son and daughter they have to wait longer to get that baby they keep demanding."
For months now their wish for a new brother or sister was a much discussed topic at our house. During dinner, homework time, rides to and from school, in the middle of a movie, anytime they felt the need to express their wishes, they did so…loudly and with increasing frequency as of late, too.
While we didn't tell them exactly what today was about, they did know it had to do with making sure I could have a baby. Like I had said, we hid nothing from our kids, and this was no different. If and when the time came to bring another child into our lives, it would be all of our lives that would be affected, not just mine and Edward's and they had every right to know, what was appropriate for them to know, about that.
"This is the best early birthday present ever," Edward said.
"Good, because I haven't gotten you anything yet," I told him cheekily and then smiled as I thought about his birthday last year. That sure was some night.
"I'm not sure you could top last year's anyway," he told me. His eyes, not to mention the way his nostrils flared as he breathed deeply in and out a few times, let me know he was reliving that night as well. "God that night was one of the best of my life. You have no idea how insane you drove me all damn night," Edward said as he lowered his voice.
Knowing that it was going to be weeks before either of us could get worked up I figured the best course of action would be a swift change of subject so I did when I said, "Well, you can count this as your Father's Day present, too, since I haven't done that one either."
He sat back in his seat and took a few deep breaths and I watched as his eyes lightened back to their normal color, thankfully.
"Baby, all I need is you. You know there's nothing else I need more than that," he said.
I giggled at the blatant but sweet cheesiness that was my husband and then we were interrupted when two nurses came in and got me out of bed to walk around a bit before telling me that in a few hours, I'd be going home. Edward and I spent the rest of the time making chit chat about what our plans were for the rest of the summer, taking great care to stay away from any and all topics that were sexual in nature.
Finally I was released and by then I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open and the pain was slowly starting to build. Of course Esme and Diane were waiting at the loft and helped Edward get me situated in bed almost immediately and I barely even remembered falling asleep after that. The next few days passed in much the same way, and the pain sure was out in full force now, causing Edward much distress. By Friday, it was a bit better, though it was still pretty much present all the damn time. Travis gave me a clean bill of health, all things considered, and by lunchtime we were on our way back to Lake George.
"Mommy, will Wyatt and Emily be able to come over and play when we get home?" Masen asked sweetly from the backseat.
I wanted to tell him yes, but really, I was no where near up to having two extra kids hanging around the house just yet. When I was about to tell him no, Edward surprised me by saying, "Mase, I know you miss your friend, little man, but how about we let Mommy rest tonight, and tomorrow if their mom and dad say it's okay, I'll take you four to a movie and then maybe out for pizza? You both have been a big help the last few days so it'll be a treat for both."
They nodded enthusiastically, immediately having a discussion over which movie to see tomorrow and I turned my head and looked at my amazing husband. "You, Edward Cullen, are the best man I know."
He shrugged his shoulders in dismissal and then glanced at me as we sped toward home. "Well, they have been really great all week, they deserve it." After a few minutes of silence on our parts and giggling and chatting in the backseat Edward leaned over and whispered, "Besides, I'm racking up brownie points for the time we need them to babysit."
I shook my head at him, but reached for his hand, too. I held it on my lap and as I looked out the window I whispered, "I can't wait."
2nd week of July~
"Is it weird being here, knowing you don't work here anymore?" I asked Edward as we got out of the cab in front of the building his old office was in.
He grabbed my hand like always and linked our fingers together and shook his head. "Not really, which kind of surprises me to be honest. I loved working here with Tanya and Pop, but the practice up at the lake is perfect for me. It's what I've always wanted, ever since the kids were born," he finished as we stepped on the elevator.
I might have teased him mercilessly about the women, both single and married, that continued to shamelessly throw themselves at him, but I loved watching him talk about his work. He was so happy with it and with all the children he'd met and treated over the past six months. Everyday he came home and talked animatedly about his day and it never failed to bring a smile to my face. We had become really good friends with Peter and Charlotte, and they along with Wyatt and Emily, had been to the house often for dinner and to hang out on the weekends. They'd even met the entire family over Memorial Day weekend when the house was once again full to capacity and then some.
This year's soccer game turned out to be even more rambunctious and cut throat than last year's. Getting over all those 'let's make a good first impression' feelings had been thrown completely out of the proverbial window I guessed. Emmett was even more determined this year. Dem adamantly refused to be stuck in the goal and miss all the action on the field. Marcus and Carlisle were even more competitive, if you could believe that. And don't even get me started on my husband. He put the rest of them to shame…by a freaking mile. We had enough people this year to have full teams of eleven on each side and Dr. Sanders, Esme, and Diane were the referees.
The game had been totally wild and one of the most fun things I'd ever done. I really hoped, actually, that we'd started some sort of tradition and we played every year. I could totally picture it years from now when Maddie and Masen were older and the rest…and I included me and Edward, had kids of our own to join in on the fun. I couldn't imagine a better way to spend the weekend really.
We rode the elevator up to see Tanya in silence, each of us lost in our own thoughts. I had a feeling we were about to get the news we'd been waiting months to get. It was finally time for me to stop taking my birth control and we could start trying to have a baby. From the dreamy and somewhat smug look on my husband's gorgeous face, I was pretty sure he had the same thoughts as me. Even though I knew I would be a nervous wreck when and if the time came, I was so excited to finally be here.
It had been an extremely busy first seven months of married life. Moving to the lake, Edward opening his practice, getting the kids settled in school, followed shortly by our amazing trip to Italy made the time seem to fly. Add to that getting the mess with Lauren laid to rest and having the adoption finalized just a few weeks ago plus my surgery and recovery…it had certainly been a hectic first half of the year so far.
I was looking forward to a relaxing summer up at the lake, with nothing to do but hang out with my kids and their friends, work on my tan and read some books I'd been meaning to read for too long, and hopefully after today, get right to work on getting pregnant. To say I was looking forward to lots of attempts would be a huge understatement!
Now that most of the pain was gone from my surgery six weeks ago, I'd decided to volunteer to help with the Lake George Youth Soccer League in the fall and Maddie was really looking forward to playing again. Masen was loving baseball, especially because he and Wyatt were on the same team. I was pretty sure Peter had something to do with that, but I didn't mind a bit. Masen and I still played the drums together a few times a week and Maddie had taken to helping me cook as often as she could. I almost hated to admit it, but she was a better baker than even I was. When she wasn't in the kitchen or on the trampoline, she was curled up in a chair on the deck or laid out on a blanket under a tree with her ever-present sketchbook.
Even though I might have been a tad bit biased when it came to my children, Maddie's drawings were incredibly good…especially for a little girl that had just had her ninth birthday. She drew pictures of any and everything, but her real talent laid in her portraits. She had sketchbooks full of pictures of Edward, Masen, and me…even Rufus was a well-covered subject. There were drawings of Carlisle and Esme that she'd done from memory and all of the aunts and uncles, too. Her old friends and her new friends, just picture after picture after picture. Most were done from memory, though there were a number of excellent ones she'd done from a picture either me or Esme had taken. I was in awe of her talent and credited Edward, Esme, and Tanya for her love of art since they'd all spent so much time with her and Masen at all the museums in the city.
Maggie greeted both Edward and I in her customary exuberant manner and after filling her in on how we were all doing, she showed us back to Tanya's office.
Tanya got up from her chair quickly when we entered her office and pulled us both into a huge hug. We hadn't seen her since the surgery six weeks ago and I missed her terribly. She and Seth had gone on vacation for two weeks and missed the get-together we'd had at the lake over the 4th of July. Fireworks sure weren't the same without Seth! He'd been so busy with his new job, I hardly ever saw him anymore. It was a huge adjustment for me and one that I was having a hard time getting used to. I was used to not seeing Rose and Jasper every day since they'd stayed in California when Seth and I left, so it wasn't as hard as it was with Seth. I still talked to him every day, either by phone, text, email or on Facebook, but it wasn't the same. He and Tanya were so happy together, and with Sue in the city I knew he enjoyed having his mom close by again. It made things easier knowing he was happy, but it was still hard.
When we'd had a big family celebration at Carlisle and Esme's when the adoption was finalized a few weeks ago, Rose had pulled me to the side and informed me of some big changes for her and Emmett, too. Since Seth was doing such a good job with the security business, and actually had it going so well that he'd lured Jacob and his girlfriend Anna back to the city for a new job, Emmett had decided to turn things over to Seth and Ben so he could focus on opening up a business with Rose. They'd decided to leave the city and move to Albany which was about halfway between Lake George and New York City to start an auto restoration and customization business. Rose's reputation had already made it to where they had a waiting list of clients and she needed Emmett's help and he was glad to give it. He didn't know much about cars, but he was a hell of a businessman and Rose's biggest supporter.
Jasper was thriving at the Foundation, enjoying the hell out of his work as the CFO. He was a numbers guy and he loved his job. It was awesome to see him so passionate about something for a change. Not only did he get to work with numbers but he got to help people as well; his two favorite things. He and Carlisle had gotten incredibly close as well as he and Demetri and I was so proud of him. He and Alice had found a house, with Esme's help, and though I couldn't help them move because of my surgery, Edward did, but not without making it known that he wasn't going to be patient much longer until his baby sister had a ring on her finger. In all honesty, I wasn't sure Ali would wait much longer either. I had a feeling Jasper was already plotting and planning. From the way he and Carlisle would sneak off together whenever the family was together, I wouldn't have been surprised if he hadn't already gotten permission from the one Cullen that mattered…no matter what my darling husband and adorable brother-in-law had to say about it.
Dem and Heidi were still as strong as ever and though Aunt Diane was relentless with her opinions that it was time for them to get married, it wasn't happening anytime soon. I had no doubt it would eventually, but for the time being, both seemed quite content to keep things the way they were. Besides Em and Rose, who came to the lake as much as they could, Dem and Heidi came to visit the most often. I loved them both so much and ever since they'd taken care of Maddie and Masen back in September, we'd gotten even closer. Ben and Angela were finally engaged, and I wasn't the least bit surprised they would be the first ones to get married after me and Edward. They were planning a wedding next June once Ang was finished with her school year and I couldn't be happier for my old friend. I knew Edward felt the same way about Ben. Angela was so happy and after putting everyone, especially me, ahead of herself for so long, it was wonderful to see her get what she wanted out of life.
After a few minutes of catching up, Tanya opened my chart in front of her and then looked intently at me so long I thought I would scratch my skin off it prickled so bad from being so nervous.
"Well, Bella, I have to tell you," she began slowly, keeping her face a blank mask and her voice even. "It's a damn good thing Edward has gotten over his ridiculous and irrational hatred of Travis because you're both going to be seeing a good deal more of him," she finished with a huge smile and her eyes were shiny with tears.
"Does that mean…are you saying?" I stammered and she began nodding her head quickly up and down and giggled when she looked at Edward who sat, unmoving and unblinking beside me.
"Yes, it does. Bella, you and Edward can start trying to have a baby. Everything looks great; most of the traces of your birth control are gone, so there is no reason why you can't get pregnant. Don't be too upset if it takes awhile since your body is still adjusting to not having the pills in your system, but there is nothing to stop you from being able to conceive right away either," Tanya said as she got up from her chair and I flew into her arms, hugging her fiercely.
"Thank you so much, Tan. I don't know what we would have done without you!" I told her through my tears as my mind raced with all she'd just told us and what it meant for me and Edward.
Speaking of my husband. "Edward, baby?" I asked quietly and moved to stand beside him.
He still didn't move for a few moments, breathing in and out but when I tried to step away to give him a second, he quickly wrapped an arm around my waist and pulled me in front of him. Paying no attention to his best friend whatsoever, he lifted my shirt and placed a soft kiss on my stomach and rested his lips there for a time before he looked up at me, tears in his gorgeous green eyes.
"A baby, Bella. We can have a baby, together," he whispered and gently ran his thumbs back and forth across my stomach again.
I ran my fingers through his hair and bent down and kissed him, pouring everything I felt, every ounce of love I had inside of me, into that kiss. I forgot Tanya was even in the room and when I heard the door close behind her as she left to leave us alone, I still didn't pay any attention to her. I couldn't. All I could focus on was Edward and the fact that he still seemed to be pretty much speechless.
He leaned forward and kissed my stomach again once I had stopped kissing him and he stood up. He ran the backs of his fingers down my cheek and after telling me he loved me said, "Let me take you home, sweet girl. I think we should get started right away."
I didn't even put up a fight, I couldn't think of anything I wanted more.
Middle of January, 2011~
I was so damn nervous; I didn't know how I was going to make it until Edward made it home from the office. I shouldn't have been nervous and I knew I had no reason to be, but damn I was shaking like a leaf. I blew out a breath as I looked at the clock above the oven, silently willing the hands to move faster. The kids were already done with their homework and were downstairs playing one of the ridiculously too many new games for the Wii they'd gotten for Christmas.
The past few months had seemed to just fly by in the blink of an eye. Between school starting back up, Maddie's playing soccer and my coaching, Masen's football…Lord help me…and Edward's work at the office, we barely had time to do much besides eat, sleep, and run around. It was insane and I loved every damn minute of it, but when Edward surprised us with another trip for the four of us to Disney World after Christmas I jumped at the chance to go away. We did invite the rest of the family this time and spent seven wonderful days in the warm sun before coming home to the cold and the snow and the beginning of the next semester of school for the kids.
I did have to be a bit sneaky and stay off the more strenuous rides and alcohol was definitely a no no, but thankfully I was able to keep Edward occupied in other ways. He didn't seem to notice that when we went to dinner I only had water and at the parks, I kept my feet planted firmly on the ground. Esme and Rose missed nothing, neither did Tanya obviously, but I wasn't scheduled to meet Travis until after the first of the year so while I thought and hoped, I didn't know for sure until last week…thus the reason for the nerves now.
I took a deep breath when I heard the tires of Edward's car on the driveway and tried to keep myself from tackling him as soon as he came through the door.
"Hey, baby," he said sweetly with an even sweeter kiss once he entered the kitchen. He still took my breath away, every day, without fail…especially when he came home looking rumpled and tired, but so happy to be home.
I kissed him, really kissed him, as I pushed him back against the island. Everything I was feeling threatened to spill out but I managed to reign it in, but just barely.
"What the hell was that for?" he asked as he smirked at me and though I wanted nothing more than to blurt out my news, I didn't.
I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Nothing. Just missed you today."
"Bella," he responded me as he narrowed his eyes in my direction.
Shit, I really hated that he could read me so damn well, but still I held my expression and waited until he swatted me on the ass before going to change clothes. Somehow I managed to hold it together through dinner, family time, baths, bed time stories, and prayers. By the time I'd kissed Maddie and Masen good night I was a bundle of nerves and I knew Edward could tell something was wrong, but I still didn't say anything.
However, I did lead him up to our bedroom and pounced on him as soon as the door was closed. I couldn't help it. I was almost out of my mind with my need for him, but I still waited. I had a specific way I wanted to share my news with my husband, and one I hoped would mean as much to him as it did me. When I'd finally had my way with him and I felt somewhat rational again, though admittedly, it wasn't by much, he rolled out of bed and stood up.
"Angel, that was fucking fantastic," he said with a smirk as I tried to catch my breath. He knelt on the side of the bed with one leg and bent over so he could kiss me. "You, my love, can ravish me like that anytime the mood strikes you. Love you," he said as he stood up to go take a shower.
As soon as I heard the water running, I made a mad dash for the laptop on the desk in our room and hit send on the message I'd typed up to him earlier today. Edward religiously checked his email before he went to bed and I knew tonight would be no different. At least it had better not be or my carefully thought out plan was all for naught.
When he exited the bathroom, I slipped in behind him, hoping that I'd have a few minutes before he got to my message. There were always messages he had to get through from the family and then Foundation business he had to read before he got to his work email and I'd hoped that mine would be the last one. I showered quickly, remembering verbatim what I'd typed to him.
From: Bella Cullen
To: Edward Cullen
Subject: Something to tell you
It seems like only yesterday that my world turned upside down thanks to a little boy, a puppy, and a dad that didn't know how to look where he was going. Every day since that one has been better than the day before. Somehow, someway, our paths were meant to cross that day, and things haven't been the same for either of us since. From today on, things won't be the same either because we have a new path to follow.
Here are three things I haven't told you yet:
*When I was a little girl I used to look out my window every night and make a wish.
*I secretly love the fact that every woman in Lake George throws themselves at you and that you come home every night to me.
*From now on we'll have a busier summer than you can imagine celebrating birthdays in June, July, August, and September.
I love you…Always and Forever…
"Holy shit!" I heard him exclaim and then what I was sure was the chair tipped over because he'd stood up so fast.
I opened the door to the bathroom and stood in the doorway staring at him.
"Bella?" he asked, barely above a whisper, but with a smile as big as I'd ever seen.
I nodded my head, my tears spilling without an attempt to wipe them off. "Edward, I'm pregnant!"
So…there you have it! Lauren is out of the picture for good, Bella is officially Mommy, and now we're gonna have a pregnant Bella! Whoo hoo! I promise, the first two outtakes I have planned are Bella pregnant which we all know will entail a very sweet, overprotective Daddyward and then of course the birth. I'm so looking forward to writing those!
Don't forget, make sure you put me on Author Alert so you will know when I begin posting the outtakes. I will be posting them as a separate story titled Off The Beaten Path, but I will also post the first few along with TPWC so you'll be able to find them. My plan is to post the first outtake on Nov. 14th and from there I'll try to post every 10 days to 2 weeks, sooner if I can manage it.
The blog for my new story The Greatest Gift is up and running. Check it out if you get a second, it's so beautiful and thanks to my dear friend Laurel, I even have a blinkie…which is like the coolest thing ever! The first chapter of The Greatest Gift will be posted next Sunday on November 7th. I'm so excited and the feedback those of you who've had a sneak peek have given me has been so great and much appreciated! If you haven't read the sneak peek yet, let me know and I'll send it to you. The link for the new story blog is on my profile or you can go to .com...I'll be posting a teaser on The Fictionators and on my blog, so check it out!
One last thing, check out my profile for the link to the Fandom for Preemies Fundraiser that I am participating in. I've already submitted my wedding outtake from Maddie/Masen POV and there are works by 120+ authors that can be yours for a $5 donation to the March of Dimes. If you need more info, send me an email or a PM…I'll be happy to answer any questions you have.
That's it people! I hope you will follow me both to my new story and then along with the outtakes/futuretakes so you can see what our favorite family is up to. I have some great things planned for them. You all have been so amazing and my life has truly been changed by this experience. Thank you for making it such an incredible journey.
Do me a favor…review one last time for me, okay? I would love to hear what you thought of the chapter!
Love you all,
Here is the link so you can download a PDF of The Path We Choose and Off The Beaten Path:
shared / cvi43x9i2igzqkf7q9du – remove the brackets and spaces.