Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight
Thanks again to lemonmartinis and MoltenChocCake for their eagle eyes.
OUTTAKE: 'Seeing Eye Dog'
"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us." - Alexander Graham Bell
Jo Collins POV
There is no greater feeling in the world than when your child is placed in your arms for the first time. When those eyes look into yours, you wonder what you did to get so lucky - to receive such an honor. I've been blessed to have experienced this twice in my life. My daughters have been my and my husband Marcus' life since they took their first breaths. After our youngest was born, my husband became a rising star in the pharmaceutical industry, allowing me to quit my job to stay home with them.
Growing up, we took our girls on lavish vacations. They both received cars for their sixteenth birthdays. Their closets overflowed with clothes. They attended private schools. If they wanted it, they received it. We knew we were spoiling them, but we couldn't help it. We thought the sun rose and set with our daughters. And Marcus and I flourished in the society life as well, enjoying our country club membership and vacation home in Key West.
Only two years apart, Kate and Tanya were virtually inseparable – wherever Kate was, Tanya was right there with her. Even during the tumultuous teenage years, the two sisters hardly ever fought. And they were fiercely protective of each other. That hasn't changed.
In high school, Kate began dating Garrett, the star of the football team and son of a state senator. They were the king and queen of that school and they stayed together until they received scholarships on opposite coasts. Kate could have gone to the University of Florida with Garrett, but her father and I convinced her to take a chance on UC Davis. As much as we wanted to shelter her and keep her close, we also wanted her to expand her horizons. And Davis has a very good design program. She went, but promised to transfer after a year to be with Garrett. Two months after moving to California, Garrett broke the news to Kate that he had found someone else - the lead dancer for the University of Florida Dazzlers.
Because our daughter had never been told no in her life, she was completely unequipped to handle this rejection. Combined with that was the fact that she was no longer the big fish in a small pond. In college, Kate was just a number. It wasn't until she collided with a fellow student at the university bookstore that she was able to come out of her slump. Edward Cullen was the last person I expected my daughter to love. A forest engineering student from a small town in Washington State, Edward was the complete opposite of Garrett. But, I suppose that was all part of the attraction.
We loved Edward from the start. There wasn't a flashy thing about him - he was kind and responsible and treated Kate like a queen. Their wedding was beautiful, and the day our daughter called us to tell us we were going to become grandparents was one of the happiest days of our lives. Like our own children, Madigan Ruth had us wrapped around her finger from day one. Her father adored her and we spoiled her as much as we did our own daughters.
Kate called her sister and I frequently to complain about the small coastal town in Oregon. It was too cold, she felt lonely, she didn't like being home all day with a crying baby. She missed Florida and her family. We dismissed it as baby blues, or seasonal depression. We were also busy planning the wedding of our other daughter, Tanya. Edward did everything he could to make sure that Kate was happy, even encouraging her to take classes and workshops.
The due date of Tanya's first baby happened to coincide with Kate's class reunion, giving her two reasons to be ecstatic about a trip home. We were very disappointed when she decided to travel without Edward and Madigan, but she said she needed a vacation. Edward called often while she was here, but she never wanted to talk to him. Then, to our surprise, Kate showed up at the house with Garrett in tow.
After this trip, Kate began to make repeated trips home, and every time she traveled without Edward and Madigan. Then, on one of these trips, she dropped a bombshell on us. She had been having an affair with Garrett since the night of the reunion and he had asked her to marry him. To our shock, she told us that she had finally been given an opportunity to be happy and she was taking it - that it was destiny intervening when Garrett showed up at the reunion and that they were always meant to be together. Screaming and yelling ensued. What about her husband and daughter? An even bigger bomb fell when she said that she had served Edward with divorce papers and wanted him to have full custody of Madigan.
Garrett had become a millionaire several times over after becoming eligible to receive his trust fund. He wanted Kate to travel the world with him, first class. Apparently, first class didn't have room for a small child - even her own daughter. She justified her decision by telling us that Madigan was more Edward's than hers anyway and that she was never ready to be a mother.
Garrett showered her with gifts and when Edward flew to Florida to beg her not to leave, she was virtually unrecognizable in her thousands of dollars' worth of new clothes.
We no longer knew our own daughter.
Edward flew back to Oregon and Kate and Garrett left for Paris. Her ever-protective sister stood by her side, refusing to help us convince her what a mistake she was making. Marcus and I felt completely helpless. We blamed ourselves for what happened. We spoiled them too much. We never told them 'no.' What did we expect? We had failed as parents and grandparents.
And we continued to fail.
Christmas and birthday cards arrived from the west coast. They went unopened and unanswered. Emails and phone calls arrived. They went unopened and unanswered as well. Seeing our granddaughter only reminded us of our daughter and our inadequacies. We were cowards and we knew it.
Kate and Garrett were married before the ink was dry on her divorce papers. We learned that Garrett had already been married twice before and once he came into the trust funds, his former wives came calling with outrageous alimony requests. As Garrett and Kate continued to spend lavishly, Garrett also decided to make some investments - questionable investments. They went from first class to steerage in the blink of an eye. They are currently living above Tanya's garage and repeated requests to us to help them financially have been turned down. As a result, both Tanya and Kate now refuse to speak to us and Tanya won't let us see her children. We love our children, but enough is enough. After hours of crying our eyes out, Marcus and I made a call to our lawyer.
Then, one afternoon a few weeks ago, Marcus arrived home from work with some news. His company was sending him out to a conference in Seattle. Because I had been thinking about Madigan non-stop over the past few days, I was convinced that God was trying to tell us something. We knew that Edward had moved Madigan back to the town he grew up in. Marcus and I decided to take a leap of faith - we looked up Edward's email address and asked him to meet us. We deserved nothing. We expected nothing. But to our great joy, we received an answer. And it was yes.
The week Marcus and I have spent here has been nothing short of amazing. Marcus' conference sessions end pretty early in the day, so we have been taking advantage of all Seattle has to offer tourists. It's absolutely beautiful here. We walk hand and hand through the streets of the city and even take a ferry out to one of the islands to have lunch. I find that I don't miss my bridge club or weekly salon appointment or Junior League fundraiser planning. I feel more relaxed than I have in months and I notice that Marcus is, too. And to make it all perfect, we are seeing our granddaughter soon.
The end of the week finds us standing in the lobby of the Seattle Children's Museum, surrounded by the gifts we've brought, hoping that we will recognize Madigan when we see her.
We spot Edward first, then a lovely young woman that must be his Bella. Then we look down and see her - our granddaughter. And she is so beautiful that it nearly brings me to my knees.
"Oh my God, look at her, Marcus," I cry to my husband.
Guilt over ignoring her for so long hits us like a battering ram and we can't even bring ourselves to start speaking to them. We stare at each other until Edward steps forward. He hasn't changed a bit and he is obviously doing a wonderful job as a father. Marcus and I both begin to cry when Madigan starts talking to us. When we are finally able to get our emotions under control, we are introduced to Dr. Swan. Our granddaughter clearly adores her and Edward is obviously besotted.
They make a beautiful couple, and it makes me happy to see that Edward has found love again. However, I can't help feeling a bit sad that my daughter never looked at Edward the way Bella does.
My melancholia is interrupted when Bella suggests that we go find a place to sit down.
Almost all of my adult life has been spent loving material things. It takes my first grade granddaughter to show me that real love doesn't cost a thing. And you don't need to express it with the swipe of a credit card. You can take a walk and collect twigs. You can paste your photo to some construction paper. You can create a gift with meaning. It makes all of the toys and clothes we brought for her pale in compare. And when we tell her it's the best gift we've ever gotten, we mean it with all of our hearts. I look over at my husband. It's time to talk to Edward.
Bella and Madigan leave the snack shop and we sit down with a terrified Edward. Before we can say what we need to, he begins.
"Let's just cut to the chase, okay? Do I have to worry about Kate coming for Madigan? Did she ask you to email me? Is that why you're really here? Because, I'll be damned if I'll let her…."
"Edward," Marcus interrupts him.
I pick up where my husband leaves off. "Edward, there is no sinister motive behind this conversation. But we do have a motive."
Edward looks at us with confusion.
I continue. "Our motive is to tell you how terribly sorry we are for the pain we've caused you and Madigan. We were devastated by what Kate did, Edward. It nearly killed us. But that is no excuse for our behavior. We are cowards - there is no other way to say it. And we will always regret it. When Marcus told me that he was coming out to Seattle, I saw it as a sign that we had to make things right with you and our granddaughter."
Marcus and I tell Edward the whole story of Kate and Garrett and where they are now - and the fact that they're broke. Then Marcus explains the action we took right before we left for Seattle.
"We've made a decision to cut Kate and Tanya out of our will. When we pass on, our grandchildren will inherit our estate. We made it official with our lawyer last week. And we've set it up so that Tanya and Kate can't get their hands on a penny of their children's inheritance."
Edward says nothing while we tell him our news.
"There is one other thing," I add. "We decided yesterday to sell our house in Florida and move closer to Madigan."
I know we have just given Edward a lot to digest and I can see him considering what we've told him. When he still doesn't answer, I make a final plea.
"She's all we have left of our daughter, Edward. We're asking you for a second chance to be a part of her life."
"I just have one concern," Edward expresses.
"What it is?" Marcus wonders.
"Do I need to worry about Kate coming for Madigan or trying to get money from me?" Edward asks.
"We honestly don't know, Edward," Marcus answers.
"But, we can promise you this," I say. "If she does, you have our wholehearted support to fight her. We will help you in any way we can."
Edward considers our words and then visibly relaxes. It fills me with a sense of hope that I haven't had in a long time.
"You don't need my permission to spend time with Madigan. But if it means something to you, then you have it, along with my forgiveness."
I can't stop the happy tears and I jump up to grab Edward for a hug. He'll never know how grateful we are for what he has just given us.
"Thank you," I whisper in his ear.
Edward and Marcus both hand me napkins to clean my face. Edward smiles.
"Now, enough with the heavy. I believe you came here to see your granddaughter."
A/N: Pretty interesting that Edward and the Collins' have such a different perspective about what kind of grandparents they were, no?
Sorry for anyone who wanted Kate to get hit by a bus. :)
I'm very excited to say that SPTL was chosen as a fic of the week over at The Lemonade Stand. Thank you to everyone who voted. And a VERY special thanks to the lovely les16 for not only nominating the story, but also for writing such a sweet review of it for the site. I'm very honored!
I am going on vacation soon, so the next chapter will post this week.