Epilogue – Eight years later


We sat in my parents' house around the tree, Christmas paper mounting from unwrapped presents. Our Christmas CD from a couple years back was playing softly in the background courtesy of mom. I could play later, she said, right now it was time for family. I didn't argue with mom. I wasn't about to miss the first Christmas that Masen really understood toys even if sharing was still a foreign concept for my son. Masen and Rosie were currently fighting over a new truck, Masen's Christmas present from Jake.

"Masen," Bella called, "your daddy has another present for you to open." My son, now distracted, let go of the truck and toddled over to me with his hands outstretched to rip the paper off his first keyboard. He danced while the demo music played and, wearing only his diaper, you've got to know there were many comparisons made. He laughed and clapped for himself and danced again with the applause and more music and even I couldn't deny he was my son. It's certainly been an eventful eight years.

I didn't wait much longer to propose. In May we toured Canada, it was amazing to have Bella by my side for a whole month and it made the tour extraordinary. It didn't matter where in the world I was, I had finally found my home. Alice had still booked us adjoining rooms even though every night we shared a bed wearing nothing but the sheets. Waking up to sweet kisses from Bella or holding her in my arms as she got a few more minute of sleep amazed me every single morning. Every night I still played for her, though some nights it was very brief – limited time alone together meant we were getting incredibly adept at fulfilling our night time needs. Bella still likes it when I ask her to bed but sometimes it just takes that certain song. There are times when I'm lost in the music and Bella will turn off the lights and fall asleep before I notice. But if Bella tells Laurent she's tired and doesn't meet me backstage I never waste time getting back to the hotel. The adjoining rooms were helpful in one regard. Two showers meant we didn't have share. Trying to shower together that first morning in the hotel meant we returned to bed soaking wet, frenzied. Ever since that day, Alice has opted to call rather than bang on the door to our room. I don't want to know what she heard. Bella, after much negotiation with Alice, as promised, dragged me out of the hotels very early on the second day of back to back shows in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver and we headed to Niagara Falls, Banff and took a ferry to Vancouver Island respectively before I had to get back for sound checks. Every afternoon we got back I saw the first place Alice looked was Bella's hand. That's when I finally I understood why she let us go. She'd never been this lax with my schedule in the past without Bella's influence on my happiness. And I'm getting there with the ring, but it's way too public for me to propose at Niagara Falls. It was really nice to finally see some sights. Of course, we both still had the fans, the pictures and the autographs to contend with but that comes with the territory and fans were thrilled when either Bella or I took a few pictures. And, ever the showman, I even brought out my new early birthday present from Bella and played a few songs on the ferry with my new roll-up keyboard. It's definitely a step-up from trying to play a piano on a tablet and now I'll even be able to record on the plane. She also bought me more socks and a new green plaid shirt. My Bella.

After the last show in Vancouver we headed to the vineyard for a day and a half, Bella no longer questioning such a short stay, she had adapted to the travel like she was born for our crazy life. She now even lets Laurent carry her bag. After we got settled at the vineyard but before we broke out the wine I asked her to go for a little walk. It was a very important walk with me through the rows of new growth. It couldn't have been a more perfect day, sunny with just a hint of a breeze so the foliage ruffled and glistened in the sunlight. In the middle of the vineyard, trembling just a little and far more nervous at that moment than I'd ever been, I got down on one knee and, with no help from Jazz, I told her everything I love about her and us before I asked her to marry me. I didn't want to wait any longer; she'd really and truly forgiven me and had thrived in the chaos of a whole month with the band and fans. Most importantly, I wanted her in my life. Forever. I thought I knew what her answer would be and I wasn't wrong. "Yes. Edward." And, being who we are, tears and kisses ensued after I put the ring on her finger. When I told her she could pick out her own ring at Tiffany's instead she cut me off with a kiss, eyeing it through tears saying she wouldn't trade it for the world. I kissed her again and was ecstatic. It's delicate, it's Bella. And she will never need to take it off. Even when she's a vet. It will be important to me that all the pet owners in New York know she's spoken for - even the ones who don't read People.

Bella was spinning the ring on her finger, thinking. I knew something was up. She's learned to be a little bit sassy. Then she asked me to propose again giving me back the ring. So, of course, I did. It was another speech, the same sentiment, but a little better since it didn't have my initial jitters. This time she actually told me to wait, pulled out her phone and took a few pictures of me holding out the ring. I smiled. It all made sense. Then she held out her hand. "Yes, Edward." As soon as she had it back on she took a photo of her hand, and then a selfie with both of us to ask, "Do you want to crash Twitter or should I?" Bella was grinning. That was an option, but then I'd get constant calls from Alice until we landed back in New York. I could think of way better uses of my limited time at the vineyard than composing a press release. When I whispered in Bella's ear what else we could do instead she blushed beautifully. I hoped this would always be her reaction to me. Her soft kisses told me she very interested as we decided to have the day to ourselves making love and drinking wine. But before we headed to the bedroom Bella set up my keyboard. A little hint from my Bella. I didn't disappoint. My newest compositions were my best work yet. I'm engaged. I'm at the vineyard and my fiancée has her head on my shoulder and her hands under my shirt. She's contemplating pouring me wine. I couldn't think of a better source of inspiration. That is until Bella got up twenty minutes later, went into the bedroom and came back to sit with me carrying two wine glasses wearing only my plaid shirt and her ring. I've never had such a difficult time keeping my hands on the keys. I played the melody with my left hand as I sipped - a little challenge to keep me from just downing the wine and carrying Bella to the bedroom simultaneously. I had exactly two sips when Bella put down both our wine glasses and undid my jeans. That marked the end of the set as I carried my fiancée to our bed.

Much later, having finished the same glasses of wine we had abandoned earlier, Bella called Jake who was surprised we were in Texas and we headed over to go for a run and ride. Bella wanted to give them the news in person – though I think the plan was to simultaneously kidnap Leah's phone. Bella had decided Twitter could wait. She gave Hope and Love huge hugs even before Jake managed to leap off the porch and run down the drive to swing her around. The second he stopped he was not unobservant. I have to give him credit.

"Bel-la?" I'd never heard Jake call her Bella. Not once. Leah was only halfway into the yard but she was curious now too and started to run. This gave me a couple seconds to cradle Bella in my arms and give her more kisses. Leah was astounded when she finally reached us and nearly pulled Bella's arm off for a closer look. Jake was watching over Leah's shoulder but he did take a minute to look my way and nod. I pass Jake's test both on stage and off. Good, though the latter was far more important. Jake offered his congratulations and shook my hand, I returned the sentiment.

Leah was still looking for words. Staring at her phone in disbelief. Twitter had never let her down before.

"Eddie, when the hell did you get…?" Leah was now looking at me and then at the ring for an explanation.

"Kansas, Leah." I told her. Bella would not remember my schedule, and usually I wouldn't either – but that was one of the most important days of my life. Leah, gave it away.

"FOUR MONTHS AGO?" Leah shouted. "You waited four months? What was wrong with Valentine's? And how the fuck did you keep this little secret?" Leah. She's so subtle it's really hard to figure out what she's thinking.

"We've both been busy, Leah. And I wanted it to be at the vineyard. I do have a few friends who aren't on Twitter 24/7." Leah looked ready to refute her Twitter usage but I didn't care. I had to explain.

"Bella…" I wanted to tell her why I waited. "Valentine's, London, Tampa, the whole tour, I had the ring and I thought about it. But I liked the idea of the vineyard."

"I loved it, Edward, it really was perfect. Everything. Where we met. The ring. I love you." She took my hand and caressed my cheek. I couldn't help but kiss her. I really was glad I'd waited. We would remember this day forever. It was like time stood still as we gazed at one another. Leah broke our intense connection.

"Hopeless romantic," was Leah's explanation with an exasperated sigh eyeing me then looking at the Bella for confirmation. I nodded and gave Bella another kiss with another I love you, which demonstrated Leah's point exactly. I'll never be anything else where Bella is concerned.

Leah took a few photos of the ring promising Bella she wouldn't post them. With that reassurance I wanted a few pictures of us too. Leah was more than happy to oblige and Bella and I posed for a mini photoshoot, Bella even jumped into my arms. Leah would need a better camera to capture that shot, which I might just arrange. Leah forwarded every photo to me right away, still giddy. I was sure her finger was on hovering over the share button but I knew she wouldn't unless Bella gave the OK. Though, when Bella and I are ready I'll send a few of the photos to Garrett. Bella asked everyone over for supper and Jake balked at the thought of having Bella cook. He decided we'd do a fancy BBQ right at the ranch saying he'd call Sam and Paul and not spoil the surprise. Then he shooed us away to go running and riding after another round of congratulations despite Bella's offer to help. Before we took off I convinced Leah a little hug was warranted, Jake too. Like old times but so much better; Bella and I ran and rode like we hadn't ever left the ranch stealing kisses at every turn. I initially thought we might have to call Laurent and Irina in from San Antonio if there were lurking fans here or at the vineyard but there's really something to be said for Texas property laws.

Embry and Quil came in from the pastures, Sam and Paul brought wine and dessert. Bella told them about our engagement, and she was so excited to relive my proposal. I might want to propose to her again and again just to watch her light up like today. They all gave her hugs and shook my hand, Paul and Sam with knowing grins. When I'd called earlier in the week about coming down Sam had told me they'd be out, obvious now that he'd planned the 'outing' on the fly suspecting something like this. I'm glad I passed the family test. Bella had tried her mom while we were riding; she didn't leave a message, and shook me off when I suggested we go tell her in person. She wanted to see Esme and Carlisle instead and her family was with us here, she'd said. I knew that was true but also knew her mom's absence would affect her. She kissed me then, knowing I'd worry, and when we got back she and Leah set the table as they sang Naked, not letting me join in.

Jake has perfected steak, I knew, but he also made fall-off-the-bone ribs, homemade buns and a couple salads. Paul had whipped up a vanilla cake with a light lemon icing that was magnificent; when the time comes I just might see if he'll make the wedding cake. The girls took off for about an hour (Leah dragged Bella from the dinner table with much protest) and I heard a lot of giggling and more than a few very familiar songs in the background. I suppose I better get used to Leah, she's here for the long haul. One day I will expect her to mention her rock is bigger than Bella's. And I will remember not to get into a debate with Leah about whether size matters. While they were gone Jake took the opportunity to really ask me about touring and the music. He knows he can't ask these things around Leah. I was honest. I love it. But I wouldn't think twice and I would quit the band tomorrow if my relationship with Bella was ever in jeopardy. That was the answer he wanted. He needed. Bella already knew it. When the girls got back we talked into the evening mostly about the vineyard and wine, with the frequent "Do you really know …?" from Leah with the name of any musician or actor she could think of seeing me with in the last year. I hadn't exactly been antisocial this year but going to more after hours parties as Jazz and Alice's tagalong while Bella was in classes hadn't really been much fun. But I did put in appearances so with that and Alice's first-hand knowledge Leah learned a few things she probably wouldn't find on the Net. I indulged her just a little because it made her happy but I wasn't about to draw her a chart about who was sleeping with whom. That, I'm sure she could find online. It was a perfect evening with Bella in my lap playing with her ring; though when Sam and Paul figured they should head out I thought we should too. Sam smiled when I said I'd be up before dawn to work the vineyard with him. One day in Texas. That's all we had. And I still have to earn my keep.

Only Laurent thought it was strange Bella was wearing a light jacket with sleeves that were a little too long when we got to the airport in San Antonio the next morning. He immediately gave both of us a hug and a sly smile. We'd spent three hours in the field working and having breakfast with Sam and Paul before heading out. We got into New York just after four and thought we were prepared for the response, trying for nonchalance, though we were both far too happy to pull off the proper expression. Irina had the jacket and bags, Laurent had us. The second we got off the plane someone called "LOOK AT THE RING!" After that the chatter didn't stop and we were completely swarmed. "OMG!" "EDDIE!" "CAN WE GET A PHOTO?" "WHO'S THE DESIGNER?" "CONGRATULATIONS BELLA!" "BELLA, ARE YOU PREGNANT?"

James was waiting with the car but it was a slow go through the airport with photos and questions. Bella only answered the one with a vehement shake of her head. One day, that would turn into an equally passionate nod but we have other things to do first. Calls for autographs and more "Oh my god, Eddie!" and "Congratulations Bella!" were still prevalent. And other calls of "When is the wedding?" and with Bella's head shake "Are you going to have kids?" "When?" "How many?" followed us through down the escalator towards baggage claim and out towards passenger pick-up. Bella, completely used to the crowds by now just handed me a Sharpie with a kiss which egged on the crowd even more. My only comment after the last autograph before we ducked into the limo (Laurent had obviously briefed James and really good champagne had just been poured) was "I'm just happy she said yes." The photos that would be on the cover of all the magazines would be the ones of me holding her from behind for a kiss as Bella laced her hands in mine. And maybe I was a little over the top before I helped her into the limo with tender kisses on her hand and her lips. She responded with kisses of her own. I believe we're over our airport shyness in front of all the cameras. Later that week, I bought all the tabloids and magazines. All the photos were there.

Leah texted Bella just as James pulled onto the freeway and we were sipping the champagne. I saw the look on Bella's face and then she couldn't stop laughing. Bella had to show me her phone. Bells, Twitter's down. Your fault. And Eddie's. I'm in withdrawal already. Luv you forever. Congrats again. Can I please please please post the ring when Twitter is resurrected? –L. We nodded. Someone would do it. And Leah would enjoy it more than most. Bella sent Leah a quick affirmative reply. I figured we needed to put away the phones and concentrate on champagne kisses and practice my favorite new word. Fiancée.

"My fiancée." I said.

"My fiancé." Bella tried it out too. Kisses followed. We tried it a few more times and I figured in a couple days it would sound perfectly natural. I was incredibly surprised Alice hadn't rung; she'd been waiting for this day. I took the silence as opportunity and Bella got a few more kisses before my phone rang. Alice, I thought.

But no. It was mom. She and Carlisle were thrilled, of course, though not especially happy to learn about my engagement on ET and TMZ as 'breaking news' and 'the most significant celebrity engagement of the year' respectively. Oops. When mom had invited all of us over for dinner since Bella was coming into town with me I thought it was perfect. The words engagement party should probably have left my lips.

Mom was so excited the second we walked in the house she rivalled Leah's bounce. She held me and then Bella with tears of joy and took in the ring at every angle. I had to relay the full story of picking out the ring. Bella hadn't heard it yet, and it even got me a kiss. Carlisle welcomed Bella to the family and she took to that instantly. So we had dinner at my parents' place with the band, Rose, Elizabeth, Kate, Alice, Tanya, Irina, Laurent and James. Every fan and reporter from all of New York and probably further afield were waiting outside the main doors to the building wanting a sound bite and a picture of the ring. I'd hired extra security – our crew was celebrating with us - and gave Dad's doorman another nice bonus. After dinner, Alice tried to pressure us for a wedding date for her already written press release. I told her we'd let her know. Later.

Bella was the one to nudge me. "When we decide we should probably tell your parents first." For that, Mom gave Bella the biggest hug and kiss. Then I got one too. Alice wanted to talk about the wedding. I shut her down. Bella and I should talk about it first. I'm in no hurry. Telling the world Bella is my fiancée sounds really good to me, although it seems everyone now knows. Halfway through dinner Emmett told us Twitter was back up and he got THE LOOK from mom. His phone quietly disappeared. So rather than wedding plans or headlines we talked a little about the new tour. I'd been practicing my rudimentary knowledge of Cantonese, Mandarin and Tagalog so I can at least say a few words on stage. And we'll usually try a popular song by a local band and get a lot of help and cheers from the fans. Bella wanted me to play one but instead I got her to commit to a short visit to Hong Kong mid-July and we were both excited. Alice really didn't think at all when she asked, "So… no more adjoining rooms then?"

Bella didn't even say anything. She just blushed fiercely. I shook my head to stop Alice from continuing. Alice wasn't bothered and took my response as a no with a smile. What I was really going for was 'please don't ask about our sleeping arrangements in front of my parents' but Alice doesn't work off anything that subtle. She and Leah get along very well.

"Good. The penthouse is so much better. Eddie worthy."

"Alice…" I warned her out loud this time.

"You worry about the show, Edward. Leave the rest to me." I sighed, but nodded. She is right, she always has everything handled. It's not like we have perfect timing to discuss everything. Asking on the plane wouldn't have been a great option either. I know it would take four people to replace Alice. The problem is she knows it too. At least our little discussion took the focus off of Bella. And I usually hate the penthouse because it's too big for just me. Too echoey when I play. With Bella, though, I'm sure I'd enjoy the king-sized bed and private pool very much. Right now just thinking about that wasn't really a good idea. Think of Jake, Edward. Jake. Sometimes things pick very inconvenient times to pop up.

Mom had made brownies, with ice cream and chocolate sauce. Esme beckon Garrett, Jazz and Emmett to help serve. Apparently, I'm exempt from kitchen duty tonight being one of the guests of honor. Good. I wouldn't have come up with an excuse not to get up quickly enough which would have been very awkward. I didn't need one with Bella; you'd think she was psychic.

"So, Edward, Jake and Leah are thinking about a wedding at the end of the summer. Leah's already asking if you'll be my plus one." So this is what they'd been discussing while listening to Masen Hale. I wondered if they'd talked about another wedding.

"Of course. Leah knows my schedule better than I do." I told her. Bella smiled and nodded, that had been part of the discussion too. We both knew Leah far too well. Bella knew me too well too. This discussion was helpful for my current problem. She went on about Leah's plans for the wedding at the ranch. It sounded nice and it had me thinking seriously about Bella in a white dress at the vineyard. I wondered briefly if she would consider it but I didn't want Alice to weigh in without discussing it with Bella first. After dessert, I could finally comfortably get up and walk to the piano. I played as everyone gathered in the living room and more ring ogling took place. The girls got many photos of all their rings and I knew Alice would forward them to Garrett. We shouldn't even bother to make real music videos – his little montages get more views on YouTube anyway. I stuck with familiar tunes tonight, playing what was in my head would turn a little problematic.

When it was nearly time to head out for the night, mom just looked at me questioningly not wanting to ask even though it was a pretty safe bet where Bella would be sleeping. I nodded. She smiled. Mom was overjoyed and I was relegated to the piano as she helped Bella pack up all her things in the guest room to move to the loft. When they were done they were crying and hugging I had no idea what it meant until I heard Bella call Esme mom. I think I shed a few tears. Mom was still emotional as we left with copious numbers of bags giving her a few more hugs and kisses before we heading out. Bella and I didn't indulge the press again and we managed to get home from my parents' garage to the one in my building without another photo being taken thanks to quick thinking from Laurent and Irina. They dropped everything in my foyer for us and we got a couple more hugs of congratulations before they quickly took off. I took some of Bella's stuff to the dresser in what was now our room. Then I pulled her to the piano. I could only play a few songs before Bella was whispering my name. A full month of each other and there was still this total desire. I finally, truly, asked her into my bed and undressed her. Our bed. The next morning we slept late, made love some more and had breakfast catered. As soon as we finished eating, Bella made an announcement.

"We're going on a run today. And for a picnic." And then she pointed outside to all of Central Park. I just shook my head, it was an absolutely gorgeous day but even from our vantage point I could see that the crowd already gathered across the street was a force like I had never seen. They were all eager for just a glimpse of either one of us. Or the ring. A venture out would spell disaster. A fourteen on the Eddie scale. But Bella wasn't deterred. She made us sandwiches, fruit, cheese and veggies and found her backpack and runners. She'd planned this, probably with mom while they were packing. It's not like we stopped for groceries. She called Irina and Tanya. I called James and Laurent and asked them to bring more than a few friends. I was contemplating calling the NYPD. But we had a very peaceful morning of reorganizing our room – I loved every minute of it. Sharing my place, my home and my life with Bella. Bella suggested I go shopping with Alice – she has far more clothes now than I do. I decided that would only be fun if I got to model for Bella. She blushed again and pushed me out of the bedroom to the piano before I got any more late-morning ideas. We shared more kisses and a lot more music. Bella even took a few pictures of me at the piano with the view as the backdrop and then sat with me as I played. At noon, once our posse arrived, we went out and managed a long run around all of Central Park with reporters and fans surrounding us with cameras and questions, holding hands until we made it to the great lawn. We sat and ate. Bella waved. So did I. There were cheers. Laurent, James, Irina, Tanya and four buddies were keeping the wolves at bay until we finished eating but there were still millions of pictures. I never thought I'd see the day with Bella and genuine smile in front of a thousand cameras. Bella's relaxed demeanor put me at ease – I wanted the world to know Bella had chosen me. I did manage to pick-up Bella's bowl of fruit just to move it off our blanket but she looked at me as she seemingly innocently put a raspberry in her mouth and swallowed. And smiled. Then she gave me a little peck on the lips that was perfectly chaste and great for photos but it had me burning. I had to channel Jake for four excruciatingly long hours as I cradled Bella in my lap while we signed autographs and posed for pictures with the ring and fans before our run home. Bella had been thinking the exact same thing and the door to the elevator had barely closed when Bella started to undress me. Before that I never knew how much fun having my own private elevator could possibly be. We continued our love-making everywhere in the loft – except near the piano – and fell asleep early. I had dinner delivered later that night; we'd had more than enough photos for one day. Bella was truly home. Unfortunately, the next day planes were waiting for us at different airports and I headed to Seoul and Bella, back to San Antonio.

Two weeks later Bella called me in the middle of the night the second she got her acceptance to Columbia. I could hear her excitement and gave her the biggest kiss over the phone that I could. She also got accepted to half the other schools she had applied to. I was shocked it was only half, but learned some of the rejection letters she got were not the standard fare. And I was more upset than Bella that the letters had so much more to do with me than with her. Oh well, the schools she had to declined got a thank-you letter from Bella and a not-so-little addition to their scholarship fund from Eddie Masen. That seemed fair. I can't donate to Columbia – yet. Really it's because of Carlisle and I know a rumour would swirl that it was a bribe for Bella which I would not tolerate. Carlisle, though, has learned over the years to tell me or Emmett about important things that the powers that be can't seem to get around to replacing and somehow they magically arrive on his desk, I like supporting future generations of MDs. And I really do think the whole world is crazy when ten neurosurgeons make less in a year than what I make in a day, I can at least start them out with some decent equipment. I'll tell Bella the same thing.

Bella accepted at Columbia and moved the last of her stuff and her pets from Florida into the loft like we'd discussed. Correction – like I'd discussed with her. She really hadn't said yes or no, I hadn't given her time to consider an answer. But it's safe, she's really already moved in and she has a key. As far as I'm concerned it's as much her place as it is mine. Adding her name to the title was currently out of the question, I knew she'd balk. She'd let me buy her a computer and a new phone as early birthday presents but drew the line at tuition and books this semester. I'll work on tuition next semester as a Christmas present instead. The strict rules about pets in the building were quickly overlooked – let's just say I signed a few autographs. Though, Bella was leaving the dogs with Jake. I knew this was huge sacrifice for her but she felt it would be better for Hope and Love to have space to run. Without fans. And Leah would have fun updating fans on their antics – they have almost as many Twitter followers as Masen Hale. Ang liked our building so much she and Ben moved in a few floors down later that summer – her art was definitely paying off, though, like me, I get the feeling that's not why she does it.

Jake and Leah got married at the end of the summer, Leah was such a sport she sent Jessica an invite. Bella had tried to deter her. Jessica didn't show – a really good thing since I would have gone for her jugular and Jake was set to tear her limb from limb. It was nice to know Jake and I were on exactly the same page about many things these days. Leah, of course, made sure I could make it but she couldn't believe I wrote them a song for their wedding. She actually didn't shriek but cried softly when I first played it for her. The tears were so un-Leah I wondered, then she thanked me. Despite Leah's Eddie obsession, which hasn't waned in the slightest, she really has no idea what it is with me and music. Bella just gets it. After the wedding, Leah and Jake didn't waste a single minute and had beautiful identical twin girls, Rebecca and Sarah, nine months later.

The band continued to tour hard, with a new release every eight to ten months. My days with Bella in my heart make the music flow and I have way more material than we'll ever be able to release. Bella and I usually had a weekend together every month; in between we'd manage dinner or two and kisses at the airport before my next flight. A connecting flight through New York which was previously the bane of my existence was now frequently the highlight of my week. Bella could tell me about her classes in person and I'd give her the latest updates about the tour. She'd loved school in Florida but she was really in her element at Columbia. Most of her classmates had been welcoming from day one and she'd won over the few that weren't very quickly. But despite my pleas she wouldn't use the treadmills in the building; Irina and Tanya learned to navigate through the fans in Central Park, Bella even said a certain number of the NYPD were regulars on her morning run. I think that was supposed to reassure me. The zoo was nearly across the street from the loft, so Bella decided to volunteer and usually had quite the crowd telling zoo visitors about the monkeys, snow leopards and sea lions. She still answers her share of questions about me, about us, honestly. But for the question about when the wedding will be, she's been intentionally elusive. I know and am more than willing to wait.

Renee disappeared, yet again. Bella had received a text from her mom with a short congratulations a week after our engagement had made all the headlines, but nothing for months after that. I had her found – she'd up and moved to Jacksonville without a word - but Bella didn't want to hear any more excuses and hadn't called her since. She really seemed fine until the end of her second year at Columbia. After her last day of exams that year she called me in tears about her mom. I took the first flight home, missing my first interview ever. Bella heard about it from Leah and I got a lecture, then she fell into my arms. I couldn't fix Renee, but I did what I could and when I couldn't fully settle her I flew Leah, Jake and the twins in for an impromptu visit. This was the twins' first flight and only Jake's third, he'd gone to London with Leah for their honeymoon. When they arrived via limo, there was just a little shrieking, not as one would expect from the twins, as Leah got shown around the loft. I picked up one of the girls and got such a big smile from Bella that I picked up her sister too. They seemed to take to me. It does help that I know all the nursery rhymes. Bella knew exactly what would happen when she sent Leah and me and the twins sightseeing. She and Leah laughed for weeks with the buzz about #Eddiestwins (Jake was NOT happy), it didn't matter that we all went for steak dinner together that evening before I headed out on the red eye for LA and a summer of outdoor concerts that Emmett had begged us to do. Bella was so much better after her talk with Jake and Leah was completely done after her three hours and fifteen minutes of fame as fans and reporters followed us, Laurent and Irina, and the twins around Central Park Zoo. The twins learned to say 'cheese' for all the photos and Leah hasn't called me Eddie since. If I'd known it was that easy I would have taken Leah out on a fan-filled tour long ago. I put them up at the Ritz for the night – Bella insisted anywhere but the guest room was essential. I understood why when we got home; I got a tender thank-you for Jake's visit and then she ended the conversation with a kiss that was much more. Bella had plans for my body that involved the entire loft and no guests. It didn't take me long to catch up and the night was ours. Jake headed home the next day while I headed off to LA. Leah and the twins stayed for a couple more days for a little sightseeing with Bella and dinner with my parents. On the phone Bella told me how much Esme loved the twins hinting about another grandchild, or two. She said she told her to discuss it with Emmett for now. Mom apparently really liked the 'for now'. So did Leah. Though Bella did mention to me how adorable – yes that was really the word – I looked with Sarah and Rebecca in my arms. One day, she told me, and I just said I'd be ready when she was.

Bella spent the summer at the vineyard with Dr. Snow again and she and Leah drove to all the shows close-by while Jake did daddy duty. Bella now completely understood my twelve out of ten rating on the Eddie scale for outdoor concerts – complete and utter pandemonium. I swore to Emmett I'll play for beer again before I do any more outdoor shows after the summer. There are certain parts of me that should only be touched by Bella and not by Laurent. Bella and Irina firmly agree.

Two years later, Bella graduated with her DVM. I was so proud I actually sent out a rare tweet. Bella got millions of congrats on my feed – even some from her classmates. Bella was reluctant to open a full veterinary practice which made me fret. We talked about it for months before her graduation on the phone while I toured in Europe. She swore it wasn't about the money and if she did really want a practice she would have let me provide the capital and not sell the vineyard. Probably not the biggest compromise, I would have simply bought the vineyard and she knows it. So, I still wasn't sure. Finally, she put her foot down.

"Trust me, Edward. I know what I want." She said. I really couldn't argue then. I trust her. Completely.

We got married that summer at the vineyard. Bella hadn't wanted the fanfare until she was done school and Mom had begged us not to elope. Bella promised. The wedding was streamed live, otherwise, we felt the helicopters would have drowned out the ceremony. Alice was the unofficial wedding planner, Bella vetoed ninety percent of Alice's ideas and her guest list, and everything wound up being perfect. Bella even nixed the idea of a live band, confessing to me about Leah and a list. I rolled my eyes, until Bella told me who was on her own list. That, I liked. So I wrote and recorded all the music for the wedding and the reception in only two days, nothing had ever been easier. But I didn't alter the wedding march. It's symbolic. Like our rings. At the altar, on the edge of the vineyard not yet planted, Jake was the one to give Bella away. That might have meant even more to me than to Bella. Bella and I decided, after very little discussion, to be Mr. and Dr. Cullen. I'd officially changed my name months before the ceremony just so I could hear "Do you Edward Cullen take Bella Swan…" Mom and Dad had tears. Bella and I did too – extremely happy ones. I'd said the standard vows, but that wasn't all of me. I'd decided to play, to tell her how I love her in that moment. I had nothing written I just sat at the keyboard. Most musicians would think I was crazy playing what came into my head with millions following every note. But the only thing that was important to me was the look on Bella's face as I played and our extraordinary kiss when we were finally declared husband and wife. Garrett was pretty proud of himself when his montage wound up being the most watched video on YouTube ever. I bought the tabloids again, the ceremony, the music and the dress all made headlines. Alice hadn't let Bella get away without a little indulgence in the dress department. A LOT of indulgence. Bella would not have approved. Alice had probably ordered it the second I showed her the ring. I might see if Bella would wear it again. I'd been watching the expression in her eyes the whole ceremony and hadn't really fully appreciated the dress. And Alice had made Bella change before she and Jazz left for the night. Apparently I would have left the dress on the floor in a heap. Given that that's exactly what I'd done with the one she changed into, I can't fault Alice. A couple days later I was sitting on the porch when I heard Bella on the phone then the word "Alice" along with a few choice four letter words and "…it cost more than his Ferrari!". I was sure it was Leah and that Bella had finally found out about the dress. I figured I would get up and tell Leah to call back later. Much later. There were certain things I figured I could do to distract her from her ire.

With all of my travel, we'd decided to stay at the vineyard for our honeymoon. Alone. We sent Sam and Paul on a three week vacation to Italy, for the Italian Grand Prix and numerous wine and culinary tours. We worked the vineyard during the day and at night got to know each other as husband and wife. The vineyard was tranquil, another perfect start for the rest of our lives together. We knew there would be other challenging times ahead with our schedules and frequent physical separation. Though, after nearly five years, we'd absolutely learned how to make it work. It turns out the trip to Italy for Sam and Paul was a big success, the tours were right up their alley and their personal tour guide, Rachel, was very informative, according to Sam. Paul had a different reaction and Paul and Rachel have been going on vacations together ever since.

A year after we married I got home from a six month tour with only one two day stop at home. Bella had joined me in Australia for a whole magical week but that had been almost three months ago. The irony was that the vet she was doing the extended locum for was vacationing in Australia and had actually attended one of our shows. We'd talked every day or even more often, but we were craving each other. Phone sex is way overrated and not something either of us were very comfortable with; both of us picturing the conversation as a feature in the next tabloid. Playing for her was sometimes more than just foreplay and I absolutely loved that from even 10 000 miles away I could affect her so. Her "I love you, I miss you" meant more than words. So I was now home for a whole two days before another US tour and a new hotel room every night. The second I got in Bella gave me a wonderful kiss but then she wanted to talk. About a baby. She handed me some condoms – we hadn't used condoms since Bella's last day of vet school – and then she told me she was off the pill since her last flight home. Talk might not have been exactly the right word. She subsequently went to our room, undressed as I watched and then she slowly slipped in between the sheets. I figured I had two choices. And I decided to lob the condoms into the garbage can in the bedroom. I missed – by a wide margin – but Bella knew where I was aiming and got up to pull me into bed and undress me with a whisper about making a lot of babies and that at least I couldn't throw a curve ball. One day, with a little luck, there would be a little one running into our room with shouts of "Mommy! Daddy!" In the meantime, I held Bella giving her kisses imagining her with my child. I'd been home for only six minutes before I was in bed with my wife and less than a minute after that I could have been on my way to becoming a father. I got considerable flak for my, uh, solo performance – Bella made up a lot of hashtags at my expense between more kisses - but she was full of compliments the rest of the time I was home. Our physical need for each other escalated with every touch and the thought of creating a new life together.

It took Rose, who had just announced she was expecting yet again, only three months into our six month US tour to notice Bella joined us on tour for two or three days every four weeks like clockwork and our baby plans were no longer a private matter. The tabloids had been hinting about Bella and a pregnancy ever since we'd been linked in the media and even more frequently since the wedding. Every time I saw that same headline these days I was the one hoping it would really be true this time. And Bella was determined, but frustrated, when after the US tour and four flights to South America she still wasn't pregnant. She wouldn't say anything to Alice, since she and Jazz were now into year three of fertility issues but she was wondering if it would be the same for us. I was back in New York for only a day – at the wrong time of the month – but for Bella's sake I had to do something embarrassing. It was a relief when Carlisle told me there wasn't anything wrong with my sample but it was certainly not something I was overly comfortable having Carlisle test. The only thing worse would have been a thousand fans listening outside the door at a fertility clinic – Jazz could absolutely concur. Another five months of trying and we were way past the year mark.

We were making the best of our limited time together, but when you've got a schedule to keep and fertility dates in mind spontaneity sadly takes a back burner. For me the stage is where I let loose, others fear it more than death – Bella is a perfect example. Performance anxiety hadn't even been in my vocabulary until Bella and I decided to try and start a family. The long flights to South America meant Bella and I had so little time. She didn't want me to pleasure her, just fill her. And taking a detour to the hotel between a TV interview and an autograph session for half an hour or less was not really my idea of quality time – I just had to perform. Quickly. And she was desperate for a child, not me. Thinking of her propositioning me at the vineyard always got me to climax but I wanted her to do it again. To want nothing, no one but me and I wanted to hear her to whimper my name. Not for her to beg me to do her one more time in the car as we were dropping her at the airport. At least Laurent was driving; he didn't ask questions, just put up the privacy window and drove around for another ten minutes. The following month, for me but not without a warning from me, Alice rescheduled an interview and an autograph session for the afternoon. I had Bella to myself for eleven uninterrupted hours. They were all very well spent. After the show we went directly back to the hotel. I didn't let her undress. I took off each piece of her clothing entirely and didn't quite silence her with deep kisses. She melted like she used to. I loved it. Every inch of her skin got a thorough massage and I did get her moaning my name as my fingers and tongue gave her her first orgasm in months. I couldn't help but sigh at the pleasure it brought me and that lit her fire. She stripped me and it finally wasn't just about the end result. She massaged me everywhere and just before I thought I'd make a mess on the bed she took me in her mouth. I kissed her and more caresses led to more lovemaking, this time with baby-making possibilities. We slept and had a similar session throughout the morning. I didn't want to let her go. On our way to the airport she clung to me and whispered tender I love yous. There's nothing sweeter than my Bella. For a week after that I could hear her pleas for me over the phone and I longed to come home. I finally understood she missed me just as much as I missed her and her detachment had been a coping mechanism. I asked her again if I should just get on the next plane to a resounding no. But we couldn't do this forever.

I still had another two months in Europe and then a huge double album release with a whole week off aside from some promotional interviews back in New York. That whole week on my return I had plans for Bella and me that had to do with a lot of time at home, some of it in bed but with baby way down on the agenda. Hopefully we could relax together, it might even help. The night I went back to my hotel room after a kickass show in Copenhagen planning to call Bella, she was there, sitting on my bed, waiting for me. A complete surprise. She was just over a week early for her planned visit – because her period was six days late. She said she hadn't yet done the test and held up a little pink box shaking with excitement. I couldn't believe she'd flown half-way around the world so we could share the news – good or bad - together. My wife. We sat together cuddling watching the clock until the requisite time was up and the little pink stick had a definitive plus sign. Bella was glowing. I held her and sung lullabies and we talked into the night. We were really going to be parents. We agreed not to tell anyone for the usual requisite three month timeline and Bella left for home very early the next day not wanting to raise Rose's suspicions but not before we made love again like we had for our child's conception. Both Irina and Laurent were sworn to secrecy as we drove Bella back to the airport. Irina hugged Bella immediately before we got into the car, she knew, the smiles on our faces combined with the fact that Irina had been the one Bella sent on the pharmacy run had her put two and two together. I channeled my excess energy into the shows, our interviews and new music and the guys were noticing the bounce in my step but chalked it up to the end of the tour and more Bella time. There was a bet between Emmett and Jazz about whether I'd strip again on stage given my new level of adrenaline. I didn't, and I think it was Emmett that lost. Bella and I changed our minds and told my parents the good news the minute I got back into New York and they were completely ecstatic. Mom, tongue in cheek, checked her phone. When we told the band two weeks later, it was hugs all round. Jazz just handed me his new lyrics with a smile, he'd known the minute I sent him the first dozen new songs. Bella sent the first ultrasound photo to Leah expecting a quick reply. She didn't reply to Bella first - I got an almost instantaneous text with a lot of acronyms and finally a congrats. One of these days I might block her number. Seconds later Leah called Bella and it was a good thing we'd been home for a few minutes and weren't still in the middle of the airport. We weren't doing the official press release until the following week but Leah's screech "OMG BELLA YOU'RE FUCKING PREGNANT!" would have made for the sound bite of the century, even through the phone it made the piano reverberate slightly. Bella was too kind when she reminded Leah it wasn't on Twitter yet. When we finally unveiled the news fans – think Leah who had a week to prepare - actually used my new last name and #babycullen was born.

Six months after the official announcement and a very uneventful pregnancy according to Bella, she was at Sunday dinner with my parents when her water broke a full two weeks before her due date. I was halfway through the last of two shows in Chicago and Alice didn't say a single word until we finished the set. She'd booked me the next available flight and packed me a carry-on though; I wasn't able to think. The encore was only one song - Naked, of course - my brain wouldn't have remembered the lyrics to anything else. And the crowd understood – they got the news first that I had to catch a plane.

I got to the hospital six hours after Bella had arrived, all the while worrying on the plane my baby would be born when I wasn't there. Then complete panic ensued as I thought of Rose. But Bella was still in labor when I arrived, mom hadn't left her side. I ran straight to Bella for a kiss. Three nurses were in the room, none of them were looking like they really needed to be there, and all of them were tongue-tied with my arrival. I asked how she was and they tried to reassure me Bella and the baby were just fine. Bella told me the same and then she made me sign autographs – the nurses were thrilled. I held her hand during contractions but she was tough. Truth be told, she had known worse pain but she wouldn't voice that now – she was just smiling, happy too that I hadn't missed the moment. But our baby was stubborn, no surprise with whom he or she had for parents. Of course, Bella was determined to have a natural birth.

Her actual words through gritted teeth after the worst contraction yet were "Jake's cattle can do it!" I made the executive decision not to comment. Bella has done a couple caesarians on Jake's cattle but it wasn't the time to mention that. I just kept holding her hand. My silent support meant there would at least be a possibility of other children, another topic I was leery of bringing up at this stage of labor. She is licenced to castrate every species on the planet but one – I'm sure she'd make an exception. I have heard more than once from Bella how easy it is to snip those little things off. I'm now taking that as a personal warning. Instead I sang Bella every song I know, and hummed more than a few I just wrote during what felt like an endless labor and though Bella kept getting new nurses not a single one went home. Esme kept peaking in and soon Carlisle came in to wish us well and to take Esme home. Everyone kept an eye on the fetal monitor. I just incorporated the little patter into a new melody. That's when I realized Alice hadn't called even once about all the appearances and interviews I'd missed throughout the day and I was grateful for the uninterrupted time with my wife on this special day.

There was more talk about a caesarean but Bella was holding out until the twenty-four hour mark even though I could see how tired she was. Then, in a rush of doctors and nurses twenty-three hours and fifty-three minutes after Bella's water broke, baby Masen joined the world and was none too happy to do so but at least he chose dad's one night off. Cheers reverberated through the whole ward, you could hear the echoes of 'it's a boy' - I'd have thought it was a stadium of fans. I got the honor of cutting the cord and if the smile on Bella's face was any reflection of mine neither of us could have been happier. We watched the nurses swaddle our son and he was handed to Bella's outstretched arms. I kissed them both and there was a collective sigh when the second I started humming a new little lullaby he turned to look right at me. Nothing could equate to the love I felt at that moment both for my wife and my son. Then I remembered photos. I took out my phone for the first photo of my son, his little hand wriggling free from confinement. I got a few photos of Bella and Masen before she cautioned me. I told her they weren't going on Twitter with a kiss and a little chuckle from our audience. A few more photos, and I handed a nervous nurse my phone so I could have something better than a selfie with my newborn. Then Bella handed him to me and all I could do was look into his little blue eyes as Bella now had my phone and was taking pictures. When she was done she tapped a few keys and handed me back the phone already dialling mom on speakerphone.

"Mom! It's a boy! Masen Charlie Cullen." I told her as soon as she answered and I heard her relay the message. I'd guessed it was dad but then I heard a few cheers; Rose was visiting with her clan waiting on the news.

"Congratulations, sweetie!" Mom was so excited. "Is Bella OK? You're taking care of her, I hope. Let her get some rest. Do you want me to call Alice? She's phoned at least twelve times but I told her not to bother you. I hope she listened. That girl…" mom probably could have talked for an hour, but Bella stepped in.

"I'm great, Esme. And little Masen, he's perfect. Beautiful. Only minutes old. We thought we'd call you first. Call Alice please, I don't want her to worry. We'll call again soon." Esme showered Bella with kisses and again told me to make sure Bella gets some sleep before hanging up.

As soon as she handed me back my phone a few things happened in succession. Bella squeezed my hand, there was a horrible splat and a little scurrying. I forgot to breathe for a minute. Rose. Bella knew exactly what I was thinking and talked me through it, even asking the doctor about the placenta to be sure. Ten minutes later all was still well and my breathing was nearly back to normal. Bella booted me out of the room so she could get washed up room swearing a nurse would find me if she needed me. Irina had brought up Bella's suitcase earlier and I followed her instructions to locate our diaper bag, Alice had decided only Louis Vuitton would do. I followed a different nurse down to the nursery with Masen after all the name bands were safely secured on tiny arms and legs and Bella and I got arm bands as well. I'd say they were a tad over cautious but better that than the switched-at-birth scenario they're obviously worried about. I wasn't about to let him out of my sight here so there was absolutely no chance of that. I probably could have brought in Laurent or Irina but no one was bringing out cameras. I watched Masen get washed, weighed, measured, diapered and dressed in relative calm. He fussed a little in the water and a little more with the heal prick testing for some genetic disorder – Bella would remember what it was for. But Masen seemed to relax when I talked to him even though I'd been gone for most of the latter part of Bella's pregnancy. I would say the photo she sent me with the earphones around her baby bump weren't just playing Bach. But I swore right then and there he wouldn't know only my voice. I counted his fingers and toes like every worried parent and, of course, made sure all the requisite boy-parts were intact.

Bella looked completely perfect when we got back, she smiled a tired smile and I pulled Masen's bassinette up beside the bed giving her a kiss even with the nurse in the room. But then I had to make myself a little scarce when the nurse started getting Masen set up to breastfeed. I didn't leave, but I didn't know what I should do. Once the nurse left closing the curtain and the door I turned towards Bella with Masen suckling happily. Bella patted the bed and scooted over carefully as I took off my shoes and climbed in gingerly trying not to jostle my son. Bella nestled into my shoulder with a sigh of contentment and we just watched Masen. Bella and I were the proudest parents going and I didn't care that we had the whole maternity ward outside our door as I sung Masen more lullabies until he fell asleep. Then we made our requisite phone calls to the band, Alice needed all the details and the pics, she'd deal with People and the photo deal, put out a press release, post the news on Twitter and on our website probably even before I hung up the phone. We called mom again to even more excitement now that she had a pic that she'd already printed and put on top of the piano. Bella tried her mom but hung up as the voicemail came on. Bella still tries. Renee will hear about our son with the rest of the world and won't even call. Maybe we'll get a text in a couple of weeks. We'll get way more than that from fans. Bella was now resigned, not angry or upset so I tried not to let it bother me. I just kissed my Bella as I felt her snuggle closer. And as though I'd done it for years, I picked Masen up to cradle him while holding Bella as she drifted off. I wanted a family photo but I couldn't reach my phone.

Nurses opened then quickly closed the door until I called them in while Bella was sleeping. Even their assessments didn't wake her. They offered to put Masen in the bassinette for me; I declined, knowing I wouldn't be able to hold him for much longer. When Bella woke a few hours later, she startled, looking around and her gaze settled on our sleeping son with a smile. That's when I got a kiss with an I love you that I was glad wasn't interrupted by anyone opening the door. We just watched him sleep some more and when he woke I helped him get settled with Bella again. I even managed my first diaper change later that morning to raised eyebrows and a little awe from the nurses; more music followed until Bella and our son were cleared for discharge only twelve hours after his birth. We drove straight to the airport. Bella shoved me out of the car with Laurent after some quick kisses on the way home with our son. Bella rolled her eyes but let me hire twenty-four hour private nursing for the week I was gone. She just told me to tell them to bring reading material. I had no doubt she'd also tell them herself.

I was due in Detroit and only had two hours from when I landed until show time. I'd never missed a sound check in my career until that day but I'm pretty sure I was the only one who could tell during the first few songs the bass was a little flat as I gestured to our very astute sound engineer how to fix it. The crowd was hyped and because I could no longer ignore all the shouts of "How's Masen?" I proudly told them he was perfect, my daddy genes had certainly kicked in instantly. That night only the incessant energy of the crowd and the rest of the band got me through – two hours sleep on the plane even with the high levels of adrenaline flowing through my body was nowhere near enough. After the last note of the encore I felt like a horrible father leaving my son only fourteen hours after he was born. Bella knew exactly how I was feeling and my phone rang as soon as I left the stage with reassurances from my dear wife. We Skyped that night and every night just so I could watch Masen sleep. And she sent me videos every day; apparently the nurses I hired were at least useful in holding the camera. A week later I had six weeks off – Alice can do math when given conception dates if babies cooperate –and I spent every minute with my wife and son as soon as I got home. And those first baby photos I sent Alice? Well, Bella received a brand new SPCA tee with our donation as a thank-you. And the last couple weeks I was home after baby she started wearing it or my green plaid shirt around the house without panties when Masen went down for his nap. It was a little hint; I figured out my move was to ask her to bed again. I never ever plan to buy her a nightgown.

Since Masen's birth, by my vote alone, even with our fan base still growing, we've kept up releases but cut down on our tour schedule. I had come so close to not having my precious family I was adamant I was going to spend some more time at home. Bella and I talked first and my rational was compelling – she didn't even try to change my mind because she knew she wouldn't. Though she was guarded at first in expressing her happiness about my decision; I loved that she worried but I loved it even more that she really wanted me home. When I talked to guys they weren't thrilled, Alice even less so, but the alternative was to vote me out of the band. I was fine either way – but was happy they let me stay. There was a part me – the part I really, really don't like – that told me they had no choice. There is no band without Eddie Masen. Even if the name is now only a trademark. Not one of us spoke those words to each other and Alice adjusted the proposed tour schedule without another word. I did talk with Bella and she understood both my thoughts and my discomfort. There will never be secrets between us ever again.

Last winter we spent a whole month in New York. I saw the sights again; everything was a first with Bella and little Masen. Bella I finally made it to the 9-11 memorial - no fanfare - but I did pull a few strings and Bella finally learned to write a really big cheque. The memorial was the first day we left Masen with Esme and Carlisle – Bella and I were emotional wrecks by the time we got home. Our first real date-after-baby was to the top of the Empire States Building. With Bella in my arms even with a thousand cameras going off we shared a perfect kiss. Even with our time apart when I leave on tour Bella and I have managed to stay connected in every way.

Bella's still splitting her time between New York and Texas, working Dr. Snow's practice half the year while he gradually settles into retirement. The rest of the year she's continued to do locums in New York and the surrounding area for vacationing vets. Apparently vets are really big Masen Hale fans she says – they're starting to slot their vacation around Bella's schedule rather than the other way around. I told her she's just that good a vet. Both Rose and Esme beg for babysitting duty when Bella is working in the city so we have a really good arrangement. On tour Kate already has a nanny so Victoria occasionally has an extra charge when Bella's able to take a few days to a week between locums to meet up with us on tour. I cherish every minute I have with my wife and son from the moment they arrive and I embrace daddy-duty so much I have managed a few shows with a little piddle on my jeans that I didn't notice. It hasn't made the tabloids yet. I always change my shirt right before show time – baby spit-up has a certain aroma you can't exactly miss. Masen doesn't care his daddy needs to perform, he just wants lots of cuddles and so do I. Back in New York Bella, Rose, the kids and my parents get together nearly every Sunday for dinner and if the band is home it's a certainly a full house.

This past summer I spent two months at the vineyard, the role of stay-at-home dad suited me perfectly. Jake was initially a wiseass – giving us free steak, saying it must be really hard living off only Bella's income. I bought him four new ATVs and the cutest little Barbie ones for the girls. The next crack out of his mouth and I'm prepared; the girls will soon be old enough for ponies. But it really was a fabulous summer. I wrote while Masen napped. I taught piano to the twins. Of course, teaching piano isn't really possible unless you have one – the ranch and the vineyard both finally have a decent musical instrument each. Bella even helped me pick them out but she drew the line at additions to both houses to hold even a baby grand, I tried not to be disappointed. Still, the choice for uprights was extensive and I may have played every piano in all of Texas as we took Masen piano shopping. He won over all the fans. I won over a few piano reps who quickly learned I know more than four chords.

This last fall, with Bella's encouragement, I put out a solo piano recording. The English title didn't faze her but the Italian one got her attention. Bella Musica. She, of course, rolled her eyes – exactly what I was expecting. It got some really good reviews by both critics and quite a few fans of Masen Hale though I doubt it's ever going platinum, something I'm more than OK with. I was also awarded an honorary degree from Julliard, although it's not enough for me to be called Dr. Cullen, that's still my wife's domain. When I head out on tour from Texas, Leah takes care of Masen when Bella works and the twins dote on him. Sam and Paul have help now; Leah built us a second cabin at the vineyard for newbies Brady and Collin but they stay in the main house whenever we're away. The vineyard also has a full mail order business for wine run by Brady since there's now the connection with the band.

It sounds like Dr. Snow will fully retire in about five years and Bella has already talked about buying his practice. Maybe the band will retire then too. Or we'll just do one tour a year for the next twenty or thirty years, claiming we're retiring – it's worked for other bands but I'd really have to run that one by Bella. I have learned my lesson. If that didn't work, I could just get a gig at Howl at the Moon and finally finish my degree. We could raise our kids at the vineyard and I could put out another solo album. Love, commitment and family, both Bella and I realize how fortunate we are to have all three.

Back to Christmas morning, Masen's still dancing and laughing with Bella tickling his belly. Elizabeth, now nine, is so much more like Alice than Rose and she had taken it upon herself to take responsibility for present distribution and making sure no one opened a gift out of turn. Rose is due again any day, and Rosie, now almost three, was frequently asking how a baby could get in there whenever she poked and kissed her mommy's belly. Bella was ok with my lie, this one time.

"Magic!" I told Rosie blowing her tummy kisses. She just laughed. Of course, right then I heard my favorite word, "DADDY!" and Masen climbed up on my lap needing tummy kisses too until he ran back to Bella and around the room. Emmett made Bella swear she'd tell Rosie the real story of how babies are made – many, many years from now, though she shouldn't wait too long; knowing what I know about Emmett Carlisle was at least six months too late. Five-year old Emmett Jr., or Em J as we call him, was immersed in Carlisle's gift – a doctor's bag with the usual kiddie stuff but Carlisle had added some real bandages and plastic syringes so we were all getting our requisite check-ups. There's no doubt Em J will be Dr. Masen in about twenty years. Probably a good thing. His nickname is already taken in the music business and in sports – I'd have to tell him changing your name can create a lot of havoc if you're not careful.

Esme and Carlisle were in their element with the whole family and an ever growing number of grand-children around the Christmas tree. Rosie had just been lifted up by Esme for more kisses and Em J was talking to Carlisle about how to use the stethoscope. After Rose had fully recovered and wanted a second child, Emmett wasn't having any of it. Rose had confided in both Bella and Esme, Bella told me and even a brotherly heart-to-heart hadn't changed his mind. A rare Sunday when we were both home, Esme finally sat us down and told us she'd had a stillborn and at the same time had also lost her ability to bear children. This was only three years before we entered her life and I was even more grateful to the parents that had chosen us. She always wanted a big family, she said, and could relate to Rose. It wasn't too long after that Rose announced she was pregnant again. And now it seems there's no end in sight. As for Rose and Emmett, they say they're still deciding on a wedding date. Bella's not optimistic and was just happy I wasn't as stubborn as Emmett. I had tried to talk her out of it but knew it was for naught. Instead, I talked myself into it. My rationale being incredibly simple – it will never matter what the prenup says because no one will ever need to read it. Never. As long as I'm smart it will be like it doesn't exist. Have I ever mentioned I've learned my lesson? And Bella? She now really uses the credit card. It's easy I told her. If you donate a million to charity spending a few grand on something for yourself doesn't seem too over the top.

I might just have nearly fallen off the stage one day during sound check a couple months ago when she called saying she'd invited Leah and the twins to town and that they were going shopping. It sounded like they'd had a lot of fun. I got a strange thank-you text from Jake a week later. Bella wouldn't tell me why saying I'd learn the reason when I got home. Three weeks later as I met Bella and Masen at the airport I was hoping for an answer. Not yet, she'd said coyly. Spending the afternoon with my family, making dinner, giving Masen a bath and into jammies, then sitting at the piano made me just love being home. As soon as Masen was asleep Bella told me that she and Leah had spent a considerable amount of time at Agent Provocateur and though my French is pretty rudimentary I guessed the contents of the store without further details. And minutes later I didn't have even an English vocabulary as Bella undid a few buttons on her blouse revealing a little lace. I took over with the buttons and Bella's whisper about another baby was all it took for me to carry her to bed. I made sure to get a good look at her in the revealing lingerie; caressing and kissing her in all the right places before I took it all off. I nearly moaned out loud at the memory. But right then, Masen jumped on the keyboard to resounding discordance. Saved by my son. I picked him up giving him another tickle and played again. My thoughts were not really appropriate with my parents in the room but I might see if Bella would model a few more of her purchases for me tonight.

As for Alice and Jazz, they have been to fertility specialists the last four years and apparently all is in working order. Alice told Bella a few months ago she's planning for IVF in the New Year and I hope it's successful. Alice is a planner and she doesn't like having anything this out of her control. I can certainly relate.

Kate and Garrett called us on Skype from Alaska with seven year old Sasha hamming it up for the camera. Sasha loves her new full-size acoustic guitar and had already learned a new song that she played for us. She has her dad's talent and has been filling in for Garrett at sound checks since she turned six. No fear of the stage for this one and she's already decided she should open for us – Garrett told her not until she's at least thirteen. And to open for any other band he told her she had to be twenty-five. I still thought that was too young. For now Sasha agreed with dad, I would worry as much as Garrett when she really stepped into the spotlight. After two more miscarriages they welcomed Carmen to their family at Thanksgiving and both Kate and Garrett and big sister Sasha are getting to know the little new addition.

The last gift under the tree was a tiny package that Elizabeth brought to Jazz. When Jazz opened the little box, he picked up the two pairs of baby booties inside and Alice couldn't contain her joy. Jazz couldn't speak; all he could mouth was "Twins?" Alice nodded. It's the first time I've ever seen Jazz at a loss for words. Jazz is overcome with emotion at the best of times and this was no exception. He'll find words, I know, and I hope I can do them justice. After all the congratulations and belly rubs for Alice that she could take, she settled into Jasper's embrace. Bella sat down beside Masen and me while he wriggled on my lap and I played on his keyboard. I was writing a new song for Jazz – fitting that it should be on a Fisher-Price keyboard – but Bella got my attention when she put her arms around me giving Masen a kiss and whispered so only I could hear, "Speaking of magic..." I had to contain my surprise; we'd just decided to start trying again. It had to have been the lingerie. She nodded almost imperceptibly and sealed it with a kiss. Not yet time for an announcement. Jazz and Alice will enjoy the spotlight for a little while and all the baby stores in whatever cities we're in will have their best year ever. And Leah will be thrilled to talk with Alice about raising twins. I could tell Alice right now her perfectly scheduled life will be no more and I only had the twins for a few weeks this summer. But it was good practice for me to keep an eye on three kids at the vineyard. And there's something to be said for practice. Right now I just held Bella and cuddled Masen. My family. Masen will love a baby brother or sister though he will certainly need to learn to share. And then, maybe, Bella and I can make a few more so we can create our own band, a few veterinarians or whatever in the world they want to be. I like the idea, honestly. And I love my wife. My Bella.

A truly sappy happily ever after. Thanks for reading!