This was my submission for the Age Of Edward 2017 contest. It won the First Time Author badge. Thanks to everyone who reviewed and read the story and all the support I have received for fellow writers, readers and friends.
Heartfelt thanks to Alice's White Rabbit for her phenomenal beta skills.
A special thanks to the organizers and judges of the Age of Edward 2017 contest. It takes a great deal of time to manage these. I thank them also for giving me the inspiration to try my hand at writing a story. Please take time to read the other entries as they are all wonderful. It was difficult to only vote for three.
Standard Disclaimer: The author does not own any publicly recognizable entities herein. No Copyright infringement is intended.
I didn't realize when I walked out into the humidity that was Vietnam that my life would be changed forever. I mean, I understand that war changes people, but the extent to which that one event would mold my future was unforeseen at that time.
You see, I didn't do the noble act of enlisting; I was drafted right after my surgical training was complete. Talk about trial by fire! I was angry, miserable, and just wanted to serve my tour and get back to the life that was waiting for me back in Washington. Seems though that absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder and 6 months into my tour I was blessed to receive the typical "Dear John" letter that so many of my fellow soldiers received during their time in country. This would prove to be the best thing to ever happen to me.
Upon receipt of said letter from Tanya, my wonderful fiancée, I proceeded to go to the Officer's Club and drown my sorrows. That's where the life-changing event would occur.
Captain Isabella Swan was ready to leave, having just completed her tour, and was attending her going away party when I first saw her. Once I looked into her big, deeply expressive eyes, I knew I would never be the same. When we started talking, I couldn't believe how much we had in common. Between musical tastes, literature, views on politics, and just basic philosophy of life, we were more compatible than anyone with which I had ever spoken. We made an immediate connection, and it didn't surprise me at all that after a night of heavy drinking, we ended up in bed together.
Waking up the next morning with a hangover is my least favorite way to arise, but I was especially distressed to note that my companion was long gone. I was left with nothing but a note, thanking me for a fantastic sendoff that was signed Bella. I was determined to reconnect with this angel upon my discharge.
When I volunteered right out of nursing school to go to Vietnam, I thought I was doing my patriotic duty, getting a crash course in trauma medicine and escaping my small Illinois town and the failed relationship remaining there. The thought of being able to ensure my future medical school hopes and dreams through the GI Bill was just a tickle at the time, but another reason to go. Let's face it, while the pay isn't great, there isn't much time for shopping.
What I hadn't expected was the ungodly heat! There was a popular saying there, "When I die, I'm going to Heaven 'cause I've spent my time in Hell." I don't think I felt clean or bug free the entire 12 months I was in the country. The work was steady, unimaginably dirty, bloody, and frightening, but so very rewarding. To be able to afford comfort to a boy who was taking his last breath is a privilege I'll never be able to express. That being said, I was so very ready to go back to civilization when my tour was complete.
Little did I know that a random meeting in the Officer's Club at my going-away party would change my life forever. I had more than my usual amount to drink and was wandering out of the facilities when I bumped into the most gorgeous man I had ever seen. His green eyes were what sonnets are written about, and I've never seen hair the color of his. What was unusual was that he seemed to be as enamored with me as I was with him. We talked the rest of the night, and it was with real regret that I realized our time together would be so short. I left for my early flight the next morning with him peacefully sleeping. I only hoped he would remember enough of the night to contact me when he returned stateside.
When I returned home, there was no parade or welcome ceremony. My parents picked me up in Indianapolis, and I returned to my mediocre existence as though I had never been gone. Transitioning back to regular life was a challenge, especially since I seemed to have developed some type of GI problem. I couldn't keep anything down and was tired all the time. Finally, at the recommendation of a co-worker, I went to a local clinic for an exam. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my one night with the man of my dreams resulted in an addition to my family. Now what was I going to do?
Pregnant? How can I be pregnant! I mean, I know how it works and everything, but I was so very careful, even that last time with the gorgeous Lieutenant Cullen. I guess condom failure is a possibility, and it's not like I don't know exactly who the father is, as I've never been promiscuous, especially after the Jacob Black debacle. How could I think that giving that asshat my virginity would be the thing to do? The fact that he proceeded to brag to the entire football team that he was successful in deflowering "Brainy Swan" certainly didn't help my self-esteem or my love for our small town. The fact that his parents and my parents were best friends and we spent all holidays with them and their extended family certainly didn't help. One thing was for certain, I've got some major thinking to do.
First off, there is no way I can stay home. I'm going to have to move to a bigger city before the pregnancy becomes obvious. I should be able to get some preliminary course work toward my bachelor's degree. Fortunately, some of my nursing classes were taken at a community college, so those credits should transfer. Since I have a considerable savings account thanks to Uncle Sam, I should be able to work part-time as long as I have enough hours to qualify for health insurance. Better do that soon though, or they'll consider this pregnancy a pre-existing condition, and I won't get coverage for it. If I move to Terre Haute, that won't be too far from home, but they have a nice university there and a couple hospitals that should welcome a chance to hire someone with my experience in trauma.
Now, the biggest question is what do I tell Mom and Dad? I think I'll just explain that it's too complicated to stay at home with the Jake situation and that I intend to move to a city with a trauma center so I can utilize the skills I learned as well as continue my education. Will they buy it? Who knows, but I've certainly earned the right to be on my own for a while. I'm sure whatever doctor I go to can assist with post delivery options. If I keep myself busy enough, I won't be able to dwell on the bronze-haired, green-eyed father of my baby. Wonder if he remembers that night and thinks of me fondly on occasion. Guess I'll never know; it's not like we exchanged information.
Six months is a lifetime when waiting for the rest of your life to begin. Every day was the same; a massive influx of wounded followed by downtime so boring it defies words. Have I mentioned the unending heat? I was anxious to get to the states and see if I could track down my brown-eyed angel. I already had my brother-in-law, Jasper, an attorney, looking for her with the limited information I was able to remember and elicit from her co-workers.
On a side note, it seems the closer it gets to my return, the more Tanya regrets the "Dear Edward, I don't love you anymore" letter. Tough luck! I have no interest in continuing that relationship in any way, shape, or form. Unfortunately, her parents and mine are friends, so she stays informed, and even sending back her letters unopened doesn't seem to send the message of disinterest! She keeps contacting my sisters for information. I told them not to give her any, but I'm not sure how that's going. Jasper has advised that the family is planning a party for my return. I just want to get to Indiana and find my angel.
Yes, I have discovered her location. I've contemplated contact with her; but have convinced myself that just surprising her would be the best option. My father is pressuring me to make a decision about the future and whether I want to accept the general surgery position at the hospital where he's chief of staff. I'm not sure though; I'm thinking more along the lines of trauma so I can utilize this forced fellowship the government has so graciously provided. The biggest factor remains what Captain Swan has up her sleeve and whether she wishes to weigh in. My greatest hope is that she wants to explore the connection I know we had with each other during that brief encounter six months ago.
On the flight to San Francisco, I was able to decompress some and try to forget the horrors of the past year. The carnage was indescribable, but I've been told that, statistically, the survivor rate for soldiers injured in this war has been much higher than in previous times mostly because of the rapid evacuation from field to field hospital for stabilization and then to hospital ships for immediate transport to Guam and stateside. It was helpful mentally to know I played a part in improving the outcomes, but to see such death and destruction among men my age and younger was difficult to digest. Whatever were the folks in Washington, DC thinking to involve us in a local civil war?
I'm not sure my conservative father is going to appreciate my changed views on his favorite topic, but if nothing else, I've come to know myself much better while away. I foresee some social activism in my future. With those thoughts in mind, I can feel the plane as it descends into San Francisco International Airport. Sure hope the family has kept my immediate return quiet so I don't have to deal with the "Tanya Issue" immediately.
What an absolute clusterfuck this welcome home party turned out to be! Of course, Tanya had to be there and make a big scene. She actually had the gall to act as though she didn't dump me when I was at war and proceeded to try to talk to me about setting a date for our wedding. Is she delusional or what? I put that discussion to rest immediately, unconcerned with the scene we were making at the Fairmont where Mother, in her infinite wisdom, decided to throw the welcome home party. Needless to say, the Denali family won't be attending future family functions. Why would I want someone that shallow when I just need to find my angel!
Jasper has some leads that I'm going to check out as soon as things are settled here. Hopefully, I'll be in time, and she'll not have found someone. Damn, I should have contacted her while I was still in Vietnam, but I wanted to make sure I came home before I explored this connection. My father wants me to start at the hospital immediately, but I'm going to take a few months to readjust and find Captain Swan.
Everything has been going well these past six months. I was able to find a part-time position in the ER and signed up for my pre-med classes. I was able to transfer almost all of my nursing school credits and started as a junior. I have a small one-bedroom apartment and have been feeling really well. My pregnancy is becoming more apparent. I wish I could get away with wearing scrubs, but it's amazing how easy it is to divert attention from my stomach. It helps that I've always been on the small side. As soon as it becomes visible, I'll have to take a leave of absence. Can't have the pregnant woman infecting anyone else! At least, I'll have more study time. I'm supposed to take the MCAT, my medical school entrance test, soon. I've been able to save a considerable amount of money, so I'm not really worried about being off for a while.
I've decided to give the baby up for adoption. I hate that I can't get ahold of his father, but I don't even know where to start, and with everything I have going on, it's just not possible to manage. It will break my heart to do it, but I know it's best for the baby. At least, that's what everyone who knows has been telling me. If only I had some way to contact Edward; he probably doesn't remember me anyway. I just feel bad that he'll never know about this wonderful life we created. Our connection was so strong I sometimes think I can imagine him seeking me. The parents have been somewhat supportive, but I can tell they're glad I'm away from the small town where they live and can keep the scandal from their friends. They've been pushing the most for adoption. Guess they don't want to claim an illegitimate grandchild. It's nice to know they're available should I run into problems.
Rumor has it there's a new hotshot trauma surgeon interviewing today. I'm not sure if he'll stay for the evening shift, but I have no time in my life for relationships anyway, plus who would want me in my current condition. Bet slutty Lauren will be all over that! Doesn't she have any self-respect? She doesn't even care if the doctors are married. All she's interested in is becoming a Mrs, preferably with an MD at the end of the guy's name.
I've arranged to interview at the hospital where Jasper has located Bella. He reported she's working part-time in the ER on the evening shift. I'm hoping to catch a glimpse of her during the tour. If it is indeed her, I plan to stay as long as necessary to know this woman and see if that wonderful connection I felt is still there. My appointment with the administrator and Chief of Staff is for early afternoon. I'm planning on the ER tour being around shift change. I've been praying that she's scheduled for today. According to the information Jasper was able to find, she takes classes most mornings but almost always works on Wednesday, so I would only accept an appointment then.
After a meeting with the Chief of Surgery, Director of Nursing, and the Personnel Department, Dr. Gerandy asked if I was interested in a tour of the facilities. "I'd love a tour, but I'd like to be quite honest with you," I stated. "My main purpose in inquiring about the position in this hospital and this city is because I'm searching for a nurse I met while in Vietnam. I've have been advised that she's working in your Emergency department. Would you know if Isabella Swan is working today and whether it would be possible for me to meet with her?"
Angela Webber, the director of personnel, picked up the telephone and called down to the Emergency department. "It appears that Miss Swan is working this afternoon, but they're involved in a mass trauma situation at the present time," Miss Webber advised.
"Perhaps we could include that area last on the tour. If they're still busy, it will give you an idea of how the team works," stated Dr. Gerandy.
As we made our way through the hospital, I was impressed by the staff's friendliness and efficiency. Although the facilities could use an update, I was assured by the tour guides that a major renovation was in the works. As we made our way to the Emergency Department, I couldn't help feeling anxious about how Bella would react when she saw me. Would she even recognize me?
I don't know how or why Lauren is still working here. She must know people in high places or be sleeping with someone. She doesn't know her ass from a hole in the ground, and I always get stuck with her. I think the higher ups are afraid she'll kill someone if she isn't supervised. What an airhead! What's really intolerable is how she tries to boss everyone around like she actually knows what she's talking about. Most just ignore her, and if it gets her out of the way and lets the more knowledgeable tend to the patients, I'm all for that. Just get out of the way and write things down, that's the best use for her.
Just as I walked in for my shift, two ambulances pulled up to the trauma bay with victims from an auto accident. Looks like someone went through the windshield. Although seatbelts have been required in cars for a couple years, people just don't see the need for wearing them. One of the victims was thrown from the car because he wasn't wearing a seat belt. From the looks of his head injury, I'm fairly certain he's not going to survive. His passenger was wearing her belt, and although she has some internal injuries and cuts, it appears she'll be okay if we can get her to surgery. Just as I was finishing the insertion of a large bore IV line, I looked up and couldn't believe what I was seeing! Is this a hallucination or is Edward Cullen actually standing in the doorway?
"Edward Cullen? What are you doing here?" I exclaimed.
"Looking for you, Miss Swan," he answered. "Finish up; I'll be waiting in the lounge for you." I thought slutty Lauren's eyes were going to pop out of her head as she looked between the two of us. Okay, Swan, back to business. I was wrapping the IV site and preparing the patient for transport to surgery when the charge nurse came in. "Miss Swan, if you're finished here, the Chief of Surgery requests that you join him and his new trauma surgeon candidate in the break room." I gathered my composure and slowly walked to the lounge. Whatever would I say to Edward? How was he going to react to my news?
As I walked into the lounge, I could see that he was talking with Dr. Gerandy. I've only seen him a few times, but I've been impressed with his knowledge and professionalism with each encounter. As I enter, the conversation stops, and Dr. Gerandy stands up. "I'll leave you two to get reacquainted," he states as he walks out the door.
"How did you find me?" I inquired.
"I've been having my brother-in-law Jasper look for you since the day you left 'Nam. Since I was still going to be in the country for another six months, I was hesitant to contact you in case something happened to me. I didn't want you to worry about someone you met one time. In addition, I wasn't sure you would want to hear from me!"
"Why wouldn't I want to hear from you? That evening was the greatest night of my entire tour and since, to be truthful, although it has complicated things a bit for me." I said as I looked down at the floor.
"What do you mean?"
As I blushed, I stated, "Well, there must have been something defective with the condom we used as I'm pregnant. I've been trying to hide it from everyone here because they'll make me quit if they find out."
"Really! I'm going to be a dad?" he exclaimed excitedly. "I can't tell you how happy that makes me! Wait, are you feeling okay?" he said as he jumped up and led me to a chair. "Shouldn't you be sitting down? Oh, my God, we have to get married right away! I don't want my child to be illegitimate!"
"Wait! Wait! Wait!" I exclaimed. "We don't even know each other."
"Well, we know each other enough to become parents! The rest are just details! When do you get off of your shift? Let me pick you up, and we'll talk about everything that's going on and how we can best manage. I have to tell you though, Bella, I'm super excited about this and only hope you are too!"
We agreed to meet at a local diner that's open 24 hours when my shift was over, and I walked back to the ED in a daze. Of course, slutty Lauren was ready to jump me with thousands of questions upon my return, but I ignored all of the questioning looks and tried to absorb what had just happened. Thankfully, the rest of the shift was busy, and I didn't have time to dwell on what was waiting for me at the end of my shift.
I walked into the diner, and Edward was waiting for me. He stood as I walked to the table and pulled my chair out for me. I certainly wasn't used to being treated like that. I'm not sure I've ever had someone pull out my chair and wait for me to be seated. We sat there in awkward silence for a few minutes then both started to speak at the same time. I motioned for him to proceed.
He looked down at the table blushing as he said, "Sorry to ambush you at your job. I just needed to see you as soon as possible, and although Jasper was able to track down your place of employment, he wasn't able to discover where you were living. Once I discovered you were working in the ED, I approached the hospital about job opportunities for trauma surgeons, and you know the rest. I know my appearance is unexpected, but I sure hope it isn't unwanted. I've thought of little else but you since our night together and immediately started trying to find you. I realize that's kind of creepy, but I've never felt a connection with anyone the way I felt one with you. I can only hope you feel the same, especially since we're going to be parents. I'm sure you've made some plans about the future. Do you mind sharing your thoughts with me?"
I looked at this beautiful man, who was laying his cards and heart on the line, and was awed by his candor. As I gazed into his beautiful green eyes, I could only hope that our child would be blessed with that specific genetic trait. "Well, I had planned to work as long as the hospital would let me so I could accumulate as much money as possible. I still have most of my Army pay as there wasn't much time to shop, and I've been living very frugally. My medical expenses have been picked up by my hospital insurance benefit. I was able to get enrolled right before the cutoff date. I was looking into adoption …"
Edward gasped and grabbed my hand. "Please don't do that! I'll raise the baby if you don't want it. I have a very supportive family, and my parents would love a grandchild!"
"Edward, calm down; it was just an option. I'm not sure I could have gone through with the process. I've become more attached to the little parasite each day as my body has changed to accommodate this little miracle."
"Hey, no calling our child a parasite!" Edward exclaimed while grinning.
I continued, "It's just I'm not getting any family support as I'm the 'fallen woman.' My parents just want me to disappear until the "problem" is resolved and then return home. It's like they don't even acknowledge my presence anymore," I responded tearfully. "Like I would ever return to them after the way they've treated me! I've been taking classes part-time so I can finish my degree and take the MCAT for possible medical school admission. I realize it's a long shot, especially with a newborn, but it's been my dream and really the reason I joined the Army to take advantage of the GI Bill to pay my way."
Edward took my hand and, smiling, stated, "We're in this together now. We can stay here or go back to Seattle where my family lives. I know my mother is going to love you, and I can already imagine her designs for the nursery. I think she's been planning one since I started medical school."
"Look, Edward, this is a lot to process after an eight-hour shift. I have an early class tomorrow. Can we meet again in the afternoon and continue this discussion? Where are you staying?"
He looked sheepishly at me. "I haven't really arrange anything yet. I wanted to make sure I wasn't on a wild goose chase and that the Isabella Swan that Jasper found was indeed my brown-eyed angel."
"Why don't you follow me back to my apartment? You can crash on the couch for tonight, and I'll come back once my class is finished."
"Are you sure you want to do that? As you stated previously, you don't really know me that well."
"And as you reminded me, we know each other well enough to become parents together! Come on, you can follow me to the apartment. It's small, but all I can afford with these other anticipated expenses. Do you have a car?"
"Actually, I walked to the diner from the hospital, and I took a cab from the airport."
"All right then, follow me!"
We walked out of the diner to the ugliest piece of machinery I've ever seen in my entire life. No razzle-dazzle sports car for my girl; she has a 1953 (or earlier) truck that I'm fairly certain used to be red, but now is some washed-out shade of pink.
"I know Bessie isn't much to look at, but my dad rebuilt the engine before I left for 'Nam, and she runs like a dream," Bella stated. "At least, I don't have to worry about anybody stealing her!" She laughed.
"Yeah, no chance of that," I agreed. We proceeded to her apartment, which, although small, was tastefully decorated. She grabbed some blankets from the closet and proceeded to set me up on her small couch. I listened carefully as she readied for bed and, with a quiet goodnight, settled in for the night.
I awoke the next morning fully rested and alone in the small apartment. Bella had left a note indicating she would be back around 11:00. I glanced at the time and, although with the three-hour time difference between Indiana and Seattle, I didn't think 7:00 was too early in view of the wonderful information I had to relate to my parents. I called home collect, and as my mother answered, I couldn't help but get a big grin on my face.
"Mom, I found her!" I exclaimed. "She's just as perfect as I remember, and she's pregnant! You're going to be a grandmother! Mom? Are your there?" The total silence from the other end of the conversation clued me in that maybe she wasn't as excited as I was.
"Oh, Edward, honey, are you sure it's your baby?"
"Of course, I'm sure! I looked for her; she didn't look for me. The timing is perfect with our encounter before she left, and she's an Army officer, Mom. We do have some morals and ethics. She wouldn't pass the child off as mine if it wasn't or she wasn't sure. Plus, she was looking into adoption. She's not after anything from me. She doesn't even know about my trust fund. Please, be happy for me! I'm so excited. I just have to convince her to come home with me!"
"What about Tanya?
"What about her, Mom? I thought I made my opinion about her clear to everyone at that over-the-top party you insisted on having when I returned home. For God's sake, Mom, she sent me a 'Dear John' letter when I was in a combat zone. What more needs to be said? Although, in all honesty, I should send her a thank you note because if not for that letter, I wouldn't have been in the Officer's Club during Bella's going-away party and would have never met her! What started as a horrible day turned out to be the best day of my life until yesterday! I can't wait until you see how wonderful she is."
"All right, Edward, if you're sure and this is what you want, your father and I will support you anyway we can. Do you know when you'll be coming back?"
"Everything's a little up in the air right now. Bella's in class, and we need to finish our discussion. It will need to be soon though as she won't be allowed to fly much longer. We may have to drive as I'm not sure when her classes are finished or how many of her things she'll want to bring. I'll keep you posted. It's almost time for Bella to come home, and I don't want to be on the phone when she returns."
"Son, you know your father and I will support you in whatever you decide. Keep us posted on your anticipated return plans. I love you. Please give Bella our best and take care of my grandchild."
As I hung up the phone, I heard Bella's key in the lock and turned to greet her. She looked sad and tired. "What's wrong?"
"I stopped by the hospital to check my schedule for next week. I was called into the head nurse's office and advised that there had been a complaint made against me. Seems that someone noticed my condition during the trauma yesterday, and I've been asked to either resign or submit to a pregnancy test to prove I'm not pregnant. Since I would obviously fail the pregnancy test, I tendered my resignation effective immediately. I knew this was coming; I just was hopeful for more time."
"Come over here." I pulled her over beside me on the couch and gave her a big hug. "I'm so sorry this happened to you, but doesn't it make some of our decisions easier? When is your last day of class?"
"This is actually the last week. I had a final today, and another tomorrow, and then I'll be finished. What are you thinking?"
I related my discussion this morning with my mother and asked if she would be interested in flying to Seattle to meet my family as soon as her finals were complete. "I know this is all sudden, but I'm really excited to show you where I grew up and see if you think we could make a life there together. "
Bella looked at me, astonished. "But it's so expensive to fly! I don't have that kind of money."
"Listen, I know we haven't really discussed money and expenses, but it's really not a problem. My parents are well off, and thanks to my grandparents, I have a substantial trust fund. There really is nothing to worry about from a financial standpoint, and I really want you to meet my family. How about I see if we can get a flight at the beginning of the week. Perhaps you'll want to speak with your parents and see if they want to meet me. We could do that this weekend since you won't be working and then fly west on Tuesday or Wednesday. If you're happy in Seattle, we can look for a place to stay there. I have a standing offer as a trauma surgeon at the hospital where my father works, but if you want to stay here, closer to your family, then I'll notify Dr. Gerandy that I'll accept the offer here. Please, Bella, let me take care of you and our little one. I know these changes are scary and coming all at the same time, but you're so resilient and strong as you've proved these past six months. This is nothing compared to what you've already endured."
As tears welled up in her eyes, Bella threw her arms around me and started to cry. "I'm sorry, but it's such a relief not to have to be on my own anymore. I would love to meet your family and go to Seattle. I'll call my parents, but as I told you, they have pretty much disowned me, so I don't think they'll want to meet you. Guess we'll find out." And she reached for the phone.
I can't believe what I am hearing. After all the fret and worry I've had since I found out I was pregnant, Prince Charming has arrived to sweep me off my feet and take me to his kingdom in the west. Whatever did I do in my life to deserve this? I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. After a very difficult call with my parents, who elected not to meet the man who "dishonored and ruined their daughter," Edward made the flight reservations. Since I rented the apartment furnished, I didn't have to worry about anything except my clothes. Edward suggested that we leave my car at the airport. He suggested that if we decided to stay in Seattle, we could mail the keys to my parents, and they could come get the car or he would have it towed to the nearest junk yard. That resulted in him receiving a punch in the arm along with a smile. After months of anxiety, I felt a giant boulder lifted off my shoulders as I grabbed his hand and led him to the bedroom. As we slowly undressed, savoring every moment, Edward was so cute as he introduced himself to the bulge in my abdomen, vowing to protect and always be there for our child. I couldn't stop the tears from falling as we explored each other and reconnected.
One week later, we were looking at homes in Seattle. I fell in love with the city as soon as I walked off the airplane. It had the green of Vietnam without the heat. Edward's parents were wonderful and loving, and I felt more comfortable and at ease in their home than I ever felt in my own. Esme, Edward's mother, was so excited about the baby and was in full grandma mode! Edward was welcomed with open arms into a trauma position at the hospital where his father, Carlisle, worked. I met the wonderful Jasper, who tracked me down for Edward, and Edward's sister Alice, who was convinced we would be great friends. She's looking forward to spoiling her first niece or nephew. Edward's other sister, Rose, was more reticent and less welcoming, but her husband Emmett was enthusiastic and already called me little sis.
All of my credits transferred from Indiana State, so as soon as the baby is born, I can start back to finish my degree. Surprisingly, Edward's on board with my continuing and even going to medical school if I decide that's what I want to do. Esme has already volunteered to babysit whenever needed. I think there's going to be a war between Alice and her for the chance at spoiling this child. I feel so blessed to have them so welcoming, especially considering the circumstances.
Things are settling in for the two, soon to be three, of us. I think I've found the perfect home in the same neighborhood as Alice and Jasper and not too far from my parents. I've made an appointment with the realtor for us to look at it this afternoon, and then we are going to a surprise romantic dinner at the top of the Space Needle. The house is a Tudor style, with five bedrooms, a huge backyard that is fenced, and a wonderful deck from which I can see us watching our children play. I know Bella will probably think it's too big, but she deserves the best, and I plan to fill those bedrooms with additional children as soon as she will allow. I'm supportive of her wanting to continue her education, but I can't help but hope that once she holds the baby, all thoughts of anything else will leave her mind.
Bella is everything I could ask for in a partner. She is so sweet and intelligent. I've yet to hear her say a bad word about anyone, even after she discovered that her nemesis, Lauren, was responsible for her having to resign. She just shrugged it off and said it would have happened soon anyway as it was becoming more difficult to hide the pregnancy. Then she proceeded to show me how grateful she was that I, according to her, rode in on my white horse and saved her. She only has one more month until she delivers. I can't wait to see if we're are going to have a son or a daughter. I'm a bit concerned that she's having some swelling of her feet and her blood pressure at her last visit was somewhat elevated. Not dangerously so, but she's been resting more. Neither of us wants to take chances with our miracle.
As we pulled up to the house, I could see Bella's mouth drop open. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and mouthed, "It's perfect." I had to agree, and our tour of the inside just confirmed our initial thoughts. The house was move-in ready, so I made an offer of the asking price, which was accepted before we left the premises. We discussed closing in a month with the hope that we could bring the baby here directly from the hospital. When Bella began stressing about buying furniture and decorating, I reminded her of my mom's hobby of interior design and reminded her she could work with her while resting and let Mom do all the leg work. She also gets good discounts from her suppliers.
With great joy, we proceeded to the Space Needle. Bella was so excited to get to dine at the top of the famous landmark. We had just entered into the hostess area and given our names when I heard the most obnoxious voice from my past shouting out from the restaurant.
"Eddie, come sit with us," shouted Tanya.
"Bella, honey, I'm so very sorry! I wanted this to be a celebration for us not a rehash of my bad history."
"It's fine., I have to admit to being curious to meet someone callous enough to break up with a soldier while deployed overseas. Guess I should thank her since, without her stupidity, we would never have met," Bella stated while giving the evil eye to Tanya.
Any doubts I had about my angel being able to take care of herself in an awkward situation were put to rest, and I steered her over to the table where Tanya was sitting with her sisters and some others of our former group of friends. I introduced Bella to everyone but declined their offer to join them as I indicated we were celebrating the purchase of our new home. Everyone congratulated us except for Tanya, who, with an evil glare at Bella's prominent abdomen, started commenting loudly, "Edward, what are you doing with this whore? Are you certain that baby is even yours? I'd advise a blood test before you let her put your name on the birth certificate."
"Shut up, Tanya," I growled. "This is none of your business, and it certainly isn't a topic for discussion among your friends. Bella and I are very happy together and anxiously awaiting the birth of this child."
I glanced over to Bella to see her red face and tearful expression. Then, to my surprise, she straighten up her spine and smiled at Tanya, stating, "Nice to meet you. Thanks for tossing away the best thing that ever happened to me. If I were a more generous person, I'd name our baby after you as a thank you, but I wouldn't want to saddle the poor child with a name associated with such a shallow person or Edward with the memory of how he was so callously treated. If you'll excuse us, we have a wedding to plan."
I looked on in awe as the hostess proceeded to show us our seats. "What was that about a wedding?" I mumbled.
"Well, I didn't think you would want the child to be illegitimate, and since the day is getting closer, I thought we should maybe make arrangements at City Hall. Is there a waiting period in Washington State? I'm sure your mother will have some ideas on a small reception, if you still want to get married, that is!"
I was dumbfounded and so happy I couldn't help myself as I crossed over to kiss my soon-to-be wife.
That witch! We were having such a good day, and she had to go and try to ruin it for us. Well, from the way Edward reacted, he wasn't too upset that I put her in her place. Don't think we'll be having problems in that area anymore. I think she got the picture. How embarrassing for her to make such a scene in front of everyone in the restaurant. From what I understand from Esme, though, she likes to be the center of attention and hasn't accepted the fact that Edward has moved on from her.
Esme and I talked this past week about how I was probably going to have to make the first move regarding the wedding. I think Edward's been afraid to bring it up after my initial reaction. So, I just took the bull by the horns and put it out there. Esme offered her backyard for a small reception, and the guest list will be really small, especially since I doubt my family will attend even if I offered the airfare. We even were able to find a nice dress that will work as a wedding dress. I'm hopeful we can get their minister to agree to marry us in their backyard, but if he refuses because of the circumstances, City Hall will have to work. I just know I want to be married before the baby's born so there's no question of its legitimacy for the narrow-minded of society like Tanya and her parents.
Today is my wedding day, and I couldn't be more excited. Our family minister, Reverend Stanley, has agreed to conduct the ceremony, and my mom and Alice have been in full party mode, making the backyard the perfect place for a summer wedding. Even Rose has helped by talking with the caterers and arranging for a buffet dinner. It will only be the immediate family, but that's perfect for Bella and me. The deal went through on the house, and we're scheduled to move in next week. Bella's due in a couple weeks, and although I can tell she's uncomfortable, she never complains. I can't wait to see her walk down the aisle toward me. I know all husbands feel this way about the mother of their children, but she's without a doubt the most beautiful pregnant woman on the planet. My life could not be more perfect.
Today is my wedding day. I'm so excited how the plans have come together since I proposed to Edward! We immediately spoke with his mother, and she and Alice have been wonderful in making all the arrangements. Even Rose, who I wasn't sure even liked me, has been helpful. I wasn't surprised when my parents turned down the offer of airfare to attend the wedding. My dad did sell Bessie. I told him to keep the money. They asked to be notified when the baby was born. Hopefully, they'll be more receptive after the baby is born; if not, it's their loss. I don't need their negativity in my life. There was a reason why I joined the Army and volunteered to go to Vietnam right out of nursing school. I'm not sure it was all about the GI benefits after all.
I've been having these stomach pains periodically throughout the day. I think I've been up too much. My feet look like watermelons; well, maybe not quite that bad, but they are pretty swollen. I've decided not to even try to put shoes on. I'll just go barefoot. Might as well embrace my southern Illinois roots since no one from there will be here. Alice helped me with my make-up, and Rose is playing the piano. I'm just waiting for the signal to go to the patio and walk toward my future. I stood up and had to grab onto the chair as I felt a really strong pain in my abdomen. Hope this isn't a sign that the baby is coming today. I hear the music start that's my cue and walk out of the room where I've been waiting. I slowly walk toward Edward who is grinning from ear to ear with so much love in his eyes for me.
We're almost through with the vows when another pain hits that takes my breath. I look at Edward as I grab his hand, and he asks, "Are you okay?"
"I'm not sure, but I think I'm in labor. Can we get this over with so I can sit down?" Just as Reverend Stanley pronounces us husband and wife, I felt a gush of water and a huge pain that doubled me over.
"Guess we are having a baby as well as a wedding," Edward stated as we walked down the aisle and to the car.
"Wait! We have to sign the papers or it's not legal," I exclaimed. Laughing, Reverend Stanley hurriedly brought the papers over for our signatures. Edward picked me up bridal style and carried me the rest of the way.
"We'll meet you at the hospital," Esme cried out as we got into the car and took off.
Once we reached the hospital, I was examined, and it was discovered I was almost ready to deliver. Guess those pains I'd been having all day were labor after all. Because of his position in the hospital, Edward was able to stay with me, and I was so very grateful. We decided to do natural childbirth because of concerns about the effects of anesthesia on the baby. A short while later, I felt the urge to push, and Edward and I were blessed with the cry of our son. The bronze color of his hair left no doubt as to his paternity. Esme brought in pictures of Edward as a newborn when she visited, and they could easily pass as pictures of our son, Edward Anthony Cullen, Jr.
I was so very angry when I received that draft notice immediately after graduating from my surgical residency. My mood didn't improve at all after receiving the letter from Tanya terminating our relationship, but both of those events led me to where I am today. I'm holding my beautiful baby boy and gazing up at my brown-eyed angel, with whom I am blessed to be spending the rest of my life. I know it won't always be smooth sailing, but we've both spent time in Hell, so I think we're ready for anything life wants to throw at us.
Author's Note: I did not serve in Vietnam or as a nurse in the military. I apologize for any errors that have been made regarding their time in that country or errors in depiction of nursing in the 1960s. I do realize that it is improbably that Bella would reach the rank of Captain, but if "Hot Lips" Houlihan" can be a Major, then I figured Bella could be a Captain! Thanks to the creators of MASH for creating such a wonderful character.