A/N- so this is it, the epilogue. as always, we cannot put to words how much the reviews and love have meant.
we do not own, we simply borrow and tweak to our liking
All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to
It's true...I was made for you
You see the smile that's on my mouth
It's hiding the words that don't come out
And all of my friends who think that I'm blessed
They don't know my head is a mess
No, they don't know who I really am
And they don't know what
I've been through like you do
And I was made for you...
The Story- Brandi Carlile
Limitless: -adjective; without limit; boundless
I think I was wearing blinders for a large portion of my life, little flaps keeping me from seeing the whole picture, the entirety of what was possible. The sad part is that I was resigned to that view. I never tugged or pulled or fought against the narrow snippet I was given.
And then I met him.
The man with the penchant for swearing and fast food and who possesses the biggest heart I've ever encountered. And suddenly the view was enormous. The world colored and full of things I hadn't known to miss. Even if I could have lived without some of those things, things like knowing dogs will eat anything, including dirty diapers.
There's no truth to the fact that everything I was missing was amazing, there was a lot of pain and anger and sadness missing from my view too. But there's a balance to all things, knowing the bad made the good that much sweeter. And I had no idea how sweet things could be.
I lean closer to the window, anxious to be closer to the view it provides. The smile that steals across my face is unstoppable. When Savannah gave us a front carrier for the baby, I assumed it was for me. And yet every time I put it on, I have to adjust it because someone else seems to have taken a liking to it.
Edward looks like the ringmaster, trying to control not only a rambunctious little boy, but two dogs as well, all with a baby strapped to the front of his torso. Amidst the chaos of the situation, I've never been more attracted to him. His face constantly lit by a wide smile, occasionally he throws his head back to laugh as Finn and Nemo collide.
Walt stares at the tide barking when it gets to close to the rest of the family. He has never adjusted to the ocean, still sees it as a threat. Edward tried to break him of the habit by taking him swimming, I've never seen that dog run so fast. That was the end of Walt's ocean loving lessons.
I resist the urge to press my nose against the glass. The scene isn't exactly something out of a Hallmark card, but it warms my heart nonetheless. Edward dips his head to press his lips against Cam's tiny head and my heart goes from warm to molten. My boys, my whole world.
There are lots of details about this situation that would lead some people to believe that we have a long way to go before we find our 'happily ever after', but those pieces don't matter. All the key ingredients are there, even some that I didn't know I wanted or needed.
Sure there are lots of things that seemingly need to fall into place. My parents, for example, are still warming to the idea of Cam, much less Edward and Finn. I could tell it tore at Edward, but he smiled through it, determined not to give them a reason not to like him. My dad did seem to warm up to him in the end. It's a soft spot, but they will come around, who could resist my boys?
Edward's parents were easier. Happy with anything that makes their son happy. They embraced me instantly, making my parents reaction that much more sour. They were the answer, in part, to where Edward's enormous heart came from. The tears in their eyes when they met Cam, endeared them to me forever. I'm currently taking Skype cooking classes from Esme every Saturday night. I am determined to make something edible by Christmas.
Finn's squeal of delight brings me back to the picture below me. Nemo has him pinned to the sand as he licks every inch of his face. Edward laughs as he watches, his fingers tickling Cam's feet.
My computer pings and I turn to glance at the screen. My page is much different now; fewer friends, only people I really know, who I really want to keep in touch with. And the whole thing is littered with the new characters in my story. The faces who fill the pages of my story. The alert stares back at me, causing a twisting in my stomach.
Alice Brandon wants to add you as a friend
I'm honestly not surprised she's trying, but then again, there's still a bad taste in my mouth over the words she so blatantly spewed about two of my favorite people. I chew on my thumb as I read the words over and over. There are things to be said for forgiving and trying to forget. Heaven knows I wouldn't have the story I have if I wasn't capable of forgiving.
And despite all that I can't really see the point. Not that I want to stew and brood and hold it against her, but we're so far apart as friends; it would really be a gesture more than anything. My mind whirls with the pros and cons as my finger hovers over the keyboard.
Faint laughter leaks in from outside and my whole body feels lighter at the sound. My mouth tilts into a smile and I click accept. The tiny motion feels like another completed piece of my story. Another door I can close without regret or worry. I close the computer and make my way back to the window, anxious to feel reconnected to the people who occupy my heart.
A few more minutes pass before watching isn't enough. I make my way through the house quickly, weaving around strewn toys and books; the small pieces of evidence of the people who make this house a home. Though my outlook isn't always as rose colored. A Harry Potter book can cause quite the damage to the baby toe.
There's a slight desire to pause at the sliding glass doors and watch for a just a bit longer, to make sure this moment is written into my story, but I've spent enough of my life observing, this is my time to live.
The smile on my face grows with every step I take towards them, the sounds now joining the picture. Edward is sprawled out on the sand, Cam now cradled in his arms. Finn is still wrestling with Nemo, trying fruitlessly to dry his face with the bottom of his shirt. He spots me first, squirming out from under Nemo to race towards me. He hits my legs hard, but I know how to stay upright now.
"Isssybella! Save me!," he squeals, moving to hide behind my legs. Nemo trots towards us, wanting to continue his playing. I reach down and rub his head.
"Why didn't you get your dad to save you big guy? Nemo likes him best," I chuckle, reaching around to pick Finn up. I huff a little as I lift him. He's going to be too big for me to carry him soon. I cuddle him a little, I hope that day never comes. Finn screws up his face.
"Daddy says like Nemo likes my taste. That I taste like a chick' nugg to him," he breathes, almost in fear. I hold back a laugh as my eyes flit towards the guilty party. He's got the telltale smirk, but is keeping his eyes hidden.
"He's just teasing, Nemo only eats dog food and occasionally garbage. He just shows his love with his tongue, I mean his licks. He just really loves you," I ramble. I know Finn won't know what to do with the tongue comment, but his bigger counterpart will. Edward's laughter rings out. I feel my face flame. Of course he heard me.
"Cans he love not so much? His breaf stinks," Finn states. I chuckle a little and look down at the large dog at our feet. Nemo's giant tail thumps at the sand as he seemingly watches us.
"Nemo, no more licking. You're very sweet, but Finn doesn't want to smell like your stinky dog food," I say seriously to the dog. I can hear Edward scoff in amusement. I shoot him a look. "If you really want to love on someone, go love on your daddy, he likes to stink."
Finn giggles at my comment, squirming in my arms til I put him down. He makes his way to Edward.
"Daddy, mommy says you like to stink," he repeats, a giggle still on his breath. Edward shifts Cam to one side, making room for Finn. I about burst from the gesture. He is so capable of love, so ready to make room for everyone he cares about.
Edward uses one hand to tickle at Finn's sides before offering his face to Nemo for a lick.
"He just wants to kiss. I like kisses," he stays, trying to keep the dogs tongue away from his mouth. Thank goodness, I may love our furry friends, but I draw the line at sharing spit with them.
Walt appears at my side, leaning his weight against me in his silent plea for attention. I reach down and scratch his head. Some moments still seems surreal, like no one should be the recipient of such happiness. I see this amazing man and our two boys and I wonder if I should least attempt to pinch myself.
But I never do. There's no way I want to wake up from this.
"Your daddy loves kisses more than most anything. More than TV and maybe more than McDonalds," I state. I make my way to my boys, sinking down into the sand next to them, needing to touch them, make sure they're real.
Finn's eyes are wide as Edward pulls me into his side, pressing his lips to my cheek. I can't help the smile that spread across my face. He makes me giddy and I can't fight it.
"Kissing you in my number one," he says with a grin. Finn makes a face.
"Ew daddy, no kissy face," he pleads. I laugh and lean across them to pull Cam into my arms. His small warm body, molding into mine. I press my nose into his downy head and inhale. He smells like sun and baby powder and everything lovely.
"What's wrong with kissy face? You made kissy face at Nemo before," Edward scoffs, placing exaggerated kisses all over Finn's face. He giggles and squirms.
"Nemo didn't ask, he jus' licks 'n licks," Finn squeals. I chuckle and pinch Edward's side offering Finn a little aid. Edward jumps at the touch and lets out a mock girlie scream. He falls back into the sand, pulling Finn with him.
"I'm hungry. I wanna make kissy face at some chicken nuggets," he announces. Finn bounces on his stomach, displaying his vote for chicken nuggets. I roll my eyes like I don't love that the man I adore acts like an overgrown six year old at times.
"Well you better get up and get some for yourselves then, cause Cam here is just a few months shy of getting his driver's license and I don't want to try and get your orders right," I chuckle. I reach back and run my fingers through Edward's hair.
"Well," Edward lets out an exaggerated sigh as he sits up, bringing Finn with him, "Since Cam can't go, I guess we have to, big guy."
Finn doesn't seem bothered in the least, trying to tug Edward up towards the house. Edward leans close pressing his lips softly to mine, tugging on my bottom lip with his teeth just enough to make my pulse race.
He pulls away and grins almost goofily at me before letting himself get dragged away. I watch them until they disappear into the house and then pivot, turning Cam and I towards the water. I cuddle him to my chest, playfully nipping at his nose and reveling in his tiny chime-like giggles.
Walt lands in the sand next to us, wiggling his head onto my knee. I move Cam to rest in the space created by my crossed legs and make those embarrassing faces people make when they get around babies.
I linger in the moment, making sure it's captured, before I tote Cam back inside. The dogs are at my heels, anxious to be close to me as we make out way back into the house. Cam and I start to clean up as I tell him the revised version of Cinderella, the one where she ends up making her stepmother her maid.
The garage opens just as Cinderella makes the stepmother scrub the toilets. Finn bursts into the room, running and sliding to the kitchen table. We have this rule about always eating at the table. A small effort to come together, it seems silly now, but I hope its one of those things that sticks.
He's bouncing in his seat and it makes me wonder what the toy is this time. Edward follows shortly after, his arms full of way too much food for two people. He sets a happy meal in front of me.
"You do know that Cam can't eat solid foods yet, right?" I ask, eyeing the food in his hands. He laughs and moves to grab plates. Finn has scooted his chair as close to mine as he can, I chuckle as I lay Cam into his bouncy seat.
"What were the toys this time buddy?" I ask. Finn's eyes light up as he talks about the boy and girl options, apparently some kind of spy gear and little pet shop. I try to pay attention to exactly which ones he wants. Usually Edward lays on some charm to get the right toys, but its good to know if I am the one to make the next run.
"Which toy did you gets Issybella?" He asks, still bouncing. I tilt my head, glancing at the still closed happy meal in front of him. Usually his is open before the rest of us can even sit. Edward slides into the seat on the other side of me.
"Don't you want to see what you got? And then we can open mine? That way we can trade if you want," I offer. Finn shakes his head adamantly. His bouncing has gotten to a point that I think he might fall off his chair. Edward eases his hand onto my neck and rubs behind my tattoo with his thumb, tingles run down my spine.
"Ladies first," he insists. I chuckle as I reach into the cardboard box and feel for the plastic bag. I pull it out surprised to see the girl option for a toy. Usually Edward gets us both the boy option. The stuffed dog is kind if cute, even if its eyes are way too large for its head.
"You gotsta take it outta the bag Issybella," Finn insists. This time I don't argue, pulling the dog from the plastic, the 'fur' is stiff and most likely polyester and there's not way I'd let even the dogs chew on this. My fingers run over something hard and I twist the toy in my hands, looking at the charm around its neck.
"Well," he asks. "What'd you get?" It's only now that I realize how close both of them are to me. Who knew a stuffed dog was so exciting? For such a crappy toy the charm is really kind of amazing. I pull it closer to my face and look up when I hear the sound of chairs being pushed across the floor.
"It means for you to marry us!" Finn announces. My mouth falls open. My eyes shoot over to Edward, who is indeed in the customary pose, on one knee next to me. my eyes instantly fill with tears, clouding my vision.
I'm almost pissed that I'm crying. How am I going to remember this if I can't even see? Edward's thumbs swipe under my eyes and then he eases the toy from my fingers. I watch as he pulls the ring from the collar and slides it onto my hand.
He kisses the knuckle before meeting my eyes.
"Bella, will you please marry us?" he asks. I can't speak, the tears have stolen my voice as well. I nod vigorously, throwing my arms around his neck. I can feel Finn hugging me from behind and this moment is it.
No matter what happens from here, what peaks and valleys we may find, this right here is the happily ever after. The moment that alludes to everything good a person could want in life.
Edward's lips find mine and it feels like we're sealing a promise. Because in the end, there is really a new beginning.
A/N- and so goes the epic thank you's. there are so many people who contributed to making sure this story made it to this point. Thank you to cosmogirl and whatsmynom for betaing at different points during the story. Thank you to kassiah, nolebucgrl and cosmo (again) for pre-reading and easing my mind.
A HUGE thank you to everyone who rec'd, tweeted and loved on this story. There is something to be said for all the people who helped us along the way.
And to everyone who read and reviewed…your words have made this all the more amazing. Every review was cuddled and put away in a safe place.
Thank you all again!