The Path We Choose

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chapter 36


I groaned and rolled over. My head was pounding and the room was spinning. I opened my eyes very slowly and groaned even louder when I noticed the clock on the nightstand as it flashed six o'clock in the damn morning.

My mouth had the most horrible taste in it and my stomach was queasy. I was sweating and it only took a few moments of keeping my eyes closed for the previous day and night's happenings to flash through my mind. The images came fast and furious which added to the ache in my head… and my heart.

Of course, drinking most of a bottle of scotch alone in my room after I finished talking to Bella probably didn't help either. Not in the least to be honest.

I talked with Bella on and off throughout most of the night. Our first conversation, while definitely the hardest was also the shortest. She'd had one more appearance she had to make last night so we were not able to spend a lot of time on Skype together. Telling her good bye the first time was really fucking hard…like totally ripped my heart out hard.

Bella was devastated, terrified, angry and guilty. Not in that order either, but I supposed that mattered little. I, in turn, was all that and more. The thing I most needed was for her to be back home and thank fucking God it was only a few more hours until that happened.

As soon as I got off the computer with Bella the first time, I called home and talked to Maddie and Masen. I needed to make sure, for myself, that they were safe and sound and thankfully completely oblivious to the shit storm that brewed around us. After I finished talking to them, my father convinced me to let the kids stay there for the night and for the next day until Bella and I were done talking to Riley. Demetri promised me he would stay at the house with my parents, and Ben was going to go hang out with him this morning as well.

Divide and conquer seemed to be the course of action for the family, and I was extremely grateful for all the help. Once Bella, Emmett and Seth were back home where they belonged, I knew everyone would feel better. I couldn't fucking wait for September to get here damn it. Even if Bella was still recognized when she went out in public, I could be with her. To me, that made all the difference.

I finally decided I would not go back to sleep. I felt like shit so I rolled over and stumbled my way to the bathroom, tripping over my guitar along the way. I set it back on its stand, picked up the empty bottle of scotch beside it and threw it in the trash can. In between talking to Bella and drinking myself stupid, I played and lost myself in the chords and notes of my favorite songs.

I played things that reminded me of Bella, of the kids, and towards the end of the night, things that reminded me of what my life was like before a gorgeous brunette stumbled her way into my life and totally knocked me on my ass...literally and figuratively. The songs were sad and full of longing and despair. It was only when I realized my life wasn't like that any longer that they turned happier and more uplifting.

The shower did the job of making me feel human again and after I got dressed in a pair of jeans and Bella's favorite black button down I made my way to the kitchen. I skidded to a stop in front of the sofa where Ben was sleeping, snoring softly. I shook my head and turned to walk towards Masen's room where, sure enough, I found Jasper and Alice curled up on his tiny bed. I went to Maddie's room, knowing full well I would find my other best friend asleep and as I figured, Tanya was lying in her bed.

I wanted to be mad that they felt it necessary to stay with me last night, but I couldn't. They were the best friends…family, anyone could ask for and I was supremely fortunate for their support. Shaking my head, I started towards the kitchen and a bottle of water followed by a cup of very strong, black coffee. Suddenly, a movement caught my eye. I turned in the direction of the dining room and what I saw stopped me in my tracks.

"Rosalie, are you okay?" I asked the woman that was closer to my Bella than any other.

She sat in the corner of the dining room, wrapped in a blanket holding Rufus on the floor beside the window. I grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and walked towards her. After I asked with a nod of my head if I could sit, I joined her down on the floor opposite of her.

"You know, when I first met Bella, I was so jealous of her," Rose said without looking at me. She ran her fingers through the fur on Rufus' back, over and over again.

She didn't seem like she needed me to say anything, so I didn't. I stared out of the window and wondered where she was going with this. "Bella was this little ball of fire, totally fearless. I wanted so much to be like her. With the exception of her poor excuse of a mother, everyone adored Bella. She was cute, funny, wickedly smart, and she could run circles around most members of the male population of Forks, regardless of their age."

I smiled as I tried to picture my love as a little girl Maddie's age, as she ran and played with boys. After we watched some of her games on tape up at the lake, I could certainly understand the fearless part. My girl was incredible to watch and she took tackles and falls better than most male athletes I'd ever seen.

"And if all that wasn't bad enough," Rose said with a sigh, "she was totally oblivious to all of it. I swear Edward, when we were in high school, almost every guy followed her every move. Wherever she went, they all followed. It was no coincidence that once she started playing on the girls' soccer team, attendance suddenly went through the roof. My mom and I used to tease her about it all the time and she would just shake her head and tell us we had imagined things. She never saw herself clearly at all."

I chuckled quietly and Rose looked up at me. "She still does that," I said and Rose snorted and laid her head against the glass and smiled at me.

"Jake used to follow her around…all the time. It was pathetic in a kind of poor puppy dog kind of way. He thought he was being so smooth but J, Seth and I saw right through that shit. He showed up at every football game we went to. When we would go out to eat afterward, he would just magically appear at the same place…every damn time. Bella never knew, but Jake and a few of the guys from the res went to almost every single one of her soccer games. They didn't sit with us and they always came after the game started and left a few minutes before it was over, but just like Seth and I never missed a game, neither did Jacob Black."

There was something in Rose's tone of voice that made me feel like the air was being sucked out of me. "Rose, you don't think?" I trailed off, not wanting to voice the thought I just had.

"I don't fucking know Edward. I've sat in this spot all damn night and tried to figure out who could be doing this to her… to you and the kids. I have no idea if Jake could do something like this. Jasper, Seth and I learned the hard way about trusting someone and having it blow up in our face," Rose finished with a shudder.

She shifted Rufus around on her lap and scooted closer to me and reached out and took my hand. "Edward, I can't even begin to tell you the terror we all felt driving down that road as we tried to find Bella when James went after her. If anything worse would have happened to her, Jasper never would have recovered from that. He was a mess after we lost mom and dad, but that was sudden and completely an accident. With Bella, Jasper felt like he had served her up on a platter for James. It has taken him years to get where he is now, and it's only since Bella has found you that the real Jasper has surfaced. Years, Edward. I've watched Jasper carry around that massive amount of guilt and it almost completely destroyed him as well as me. That is why I went to California with him, you know?"

I squeezed her hand and when she looked at me, there were tears in her eyes. I brushed them off her face and said, "Jasper is very lucky to have you Rose."

"We're lucky to have Bella," she retorted back to me. "When we moved to Forks, we were the outcasts… the blonde outsiders that spoke funny. Even at five years old, Bella saw beyond that and offered us her friendship without thinking twice about it."

"She is so damn good Edward. Why is someone tormenting her this way? Bella doesn't deserve this, you don't deserve it. If anything happened to her, or to you or the kids, this family would never survive. We need her, we need you too much," Rose cried and then I wrapped my arm around her and held her.

After a few minutes I tipped her chin up to look at me. I bent down and kissed her cheek and said, "Rose look. I'm not telling you not to be scared because that would just be fucking dumb," I chuckled and she rolled her eyes at the obvious statement. "But what I will tell you is this. I love your best friend with all that I am. I promise you, I will do my very best to make sure she is as safe and protected as she can possibly be. We all just have to stick together a little bit longer and then we can all begin whatever comes next. You know, Emmett could use your help with his business. My brother may know his way around a football field and he can barrel through crowds like nobody's business, but the man is seriously lacking in the math skill department. I swear, I think Mama balanced his checkbook up until he was thirty," I smirked at her.

"Hell, she still does it," Alice said as she walked quietly up to where we were sitting and sat down beside Rose.

"It will be okay Rose, you'll see," my sister said as she linked her arm in Rose's. "Between all the men in our family Bella, Edward and the kids will be just fine."

"Damn straight Lele. No one messes with our family," Jasper said as he slapped me on the back and bent down to kiss his twin sister on top of the head. "You okay?" He asked her and they stared at one another and did that twin thing Maddie and Masen did all the time.

She nodded her head at him and when Jasper turned to Alice she mouthed thank you to me and I gave her a smile. There wasn't a mean bone in her body and when Rosalie Whitlock loved you, you were in for life. Thank Christ I was on the good side!

We all laughed when we heard Ben snort and then roll off the couch onto the floor and that was our cue to get moving with the day. I looked at the clock and noticed it was almost eight o'clock and I wanted to head over to my parents and see the kids for a bit before I had to meet Bella. She would be home early this afternoon and we had to stop by and see Riley before she could see the kids. Bella was not happy about that, but I put my foot down. This letter shit needed to be dealt with and I wasn't leaving Riley's office until we had a plan to keep everyone that meant everything to me safe.

"Daddy!" Maddie and Masen screeched as I walked in the front door of my parent's house a short while later.

I bent down to hug each of them, relishing the way they felt in my arms. I was extremely grateful that so far we had been able to shield them from what was going on, but I wasn't confident we would be able to keep doing it. Not to brag too much or anything, but my kids were all kinds of smart and they were perceptive as hell. If the entire family started jumping at every little sound and kept looking over our shoulders when we went out, they would sure as shit pick up on that.

"Hello my little munchkins!" I laughed at them and guided them to the sofa where we flopped down, one on each side of me. "Were you guys good for Nana and Papa?" I asked them as Demetri walked into the kitchen, only grunting in my direction in greeting.

"We were's Daddy. When do we gets to see Bella?" Maddie asked as she bounced up and down beside me in excitement.

I bent down and kissed them each on the head before I told them, "Well, I think her, Uncle Emmett and Seth should be at the airport about one o'clock."

"She's coming straight home so we can see her right away isn't she?" Masen asked.

I shook my head and groaned internally when I saw the Cullen pout make an appearance as soon as they knew the answer was no. "Afraid not guys," I answered them. "Daddy and Bella have to meet with someone before we can come back here and pick you up."

"That's not fair!" Maddie whined and I gritted my teeth.

How does Bella put up with this all the damn time? And I knew my pout was even more deadly than theirs were!

"Please, no pouting!" I teased her and kissed her on the tip of her nose. "I promise we'll come pick you guys up as soon as we can. I'll even let you two pick what we do for dinner tonight, too. How does that sound?"

Once they agreed with me, I let out a sigh of relief. If I was a better man, I might tell myself to ease up on the pout with my love…but I wasn't, so I didn't.

Esme POV

"Thanks Mama," Edward sweetly said as he kissed my cheek and walked to the front door.

My boy, I thought to myself with a wistful smile as I watched him kiss and hug each of the twins on his way out. He was such an amazing father and it was truly a pleasure to watch him interact with his children. I may be a bit biased, but I am not sure there is another father around that is more attentive or involved with their kids than my Edward. Carlisle, whom I love more than life itself, would seriously find himself in a tough battle for Father of the Year were he to go up against my son.

I was so damn proud of him and the man and father he'd become. When Lauren had sunk her claws into him, I was worried beyond belief that we would be stuck with her forever. Carlisle and I had spent many sleepless nights during that troubled time talking over what our options were in regards to ensuring that she left Edward and the children alone. She was such a vile woman and thankfully she'd shown her true colors before too much damage could be done and was dealt with swiftly.

Edward truly shined during that time, pouring his heart and soul into being a model father. It was hard work for him…and for all of us. Caring for twins is a monumental task and to think he took care of them and finished up his residency at the same time was truly miraculous. Edward had the support of the entire family and I knew that it was our willingness to help him that gave him the extra push he needed.

It was so hard watching him close himself off to most everyone when the kids were younger. Edward was so devoted to his kids. He put his entire life on hold for them…until one brown eyed beauty and her adorable puppy crashed into his world.

"Nana!" Maddie and Masen screeched as they ran in the kitchen. They each climbed up into a chair and looked at me with very intense, excited looks on their little faces.

I set down the list I was making and looked at my grandchildren as they bounced up and down in their seats. "Okay you two, you guys look like you are about to explode. What has you looking like it's Christmas morning?"

Maddie and Masen stared at each other for a few minutes before they finally looked at me. Masen took a deep breath before he said in a very serious voice, "Nana, me and Maddie have something we wants to tell you but you's gotta promise not to tell Bella."

Well I certainly couldn't make that promise now could I? But I did want to find out what the little duo was so excited about so I said, "Why don't you tell me what's going on and then we'll talk about whether I need to tell Bella or your dad anything."

They stared intently at one another before they each nodded their heads as if they had come to the same conclusion…which I am sure they did. The twins certainly had an uncanny way of knowing exactly what the other was thinking, even if they never spoke a word out loud.

Masen reached for Maddie's hand and held it tightly in his little hand and then he looked at me…more serious than I had ever seen him. "Mad and me wanna call Bella mommy. We want her to be our mommy," he said solemnly as he stared at me, completely unwavering in his statement.

"Oh my," I thought to myself and then I couldn't help the smile that spread across my face as I let the words he'd just spoken seep into my brain.

"We have a plan," Maddie squeaked and then clapped her hand over her mouth as she looked at Masen and shrugged her shoulders at him.

I quirked my eyebrow at my two precocious grandchildren…of course they had a plan. How could they not, they were related to Alice and Emmett!

Folding my hands in front of me, I laid them on the table and looked back and forth at Maddie and Masen as I tried to decide how to proceed. I had to admit, hearing what they wanted caused my heart to leap for joy. I really had no doubt that Bella being recognized as 'mommy' was something that all four of them wanted…I just didn't realize it would be now.

"Before you tell me about this plan of yours, why don't you two tell me what brought this on?" I asked, trying to get some idea of what prompted this.

I watched as Maddie squeezed Masen's hand and nudged him with her knee to encourage him to talk. "When I was ins the hospital, I called Bella mommy and I think it made her happy," Masen said quietly and looked at me. I knew there was more so I smiled at him and hoped he would continue. "She also told me she was my mommy and she loved me," he whispered and looked at his twin.

"Nana do you think Bella would lets us call her Mommy?" Maddie asked me as she held on to her brother's hand.

I knew without a shadow of a doubt that both Edward and Bella were ready for this step. Hell, the entire family was ready for this step. Most people looking at our family would say that Carlisle and I were the center of our family. While I took great pride in being what one might categorize as the matriarch, in all truthfulness, it was actually Bella as the heart that we all revolved around.

"I think Bella and Daddy both would like that very much," I told them both. "Now Miss Maddie, you said you guys had a plan, do you want to tell me what exactly you have planned?"

I listened with rapt attention as the two of them laid out a plan that most military leaders would be jealous of. How my two now eight year olds came up with it was beyond me, but I couldn't stop the smile from splitting my face wide open as I imagined it coming to fruition. I was going to have to talk to Edward first though; there was no way we could do this without his help…and his blessing.

"Maddie, Masen. You've obviously given this a lot of thought, haven't you?" I asked them each, needing confirmation that this was truly what they wanted before we took this momentous step. When they nodded at me, I looked at them and felt the joy of my grandchildren finally getting the mother they have so desperately needed. "And you both understand what you are asking of Bella, right? Once we do this, there are no take backs. This is something you can't take back. If you get mad at Bella or she tells you you can't do something you want to do, you still have to listen to her always."

"We know Nana. We wants Bella with us forever. Daddy is going to marry Bella isn't he?" Masen asked me.

Oh hell, these two were going to kill me, I thought to myself. Not knowing for sure what my dear son's plans were, and there would be hell to pay if there wasn't a ring on Bella's finger before too much longer, I tried to evade the question as best I could. "Bella will always love both of you. Don't ever doubt that."

I spoke to them for a bit longer, listening intently to them as they finished telling me their plan. I even made notes. I was going to be busy this afternoon once the kids met up with Bella and Edward if we had a hope of pulling this off. Once it was done though, there would be no more turning back for any of us.

Bella was all in, whether she was ready or not…but I had a feeling Bella was more than ready.

Edward POV

I was a nervous wreck. Bella was supposed to be home in less than an hour and it felt like my stomach was going to fall out of my ass the more I paced back and forth in front of the windows. She had texted more times than I could count this morning on her way to the airport and then again once she got to the airport before she got on the plane. Like I knew she would be, Bella was not at all happy that we had to go see Riley before we picked the kids up from Ma and Pop's late this afternoon, but we couldn't bury our heads in the sand any longer. The time had come to be proactive about this whole thing, more than come to be honest, and I needed to make sure everything was being done to keep her and our children safe.

When my phone vibrated thirty minutes later letting me know that they were on their way from the airport, I pulled the sandwiches I picked up from Mr. Saul's out of the bag and set them on plates. I grabbed the chips from the pantry and poured Bella a glass of tea before I put everything on the island. When Bella flew, she always got so nervous beforehand she rarely, if ever ate so I knew she would be hungry when she arrived.

I tried to keep my thoughts on seeing her in just a few minutes but I couldn't help but go back to yesterday when I looked at that damned letter the first time. Bad move I knew, but I couldn't help it. When the rush of emotions flooded my already overworked brain, I knew it was going to take all I had to keep myself under control. My fingers clenched into fists and my breathing became erratic when I pictured Bella last night on Skype and remembered the way she sounded. Broken, afraid, angry…nothing my girl should feel.


My mind raced back to the talk in the tub before she left and as I recalled with perfect clarity the words and promises we made to each other, I was even more desperate to see her. I needed her so fucking badly, needed to touch her skin, feel my fingertips tingle with the electric charge I got every damn time I touched her. I wanted to kiss her and run my fingers through her hair. I wanted to press her tightly against my chest and feel her heartbeat. I wanted to bury my cock deep inside of her and not come back out for days.

I wanted to fuck her until I couldn't see straight.

Looking out the windows, I saw the suburban coming down the road and I raced down the stairs, not even bothering with the elevator.

I threw open the door to the stairwell as Seth pulled into the parking garage. I must have looked like a crazed lunatic but I didn't give a shit…my girl was home and that was all that mattered. As soon as Seth came to a stop, Bella's door opened and she flew out and straight into my waiting arms.

The instant I wrapped my arms around her, my whole body came alive. I picked her up and she wrapped her legs around my waist and her arms tightly around my neck. Without a word to Seth or Emmett or Jacob who I noticed watched with undisguised disgust, I turned and walked towards the elevator.

I didn't give a shit about pleasantries; I didn't give a shit about her luggage. All I cared about…and desperately needed was to feel her close to me. Bella whimpered quietly against my neck and I ran my hands up and down her back until the doors opened and I stepped inside.

As soon as the doors closed and we no longer had to care about decency, I turned her around as pressed her up against the wall. "Bella," I sighed as I placed my lips a top hers and brushed my tongue against her pillow soft lips. Her name was the only thing I was able to say; I could form no other words. I repeated her name over and over again in prayer, in thanks…in need.

I ravaged her mouth with mine, dipping my tongue into her mouth over and over again. Tasting her, wanting her…fucking aching for her.

"I'm here," was all she said and it was all I needed to completely fall the fuck apart.

"You will never leave me again…do you hear me?" I choked out as I kissed down the side of her neck. My fingers slipped underneath the skirt she wore and I kneaded the tender flesh there. "I don't know how I even made it through the night without you," I told her as I licked and sucked at the soft skin behind her ear. "I can't do it Bella, no more. Please don't ask me, please don't make me. I need you too much…so much," I chanted to her as I pressed my cock against her pussy.

I knew I wasn't making any sense, I could feel my tenuous grasp on my control slipping by the second.

"I'm here Edward, its okay," Bella repeated back to me over and over again as she tried to reassure me.

"Too much, it's too much," I said out loud as I continued to attack her neck with my teeth, lips and tongue. "I need you. I have to have you, please," I murmured incoherently.

I barely registered the elevator doors open but some small part of my brain must have realized we had stopped because before I even knew what I was doing, I picked Bella up again and walked towards the door. I hadn't even bothered to close it before and I kicked it shut behind me when were inside.

I sat her on the arm of the sofa and stood in between her legs. "I love you Bella, love you so fucking much," I panted to her as I held her to me. My hands furiously tried to get her shirt off and when the tiny buttons of her shirt didn't cooperate with me, I ripped the damn thing open in my frenzy to feel all of her. Buttons scattered and bounced along the floor, the sound echoed throughout the loft.

I threw the ruined piece of silk to the floor and set to work on divesting Bella of her bra. After little work, she was gloriously naked from the waist up and I cupped her breasts in my hands and ran my thumbs over her distended nipples. They pebbled and became hard with my touch and I bent forward to take one then the other in my mouth.

"So fucking good," I murmured against the tender flesh. "You always taste so damn good," I rasped out to her and groaned when I flicked her nipple with my tongue. Bella's tiny hands were buried in the riotous mess of hair on top of my head and when her fingers pulled on it almost painfully, I felt myself harden beneath my jeans.

"Edward…oh baby," Bella cried out as I took her nipple in between my teeth and bit down. "Fuck yes!" She shrieked in pleasure as I laved my tongue to soothe the over worked nub.

"I am going to taste you now," I said, letting her know what my intentions were. I pressed back on her chest and laid her out along the back of the sofa and slipped my arms beneath her thighs and pulled her towards the edge. I pushed her thin skirt up to her waist and gripped the tiny pair of panties she had on underneath in my hands and pulled at the flimsy excuse for underwear. My mouth descended upon her glistening and bare pussy as soon as I pulled the torn scraps of fabric away from her body.

"Oh shit…Edward!" Bella screamed as licked her from top to bottom in one long stroke.

I chuckled darkly. My desperate need for her, my need to consume and claim her quickly escalated.

"Does that feel good my beloved?" I asked her, as I dipped my tongue between her folds. I circled her clit with my tongue, savoring the taste of her. "You are always so fucking wet for me Bella," I teased her mercilessly. "Do you have any idea how desperate I have been for you? How insane I've been without you?" I asked rhetorically as I worked her with my tongue and lips.

I felt her hands on my head and she lifted her hips in a silent plea… one that I was more than willing to answer. "Are you ever going to make me go so long without you again?" I whispered to her as I bent my head forward again and sucked her clit into my mouth.

"Edward, oh Edward," Bella uttered, her head moving back and forth on the sofa's edge.

"Aahh, my little vixen is getting close, isn't she?" I asked seductively and pressed my tongue into her wetness. I licked and tasted, her juices coated my tongue with her essence.

I plunged two fingers inside of her, her pussy clenching my fingers immediately. I reached up and pulled her closer still to the edge and picked my head up for the briefest of moments so that I could take her in. I devoured every magnificent inch of her mostly naked body with my eyes, trying to memorize the way she looked at this very instant. Wet, wanting, needy….and all fucking mine.

Mine God damn it.

"You taste so fucking good Bella," I groaned as I continued to lick every damn drop of her arousal…arousal that was because of me. I continued to pump my fingers in and out of her and when I curled them forward she arched off the back of the couch. Her hair spilled down the side in mahogany waves and her lips were red and plump from her teeth as she bit down on it.

Her chest was flushed and there was a bead of sweat the danced tantalizingly between her breasts.

"Shit…oh yes…fuck Edward…so close," she said through gritted teeth as she moved in time with my fingers. Her pussy was so tight around my fingers as I continued to bring her closer and closer to her orgasm. Her scent mixed with her taste was so intoxicating, so overwhelming it was taking all I had to keep from coming and fuck…I was so damn hard.

I wanted to bury my cock so deep inside of her, to make her scream out in a frenzy of pleasure but I wanted…needed to feel her come on my fingers and in my mouth first.

"Bella, you're so close…you need to come, don't you?" I taunted her as I took her clit between my teeth.

"God fucking damn it Edward," Bella shrieked. "I need to come, please," she panted and gripped the fabric of the sofa so tightly I was afraid she would tear right through it.

I pressed the spot deep inside of her that drove her fucking mad and at the same time I took her clit again between my teeth and bit down on the tender flesh. Her legs trembled around my head and her breathing echoed throughout the room.

"Fucking now Bella, come for me baby….coat my tongue, I need to taste you," I rasped to her and closed my eyes and moaned as she exploded. Her pussy squeezed and fluttered around my fingers and I drank down every drop from her, relishing in the taste.

I took my mouth off her but kept my fingers buried in her until I was sure her climax was finished.

"Edward," Bella said in a deep, sultry voice. "I need to feel you inside of me. Please fuck me," she whispered as she stared at me when I stood up.

Her words were like an electric current to my brain and she sat up and reached out and grabbed my shirt. She took the thin fabric in her hands and pulled, ripping my shirt wide open. Bella leaned forward and flicked my nipple with her tongue. She reached down and with quick movements, unzipped my jeans and began to frantically push them down.

I stepped out of my shoes and my jeans fell in a heap to the floor. Bella's hand snaked down and she pulled me out of my boxers. My cock was so fucking hard and her hand felt so damn good wrapped around it. She ran her thumb over the wetness that seeped from the tip and I hissed in pleasure as she pressed down on the moistened end.

"Fuck Bella," I growled as I wrapped her hair around my hand. I pulled her mouth to mine again, and again I plunged my tongue in her mouth.

"Oh shit…I can taste myself on your lips," she grunted at me as her hand continued its tortuous movements along the length of my cock.

I gripped her hips in my hands and pulled her even more forward, balancing her precariously on the arm of the couch. I ground my hips against hers, her hand trapped between our bodies.

"Stand up Bella," I demanded of her pulling her off the edge and standing her in front of the sofa. I pulled her to me and pressed her body fully against mine, her nipples deliciously hard as they rubbed against my chest. I reached down and gathered her skirt in my hand and pulled, the sound of tearing fabric filling the silent air around us.

As soon as she was completely naked I reached down and pressed my hands against her magnificent ass and swiveled my hips forward. We both hissed in gratification as my cock teased her soaked pussy.

"Now Edward, please? I need you inside of me now," Bella entreated and I swiftly turned her around and bent her over the arm of the sofa.

I gripped her hips, marveling at how small her waist was and with no hesitation entered her in one hard, fluid stroke. Our bodies were each covered in a thin sheen of sweat and our heavy breathing filled the loft. The smell of our sex permeated the air around us and I was overwhelmed with want, need and unbridled lust for Bella.

"Mine Bella," I grunted as I pulled her sharply back against me. "You are fucking mine…no one else could make you feel this way, no one else knows your body the way I do," I ground out severely through gritted teeth.

I reached down and pulled her hair back over her shoulder so I could look at her. "You belong to me Bella, now and for always. Tell me Bella," I commanded to her as I held her shoulder with one hand and her hip with the other as I continued to move in and out of her.

"Oh fuck yes…Edward…yours, I'm only, always yours," Bella moaned as I held onto her hips again with both hands.

I looked down and watched as my dick slid in and out of her and I closed my eyes as the sight made me dizzy with a need to claim her.

"No more Bella, you will not leave me again," I told her and brought my hand down and slapped her ass. "I won't do it, I can't do it again," I growled and slapped her again.

Her ass was a luscious shade of pink and I let out a deep rumble of satisfaction when I slapped her again, the sharp sound of my hand on her tender skin sending tingles of pleasure straight to my cock.

Her pussy clenched around me every time my hand came in contact with her skin and she panted and bucked against me.

"Tell me damn it," I hissed once more and pulled her back to me.

"No more Edward…I won't leave you again," she promised me.

I slowed my pace to steady rhythm and I could tell she was on the brink. "That's my good girl," I whispered in a dark, velvet voice as my hands ran over her back. "You're so fucking beautiful," I told her reverently.

"Come for me baby…let me feel you," I told her and reached my hand around and rubbed her clit. As soon as my index finger circled her, she screamed and came in a furious burst and I didn't slow my movements down in the least.

"Fuck Bella, that feels so good. I love feeling you come on my cock," I rasped to her as she continued to fall apart.

"Jesus…oh God, Edward…fuck…" Bella moaned as pushed back against me.

I pulled her up to me, staying buried inside of her and cupped her breasts in my hands. I pinched both nipples and bit down on her shoulder. Her hands wrapped around behind her and she dug her fingers into my ass as she pushed me towards her.

"You have no idea what you do to me," I told her as I licked across her shoulder. She tasted salty and sweet and fucking delicious. "You have no idea how out of my fucking mind I get wanting you the way I do," I whispered as I bit down on the spot where her shoulder met her neck.

"I need you Isabella. All the fucking time I need you, want you, ache for you," I told her as I dipped my hips and pressed up.

"Edward, oh God…I need… I need you too baby," she said between breaths.

I bent her down again over the arm of the sofa. "I need to feel you come baby," I told her, my release imminent.

I could feel the muscles in my legs begin to burn but fuck if I was going to change positions. Watching myself move in and out of her was the most erotic thing I'd ever seen and I couldn't get enough of it.

"Fuck me Edward," Bella begged and that was all the invitation I needed before I began moving swiftly.

In and out, in and out, skin against skin. The sounds of our bodies slapping against the other reverberated throughout the room. I snaked my index finger towards the center of her ass and pressed down, just enough for her to scream out in pleasure.

"Jesus…oh hell…fuck that feels so good," she repeated over and over again and I did it again.

"Come for me Bella, give it to me…fuck please, I'm so close," I grunted as I struggled to hold back until she came.

I pressed my finger there again and with the other hand I pinched her clit between my thumb and index finger and when I thrust inside of her she fucking came harder than I could have ever imagined

"Yes oh yes…fuck…yes…oh…oh," Bella screamed so loud I was sure Seth and Jasper would hear her.

I exploded right after her, coming so hard all I saw was a blinding flash of white behind my closed eyelids. I held onto her as I spilled deep inside of her, shooting stream after stream of hot liquid inside of her.

I laid down on top of her after a few moments, slipping out of her and pressed my forehead against the center of her back. When our breathing finally calmed somewhat, I stood her up and then scooped her limp body up in my arms and sat on the sofa.

I kissed her forehead before softly whispering, "I love you Bella."

"I love you too Edward," she quietly responded back to me and we sat that way for a time, both of us needing the reassurance of being together again.

"Baby?" I whispered as I held Bella to me as we laid on the couch. "We really need to get up and eat and get cleaned up so that we can leave in a little bit," I told her as I moved her damp hair off her forehead.

"Mmmm, I think I'd rather stay here, thank you very much," Bella purred as she pressed a warm, open mouthed kiss to my chest. The little vixen was really testing my willpower, especially when her delectable little tongue flicked the sensitive skin around my nipple.

I squeezed her closer to me, relishing that she was here and in my arms. Not to mention we'd just had the hottest fucking sex I could have ever imagined. I was rather impressed with myself, I had to admit. I didn't know my body could do shit like that anymore!

"I didn't hurt you, did I?" I asked her softly as I pressed a kiss to the top of her head. She still smelled of strawberries, but now she smelled like me and sex and it was intoxicating…not to mention it was turning me the hell on…again.

Bella wound her legs between mine and scooted up in my arms so that she could rest her head near mine as she ran her fingers lazily through my hair. I could only imagine what that mess looked like.

"Really Edward? What part of what we just did makes you think I am anything less than fabulous?" Bella teased me and pressed her center against my cock and I groaned in pleasure.

I rolled us over and balanced myself on my forearms as I ran my hands through her hair and over her cheeks. "Do you have any idea what you do to me Miss Swan? Do you have any idea how much you completely own me?" I whispered to her as I planted kiss upon kiss on her forehead, eyelids and lips. "Do you have any idea what it would do to me if anything happened to you?" I asked as the knowledge of what we needed to talk about today rushed through my sex addled brain.

I pinched my eyes closed and kept them that way for a few minutes until I felt Bella's feather light touch as she ran her fingers across my back and shoulders. "Edward, baby, look at me," she tenderly said.

Opening my eyes, I stared back into the fathomless brown ones I hoped to see everyday for the rest of my life. She pushed the hair off my forehead with the back of her hand and smiled gently, "Edward, I'm here, you're here and the kids are safe and sound at your parent's house. We're all going to be just fine."

"But what if," I started to say but Bella pressed a finger over my lips and shook her head at me. "No Edward. No what if's. We're going to talk to Riley today, we're going to listen to what he tells us and then as a family, we are going to decide what needs to be done," she said with an arched eyebrow. "Edward, my love, you can't live like this for the next sixty days. You'll drive yourself and everyone around you completely crazy if you keep imagining every worst case scenario you can come up with. Not to mention what I will want to do to you if you keep this up. I want a life with you Edward; I want to grow old with you. Don't make me have to kill you before we even get married. That would kind of put a big kink in my plans," she teased me and kissed the tip of my nose.

"Alright sweet girl. I'll try to rein in the over protectiveness. And since I do kinda want to marry you one day, I don't really want you killing me before I get to see you all dressed in white," I said and then gasped when an image of Bella walking down the isle, holding a bouquet of white flowers in her hand as I wait anxiously to make her my wife flashed through my mind.

"Bella, I want that. I want it so bad it makes me crazy just thinking about it," I whispered in an awestruck voice.

"We'll have it Edward, we just have to have faith that everything will be okay," she told me sincerely and I couldn't help but believe her.

She kissed me one more time on the lips before she rolled off the couch and stood up, tantalizingly naked. Damn her body was so mouthwatering and apparently my dick didn't care that it had just been buried inside of her only a few short moments ago.

"Bella," I sighed and shook my head as I looked at her.

My fantasy come true flipped her hair over her shoulder and turned to look at me, a smug as shit grin plastered on her flushed face. "Yes Kit Kat?"

She bent over, and damn if the woman didn't do it on purpose, and her perfect ass was right in front of be as she reached down to slip on my black button down that was sans buttons. Most were scattered all over the floor. Hopefully we could find them all.

"The death of me, I swear you're going to be the death of me someday," I muttered but smiled cockily as I watched her tie the shirt closed. It was her favorite shirt, but I'm pretty sure she was okay with having to buy me another one.

Bella glanced at me and lowered her eyes and I saw her cheeks blush when I stood up to pull my boxers on. "Damn, this was my favorite shirt, too," Bella said with a smile and we walked towards the kitchen to eat the sandwiches I had set out earlier.

During lunch we talked a bit about the twins' birthday party tomorrow. We had rented a pool so that the kids could have a swimming party. Maddie had invited her entire soccer team, including her best friend Nolan. I still wasn't thrilled with the whole boy as a best friend thing, but Bella thought it was adorable. I had to admit the kid was funny as hell though and the way he talked to his mom, Amanda, made me laugh. At the last soccer game, I was standing on the sidelines with Bella and our family with Amanda and her family were next to us. Nolan and Maddie walked together and Maddie waved good bye to him and the boy just gave her the chin wave that all guys use when they tried to be cool. His mom told him to be nice and Nolan was like, "Don't worry Mama; I know how to treat the ladies." I laughed so hard at that it brought tears to my eyes.

Like I said, the kid was funny as hell and he and Maddie got along really well.

Masen's t-ball team was going to be there as well as some of the kids from their school. Damn, there was liable to be fifty screaming kids at the party. Thank goodness for Emmett and Seth. I had a feeling they would enjoy the party as much as the kids were going to.

"Bella, sweetheart, you don't have to be nervous," I told her as I took her hand when we walked into the police station.

After being directed to Riley's office, we made our way through the maze of desks to find him. "I know Edward," she said softly. "But talking to him makes this all seem so much more real."

"Together baby, that's what we have to remember," I told her as picked her hand up and kissed the back of it.

"Edward, Bella, so good see you," Riley said as he showed us to his office.

We sat in uncomfortable seats across from him and after turning down something to drink, I looked at him. "I wish it was under a different set of circumstances," I told him.

Bella reached over and took my hand and held it in her lap. I had to smile. She was so fucking adorable when she did that shit, but if it made her feel better to play with my hand while we talked, I certainly wasn't going to tell her no.

"Of course, of course," Riley waved his hand in the air.

"Okay, let's start with what I've been able to figure out so far…which I am sorry to say isn't a whole lot. Whoever sent the letter had it delivered to the office at Volturi, so there is no postmark. That means we don't have any way to tell where the letter came from," Riley said as he looked back and forth between the two of us.

"So, where does that leave us?" I asked and couldn't stop the chuckle that escaped when Bella squeezed my fingers really hard after Riley was done talking.

"Its okay angel," I told Bella softly before we looked back at Riley.

He put his hands on the desk in front of him and peered at us before he spoke again. "Edward, Bella. I have to say I'm a bit more concerned about this turn of events than the preceding letters. Not only because of the picture itself but also the wording that was used in this one. Whoever this person is, man or woman wants you to be on edge. They want you looking over your shoulder; they want you anxious and jittery. They want you scared…both of you."

"Well, they've certainly accomplished the scared part, "Bella muttered and then sheepishly looked at me.

I squeezed her hand in agreement and told Riley, "She's not kidding. Riley," I said seriously. "What should we do? I have a job to do, patients to see. The kids have ballet and swim lessons. Maddie has soccer games and Mase has t-ball. We are going to California with Bella in a few weeks and then taking a vacation. Are we supposed to just sit in the loft and hope this goes away? Hope that this fucker moves on to someone else?" I was getting agitated just thinking about being trapped in our own home and it really fucking pissed me off.

Bella did nothing to deserve this. She didn't flaunt her celebrity; she didn't go to places on purpose that would get her recognized. She did her job and then came home.

Whoever was doing this, whatever their reasons were…one thing had become increasingly clear to me. This was personal.

Riley regarded the two of us for a moment before he took a deep breath and began to speak. "No one expects you to be trapped in your own home Edward, but it would be prudent to see about getting all the locks changed in the building. Bella," he said as he turned to her. "You own the building, correct?" When she nodded in response to his question he went on. "Well, that makes things a bit easier then."

"What do you mean?" My love asked, and I was thinking the same thing.

"Well, the only people that would be able to get in and out are those that you personally invite over. From what I understand Jasper and Seth are staying there as well?" He asked in question and when we told him yes he nodded and continued. "Okay then. Get the locks changed, all of them. Have Emmett update all the security codes and keep them between as few people as possible. No more going out alone. I know we've already discussed that, but it needs to be brought home again."

He looked back and forth between us and I squeezed Bella's hand in assurance. "As for the kids. I'm not telling you what or what not to tell them, but a refresher in stranger danger and calling people for help in an emergency would not be a bad thing."

My stomach clenched in anguish as I thought about something happening to them but I vowed silently to keep them safe at all costs.

"Do they have cell phones?" Riley asked and when I shook my head he said, "Get them each one. Program all the families numbers in there, mine included." He handed me a business card with his home and personal cell numbers on it.

"Teach them how to call on it, let them know if they hold down the nine key it automatically calls 911. You don't have to let them know what is going on with the letters, but they should be made aware of the dangers that are out there."

None of that was easy to listen to, but as a parent, it was a reality in which we all lived. Not just because of some psycho out there watching us, but because it was responsible parenting to teach your kids to be safe.

"Bella, have you ever taken a self-defense class?" I chuckled when she snorted and then told him no.

She was tough as nails on the soccer field, but put her in a situation like that and she was like a little lamb.

"Edward, Bella needs to learn some basic self defense moves. Talk to your brother and get him to teach her. As a matter of fact, all the women in the family need to learn. For their own personal safety if for no other reason," Riley went on to say, and again, he made sense.

"There is no reason to cancel the trip to California. Are you four going to Disneyland by yourselves?" Riley asked and Bella answered, "Well, we hadn't really given it much thought."

"I would give some thought to asking some of your family to go along with you. The more people around you four, the less likely anyone could do anything. The kids will be with you and I'm sure you want to enjoy yourselves. I bet you would all feel better if there were more sets of eyes watching for trouble than just the two of you," Riley finished and sat back in his chair.

"So basically we're still in a wait and see situation," I sighed resignedly.

Bella sighed beside me and I wrapped my arm around her and kissed the side of her head. "I love you baby, it'll be okay," I tried to reassure her.

"I know this is extremely frustrating for the two of you as well as for your entire family. I wish I could do more for you, but unfortunately, until we get some hint of what this person wants or who they are, we're stuck. Be careful, don't take any unnecessary risks with your safety and be vigilant about always having someone with you at all times. Let's just see about getting Bella to September and then hopefully you two can ride off into the sunset together," he smirked.

We shook hands with him, not having any more answers than we did when we got here, but we did have a few more things we could do to keep everyone safe.

That was all that mattered to me. I would do whatever was necessary to ensure that nothing happened to any of them.


"Edward, can I talk to you for a second dear?" Mama asked me as we got the kids' things together to head back to the loft for the night.

I looked at Bella and shrugged my shoulders, not having any idea what my mother needed but I kissed Bella quickly on the cheek before I walked into my mom's office.

Esme was standing just inside the door and she grabbed my wrist and pulled me in so quickly, I tripped over my feet. She shut the door and turned around to look at me, a knowing smile on her face.

"Mom, what's going on?" I questioned but was immediately shushed and she drug me to the couch in the corner and sat me down and then scooted next to me. "Edward," she began in a whisper. "Maddie and Masen came today and wanted to talk about something very important."

"Mama, why are we whispering?" I exasperatedly asked her. I was so confused. "Edward," she sharply said to me to get my attention when I stopped looking at her. "Did you hear what I said?" she asked me.

"Woman, what the hell are you going on about?" I asked her, shaking my head at her. "What do you mean important?" I finally caught up with her and realized she had said something about the kids.

"Edward, this morning after you left, Maddie and Masen spoke with me about something they wanted to do for Bella. Something that would let her know how much they love her and want her to be a part of their lives," Mom said quietly.

"Oookayy," I said, not understanding where she was going with this.

"They also mentioned that they would like to stop calling her Bella," she said as she watched my face intently. "Well, that doesn't make any sense," I said dumbfounded. "What in the hell are they supposed to call her then? We can't go around calling her Jelly Bean all the time," I sighed.

She slapped the side of my head lightly and shook her head at me. "Edward," she sighed. "Will you pay attention for a damn second? I'm trying to explain what happened."

She went on to tell me what the kids talked to her about and what their plan was. I was amazed…stupefied actually. How did they even come up with something like this? They must have been thinking about this for days…weeks even.

I wanted it…holy hell I wanted it so badly my hands were shaking as I imagined what it would be like to have it play out the way the kids and Mama envisioned.

"Can we get it done?" I asked her, still trying to wrap my head around it all.

Mama nodded at me with a smile. "We can. I've already managed to get a good portion of it done this afternoon. I'll get a few things when I go out later and if you work on the part from you, I think we can make this work Edward."

"I can't believe it," I whispered in awe.

Esme turned on the couch and held my head in her hands and looked at me, her eyes swimming in tears. "This family, all of us, has waited eight long years for something like this to happen. It's a beautiful, miraculous thing Edward," she said as she kissed my cheek softly.

"It's going to be perfect," I nodded and told her back.

It was like an answered prayer, an answered prayer for all of us and suddenly I wanted nothing more than to take my family, my future wife and our children home.

Standing up I bent down and kissed the top of my mother's head and said, "I'll call you later Mama. Thank you for what you are going to do for me, for us." I got choked up as I thought about the enormity of it all and I reached down and pulled her up to me for a hug. I wrapped my arms tightly around her and whispered, "I love you Mama, so much."


"Bella, do we gets to open our presents right away?" Maddie asked from the back seat of the BMW on our way to the birthday party.

We…well Bella in all actuality, had decided to let the kids have a swimming party for their birthday. She had found this amazing place, one which I didn't even know existed, that had a huge Olympic sized swimming pool complete with slides and diving boards.

Bella figured, being the brilliant woman that she was, that it would be easier keeping track of all the kids if they were all in one place. Not to mention we didn't have to come up with games or anything like that. The place even provided lifeguards, decorations, food, drinks and goody bags. The only thing we had to do was bring the cakes, homemade by my girl of course.

We arrived at the same time as my parents and Emmett and Rose. Emmett was hilarious in a flowered bathing suit and flip flops and Maddie and Masen squealed in laughter when they saw him. Seth and Tanya pulled up right after us and Seth's bathing suit was just as ridiculous as Emmett's, if not more so. Seth's was covered in different colored smiley faces and he had a neon green inner tube wrapped around his waist.

"Nice," Bella giggled at him and kissed his cheek as she led us all to the party room inside the facility.

Jasper, Alice, Demetri and Heidi arrived carrying more presents than any two eight year olds should ever get and I knew most of them were from Alice. Birthdays always gave my sister the chance she salivated for to go shopping and she never disappointed.

"Ali, what the hell?" I griped as Dem shoved at least five packages at me.

"Shut it Edward," my feisty sister snapped at me. "It's almost time for school, they needed new clothes," she said as she carried even more presents to the gift table.

We set the cakes out and before I knew it the pool was full of kids…and all the male idiots from our family. Dem, Em, Seth and Jasper were taking turns throwing kids through the air and from the peals of laughter all around, it seemed like everyone was having a great time.

I watched Bella as she walked around; talking to the parents that had decided to stay and marveled at how effortless it was for her. She had a smile for everyone and she was the perfect hostess.

But my girl was never anything less than perfect so I wasn't surprised in the least.


"Do you think they have any idea how early it is right now?" I mumbled to the tangle of brown curls currently residing on my chest. Maddie and Masen were currently in the living room apparently playing with the new games they'd gotten for the Wii…at seven am on a Sunday morning of all things!

Bella shook her head without making a sound before she mumbled against me, "They couldn't possibly. Because if they did, I would have to be very angry with two very adorable eight year olds."

"Well, baby, I hate to burst your bubble but there is no way they don't know what time it is. I blame Mama. She didn't have to teach them how to tell time by the time they were five years old. The woman obviously never took into account getting up way too early on a Sunday when she started," I chuckled at Bella when she started laughing at me.

I knew what had them so wound up and I had to admit that the butterflies in my stomach were getting quite the workout already. I didn't really doubt what we were planning to do for Bella this afternoon. After our talk before she left for California, I knew we were both on the same page as far as what we wanted in the future. I highly doubted when this particular subject had come up; Bella envisioned the future being little more than two weeks away.

"So I suppose this means the chances of me staying in this nice, warm bed all naked and comfortable has been shot to shit huh?" Bella asked me as she raised her head off my chest and looked at me.

Her eyes were bright and happy and I smiled at her infectious mood. "Beautiful, as much as I hate to say it, I think your sleeping time has come to a screeching halt. Besides its Sunday…Sunday means pancakes and then Mass. Go cook me breakfast woman. I need nourishment after the workout you gave me last night…and early this morning," I smirked at her.

She predictably rolled her eyes at me and I chuckled as I watched her gingerly get out of bed. "You're not sore this morning are you?" I asked with a raised eyebrow.

Bella snorted as she pulled on a pair of panties and then some Capri pajama pants and a t-shirt…mine of course. She pulled her hair up in a haphazard ponytail and she looked fresh, young…and completely irresistible.

She giggled when I moaned and threw my head back on the pillow and covered my eyes up with my arm. "Now, now old man. Don't be like that. And to answer your question Edward, yes, I'm a bit sore this morning. Can you blame me?" she asked rhetorically as she pressed a warm, wet kiss on my shoulder. "Since I've gotten home on Friday, we haven't been able to keep our hands…and um other body parts," she seductively whispered as she ghosted the back of her fingers over my crotch, "away from each other for any measurable amount of time."

My other hand snaked out from underneath the sheet and gripped her wrist. I peeked at her from behind my arm and then pulled her on top of me. Bella sat up on my waist and thank god the sheet was between us. It wasn't much, but it helped. "You're not complaining about that are you baby?" I asked her as I shifted on the bed and forced her center directly over my hardening cock.

Bella allowed herself to rest against me for just a moment before she moved backwards, removing most of the temptation. "No Edward," she whispered as she bent forward and kissed me softly on the lips, "I am not complaining in the least."

"That's good to hear because I have plans for you later," I told her.

She lifted herself off of me, and truthfully, thank goodness she did. I would never, ever tell her, but I was a bit sore myself. Between the sex on Friday, swimming yesterday and then last night…my overworked muscles were in desperate need for a reprieve as well.

Bella looked back over her shoulder at me while she held on to the doorknob and said, "When do you ever not have plans Edward?" And with that, she walked out to the delight of the kids if their squeals of 'good morning' were any indication.

I got up and took a very long, hot shower and said a quick prayer that this afternoon went exactly as we'd all hoped it would. If it did, today would most definitely be a turning point and one of the most important days in Maddie, Masen's and my life.

We filled up on Bella's delicious pancakes and then got ready to head to Mass. Father O'Connor gave Bella a wink as we found our seats in the pew with the rest of the family and he pulled her to the side as we exited the church once Mass was over.

I watched with a smile on my face as he whispered something in her ear and then she smiled, nodded and kissed his cheek before she walked towards me. Father O'Connor, it seemed, had officially swept another female member of my family completely off her feet. For an old man, he sure knew what the hell he was doing!

"Edward," she smiled as I took her hand in mine and walked towards the car. "Keep Saturday night free. We are having dinner with Father O'Connor. He wants to take us to La Fusta."

"Whatever you say baby," I told her as I opened her door for her and helped her in the car. "Mama said she would be by to pick you up for lunch about eleven thirty."

Once I got in the car and the kids were buckled in the back we headed back towards the loft. Maddie and Masen looked like they were about to explode since they knew what we were going to be doing while Bella was with my mom. Thankfully, Bella chalked up their excitement to the after affects of their party from the day before.

"Everything is okay isn't it?" Bella asked worriedly as she gripped my hand on the console.

I lifted her hand up to my mouth and kissed the inside of her wrist. Damn, she smelled so good. "Of course angel. She just wants to spend some time with you is all. We've been so busy she hasn't had much chance to visit with just you. Enjoy your time with her, she misses you," I told her honestly.

My mom was over the moon about what we were planning and it never would have been possible without her help. We didn't take advantage of the Cullen name, but there were times, like for this, where it certainly came in quite handy. Somehow between me and my mom we were able to get everything done and I was pretty amazed we actually did it.

This was everything, everything the kids wanted and everything I wanted. After today we would truly be a family…and I was well on my way to making sure all those dreams Bella told me about were coming true.

A few hours later we were putting the finishing touches on the living room and Maddie came out of her room. "Daddy, wills you help me?" she asked adorably.

She pouted as she held her hair up so I could zip the back of her sundress. Alice had been informed of what was going to transpire today…which meant the rest of the family knew as well I was sure. Thankfully everyone left Maddie, Masen and I do this on our own and I was extremely grateful for that. Not that their support didn't mean anything, because it meant everything, but this was something that needed to be shared just with the four of us. Once we were finished through today, I was more than happy to share it with everyone else but I wanted it kept between us for today.

"Princess, you look beautiful," I told my daughter as I stood up and she turned around.

"What about me Daddy?" Masen asked as he walked out of his room tucking in his dress shirt.

"Well, you don't look beautiful little man, but you sure do look handsome," I told him.

"Do you think Bella will think we look okay?" Maddie worriedly asked me and looked from me to her brother.

I sat them down on the sofa and sat on the coffee table so that I could see each of them. "Look at me you two," I told each of them. "Bella loves you no matter what you look like. Covered in mud or all sparkly and clean…it's all the same to her." I chuckled at Masen. I could see the wheels turning in his little head at the mention of mud. He was such a boy! "Now, let's talk about what is going to happen today. You both are one hundred percent sure that you want to do this?" I asked needing them to reassure me one more time that they really and truly wanted this.

"Yes Daddy," they both said at the same time.

"I think we are going to make Bella very happy today," I told them and I had to cough a few times over the lump in my throat. "You've made me very happy today," I said with a quivering voice.

This was a huge step…monumental…life changing. For all of us.

"We love you Daddy," Masen said as he threw himself at me and wrapped his arms around my neck. Of course he was followed by his sister as well. "You are the best Daddy in the whole world," my little princess told me as she peppered my cheek with kisses.

"Daddy?" Masen asked quietly. When I looked at him he went on, "Do you think Bella will say yes?"

I wrapped my arms around the both of them and turned around so that I could sit on the sofa with them. "Maddie and Masen, you both have to know how very much Bella loves both of you. She will always love you and to answer your question Masen, yes, I know Bella will say yes."

"She won't change her mind will she? She won't decides she doesn't want us any more and leave will she?" Maddie whispered as her eyes got tears in them.

Damn Lauren to the fiery pits of hell for making these two perfect children doubt the love of the person that has been their mother from almost the first moment she laid eyes on them.

"Can I tell you a secret?" I asked my two children. When they nodded I lowered my voice to a whisper and bent my head down between them and said, "I'm going to ask Bella to marry me really soon. Once we do, we'll all be together, always," I told them, hoping to ease at least that worry for them.

Maddie clapped her hands excitedly and Masen laughed and nodded his head and it seemed like my answer had its intended effect.

I checked my watch and knew Mama would be dropping Bella off in just a few minutes so we needed to get the rest of the things ready. "Okay, Bella will be here in just a few minutes. You guys go get the packages off my bed and bring them out here and I'll get the flowers and the card. Hurry, she'll be here in a minute," I told them as I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket letting me know that Bella was on her way up.

We had the packages arranged on the coffee table and I waited by the door when Bella walked in.

She walked in and gasped when she noticed the flowers, balloons and presents on the table. "Edward, what is all this? What's going on?" she asked as I took her hand and guided her towards the sofa.

"This, my Bella, is the culmination of a lot of work by two very determined and sneaky eight year olds," I told her with a brief kiss to her forehead as I helped her sit down.

Maddie and Masen walked out of Masen's room and took their spot on either side of me. Bella covered her mouth with her hand and I shook my head slightly at her when I saw her eyes begin to tear up. She loved my kids…our kids so much. It was evident every time she looked at them.

I reached behind me and picked up the bouquets of flowers and handed one each to Maddie and Masen. We'd gotten these flowers specifically and if I knew my girl, and I damn sure did, she would get the meaning almost right away.

Taking a deep breath to steady my ever increasing nerves, I faced the woman I was going to spend the rest of my life with, the woman my children had chosen to be their mother and smiled at her and said, "My Bella, it seems that for some time now, our two delightful terrors," I laughed when I looked at the kids, "have been making a plan for a very specific moment. That moment is today, now. Before I turn this over to these two impatient little things here, I would like to tell you thank you and that I love you."

I leaned down and kissed her softly on the lips and held the side of her face. I whispered very quietly, "This is just the first of many dreams I hope to make come true for you my love."

Bella's breath hitched and she started to say something but I placed my finger over her lips. "Shh baby. Let them show you."

I stood back up and stepped back and let Maddie and Masen take over. I was in awe as I watched them look at each other and then step forward. "Happy Mother's Day Bella," they each told her as they handed her the bouquets of pink carnations. Each bunch had eight perfect blooms in it, one for each Mother's Day she had missed. I had asked the florist which flower symbolized the love of a mother and was informed that it was the pink carnation.

Bella took a deep, steadying breath and took each bunch in her hand and then kissed first Maddie and then Masen before saying simply, "Thank you. I love you both very much."

I nodded to Masen and he handed me a small light blue box tied with a white bow. "Bella, when I first found out that Maddie and Masen were coming, I was so excited I could hardly stand it. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops and tell every person I met that I was going to be a father. I had always envisioned what it would be like when I found out, what I would do. Circumstances prevented me from doing what I dreamed, but now I can, because we have you. So, this is for you, from me," I told her as I held out the small box to her.

She opened it with shaking fingers and pulled out the sterling silver baby rattle I had gotten from Tiffany's. It was engraved with the twins' names and their birthdates. I had actually walked into the store eight years ago to buy this same rattle to commemorate their birth, but knew the thought would be wasted on Lauren. Looking in Bella's eyes and seeing how much love they held for me made more thankful than I could ever express that I'd waited until now to do it. It may be eight years later, but the timing was perfect.

"Oh Edward," Bella whispered as she ran her fingers over the sterling silver.

I chuckled gently at her. "Sweetheart, you haven't seen anything yet," I told her and squeezed her hand before I motioned to the kids to hand her the next box.

I smiled at this one; she was going to love what was in the box. "Bella, me and Maddie picked these outs for you ourselves. Well, Nana helped. We can't wear thems anymore, but you can save them if you want to," he said and handed her the flat package.

She quickly unwrapped the present and then giggled when she pulled the gifts out of the tissue paper. My mom had taken Maddie and Masen to Macy's and let each of them pick out a baby t-shirt that said 'Mommy's little boy' and 'Mommy's little girl' on the front.

"I'll keep these always," Bella said as she wiped the tears that were falling down her cheeks off.

Maddie clapped and then bounced up and down on her feet before she picked up the next present. I think I was most nervous about this one. Maddie handed it to me and I turned on the couch to face Bella. "Baby," I began and took a deep breath. I was really unsure how she would react to this. "Eight years have gone by since Maddie and Masen were born and they have been the most amazing eight years of my life," I whispered as I looked up at my children and then at Bella. "And while I have treasured every moment of that time, it wasn't perfect because I didn't have you to share it with me, to share it with us. So this is for you," I said as I held out my hand. Bella took the gift from me and as soon as the paper slipped off, her shoulders began to shake as she tried to keep from sobbing. "Bella look at me," I said as I tipped her chin up so I could look in her eyes. "What I want to do with this is, one day very soon, I want to sit down and fill out this book, again, with you. I want to tell you about every moment that we recorded; I want to share every special thing that happened with you."

The kids and I had picked out a new baby book for Bella so that she could write down all of the important milestones in their life. My mom had the one we'd kept since we brought the twins home from the hospital, but we wanted Bella to feel like she had been a part of everything since the beginning so we were going to do that the best way we could. Bella may not have been there, but we could certainly do all we could to share it now with her. I opened the book to the first page and when she saw what had been written there, she began to cry. Maddie and Masen had filled in the blanks for the members of the family already and in the space for mother, they had written her name. Seth, Rose, and Jasper were also listed on the blanks for aunts and uncles as well as Charlie under the spot for grandfather. I left it up to Bella as to whether she wanted to include Renee.

Bella ran her fingers over the pages and when the drops of water splashed on the page she looked up and breathed out, "This is the most amazing thing anyone has ever given me. I have…there are no words…" she tried to go on but couldn't. She picked the book up and held it to her chest and closed her eyes for a moment before she whispered, "I love you all more than I could possibly begin to tell you."

"As we love you sweet girl," I told her and kissed the side of her head. Maddie and Masen each kissed her cheek before I took a deep breath to keep going.

Maddie let out an excited squeal when she picked up the next present. This one wasn't wrapped but had a pretty pink bow on top of the clear case. Inside was a DVD that my mom had made with the help of Demetri, Jasper and Seth. I hadn't even had a chance to see it yet, but my mother was beside herself with excitement over the thing.

"Bella this is for you. Nana, Uncle Demetri, Uncle Jasper and Uncle Seth made it," Maddie said as she handed the case to Bella. She looked up at me and I said, "We wanted you to be able to see things like the first time they crawled and sat up. Their first steps and first words. The first time they lost a tooth and their first day of school so we went through and made a DVD from the day they were born until their birthday party yesterday. I haven't even seen it yet," I told her with a shrug of my shoulders.

"You did this for me?" Bella incredulously asked as she glanced from me to Maddie and then Masen.

"Course we did Bella. We wanted you to sees everything!" Masen exclaimed. The kid loved to watch himself on camera that was for sure!

Bella giggled at him and then said, "Well, I know what we are doing tonight!"

"Everyone wants to see it. We'll have to have the entire family over to watch," I warned her and she smiled and said, "I wouldn't want it any other way Edward."

"Well, I'm so happy to hear you say that angel," I laughed as I reached forward and picked up a new photo album. "We all made this for you. It has pictures of the kids and I and the rest of the family in it. I think there are even a few new ones in there, too," I told her with a wink and chuckled as I watched her flip through the pages. She gasped when she came across the pictures Rose had been more than willing to make copies of for me to include. There were pictures of Bella, Seth, Jasper and Rose from when they were little up until now. There were even pictures of Charlie as well. Bella cried…again…when she came across the picture Paul had taken of the four of us. Like her, I still got butterflies in my stomach every time I saw it…which was every damn day since it sat on my desk at my office.

"Everyone is dying to see the finished product. Tonight will make everyone happy," I told her truthfully.

As soon as we began working on all of this on Friday, I knew the entire family was going to be beside themselves with happiness. Bella meant so much to all of us and to take this important step with her just solidified how very much we all needed her.

I nodded and then motioned to Masen to bring me the next one. I smiled when Masen handed me another small, but distinctive light blue box with a white bow. My brand new Tiffany's card had already gotten quite the work out!

"Edward," Bella said when she noticed the color of the box.

"Hush. We've waited a very long time for this, so you just sit there and look beautiful." I admonished her with a wink and because she looked so damn cute, I kissed her cheek too just for good measure.

"I was told by two very persistent little people as well as a very nice saleslady at a store that shall remain nameless that every mother needs what is inside this box. Since I don't argue with those two over there if I can help it," I said with a grin as I pointed to a very proud looking Maddie and Masen. "This is for you," I said in a soft voice as I handed her the box. I watched her open the box with trembling fingers and I couldn't help but chuckle when I heard her breath hitch when she opened the small black velvet box and saw what was inside.

"I'm sure it will fit. Rose helped me with the size," I reverently told her as I picked up her tiny hand and slipped the ring on her finger. The kids' birthstones were embedded in the platinum band and it fit her perfectly…like it was always meant to be there.

I picked up her hand and kissed the ring finger of her right hand and said in a wistful voice, "The saleslady assured me that there was plenty of room to add more stones as the need arose."

"Edward, oh sweetheart," Bella choked out and I squeezed her hand in mine before I leaned towards her. "I say we get started on that becoming a necessity as soon as possible," I whispered in her ear before I kissed her neck.

Bella sighed and looked at me; her eyes told me everything she was too overwhelmed by to say in words.

Maddie giggled and flitted back to the table to pick up the last present on the table. This was the one we were all the most excited about and I couldn't wait to see her face when she opened…yes, another light blue box. I nodded to the kids and this time they handed her the box together and none of us said anything as Bella untied the bow and opened the light blue box and this time she didn't even try to hold back the tears. I reached over and picked up the bracelet and then her hand and clasped it around her wrist.

"Edward, how did you? I can't believe you did…its beautiful…I love it…love you," Bella said in between kisses and then proceeded to say the same thing to Maddie and then to Masen. Once she finished lavishing us with kisses, I wrapped my arm around her and then picked up her hand with the bracelet on the wrist. We'd gotten her a charm bracelet and on two of the charms we'd had each of the kids' handprints engraved on the sterling silver squares along with each of their names. On the third charm, we'd had them engrave 'We love you mommy' on it.

And again…there was plenty of room to add more charms as we needed them. Hopefully really fucking soon if I had my way!

I kissed her quickly on the lips one last time before I stood up and moved to stand between each of the kids. This was the moment we'd been building towards all afternoon. Hell, we'd been headed in this direction from the very instant our paths had crossed just four short months ago. My path was always leading towards Bella; I just didn't know it at the time. Everything…fucking everything…every heartache, every sleepless night led me to this point right here. Every time I laid in bed and prayed that I had what it took to be a good father. Every night I spent working at the hospital, lamenting the fact that my kids were at home without me. Every miserable date I'd gone on before Bella that left me feeling more alone and more desolate at the end of the night.

Every night, for almost eight years, I went to bed and dreamed of finding the one and by the grace of God, I'd found her.

I loved her with every fiber of my being; my children loved her as much as their little hearts would let them.

I wanted this.

Maddie and Masen wanted this.

Bella wanted this.

"My love, as you can tell from the number of gifts you've been given so far, you are missing but one. This last one didn't cost any money but it is, by far, the most precious of all of them. This one is only from Maddie and Masen and it is only for you…only ever for you," I said tenderly, tears pouring down my face.

I couldn't imagine anything more poignant, not even our wedding day which was hopefully in the not too distant future, than this exact moment.

Placing my hand on each of their shoulders, I nudged them forward where they clasped hands and then with the others, handed Bella a handmade card. I hadn't even looked at it yet. I wanted Bella to be the first one to read what they wrote. The words were for her alone and I wasn't about to take this moment away from her.

Bella lifted her hand to take the card from them. When she looked up at them, they whispered, in a voice so full of love, so full of hope and joy and promise that I thought my heart would overflow the six most beautiful words I'd ever heard in my life.

"Bella, will you be our mommy?"