2 weeks before the wedding~
"Mase, come on, buddy. Uncle Em and the others are waiting on us. Let's move it," I yelled as I put on my shoes.
"Make sure you take pictures," Bella said as she leaned against the doorway.
"Baby, I'm not taking pictures. We're just trying on tuxedos," I told her as I stood up and slipped my wallet and cell phone into the pocket of my jeans.
Bella pushed off the wall and sauntered over toward me, a smirk on her gorgeous face. She laid her hands on my chest and stood up on her tip toes and kissed along my jaw. "You will take pictures, Edward. I want them for the album."
I huffed but smiled because, yeah I would take pictures. She asked; I did. It was just the way things were done.
"Whatever you want, Bella. You know all you have to do is ask," I told her as I pressed a quick kiss to her soft lips. "Mmmm, coconut. I like it," I said as I licked my lips.
She giggled then ran her delectable pink tongue across her lips and said, "I'm just trying to make sure my lips are soft for when Father O'Connor tells you 'You can kiss the bride'."
My heart started beating erratically at her words as I felt the rush of anticipation race through my veins. "Jesus, Bella," I breathed out when I was finally able to again. "Say that again," I said intensely. I pulled her against me and bent my head down by her ear and whispered, "Please say that again."
"When he tells you, 'You can kiss the bride'," Bella said and wrapped her arms around me.
I took a few uneven breaths before I pulled back to look at her. I held her face in my hands and ran my lips back and forth across hers. "I can't wait for our first kiss as Mr. and Mrs. Cullen."
"Me either, Edward," Bella said as she ran her thumbs across my lips. "But you need Chap Stick, too. I want these lips nice and soft when we get married. I plan on kissing them a lot."
I waggled my eyebrows at her because it wasn't as if I was going to complain about that. "See, I knew there was a reason we were getting married," I answered glibly.
"Yeah, Kit Kat, that's right. I'm not marrying you because you make me happier than I ever imagined or because I love you more than life itself. I'm only marrying you so I can kiss you," Bella said with a shake of her head.
I strode back over to her and smacked my lips against hers and said, "Well that, too…but kissing as often as we want to makes for a hell of a fringe benefit, wouldn't you say?" I chuckled when she rolled her eyes and I swatted her on her ass as I left the room. "I'll be back in a few hours, baby. You'd better work on your vows, mine are almost done." I lied. Straight out, bold-faced lied. Bella didn't need to know that though.
"Shit, really?" Bella squeaked and I felt bad so I shook my head. "Well, no, but I'll get them done. I promise," I told her.
I had so much I wanted to say that it was hard to narrow it down to where I didn't put people to sleep because I went on for so damn long. I could do it, too; I didn't doubt that for one second. As easy as it would be to just say forget it and use the traditional ones, neither of us wanted to do that. Sure our feelings toward one another were personal, but this was meant to be a celebration of our love. It was just friends and family so I didn't mind. And hell, honestly…it wasn't like EVERYONE didn't already know how I felt about Bella. I didn't exactly hide it now, did I?
"I'll get mine done, too. It's just hard to put what I want to say into words, you know?" she asked. I knew the question was rhetorical, but I answered anyway. "I do know, sweet girl. Don't stress. Hell, even if all you said was I love you and I promise to always love you…even when you forget to put the seat down on the toilet or when you get whiny, I'll be happy."
Bella laughed and shook her head and pushed me out the door. "Go. Get the hell out of here so I can get some work done you big goof. I'll see you later," she said as she blew me a kiss.
"Later, Angel. Mase, let's hit it," I said as I walked through the living room and out the door to meet the others so we could go get fitted one last time.
"Daddy, this is itchy," Masen complained as he stood on the platform while the tailor made a few adjustments.
I sighed. I felt his pain, we all did. The tuxes Bella and the girls had picked out were really nice, I had to admit, but…we were guys, we complain. It's what we do.
"I know little man, but if you want to stand up front with me and Uncle Em, you have to wear what Mommy picked out," I told him.
He sighed, extremely put out by the whole thing and said, "Well, I guess it's okay then because I want to stand up with you and Mommy."
"Thanks, Mase. I wouldn't want to stand up there without you with me," I told him honestly.
It was really weird when I thought about it. I was thirty-two years old and I didn't really have many friends that were married, hadn't ever been to many weddings that I could recall either. I knew that our wedding wasn't really anything that out of the ordinary, but it felt that way. The fact that I was able to pledge my love and devotion to the woman I would love for the rest of my life with my two kids standing up with me just seemed beyond perfect. Maddie and Masen had chosen Bella to be their mother, I'd chosen her to be my wife, and together we'd chosen to be a family. It didn't seem to me that there was anything, ever, that would be more perfect than that.
"Brother, I am going to blow Rosie's mind when she sees me in this," Emmett said as he stepped up to stand next to Masen and I.
I had to admit, Emmett cleaned up damn good, Jasper and Seth, too. I smirked when they exited the dressing rooms. Emmett, Masen, Pop, and I were the only one's wearing matching tuxedos; Jasper and Seth were both wearing the suits Ali and Tanya had picked out. "I think we're all going to knock 'em dead," Seth said as he puffed out his chest.
My dad shook his head and slapped him on the back before he said, "We do make quite the sight, don't we?"
"Damn straight, Dr. C.," Seth grinned. "I look so good I might have to wear this when Tanya and I get married."
"Holy shit!" Emmett exclaimed, echoing my sentiments exactly. "You're going to ask Tanya to marry you? Dude…that's just," he trailed off, clearly at a loss for words.
My brain had finally caught up with what he'd said so I held my hand out and told him, "That's just fucking great. I'm really happy for you both."
His cheeks turned pink and he ducked his head before he let out a relieved breath. "Well, I haven't asked her yet, but I know I want to. Not to sound too sappy or any shit like that, but after what happened to Shortcake; I just don't want to wait any longer than I have to."
I sucked in a deep breath, knowing full well what he meant. "Good," I told him succinctly. "Waiting for the right time, whatever the hell that is, is just fucking stupid," I told him.
"Well, I know Tanya's the one, so yeah, I want to ask her soon. Not until after you and Shortcake get married and get things all settled though. This is her time and she's waited too damn long and been through too damn much to take anything away from her. Bella deserves all this and more. I'm not going to do anything to get in the way of that," Seth said, a bit choked up by the end.
"Amen to that, my friend," Jasper said, his tears betrayed how much what Seth said meant to him, too.
"Jasper, man, that will leave just me and you as the unmarried ones of the bunch. Dem and Heidi won't wait too long and Lord knows Ben and Angela are chomping at the bit to run down the aisle," Emmett said with a chuckle. "Rosie and I are content to live in sin."
"Emmett Cullen," Pop said sternly. "You know better than to be disrespectful like that."
"Yes, sir," my idiot brother said contritely.
"Besides, that is my sister you're talking about there, man," Jasper added.
I spun around to look at him and said slyly, "Well, that is my baby sister you're doing the same thing with. Pot meet kettle is all I have to say to that."
Seth let out a booming laugh since Emmett and Jasper both looked like they had just sucked on a lemon. He held his hand out to bump fists and I chuckled and bumped mine against his. "You two dumbasses should see your faces."
I finally stopped laughing and turned back toward the mirror. "I can't wait to see what Bella's dress looks like," I said almost to myself, but obviously it was loud enough for my father to hear.
"From what your mother tells me, I think it'll take all of us to keep you standing upright and your feet attached to the floor," Carlisle said.
"Mommy is going to look like a princess," Masen said, not looking up from his Nintendo DS I had brilliantly told him not to forget. We all looked at him and he shrugged his shoulders and said simply, "Mommy is always pretty and Mad told me she saw her in her dress and she looked like a princess."
Seth flopped down on the couch next to him and said, "I'm sure she will, munchkin. Now, let's hurry the hell up so we can go eat. I'm starving and I'm craving a big juicy burger and a cold beer."
"Uncle Seth, when are you ever not hungry?" my little boy asked innocently.
Seth stood up and patted his stomach and said, "That, my little dude is a good question."
"Wait," I groaned as everyone made their way to the dressing rooms, Masen rushing ahead of everyone. "I have to take pictures for Bella. She'll kill me if I don't."
The others groaned just as bad, but I didn't care. No way was I upsetting my girl if I could help it. I took pictures as fast as I could and then we were done.
Now it was my turn to cross one more thing off my list.
"Go. Get the hell out of here so I can get some work done you big goof. I'll see you later," I told him then blew him a kiss.
I shut the door behind him and leaned against it and smiled. I reached up and ran my fingers over my Chap Stick covered lips and took a few deep breaths. I tell you what, thinking about kissing Edward as his wife for the first time had a funny way of turning me into a pile of goo. My mind exploded with images of what he would look like as he stood at the front of the church and waited…for me.
Edward Cullen was marrying me! I giggled to myself.
Jesus, Swan, get it together I told myself as I pushed off the door. Easier said than done, of course, but I did have things to get done today. I needed to give some thought to Edward's wedding present for one, and most importantly, I needed to work on writing my vows. Thankfully, Esme had taken Maddie for the day so while Edward and Masen were gone, I'd have some quiet time to myself. Deciding I needed some inspiration, I put on some Sarah McLachlan and grabbed the notebook I'd been writing down my ideas in. As I walked from our room, I looked toward the dining room and smiled as my eyes landed on the corner in front of the windows. The lights that Edward had hung all those months ago were still strung across the top. I grabbed a pillow and a blanket so that I could sit in the spot that had meant so much.
I wrapped myself in the blanket and closed my eyes for a moment as I let my mind go back over the time that had passed since Edward and I had found each other. It amazed me how, even seven plus months after the fact, I could recall with absolutely perfect clarity the way he smiled at me the first time. The way it felt when he helped me off the ground and our hands touched for the first time. The way my heart positively sung the instant Maddie and Masen each said my name. I'd often wondered, mostly when I tried to tell myself that finding someone like Edward was too good to be true, what would have happened that day at the park if Seth had never decided to give me Rufus. My heart seized painfully the instant that thought floated to the surface. I tried to imagine the day that changed my life forever differently…I imagined sitting on the same bench, but instead of a giggling little boy, there was nothing. I imagined seeing a dad playing with his children and giving them no more than a passing glance, thinking how happy they looked to be together. Oh, I had no doubt that Edward and the kids would have caught my attention, but would it have been enough? I imagined reading for a bit and then deciding to leave, alone, never knowing that my soul mate, that my family had been right there in front of me.
I shuddered at the thought, thankful beyond words that didn't happen.
I believed that Edward and I were meant to be together, the way we just fit proved that. But would it have been that day if it wouldn't have been for Rufus? If not that day, I wondered what could have brought us together instead. A chance meeting on the street? At a function of some sort? At the shelter where our paths had already unknowingly crossed?
It astounded me to think of that. To think of all the ways everything just came together, despite the unbelievable odds, so that our lives would be changed forever. It wasn't even just mine and Edward's lives that were changed either, I thought to myself. Edward, with the help of his parents and family, had done an amazing job raising Maddie and Masen and molding and nurturing them so that they were the happy, loved, well adjusted children they'd been when I first met them. Even with the incredible amount of love and support they'd been given, I knew they'd needed me. Not someone like me, but me specifically. I was aware of how much each of them had flourished since Edward and I got involved. I watched as they blossomed and grew, and though I missed out on the first almost eight years of their lives, they were 'my' children in every sense of the word.
Rufus nudged my leg and I pulled him up on my lap and nuzzled the top of his head with my nose. "What do you think little guy?" Rufus tipped his head to the side while he looked at me and after a moment, he barked and licked my face. Laughing at him I said, "You said it, buddy. We sure got lucky that day, didn't we? Whoever would have thought that one walk in the park would lead to so much, huh?" He barked in answer then plopped down on my lap to obviously take a nap.
We sure did get lucky; there was no question about it. After what happened with Jane and then the news Tanya gave us, it felt like it was more than luck. It felt more like divine intervention, fate, kismet…whatever you wanted to call it. There were other forces at work that brought us together, there had to have been.
For me…for Jasper, Rose, and Seth, too…it was as if everything that happened to all of us led us to this time, to finding and becoming part of Edward's family. There was no doubting how much we all needed Carlisle and Esme's guidance and support. Sure we had Sue, we'd always had her, but the deaths of Harry, Peter and Charlotte followed by Charlie's had all taken their toll on her. She was still our Mom, still our go to person when we needed her, she always had been, but Carlisle and Esme's presence in our lives brought with it a stability, a sense of security we'd honestly never felt before. Sure when we were younger and Harry and the Whitlock's had all been alive, we'd had it, but really what teenager remembers what that felt like before it was gone? By the time we'd first met the incredible couple years had already passed since their deaths. It had been just Sue and my dad to tend to all of us, and well honestly, my dad didn't do the best of jobs now did he?
With Carlisle and Esme, we all had role models of what good people, what good parents were supposed to be like. Between Sue and Esme, I had no doubt at all that I had the perfect women to emulate when it came time to raise Maddie and Masen as my children…not to mention the other children Edward and I wanted to have. Like him, I hoped for a houseful. We were fortunate that we had the means to have as many, God willing, as we wanted. Not to mention the love and desire as well. I thought about the talk that Edward and I had not too long ago when we first made plans to move to the lake and I told him I wanted to own a bakery or something like it. I supposed at sometime down the road I still did, but for now, I wanted to focus on being a mom, on being a wife…on being me.
Edward fell in love with Bella Swan, without really knowing fully who I was. Hell, when Edward and I first met, I didn't know who I was anymore. I had a job I disliked, I was in a city with only Seth and Angela, and all I wanted to do was be invisible. He turned my world upside down in the blink of an eye and nothing had been the same since.
With that, I had a perfect idea of what I wanted to say to Edward in my vows and I got busy writing them down.
One week before wedding~
"Maddie, Masen, you guys need to finish getting your things together. The Cullen express is pulling out in thirty minutes with or without you," I yelled as I grabbed the trash to take it downstairs.
"Daddy," Maddie giggled as she pulled her suitcase behind her out of her room. "You and Mommy can't get married without me and Mase. You have to bring us with you, silly."
I looked at her in mock seriousness, "Well, we could," I teased and waited for the huff of indignation I knew was coming. When I got it, I kissed her on the cheek and ruffled her hair and said, "You know Mommy and I couldn't do any of this without you two."
"Well, duh," my little girl, who right then didn't seem so little anymore, said to me as Bella and Masen came out to join us.
I grinned at Bella, thinking that the next time we came back here, we'd be married. It was about all I could do not lay down on my back and kick my legs up in the air, I was so fucking happy about that.
My wife…holy fuck did that ever sound good!
"Edward, what in the world is that look for?" Bella asked me, grinning already because I guess the stupid look on my face was just too much for her.
I pulled her toward me and kissed her quickly still grinning like an idiot. "Do you realize the next time we step foot in here, it will be as Mr. and Mrs. Cullen? I'm just having a hard time containing how fucking happy that makes me," I whispered the last part to her. Little ears and all.
Bella gasped and then pulled back to look at me, the same look on her face as I knew I had on mine. "Holy…that is just…wow!" She breathed out, finally catching up to me.
"I know!" I squeaked, sounding way too much like Alice for my liking. I bent down and kissed Bella again until I heard a, "Can we go yet?" from Masen.
"You just wait little man, someday, you'll want to kiss a girl, too," I told him and rubbed him on top of the head. I didn't miss Bella's "over my dead body" though.
We got our things in the car, after way too many trips up and down, and were finally on our way to the Lake. The kids were out of school for the entire week and Bella and I wanted to get a few things done at the house before everyone arrived on Wednesday. Once that happened, the house was liable to be one mass of crazy. I thought Bella was insane for wanting to do the whole traditional Thanksgiving thing in the middle of trying to get ready for the wedding, but when she explained it had been years since she'd had a true Thanksgiving, any fucking argument I wanted to make died instantly.
My girl wanted a real Thanksgiving; my girl was going to get one. Hell, I'd go out and find a turkey and shoot it myself if it came right down to it. Thankfully, I didn't have to, but you get the point. With all of us there to help her, there were going to be plenty of hands to make short work of cooking and cleaning. As much as I didn't want her to stress, I couldn't help but be excited over spending our first Thanksgiving together as one big…really big…family.
We arrived at the lake in no time; traffic was light, especially since we were at the end of November. The weather was cold, and it wouldn't be long before we got our first snow of the season. Rufus took off like a shot, clearly happy to be out of the car and more than likely out of the city as well. It seemed like he was just as ready as the rest of us to leave the city behind. The kids took off after him, even though Bella tried to get them to each put a hat and gloves on.
I chuckled at her, "Bella, you haven't had the pleasure of trying to get them dressed for cold weather, yet. You haven't seen anything."
Bella faltered for a second; dropping the suitcase she was trying to lift from the car. "Hey, what is this?" I asked gently as I tipped her face toward mine. She shrugged her shoulders at me, and I wasn't having any of that. "Bella, we don't do this. Talk to me," I urged.
She sniffed, though thankfully there weren't any tears. "It just hit me how much I missed. I didn't get to see them the first time they saw snow, or their first visit to see Santa Claus. I know it's silly to get so upset, Edward," she told me, taking a deep breath. "There is no way either of us could have known or anything like that, but still."
I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and pulled her close to me and kissed the top of her head and said, "Baby, you did miss that, but from this point forward, you'll never miss anything again. Hey," I told her as I bent down to look her in the eyes, "we can still take them to see Santa at Christmas. They might be eight, but it'll be better than the first time because you're here."
"Okay," she said sweetly, apparently mollified for the time being.
We let the kids play outside until it got too cold and then they came inside. We'd picked up a few groceries on our way to the house so after a quick dinner of tacos, we sent the kids upstairs to get ready for bed. I poured Bella and I each a glass of wine and pulled her to the couch in front of the fireplace.
"So, what do you want to get done over the next four days, Angel?" I asked, ready to make a list.
Bella tilted her head back and looked up at the ceiling for a few moments before she turned her head and looked at me. "Well, we need to paint the rooms the kids' are going to keep for their own once we move. We need to make sure the guest rooms are ready for company, and you need to make sure you don't want to change anything in our room, especially since it's the same as it was when I bought the house."
"The kids' rooms and the guest rooms are easy enough, so I don't see anything too difficult with that," I told her. A few coats of paint and moving a bit of furniture would be a piece of cake, especially once Em and the rest of the guys got here on Wednesday.
Our room, though, how to handle this…I thought to myself. "Bella, this house has been yours for a long time, and long before there was a me or the kids in the picture. If you want to keep our room the way it is, I'll understand," I told her. I admit I wanted to change the room. I appreciated what she did at the loft more than I could express, but I wanted to make our room here at the lake house really ours.
"Edward," Bella said in the tone of voice she used when she knew I was hedging…and I totally was this time.
I huffed. I knew she wouldn't let me get away with this, I didn't really even know why I tried in the first place. "Baby, I want to redo the room. It might be silly or unmanly or whatever, but I want our room to really be ours. I plan on spending lots of time with you in there, you know?"
Hell, I didn't know if it made me a pussy or not, and frankly I didn't care. I wanted our room to be 'our' space, the place we could relax and spend time together in… the place where we could escape from everything except each other. It was also going to be the place where we were going to make a baby or babies if I had anything to say about it.
She crawled over and sat in my lap and curled against my chest. "Edward, this is our house now. We can redo the whole thing if you want to, it doesn't matter to me. Hell, none of the stuff here means anything to me, well for the most part it doesn't. This is home now, sweetheart, our family's home. You need to treat it as such," she told me.
"Okay," I answered her. I did feel like this was our home, but I knew that changing our room and letting the kids pick out their things for their room was what we needed to really make it ours completely.
"Good, then tomorrow we'll go into town and find what we need. We'll spend the next few days making the house ours and then we'll be ready for Thanksgiving," she said with a squeal of excitement.
"Just Thanksgiving?" I questioned and narrowed my eyes at her. "Seems to me there is something happening two days after that, that is pretty damn important, too."
"Hmmm, oh you're right! It's the best shopping time of the year. I need to get started on my Christmas shopping, thanks for reminding me, baby," she giggled then screeched when I grabbed her by the waist and had her on her back on the couch before she could barely blink.
"That, Isabella Marie, is NOT what I meant and you know it, too…or at least you'd better know it," I said as I nipped the side of her neck with my teeth and then ran my tongue down the side of it.
I felt her body stiffen then relax as I continued to lick and suck the skin there. "Oh, right. I guess you mean that wedding thing we've got going on Saturday night," she tried to giggle, but I swallowed that when I pressed my tongue deep inside her mouth.
Bella's hands were in my hair in an instant and I could feel myself getting hard as I rocked back and forth on top of her. I wanted nothing more than to be buried deep inside of her and groaned when I remembered something. "Tell me why we agreed to no sex until we were married?" I asked, the asinine agreement pissing me off to no end right at the moment.
Well until my sweet girl said, "Because we wanted our next time making love to be as man and wife. It's only a few days, Edward."
I nodded my head, knowing that waiting even a week was going to feel like torture, but the reward at the end was going to be so fucking worth it. "That's right, the wedding thing we've got going on Saturday night," I said sarcastically as I kissed the end of her nose.
"You know I was just kidding you big baby. There isn't anything I'd rather do than marry you," Bella told me sweetly.
"Good, because I would seriously have to kick your ass if you tried to back out now," I tried to say with a straight face, but failed miserably at.
"As if, Edward. Now, let's get the kids in bed. We've got work to get done making the house our home over the next few days," she said as I rolled off her and helped her up.
"We're going to be so fucking happy here," I told her as I led her up the stairs.
"I have no doubt about that, at all," Bella said confidently.
We would be, too. I just knew it.
Over the next few days we painted and moved furniture around. We ordered new beds for all three rooms. We got the guest rooms ready for the family for when they arrived. We laughed and played. We made a huge fucking mess with a paint war that got a little out of control, so much so that poor Rufus needed three baths to get all the paint of him.
Poor little guy.
We made the lake house into our home and all four of us were more than a little excited to leave the city and stay here permanently.
By Wednesday morning, I was so sore I could barely lift my arms and I knew Bella was in the same predicament. Thankfully, the wedding was still a few days away and we had time to recover in the meantime.
As we sat down to breakfast I told her, "Baby, you need to try to take it easy for the next few days, okay? No overdoing it. You just got back to a hundred percent, keep that in mind. When Mama and Aunt Diane get here, let them help you with cooking for tomorrow, promise me? You need to be nice and rested for Saturday," I said with a wink.
"I will, Edward. Besides there is no way I could keep Esme out of the kitchen with a family to feed anyway. You know this," she chuckled and I nodded my head at her. She was right about that. Mama lived for the holidays, and I knew with all the people that were going to be here tomorrow she was going to be in heaven.
We cleaned up the dishes from breakfast and Bella started working in the kitchen. The kids were downstairs in the basement playing on the Wii and I laid down on the couch, watching some sports thing on ESPN thinking that this…just acting like a normal family, was what bliss was like.
My bliss was interrupted a short time later when I woke up with a start to the sound of my brother and cousin exclaiming, loudly, "Jesus, Bella. It smells fucking good in here!"
"Emmett and Demetri Cullen, watch your language," both my mother and aunt scolded immediately and I sat up from my spot on the couch shaking my head.
Idiots. They were my family and I loved them, but damn you'd think after more than thirty years they'd learn something.
"How you doing, kid?" Uncle Marcus asked as he scooted my legs off the couch so he could sit. He looked around the room, and my eyes followed his. Maddie and Masen's shoes were on the floor by the fireplace. The book we'd been reading was on the coffee table and Rufus picked his head up from his spot on the chair across the room. "Looks different in here, good…better," Uncle Marcus said quietly as his eyes took in everything. There weren't a lot of changes, just a few subtle things. We'd brought some of our favorite pictures from the loft to hang up. We'd let Maddie and Masen make turkeys out of construction paper and hung them up on the mantle above the fireplace.
"We made it our home," I told him quietly and he sucked in a quick breath and then looked at me. "You did. I'm so damn happy for you, Edward."
I nodded my head and glanced to my left and watched the scene in front of me with a smile on my face. Bella was laughing at something Em and Dem said to her. Maddie and Masen were standing on either side of her, their arms wrapped around her waist. Mama, Aunt Diane, and Sue stood at the refrigerator, making a list. Rose, Ali, and Tanya sat at the island with Jasper, Seth, and my dad.
"Just look at her, Edward. She's been a part of this family since the very first moment you met her. Bella has brought so much to not only you, Maddie, and Masen, but to all of us. I can honestly tell you that this is the first holiday in a long time that I have really been looking forward to. The whole weekend will be one to remember," he said as he stood up and kissed the top of my head. "You did good, kid. We all have much to be thankful for this year."
The alarm went off way too fucking early the next morning, and I groaned in supreme displeasure. My love, it seemed, was just as put out by the annoying beep as I was.
"Tell me why I decided feeding twenty some odd people two days before we're getting married was a good idea," she grumbled beneath her tangled mess of brown hair.
I chuckled and pulled her against me, burying my nose in her hair. "Well, baby, I think it's because you think you're Superwoman and can do everything." Bella growled and I squeezed her even tighter against me and whispered in her ear, "But, then again I am Superman so it only makes sense you would be Superwoman, wouldn't you say?"
She rolled over and ran her fingers lightly over my face and I relaxed into her touch because, damn, that shit just felt so good when she did that. "Hmmm, don't you think you need to be my husband first before I can officially be Superwoman," she asked in a carefree, happy voice.
I opened my eyes, because I'd closed them to enjoy her featherlight touch on my face and said, "Semantics, Bella. Only two more days and then I'll get to call you my wife every day for the rest of forever."
"Two more days seems like so far away, but it also feels like it's already here. I can't wait to be your wife," she said softly as she ran her nose up and down my cheek, letting her soft lips follow behind.
I heard the sounds of pots and pans and water running so I knew Bella did, too. As much as I wanted her to stay in bed with me, I knew she'd been looking forward to today for a long time so I kissed her on the nose and rolled out of bed. "I can't either, Angel, but if you don't get downstairs and make some food, I'm afraid not even I could protect you from Seth, Emmett, and Demetri."
Bella laughed and nodded her head. She knew I was right. Those three might think my girl walked on water, but there was no way they would let that come between them and a table food of food and dessert.
No way at all.
I heard the door open, letting the sounds of Bella and all the females in our family squealing and laughing, out. Shortly after, I heard the door close and it was silent once more.
"Little brother, you're not getting cold feet are you?" Emmett asked me as he handed me a glass of the very, very expensive scotch Uncle Marcus got just for tonight.
I turned from the lake I'd just been staring at and looked at my brother and shook my head. Taking the scotch from him, we clinked glasses before I took a sip and said, "Hell no! My feet are so warm they feel like they're on fire."
"Good to hear, man. I'd have to kill you if you even thought about backing out now…if only to save you from being tarred and feathered by Rosie," Emmett laughed.
"Nothing to worry about there, Em. If I wasn't so scared of Mama and Ali, I'd have taken her away as soon as she got out of the hospital," I said and I wasn't entirely joking either.
"You'd deny me the chance to walk Shortcake down the aisle? That's just cruel, Ed," Seth pouted as he and Jasper approached - Demetri, Uncle Marcus, Ben, Eleazar, and my dad right behind.
"Sorry, Seth, but I've been ready to marry Bella since the first moment I saw her. I can't believe it's taken this damn long to be honest with you," I said as I watched Jasper narrow his eyes at me. "Don't give me that fucking look, Whitlock," I smirked at him. "I expect me, Pop, and Em will be getting a visit to ask for permission to marry my baby sister before too much longer."
We all laughed when he spat out the three hundred dollar scotch and turned positively purple. "I…ah, well you see…" he stammered and Pop stepped up to put him out of his misery.
"Jasper, son, don't you pay any attention to him," he said good -naturedly. Jasper breathed a sigh of relief before my dad turned on him. "Oh, and Jasper?" Pop said in a stern voice. "I'm the one you need to worry about, not dumb and dumber over there. I expect a visit soon."
"Yes, sir," Jasper croaked before we all burst out laughing.
Emmett punched me in the shoulder and said, "You're dumber."
I swallowed the rest of my scotch in one sip and slammed my glass down on the railing and said, "Not a chance in hell of that, big brother. I'm the one marrying the most amazing woman in the world tomorrow. I'd say that makes me the smartest motherfucker on the planet."
"Amen to that," agreed every damn one of them.
No shit. My Mama didn't raise no fool.
Once the idiots in my family calmed down, we all took a seat on the deck. I could still hear the faint hum from inside the house. It made me smile as well as take a relieved breath knowing that Bella and I would be sleeping in the same bed tonight. Like she and I had talked about a few weeks ago, while that whole tradition might work for some people, it sure as hell wouldn't work for us. We had a hard enough time being apart during the day, there was no way we'd be able to make it the night before the biggest day of our lives.
"What do you think they're doing in there?" Emmett asked after we heard a burst of laughter.
"Giving Bella advice for the honeymoon if I was to judge from the shade of red Bella is right now," my dad said with a chuckle.
"Oh, Lord," I groaned. "Aunt Carmen is in there. There is no telling what that woman will try to tell Bella."
"Sorry, man," Seth said with feeling. "Believe me; I know way more about that woman than I ever wanted to know."
I shuddered at the thought and thankfully Jasper seemed as uncomfortable about that thought as I did so he changed the subject.
"Did you ever decide on where you guys are going to go after Christmas?" he asked.
Emmett poured me one more glass of scotch, and handed it to me. I nodded my head and said, "I think so. I have a few more details to work out, but I think Bella and the kids will love it."
"And I suppose you're keeping it a surprise for now, huh?" Emmett questioned, extremely put out that he didn't know.
I shook my head at him and said, "Em, it's not your surprise anyway, it's for Bella and the kids."
"Well, I know that, but still. You know I hate not knowing shit. Besides, I want to make sure I'm not taking Rosie to the same place as you," he said with a smirk and I narrowed my eyes at him.
"You'd better fucking not be," I growled. "We already are skipping the honeymoon so we can take the kids with us after Christmas. You even think about following us and I'll cut your balls off. I'm serious," I warned him and everyone was silent for a moment.
"Dude, are you okay?" Demetri asked me and I took a few deep breaths. "Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry, Em," I said contritely as I looked at my brother. He waved my outburst away, just like he always did, and said, "Its okay, Edward. I get it, I do. You're just ready to spend some time alone with your family."
"I am. I'm just ready to fucking marry her already. It's like it can't get here soon enough. There has been so much shit that has happened. I just want to know that nothing is going to get in the way, that there isn't one more thing to get through."
Well, that shut everyone up in a hurry. I looked around at all of them and was met, from every last one of them, with the same look of apology.
"Edward, son, there isn't any denying that the last few months have been incredibly hard on you and Bella," my dad said as he walked toward me. He knelt down in front of me and looked into my eyes. "You and Bella have been through more in the short time you've been together than most have faced in a lifetime, but that just means you've gotten the hard stuff out of the way. Try to focus on that, son. Things have a way of working out the way they are supposed to. You and Bella are certainly proof of that," he said with a chuckle and I laughed at that.
"No shit," I said as I ran my hands through my hair.
I felt like I had too much energy pent up inside of me, but I was exhausted at the same time. I really just wanted to find a quiet spot and close my eyes for a few minutes and as if she knew, which I'm sure she did, my girl walked out into the cool night air.
"Hey guys, Esme said something about going inside and having some of her world famous pumpkin pie," Bella said and with a rush the deck was empty save for her and I.
I opened my arms without saying a word and in an instant she was curled up on my lap and my arms were wrapped tightly around her…and all was fucking right in my world again.
"How did you know?" I asked as I ran my fingers through her hair and rubbed my nose up and down her cheek.
"Because I couldn't go another moment without touching you, without being with you," she answered quietly as she wrapped her arms around my neck and kissed it.
I should have been shocked that she knew what I meant without having to explain, but I wasn't. It was just one of those things that made us…us. The need, the ache to constantly be with one another was strong for both of us and when I felt like I was coming undone because I was away from her, I knew she felt it, too.
I kissed her cheek and ran my hand up and down her arm before I said, "It's your last night as a single woman, Isabella Marie Swan, any last regrets?"
"Not a one, Edward. Well, except maybe having to endure honeymoon advice from Carmen," she giggled.
"Aw hell, baby. I'm sorry. We were afraid that is what was going on, but in all honesty, we were all too afraid to know what she was saying to interrupt," I told her with a chuckle as I tried to dodge her pitiful attempts to punch my shoulder.
"I love the woman, I really do, but I know way more about her than I ever wanted or needed to," Bella said with a shudder.
"But, Bella, the main question is, did you learn anything new that you can use tomorrow night when you spend your first night as Mrs. Cullen?" I teased, and then the enormity of what I just said hit me.
Mrs. Cullen, fuck if that didn't make me hard as a damn rock.
Bella turned and straddled my lap and pressed her forehead against mine. "I think I know everything I need to know to satisfy you, my husband-to-be," she whispered huskily as she rocked against me.
"Ain't that the fucking truth my wife-to-be," I murmured as I pulled her down to me so I could kiss her. I pressed my tongue into her mouth, swirling and tasting, and I kept kissing her until I had to pull back.
We were both breathing heavily, both turned on beyond belief, but both knew we were waiting until being husband and wife before we came together again. "I can't wait to make love to you as my wife, Bella," I said fiercely as I held her face in my hands.
She did the same to me, her little hands shaking as she held onto me. "I can't either, Edward. To know that I'll be yours forever, it's almost more than I can believe."
"Well, believe it, my love. After tomorrow, no one and nothing will ever take you away from me. Ever," I hissed and then kissed her again, my need for her quickly escalating to the point where I wouldn't be able to stop even though I wanted to wait until tomorrow night to be inside of her again.
Thankfully, Bella was stronger than me and when I felt her try to pull away from me, I let her. "Tomorrow night, just about this time, we'll be husband and wife, and you can make me yours as many times as you want. But, for now, we need to go back inside and spend some time with our family before we go to bed for the last time as single people," she said as she crawled off my lap and stood up.
"Mama's pumpkin pie is calling my name," I said as I rubbed my stomach, feeling much calmer than I did a few minutes ago thanks to the incredible woman in front of me.
Bella held her hand out to mine and I grabbed it, linking our fingers together. "Well, it's a good thing she gave me her secret recipe, isn't it? From now on, I get to make you pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving."
"For the rest of our lives," I said as visions of us, sitting at a table with our own children and grandchildren flooded my mind.
"Sounds perfect if you ask me," she said as she led me back inside.
I couldn't agree more.
Saturday, Wedding Day, early morning~
Shit, Edward. You're going to be a fucking basket case if you don't calm the fuck down, I whispered to myself after I'd been awake for what seemed like hours. I wasn't nervous, not even close, but I was as giddy as Maddie and Masen…and well, Emmett, too, on Christmas morning. There was nothing, NOTHING, that had happened in my life that felt as right as marrying Bella. Not when I was younger and played baseball, not when I played my guitar, not even when I decided to be a doctor and graduated from medical school. All of that, every great moment in my life up until this point paled in comparison to the feeling of knowing by the end of day, Bella would be mine to keep forever. Maddie and Masen being born was obviously the greatest thing that had ever happened to me, but marrying Bella made that even seem better somehow. She was the missing piece, that one last part that we'd all been waiting for. After today, now that we had her, we never, I never had to let her go.
Bella sighed softly against me and I brushed the backs of my fingers along her cheek before I kissed her softly. "By the end of the day, my love, you'll be Bella Cullen and I can't fucking wait," I whispered. I smiled when she sighed softly again and when she smiled sweetly in her sleep, I pulled her closer to me. I was so grateful no one tried to enforce that stupid rule of not sleeping together the night before the wedding on us. Not that we would have done it anyway, mind you. No fucking way. I took a few more deep breaths to try to relax and went back over my vows in my head. I'd finally gotten them written the other day when Bella had taken Maddie and Masen into town to pick up more paint. It wasn't hard once I got started, really. Well, narrowing down what I wanted to say was hard because there was so much, but I finally managed to get it all into some sort of coherent statement.
My eyes began to feel heavy again, a fact of which I was most grateful for. It was going to be a long, exciting day…and hopefully an even longer night, so I knew I needed to get at least some sleep. The last thought I had before I fell completely asleep was that the next time Bella and I went to bed, it would be as Mr. and Mrs. Cullen. I fell asleep with a huge fucking smile on my face because, really, did anything ever sound more perfect than that?
"Edward, sweetheart, you need to get up," my favorite voice whispered what seemed like just minutes after I'd fallen asleep.
I opened my eyes and found the warm, brown ones that never failed to make my heart start beating faster and said, "We're getting married today."
Bella smiled and ran her fingers through my hair for a moment before she said, "We sure the hell are. However, if we don't get up and get moving, I'll be the one walking down the aisle in my pajamas instead of the beautiful dress I'd picked out."
I pulled her head down to me so I could kiss her good morning and whispered, "Well, I think you always look beautiful in whatever you wear, but I'm not going to lie. I can't wait to see you in your dress."
I hugged her to me, enjoying what would undoubtedly be the last few moments of calm for the rest of the day. I ran my fingers through her hair a few times before I asked, "No second thoughts? No wishing we'd waited longer?"
She shook her head against my chest, not even looking up at me. I'm sure she rolled her eyes at me, too. I could almost feel it. Bella finally picked her head up a few seconds later and looked me straight in the eyes and said, "This feels right, Edward. It's perfect. We have so much to be thankful and besides, I've been ready to marry you since almost the moment I saw you for the first time. I'm more than ready now, I promise."
"Good. If we had to wait any longer, I think I'd go fucking nuts," I chuckled.
I could hear the others moving around in the house and as much as I didn't want to let her go, I knew we needed to get going.
"I guess I'd better get up and get moving so I can get out of your hair," I told her with a smirk. "I know you've got a busy day planned…and someplace you need to be at six o'clock."
"Yeah, I guess. And I suppose, since I haven't gotten a better offer, I'll see you at six," she giggled and I growled at her.
"You'd better damn well not have gotten a better offer. You're mine and in less than ten hours you'll have a ring on your finger that will let everyone know you're taken," I whispered hoarsely.
"Oh, Edward," Bella breathed out. "I will see you at six o'clock. I'll be the one dressed in white with the big smile on my face."
"And, I'll be the one down in front, trying not to pass the fuck out from the mere sight of you," I told her truthfully. "Not long now," I said, the longing evident in my voice. I kissed her, hard, one more time because I had to, and when we reluctantly pulled apart to breathe, I said, "Now, get off me so we can get this show on the road."
"I love you, Edward," she said sweetly before she rolled out of bed.
"More than words, Angel," I replied back and got up to start, what I was sure was going to be the best day of my life.
A short time later I had my bag packed and was ready to head out with the other guys to the Inn where the reception was going to be held. Bella and I had a suite reserved for the next few nights and the other guys and I were going to hang out and get ready there. The girls and Bella were going to get ready here at the house before a car came and picked her up to take her to the small church for the Mass and the ceremony.
It was too cold to play golf or anything like that so we were just going to relax in the room, watch some football, and order room service for lunch. Again, it was maybe not the way most prospective grooms acted on the day of their wedding but again, I really didn't give a shit. The reception was all taken care of, so we didn't have to worry about that. Bella's wedding present was taken care of, too, thanks to Rose delivering it for me this afternoon. I had my vows done and we weren't taking a honeymoon so really the only thing I had to do was get dressed and pray Bella didn't change her mind. Not that I was too worried about it, but until I saw her, there would still be that nagging speck of doubt. I knew without a fucking doubt that the instant I saw her, everything would fade away anyway.
"Daddy, are we getting ready to go?" Masen asked as I walked into the kitchen. I looked around it and the living room, there were people everywhere. Ali, Rose, and Tanya were sitting on the couch, their heads bent together as they looked through Bella's notebook of wedding details. My mom, Sue, and Aunt Diane were huddled in the corner of the kitchen talking quietly amongst themselves. Em, Jasper, Seth, and Demetri were sitting at the table eating breakfast and as I looked around, I found my two favorite girls in the world sitting off in a corner whispering softly.
I looked back at Masen and nodded my head and said, "In a few minutes, Mase. Why don't you go find Papa and tell him we'll be leaving soon?" I knew my dad, Uncle Marcus, Billy, and Jacob were planning on spending a few hours out on the boat fishing before they met us at the Inn for lunch. Ben had arrived last night and would meet us there as well.
I hated to admit it, but having Jake here wasn't all that bad. He'd told both Bella and I on Thursday about a new girl he'd started seeing and things seemed to be going really well for him. My dad and uncle, just as predicted, got along swimmingly with Billy and it was just one more thing that had fallen into place. I was glad that Bella was able to hang onto the last bit of Forks she had, and I knew she was, too.
"Okay, what are my two favorite girls doing over here in the corner?" I asked as I sat down on the hearth of the fireplace and pulled Maddie onto my lap. I gave her a noisy kiss on her cheek and looked at Bella.
She looked so happy, so relaxed, and I was more relieved about that than I could express. I didn't want her worrying about anything today…well except to remember my ring and to say I do when Father O'Connor told her to.
"Nothing, Daddy," Maddie said with a conspiratorial smile to Bella. "Right, Mommy?"
Bella laughed and nodded her head. "That's right, baby. It's nothing for Daddy to worry about anyway."
"Riiighttt," I said with a shake of my head. "Mad, do me a favor and go tell Uncle Em to quit shoving food in his face so that we can go."
She scampered off, leaving me and my future wife alone for a few blessed moments. "You're leaving already?" Bella asked.
I reached for her hand and said, "Yep. If I stay any longer, you'll never get me to leave."
She looked at me, her eyes wet with unshed tears, and said softly, "I don't want you to leave, but I do, because I know the next time I see you, we'll be getting married," she squealed at the end and I couldn't help but laugh at how adorable she was.
"I'm so fucking happy, baby. It feels like I'm about to go out of my mind I'm so damn happy," I told her, a huge freaking grin on my face…again.
She giggled, too, and I think her smile was as big as mine. "Okay, Angel. Come kiss me for the last time as Bella Swan. Next time my lips touch yours, you'll be Isabella Cullen and you'll be mine for fucking ever," I breathed out. I tried to joke, but the realization that it was literally, the last time I would kiss her as Bella Swan kind of knocked the wind out of me.
"Holy…Edward, that is just…" Bella stammered and I shut her up with a bruising, toe curling kiss.
"It's fucking perfect is what it is, baby," I whispered as I pressed my forehead against hers. "Promise me you'll be there, Bella," I begged worriedly…unnecessarily I knew, but shit.
She held my face in her hands, and whispered fiercely, "Edward, stop. Of course I'm going to be there, silly. Now, take a deep breath," she instructed and I did, letting it out slowly. "Better?" she asked and when I nodded I hung my head and said quietly, "Sorry, baby. I just freaked myself out there for a sec."
"I know the feeling," she laughed.
"You ready to hit the road little brother?" Emmett asked with a slap to my back. I would have told him to knock it the hell off, but I needed to get slapped back to reality.
I looked at Bella, my eyes betraying just how much I didn't want to go…but then again I did.
I nodded my head at him and he snorted, shaking his head at both Bella and I. "You two are acting like you won't see one another for days instead of just a few hours. Ed, kiss my sister one more time and then we're getting the hell out of here. I saw Rosie and Alice with things I didn't even want to know what they were for," he said with an exaggerated shudder.
I rushed to Bella one last time. "I love you so fucking much, my Bella. I'll be counting down the minutes," I whispered as I kissed her again. "I left you something in our room, okay?"
She nodded her head and clung to my hand. I lifted our clenched fingers up to my mouth, "Just a little longer, Angel."
"I love you, Edward," she told me as Emmett pulled me away from her. She blew me a kiss and after being hugged and kissed by every other female in the house, which were too many to count, Emmett dragged my ass to the car.
"You ready?" he asked as he bent down inside the open door. "Yep, I've been waiting for this day my whole life," I answered.
"Then let's get the hell out of here so Sweet B can make herself even more beautiful for you," Emmett grinned and walked around to the driver's seat.
"Mase, let's roll little man," my brother hollered as my son came barreling down the front steps.
"We're getting married Daddy!" Masen exclaimed as he buckled himself in the back seat and I smiled at him and said, "We sure are, son. You ready?"
"Yep," he nodded and I couldn't agree more.
"See you later, Mommy!" Masen hollered as he ran out the door to get in the car with Edward and Emmett.
I watched out the door until I couldn't see Edward's car anymore and took a few deep breaths to settle my churning stomach and my racing heart.
"You gonna make it?" Rose asked as she snuck up next to me and hooked her arm in mine.
"I feel like I'm coming apart at the seams, but I feel calmer about this than anything I've ever felt before. How crazy is that?" I asked rhetorically.
Well, it was meant to be rhetorically but Rose answered anyway. "It's not crazy Bell. It just means this is what you were meant to do, right here, right now."
"I just want this day to be over already," I sighed. I was excited and happy and not the least bit nervous, but I just wanted it done. "I want to be Bella Cullen so fucking bad I can hardly stand it."
"Well, by the end of the day you will be. Now let's get you fed so we can get this show on the road," my best friend chortled.
I let her lead me toward the kitchen, before I pulled her to a stop. "Le, wait. Edward said he left something upstairs for me."
"Bell, come eat first then we'll go up with you and help you to start getting ready. You know whatever it is, is going to make you cry and you can't do that on an empty stomach. So food first, crying because your future husband is so romantic and sweet he makes my teeth hurt, second," Rose said with a huff.
"He needs to give his damn brother some lessons on romance, that is for sure," Rose grumped as we walked into the kitchen.
"Edward could give all of the guys lessons," Tanya said with a shake of her head. "Seth's idea of romance is to let me pick the toppings for the pizza when we have to watch the football game."
Rose and I looked at each other and burst out laughing because, really, that was so Seth; to a tee.
I swung my head around to look at Alice who was scowling just like Tanya was…and Heidi, too, for that matter.
Laughing, I looked at Esme and Diane and they shrugged their shoulders at me. "Bella, I know you know what I mean when I say Edward learned from the best, my dear," Esme said with a giggle.
"Well, what the hell happened to Emmett then?" Rose asked indignantly.
We all laughed at her annoyance at poor Emmett and laughed even harder when Esme said, with a perfectly straight face, "I'm not sure, dear. Maybe the romance gene skips a male? Because Lord knows, Chandler Cullen was certainly no romantic. Isn't that right Diane?"
Aunt Diane nodded her head quickly in agreement, "Hell if that isn't the truth. Marcus and Carlisle's father was a great man, but romance was definitely not his forte'."
"Just fucking great," Rose chuckled then shook her head. "The big oaf, it's a damn good thing I love him so much."
I pushed my plate away, unable to eat any more. I enjoyed the few moments of levity, but I was ready to go upstairs and see what Edward had left for me. Unbeknownst to him, I sent something for him with Jasper as well. It was something small, to help him get through the day because I knew that like me, even though we were going to be busy and surrounded by friends and family all day, all we really wanted to do was be with each other.
"I'm going upstairs for a few minutes. You all finish your breakfast," I said quietly as I stood up and went upstairs to our room.
I walked slowly up the stairs, thankful for a few minutes of solitude. I knew that there was still much to get done today and I wanted to spend some time with Maddie, but I needed a bit of time to myself. I opened the door and was immediately met with the heavenly scent of fresh roses. I walked a little farther in the room and stopped at the foot of the bed. Laying in the middle of the bed was a bunch of the most gorgeous lavender roses I'd ever seen in my life, coupled with a jewel case with a CD inside and a tell tale light blue box wrapped in a white bow. On top of all of those items was a cream colored envelope with my name written in Edward's perfect script. I knew doctors were supposed to have horrible handwriting, but not my Edward. He could put most calligraphists to shame.
I sat down on the edge of the bed and took a few deep breaths, knowing that whatever all this was, it certainly wasn't anything he'd just thrown together. Not for my guy, that was for sure. Oh, Edward, I sighed as I ran my thumb across my ring. Looking at the envelope, I picked it up and noticed that there was a label on the front of the CD case that said, Play Me First. Following the instructions, I picked it up and slid the disc into the player in our room.
I smiled when the first song began to play and I recognized Jason Mraz's Sleeping To Dream. I listened to the words for a few verses, knowing there was a reason Edward picked this song:
Picking up the roses I took a deep breath and then gently set them back down on the bed before carefully opening the envelope. I began to read:
I giggled and rolled my eyes, knowing full well he expected both of those reactions from me. With trembling fingers, I pulled the bow and opened the box as Jack Johnson's Better Together played in the background. I could almost hear Edward singing the words in my ear:
My breath left my body in one fell swoop as I gazed at the earrings that sat nestled in the ivory velvet. They were exquisite and my eyes immediately filled with tears as I blinked over and over to try to rid my eyes of them. I shook my head and then picked up the letter to continue reading:
Well, by the time I got to the bottom of the page, I could barely see through the tears that streamed down my face. My husband-to-be was undoubtedly the sweetest, most thoughtful, loving man on the face of the Earth. I held the letter against my chest as I held the earrings in my other hand. I closed my eyes to try to quell my quickly escalating emotions. I listened to the words of the song that was playing now Why Don't You and I by Santana and Chad Kroeger:
The man was something else; that was for sure. I stood up on shaky legs and took a few deep breaths before I walked over to the dresser to pick up my phone. Pressing the speed dial, I waited for Edward to pick up the phone, which he did immediately. I was crying before I even said a word and I heard him sigh and then say softly with a chuckle, "Baby, you can't cry. You're nose will be all red and I don't want to look at our wedding picture for the next fifty years and see you looking like Rudolph."
"Well then you shouldn't do things that are so sweet you make my heart hurt. I love you, Edward. Thank you…" I trailed off, completely at a loss for words.
"I love you, too, Bella. So, I take it you liked what I left?" he asked, sounding a bit worried which was just foolish.
I breathed deeply in and out a few times and turned to see Rose, Sue, Alice, and Esme waiting in the doorway to come in. I motioned them forward and smiled reassuringly at all of them when they looked alarmed by my tears. "I didn't like it, I loved it, Edward. It's all so, you're so…everything. You're my everything," I said breathlessly as Rose sat down beside me on the bed. I handed her the letter and after she read the first few lines she was already in tears, as was Alice who sat beside her.
"Jesus, Bella," Rose said in awe, and all I could do was nod.
I knew exactly what she meant.
Edward yawned on the other end of the phone and I quietly said to him, "Baby, why don't you take a nap? The girls are ready to begin my torture from the looks of it so I need to go anyway. Only eight hours left," I said longingly.
"Fuck, I'm so ready," he responded quickly.
"Me, too," I told him before I heard him answer in his customary, "More than words, Angel. See you soon."
"More than words, Angel. See you soon," I said gently and waited until Bella hung up the phone before I lowered it from my ear.
Hanging my head, I pinched the bridge of my nose and breathed in and out a few times through my nose. The tears were there, but I was trying really fucking hard not to cry yet.
"You gonna make it?" Emmett asked as he leaned on the doorway to the bedroom of the suite.
I ran my hands up and down over my thighs a few times in an effort to calm my racing heart and looked up at him. "I sure as hell hope so. It would really kind of suck to get this close then have something happen to me wouldn't you say?"
He pushed off the wall and came over to the bed and laid back over the top of it. "That, my brother, would be a fucking tragedy," Emmett said as he stared up at the ceiling.
I laid back next to him and yawned. Bella was right, I needed a damn nap. We laid in our positions for a few minutes and I tried to imagine what Bella had thought when she first saw what I left for her, what she thought when she heard the songs I picked out for her to listen to, what she thought when she opened the box that held the earrings. Besides rolling her eyes and giggling at my instructions, of course.
I chuckled out loud and felt Emmett elbow my in the side. "What the hell was that for?" he questioned and turned his head to look at me.
"I was just thinking about Bella," I told him and narrowed my eyes at him when he laughed heartily at my statement. I had no idea what the big idiot was laughing at, what I said wasn't even funny.
"Brother mine, when aren't you thinking about Sweet B?" he asked with a snicker and even I had to admit he had me there.
"Whatever," I said with a grumble and then tried to hide my smile.
Emmett rolled his head back and placed his hands under his head. I heard him clear his throat and I waited for him to tell me what was on his mind, because obviously he had something he wanted to say.
"You know, it's funny," he began in a far away voice. "When we were in high school, I was always so jealous of you. I know you probably don't believe me, but that is the God's honest truth. You've always had this way about you that I've always admired and been more than a little bit jealous of at times. Watching you play baseball, watching you with Ali and Tanya and how close you all were, watching you morph into the person you've become. It always seemed to me that things were easy for you, but I know from being older and wiser now," I laughed and he growled at me, but went on, "things have been anything but easy." Emmett blew out a breath and I noticed him swallow a few times before he said in an uneven voice, "Watching you with Bella, watching you and her with Mad and Mase has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. You've changed so much since you've met Bella, Edward, so fucking much. I know that over the past few years we haven't been as close as we should have been and I hated that. After Lauren raked you over the coals, you withdrew; you pulled away from all of us. I hate that I let us drift apart, but I'm so fucking happy that has changed. Not only are you the best brother I could ever ask for, you're also the best friend I could have. That I get to share this day with you, that I get to be such a big part of your life means more than I can tell you."
He sat up and looked at me, his eyes intense, "You, more than anyone else I know, deserve to be happy, Edward. You deserve to share your life with the incredible Sweet B, and you deserve to have everything you want with her. I just wanted to tell you," he said as his voice hitched and his tears ran down his face unchecked, "that I love you and wish you nothing but the best."
I stared at him as he took a few deep breaths with his eyes closed. I had a hell of a brother; there was no doubt about it. I waited for him to open his eyes, and I could tell he was a bit embarrassed by his show of uncharacteristic emotion. I would let him off the hook, but only after I told him something first. "Emmett, you are my big brother and I have looked up to you my whole life. I love you, too, and this day, no matter how happy I am to be marrying Bella, wouldn't mean as much if you weren't here to share it with us."
He smiled at me, his cheeks tinged with the faintest hint of pink and I didn't want to make him uncomfortable so I said, "You know, you're supposed to say all that sappy shit when you give your speech and your toast. You just burned through all your best lines," I snickered at him and pushed him in the shoulder.
Emmett got a wicked gleam in his eye and grinned wolfishly at me and said, "Well, guess that means that for the speech and the toast I'll just have to tell funny stories." He wiggled his eyebrows at me and I threw myself back on the bed.
"Just remember big brother, Bella is your sister now, too. She'll kick your ever loving ass if you say something inappropriate at her wedding reception," I warned him, knowing full well it was falling on deaf ears.
He chuckled heartily, totally unfazed by the thought of Bella being mad at him. I tried not to tell myself that he was right, Bella adored Emmett so much that it would take way more than a few suggestive remarks to get her angry at him. "No way, man. B loves me like no other, well, wait…ah shit," he groaned. "I'm not even her third or fourth favorite Cullen, hell I'm just above Demetri."
"Emmett, what in the hell are you talking about?" I asked him, laughing out loud at his goofy ass.
"Well, you and Mase are obviously one and two on her list of favorites, then Pop and Uncle Marcus, because you know those two have her snowed. So that just leaves me and Dem, and I damn well better be ahead of our cousin or else me and Sweet B are gonna have words," he huffed.
I kicked my shoes off because I was going to do as my girl said and take a nap. "As long as I'm number one, I'll let you idiots fight about where you are on her list. Though most of the time, I have to tell you, I think me and Mase are neck and neck," I told him, not kidding in the least.
Bella and Masen's relationship was amazing to witness.
"No shit little brother. Okay, you get some rest; we'll keep an eye on the kid. Pop and the others will be here in about an hour so we'll come get you when lunch gets delivered," Emmett told me. He walked back over to the bed and bent over and kissed me quickly on the forehead, "Love you man. Thanks for picking such an awesome sister for me."
I laughed at him and said, "So glad you approve." He walked to the door and I stopped him when I said, "I love you, too, Em."
He didn't turn around; he just nodded his head and turned off the lights as he walked out of the room.
I closed my eyes, knowing when I woke up it would be even closer to the time when I could begin the rest of my forever with the woman that meant everything to me. I couldn't fucking wait.
"Daddy, you have to get up," came a voice that I was sure was supposed to be quiet but came out as a cross between a yell and a whisper. I smiled in spite of the fact that I didn't want to get up. I'd just been in the middle of quite the enjoyable dream…me and Bella, on a beach, warm sun, clear, blue water, and her naked. Is it any wonder I didn't want to wake up?
I opened my eyes and looked at my son, who was bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet beside the bed as he pushed my shoulder again. "Hurry and get up, Daddy. Lunch is here and Uncle Jasper said he has presents for us from Mommy!" he instructed before he tore out of the room.
I rolled out of bed and ran my hands through my hair. I could hear the others in the room and I could smell food, so I knew lunch had been delivered. I slipped my shoes back on and stood up, glancing at the clock when I did so. Holy shit! I exclaimed when I noticed it was after one o'clock already. Only a few hours left I realized and my heart felt like it would beat right out of my chest…and I couldn't stop the smile that spread across my face if I tried.
In just a few more hours, Bella would be my wife…my wife.
Jesus, did that sound perfect.
I walked out into the living room and there were people everywhere. Emmett, Jasper, Seth, Ben, and Masen were sitting on the couches watching football. My dad, Uncle Marcus, Demetri, Billy, and Jacob were sitting at the table with Father O'Connor who immediately got up as soon as he spotted me.
"Edward, my boy, how are you? Were you able to get some rest?" he asked with a smirk as he slapped me on the back.
I nodded my head and said, "Yes, sir. I probably would have slept longer but I was ordered to get up."
"Well, son, today is a big day for you. It's only right that you'd be a bit nervous," he stated and I shook my head at him. "I'm really not nervous at all. Excited and happy, yes, but there isn't anything I'd rather do than marry Bella."
"Good to hear, Edward. She's an amazing, special woman. You two are going to have a long, happy, blessed life together," he told me seriously, but with a soft, gentle smile.
"I believe that, too," I answered before Masen rushed over and pulled on my hand. "Daddy, come on! Uncle Jasper has been waiting forever for you!" he exclaimed with a pout.
"Well, let's not keep Uncle Jasper waiting." He pulled me toward the living room where there was a spread of roast beef sandwiches, chips, pickles, beer, and soft drinks. Everyone grabbed a plate, piled their food on, and grabbed a beer. We all sat and ate for a few minutes before Jasper stood up and everyone stopped eating to look at him.
"I've been instructed by a very special, and pretty damn scary when she's mad, woman to give her two favorite Cullens," he smiled in Emmett's direction who had hung his head and was shaking it. "Sorry, Em, but you had to know."
"Yeah, yeah," Em said and we all laughed before Jasper cleared his throat again. "Bella, asked me to first give something to Masen, so come here little man."
Masen hopped up and ran to Jasper's side until Seth called for him. "Mase, come sit with me for a minute."
I saw Jasper and Seth share a look and I even noticed that Billy and Jacob had stepped forward as well. My girl had something planned; there was no doubt about it. Seth had pulled Masen up on his lap and Jasper squatted down in front of him and pulled a bag from his side and held it out to my son. "Mase, Bella wanted Seth and me to give this to you. She's had it for a long time now and it's very special to her, but she had a feeling it might be something that you would like to have."
"Okay," my son answered solemnly.
Jasper pulled whatever it was out of the bag and I heard Billy and Jacob both gasp sharply. I got up from my seat and went to stand behind Jasper and was shocked when I saw what was in his hand.
"This was your Grandpa Charlie's when he worked as a policeman. Did Bella ever tell you what he did for his job?" Jasper asked and Masen very seriously nodded his head.
Jasper held Charlie's badge in his hands and I couldn't help but let a few tears fall as I thought about what it meant for Bella to give such a treasured memento to our son.
I looked at Billy and Jacob and they were both crying softly as well. It seemed as if everyone in the room was shedding more than a few tears.
"Mommy said I get to keep this…forever?" Masen asked as he held the badge in his hands.
Seth had wrapped an arm around Masen and hugged him to his side and said, "Yep, she sure did. Bella's daddy was a great policeman and we all miss him very much. He would have really loved you, Masen."
"Really?" Masen asked, so happy to know that Bella's father would have liked him.
Billy stepped forward and laid his hand on my son's shoulder and when Masen looked up at him, he smiled. "Your Grandpa Charlie was my oldest and best friend. I knew him better than just about anyone, Masen. I can promise you, he would have loved you and been so proud to be your grandfather."
I sniffed and Masen scrambled off Seth's lap and ran to me. "Daddy, look what Mommy gave me! It was Grandpa Charlie's!"
I knelt down on the ground and took the well worn, but obviously much loved badge from him and looked at it. Charlie's name was stamped on it as well as the emblem for the Forks, Washington Police Department. "You need to take extra special care of this, Mase. Mommy trusts you to keep this safe."
"I know, Dad. I'll take good care of it, I promise," he giggled as he ran to go show my dad.
Jasper stood up and wiped his eyes with the back of his hands and then took a deep breath before he looked at me. I started to tell him thank you before he stopped me. "Not yet, Edward, there's more," he said as picked up another bag and handed it to me. "Bella wanted you to have this."
I took the bag from him with shaking hands and stepped back until I sat on the couch. Damn, my wife to be sure knew how to make a moment didn't she? I looked inside the bag and found an envelope with my name on it, written in her beautiful, but oh so messy scrawl. I pulled the piece of paper out and took a deep breath before I looked down at it to read:
I did as she asked and reached in the bag and wrapped my fingers around something that was small and metal. Confused, I pulled it out, barely registering the other gasps I heard from around me. When I looked down and opened my hand, laid inside it was a very old, very used, gold compass. I clicked the clasp and looked down in wonder at the instrument, knowing instantly that this had also belonged to Charlie.
I held the compass in my hand and let the weight settle in my palm. I didn't even try to stop the tears that fell down my face and I knew that besides my medal and the ring Bella would put on my finger in just a few short hours, nothing would ever mean as much to me as the instrument in my hand.
Bella had come to terms with her relationship with Charlie and she had forgiven him so I was able to accept her gift in the spirit in which it was given. She wanted me to have a piece of her father and I was so very grateful for it.
"I can't even begin to tell you how many times that compass saved me and Charlie," Billy said softly as he approached me. I motioned for him to sit and again, I was struck by just how right it was that he and Jacob were able to share this day with us.
"She said to ask you about that," I told him with a smile.
Billy took a deep breath and began to speak in a quiet but sure tone of voice, one that was ripe with a wisdom I couldn't even begin to comprehend yet. "Charlie Swan was my best friend. He was one of the most honorable men I've ever had the privilege of knowing, but the one thing he wasn't, was a perfect man. He made many mistakes in his life, most having to do with the amazing woman you are about to marry. He failed her miserably, and there wasn't a day that went by that he didn't know it either. That Bella has been able to forgive him, to be able to see past that to the man he was in spite of his mistakes, is the truest testament of how good she truly is. Know this Edward, and I say this as the person who knew Charlie better than anyone else, even Sue, he would have loved you. You are perfect for our Bella. The way she lights up when she sees you, the way you smile when you just say her name, the way you two are together, it is all he ever wanted for her. So I thank you, on behalf of him, for making her so incredibly happy."
More tears came, and again I didn't try to stop them. His words meant so much to me. I had my own issues with the way Charlie had treated Bella, but the man was her father, she loved him, and because of that, he deserved my respect. I was honored that Billy felt Charlie would have approved of me.
"Thank you, Billy. I can't tell you how happy I am that you and Jacob are both here and that Bella is able to keep you both in her life. I don't ever want her to forget where she came from, I hope you know that," I told him sincerely.
"I do and I speak for both Jacob and myself when I say it's our pleasure to share your day with you. It makes me happier than you can know that Bella is going to be so loved and have such a wonderful life. You've given her all she has ever wanted, Edward. Be happy, both of you," he said and then got up to go find my dad and uncle.
I slipped into the bedroom to call Bella. I couldn't wait another second longer to tell her I loved her. When she answered on the first ring, I knew she'd been waiting to hear from me. "Bella," I choked out, six o'clock seeming like an eternity away still.
"You got it," she breathed out on a whisper.
"I did, we both did," I told her. "Thank you, baby. It's just…I have no words."
I heard her clear her throat a few times and I heard Rose's voice in the background telling her the photographer was going to be there soon, so I knew we didn't have long.
"Soon, my Edward. Just a few more hours," she promised, and I took a deep breath and said softly, "Soon, my Bella. I love you with all that I am, Angel."
"Always and forever," she replied then hung up the phone.
I looked at the clock and noticed it was past two and I needed to get Masen bathed and dressed so I could do the same as well. Our photographer was going to be here soon, too, and we had to be at the church by five o'clock.
By four o'clock my stomach was in knots and my hands shook. I wasn't nervous, I was just…ready.
I exited the bedroom, dressed in everything but my tie and jacket and noticed that everyone else was ready as well.
"Edward, come on over here, son," Uncle Marcus called and as I approached, I noticed a round of shot glasses filled with amber liquid. Holy hell these guys were trying to kill me before my own damn wedding!
"Now, get that look off your face nephew of mine, its just one drink. Everyone lift your glasses and let's toast Edward for being smart enough to marry the perfect woman for him. I wish you and Bella nothing but the best. I know you'll make each other very happy. Thank you for sharing her with the rest of us. We all love you both very much. Cheers!" Uncle Marcus exclaimed and the sentiment was echoed by the rest.
I was vaguely aware of snapping behind us and I glanced at my watch and I knew it was almost time to get moving.
Jasper set his glass down after he swallowed the shot and went to answer the door when there was a knock. I looked up, shocked when I saw Felix enter. He had been invited to the wedding of course, but I didn't' expect to see him here.
He chuckled as he walked up, and after a quick hug he said, "I come bearing gifts from your lovely bride-to-be."
"What the…why would she need you?" I stammered and then laughed when I realized if I would just shut the hell up he would tell me why he was here.
"Well, I would imagine it has to do with a phone call I received very early Monday morning. Bella sure doesn't like to wait when she gets an idea in her pretty little head does she?" he asked with a chuckle and everyone in the room laughed with him.
We all knew Bella NEVER waited if she could help it.
He set the briefcase down I didn't even notice he'd been carrying and pulled out a large, cream colored envelope. "Edward, Bella had me make some changes to a few things. First," he said as he handed me one envelope. "Inside you will find the deed to the building the loft is in. She has had it amended to include your name as co-owner with her."
"Damn," I breathed out and I didn't miss his snort when I said that. "There's more, Edward. You might want to hold off on saying anything else until I'm done," he said with a smirk.
He handed me another envelope and as I pulled the papers out, my vision was blurred by my tears. "Jesus, she's fucking incredible," I whispered in shock.
"There are still some formalities we need to get finished before both are completely legal, but you can tell what she wanted to do," Felix told me and I nodded my head before I looked up at everyone.
"Bella has changed the deeds on both the building the loft is in and the lake house into both our names," I told them all, still in awe of what she'd done.
"Well, there is one more thing," Felix said with a Cheshire cat grin. He handed me another smaller envelope and thank goodness he did. I'd have died if she gave me another piece of property.
After opening it, I realized I'd spoken to soon especially since I stumbled and had to hang onto my father who was thankfully next to me. "Is she shitting me?" I asked, incredulous once again.
Felix threw his head back and laughed loudly before he tipped his head back up. "No, Edward, Bella isn't shitting you. It's being stored until after the winter, but by Spring, or sooner if you can't wait that long, it can be delivered within a week."
"What, Edward?" Emmett cried. He really hated being left out of the loop!
I held up the pictures that were attached to the title and the list of specifications. "She…she," I said and had to clear my throat a few times before I could form any words. "She bought me a new boat. Look," I handed the pictures to Emmett and chuckled when I heard him swear under his breath, as did everyone who looked at the pictures.
"Damn, Shortcake knows how to do it right, that's for sure," Seth said as he slapped my back.
"She sure as hell does," I said with a shake of my head again.
Dumbfounded…Speechless…Luckiest motherfucker on the planet.
I was all of that and more…and as I glance at my watch one more time, I realize late would be added to the list if we don't get a move on it.
I grabbed the envelopes and the pictures and took them back into our room, knowing it would take some time to come to terms with what she'd done for me today. It was all so amazing and so Bella.
It was perfect.
"You have everything you need?" my dad asked as he came into the room.
I started patting my pockets. I could feel the box that had Bella's ring in it, I had my notes for my vows, even though I was sure I wouldn't need them, and I had the compass that would always be with me from now on. "I think so," I told him with a shaky voice.
He walked forward and reached for the ends of my tie and began fixing it, like he used to long ago. "You're not nervous?"
"Hell no, Pop! I'm just ready to see her and be done already," I told him as I lifted my chin so he could make the knot in my tie.
"I'm so damn proud of you, Edward," he said quietly as he finished. He patted my chest and then looked at me. "You've been a terrific son and brother, you've been an amazing father to your children, and I have no doubt you will be an even better husband to your Bella. You two were made for one another and I hope you are happier even than your mother and I," he finished with tears in his eyes, and I had some of my own. I suddenly got a mental image of doing this exact same thing with Masen many years down the road.
"I love you, Pop. I hope I'm half the father you have been and are. If I am, I'll be damn lucky." I hugged him fiercely and then stood back from him. "Now what do you say we go get me married, huh?"
He nodded and I took one quick look at the room, knowing the next time I was in here, I'd be making love to my wife. I got chills just thinking about it and shook my head to rid myself of the thought of trying to figure out what she'd be wearing underneath her dress. Whatever it was, I knew it would be something I'd never forget.
"Masen," I called as I exited the room and looked at all the other men in my family dressed to the nines. We made a damn fine looking bunch and most especially my son who came barreling through the crowd of men. "What, Daddy?" he giggled as I bent over.
I tweaked his nose and said, "What do you say we get out here and go get married?"
"Yes!" he exclaimed with an enthusiastic fist pump. "It's about time!"
I couldn't have said it better myself.