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.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Outtake Number 2


I giggled at Edward's glee at the predicament the female members of our family found themselves in. It was their own fault though, every last one of them; even poor Esme who looked at Carlisle with a sheepish smile. I had to hand it to my father-in-law; the pout she was giving him didn't look like it was working in the least.

"Jazzy," Alice whined to my best friend and tried her best to bat her long eyelashes at him. Normally that move turned Jasper into a puddle of goo, but right now, it was doing nothing except making his blue eyes glint even more. Jasper didn't even answer her; he just shook his head at her. When Alice hung her head and sighed, Jasper flashed me a quick grin and a wink. I had to turn my head and press my forehead against Edward's chest to keep from laughing out loud.

All around the room, the guys were giving their significant others the same treatment. Seth was staring at Tanya and shaking his head, Uncle Marcus was frowning at Aunt Diane, and Demetri just kept opening and closing his mouth at Heidi.

"Oohh, they're all in so much trouble," Edward chuckled in my ear and sounded so much like Maddie I had to bite the inside of my cheek to the point of almost drawing blood to stay quiet.

In the next instant, all the men were talking at the same time. The room was flooded with a chorus of 'How could you's and I can't believe you would embarrass Bella like that's'. In the instant after that, it seemed like all the females decided it was every woman for herself when they turned on Tanya and then Rose.

"But, Car, Tanya kept going on and on about how nice looking Dr. Hughes was, I just wanted to see for myself," Esme tried again. I saw the corners of Carlisle's lips lift slightly and then he caught himself before Esme could see him.

"Jas, Rose told us Bella would be by herself since Edward was going to be helping you. We were only trying to help," Ali said, throwing Rose completely under the bus.

Tanya looked at Rose with a wicked gleam in her eye and then looked at Seth and said, "It was all Rose's idea. She wanted to see Travis and thought it would be funny for all of us to show up at Bella's appointment."

Rose's blue eyes turned icy when suddenly all the girls tried the same excuse.

"Rosie, how could you?" Emmett questioned, his big arms crossed across his chest.

The room then erupted with all the girls blaming the whole thing on Rose, and I knew as I stood and watched my best friend grin evilly at Emmett, that things were about to take a surprising turn.

I heard her hiss in his ear, "If I'm going down, I'm taking you with me, you big oaf."

"Wait, Rose, no! Come on, please?" my brother-in-law begged and tried to cover her mouth with his hand.

Big mistake.

"Ow! Damn, Rose, that fucking hurt," Em cried out and shook his hand, trying to alleviate the sting of her biting him, I'm sure.

Everyone finally stopped what they were doing and turned to look at the two of them and then she blurted out, "Em and I got married last month in Vegas. We eloped."

"Holy shit!" Edward breathed out in my ear.

“Emmett Cullen! What in the world is Rosalie talking about?” Esme said in a voice that was eerily calm. Never, ever a good sign when Esme got calm.

Edward shifted me off his lap so I could sit next to him instead of on top of him. My head spun and I tried to figure out what in the hell happened to my normally pragmatic and even keeled best friend.

“Le, what the hell did you just say?” Jasper demanded. His voice had that icy, steel-hard tone he got only when he was about lose his temper. No one ever wanted to see Jasper lose his temper...ever. He rarely got so angry he did so, but when he did, it was enough to make anyone back off.

“Emmett, Rose, why don't you tell us what's going on,” Carlisle stated. He looked at them each and made sure they understood his question wasn't optional, not in the least.

“Did you know anything about this?” Edward whispered in my ear as he wrapped an arm around me and scooted my chair as close to his as he could get it.

I shrugged my shoulders, trying to figure it out myself. “I had no freaking idea. I know Rose has talked about getting married...but it was always somewhere down the road. Oh, God, what if she's pregnant?” I stated, well, more like shrieked, but I couldn't help it.

Everyone in the room looked at me because apparently I hadn't said that as quietly as I thought I did.

“I am not pregnant!” Rose exclaimed and gave me a dirty look.

“Sorry, Le,” I told her with a shrug of my shoulders. “What’s going on?” I asked, hoping there was a logical explanation for what they’d done.

Emmett took Rose’s hand in his and pulled her to his side, kissing her on the side of the head before he looked at the entire family in turn. “Look, we’re really sorry we got married without telling any of you. We didn’t do it to hurt anyone’s feelings, but the truth of the matter is this. I want to have a baby, like now,” he said and smiled at me and Edward. “But, Rose being the amazing woman she is, won’t have one without being married first, so we hopped on a plane, went to Vegas, and got hitched. So, Sweet B, she’s not pregnant…yet.”

“Another baby?” Esme cried out and clapped her hands, apparently all anger at her oldest son running off to get married without her completely out the window since there was the prospect of another baby in the works.

Once it appeared as if the head of the family was okay with it, everyone jumped up and swarmed the two of them, passing out hugs and kisses and well wishes. Well, everyone but Jasper…and Alice. Alice looked positively livid as she stood stomping her foot up and down until everyone turned to look at her.

“Rose, how could you? You know how much I was looking forward to planning your wedding with you! Bella’s barely counted since it was so fast and she wouldn’t let us do hardly anything. But you,” she hissed as she shrieked at Rose and Emmett, “yours was going to be the one that we could go all out for!”

“I’m sorry, Alice, but I don’t need a wedding like that. I have Em, that’s good enough for me,” Rose answered in as sweet a voice as I’d ever heard from her mouth. If there was any tiny shred of doubt I’d had about her getting married, it completely evaporated with that statement and the way she and Emmett looked at each other.

“Well, how about if we have a party to celebrate now?” Carlisle asked and that seemed to placate Alice.

“Jasper?” Rose said quietly and everyone turned to look at him. He still stood with his arms crossed and hadn’t moved a muscle on his face from what I could tell.

“I can’t believe you did this without telling me first, Rosalie,” he said in a low, tense voice.

“Shit,” I muttered under my breath and felt Edward pull me next to him. “He never, ever calls her Rosalie unless he’s really pissed at her,” I told him and felt him nod against my head. “Well, he sure as hell looks about ready to explode, that’s for sure.”

Jasper stared at Rose for another moment before he spun around and stomped up the stairs and slammed his door with a loud thud.

“Damn it,” Rose whispered softly and wiped the tears that fell down her face. She hated more than anything when Jasper was upset with her. “It’ll be okay, babe, he’s just surprised,” Emmett said and I stood up to go hug my new sister-in-law.

“Oh my God!” I exclaimed and everyone turned to look at me again. “Rose, we’re really sisters now,” I told her, feeling a smile a mile wide appear on my face.

“Yep,” she said with a nod and then engulfed me in a huge hug. “Me too! Me too!” Alice yelled out, effectively lightening the mood in an instant.

“Way to get out of trouble for the whole Dr. Dreamy thing, sister,” I teased with a bump of my shoulder.

“Hey it worked, didn’t it?” she teased back.


EPOV- Beginning of June~

“Dr. Cullen, your sister is on the phone for you,” Carol said over the intercom. I couldn’t help but smile, even though it had been the day from hell in the office today. For some reason, there was a sudden rash of fevers, runny noses, and coughs. Typical allergy symptoms, but it was all part of the job of being a pediatrician, especially one in such a small town.

“Hey, Ali,” I said as I leaned back in my chair and let out a long, drawn out breath.

I heard her giggle on the other end and then she said, “Brother mine, you sound like you’ve had a long day.”

“You don’t know the half of it. What’s up, everything okay?” I asked. It wasn’t that out of the ordinary for her to call me since she did it on an almost every day basis and had since we’d moved, but I asked just the same.

“I’m fine, I just felt like calling,” she said, letting her voice trail off at the end. That was a sure sign there was something bothering her, always had been.

“Ali,” I began. “You know you can’t pull that shit with me, what’s wrong?” I asked.

She chuckled once she knew she’d been caught and started, “Jasper and I got into another argument.”

I shook my head and then pinched the bridge of my nose. “He’s still that upset about Em and Rose eloping to Vegas?” I asked.

I was as shocked as everyone else had been about them getting married, but they were both adults and I’d talked to Emmett plenty over the course of the past year to know that he wanted to marry Rosalie, the sooner the better. He had wanted to wait until the excitement of mine and Bella’s wedding faded. He also wanted to wait until their business had taken off, which of course it did immediately. In fact, he and Rose were so busy with custom orders, they were going to have to hire more technicians to help complete all the work.

My sister sighed and said, “Yes, he is. In fact, I think he’s even angrier now that a week has gone by than he was when they told us.”

“I don’t get it, Al,” I admitted to her. Bella and I had talked about this as soon as we finally got on our way home after the debacle with the appointment with Travis followed by the bombshell Rose had laid on us.

“He’s hurt, Edward. As much as he loves and adores Bella, Rosalie is his sister and is the only true family he has left. He feels cheated and he’s angry that she would just up and do something so impetuously without giving him a second thought,” she explained. I had to admit it,I sort of felt the same way.

Experiencing the whole marriage ceremony thing with Bella had been important to both of us. To me, the ritual of getting married before our friends and family and pledging ourselves for the rest of our lives to each other just cemented our commitment to each other. I didn’t doubt that Rose and Emmett loved each other, I didn’t doubt that they wanted to be married and would stay that way, but I would have liked to have shared their day with them, like they did with ours. I knew Bella felt that way and there was no doubt Mama did, too.

Sure, we were all happy for them, but I could understand where Jasper was coming from. Even after their explanation of why they’d done it, which I understood and even had to admire a bit, it still left all of the family feeling a bit left out.

“I can understand and appreciate that, Alice, but why did you two argue? Surely, you can see where he’s coming from,” I said with a snicker, reminding her of her own reaction to the news of the wedding.

To say that my sister had been irate would be an understatement. Whereas my mom and Jasper had both been eerily calm, Alice had been just the opposite. I’m quite sure the entire City of New York knew how aggravated she was at missing out on planning a wedding. Bella had been so adamant about doing things her way and in such a short time frame, Alice had no chance in hell of getting out of hand.

Why she was so hell bent on planning other people’s weddings, I had no idea. Everyone and their brother knew that Jasper was ready to pop the question…hell, he’d already talked to my dad and to me and Emmett months ago, so I had no idea what the holdup was. If I was to guess, it probably had something to do with my baby sister and her insane need to have everything go to plan. Sure made it hard as hell to surprise the little pixie that was for damn sure.

Alice blew out a frustrated breath and said, “I told him to stop being so damn stubborn and just be happy for both of them. I also told him if he ever got around to putting the ring on my finger that I’ve known he’s had for months, he better pull his head out of his ass and ask me before I got tired of waiting and asked him myself. He didn’t take too kindly to that,” she finished sounding just a tad bit irritated and a lot upset.

I leaned back in my chair and said, “Ali Cat, you didn’t,” knowing full well my incredibly bossy sister did. “Damn sister mine, you really know how to mix shit up, don’t you?”

“Edward, I called you for help, not to tell me what a bitch I am. I already know, thank you very much,” she snapped at me and I instantly felt bad.

“Okay, okay,” I told her as I tried to come up with some good advice for my sister. We spent a few minutes talking things through and by the end she felt better. I wasn’t sure Jasper would get over being upset with her as quickly as she was convinced he would, but she knew him a lot better than me.

“Speaking of getting out the doghouse, my sister-in-law didn’t sound so good when I talked to her earlier,” Alice said nonchalantly. When her words registered, finally, I almost fell out of my chair.

“Wait!” I yelled in the phone. “What the hell are you talking about?” I demanded as my mind quickly went over the past few days and I tried to search for a screw-up. Finding none, I demanded again, “Alice, what did Bella tell you?”

She sighed and then said, “Edward, for a doctor you can be really stupid sometimes.” I didn’t say anything back for a few minutes as I wracked my brain, trying to figure out what the hell I’d done to upset my wife.

“You really have no idea?” she asked again and I said, “Damn it, Alice, no I really fucking don’t. She seemed perfectly fine this morning when I left for work. We had breakfast, I left and dropped the kids off at school, and then came here. Same as I do every morning,” I told her still furiously thinking of what I could have done.

“And when you left, what exactly did you do big brother?” Alice asked in a way that made me stop and think.

“Shit,” I hissed as I realized what I’d done.

“Exactly,” Alice said smugly, apparently quite happy to have company in the same doghouse. “You better think of something good to make it up to her,” she chided and I immediately had a brilliant idea. I’d been saving something for a special occasion, and this fit the bill perfectly. Of course, I would still need to apologize for what I’d done, but I was pretty sure I’d be forgiven once I was done.

“I guarantee I’m out of the doghouse before you, baby sister,” I said smugly.

She giggled and then groaned, “Well, Edward, it’s hard to out cheese you when you get an idea, that’s for damn sure, so I’m not even taking that bet. However, you forget that I’m the one that says yes or no to the sexin’, so I think I’m going to be just fine,” she teased and I started saying, “La la la, I can’t hear you!” Knowing what my sister and her ‘cowboy’ did in their bedroom was not something I wanted to ever think about if I could help it.

“Love you, Edward! Don’t make me have to tell Mama you’ve upset Bella,” she warned and I laughed.

“No worries, Ali. By the end of the night, Bella will be just fine…better than fine actually,” I promised. “Love you, too, and be nice to Jasper, he puts up with a lot.”

“I know. Talk to you soon big brother,” she finished and then hung up.

“Carol,” I said into the intercom as soon as I hung up with Alice, “can you check the appointments for the rest of the afternoon real quick?” I asked, hoping that I could get out of the office and home before Bella did.

I knew she was helping at the kids’ school this afternoon with the end of year picnic so I hoped I could get home and get things set up before she arrived. In all actuality, though I certainly didn’t mean to hurt her feelings this morning, things couldn’t have turned out better if I had been planning this for days.

“Dr. Cullen, your last appointment was supposed to be at two o’clock, but they just called to cancel. So you’re actually done for the day…if you need to go home and see Bella,” she said with a chuckle.

“Damn Alice,” I muttered under my breath, but then smiled. “Thanks, Carol,” I said as I poked my head out of my office. “If you want to go ahead and take off early, you can. I’m going to head out, too, before anyone else has a chance to come in for a runny nose,” I told her as I shrugged off my lab coat and reached for my suit jacket.

“Thanks,” she told me as she turned off her computer. “Oh, and Edward,” she called and I turned to look at her. “You might want to ask Charlotte to keep Maddie and Masen for the night…just a suggestion,” she finished with a wink and wave as she left the office.

I pulled my phone out and asked Charlotte if the kids could spend the night with Wyatt and Emily and after getting a yes along with a stern ‘stop being such a jerk’ from my nurse and friend, I hurried home. As soon as I set my briefcase down, I raced upstairs and took a quick shower. I put on a pair of cargo shorts and a t-shirt and then got the things I needed from the bathroom and laid them out beside the bed. Next, I grabbed the light blue box tied with a white ribbon out of the closet where I’d hid it after a recent trip to New York. I knew I wanted to give this particular gift to Bella, I just hadn't decided when, but today seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Waiting sucked because I missed my wife and wanted to see her, but I knew I had some making up to do before anything could happen. Finally, I heard the garage door open and listened to Bella as she came up the stairs. I looked up and found her staring at me from the doorway, looking almost exactly like I'd pictured her all those months ago when she'd first told me she was pregnant because she had on a short dress and had her hair up in a ponytail. She looked so damn beautiful.

“Bella, angel, I'm so sorry about this morning,” I told her as I stood up to walk toward her. “I didn't mean to leave without telling you I loved you or kissing you good bye.”

It might seem like a small thing, but I never left the house without telling her I loved her or without telling her good bye. I hated the fact that I’d done so today without realizing it.

“It's okay, Edward. I know you didn't do it on purpose. I was more upset about it than I needed to be,” she told me and I shook my head at her. “No, Bella, I'm sorry. I should never be too busy to tell you I love you or tell you good bye, so in order to make it up to you,” I told her as I took her hand and pulled her toward the bed, “I'm going to give you a massage.”

“Edward, it's okay really. You don't have to,” she said and I shut her up with a kiss. “Bella, shut the hell up. I'm trying to do my husbandly duty and make it up to you since I screwed up. So, you are going to get a massage, whether you want one or not,” I told her and sat her down on the edge of the bed. I carefully slid her sandals off her feet and then stood her up to pull her dress off. I had to swallow a few times when she was naked except for her bra and panties, but this was about her and not me so I tried not to pay attention to my hardening erection in my shorts.

I gave her a quick kiss and then carefully arranged her on the towel I had spread out on the bed. I picked up the remote and turned on some soft music and then set to work on worshiping my gorgeous wife.

I picked up a bottle of massaging oil and poured some in my hand. I had warmed it in some hot water so it would feel good against her skin. I undid the clasp of her bra and again I had to take a few deep breaths before I began.

Bella hummed in appreciation the moment my hands slid across her skin and I smiled. I hated that I upset her this morning, but I was excited about sharing this with her.

“Edward,” she started to say and I bent down and whispered in her ear. “Shhh, Bella. Just relax and enjoy. This is all about you, for you,” I told her as my fingers kneaded the tense muscles in her back. I continued rubbing her, down her back, along her sides, and then to her thighs and calf muscles. “You have been so amazing through this whole pregnancy so far, baby. Even when you don't feel a hundred percent, you give so much of yourself to all of us. Today at the kids' picnic, Maddie's soccer team, Masen's drum me every day. You blow me away every damn day with how strong you are, how perfect you are,” I told her, meaning every single word.

I continued on, loving the fact that I could feel her relax beneath my fingers. It wasn't even about making love to her, it was about showing her how much she meant to me and how much a part of me she always was...and always would be.

“I love you, Edward,” she murmured quietly. Her eyes were closed and her eyelashes looked so dark against her pale skin. Her cheeks and the tip of her nose were a touch pink from being outside this afternoon and I loved her so fucking much.

“As I you, Angel. Always and forever,” I whispered back. “I have something for you,” I told her and wiped my hands off before reaching into the nightstand to pull out the box I’d gotten down from the closet earlier. I grabbed a clean towel and helped her sit up and wrapped the towel around her before kneeling on the floor in front of her. “I bought this the last time we went to the city. I thought it was only fair Ladybug had one of her own,” I said and handed her the box, anxious to see what her reaction would be.

“Oh, Edward,” she said tenderly as she lifted the sterling silver rattle out of the box. I hadn't had anything engraved on it yet, since we weren't positive on her name yet, and of course didn't know her birthday, but I wanted her to have this, now. “I was going to just get in engraved with Ladybug on it, but figured we should wait until we have her name picked out and her birthday,” I told her with a grin and reached up to wipe the tears that had fallen down her cheeks away with my thumbs. “Speaking of birthday, I've already ordered her birthstone to add to your ring and the disc to add to your bracelet,” I explained as I lifted her right hand and kissed the mother's ring she still wore every day. The bracelet she didn't wear every day, but I wanted her to have the charm to add anyway.

“I love it, love you,” she breathed out as she pulled me up so that she could kiss me. I kissed her with everything, with every ounce of love and gratitude for having her in my life, as the mother of my children. As if God above was watching, at just that moment, I felt a tiny nudge against my stomach and I gasped in surprise.

I fell to my knees and moved the towel out of the way and laid my hand over Bella's stomach. “Edward?” Bella questioned as I stared up at her, my own tears falling down my face. “I felt her,” I whispered in awe. I knew my daughter was in there, safely protected by her mommy, but I hadn't felt her yet. I'd been waiting, fuck I'd been waiting for this moment, since I first found out Bella was pregnant.

Bella reached her hands down and cupped my face as I waited to feel my daughter again. Thankfully I didn't have to wait long until I felt the movement again. Just a small nudge, but it was enough. “My precious daughter, I can't wait until you are here,” I whispered against the skin of Bella's stomach.

“Come, Daddy,” Bella softly said and pulled me on the bed with her. She slid a t-shirt over her head and propped herself up on a stack of pillows. She held her hands out to me and I crawled on the bed and laid my head beside Bella's stomach, after moving the loose shirt out of the way. I kept my hand protectively on top, and ran my fingers back and forth over her. I felt Bella's fingers run through my hair and over my cheek and we spent the rest of the afternoon, laying in bed and feeling our daughter move.

I kissed her stomach and was rewarded with a soft kick. “I love you, Bella,” I picked my head up and said before settling back down with both my girls.


BPOV- Beginning of July~

“Mommy, are you okay?” Maddie asked me one morning as she sleepily walked into the kitchen. Ladybug had decided that today she was going to practice being a gymnast apparently...well, she could be trying her soccer moves, too, I supposed, because her little foot was kicking like crazy, along with the somersaults she was currently practicing.

I rubbed my stomach and tried to get her to calm down and then looked at Maddie. “Yep, babygirl, I'm fine. Your sister is just a little rowdy this morning. She takes after her brother I think,” I told her with a wink and then wrapped my arm around her.

“Can I feel?” she asked and I nodded. I reached down and took her hand and then gently laid it over my stomach.

It never failed to put a smile on hers and Masen's face. And well, Edward's face...from the moment he knew the baby was a girl, the smile had only grown. I knew he would have been ecstatic with a boy, but he was so freaking adorable every time someone would mention the baby. The only time the smile was bigger than when he talked about her was when he felt her move...and he tried to do that as often as he could. Edward was just a tiny bit...well a lot actually...obsessed with my ever-growing stomach.

She giggled when she got a swift kick against her hand and I ran my fingers through her messy but beautiful hair. “Why don’t you go get Mase up and take Rufus outside for a bit?” I asked her and kissed her before she ran off to get her brother, Rufus following right behind her.

He heard the word outside and he was raring to go!

It was the beginning of July and we were getting ready to head to the city and stay at the loft for the duration. If there was one thing I could change about having this baby, it was that I wished I could stay here, at home. We had been in Lake George for over a year and a half now and it was where I felt the most comfortable. Edward and I had a routine we followed most days with the kids and we were happy, content with the way things were. Oh, I would do whatever was necessary to stay healthy and make sure Ladybug was fine, so if that meant being closer to Dr. Hughes and expert medical help if it was needed, then I was there. No fussing, no question, no complaining. Whatever needed to be done, it would be. It was going to be an adjustment though...because Edward would still have to go back to Lake George during the week for the next few weeks. Dr. Sanders was going to fill in for him for about six weeks so Edward could with me both before and after the baby came for a bit, but there was no way he could close the office for such a long period of time.

I knew it would be hard for both of us...and again it wasn't ideal at all, but it was a sacrifice we were both willing to make. It was beginning to take more and more of a toll on me to travel back and forth to New York for my check-ups and Travis wanted to start seeing me once a week, so it only made sense to stay in the city until the big day.

“Morning, Mama,” Edward whispered in my ear as he stepped up behind me and kissed the side of my neck. “Morning, Ladybug,” he said with a smile as he laid his hand over my stomach and was rewarded with a nudge by his daughter.

“She's been a moving and a shaking this morning,” I said with a sigh.

Edward turned me around so that I was facing him and he bent over and lifted the loose shirt I was wearing and pressed a soft kiss against my tummy. “Why do you want to keep your Mama from getting a good night's sleep, huh, my little ladybug?” he asked sweetly. “Don't you know by now she's kinda crabby when she's tired?” I snorted at that, even though I couldn't disagree with him. Sleep was a precious commodity these days.

Our daughter had decided that her favorite spot was right up against my ribs, with her foot pressed against my bladder so not only was I uncomfortable because I couldn't sleep in the position I liked to, I felt like I had to pee constantly. I was already dreading the much talked about baby dropping part of the pregnancy when she would have her head pushed up right against my pelvis and I had to waddle around like a penguin.

“You doing okay this morning?” Edward asked as he stood up after giving his daughter one more quick kiss.

I didn't say anything for a minute and I felt Edward's fingers lift up my chin so I could look at him. “Bella, angel, what's wrong?” he asked, worry evident in his voice.

I smiled softly at him so that he wouldn't worry unnecessarily. The man freaked at every twinge, cramp, and uncomfortable sound I made. I must get asked a minimum of ten, fifteen times a day if I'm okay. Text message, email, phone call, he was constantly checking up on me. A bit on the over the top side of things, but typical Edward Cullen behavior.

“Nothing is wrong, Edward. I'm just thinking about how much we have to do before we go to the city. Maddie and Masen's birthday party is in a few days and I have to check with all the parents to make sure they know exactly what the kids will be doing at the party,” I said with a shake of my head.

I couldn't believe that Edward, Maddie, and Masen had talked to me into this insanity. Did my kids and wonderful husband want to do something normal like putt-putt or go-kart rides...noooo. Instead they wanted to have their party at Adirondack Extreme and get hooked up to harnesses and climb bridge nets and go down zip-lines. I am as adventurous as the next person, but thinking about Maddie, and Masen too, twenty feet up in the air as they went across bridges and swings and such attached to a harness was enough to make my heart clench and my tummy hurt. But, it was what they wanted and Edward convinced me it was safe, so it was what we were doing for their birthday. To say that Jasper, Seth, Emmett, and Demetri were excited about getting up on the adult trails would be an understatement. Even Rose and Tanya were going up on the adult side, too. Well, at least Esme, Alice, and Aunt Diane would keep me company while we waited on the ground.

“God, I can't wait!” Edward gleefully said and I couldn't help but chuckle at his excitement. I think he was the most excited out of any of them. He'd already spent hours at the local outdoors store and more money than he'd needed to getting climbing gloves and back up climbing gloves. He'd bought some for all of the adults, even Carlisle and Uncle Marcus. I had to admit, part of me was extremely jealous to not be sharing this experience with the rest of them.

Edward must have caught my frown because he cupped my face and gave me a sweet kiss. “Don't worry baby, we'll go again when you can come with us,” he said when he saw the pout on my face.

I huffed and rolled my eyes at him, even though he'd said exactly the right thing. “I know, but it's not the same. You'll have already done it without me,” I whined.

“Aww, Bella,” he said as he picked up my hands and rubbed his lips back and forth across the back of them. “I'll wait and go with you if you want me to.” He would too, if I asked him, but I wouldn't ever do that to him. He'd been looking forward to getting up and climbing with the guys for weeks now.

I reached my hands up and ran my fingers through his hair and shook my head. “Thanks for the offer, sweetheart, but I'm just feeling sorry for myself. I would never ask you to not go; Emmett would never survive up there if you didn't go along. You don't want Rose coming after you for letting the future father of her baby get hurt would you?”

He shuddered at the thought and then shook his head at me. “Hell no!” he stated emphatically. “She scares me on a normal basis. Can you imagine what she'd do now that she's married to the idiot and is foolish enough to want to give him a baby? No thank you, Angel. I'll be doing everything within my power to make sure he doesn't let his big ass fall out of the tree.”

“Be careful, Edward. That's your sister-in-law you're talking about there,” I teased him and he graced me with his typical shit-eating grin. “Yours too, baby,” he said back and I couldn't help but smile.

I was beside myself, once I had gotten over the shock of Rose and Em being married of course, when I realized that we were really sisters now. Sisters-in-law if you wanted to get completely technical, but sisters nonetheless. Sure we'd been as close as blood sisters could possibly be for most of our lives, but there was something so concrete, so permanent about being related through marriage. Rose most definitely wasn't the kind to marry unless it was forever and there was no way in hell Edward was ever getting rid of my ass, so it looked like we were going to be family for the duration.

Edward scoffed and then bent his head down to nuzzle the side of my neck with his nose. It didn't take long before I felt his lips and then his teeth on the sensitive skin behind my ear.

I moaned, much louder than I intended to, when I felt his tongue trace delicious circles and felt his hands reach around and grip my ass and press me against him. The baby bump made it a little difficult to get too close to him, but I wasn't so big that I couldn't at least wrap my arms around him.

“Mmmm, Bella,” he whispered huskily as he nudged the strap of my cami to the side with his nose and then I felt warm, open-mouthed kisses across my collarbones and shoulders. “I've missed being with you, making love to you,” he said and then I felt the pads of his thumbs rub gently across my hardening nipples.

The last few weeks had been a little rough and because of that, it had been some time since Edward and I had made love. He'd been really busy at the office and I had been feeling a little under the weather. Maddie and Masen's school year had just ended and we were all trying to adjust to a new routine, so it had been a hectic time in the Cullen household.

“Edward,” I breathed out, getting more turned on by the second. Feeling him touch me, pressed against me was always welcome, but even more so when it had been as long as it had been since we’d had sex.

Maddie and Masen had taken off outside as soon as she’d gotten Masen out of bed and I could hear them laughing through the open doors to the deck. Edward must have recognized that we were safe for the immediate future because his hands slid up under my shirt and cupped my ever growing breasts. He gently kneaded them, paying special attention to my hardened and very sensitive nipples.

“You taste so good,” he whispered against my skin when he bent down and flicked his tongue against my now exposed breasts.

His hands slid around my body and cupped my ass and he lifted me up and set me on the counter, out of the view of little eyes if they were to come barreling inside as they were apt to do from time to time. My legs immediately wrapped around his waist and I could feel how hard he was through his basketball shorts. I immediately felt an ache between my legs coupled with panties that were getting wetter by the moment as he rubbed against me.

“Oh, God,” I rasped when he thrust his hips forward and hit the perfect spot.
Sitting on the counter allowed me to arch my back enough so that he could get right against me. With Ladybug it had been getting harder and harder to feel him against me this way and my body reacted instantly.

“Shit, Bella…” Edward groaned as he began to rock against me, obviously enjoying our position as much as I was.

“I've missed you, missed this,” I whispered hoarsely.

He captured my lips in another scorching kiss, one that was full of so much need and want it made my toes curl and I wrapped my legs around him as tightly as I could.

“I want to be inside of you so fucking bad,” Edward hissed as he pressed his hard length against me.

“Edward,” I began only to be interrupted by a yell of “Mama!” as Masen raced into the house. Edward was able to remove his hands from beneath my shirt and lower me to the floor before our son skidded to a stop in front of the island.

He looked from me to Edward as if he was trying to figure out what was wrong with the two of us. Poor Edward was breathing in and out in my ear as he tried to relax and I probably didn't look much better.

“Can Wyatt and Emily come over?” he asked after he stopped staring at us and I sighed, knowing that any fun times with Edward were going to have to wait...again.

“Later, Bella. I mean it,” my very sexually frustrated husband grunted in my ear and then swatted me on my ass as he went to go upstairs.

Later couldn't come soon enough if you asked me.


The next few days had flown by since I stayed busy getting things ready for the birthday party…and my baby shower. Since the family came up here to celebrate Maddie and Masen’s birthday and acted like a pack of monkeys climbing in trees, it made sense to have the shower now. I hadn’t wanted one, but I relented thanks to the persuasiveness of Esme and Sue. I knew this was a whole different experience for the entire family from when the twins were born, so I let them plan what they wanted. I was adamant in keeping it as low-key as possible though. No fancy finger foods and no extravagant cake either. Just family and close friends hanging out for the day, getting ready for the arrival of the newest Cullen.

While the girls were going to have fun downstairs, the guys were going to get the crib assembled and the furniture moved into Ladybug’s room. Edward and I had already painted it a light sage green color with brown trim. The furniture we had picked out was whitewashed and the accents of brown, green, and pink made the room look amazing. With the windows and the sheer curtains, the room was bright and airy and I loved finding any excuse at all to spend time in there.

I felt Edward shift behind me and felt his lips on the top of my shoulder once he’d woken up. Poor guy was tuckered right out with all that climbing and exercise he got yesterday at the birthday party. Thankfully no one had gotten hurt, not even Emmett, though I think that was a fluke more than anything. The party had been a huge success and I had to admit, watching the activity sucked and I made Edward promise me we could go back once I had the baby.

“I have to get up, sweetheart,” I told him after we'd lain silently for a few minutes. “It's going to be another long day.”

“Bella, if it's too much, you just say the word. I know everyone is excited about Ladybug and they just want to spend time with us, but you two come first. I mean it, you need to tell me if you need a break,” he said and rolled me over to face him. He leaned forward and kissed my forehead and then both of my cheeks. “Promise me, Bella,” he said with a worried look and I ran my fingers through his hair.

“I will, Edward, but I'm fine. I slept pretty good last night and I didn't do much walking yesterday. Try not to worry so much,” I reassured him and pulled him to me for one more kiss before I got up.

“Bella,” Esme admonished me a short while later when she caught me carrying some glasses to the dining room table. I set them down and turned to her. “Esme, I can carry glasses for goodness sake,” I told her.

“I know you can, dear, but this is your party. You shouldn't have to help set up,” she tsked with a shake of her head.

“No, this is yours and Sue's party,” I cheekily said and she rolled her eyes at me.

Before long the house was filled with women and I could hear the guys upstairs as they moved the furniture around.

Maggie, Zaphrina, and Angela were there along with Carol, Charlotte, and the rest of my family. After they all had their fill of rubbing my belly and giving me a hug, we all sat down in the living room to visit.

“Bella, sweetie, you look fantastic,” Maggie said as she sat down and munched on the finger foods Esme and Aunt Diane had prepared.

I smiled at her and rubbed my stomach. “Thanks, Maggie. I'm feeling really good.”

“Damn it, Emmett!” Edward hollered which caused us all to laugh. There was no telling what that was for.

“What? It looked like it would fit,” he answered back. That didn't sound good at all.

“Emmett, really son,” Carlisle said in a weary voice and it took everything I had not to rush upstairs to see what was happening.

“Let's open presents!” Alice exclaimed, effectively turning everyone's attention to me instead of what was going on upstairs.

There wasn't anything we needed for the baby since we'd gotten all of the furniture on our last trip to the city. I told Esme and Sue to let everyone know that while I was happy to let them give me a shower, I didn't need anyone going overboard. Plus, whatever the others gave me, they had to bring two of and the other gift would go to Zaph and the shelter.

I got bunches of blankets, onesies, dresses, and bows in every shade and pattern under the rainbow. The gifts were all amazing and I thanked them all profusely for everything they'd given me and the baby.

The last two presents were from Sue and Esme and I had a feeling that was on purpose.

Sue stood up and handed me a box and gave me a quick kiss before she took her seat. I opened the box with shaking fingers and let out a gasp when I saw what was inside. “Sue?” I questioned and felt a few tears leak from the corners of my eyes. In the box was a blanket, and one I hadn't seen in a long time. “Is this?” I asked and she nodded her head. I picked the blanket up and held it against my chest before I explained to everyone, “Sue made this for me when I was a baby. I thought it was gone,” I whispered.

“Charlie gave it to me for safe keeping a long time ago. I had hoped that I could give it to you when you were going to have your own child. I'm so glad you like it,” she said and I threw myself into her arms.

“I can't believe he gave it to you to keep for me,” I said with a sniff and sat down again and waited for Esme's gift.

“I hope you like it,” Esme said as she handed me a flat box.

I tore the paper off and immediately started to cry. “Oh, Esme,” I said and laid a shaking hand over the gift. I picked it up and set it on my lap and stared in awe at what she'd done. The photo album she'd given me matched the one the kids had given me all those months ago, but it was the picture on the cover that took my breath away. Esme had taken a picture of mine, Edward's, Maddie's, and Masen's hands as they laid on my stomach and she'd printed it out in black and white.

It was the most beautiful picture I’d ever seen, and you couldn't even see our faces, but the love that we felt for each other and for Ladybug leapt off the page it was so present.

“Thank you,” I whispered to her and knew I was blessed beyond words to have such an amazing family.

Ladybug was going to be so very loved and everyone was so excited to meet her.


EPOV- Beginning of August~

“Shit” I muttered as I slapped my hand on the steering wheel. “Motherfucker.” I looked ahead of me and all I saw was a long line of cars, all with their brake lights on.

I let out an exhausted sigh and prepared to wait until whatever was causing the traffic delay to get cleared out so I could get the hell home. Well, not really home, but get to Bella and by God, that was all that mattered.

These last few weeks sucked ass...hard. Being apart was so much worse than I ever anticipated it being. Oh, I knew I would hate it, I just didn't realize that I would be so lonely and miserable. I hated with every fiber of my being, being away from Bella at all, but missing out on the last few weeks of her pregnancy was for shit. Every Monday morning when I would wake up and head back to Lake George, I literally felt like part of me was being ripped away, and every Thursday night, I felt myself come back together again. Sleeping apart three nights a week was certainly less than ideal, but it was for the safety of both my girls, so it had to be done.

The pregnancy had gone, so far at least, as well as anyone could have hoped for, but Travis wasn't taking any chances. I had to hand it to the guy, he was a damn fine doctor and I couldn't have asked for better care for Bella than from him. Oh, he still drove me freaking nuts calling Bella and Maddie 'honey' and 'darlin' all the damn time, but even I couldn't find fault with the way he'd handled Bella's pregnancy.

When he told Bella it was time for her to go see him once a week, we knew it was time for her to stay at the loft. I knew that between my mom, Rose, Ali, Seth, Jasper, Emmett, and the others that Bella had more help that she could possibly need, but it still just felt so wrong to not be with her day in and day out. To not be able to rub her back if she got a pain, to not feel my Ladybug move as I laid my hands over Bella's stomach while we slept, to not be able to kiss her good night and good morning every day was pure torture.

I knew, deep down and when I wasn't pouting which Lord knew I did a whole hell of a lot of, that it was only for three nights a week. That helped some, but not very much. I didn't want to be away from any of them at all...ever, so even knowing that it was only a few days a week wasn't much of a comfort.

I just wanted to get home and see my family...was that too fucking much to ask?

Finally the traffic began to move, albeit slowly, but it was forward progress just the same.

I was so grateful to Dr. Sanders that he had been willing to step in and help out at the practice until Bella had the baby and we brought her home with us to Lake George. I wasn't sure how much longer I would have been able to stand being so far away and I knew it was beginning to show to everyone else as well. I would be eternally thankful to Travis for getting us through this pregnancy, but I also knew if we were lucky enough for Bella to get pregnant again, she'd be staying home and having the baby there. This whole back and forth thing was a supreme pain in the ass.

As I got closer to the city, I could feel my skin begin to tingle. Once I'd passed the cause of the traffic jam, and was able to continue on without any further delays, it took all I could not to drive like a maniac to get to the loft. I glanced down at the clock and realized it was almost nine o'clock. I probably missed Maddie and Masen since I assumed Bella had them in bed already, but I was hoping beyond hope that my wife was still awake.

I pulled up into the parking garage of the loft, threw the car in park, grabbed my bag, and raced to the elevator. As the elevator creaked upward, I had to take a few deep breaths in and out to keep myself from ripping the doors open and running into the loft like a crazy man. I just needed to see Bella, to touch her and kiss her, and I needed to feel our baby move inside of her.

The thing I missed the most during the past few weeks was the constant pull to each other we always felt when we were together. That connection that kept us in tune with the other, in a way that no one but us could understand. Sure I loved sleeping next to her, holding her, making love to her, but it was that unexplainable, unbreakable tie that I missed more than anything.

I slid my key into the door as quietly as I could and slowly opened the door. The sight that greeted me made me drop my bag on the floor with a thud and my body almost followed it. In our special corner Bella had set up a few bean bags, to help her get up and down easier I'm sure, some candles and of course our lights still twinkled overhead. I chuckled when I saw a bottle of sparkling grape juice chilling in a bucket of ice and then I about lost every ounce of breath in my body when I heard the song that was playing on the docking station. The song was They Bring Me To You by Joshua Radin, and it never failed to remind me of Bella.

I sucked in a sharp breath and my eyes immediately searched the loft for Bella and I found her eyes staring back at me from where she stood beside the island of the kitchen.

“Bella,” I breathed out. I had her in my arms before her whole name could pass my lips and I had my mouth pressed tight against hers and had plunged my tongue deep into her warm, waiting mouth.

She sagged against me and I felt her heart pounding against my chest through the thin material of the nightie she had on. Bella always looked exceptionally beautiful and since she'd been pregnant had even been more so, but tonight, she looked beyond that, though I couldn't come up with a word that would accurately describe her. Her hair was shiny and had big, loose curls in it. Her eyes shone in the candlelight, and even though it had only been a little over three days since I'd last seen her, her stomach seemed even more round than before.

It always made me chuckle, though it was very quietly, when we would be out in public. From the back, it would be impossible to tell Bella was pregnant; she was seriously all basketball baby belly. Sure her boobs were a bit fuller, but other than that, the only thing that changed on her body was her stomach. She was, without a doubt, the sexiest, most magnificent looking pregnant woman that had ever walked the planet…hands down.

“Fuck, baby,” I moaned into her mouth and kissed her deeply. “I missed you so fucking much; I was going crazy without you.”

“We missed you, too, Edward,” my wife whispered once I pulled my lips away from hers to allow her to breathe.

I didn’t miss the possessive pronoun and I immediately bent over and ran my hand over Bella’s stomach. “Hello, Ladybug, Daddy missed you like crazy, too,” I said softly and smiled when I felt a nudge against my hand.

Bella swore our daughter liked my voice better than hers because it never failed that every time I talked to her, she would move and press against wherever my hand rested. I wasn’t so sure she liked mine better, but I couldn’t deny that I loved feeling her move whenever she heard my voice. It was the most amazing thing ever and just one of the hundreds of things that made sharing this experience with Bella so special.

I stood up and pulled her into my arms again and I couldn’t help but brush my lips against hers. “How are you feeling?” I asked after I kissed her for a few minutes. I figured I’d better get my questions in quick, because the way I was feeling right at this moment, there wouldn’t be talking going on for long.

I ached to feel her body next to mine, to feel every bit of her skin, to kiss her from the top of her head to her adorable pink painted toes.

She lifted her head from my chest and tipped her head up to look at me. Her eyes were still sparkling and from the sexy smirk on her gorgeous face, I supposed it was a stupid question, but I’d been asking it multiple times a day for eight months now, it was kind of a habit. “Right, silly question,” I grinned back at her and kissed the end of her nose before I swept her up in my arms and carried her to the carefully arranged bean bags.

As soon as I laid her down on them, I followed her and laid down beside her. I ran my fingers though her soft, silky hair and marveled how much I just missed touching her, being close to her. Three days, I thought to myself…we’d only been apart three days and it seriously felt like forever. “Next time, I’m taking off for a year,” I told her with a smile, though if I could get away with it, I would do it in a heartbeat. “I hate being away from you, even if it was only for three days,” I told her honestly and leaned forward to kiss her again.

My tongue traced the outline of her lips, slowly taking my time and savoring every part of them. Over and over again, before I heard Bella grunt in the back of her throat. “Too bad, Angel, I’ve missed these lips something fierce, I’m taking my time,” I told her when I picked my head up and looked down into her dilated eyes. The twinkle lights from overhead mixed with the glow from the candles and her eyes looked almost black.

She reached a tiny hand out and ran her fingertips over my cheek and down the side of my jaw, leaving a trail of molten fire in their wake. It was like that every damn time she touched me and if it ever stopped, I didn’t know what I would do. Just the slightest of touches from her and I was done for…completely gone. I was already hard, and the pull to bury myself deep inside of her was strong, but she’d gone to a lot of trouble and she deserved a hell of lot more than for me to be quick about things.

“Do you know how happy you make me?” I whispered to her as I shifted my body so I was as close to her as I could get. My hands found their way to her shoulders and I slid one hand in her hair and cradled the back of her head. With my other, I let my fingertips ghost over her body, reacquainting myself with every inch of her skin that was exposed. “Do you know what it does to me that you continue to surprise me day in and day out?” I asked softly as I bent my head forward and kissed across the top of her shoulder and along her collarbones. They were still one of the sexiest things on her body to me and they never failed to turn me the hell on.

“Do you know how lucky I am? How every day I get to spend with you, every day I get to love you, makes me the luckiest son of a bitch on the planet? Do you know,” I whispered huskily and pressed my hardening cock against her thigh, “my Bella, that you are the most beautiful, the sexiest, and most amazing woman, ever?” I asked as I peppered her neck and then down toward her chest with wet, open-mouthed kisses.

“Mmmm, Edward,” my angel moaned and I couldn't help but answer her back in kind. She plunged her fingers into my hair and scraped her nails along my scalp, causing me to shiver. I fucking loved when she did that, almost as much as when her nails scraped along my back.

“Edward, please,” she rasped and I didn't need any further encouragement than that.

I pushed her delicate nightie up off over her head and had to take a moment to drink her in as she lay before me completely naked. “Oh, Bella, baby, you are so fucking beautiful. You take my breath away,” I whispered, and shook my head to keep from falling completely the fuck apart. My heart was so full of my love for her, for our unborn baby, for our family, that it was about all I could do to take a few deep breaths.

“I love you,” I softly said and bent down to kiss her. “I love you,” I told her again as I left a trail of kisses and kissed down to her breasts. “I love you,” I breathed out as I took a distended nipple into my mouth and curled my tongue around it.

Bella arched her back off the beanbags and they molded to her body, supporting her and the baby so that I wouldn't hurt either of them. I felt her hands pull on the fabric of my t-shirt and I lifted my head up and pulled it over my head. I sat up on my knees and pushed my shorts and boxers down my legs, too. When I was as naked as she, I lowered my body next to hers and pulled her as close to me as I could get. We both let out a contented sigh of relief when we were skin to skin and felt that electric hum that I felt from the very first moment we met came alive.

“Touch me, Edward. I need you to touch me,” she begged in a breathy, sexy as hell voice. She bent her head forward and flicked her tongue across my chest and then my nipples.

My hand slid between our bodies and found her bundle of nerves. She was already so damn wet and the way she moved against my fingers as I rubbed her, I knew it would only take a few touches until she came.

“That's it, my beautiful Isabella, come for me,” I whispered as I sucked on the tender skin behind her ear. “Come, baby,” I commanded again and then felt her fall apart as the orgasm rocked through her body.

Once she was done, I gently rolled her over, making sure her stomach was supported and that I wouldn't hurt her. I ran my hands up and down her back, massaging and touching every part of her. The twinkle lights and candles made her skin look golden as the glow danced across her skin. I brushed her hair over one shoulder and leaned forward and whispered in her ear. “I love you,” I told her again, feeling like I couldn't say it enough.

“Then show me, Edward. Love me, now,” she breathed out and pressed her ass against my erection.

“Jesus,” I hissed. I gently gripped her hips and slowly entered her. Her heat engulfed me once I was fully inside of her and I moaned out in pleasure. “Fuck, Bella. You feel so damn good,” I breathed out as I began to move. “You okay?” I questioned, needing to make sure she was all right.

“Yes, Edward...yes,” she answered and moved with me.

I was so close to coming, but wouldn't without her. “Bella, you feel so good. Can you feel what you do to me, how hard you make me?” I rasped out as I continued moving in and out of her in a slow, steady rhythm.

“Oh....Edward, so close, baby,” she moaned beneath me and I could feel her walls pull me deeper inside of her.

“Together, my love, come with me,” I told her, wanting and needing to feel her come apart.

Her legs shook and I heard her breath catch in her throat and then I felt her come...hard. She pulsed and fluttered around me and I came right after, in a mind blowing, white light inducing orgasm. It felt fucking amazing, and when I was done, I felt Bella come again, the spasms rocking through her entire body.

“Holy hell, Bella,” I told her as I tried to catch my breath and we had laid down on the bean bags. I pushed her hair out of her face and kissed her forehead over and over again. There was something about that gesture that always filled my heart and it was just ours.

She giggled and leaned forward and rested her head on my shoulder. “Welcome home, Edward.”

Welcome home indeed.


BPOV- End of August, 5 days past due~
“Edward!” I hollered from my totally uncomfortable position on the couch. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t walk, and right at the moment, I couldn’t even get the hell up so that I could waddle my ass to the bathroom, for the umpteenth time today.
Edward approached the couch, warily as if I was a rabid dog and he was afraid to get snapped at, which if I was being honest, he was totally justified in doing. I had been a raving bitch the last few days. I knew it, he knew it, and anyone that had the unfortunate reason to cross my path knew it, too.
I had been to the hospital more times that I cared to admit with false alarms. Not entirely true, since it was only two times, but in my mind it was two too many. I had been told by everyone from Travis, Tanya, Edward, Esme, and countless others that it was normal with a first baby to have false alarms and to go past your due date, but neither one of those true statements made me feel any better. It was Thursday and I had had to go to the hospital yesterday to have a stress test to make sure Ladybug was still doing okay. Since both she and I were doing as good as could be expected and neither of us was under any harmful stress, I was given until Tuesday to deliver or else Travis would have to induce.

Edward tried to ensure me that it was absolutely normal to have the false labor pains and to be late, and even though I understood with the rational part of my brain, the part that was an emotional mess, didn't much care.

“Baby, are you okay?” Edward asked quietly as he stood next to the sofa and held his hand out to help me up.

I bit my bottom lip and nodded my head, trying to keep myself from bursting into tears at how sweet and helpful my amazing husband continued to be. “Yes, I'm fine,” I huffed once I was upright and on my feet. “I'm just tired of waiting, Edward. I'm so sorry I've been so difficult,” I told him as he helped me waddle to the bathroom.

“Bella, you haven't been,” he started to say but stopped when I snorted to disagree with whatever sweet lie he was going to try so spout. “Fine, you have been a little bit grouchy, but it's understandable, Angel,” he said with a smile, which I most definitely did not deserve. Edward wrapped an arm around me and kissed the side of my head and then my cheek. “I love you, even when you are being a pain in the ass.”

He opened the door for me, and I stepped up on my tiptoes to kiss him quickly on the lips, though I had to lean over to do it since my belly was in the way. “I love you too, Edward, even when I’m being a bitch,” I told him with a giggle and closed the door to take care of my business. I felt a few twinges and had to breathe in and out a few times, which of course caused Edward to knock on the door. “Bella, is everything okay in there?” he asked and I rolled my eyes but opened the door with a smile.

“Yes, just a few twinges is all,” I told him and rubbed my stomach.

“Little one, you need to hurry the hell up and get here,” Edward smiled and said against the tight skin of my stomach.

No kidding! If she doesn’t hurry up, I swear I’m changing her name to something like Gertrude or Bertha!” I said with a huff as he helped me back to the couch to resume my position of waiting.

Once I was situated and Edward had placed a pillow behind my back, he bent over the back of the couch and tipped my head up by my chin. “You will not name our daughter one of those names Bella Cullen! We have picked out an amazing name for her so you just sit there and look beautiful and rub your belly. She’ll be here before too much longer, promise,” he told me before giving me an upside down kiss. “And you, Ladybug, stop being so stubborn and just come on already, everyone is very anxious to see you,” he sweetly said as he leaned farther over and kissed the top of my stomach.

After rolling my eyes at how adorable he was, I couldn’t help but giggle. “I can’t wait to tell everyone her name.”

No matter how much we had been begged, bribed, and threatened, neither one of us budged on telling anyone what her name was going to be. Maddie and Masen knew of course and we had warned every member of our family that if they pestered them for the name there would be no holding of Ladybug…none.

It was hilarious to watch Emmett, Demetri, and Tanya try to get the kids to accidentally spill, thinking if either one of them offered up the name all was good, but they failed every time. Maddie and Masen were hanging in there like troopers and they were enjoying watching the adults guess names as much as Edward and I were. I shuddered when I thought of some of the names they’d guessed.

The next two days passed with no more trips to the hospital and only a few contractions. Since it was Sunday, I had wanted to get up and make everyone pancakes like always and managed to somehow fight the laws of physics and got up out of bed. When I stood up I felt a sharp pain in my lower back and had to take a few deep breaths but when I looked down, well to the side and to my feet, there was no tell tale puddle and I didn’t feel a contraction so I carefully made my way to the kitchen to start breakfast.

Edward would argue with me, I was sure, but I wanted to try to go to Mass this morning with the family. I missed Father O’Connor something terrible even though I saw him just last weekend. I just felt like I needed to go today so I was going, no matter what my stubborn, and overprotective husband had to say about it.

I got the pancakes done in no time and with no mishaps surprisingly enough…and no one yelling at me for being up either. That was a surprise in and of itself! Maddie and Masen were just as anxious about me overdoing it as their father was and Masen was my little shadow. He was constantly adjusting pillows, getting me a glass of water, or rubbing my stomach, talking to his sister. It was the cutest thing ever. Not once did he fuss about not getting the brother he’d hoped for. He would always just say the next was going to be a boy so it was okay.

It might be just me, but I was pretty sure he was going to enjoy his status as big brother, the protector, and had every intention of fulfilling that duty to the utmost.

Woof!” Rufus barked at my feet when he ambled up beside me. My other shadow. The little guy constantly followed me around and sat at my feet when I was on the sofa and had taken up residence on the floor on my side of the bed at night. He was as in tune with me as Edward was. Whenever I had a pain, his little ears would perk right up and he would bark, often before Edward even noticed.

I picked a piece of bacon off the platter and bent over to pat him on the head and give him a treat for being such a good dog. “Mama loves you, too, you big goof,” I told him with a smile before I stood up.

Bad move…or good move depending on how you looked at.

Edward!” I yelled, much calmer than I would have expected.

I heard him roll out of bed and mutter a loud, “Fuck!” before he threw the door open to look at me. “Bella?”

It’s time,” I told him and watched his face morph into the biggest smile I had ever, ever seen.

You sure?” he asked as he stood there looking deliciously rumpled from just getting out of bed.

I smirked at him and pointed to the floor where there was a puddle spreading at my feet. “I’d say so, wouldn’t you?”

He stood there, stupefied for a second before he shook his head. “Holy shit, she’s coming,” he said excitedly and I nodded my head.

I couldn’t help but laugh at him because he still hadn’t moved. “Edward, sweetheart, why don’t you wake up Mad and Mase so we can get dressed and go? Oh, and call Travis and let him know, too,” I told him.

Shit, yeah…Travis, kids,” he muttered and turned around in a circle. “Edward,” I giggled at my ridiculous husband. “Kids, doctor, hospital, baby,” I ticked off and laughed when it seemed like he’d finally pulled himself together. He rushed to my side and kissed me quickly on the lips and took my hand to help me into the bedroom so I could change my clothes. “I love you so much, Bella,” he whispered as he held onto me as I sat down on the edge of the bed.

He helped me into a clean pair of panties, some loose yoga pants, and a t-shirt before he stood up, still wearing only his boxers.

I love you, too, you silly man. Now, get dressed and wake up the kids while I call Seth and tell him to come up here,” I told him.

As soon as he walked out of the room, I took a few deep breaths. I had only had a few contractions so I knew I was still doing okay time wise but I couldn’t help but say a quick prayer that everything would go fine with the delivery. If anything happened to her while I was giving birth…I shook my head, I couldn’t even finish that thought and pressed the speed dial for Seth.

Seth, it’s time,” I told him as soon as he answered, not even saying hello first.

Shortcake?” he dumbly asked and I rolled my eyes. Men, what the hell was wrong with them? “Of course it’s me. You have another best friend about to have a baby I don’t know about?” I teased and heard him mutter the same ‘fuck’ Edward just had.

You sure?” he asked, again just like Edward.

Legitimate question to be sure, but I still huffed in annoyance at him. “Yes, I’m sure smartass. My water just broke. Edward is getting the kids up right now, so we’ll leave them with you and go to the hospital,” I told him, and I could hear Tanya shrieking in the background, sounding way too much like Maddie…and Alice.

Are you okay?” he immediately asked and I sucked in a deep breath. He was still so damn sweet all the time and I still loved him like no other. “Yes, I’m fine. Just excited and a little nervous,” I told him quietly. “What if I can’t do this Seth, what if something happens?”

Bell, nothing will happen and you’re the strongest person I know. It’ll be fine, and Edward will be right there with you. I love you, and I’m so damn happy for you,” he said sweetly and I couldn’t help the few tears that fell. “Not only that, now we can finally call her something besides Ladybug,” he chuckled and I laughed with him.

I love you, too. So, hurry up so we can go to the hospital,” I told him and hung up the phone.

I sat still for a second and rubbed my stomach, feeling another contraction and tried to breathe through it. It was a mild one and only lasted a few seconds, but I knew it wouldn’t stay that way for long.

Mama?” Masen asked as he poked his head in the door and I waved him forward. “Does it hurt?” he asked and I shook my head. “Nope, I’m just ready to meet her is all,” I told him and kissed his cheek. “Do you have your things to go to Uncle Seth’s?” I asked and he nodded his head. “You and Maddie can come up to the hospital as soon as I get settled okay?”

We won't miss anything will we?” he asked, checking again after already having asked numerous times before.

No, sweetie, you won't. Once Daddy and I get to the hospital and I get checked out, you and Maddie can come in the room for awhile. Then, when it's time for her to be born, you'll wait with the others until she gets here,” I told him and ran my fingers through his hair.

What if she needs me?” he asked protectively and I couldn't help but sniff at that, too. He was so loving, and so much like Edward it was scary...but in a good way.

I wrapped my arm around him and pulled him against me, kissing the top of his head. “Mase, she'll always need you, but I'm pretty sure Dr. Hughes, the nurses, and Daddy will take care of her and me until you can come see both of us.”

Kay,” he said quietly as he kicked his legs against the side of the bed.

Edward walked back in the room, holding Maddie's hand and asked, “We all ready to go have a baby?” He was smiling so big and bounced up and down on the balls of his feet in his excitement.

I nodded my head and noticed he already had my bag over his shoulder. “I got it, baby. You ready?”

Yep, we better get going,” I said, sounding much calmer than I felt on the inside.

Mommy, she's gonna be here soon!” Maddie exclaimed happily and I grinned at her. “Hopefully really soon,” I answered back and growled at Edward when he chuckled. “Don't count on it, Bella,” he told me as he reached for my hand.

Shortcake!” Seth bellowed when he came through the front door...without knocking.

Maddie and Masen ran up to him and each pulled on his arm as they jumped up and down. “Uncle Seth, Mama's gonna have the baby!” Masen shouted.

Yeah? What's her name gonna be?” he teased and Masen narrowed his eyes at him.

Nice try, Uncle Seth, but you're gonna have to wait just like everyone else,” Masen told him with a chuckle.

Seth reached over and ruffled his hair and said, “Damn, kid, you are good.” He looked at me and his eyes softened and if I wasn't mistaken, were a bit on the watery side, too. “Hey, sweetheart, you hanging in there?” he asked as he made his way over to me and bent down to kiss the top of my head. “I can't believe you're about to have a baby,” he said in an awed voice.

I heard Edward chuckle beside me and squeeze my hand and he said, “Well, she's going to have it right here if we don't get her to the hospital. You can get all sappy and shit with her once she's in a room, hooked up to a monitor.”

Right, hospital,” Seth murmured and then grinned at me. “See you in a bit. Love you, Bell.”

Let's hit it, baby. Time to bring our daughter into the world,” Edward said as he pulled me out of the door.

We made it to the hospital without any problems but my contractions started to come in a bit closer intervals. Even though Bree was not a Labor/Delivery nurse, she met us at the door with a wheelchair once Edward had helped me from the car.

Bella, Edward, I'm so excited for you guys!” Bree said with a big smile plastered on her face.

Hey Bree!” I said with a wave and then sat in the chair to be taken up to the Maternity floor.

Edward held my hand and began breathing with me when another contraction hit and I looked up at him. “About five, six minutes apart, baby. This is definitely it,” he said with a smile.

I was taken directly into a room, thanks to Edward having filled out all the paperwork already. Once I was set up in a bed, the nurses took my blood pressure, got me hooked up to an IV, and then got the monitor hooked up to check the baby's heartbeat. Everything looked good and I let out a relieved breath. Soon after, Travis walked in the room. “My favorite patient,” he beamed and bent over the bed to give me a hug and then held his hand out to shake Edward's. “Just didn't want to get induced, did she?” he asked with a wink and Edward snorted and shook his head. “Crazy woman was up this morning making pancakes,” he answered him back and then smirked at me.

Well, let's see what we're dealing with and then settle in to get this baby delivered,” Travis said as he did a quick exam. “Everything looks really good. Bella, you're about five centimeters dilated and close to sixty percent effaced. We'll definitely have a baby before the day is done.” He looked at us both with a smile. “We're still going with the natural childbirth plan, right? No meds unless absolutely necessary?” he questioned and I nodded my head.

Bella, are you sure?” Edward anxiously asked. I knew he hated to see me suffer, but I didn't want to take any chances. I knew having an epidural was perfectly safe, but I wanted to try to do this if I could without it.

I nodded my head. “Edward, it'll be fine. If it gets to be too much, I promise I'll tell you.”

Well, I'll be keeping a close watch. If I see any indication of stress on either you or the baby, we'll need to decide on an alternative, but for now, you're both doing great!” Travis said and rubbed his hands together.

I had to admit it; it was really nice to have a doctor so invested in making sure things went according to plan.

The monitor started to beep and I knew that meant another contraction was coming so I reached out and grabbed Edward's hand. “I'm right here, baby,” he said then breathed with me as it crested and then gradually receded.

Damn,” I muttered and then looked at Edward. “Anytime you want something for the pain, just give me the word,” he told me but I took a few deep breaths and shook my head. “I can do it,” I told him and he leaned down to kiss me. “You sure the hell can. You're the strongest person I know, my love.”

Can you see if the others are here yet? I want to see Mad and Mase and I'd like to see Rose if she's here,” I told him. I had called her as soon as I'd gotten off the phone with Seth. I'd hoped that by the time we got admitted and situated in a room, she'd be here since she was only a little over an hour away.

He left and I had another contraction. It was a lot harder to breathe through it without Edward helping me, that was for sure.

Mommy!” Maddie exclaimed as she rushed to the side of the bed. “What's all that for?” she asked once she noticed the machine and the IV and when her eyes began to water, I looked at Edward quickly so he would explain to her.

Princess, it's just to make sure Mommy and the baby are okay. It doesn't hurt either one of them, I promise. Mommy's okay and so is your sister,” he told her after he'd given her a reassuring hug.

Mama, you're sure you're okay?” Masen asked as he reached out and touched my hand with the IV in it.

I'm fine, little man, promise. Daddy will make sure nothing happens. Your sister will be here before we know it,” I told him and then held my arms open for a Masen hug. There were few things better in the world than a hug from him.

Bella!” Rose cried out as she raced into the room with Emmett right on her heels. “You doing good so far?”

I started to answer her, but another contraction was coming so I let out a hiss and grabbed Edward's hand. “Breathe, Bella. That's it, in and out,” he calmly said he rubbed my stomach and breathed along with me. “Almost done, baby. There you go,” he said with a smile and kissed me on the forehead.

Sweet B, gotta say, you are the shit,” Emmett said as he shook his head in wonderment. “Rosie, I'm so ready for this.”

Yeah, well that's because all you have to do is breathe with me, you big jerk. Bella and I are the ones that are going to have do all the work,” Rose answered him with a glare. “Drugs, is all I'm saying. You better make sure I have lots and lots of drugs,” she warned him and plopped down on a chair in the corner.

I rubbed my stomach once the contraction stopped and looked at my best friend. “It's really not so bad, Le. If I can do it, so can you.”

You're Superwoman, Bella, married to Superman. I've got...well him,” Rose said and pointed to Emmett who was sporting the Cullen pout as good as one I'd ever seen from Edward.

Hey!” Em said, clearly affronted at the insult and Rose smiled sweetly at him. “Em, I'm just teasing. You're going to be an amazing father. But, I mean it; I don't want to feel any all. If I'm having a baby, I'm having it the way I want.”

The room was soon flooded with the rest of the family, including Father O'Connor who came as soon as Mass was over.

Bella, dear, well, I suppose this is as good a reason as any I've seen to miss Mass on a Sunday morning,” he cheerily said and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

We were going to come, I promise,” I answered him back and he smiled at me. “I know, sweetheart. How about we say a quick prayer for things to go well and then we'll get out of here and let you and Edward do your thing?” he asked and I nodded, extremely grateful. There was never a thing as too many prayers.


The next few hours passed with the contractions getting steadily closer together and steadily increasing in intensity. It sucked like hell watching Bella’s face scrunch in pain every few minutes, but she was adamant about trying to deliver without any medication for pain.

My wife was a hell of a woman, that was all I had to say. There was none of that screaming nonsense, none of that cursing me to hell and back or threatening any of my body parts. She just kept breathing and squeezing my hand and I kept telling her what a good job she was doing and how proud I was of her.

Rose, Mama, and Sue would periodically poke their heads in to see how we were doing, but for the most part we were left alone…and I was perfectly fine with that. I knew they were all there if we needed them, and that was a good feeling, but we didn’t need nor want a room full of people watching our every move.

Do you want me to rub your back?” I asked after a particularly hard contraction.

Bella sagged against me and nodded her head. “Yeah, please.”

You got it, baby,” I told her and ran my hand over her lower back, trying to ease as much of the pain as I could. “I’m so fucking proud of you, sweet girl. You’re doing amazing,” I whispered against her temple and kissed her.

Well, I don’t know about that,” she chuckled softly, “but I do know that what you’re doing right now feels really damn good.”

Well, we’ve passed the point of being able to help with the pain, so whatever I can do to help, I will,” I answered her.

The last time Travis had been in to check on Bella, she was past seven centimeters dilated and more than seventy percent effaced which meant that if things kept on the pace she was now, our little girl would be here in just a few more hours.

I couldn’t help but slide my hand around her naked hip and rubbed circles on her hipbone and then I kissed her softly on the side of her neck. “How does that feel?” I asked with a smirk and was rewarded with a gentle sigh. “That feels good, too,” she whispered and laid her head against my shoulder.

I listened to the monitor and knew a contraction was building and at just that time, Travis walked in the room with a nurse and Tanya. “Breathe, Bella, that’s it baby…in and out,” I panted with her, just like we had been taught in Lamaze class.

Travis walked over the printouts and looked at me with a smile. “Things are progressing fabulously, Bella and Edward. So far no undue stress on either Ladybug or Bella and I’m guessing things will start moving along quickly here in the next little bit.”

Great,” Bella muttered and we all laughed at her. “Sorry, Angel,” I said with a grin when she narrowed her eyes at me. Too fucking adorable for her own good, I tell ya.

Edward, you might want to go get changed into your scrubs and we’ll start getting things ready in here. I would imagine within the hour your little girl will be here,” Travis said once he finished examining Bella again. “She’s more than nine centimeters now and almost a hundred percent effaced, so the show is about to begin.”

There was a flurry of motion in the room as the nurses moved things into place. “I’ll be right back,” I told Bella as I stood up to go change in the bathroom. My heart was beating a hundred miles a minute and my stomach was tied in so many knots it was a wonder I could swallow or breathe at all.

This was it; I couldn’t believe it was finally here, I thought to myself as I stripped out of my clothes and put my scrubs on. Our little girl was about to be here and I said a quick prayer that nothing went wrong.

By the time I made it back to Bella’s side, everyone was in place and we were about to get started.

Okay, Bella,” Travis said after getting a nod from the nurse holding the printouts. “The contractions are coming one on top of the other now, so we’re going to do a test push and then get started,” he said once he was in place.

My heart felt like it was about to burst out of my chest at his words and I knew this was really, really fucking it. “Edward, if you’ll help her sit up just a bit, we’ll do a practice push,” Travis instructed and I moved to sit behind Bella so that I could help her.

I love you, baby,” I whispered to her and kissed her quickly on her cheek, taking a deep breath to steel myself for what was about to come. The thought of Bella being in pain was like a knife into my heart, but I would be by her side, helping her every moment. She was my everything, and in just a little bit, our lives would be changed forever.

Love you, too,” she breathed out in between a contraction as we waited for Travis. “Okay, Bella, now when I say go, I want you to push like you were taught in Lamaze class, okay? Nice and hard, for a full ten seconds.”

She nodded and I wrapped my arm around her back to support her as she pushed. “Now, Bella,” Travis said and we began to count, “One, two….that’s it baby, so good...five, six….almost there…and nine, ten,” I counted.

Great job, Bella,” Travis praised her. “Just like that from now on, okay?”

Bella blew out a few breaths and I reached up with the hand that wasn’t around her back to push her hair out of her face. “I’m so proud of you. You’re doing such a good job,” I told her and kissed her nose.

The nurses stepped up to the bed and each grabbed a knee and helped her scoot down a bit on the bed so she was comfortable…well, as comfortable as she could be. I had to keep reminding myself that the pain wouldn’t last too long and that at the end we would be blessed with our beautiful daughter.

Okay, just like before, Bella. Push down toward my hands, as hard as you can,” Travis said and I took another deep breath and began to breathe and count again. “That’s it, Angel….three, four, five…keep going…seven, eight…and great job,” I told her once she was done.

We continued on that way for a time and Bella was starting to get tired but I knew it was almost time for the big pushes to bring our daughter into the world.

She’s almost here,” I whispered and Travis looked up and nodded in agreement. “Yep, she is, I can see the top of her head, she has Bella’s hair,” he told us and I laughed. “Well, thank God for small favors,” I told my wife with a smile, feeling my heart leap…hair…she was almost here!

Okay you two, how about we get this baby out?” Travis asked with a smile. “Now, Bella, a few big pushes, but when I say stop, you stop, okay?”

I was in awe of how fucking strong Bella was. I couldn’t believe the moment we’d been waiting for was almost here. I couldn’t believe how incredible it was to share this with her, to be here for every push and breath…it was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to me.

I took Bella’s hand in mine and wrapped my other arm around her. “Let’s do this,” she whispered and I could only nod my head.

She blew out a few short breaths and pushed with all she had, shaking in my arms as we breathed and she pushed. “That’s it, baby,” I encouraged and Travis echoed saying, “the head is almost out, Bella, keep going.”

With one last grunt, I heard Travis say, “Okay, Bella, wait now.” He quickly cleared her nose and mouth and then said, “One more big push, Bella, and she’ll be here.” Bella pushed, letting out a loud moan and finally, I could see her as Travis helped our daughter slip from her mother’s body. And moments later, the sound I would remember for the rest of my life filled the room as our daughter let out a cry.

Edward, come cut the cord,” Travis instructed and I kissed Bella quickly on the forehead and took the small scissors from him and looked at my daughter for the first time. “She’s beautiful, baby,” I told Bella as I took in big gulps of air and felt the tears fall down my face. I quickly cut the cord, feeling my heart fill with so much love for my new little girl that it was almost too much. The nurses quickly took her to get her cleaned up and in the next moment brought her back to Bella and me.

Happy birthday, Ladybug,” I whispered against her tiny head as Bella quickly unwrapped her to count fingers and toes. “She’s perfect,” Bella breathed out and looked up at me with her eyes full of tears. “She is. Thank you, Bella. You’ve given me the greatest gift I ever could have imagined,” I told her and reached down to hold my tiny daughter’s tiny little fingers.

I love you, so very much,” Bella said softly to our daughter as she nuzzled her nose against her.

Travis approached the side of the bed and laid a hand on Bella’s shoulder. “Everything looks really good you two. Bella, you were a real trooper, I have to hand it to you. Congratulations to you both,” he said and bent down to kiss Bella on the cheek. Hell, I was so blissed out, I didn’t even growl at the guy.

I’ll be back to check on things in a bit, once you’ve had a chance to visit with your family,” he said before leaving.

I’m going to go get Mad and Mase, then the others can come in, okay, sweetheart?” I asked as I stood up, feeling torn about leaving her side for even a moment.

I love you,” I told Bella, and went to go get big brother and big sister.

Daddy!” they shouted when they saw me and everyone’s head snapped in my direction. “She’s here and both Mama and baby are perfect,” I answered the unasked questions. “Give us just a minute, then you can all come in,” I told them and bent down to kiss my mom before grabbing Maddie and Masen’s hands. “Come on you two, your baby sister wants to meet you,” I said as we walked down the hall and into Bella’s room.

Mama,” Masen whispered as he stepped up beside her bed. Bella’s eyes had been closed while she rested for a moment and she opened them and smiled at the kids. “Here she is,” Bella said as she held the baby out for them to see.

She’s so tiny,” Maddie said softly and reached out to hold her hand. “She is, but she’s perfect and healthy and she’s going to have the best big brother and big sister ever.”

After that there was a light knock on the door as the rest of the family filed in.

Oh Bella, Edward, she’s beautiful,” my mom cried and my dad wrapped an arm around her shoulder.

Come on, Shortcake, tell us her name, we’re dying here,” Seth said as he winked at her.

Bella looked up at me and I smiled down at her and then ran my finger down my daughter’s cheek. “Everyone, we’d like to introduce you to Callie Faith Cullen,” I proudly announced.

We were graced with a lot of aww’s and it's perfect’s and everyone had a turn holding the baby, though it was hard to get Emmett to pass her on to her Aunt Rose. “Babe, can we hurry up and have one?” he whined when he finally handed her over.

Bella began to yawn and at that point everyone said their goodbye’s and promised to come back later. It was hard to get Maddie and Masen to leave, but I assured them they would be the first ones to hold the baby when they came back.

Mama, you better get some rest,” I told Bella once the room was quiet again. Callie had fallen asleep in Bella’s arms and I knew it wouldn’t be long before she would have to try to feed her.

I just want to stare at her. I can’t believe she’s finally here,” Bella whispered. “I can’t believe how much she looks like you,” I replied back, still in awe of it all. Callie had a head full of dark hair and her nose looked exactly like Bella’s. Her eyes looked like they might be green like mine, a fact of which Bella was most pleased about.

She’s perfect,” Bella said and I bent my head down and rested my cheek on her head. “Just like her mother. You were amazing, my love,” I praised her again.

We were,” Bella corrected and I didn’t want to argue so I just nodded my head.

I can’t wait to get you all home,” I told her as I wrapped my arm around her, holding her and Callie close to me.

A few days later, I got my wish and sighed a relieved breath when I pulled up in front of the house. The drive back to Lake George was enough to make me want a stiff drink and Bella chuckled at me from the backseat when I flexed my fingers as I unwrapped them from the steering wheel. We left right after lunch on Thursday and like I’d hoped, traffic was very light, a fact of which I was most grateful for. The family was going to come visit on Sunday, and I was happy to have a few days alone with my family.

I got out of the car and handed Maddie and Masen each a bag to carry into the house before helping Bella out of the backseat and then unbuckled the car seat Callie was in to carry her into the house. “We’re finally home,” I told Bella as we walked through the front door.

Charlotte, on my mother’s instructions, had left dinner on the counter and had stocked the refrigerator for us. I smiled when I saw the balloons and basket on the island filled with things for Maddie and Masen so they wouldn’t feel left out.

Maddie and Masen grabbed the basket with a giggle and I laughed at how happy they were, even Callie let out a sweet gurgle. It seemed like everyone was happy to be home.

You feeling okay?” I asked Bella once I shut the door and helped her to the sofa. Bella gave me a tired, but sincere smile and nodded her head. “I’m fine, sweetheart. A little tired from the long trip, but we’re good,” she said as she nuzzled Callie.

I helped the kids make some dinner with the fried chicken and sides Charlotte had left and then brought Bella a plate as well. After we ate, we all went upstairs where Bella patiently let Maddie and Masen help her change Callie’s diaper and changed her clothes. They were so incredible with their little sister and I was amazed at how loving and calm Bella was with them and the baby as I watched them from the doorway.

This was everything I’d ever wanted, a happy family and a house that was so full of love that the roof could barely contain it all. Bella must have felt me there watching, because she turned her head to look at me and when she smiled in my direction, I literally felt my heart grow as it encompassed all I was feeling. She cocked and eyebrow at me and I lifted my shoulder in a shrug. I blew her a kiss and went to our room to make sure the bassinet was set up. I knew there was no way Bella would let Callie sleep in her own room yet...not that I was any better.

Here, Daddy, someone wants to visit before bed time,” Bella said as she handed me a bundled up and sweet smelling Callie. “I'm going to go read with Mad and Mase for a few minutes before they go to bed,” she told me and then kissed my cheek.

Tell them I'll be in before they go to sleep to say good night,” I told her and then focused on my tiny daughter in my arms.

I bent my head down and breathed in the unmistakable baby smell and kissed Callie's forehead. “So what do you think of all this?” I asked her and she stared up at me. “I'm so happy to have you home, Ladybug. You're going to love it here, I know you will. You have the best big brother and sister in the whole world and don't even get me started on how amazing your mommy is,” I whispered and curled my finger around her small hand. “She did such a good job bringing you into the world,” I told her, my voice shaking as I remembered it all.

You weren't so bad yourself,” my wife said softly from where she stood watching...and obviously listening as well. “The kids fell asleep before I even finished a few pages, they were so tired,” she told me and I nodded, sorry I missed saying good night.

Bella pushed off the doorway and crawled up the bed to lay down next to us. She reached her hand out and ran her fingers over her small head. “I’m so happy. I didn't know it was possible to be this happy all the time,” she said in voice that underscored just how much she believed that.

Angel, we are going to be so happy, we'll make people sick with how happy we are,” I told her with a smug grin and a wink.

I love you, Edward,” she said as she reached up to run her fingers over my cheek.

As I love you, sweet girl. Always and forever,” I said back and curled up on the bed with my newest daughter while her brother and sister slept in their rooms down the hall.

I had more than any man should ever have, but I’d be damned if I felt bad about it.